Sir John Franklin
On the 31st of August, Captain Franklin, having broken up his canoes to make smaller ones, commenced his return to Fort Chepywan, where he arrived in July, 1822, after one of the most appalling and disastrous journeys ever recorded. During the time it occupied, his principal food was tripe de roche, leather, and boiled bones; three of his companions died of cold and hunger, and two were murdered, and devoured unconsciously by the remainder. The nights, in addition to the danger attending them from the frequency of the wolves, were so chilly, that the tents of himself and his party were, every morning, surrounded with snow to the height of three or four feet; and the blankets that covered their bed SO hardened with frost that it was with difficulty they could be folded. Several times Captain Franklin fainted from fatigue, and the ice on which he kept continually falling, prevented him from traveling at the rate of more than two or three miles per day; often had he to wade up to his waist through water, where the temperature was scarcely above the freezing point; and, on one occasion, he was upset in his canoe, and only prevented, by clinging to a rock, from being dashed to pieces in the cataracts of the rapids. The following extract from his journal, will give some idea of the sufferings he endured: - 'A partridge being shot, the feathers were torn off, it was held to the fire a few minutes, and then divided into six portions. I and my companions ravenously devoured our shares, as it was the first morsel of flesh either of us had tasted for thirty-one days; unless, indeed, the small gristly particles which we found occasionally adhering to the pounded bones may be termed flesh.' The delivery of Captain Franklin and his party from the death with which hunger, fatigue, and disease daily threatened them, was owing to the assistance of some Indian hunters, who came to them in their last stage of despair. They treated us,' says the captain, with the utmost tenderness, gave us their snow-shoes, and walked without any themselves, keeping by our sides that they might lift us when we fell. They prepared our encampment, cooked for us, and fed us as if we had been children: evincing humanity that would have done honor to the most civilized people.'
On his arrival in England, Captain Franklin was made a post-captain; he married, in August, 1823, the daughter of William Penden, Esq., architect of the king's stables at Brighton; and, at the end of the same year, submitted to Lord Bathurst a plan for an expedition over-land to the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and thence, by sea, to the north-western extremity of America; with the combined object, also, of surveying the coast between the Mackenzie and Copper Mine Rivers; ' an expedition which he was permitted to superintend, upon his showing to government, that 'in the proposed course, similar dangers to those of the former over-land expedition were not to be apprehended.'
Accordingly, on the 16th of February, 1825, he embarked at Liverpool, having undergone a severe struggle between the feelings of affection and a sense of duty,' in taking leave of his wife, whose death, then hourly expected, took place six days after his departure. On the 29th of June he arrived at the Methye River, and, in the following August, at the left bank of the Mackenzie, whence he proceeded to the mouth of that river, and, shortly after, found salt water; in commemoration of which, he landed on an island which he had discovered, and hoisted on a pole a silk union-jack, sewed and given him by his wife, under the express injunction that it was not to be unfurled before the expedition reached the sea.' On leaving this island, which he called Garry's, and where he had deposited, beneath a signal-pole, a letter for Captain Parry, he commenced his ascent of the Great Bear Lake River, on the banks of which he remained till the summer of 1826, when, in spite of many dangers and obstacles, he proceeded to about half-way between Mackenzie River and Icy Cape, in latitude 70 deg. 26 min. N., and longitude 148 deg. 52 min. W.; at which point he calculated he could not with safety proceed further. His feelings at being compelled to return, he thus expresses in his journal: It was with no ordinary pain that I could now bring myself even to think of relinquishing the great object of my ambition, and of disappointing the flattering confidence that had been reposed in my exertions. But I had higher duties to perform than the gratification of my own feelings and a mature consideration of all things, forced me to the conclusion that we had reached that point, beyond which perseverance would be rashness, and the best efforts must be fruitless.'