Sir John Franklin

This intrepid navigator was born at Spilsby, in Lincolnshire, in the year 1786. In 1800, he went as a midshipman, on board the Polyphemus; and, in 1802, proceeded with Captain Flinders, to New Holland, in the Investigator, from which vessel, on its arrival at Port Jackson, in July, 1803, he was removed, as supernumerary master's-mate, to the Porpoise storeship, and was shortly afterwards wrecked on a coral reef. He then joined the Bellerophon, in which he was engaged at the battle of Trafalgar; and, some time after, was appointed an acting lieutenant of the Bed ford, in which he accompanied the royal family of Portugal from Lisbon to South America; and, returning to Europe, assisted at the blockade of Flushing, where he continued till 1814, when the Bedford was ordered out as part of the expedition against New Orleans, where he greatly distinguished himself by his skill and valor. In 1815, he was made first lieutenant of the Forth; and, in January, 1818, was appointed to the command of the Trent brig, then about to accompany Captain Buchan on a voyage to Spitzbergen; and, on his return, he offered to undertake a journey to the North Pole, from the shores of the former, by traveling in sledge-boats across the ice.

In the early part of 1819, he was selected to head an expedition, over land, from Hudson's Bay, to the Arctic Ocean; and having embarked at Gravesend, on the 23d of May, arrived at the former place on the 30th of August; and, on the 9th of September, began to ascend the streams between York Factory and Cumberland House, a journey of six hundred and ninety miles, which he performed in about six weeks, having been nearly killed by an accident, which he thus relates In the afternoon, whilst on my way to superintend the operations of the men, I had the misfortune to slip from the summit of a rock into the river, betwixt two of the falls. My attempts to regain the bank were, for a time, ineffectual, owing to the rocks within my reach having been worn smooth by the action of the water; but, after I had been carried a considerable distance down the stream, I caught hold of a willow, by which I held until two gentlemen came in a boat to my assistance.' From Cumberland House he proceeded along the snow, to Fort Chepywan, where he arrived on the 26th of March, 1820, after having walked eight hundred and fifty-seven miles, with a weight on his ancles, the whole distance, of nearly three pounds; and in the course of which, he describes the cold to have been so severe, that the tea froze in the tin pots before it could be raised to the mouth, and even a mixture of spirits and water became thick by congelation.' On the 29th of July, he arrived at Fort Providence, whence he proceeded to the Yellow Knife River, and directed his course towards the Polar Sea, through a country never before visited by a European; wintering, on his way thither, at Fort Enterprise, near the head of the Copper Mine River, where he remained, in a hut built by the Canadians, till the end of June, 1821; during which time, he wrote great part of his journal, and in which year he was made a commander.

On the 7th of July, he reached the westerly part of the Copper Mine River; a few days afterwards, traversed the Copper Mountains, and pitchlug his tent beneath them, sent forward: in advance, his two Esquimaux interpreters, to inform their countrymen of his approach, and of the object of his expedition. After reconnoitering the mouth of the Copper Mine River, and giving to one of the neighboring promontories the name of Cape Hearne, he embarked in a canoe, on the 21st of July, and 'commenced the navigation of the Arctic Ocean, with a voyage before him of not less than one thousand two hundred geographical miles; Fort Churchill, on the western shore of Hudson's Bay, being the nearest spot at which he could hope to meet with a civilized being.' The tempestuous weather, however, the shortness of his provisions, and the fears of the Canadians, who were unwilling to proceed further, compelled him to land at Cape Flinders. Hence he proceeded along the coast to Point Turnagain, now called the Duke of York's Archipelago; and having carried his researches so far as 'to favor the opinion of those who contend for the practicability of a north-west passage,' he, on the 25th of August, terminated his survey of the coast, at the mouth of Hood's River, where he left, in a box, an account of his proceedings, for the information of Captain Parry, who was then exploring the Arctic Sea in an easterly direction.