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by Fifty Lithographic Plates. By W. D. Fellowes, Esq.
ART. I.-Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the Years 1825, 1826, and 1827; by John Franklin, Captain R.N., F.R.S., &c., and Commander of the Expedition. Including an Account of the Progress of a Detachment to the Eastward; by John Richardson, M.D., F.R.S., F.L.S., &c., Surgeon and Naturalist to the Expedition. Illustrated by numerous Plates and Maps. Published by Authority of the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. 4to. pp. 477. London: Murray. 1828.
THE question of a north-west passage, which has been a problem for three centuries, may be said to have been solved by the results of Captain Franklin's last expedition. In consequence of his exertions, assisted by those of Captain Beechey and Dr. Richardson, the whole of the extreme northern coast of America has been surveyed, with the exception of about fifty leagues. It is not probable that the interval which remains unexplored presents any serious difficulties; the lateness of the season alone prevented Captain Franklin from traversing it, and it might therefore be assumed, that science is now in as favourable a situation as it ever can be for disposing of a question which has been so long agitated, and which has laudably called forth so much of British enterprise. It seems to be established that no passage, practicable for ships, exists to the north of the American continent. The coast may be said to have been ascertained, and distinguished from the ice which adjoins it in great masses. It is not improbable that beyond the region of the ice, large basins of water may be found; but the approaches to those basins, either from the east or the west, appear to be locked up during the greatest part of the year by the ice. That some progress might be made towards them in the early months of the northern summer seems certain; but it is equally certain, that the summer is usually too short to allow of a complete passage being effected by a ship from the Pacific to the Atlantic, or from the Atlantic to the Pacific. By
keeping close to the shore, it would seem that the difficulties of the navigation are increased tenfold. The only chance of conducting it with success, must depend on two consecutive favourable seasons, which would admit, in the first year, of the vessel's penetrating through the inlets that may be supposed to lead to the great northern basins, and enable it in the second to effect its escape on the opposite side, before the ice should set in. This is, indeed, nothing but conjecture; but it is a conjecture founded on the experiments which have been already made, and which, perhaps, are sufficient for every useful purpose.
Captain Franklin decidedly says, that his opinion in favour of the practicability of the passage has been considerably strengthened by the information which he obtained during the last expedition. The northern coast may be looked upon as ascertained; further, he says, the delineation of the west side of Melville Peninsula, in the chart of Captain Parry's second voyage, conjoined with information which he obtained from the northern Indians, fairly warrants the conclusion, that the coast preserves an easterly direction, from the point where the labours of his expedition terminated on that side, to Repulse Bay, the boundary of Captain Parry's discoveries. In all probability,' he adds, there are no insurmountable obstacles between this part of the Polar Sea and the extensive openings into the Atlantic, through Prince Regent Inlet and the strait of the Fury and the Hecla.'
Such are the results at which Captain Franklin has arrived. It will be observed, that they reduce the question of a north-west passage to a much less degree of doubt than it had ever attained before. At the same time, it does not appear to us that any advantage could arise from another naval expedition, such as he suggests, for the purpose of connecting Captain Parry's discoveries with his own. We should greatly prefer that another land expedition might be sent out to complete the survey of the north-eastern coast, in order that the whole line might be defined on that side. The fifty leagues of coast which remain unsurveyed to the north, seem hardly worth any further attention.
We now proceed to give the reader some account of the proceedings of the expedition, which are detailed in the volume before us. We lament that we cannot lay before him the maps, and the beautiful drawings by which they are copiously illustrated. We have seldom seen a book of travels so abundantly fitted out in this respect. It contains upwards of thirty views of scenery, drawn by Captain Back and Lieutenant Kendal, with admirable taste, and engraved by Finden, in the highest style of his art. The charts are six in number, and exhibit the routes and discoveries of the former overland expedition (which caused so much suffering), to the mouth of the Coppermine river, as well as of that which forms the subjeet of this interesting narrative.
The expedition was directed to survey the coast between the