Three Voyages for the Discovery of a Northwest Passage from the
by Sir William Edward Parry
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Towards the latter end of January [1823], the accounts from the huts, as well from the Esquimaux as from our own people, concurred in stating that the number of the sick, as well as the seriousness of their complaints, was rapidly increasing there. We had, indeed, scarcely heard of the illness of a woman named Kei-m=o=o-seuk, who, it seemed, had lately miscarried, when an account arrived of her death. She was one of the two wives of Ooyarra, one of Captain Lyon's fellow-travellers in the summer, who buried her in the snow, about two hundred yards from the huts, placing slabs of the same perishable substance over the body, and cementing them by pouring a little water in the interstices. Such an interment was not likely to be a very secure one; and, accordingly, a few days after, the hungry dogs removed the snow and devoured the body.

Captain Lyon gave me the following account of the death and burial of another poor woman and her child:

"The mother, Poo-too-alook, was about thirty-five years of age, the child about three years—yet not weaned, and a female; there was also another daughter, Shega, about twelve or thirteen years of age, who, as well as her father, was a most attentive nurse. My hopes were but small, as far as concerned the mother; but the child was so patient that I hoped, from its docility, soon to accustom it to soups and nourishing food, as its only complaint was actual starvation. I screened off a portion of my cabin, and arranged some bedding for them, in the same manner as the Esquimaux do their own. Warm broth, dry bedding, and a comfortable cabin, did wonders before evening, and our medical men gave me great hopes. As an introduction to a system of cleanliness, and preparatory to washing the sick, who were in a most filthy state, I scrubbed Shega and her father from head to foot, and dressed them in new clothes. During the night I persuaded both mother and child, who were very restless, and constantly moaning, to take a few spoonfuls of soup. On the morning of the 24th the woman appeared considerably improved, and she both spoke and ate a little. As she was covered with so thick a coating of dirt that it could be taken off in scales, I obtained her assent to wash her face and hands a little before noon. The man and his daughter now came to my table to look at some things I had laid out to amuse them; and, after a few minutes, Shega lifted up the curtain to look at her mother, when she again let it fall, and tremblingly told us she was dead.

"The husband sighed heavily, the daughter burst into tears, and the poor little infant made the moment more distressing by calling in a plaintive tone on its mother, by whose side it was lying. I determined on burying the woman on shore, and the husband was much pleased at my promising that the body should be drawn on a sledge by men instead of dogs; for, to our horror, Takkeelikkeeta had told me that dogs had eaten part of Keimooseuk, and that, when he left the huts with his wife, one was devouring the body as he passed it.

"Takkeelikkeeta now prepared to dress the dead body, and, in the first place, stopped his nose with deer's hair and put on his gloves, seeming unwilling that his naked hand should come in contact with the corpse. I observed, in this occupation, his care that every article of dress should be as carefully placed as when his wife was living; and, having drawn the boots on the wrong legs, he pulled them off again and put them properly. This ceremony finished, the deceased was sewed up in a hammock, and, at the husband's urgent request, her face was left uncovered. An officer who was present at the time agreed with me in fancying that the man, from his words and actions, intimated a wish that the living child might be enclosed with its mother. We may have been mistaken, but there is an equal probability that we were right in our conjecture; for, according to Crantz and Egede, the Greenlanders were in the habit of burying their motherless infants, from a persuasion that they must otherwise starve to death, and also from being unable to bear the cries of the little ones while lingering for several days without sustenance; for no woman will give them any share of their milk, which they consider as the exclusive property of their own offspring. My dogs being carefully tied up at the man's request, a party of our people, accompanied by me, drew the body to the shore, where we made a grave, about a foot deep, being unable to get lower on account of the frozen earth. The body was placed on its back, at the husband's request, and he then stepped into the grave and cut all the stitches of the hammock, although without throwing it open, seeming to imply that the dead should be left unconfined. I laid a woman's knife by the side of the body, and we filled up the grave, over which we also piled a quantity of heavy stones, which no animal could remove. When all was done and we returned to the ship, the man lingered a few minutes behind us and repeated two or three sentences, as if addressing himself to his departed wife; he then silently followed. We found Shega quite composed, and attending her little sister, between whose eyebrows she had made a spot with soot, which I learned was because, being unweaned, it must certainly die. During the night my little charge called on its mother without intermission, yet the father slept as soundly until morning as if nothing had happened.

"All who saw my patient on the morning of the 25th gave me great hopes; she could swallow easily, and was even strong enough to turn or sit upright without assistance, and in the forenoon slept very soundly. At noon, the sister of the deceased, Ootooguak, with her husband and son, came to visit me. She had first gone to the Fury, and was laughing on deck, and, at her own request, was taken below, not caring to hurry herself to come to the house of mourning. Even when she came to the Hecla she was in high spirits, laughing and capering on deck as if nothing had happened; but, on being shown to my cabin, where Shega, having heard of her arrival, was sitting crying in readiness, she began with her niece to howl most wofully. I, however, put a stop to this ceremony, for such it certainly was, under the plea of disturbing the child. The arrival of a pot of smoking walrus-flesh soon brought smiles on all faces but that of Takkeelikkeeta, who refused food and sat sighing deeply; the others ate, chatted, and laughed as if nothing but eating was worth thinking of. Dinner being over, I received thanks for burying the woman in such a way that 'neither wolves, dogs, nor foxes could dig her up and eat her,' for all were full of the story of Keimooseuk, and even begged some of our officers to go to Igloolik and shoot the offending dogs. A young woman named Ablik, sister to Ooyarra, was induced, after much entreaty and a very large present of beads, to offer her breast to the sick child, but the poor little creature pushed it angrily away. Another woman was asked to do the same; but, although her child was half weaned, she flatly refused.

"The aunt of my little one seeming anxious to remain, and Shega being now alone, I invited her to stop the night. In the evening the child took meat and jelly, and sat up to help itself, but it soon after resumed its melancholy cry for its mother. At night my party had retired to sleep; yet I heard loud sighing occasionally, and, on lifting the curtain, I saw Takkeelikkeeta standing and looking mournfully at his child. I endeavoured to compose him, and he promised to go to bed; but, hearing him again sighing in a few minutes, I went and found the poor infant was dead, and that its father had been some time aware of it. He now told me it had seen its mother the last time it called on her, and that she had beckoned it to Khil-la (Heaven), on which it instantly died. He said it was 'good' that the child was gone; that no children outlived their mothers; and that the black spot, which Shega had frequently renewed, was quite sufficient to ensure the death of the infant.

"My party made a hearty breakfast on the 26th, and I observed they did not scruple to lay the vessel containing the meat on the dead child, which I had wrapped in a blanket; and this unnatural table excited neither disgust nor any other feeling among them more than a block of wood could have done. We now tied up all the dogs, as Takkeelikkeeta had desired, and took the child about a quarter of a mile astern of the ships, to bury it in the snow; for the father assured me that her mother would cry in her grave if any weight of stones or earth pressed on her infant. She herself, he feared, had already felt pain from the monument of stones which we had laid upon her. The snow in which we dug the child's grave was not above a foot deep, yet we were not allowed to cut into the ice, or even use any slabs of it in constructing the little tomb. The body, wrapped in a blanket, and having the face uncovered, being placed, the father put the slings by which its deceased mother had carried it on the right side, and, in compliance with the Esquimaux custom of burying toys and presents with their dead, I threw in some beads. A few loose slabs of snow were now placed so as to cover, without touching, the body, and with this very slight sepulchre the father was contented, although a fox could have dug through it in half a minute. We, however, added more snow, and cemented all by pouring about twenty buckets of water, which were brought from the ship, on every part of the mound. I remarked that, before our task was completed, the man turned and walked quietly to the ships.

"During the last two days I obtained some information with respect to mourning ceremonies, or, at all events, such as related to the loss of a mother of a family; three days were to be passed by the survivors without their walking on the ice, performing any kind of work, or even having anything made for them. Washing is out of the question with Esquimaux at most times, but now I was not allowed to perform the necessary ablutions of their hands and faces, however greasy or dirty they might be made by their food; the girl's hair was not to be put into pig-tails, and everything was neglected; Takkeelikkeeta was not to go sealing until the summer. With the exception of an occasional sigh from the man, there were no more signs of grief; our mourners ate, drank, and were merry, and no one would have supposed they ever had wife, mother, or sister. When the three days (and it is singular that such should be the time) were expired, the man was to visit the grave; and, having talked with his wife, all duties were to be considered as over. The 28th was our third day, but a heavy northerly gale and thick drift prevented our visiting the grave. The 29th, although not fine, was more moderate, and I accompanied him at an early hour. Arriving at the grave, he anxiously walked up to it and carefully sought for foot-tracks on the snow; but, finding none, repeated to himself, 'No wolves, no dogs, no foxes; thank ye, thank ye.' He now began a conversation, which he directed entirely to his wife. He called her twice by name, and twice told her how the wind was blowing, looking at the same time in the direction from whence the drift was coming. He next broke forth into a low monotonous chant, and, keeping his eyes fixed upon the grave, walked slowly round it in the direction of the sun four or five times, and at each circuit he stopped a few moments at the head. His song was, however, uninterrupted. At the expiration of about eight minutes he stopped, and, suddenly turning round to me, exclaimed, 'Tugw~a' (that's enough), and began walking back to the ship. In the song he chanted I could frequently distinguish the word Koyenna (thank you), and it was occasionally coupled with the Kabloonas. Two other expressions, both the names of the spirits or familiars of the Annatko, Toolemak, were used a few times; but the whole of the other words were perfectly unintelligible to me.

"I now sent Shega and her father home, well clothed and in good case. The week they had passed on board was sufficient time to gain them the esteem of every one, for they were the most quiet, inoffensive beings I ever met with; and, to their great credit, they never once begged. The man was remarkable for his extraordinary fondness for treacle, sugar, salt, acids, and spruce-beer, which the others of the tribe could not even smell without disgust; and he walked about to the different messes in hopes of being treated with these delicacies. Shega was a timid, well-behaved girl, and generally remained eating in my cabin, for I am confident of speaking far within bounds when I say she got through eight pounds of solids per diem. As far as gratitude could be shown by Esquimaux, which is saying 'koyenna' on receiving a present, my friends were sensible of the attentions I had shown them."

March 5th.—The Esquimaux were about this time rather badly off for food, in consequence of the winds having of late been unfavourable for their fishery; but this had only occurred two or three times in the course of the winter, and never so much as to occasion any great distress. It is certain, indeed, that the quantity of meat which they procured between the 1st of October and the 1st of April was sufficient to furnish about double the population of working people who were moderate eaters, and had any idea of providing for a future day; but to individuals who can demolish four or five pounds at a sitting, and at least ten in the course of a day,[003] and who never bestow a thought on to-morrow, at least with a view to provide for it by economy, there is scarcely any supply which could secure them from occasional scarcity. It is highly probable that the alternate feasting and fasting to which the gluttony and improvidence of these people so constantly subject them, may have occasioned many of the complaints that proved fatal during the winter; and on this account we hardly knew whether to rejoice or not at the general success of their fishery. Certain it is, that on a particular occasion of great plenty, one or two individuals were seen lying in the huts, so distended by the quantity of meat they had eaten that they were unable to move, and were suffering considerable pain, arising solely from this cause. Indeed, it is difficult to assign any other probable reason for the lamentable proportion of deaths that took place during our stay at Igloolik, while, during a season of nearly equal severity, and of much greater privation as to food, at Winter Island, not a single death occurred. Notwithstanding their general plenty, there were times in the course of this winter, as well as the last, when our bread-dust was of real service to them, and they were always particularly desirous of obtaining it for their younger children. They distinguished this kind of food by the name of k=an~ibr~o~ot, and biscuit or soft bread by that of sh=eg~al~ak, the literal meaning of which terms we never could discover, but supposed them to have some reference to their respective qualities.

Our lengthened acquaintance with the Esquimaux and their language, which a second winter passed among them afforded, gave us an opportunity of occasionally explaining to them in some measure in what direction our country lay, and of giving them some idea of its distance, climate, population, and productions. It was with extreme difficulty that these people had imbibed any correct idea of the superiority of rank possessed by some individuals among us; and when at length they came into this idea, they naturally measured our respective importance by the riches they supposed each to possess. The ships they considered, as a matter of course, to belong to Captain Lyon and myself, and on this account distinguished them by the names of Lyon-oomiak and Paree-oomiak; but they believed that the boats and other parts of the furniture were the property of various other individuals among us. They were, therefore, not a little surprised to be seriously assured that neither the one nor the other belonged to any of us, but to a much richer and more powerful person, to whom we all paid respect and obedience, and at whose command we had come to visit and enrich the Innuees. Ewerat, on account of his steadiness and intelligence, as well as the interest with which he listened to anything relating to Kabloonas, was particularly fit to receive information of this nature; and a general chart of the Atlantic Ocean, and of the lands on each side, immediately conveyed to his mind an idea of the distance we had come, and the direction in which our home lay. This and similar information was received by Ewerat and his wife with the most eager astonishment and interest, not merely displayed in the "hei-ya!" which constitutes the usual extent of Esquimaux admiration, but evidently enlarging their notion respecting the other parts of the world, and creating in them ideas which could never before have entered their minds. By way of trying their inclinations, I asked them if they would consent to leave their own country, and, taking with them their children, go to live in ours, where they would see no more Innuees, and never eat any more seal or walrus. To all this they willingly agreed, and with an earnestness that left no doubt of their sincerity; Togolat adding, in an emphatic manner, "Shagloo ooagoot nao" (we do not tell a falsehood), an expression of peculiar force among them. The eagerness with which they assented to this proposal made me almost repent my curiosity, and I was glad to get out of the scrape by saying, that the great personage of whom I had spoken would not be pleased at my taking them home without having first obtained his permission. Information of the kind alluded to was subsequently given to many of the other Esquimaux, some of whom could at length pronounce the name of "King George" so as to be tolerably intelligible.

The weather was now so pleasant, and the temperature in the sun so comfortable to the feelings when a shelter could be found from the wind, that we set up various games for the people, such as cricket, football, and quoits, which some of them played for many hours during the day.

At the close of the month of March, we were glad to find that its mean temperature, being -19.75 deg., when taken in conjunction with those of January and February, appeared to constitute a mild winter for this latitude. There were, besides, some other circumstances, which served to distinguish this winter from any preceding one we had passed in the ice. One of the most remarkable of these was the frequent occurrence of hard, well-defined clouds, a feature we had hitherto considered as almost unknown in the winter sky of the Polar Regions. It is not improbable that these may have, in part, owed their origin to a large extent of sea keeping open to the southeastward throughout the winter, though they not only occurred with the wind from that quarter, but also with the colder weather, usually accompanying northwesterly breezes. About the time of the sun's reappearance, and for a week or two after it, these clouds were not more a subject of admiration to us on account of their novelty, than from the glowing richness of the tints with which they were adorned. It is, indeed, scarcely possible for nature, in any climate, to produce a sky exhibiting greater splendour and richness of colouring than we at times experienced in the course of this spring. The edges of the clouds near the sun often presented a fiery or burning appearance, while the opposite side of the heavens was distinguished by a deep purple about the horizon, gradually softening upward into a warm yet delicate rose-colour of inconceivable beauty. These phenomena have always impressed us the most forcibly about the time of the sun's permanent setting and that of his reappearance, especially the latter, and have invariably furnished a particular subject of conversation to us at those periods; but I do not know whether this is to be attributed so much to the colouring of the sky exactly at the times alluded to, as to our habit of setting on every enjoyment a value proportioned to its scarceness and novelty.

Another peculiarity observed in this winter was the rare occurrence of the Aurora Borealis, and the extraordinary poorness of its display whenever it did make its appearance. It was almost invariably seen to the southward, between an E.S.E. and a W.S.W. bearing, generally low, the stationary patches of it having a tendency to form an irregular arch, and not unfrequently with coruscations shooting towards the zenith. When more diffused it still kept, in general, on the southern side of the zenith; but never exhibited any of those rapid and complicated movements observed in the course of the preceding winter, nor, indeed, any feature that renders it necessary to attempt a particular description. The electrometer was frequently tried, by Mr. Fisher, at times when the state of the atmosphere appeared the most favourable, but always without any sensible effect being produced on the gold leaf.

The difference in the temperature of the day and night began to be sensible as early as the first week in March, and the daily range of the thermometer increased considerably from that time. The increase in the average temperature of the atmosphere, however, is extremely slow in these regions, long after the sun has attained a considerable meridian altitude; but this is in some degree compensated by the inconceivable rapidity with which the days seem to lengthen when once the sun has reappeared. There is, indeed, no change which continues to excite so much surprise as that from almost constant darkness to constant day; and this is, of course, the more sudden and striking, in proportion to the height of the latitude. Even in this comparatively low parallel, the change seemed sufficiently remarkable; for, soon after the middle of March, only ten weeks after the sun's reappearance above the horizon, a bright twilight appeared at midnight in the northern heavens.


Various Journeys to the Esquimaux Stations.—Preparations for the Hecla's Return to England.—Remarkable Halos, &c.—Shooting Parties stationed at Arlagnuk.—Journeys to Quilliam Creek.—Arrival of Esquimaux from the Northward.—Account of a Journey to the Westward for the purpose of reaching the Polar Sea.—The Esquimaux report two Fishing-ships having been Wrecked.—A Journey performed to Cockburn Island.—Discovery of Murray Maxwell Inlet.

About the first and second weeks in April, the Esquimaux were in the habit of coming up the inlet, to the southward of the ships, to kill the neitiek, or small seal, which brings forth its young at this season, and probably retires into sheltered places for that purpose. Besides the old seals, which were taken in the manner before explained, the Esquimaux also caught a great number of young ones, by fastening a hook to the end of a staff, and hooking them up from the sea-hole after the mother had been killed. Our large fishhooks were useful to them for this purpose, and the beautiful silvery skins of these young animals were occasionally brought to the ships as articles of barter: those of the foetus of the neitiek are more yellow than the others, and, indeed, both in colour and texture, very much resemble raw silk.

The first ducks noticed by the Esquimaux were mentioned to us on the 16th, and a few days afterward immense flocks appeared, all of the king-duck species, about the open water near the margin of the ice; but our distance from this was so great, that we never saw any of them, and the weather was yet too cold to station a shooting-party in that neighbourhood. Dovekies were now also numerous, and a gull or two, of the silvery species, had been seen.

On the 20th, after divine service, I took the opportunity of Captain Lyon and his people being on board the Fury, to communicate to the assembled officers and ships' companies my intentions respecting the future movements of the expedition; at the same time requesting Captain Lyon to furnish me with a list of any of the Hecla's men that might volunteer to remain out, as it would be necessary to fill up, or, perhaps, even to increase the complement of the Fury.

Our preparations were therefore immediately commenced, a twelvemonths' provision and other stores being received by the Fury, and various necessary exchanges made in anchors, cables, and boats; and, in the course of a single fortnight, the whole of these were transported from ship to ship without any exposure or labour to the men outside their respective ships, our invaluable dogs having performed it for us with astonishing ease and expedition. It was a curious sight to watch these useful animals walking off with a bower-anchor, a boat, or a topmast, without any difficulty; and it may give some idea of what they are able to perform, to state, that nine dogs of Captain Lyon's dragged sixteen hundred and eleven pounds a distance of seventeen hundred and fifty yards in nine minutes, and that they worked in a similar way between the ships for seven or eight hours a day. The road was, however, very good at this time, and the dogs the best that could be procured.

The wind settling to the southward for a few days near the end of April, brought an increased, and, to us a comfortable degree of warmth; and it was considered an event of some interest, that the snow which fell on the 29th dissolved as it lay on our decks, being the first time that it had done so this season. We now also ventured to take off some of the hatches for an hour or two in the day, and to admit some fresh air, a luxury which we had not known for six months. The Esquimaux, about this time, began to separate more than before, according to their usual custom in the spring; some of them, and especially our Winter Island acquaintance, setting off to the little islands called Oolglit, and those in our neighbourhood removing to the northeast end of Igloolik, to a peninsula called Keiyuk-tarruoke, to which, the open water was somewhat nearer. These people now became so much incommoded by the melting of their snow-huts, that they were obliged to substitute skins as the roofs, retaining, however, the sides and part of the passages of the original habitations. These demi-tents were miserable enough while in this state, some of the snow continually falling in, and the floor being constantly wet by its thawing.

Favourable as the first part of the month of May had appeared with respect to temperature, its close was by no means equally promising, and on the first of June, at two A.M., the thermometer stood at +8 deg. This unusually low temperature, much exceeding in severity anything we had experienced at Melville Island at the same season, rendered it necessary to defer for a time a journey which it was proposed that Captain Lyon should undertake, across the land to the westward at the head of Quilliam Creek, and thence, by means of the ice, along the shores of the Polar Sea, in the direction towards Akkoolee. The object of this journey, like that of most of the others which had been performed in various directions, was to acquire all the information within our reach of those parts of the continental coast to which the ships were denied access; and it was hoped that, at the coming season, some judgment might be formed of the probable state of the ice along that shore in the summer, by which the future movements of the Fury might be influenced. Captain Lyon was to be accompanied by two men, and a complete supply of every kind for a month's travelling was to be drawn on a sledge by ten excellent dogs, which he had taken great pains to procure and train for such occasions. As I was desirous of ascertaining, beyond any doubt, the identity of the Khemig, to which I had sailed in the autumn, with that seen by Captain Lyon on his journey with the Esquimaux, I determined to accompany the travellers on my sledge as far as the head of Quilliam Creek, and by victualling them thus far on their journey, enable them to gain a day or two's resources in advance. Another object which I had in view was to endeavour to find a lake mentioned by Toolemak; who assured me that, if I could dig holes in the ice, which was five feet thick, plenty of large salmon might be caught with hooks, an experiment which seemed at least well worth the trying.

On the 7th, the weather being more favourable than before, Captain Lyon and myself set out to the westward at half past eleven A.M., and the ice proving level, reached Khemig at half past five; when it was satisfactory to find that the route followed by Captain Lyon on his journey with Toolemak was precisely that which I had supposed, every feature of the land, of which the fog had before scarcely allowed him a glimpse, being now easily recognised, and every difficulty cleared up. Proceeding at eight A.M. on the 8th, we soon met with numerous tracks of deer upon the ice, which, together with the seals that lay in great numbers near their holes, expedited our journey very considerably, the dogs frequently setting off at full gallop on sniffing one of them. Landing at the head of Quilliam Creek at half past one, we took up an advantageous position for looking about us, in order to determine on the direction of Captain Lyon's route over land, which all the Esquimaux concurred in representing as a laborious one. We met with several reindeer immediately on our landing; and, while in pursuit of them, Captain Lyon discovered a lake two or three miles long and a quarter of a mile broad, a short distance from the tents, which we concluded to be that of which I was in search. As some of our party were suffering from snow-blindness, and, what is scarcely less painful, severe inflammation of the whole face, occasioned by the heat of the sun, we remained here for the rest of this day to make our final arrangements.

At nine A.M. on: the 9th we struck the tents, and Captain Lyon set off to the southward, while we drove over to the lake, which is one mile N.N.W. of the head of the creek, and, after three or four hours' labour, completed a hole through the ice, which was very dark-coloured, brittle, and transparent, and, as Toolemak had said, about five feet thick. The water, which was eleven fathoms deep, flowed up within a couple of inches of the surface, over which lay a covering of snow eighteen inches in depth. In confident hope of now obtaining some fish, we proceeded exactly according to Toolemak's instructions; but, after four-and-twenty hours' trial at all depths, not even a single nibble rewarded our labour.

Coasting the south shore, on which I wished to obtain observations and angles for the survey, we the next day entered a small bay, where we pitched our tent; our whole party being now so snow-blind with endeavouring to distinguish the land from the ice (so entirely were both covered with snow), that we could literally no longer muster one eye among three of us to direct the sledge. I found a handkerchief tied close, but not too tightly, round the eyes for a whole night, to be a more effectual remedy for this disagreeable complaint than any application of eyewater; and my companions being induced to try the same experiment, derived equal benefit from it. Reaching Arlagnuk towards evening of the 13th, we found that our parties had each thirty or forty ducks ready for the ships; and that the Esquimaux had lately altogether deserted this station, owing to the scarcity of walruses, and had removed to Ooglit, where these animals were said to be abundant at this season. Leaving our people on the morning of the 14th, I returned on board soon after noon, where I found that nothing worthy of particular notice had occurred during my absence.

On the 20th three or four other Esquimaux, strangers to us, arrived at Igloolik from the northward, and we found from two young men who visited us on the following day, that they came from Too-n=o=o-nek, a place undoubtedly situated somewhere on the western coast of Baffin's Bay, or about some of the inlets communicating with it, as they had there seen several Kabloona ships employed in killing whales. It is not improbable, from the various accounts of the direction and distance of Toonoonek, communicated by the Esquimaux through the usual medium of their charts, that the part of the seacoast so named lies at no great distance from Pond's Bay, in lat. 72-1/2 deg., which has lately become a common rendezvous of our Davis's Strait fishermen. Of this fact we had, in the course of the winter, received intimation from these people from time to time, and had even some reason to believe that our visit to the Esquimaux of the River Clyde in 1820 was known to them; but what most excited our interest at this time was the sledge brought by the new comers, the runner being composed of large single pieces of wood, one of them painted black over a lead-coloured priming, and the cross-bars consisting of heading-pieces of oak-buts, one flat board with a hinge-mark upon it the upper end of a skid or small boat's davit, and others that had evidently and recently been procured from some ship. On one of the heading-pieces we distinguished the letters Brea—, showing that the cask had, according to the custom of the whalers, contained bread on the outward passage. The nature of all these materials led us to suppose that it must have been procured from some vessel wrecked or damaged on the coast; and this suspicion was on the following day confirmed by our obtaining information that, at a place called Akk=o=odneak, a single day's journey beyond Toonoonek, two ships like ours had been driven on shore by the ice, and that the people had gone away in boats equipped for the purpose, leaving one ship on her beam ends, and the other upright, in which situation the vessels were supposed still to remain.[004]

We observed on this occasion as on our first arrival at Igloolik, that the new Esquimaux were obliged to have recourse to the others to interpret to them our meaning, which circumstance, as it still appeared to me, was to be attributed, as before, to our speaking a kind of broken Esquimaux that habit had rendered familiar to our old acquaintance, rather than to any essential difference in the true languages of the two people.

Toolemak having some time before promised to accompany me to the fishing-place, taking with him his wife, together with his sledge, dogs, and tent, made his appearance from Ooglit on the 23d, bringing, however, only the old lady and abundance of meat. Having lent him a tent and two of our dogs, and hired others to complete his establishment, we set out together at five A.M. on the 24th, my own party consisting of Mr. Crozier and a seaman from each ship. Arriving at Khemig towards noon, we found among the islands that the ice was quite covered with water, owing, probably, to the radiation of heat from the rocks. The weather proved, indeed, intensely hot this day, the thermometer in the shade, at the ships, being as high as 51 deg., and the land in this neighbourhood preventing the access of wind from any quarter. The travelling being good beyond this, we arrived within four or five miles of the head of Quilliam Creek at ten P.M., where we pitched the tents for the night. In this day's journey ten dogs had drawn my sledge a distance of forty statute miles since the morning, the weight on the sledge being about twelve hundred pounds, and half of the road very indifferent. It is the custom of the Esquimaux, even when meat is most abundant, to feed these invaluable animals only once a day, and that in the evening, which they consider to agree with them better than more frequent meals; we always observed the same practice with ours, and found that they performed their journeys the better for it.

On the morning of the 25th, while passing close to a point of land, Toolemak suddenly stopped his sledge, and he and his wife walked to the shore, whither I immediately followed them. The old woman, preceding her husband, went up to a circle of stones, of which there were two or three on the spot, and, kneeling down within it, cried most loudly and bitterly for the space of two or three minutes, while Toolemak also shed abundant tears, but without any loud lamentation. On inquiring presently after, I found that this was the spot on which their tent had been pitched in the summer, and that the bed-place on which the old woman knelt had been that of their adopted son Noogloo, whose premature death we had all so much regretted. The grief displayed on this occasion seemed to have much sincerity in it, and there was something extremely touching in this quiet but unaffected tribute of sorrow on the spot, which so forcibly reminded them of the object of their parental affection. I have much gratification in adding, in this place, another circumstance, which, though trifling in itself, deserves to be noticed as doing honour to these people's hearts. They had always shown particular attachment to a dog they had sold me, and which bore the same name as a young man, a son of their own, whom they had formerly lost. In the course of this journey, the old woman would constantly call the dog "Eerninga" (son), which the affectionate animal never failed to repay by jumping up and licking her face all over, whenever his trace would allow him; and at night, after Toolemak had fed his own dogs, he frequently brought to our tent an extra piece of meat, expressly for Ann=owtalik, to whom these poor people seemed to take a mournful pleasure in now transferring their affection.

Landing close to the head of the inlet on the south shore, we proceeded with difficulty a couple of miles over land till we came to a river, the limits of which the warmth of the weather was just rendering discernible, and which, our guides informed us was to be our fishing place. It was interesting to observe that, in every case of doubt as to the situation of a place, the best route, or the most advisable method of overcoming any difficulty, Toolemak invariably referred to his wife; and a consultation of some minutes was held by these two before they would determine on what was to be done, or even return an answer to our questions respecting it. Pitching our tents upon the banks of the river, we went upon the ice, which was still quite solid except close to the shores, and soon made two or three holes for a hook and line, the thickness of the ice in the middle being from six to seven feet. The Esquimaux fishhook is generally composed of a piece of ivory, having a hook of pointed iron, without a barb, let into it. The ivory they consider useful in attracting the salmon, but they also bait the hook with a piece of blubber well cleared of its oil by chewing, and securely tied on with a thread of sinew, so as to cover nearly the whole of the hook. A small piece of bone, reindeer's horn, or wood, serves as a rod, and with this they keep the bait constantly in motion up and down, the bait being from one to three feet below the surface of the ice. Previous, however, to commencing the fishery, the old lady, who took the principal part in this employment, muttered some words, to me altogether incomprehensible, over the hole, to which Toolemak, in a formal manner, added something about fish and Kabloonas; and the whole of this preparatory ceremony seemed intended to propitiate the spirit to whose department the salmon particularly belonged. The lady (for it seems she is a female) did not, however, appear to lend a very favourable ear to our wants or Toolemak's rhetoric; for, after many hours' patient trial on this and the following day, only two fish were seen and one caught to repay our labour.

On the 27th Toolemak and his wife went over to a small shallow lake, on the opposite side of the river, where they caught three or four fish of the salmon kind, but none more than one pound in weight. He then came back to the tent, and made a small spear according to their own fashion; but with this, to his great disappointment, he could not strike a single fish. A sort of fish-gig, which we made out of four large hooks lashed back to back at the end of a light staff, succeeded much better, the bait being played in the usual manner to attract the fish, which were then hooked up with great ease and certainty by this instrument. In this manner we soon caught a dozen of the same kind as before; and the rest of our party had in the mean time killed a deer.

Toolemak began now to be extremely impatient to return home, his principal anxiety arising, I believe, from a childish desire to know what I should give him for his trouble; and when, in writing a note to Lieutenant Nias, I enumerated the articles I intended to present to him, he expressed more delight than I had ever before seen escape him. Among these was one of the rifle-guns supplied as presents, together with a sufficient quantity of ammunition to last him one summer, after which the gun would probably become useless itself for want of cleaning. It was astonishing to see the readiness with which these people learned to fire at a mark, and the tact they displayed in everything relating to this art. Boys from twelve to sixteen years of age would fire a fowling-piece, for the first time, with perfect steadiness; and the men, with very little practice, would very soon become superior marksmen.[005] As, however, the advantage they could derive from the use of firearms must be of very short duration, and the danger to any careless individuals very considerable, we did not, on any other occasion, consider it prudent to furnish them in this manner.

On the morning of the 28th Toolemak had left us for the ships, carrying with him our venison to be left there, and having first explained when and where the Esquimaux catch the fish with which he had supplied us the preceding summer; for it now appeared that they were not found in great abundance, or of that magnitude, in the river, but at the mouth of a very small stream about two miles lower down the creek on the same side. Their method is, to place in the bed of the stream, which is quite narrow, and seldom or never so deep as a man's middle, though running with great force, two or three separate piles of stones, which serve the double purpose of keeping off the force of the stream from themselves, and of narrowing the passage through which the fish have to pass in coming up from the sea to feed; thus giving the people an opportunity of striking them with their spears, and throwing them on the shore without much difficulty.

On the afternoon of the 1st of July we shifted our tents overland, and down the creek as far as the salmon stream. In performing this short journey over bare ground, I was enabled to form some conception of the difficulties likely to be encountered by Captain Lyon and his companions; for, even with our light load, the dogs could scarcely move at times. One of the strongest of eleven fell down in a fit occasioned by over exertion; the poor animal lay on his side, foaming at the mouth for a minute or two, but soon recovered sufficiently to be able to walk; and, being taken out of the sledge, was quite strong again the next day. We had scarcely arrived at the stream, when Toolemak's account was very satisfactorily confirmed by our finding on the ice near its mouth part of two fine salmon, above two feet in length, that had been thrown up by the force of the torrent, and a similar one was seen in the water. Our provisions being now out, we prepared for returning to the ships the following day; and I determined in a short time to send out Mr. Crozier with a larger party, well equipped with everything necessary for procuring us both fish and deer. We therefore left our tent, spare ammunition, and various other articles that would be required here, buried under a heap of stones near the stream, and on the morning of the 2d set out for the ships. The change which one week had made upon the ice it is quite impossible to conceive, the whole surface being now checkered with large and deep pools of water, where not a symptom of thawing had before appeared. This continued the whole way to the ships, which we reached at eight P.M., finding Captain Lyon and his party returned, after a laborious but unsuccessful endeavour to penetrate overland to the westward. On my arrival at the ships I found several new Esquimaux on board, who, to the number of twenty, had lately arrived from Toon=o=onee-r=o=ochiuk, a place situated to the westward and northward of Igloolik, and somewhere upon the opposite coast of Cockburn Island. This party confirmed the former account respecting the two ships that had been forced on shore; and, indeed, as an earnest of its truth, one man named Adloo, who was said to have actually seen them in this state, was a day or two afterward met by our people at Arlagnuk, while travelling to the southward, and having on his sledge a great deal of wood of the same kind as that before described.

This information having excited considerable interest, Lieutenant Hoppner, who had taken great pains to ascertain the facts correctly, volunteered his services to accompany some of the Esquimaux, who were said to be going northward very shortly, and to obtain every information on this and other subjects which might be within the scope of such a journey. On the night of the 4th, having heard that a party of the Esquimaux intended setting out the following morning, Lieutenant Hoppner and his people went out to their tents to be in readiness to accompany them. We were surprised to find the next day, that not only Lieutenant Hoppner's intended guide, but the whole of the rest of these people, had altogether left the island, and, as it afterward proved, permanently for the summer. We were now, therefore, for the first time since our arrival here, entirely deserted by the natives, only two or three of whom again visited the ships during the remainder of our stay. It appears probable, indeed, that these wandering people are in the habit of residing at their various stations only at particular intervals of time, perhaps with the intention of not scaring the walruses and seals too much by a very long residence at one time upon the same spot. What made this appear still more likely was the present state of their winter habitations at Igloolik, which, though offensive enough at about the same time the preceding year, were then wholesome and comfortable in comparison. Besides quantities of putrid walrus flesh, blubber, and oil, carcasses of dogs, and even of human beings recently deceased, were now to be seen exposed in their neighbourhood. What remained of the corpse of Keim=o=oseuk was of course wholly uncovered; a second, of a child, on which the wolves had feasted, was also lying about; and a third, of a newly-born infant, was discovered in the middle of a small lake by Mr. Richards, who caused them all to be buried under ground.

Our stock of meat for the dogs being nearly expended, and no seahorses having yet been seen near the shore, I sent Mr. Ross with a sledge to Tern Island on the 13th, in expectation of being supplied by the Esquimaux. Mr. Ross returned on the 14th without success, the whole of the natives having left the island after plundering the birds' nests, as they had done the preceding year.

Finding that our valuable dogs must be now wholly dependant on our own exertions in providing meat, a boat from each ship was carried down to the neighbourhood of the open water, and shortly afterward two others, to endeavour to kill walruses for them. This was the more desirable from the probability of the Fury's passing her next winter where no natives were resident, and the consequent necessity of laying in our stock for that long and dreary season during the present summer. Our people, therefore, pitched their tents near the old Esquimaux habitations; and thus were four boats constantly employed, whenever the weather would permit, for the three succeeding weeks.

On the 16th Lieutenant Hoppner and his party returned to the ships, having only been enabled to travel to the south shore of Cockburn Island, on account of their guides not yet proceeding any farther. Two of the Esquimaux accompanied our travellers back to Igloolik, and, being loaded with various useful presents from the ships, returned home the following day.


Extraordinary Disruption of Ice in Quilliam Creek.—Some Appearance of Scurvy among the Seamen and Marines.—Discovery of Gifford River.—Commence cutting the Ice outside the Ships to release them from their Winter-quarters.—Considerations respecting the Return of the Expedition to England.—Unfavourable State of the Ice at the Eastern Entrance of the Strait.—Proceed to the Southward.—Ships beset and drifted up Lyon Inlet.—Decease of Mr. George Fife.—Final Release from the Ice, and Arrival in England.—Remarks upon the practicability of a Northwest Passage.

Among the various changes which the warmth of the returning summer was now producing around us, none was more remarkable than that noticed by Captain Lyon in an excursion to Quilliam Creek, and which, in a note received from him by the return of the sledges on the 17th, he thus describes: "Between the two points forming the entrance of the creek, we saw a high wall of ice extending immediately across from land to land, and on arriving at it, found that, by some extraordinary convulsion, the floe had burst upward, and that immense masses of ice had been thrown in every direction. Several blocks, eight or nine feet in thickness, and many yards in diameter, were lying on the level solid floe; yet we were for some time at a loss to discover whence they had been ejected, till at length we found a hole or pool, which appeared so small as to be hardly capable of containing the immense fragments near it; yet from this place alone must they have been thrown."

Captain Lyon subsequently added, that "the water, which was found to be quite fresh, was running rapidly to seaward in this opening; and it seemed probable that the vast accumulation from the streams at the head of the creek, although at about ten miles distance, had burst a passage, and thus ejected the ice. The force employed for this purpose may be conceived, when I mention that, of several masses of ice, one in particular was above eight feet thick, full forty yards in circumference, and lay more than five hundred yards from the pool. No traces could be found of the manner in which these bodies had been transported, as not a single small fragment was seen lying about, to warrant the supposition that they had fallen with a shock. Neither were there any marks observable on the smooth uncracked floe to cause a suspicion that they had slidden over it, the general appearance of the floe at this place being the same as at all other parts of the inlet, and bearing no marks of having had any rush of water over it."

The weather was now, at times, extremely sultry, bringing out swarms of moschetoes, that soon became very troublesome, even on board the ships. A thermometer suspended in the middle of the observatory, and exposed to the sun's rays, was observed by Mr. Fisher to stand at 92 deg. at five P.M. on the 18th.

On the 19th Captain Lyon returned from Quilliam Creek, bringing with him the whole of our party stationed there, the ice being now so broken up in that neighbourhood as to render the fishing dangerous without proper boats. On this journey, which it took two days to perform, eleven dogs drew a weight of two thousand and fifty pounds, of which six hundred and forty were salmon, and ninety-five venison, procured by our people. The fish had all been caught in the trawl; and treble the quantity might easily have been taken with a seine, had we known how wide the mouth of the stream was to become. They varied in length from twenty to twenty six inches, and one of the largest, when cleaned, weighed eight pounds and a half; but their average weight in this state did not exceed two pounds and a quarter. The distance of the fishing-place from the ships, the dangerous state of the ice, and the soreness of the dogs' feet from travelling on the rough, honey-combed ice, prevented our taking any farther advantage of this very acceptable change of diet.

Nothing worthy of notice occurred till the 29th, when a patch of ice, a mile broad, separated from the outer margin of our barrier and drifted away. The canal formed by laying sand on the ice was now quite through in most places, showing that the plan would, in this latitude at least, always ensure a ship's escape at an earlier season than by the regular course of nature, provided it could be carried the whole way down to the open water.

I am now under the disagreeable necessity of entering on a subject which I had at one time ventured to hope need scarcely occupy any part of this narrative: I mean that of the scurvy, some slight but unequivocal symptoms of which disease were this day reported to me, by Mr. Edwards, to have appeared among four or five of the Fury's men, rendering it necessary, for the first time during the voyage, to have recourse to antiscorbutic treatment among the seamen and marines.

It will, perhaps, be considered a curious and singular fact in the history of sea-scurvy, that during the whole of the preceding part of this voyage, none among us but officers were in the slightest degree affected by it, a circumstance directly contrary to former experience. To whatever causes this might be attributed, it could not, however, but be highly gratifying to be thus assured that the various means employed to preserve the health of the seamen and marines had proved even beyond expectation efficacious.

That a ship's company began to evince symptoms of scurvy after twenty-seven months' entire dependance upon the resources contained within their ship (an experiment hitherto unknown, perhaps, in the annals of navigation, even for one fourth part of that period), could scarcely, indeed, be a subject of wonder, though it was at this particular time a matter of very sincere regret. From the health enjoyed by our people during two successive winters, unassisted as we had been by any supply of fresh antiscorbutic plants or other vegetables, I had began to indulge a hope that, with a continued attention to their comforts, cleanliness, and exercise, the same degree of vigour might, humanly speaking, be ensured at least as long as our present liberal resources should last. Present appearances, however, seemed to indicate differently; for, though our sick-list had scarcely a name upon it, and almost every individual was performing his accustomed duty, yet we had at length been impressed with the unpleasant conviction that a strong predisposition to disease existed among us, and that no very powerful exciting cause was wanting to render it more seriously apparent. Such a conviction at the present crisis was peculiarly disagreeable; for I could not but lament any circumstance tending to weaken the confidence in our strength and resources at a time when more than ordinary exertion was about to be required at our hands.

The 1st of August had now arrived; and yet, incredible as it may appear, the ships were as securely confined in the ice as in the middle of winter, except that a pool of water, about twice their own length in diameter, was now opened around them. I determined, therefore, notwithstanding the apparent hopelessness of sawing our way through four or five miles of ice, to begin that laborious process; not, indeed, with the hope of cutting a canal sufficiently large to allow the passage of the ships to sea, but with a view to weaken it so much as in some measure to assist its disruption whenever any swell should set in upon its margin. On this and the following day, therefore, all the gear was carried down for that purpose, and a large tent pitched for the ships' companies to dine in, the distance being too great to allow them to return on board to their meals. On the 3d, however, we were saved a great deal of unnecessary labour, by the ice opening out at the crack before mentioned, so that our sawing might now be commenced within a mile of the Fury. After divine service, therefore, all hands were sent from both ships to bring back the tent and tools to the point of Oongalooyat, and the parties were recalled from the walrus-fishery, except a single boat's crew: these also returned on board a few days after, the whole number of seahorses killed being eight, and one large seal.

On the 4th our sawing work was commenced, with the usual alacrity on the part of the officers and men, and three hundred and fifty yards of ice were got out before night, its thickness varying from one to four feet, but very irregular on account of the numerous pools and holes. An equal length was accomplished on the following day, though not without excessive fatigue and constant wet to the men, several of whom fell into the water by the ice breaking under them.

On the 5th, the register-thermometer, which had been placed in the ground in the winter, was taken up, though, to our astonishment, the ground above and about it had become nearly as hard and compactly frozen as when we dug the hole to put it down. How this came about we were quite at a loss to determine; for the earth had been thrown in quite loosely, whereas its present consolidated state implied its having been thoroughly thawed and frozen again. It occupied two men ten days to extricate it, which, as they approached the thermometer, was done by a chisel and mallet, to avoid injury by jarring. This, however, was not sufficient to prevent mischief, the instrument being so identified with the frozen earth as to render it impossible to strike the ground near it without communicating the shock to the tubes, two of which were in consequence found to be broken. Thus ended our experiment for ascertaining the temperature of the earth during the winter; an experiment which it would seem, from this attempt, scarcely practicable to make in any satisfactory manner without some apparatus constructed expressly for the purpose.

On the 6th the work was continued as before, and about four hundred yards of ice were sawn through and floated out, leaving now a broad canal, eleven hundred yards in length, leading from the open water towards that formed by the gravelled space.

When the lateness of the season to which the ships had now been detained in the ice is considered, with reference to the probability of the Fury's effecting anything of importance during the short remainder of the present summer, it will not be wondered at that, coupling this consideration with that of the health of my officers and men, I began to entertain doubts whether it would still be prudent to adopt the intended measure of remaining out in the Fury as a single ship; whether, in short, under existing circumstances, the probable evil did not far outweigh the possible good. In order to assist my own judgment on this occasion upon one of the most material points, I requested the medical officers of the Fury to furnish me with their opinions "as to the probable effect that a third winter passed in these regions would produce on the health of the officers, seamen, and marines of that ship, taking into consideration every circumstance connected with our situation." Their answer was decidedly adverse to remaining; and it was fortified with such good reasons, connected with the health of the officers and crews, as scarcely to leave me at liberty to adopt any other course than that of returning to England with both vessels.

Enclosing to Captain Lyon the replies of the medical gentlemen, I now also requested his opinion whether, under existing circumstances, he still considered it expedient to adopt the measure originally intended, with respect to the separation of the two ships. I had scarcely despatched a letter to this effect, when, at 10 A.M. on the 8th, the ice about the Fury began to move, the pools breaking up, and the gravelled canal soon entirely closing. A breeze springing up from the northward at this time, all sail was made upon the ship, and the ice gradually driving out as it detached itself from the shore, the Fury got into open water about one P.M. The Hecla, however, still remained in the middle of her winter's floe, which, though it moved a little with the rest at first, did not come out of the bay. In the course of the afternoon, finding her still stationary, I determined to occupy the time in stretching over to the northward, for the purpose of examining the state of the fixed ice at the eastern mouth of the strait; and, arriving at its margin by ten P.M., found it attached to both shores from the northeastern part of Neerlo-naktoo across to Murray Maxwell Inlet. It was the general opinion that this ice was in a more solid state than at the same time and place the preceding year, but its situation did not, I believe, differ half a mile from what it had then been. As the sun went down nearly in the direction of the strait, we obtained from the masthead a distinct and extensive view in that quarter, and it is impossible to conceive a more hopeless prospect than this now presented. One vast expanse of level solid ice occupied the whole extent of sea visible to the westward, and the eye wearied itself in vain to discover a single break upon its surface.

Having finished this examination, which at once destroyed every hope I had never ceased to indulge of a passage through the strait, we returned towards Igloolik to rejoin the Hecla. It was not, however, till the morning of the 9th that we observed her to be moving out of the bay, when at length (for the first time, perhaps, that such an event ever occurred) she drove to sea in the middle of the floe. Thus at the mercy of the ice, she was carried over the shoals off the southeast point of Igloolik in six and a half fathoms, but was then fortunately drifted into deeper water. The swell on the outside was all that was wanting to break up her icy prison, which, separating at seven A.M., finally released her from confinement.

Having soon afterward received Captain Lyon's answer to my communication, it was necessary for me to come to a final determination on the subject therein alluded to. For various reasons, he advised that the Fury and Hecla should return to England together, as soon as such arrangements respecting the removal of stores and provisions, as I might judge proper to make, should be completed.

Under such circumstances, to which may be added the uncertainty of the Hecla's liberation from the ice to the southward before the close of the season, I no longer considered it prudent or justifiable, upon the slender chance of eventual success now before us, to risk the safety of the officers and men committed to my charge, and whom it was now my first wish to reconduct in good health to their country and their friends. Having communicated my intentions to the officers and ships' companies, I directed several additions to be made to their ordinary allowance of provisions, particularly in the various antiscorbutics, which had hitherto been reserved for cases of emergency; and then beating up to our winter station, which I named Turton Bay, we anchored there in the afternoon in ten fathoms, and immediately commenced our preparations for lightening the Fury. Seven months' provisions, a bower anchor, and a few other stores, were received by the Hecla, some of her water, before filled as ballast, being started to make room for them; and such other arrangements made as circumstances would permit for improving the stowage of the Fury's hold. The bay was now entirely clear of ice in every part; and so changed was its appearance in the course of the last four-and-twenty hours, that it was scarcely possible to believe it the same place that we had been accustomed daily to look upon for the ten preceding months.

The conveyance and stowage of the stores had scarcely been completed, when some loose ice drifting into the bay with the tide on the night of the 10th, obliged us hastily to get under way and stand out. On the following morning I ran across to the main land in the Fury, for the purpose of erecting, in compliance with my instructions, a flagstaff fifty-six feet in height, having at its top a ball, made of iron hoops and canvass, ten feet in diameter, and a cylinder buried near its foot, containing a parchment with some account of our visit to this place. In the mean time, I requested Captain Lyon to stand over to the point of Igloolik, where our walruses had been landed, and to bring off these, as well as our boats and tents remaining there. The ice soon after coming in upon the point, it was not without risk of the Hecla's being dangerously beset that Captain Lyon succeeded in bringing off everything but one boat. This was, indeed, no great loss to us, though a great acquisition to the Esquimaux; for, being almost worn out, I had intended to break her up previously to leaving the ice. Besides this, we purposely left our sledges, and a quantity of wood in pieces of a convenient size for bows, spears, and paddles, distributing them about in several places, that one or two individuals might not make a prize of the whole.

The Hecla rejoining us on the morning of the 12th, we stood out to the eastward, and finally took our departure from Igloolik. In the course of the night the favourable breeze failed us, and on the morning of the 14th was succeeded by a southerly wind, the ships being close to another island called Ooglit, about twelve leagues to the S.S.W. of the others. We were here immediately visited by our old acquaintance the Esquimaux, several of whom came off in their canoes in the course of the morning, as if determined to loose no opportunity of profiting by us. Among these was our worthy old friend Nannow, to whom everybody was glad to give something; and, indeed, they all received as many presents as their canoes could safely carry or tow on shore. Their tents, nine in number were pitched on the main land, a little to the northward of Ooglit, at a station they call Ag-wis-se-=o-wik, of which we had often heard them speak at Igloolik. They now also pointed out to us Amitioke, at the distance of four or five leagues to the southward and westward, which proved to be the same piece of low land that we had taken for it in first coming up this coast. The Esquimaux told us that a number of their younger men were inland in pursuit of deer, and that the rest had abundant supplies of walrus, which animals we saw in considerable numbers about this place.

We were now for some days all but beset in this neighbourhood, calms or light southerly and easterly breezes constantly prevailing. During this time the main body of ice remained, in most parts, close to the shore, leaving us only a "hole" of water to work about in, and much nearer to the land than on this shoal and shelving coast was altogether safe for the ships. Notwithstanding this, however, we had soon occasion to observe that they not only kept their ground, but even drew to the southward, owing, no doubt, to the current before found to set in that direction along the coast.

The ice remained close the whole of the 26th; but we continued, as usual, to drift generally to the southward, and the next morning, being off Owlitteeweek, were enabled to cast off and make sail, the ice being rather more open than before. Being favoured by a commanding northerly breeze, we ran a considerable distance to the southward, having, however, only just room to sail between the points of the closely packed ice and a flat, dangerous shore. Without escaping for a moment, from our confined situation, and almost without perceiving any motion of the masses of ice among themselves, we had, at noon on the 30th, drifted down within a mile of a small island lying near the northeast point of Winter Island. On the 31st the tide took us through between these, the breadth of the passage being three quarters of a mile, in no less than sixteen fathoms water. We then passed within a dangerous reef of rocks, lying a full mile from the shore, and having numerous heavy masses of grounded ice upon it. After clearing this in a good depth of water, we were, by the evening, carried along shore within a mile of Cape Fisher.

Thus had we, in a most singular manner, once more arrived at our old winter-quarters, with scarcely a single successful exertion on our parts towards effecting that object. The distance from Ooglit to our present station was about one hundred and sixty miles along the coast. Of this we had never sailed above forty, the rest of the distance having been accomplished, while we were immoveably beset, by mere drifting. The interval thus employed having been barely eight days, gives an average drift to the southward of above fifteen miles per day.

In the afternoon of the 6th I was much pained at being informed by telegraph from the Hecla, that Mr. Fife, Greenland master of that ship, had just expired, an event which for some days past there had been but too much reason to apprehend; the scurvy having within the last three weeks continued to increase considerably upon him. It is proper for me, however, both in justice to the medical officers under whose skilful and humane care he was placed, and to the means with which we were in this way so liberally supplied, to state, that during a part of that time Mr. Fife had taken so great a dislike to the various antiscorbutics which were administered to him, that he could seldom be induced to use any of them. The disease, in consequence, reduced him to a state of extreme debility, which at length carried him off almost without pain. The Hecla being at the time closely beset, and in a situation of great danger among the shoals off Winter Island, Captain Lyon caused the remains of the deceased to be committed to the sea with all the solemnity which circumstances would permit.

In the night of the 6th, the ships, which had before nearly closed each other, were again separated to the distance of several miles, though no motion was perceptible in the masses of ice about them. On the evening of the 11th, however, the wind at length began to freshen from the northwest, when the ice immediately commenced driving down the inlet at the rate of a mile an hour, carrying the Fury with it, and within half a mile of the rocks, the whole way down to Cape Martineau, but keeping her in deep water. In the mean time the Hecla had been swept into much more dangerous situations, passing along the east and south sides of Winter Island; and, after driving nearly up to Five-hawser Bay, being carried near some dangerous shoals about Cape Edwards, where Captain Lyon expected every other tide that she would take the ground.

On the 15th, when the ships had closed each other within a mile, we could see the clear water from the masthead, and the Hecla could now have been easily extricated. Such, however, are the sudden changes that take place in this precarious navigation, that not long afterward the Fury was quite at liberty to sail out of the ice, while the Hecla was now, in her turn, so immoveably fast set, and even cemented between several very heavy masses, that no power that could be applied was sufficient to move her an inch. In this situation she remained all the 16th, without our being able to render her any assistance; and the frost being now rather severe at night, we began to consider it not improbable that we might yet be detained for another winter. We were perhaps, indeed, indebted for our escape to a strong westerly breeze, which blew for several hours on the 17th, when, the ice being sufficiently close to allow our men to walk to the assistance of the Hecla, we succeeded, after seven hours' hard labour, in forcing her into clear water, when all sail was made to the eastward, and our course shaped for the Trinity Islands in a perfectly open sea.

We thus finally made our escape from the ice after having been almost immoveably beset in it for twenty-four days out of the last twenty-six, in the course of which time the ships had been taken over no less than one hundred and forty leagues of ground, generally very close to the shore, and always unable to do anything towards effecting their escape from danger.

We made the Trinity Islands on the 18th, and ran down Hudson's Strait with a favourable breeze, reaching the Orkneys on the morning of Oct. 9th. It can scarcely, perhaps, be imagined by those who have not been similarly situated, with what eager interest one or two vessels were this day descried by us, being the first trace of civilized man that we had seen for the space of seven-and-twenty months. The breeze increasing to a fresh gale from the southward in the course of the night, with a heavy sea from the same quarter, rendering it impossible for us to make any progress in that direction, I determined to put into Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, to procure refreshments, and await a change in our favour. We accordingly bore up for that harbour early on the morning of the 10th, and at thirty minutes past ten A.M. anchored there, where we were immediately visited by a great number of the inhabitants, anxious to greet us on our return to our native country.

I feel it utterly impossible adequately to express, the kindness and attention we received for the three or four days that we were detained in Bressay Sound by a continuance of unfavourable winds. On the first information of our arrival the bells of Lerwick were set ringing, the inhabitants flocked from every part of the country to express their joy at our unexpected return, and the town was at night illuminated, as if each individual had a brother or a son among us.

On the 13th, a breeze springing up from the northward, we took leave of our kind and hospitable friends, deeply sensible of the cordial and affectionate reception we had experienced; and, being still favoured by the wind, were abreast of Buchaness the following evening. On the 16th, being off Whitby, I went on shore there, and, after receiving the cordial greetings of a great number of the worthy inhabitants of Whitby, who had assembled to meet us on landing, set off for London, and arrived at the Admiralty on the morning of the 18th.




Notwithstanding the want of success of the late expedition to the Polar Seas, it was resolved to make another attempt to effect a passage by sea, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The chief alterations in the equipment of the present expedition consisted in the placing of Sylvester's warming stove in the very bottom of the ship's hold, in substituting a small quantity of salt beef for a part of the pork, and in furnishing a much larger supply of newly corned beef. Preserved carrots and parsnips, salmon, cream, pickles of onions, beet-root, cabbage, and, to make the most of our stowage, split peas, instead of whole ones, were supplied. A small quantity of beef pemmican, made by pounding the meat with a certain portion of fat, as described by Captain Franklin, was also furnished.


Passage to the Whale-fish Islands, and Removal of Stores from the Transport.—Enter the Ice in Baffin's Bay.—Difficulties of Penetrating to the Westward.—Quit the Ice in Baffin's Bay.—Remarks on the Obstructions encountered by the Ships, and on the Severity of the Season.

The equipment of the Hecla and Fury, and the loading of the William Harris transport, being completed, we began to move down the river from Deptford on the 8th of May, 1824, and on the 10th, by the assistance of the steamboat, the three ships had reached Northfleet, where they received their powder and their ordnance stores.

Early on the morning of the 3d of July, the whole of our stores being removed, and Lieutenant Pritchard having received his orders, together with our despatches and letters for England, the William Harris weighed with a light wind from the northward, and was towed out to sea by our boats.

Light northerly winds, together with the dull sailing of our now deeply-laden ships, prevented our making much progress for several days, and kept us in the neighbourhood of numerous icebergs, which it is dangerous to approach when there is any swell. We counted from the deck, at one time, no less than one hundred and three of these immense bodies, some of them from one to two hundred feet in height above the sea; and it was necessary, in one or two instances, to tow the ships clear of them with the boats.

From this time, indeed, the obstructions from the quantity, magnitude, and closeness of the ice were such as to keep our people almost constantly employed in heaving, warping, or sawing through it; and yet with so little success, that, at the close of the month of July, we had only penetrated seventy miles to the westward, or the longitude of about 62 deg. 10'.

Sept. 9th.—I shall, doubtless, be readily excused for not having entered in this journal a detailed narrative of the obstacles we met with, and of the unwearied exertions of the officers and men to overcome them, during the tedious eight weeks employed in crossing this barrier.

The constant besetment of the ships, and our daily observations for latitude and longitude, afforded a favourable opportunity for ascertaining precisely the set of any currents by which the whole body of ice might be actuated. By attending very carefully to all the circumstances, it was evident that a daily set to the southward obtained when the wind was northerly, differing in amount from two or three, to eight or ten miles per day, according to the strength of the breeze; but a northerly current was equally apparent, and fully to the same amount, whenever the wind blew from the southward. A circumstance more remarkable than these, however, forced itself strongly upon my notice at this time, which was, that a westerly set was very frequently apparent, even against a fresh breeze blowing from that quarter. I mention the circumstance in this place, because I may hereafter have to offer a remark or two on this fact, in connexion with some others of a similar nature noticed elsewhere.

With respect to the dimensions of the ice through which we had now scrambled our way, principally by warping and towing, a distance of between three and four hundred miles, I remarked that it for the most part increased, as well in the thickness as the extent of the floes, as we advanced westward about the parallel of 71 deg. During our subsequent progress to the north, we also met with some of enormous dimensions, several of the floes, to which we applied our hawsers and the power of the improved capstan, being at their margin more than twenty feet above the level of the sea; and over some of these we could not see from the masthead. Upon the whole, however, the magnitude of the ice became somewhat less towards the northwest, and within thirty miles of that margin the masses were comparatively small, and their thickness much diminished. Bergs were in sight during the whole passage, but they were more numerous towards the middle of the "pack," and rather the most so to the southward.


Enter Sir James Lancaster's Sound.—Land at Cape Warrender.—Meet with young Ice.—Ships beset and carried near the Shore.—Driven back to Navy-board Inlet.—Run to the Westward, and enter Prince Regent's Inlet.—Arrival at Port Bowen.

All our past obstacles were in a moment forgotten when we once more saw an open sea before us; but it must be confessed that it was not so easy to forget that the middle of September was already near at hand, without having brought us even to the entrance of Sir James Lancaster's Sound. That not a moment might be lost, however, in pushing to the westward, a press of canvass was crowded, and, being happily favoured with an easterly breeze, on the morning of Sept. 10th we caught a glimpse of the high bold land on the north side of the magnificent inlet up which our course was once more to be directed. From the time of our leaving the main body of ice, we met with none of any kind, and the entrance to the Sound was, as usual, entirely free from it, except here and there a berg, floating about in that solitary grandeur, of which these enormous masses, when occurring in the midst of an extensive sea, are calculated to convey so sublime an idea.

On the morning of the 12th we were once more favoured with a breeze from the eastward, but so light and unsteady that our progress was vexatiously slow; and on the 13th, when within seven leagues of Cape York, we had the mortification to perceive the sea ahead of us covered with young ice, the thermometer having, for two days past, ranged only from 18 deg. to 20 deg.

The next breeze sprung up from the westward, drawing also from the southward, at times, out of Prince Regent's Inlet, and for three days we were struggling with the young ice to little or no purpose, now and then gaining half a mile of ground to windward in a little "hole" of open water, then losing as much by the necessity of bearing up or wearing (for the ice was too strong to allow us to tack), sallying from morning to night with all hands, and with the watch at night, two boats constantly under the bows; and, after all, rather losing ground than otherwise, while the young ice was every hour increasing in thickness.

Towards sunset on the 17th we became more and more hampered, and were eventually beset during the night. The sea was covered with ice between us and the shore, all of this year's formation, but now of considerable thickness and formidable appearance. The wind continuing strong, the whole body was constantly pressed in upon the land, bearing the ships along with it, and doubling one sheet over another, sometimes to a hundred thicknesses. We quickly shoaled the water from seventy to forty fathoms, the latter depth occurring about a mile from the beach; and after this we drifted but little, the ice being blocked up between the point and a high perpendicular berg lying aground off it.

Under such circumstances, it evidently became expedient to endeavour, by sawing, to get the ships as close in-shore as possible, so as to secure them either to grounded ice, or by anchoring within the shelter of a bay at no great distance inside of us; for it now seemed not unlikely that winter was about to put a premature stop to all farther operations at sea for this season. At all events, it was necessary to consult the immediate safety of the ships, and to keep them from being drifted back to the eastward. I therefore gave orders for endeavouring to get the ships in towards the bay, by cutting through what level floes still remained. So strong had been the pressure while the ice was forcing in upon us, that on the 20th, after liberating the Hecla on one side, she was as firmly cemented to it on the other, as after a winter's formation; and we could only clear her by heavy and repeated "sallying." After cutting in two or three hundred yards, while the people were at dinner on the 21st, our canal closed by the external pressure coming upon the parts which we had weakened, and in a few minutes the whole was once more in motion, or, as the seamen not inaptly expressed it, "alive," mass doubling under mass, and raising those which were uppermost to a considerable height. The ice thus pressed together was now about ten feet in thickness in some places, and on an average not less than four or five, so that, while thus forced in upon a ship, although soft in itself, it caused her to tremble exceedingly; a sensation, indeed, commonly experienced in forcing through young ice of considerable thickness. We were now once more obliged to be quiet spectators of what was going on around us, having, with extreme difficulty, succeeded in saving most of our tools that were lying on the ice when the squeezing suddenly began.

A sudden motion of the ice, on the morning of the 22d, occasioned by a change of the wind to the S.E., threatened to carry us directly off the land. It was now, more than ever, desirable to hold on, as this breeze was likely to clear the shore, and, at the same time, to give us a run to the westward. Hawsers were therefore run out to the land-ice, composed of some heavy masses, almost on the beach. With the Hecla this succeeded, but the Fury being much farther from the shore, soon began to move out with the whole body of ice, which, carrying her close to the large berg off the point, swept her round the latter, where, after great exertion, Captain Hoppner succeeded in getting clear, and then made sail to beat back to us. In the mean time the strain put upon the Hecla's hawsers being too great for them, they snapped one after another, and a bower-anchor was let go as a last resource. It was one of Hawkins's, with the double fluke, and immediately brought up, not merely the ship, but a large floe of young ice which had just broken our stream-cable. All hands were sent upon the floe to cut it up ahead, and the whole operation was a novel, and, at times, a fearful one; for the ice, being weakened by the cutting, would suddenly gather fresh way astern, carrying men and tools with it, while the chain cable continued to plough through it in a manner which gave one the idea of something alive, and continually renewing its attacks. The anchor held surprisingly; and after this tremendous strain had been put upon it for above an hour, we had fairly cut the floe in two, and the ship was riding in clear water about half a mile from the shore.

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