The trials of Franklin

The fatigues and privations endured on this route are scarcely to be paralleled; short of food, ill supplied with clothing, and exposed to the howling severity of the climate, the escape of any one of the number appears almost a miracle. Some days, when there was nothing to eat, and no means of making a fire, they passed entirely in bed; on others, after a weary and exhausting travel, their only nourishment on halting for the night was tripe de roche, or rock-tripe, a species of lichen, a plant of most nauseous taste, and the cause of cruel bowl complaints to the whole party. Daily they became weaker, and less capable of exertion; one of the canoes was so much broken by a fall, that it was burned to cook a supper; the resource of fishing, too, was denied them, for some of the men, in the recklessness of misery, threw away the nets. Rivers were to be crossed by wading, or in the canoe; on one of these occasions Franklin took his seat with two of the voyageurs in their frail bark, when they were driven by the force of the stream and the wind to the verge of a frightful rapid, in which the canoe upset, and, but for a rock on which they found footing, they would there have perished. On the 19th, “previous to setting out, the whole party ate the remains of their old shoes, and whatever scraps of leather they had, to strengthen their stomachs for the fatigue of the day’s journey. These,” adds Franklin, “would have satisfied us in ordinary times, but we were now almost exhausted by slender fare and travel, and our appetites had become ravenous. We looked, however, with humble confidence to the great Author and Giver of all good for a continuance of the support which had hitherto been always supplied to us at our greatest need.”

Epes Sargent, ed., Arctic Adventure by Sea and Land from the Earliest Date to the Last Expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin (Phillips, Sampson & Company, 1858).

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Bruce Wishart
Whimsies. Sometimes about writing.
Sometimes about folklore. Sometimes
about the sea, or life on the coast.
And sometimes not.