SIR JOHN FRANKLIN AND THE NORTH-WEST PASSAGE
 AMONG the many famous names that shine out in this history of the Victorian age, none is more inspiring than that of
the old Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, who perished in the attempt to find the North-west Passage.
Arctic exploration had been at a standstill since the days when Henry Hudson had perished in the Far North.
But early in the century the old fascination asserted itself, and Britain resolved to fit out an expedition to
discover a channel which was supposed to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans in the north-west of
SIR JOHN FRANKLIN.
There was no lack of stout-hearted sailor-men ready to volunteer for the command, but the man chosen was Sir
John Franklin, who had already greatly distinguished himself in Arctic exploration. He was an enthusiastic
sailor; and when his chief
 the First Lord of the Admiralty suggested that was rather old for such an undertaking at the advanced age of
sixty, Franklin exclaimed eagerly, "My lord, you have been misinformed; I am only fifty-nine."
This decided the matter, and there was no time lost in starting. Two ships, the Erebus and
Terror, but lately returned from the Arctic regions, were selected for the purpose, with a crew of 134
souls—23 officers and 111 men—provisioned for three years. All were in the highest possible
spirits, full of zeal and enthusiasm, and resolved to end for ever the vexed question of a North-west Passage.
THE EREBUS AND TERROR NIPPED IN THE ICED PACK.
 And so they passed from the shores of England into everlasting silence. A few brief but happy letters reached
home during the next two months, and then there were no further tidings. Two years passed. Still there was no
news from any member of the Franklin expedition. Anxiety deepened, and fears for their fate were whispered
In June 1848 Sir J. Ross, an old Arctic explorer, sailed from England in search of the missing ships. He
actually sailed to within 300 miles of the Erebus and Terror, which had been deserted just four months before.
But he neither saw nor heard anything of them or their crew, and he returned sadly with no news of the missing
expedition. Rewards were offered both by the Government and Lady Franklin, until by the autumn of 1850 no less
than fifteen ships were engaged in searching for Franklin and his crew, though all hopes of finding them alive
had long since been given up. Three sailors' graves were found on Beechey Island in the Far North, and then
silence fell till 1854.
SIR JOHN ROSS.
 Though nine years had now passed since the joyous start of Franklin and his crew, the interest was still
intense, and a new expedition was fitted out under Captain McClintock, who brought home a good deal of
information of the missing ships and crew. Piecing together the various odds and ends of news gleaned by those
who had gone in search, we get the following harrowing story.
On June 1 the Erebus and Terror had reached the Orkney Islands. Boisterous winds
carried them due west across the North Atlantic Ocean, till three weeks later they sighted Greenland, and
rounded Cape Farewell for the north. Here they met their first ice, and were considerably delayed by icebergs,
The ships pursued their solitary way through Baffin's Bay, Lancaster Sound, to Beechey Island, at which point
the winter ice must have finally blocked them in. There they settled down to face the hardships of an Arctic
winter, until the faint rays of the returning sun should appear on the distant hills, and small parties could
venture forth in search of game and fresh food. If they were disappointed at the failure of the expedition to
reach a more advanced point before seeking winter quarters, they realized that they had explored some 300
miles of new coastline, and that only about 230 miles lay between them and their great discovery. Leaving
three graves on Beechey Island, and a record of their doings, they made their way onwards through the narrow
channels now known as Peel Strait and Franklin Straits towards King William's Land.
 But suddenly the ships were caught by a rigid bar of pack ice, and frozen into a solid mass. Here they were
doomed to spend a second winter. It was an unexpected blow, but the long winter passed away, and hope returned
with daylight. Yet so thick was the ice, that even the summer sun could not melt it.
It was May 1817, just two years since they had left England, when a small party set out to explore the coast
of King William's Island. They reached Cape Victory, and went far enough to see in the distance the Pacific
coast, which told them that their sufferings had not been in vain.
They deposited a record of their doings, which announced that Franklin was still commanding the expedition,
and that all was well, and hurried back to the ships. But they found all was no longer well. The commander was
no longer with them. On June 11 he passed away on the scene of his discoveries, still beset by the ice which
he had fought so gallantly and so hopefully. Whether he lived to hear the news of his success we shall never
know. He died in the faithful fulfilment of his duty, as many an Englishman had done before.
The ships now began very slowly to drift southwards, and soon they were beset by impenetrable barriers of ice.
They had had no choice. A third winter must be spent on the ships.
It is terrible to think of the sufferings of the crews during this last winter. Starvation and disease did
their work; officers and men died one by one, and the long dark winter, with its pitiless snows and
 hitter howling winds, brought no hope to the ice-bound men.
RELICS OF THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION.
We know there were still 105 survivors in April 1848, with provisions till the following July, for this was
the date when they finally abandoned the two ships to make their way to Point Victory. There they left their
last record, stating that they were starting for the Fish River.
They made their way with sledges along the coast
 line of King William's Island, where skeleton after skeleton told its dreary tale of suffering.
Forty white men had been seen by the Esquimaux about this time dragging sledges and a boat across the snow;
they were very thin, and "they fell down and died as they walked along". Certain it is none of them reached
the Great Fish River, for which they were making, for not a man of all that crew survived. Relics were
discovered and brought back to England from time to time. Cooking-stoves were found, watches, blankets; there
was a well-marked Bible, and a copy of The Vicar of Wakefield.
To-day, amid the ice and snow and desolation of Beechey Island, are these words, engraved on a tablet:
TO THE MEMORY OF
FRANKLIN, CROZIER, FITZJAMES
and all their gallant officers and faithful companions who have suffered and perished in the cause of science
and the service of their country
is erected near the spot where they passed their first Arctic winter and whence they issued forth to conquer
to commemorate the grief of their admiring countrymen and friends and the anguish, subdued by faith, of her
who has lost in the heroic leader of the expedition the most devoted and affectionate of husbands.
"And so He bringeth them unto the Haven where they would be."
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