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in a cave, in which he had found a written account of the destruction of the ships by icebergs, and of the death of Sir John Franklin. It had been placed there by one of the explorers, who afterwards met his death like the rest of his companions by exposure to cold and famine.
5. These Arctic expeditions did much to familiarize this country with Arctic research, but they did little to open up the countries or seas around the Pole; indeed, the place where Sir John Franklin met his death was only about half-way between England and the North Pole.
6. In 1874 the government, on the recommendation of several scientific societies, determined to fit out an expedition at the cost of the nation to explore the Polar regions. No expense was spared in the fitting out of the ships, and everything was done on the advice of the most eminent Arctic explorers to ensure its success.
7. The ships chosen for this hazardous expedition were built of wood, and were specially strengthened by a lining of teak. On the top of one of the masts a sort of barrel was fixed. This was called the “crow's nest," and was used for
on “look out.” He sat up there and directed the course of the vessel in the intricate chan
nels amongst the ice. 8. Every precaution was taken for the preservation of the health of both officers and men. Thick suits of warm clothing, and gloves lined with fur, were served out to all. Wooden shoes were taken to wear when the men
walked on the ice, and spectacles to preserve their eyes from snow blindness.
Tents were taken for the men to sleep in when they made sledge journeys on the ice, and also portable stoves to be heated with spirits of wine to supply warmth, and as a means of cooking their food; in short, everything was taken that could be suggested, to ward off the effects of the cold.
9. Provisions in abundance were supplied to both ships, consisting mostly of preserved meats and pemmican, a kind of food much used in these cold climates composed of a mixture of meat and vegetables.
Sledges were also taken in case the seas around the Pole should be covered with ice. Some of these were constructed to be drawn by men, others by dogs. Indeed all that science and experience could do to make the expedition perfect was done.
The ships were named the Alert and the Discovery, and the command was given to Sir George Nares, an experienced officer who had shortly before commanded the Challenger in her scientific voyage around the world.
10. The ships left Portsmouth on the 29th of May, 1875, amidst the acclamations of a large concourse of people who had assembled to witness their departure. Many anxious eyes were fixed on them, as decked with flags they steamed out of the harbour. Amongst that large crowd were some who had fathers or brothers on board, and as the part of the world to which the ships were bound was unknown, many feared that it was the last time they would see either the ships or their crews. The whole nation, indeed, felt interested in the expedition, and the Queen herself sent a telegram to the commander wishing him success.
North-west passage, a passage icebergs, large elevated masses
from the Atlantic to the Paci- of floating ice. fic along the north coast of familiarize, to make acquainted America.
with. explorers, those who seek to dis- hazardous, dangerous. cover.
teak, a hard kind of wood chiefly Esquimaux, a diminutive race found in India.
inhabiting the Polar region. intricate, difficult to pass Sir John Franklin, Sir Leopold through.
M'Clintock, celebrated Arctic portable, that can be carried explorers whose chief object about. was to discover the north-west sledges, carriages without wheels. passage.
acclamations, shouts. What were the chief objects of the Polar expedition? Name the chief object of former expeditions in visiting the Arctic regions. Who was one of the most successful Arctic explorers? What was his fate? Who discovered the records of Franklin's last expedition? Give a description of the ships selected for the Polar expedition. Describe the precautions taken to preserve the health of the men. What provisions were taken? What is pemmican? Why were sledges taken? In what year did the ships leave Portsmouth and under whose command?
THE ARCTIC EXPEDITION OF 1875–76.
1. After leaving the coast of Ireland, a succession of severe gales separated the ships from each other. They, however, met off the foggy headland of Cape Desolation in Greenland, and soon afterwards entered the harbour of the Danish settlement of Disco. Here they took on board a supply of dogs to draw the sledges, and two wellknown Esquimaux interpreters and dog drivers, “Fred” for the Alert, and "Hans" for the Discovery.
2. The last place they called at was Upernavik. This settlement is the most northerly in the known world. It is a Danish colony, and its chief characteristics are rocks and boulders, black houses with white window shutters,
Map to illustrate the Course of the “Alert" and the “Discovery.". and dogs. Crossing Melville Bay, the ships entered Smith's Channel, which was found filled with pack ice. They took refuge in a little rocky cove, which was for the time named “Bide a Wee” harbour, from the number of times they had to turn back into it. Before long, however, a strong wind blew the ice a little off the south shore, and both ships rounding Cape Sabine, steamed westward as there was no road to the north.
3. Large mountains of ice were now to be seen on all sides of them, and one day the ships were in great danger from an immense iceberg, which drifted towards them and threatened to crush the ships to pieces. The danger appeared to be so imminent that the crews got their knapsacks and pocket valuables together to be prepared for the worst. Only the skill and patient watchfulness of officers and men saved the ships from destruction.
4. The ships now pressed on northwards through Smith's Sound and the Kennedy and Robeson Channels. Checks and delays were of daily occurrence. Every movement of the ice was watched, and every chance of steaming on eagerly seized. On the 22d of August a well sheltered and commodious bay was found on the north shores of Lady Franklin Strait, and here it was decided the Discovery should winter. A short time was spent in making preparations for the separation of the two ships, and on the 25th of August, the Alert amidst the hearty cheers of the crew of the Discovery steamed northwards.
5. It took the Alert three days to steam twenty miles, and in going this distance, the rudder was so crushed by icebergs, that it had to be changed for a spare one that was carried on deck. The 1st of September was a memorable day for the expedition. A south-south-westerly gale had sprung up during the previous night, and under its influence the broad floes of heavy ice separated from the steep cliffs under which the ship lay, leaving a long line of water, now widening and now narrowing, stretching along the shore into the unknown north.