Towards evening the weather cleared up, and land was clearly
to be seen between Cape Sepping and Cape Clarence, which juts
out to the east, then to the south, and is connected to the mainland
on the west by a low tongue of land. There was no ice at
the entrance of Regent's Sound; but it was densely massed beyond
Leopold Harbor, as if to form an impassable barrier to the
northward progress of the Forward.
Hatteras, who, although he carefully concealed his feelings, was
exceedingly annoyed, had to blow out a way with powder in order
to enter Leopold Harbor; he reached it at midday, on Sunday,
May 27th; the brig was securely anchored to the large icebergs,
which were as firm, solid, and hard as rock.
At once the captain, followed by the doctor, Johnson, and his
dog Duke, leaped out upon the ice and soon reached the land.
Duke leaped about with joy; besides, since the captain had
made himself known, he had become very sociable and very
gentle, preserving his ill-temper for some of the crew, whom his
master disliked as much as he did.
The harbor was free from the ice which is generally forced there
by the east-wind; the sharp peaks, covered with snow, looked
like a number of white waves. The house and lantern, built by
James Ross, were still in a tolerable state of preservation; but
the provisions appeared to have been eaten by foxes, and even by
bears, of which fresh traces were to be seen; part of the devastation
was probably due to the hand of man, for some ruins of
Esquimaux huts were to be seen on the shores of the bay.
The six tombs, enclosing six sailors of the Enterprise and the
Investigator, were recognizable by little mounds of earth; they
had been respected by all, by both men and beasts.
On first setting his foot on this northern earth, the doctor was
really agitated; it would not be easy to describe the emotions
one feels at the sight of these ruined houses, tents, huts, supplies,
which nature preserves so perfectly in cold countries.
“There,” said he to his companions,—“there is the spot which
James Ross himself named Camp Refuge! If Franklin's expedition
had reached this spot, it would have been saved. Here is
the engine which was taken out and left here, and the furnace
which warmed the crew of the Prince Albert in 1851; everything
remains as it was left, and one might fancy that Kennedy, her
captain, had sailed away from here yesterday. This is the launch
that sheltered them for some days, for Kennedy was separated
from his ship, and only saved by Lieutenant Bellot, who braved
the cold of October to join him.”
“A brave and excellent officer he was,” said Johnson. “I
knew him.”
While the doctor eagerly sought for traces of previous winterings
there, Hatteras busied himself with collecting the scanty
fragments of fuel and provisions which lay there. The next day
was devoted to carrying them on board ship. The doctor explored
the whole neighborhood, never going too far from the brig,
and sketched the most remarkable views. The weather gradually
grew milder; the snow-drifts began to melt. The doctor
made a tolerably large collection of northern birds, such as gulls,
divers, molly-nochtes, and eider-ducks, which resemble ordinary
ducks, with a white back and breast, a blue belly, the top of the
head blue, the rest of the plumage white, shaded with different
tints of green; many of them had already plucked from their
bellies the eider-down, which both the male and the female devote
to lining their nests. The doctor also saw great seals breathing
at the surface of the water, but he was unable to draw one.
In his wanderings he discovered the stone on which is engraved
the following inscription:—

[E I]

which marks the passage of the Enterprise and Investigator; he
pushed on to Cape Clarence, to the spot where, in 1833, John
and James Ross waited so impatiently for the ice to thaw. The
earth was covered with the skulls and bones of animals, and
traces of the dwellings of Esquimaux were to be seen.
The doctor thought of erecting a cairn at Leopold Harbor, and
of leaving a letter there to indicate the passage of the Forward
and the aim of the expedition. But Hatteras formally objected;
he did not wish to leave behind him any traces which might be
of use to a rival. In spite of all he could say, the doctor was
obliged to yield to the captain's will. Shandon was ready enough
to blame this obstinacy, for, in case of accident, no ship could
have put out to the aid of the Forward.
Hatteras refused to comply. Having completed his preparations
on Monday, he tried once more to go to the north through
the ice, but, after dangerous efforts, he was obliged to descend
again Regent's Channel; he was utterly averse to remaining at
Leopold's Harbor, which is open one day and closed the next by
the unheralded motion of the ice,—a frequent phenomenon in
these seas, and one against which navigators have to be ever on
their guard.
If Hatteras kept his anxiety from the others, he was at heart
very anxious; he wanted to go northward, and he was obliged to
retreat to the south! Where would that bring him? Was he
going as far back as Victoria Harbor in the Gulf of Boothia,
where Sir John Ross wintered in 1833? Should he find Bellot
Sound free at this time, and, by going around North Somerset,
could he ascend through Peel Sound? Or should he, like his
predecessors, be caught for many winters, and be obliged to consume
all his supplies and provisions?
These fears tormented him; but he had to decide; he put
about and started for the south.
Prince Regent's Channel is of nearly uniform width from Leopold's
Harbor to Adelaide Bay. The Forward went rapidly
through the ice, with better fortune than many other ships, most
of which required a month to descend the channel, even in a better
season; it is true that none of these ships, except the Fox,
had steam at their command, and were obliged to do their best
against frequent unfavorable winds.
The crew seemed overjoyed at leaving the northern regions;
they had but a slight desire to reach the Pole; they were alarmed
at Hatteras's plans, for his reputation as a fearless man inspired
them with but little confidence. Hatteras tried to make use of
every opportunity to go forward, whatever the consequences might
be. And yet in these parts, to advance is all very well, but one
must also maintain his position and not run the risk of losing it.
The Forward went on under full steam; the black smoke
whirled in spirals about the sparkling summits of the icebergs;
the weather was changeable, turning from a dry cold to a snow-storm
with inconceivable rapidity. Since the brig drew but little
water, Hatteras hugged the west shore; he did not want to miss
the entrance of Bellot Sound, for the Gulf of Boothia has no other
entrance towards the south than the slightly known sound of the
Fury and the Hecla; hence the gulf would be impassable, if Bellot
Sound were missed or found impracticable.
By evening the Forward was in sight of Elwin Bay, which was recognized by its high, steep cliffs; Tuesday morning Batty Bay was seen, where, on the 10th of September, 1851, the Prince Albert anchored for the winter. The doctor examined the coast with interest through his glass. From this point started the expeditions
which determined the shape of North Somerset. The
weather was clear enough for them to see the deep ravines surrounding
the bay.
The doctor and Johnson were probably the only ones who took
any interest in these deserted countries. Hatteras, always studying
his charts, talked little; his silence increased as the ship
drew southward; he often went upon the quarter-deck, and there
he would remain for hours, with folded arms, gazing absently at the
horizon. His orders, when he gave any, were short and quick.
Shandon maintained a cold silence, and drawing more and more
into himself, he had nothing more to do with Hatteras than was
officially required; James Wall remained devoted to Shandon,
and modelled his conduct after that of his friend. The rest of
the crew waited for whatever might turn up, ready to make the
best use of it for their own profit. On board there was none of
the unanimity which is so necessary for the accomplishment of
great things. Hatteras knew this well.
During the day two whalers were seen making toward the
south; a white bear, too, was saluted with a few rifle-shots, but
apparently without success. The captain knew the worth of an
hour at that time, and refused permission to chase the animal.
Wednesday morning the end of Regent Channel was passed;
the angle of the west coast was followed by a deep curve in the
land. On examining his chart, the doctor recognized Somerset-House
Point, or Point Fury.
“There,” he said to his usual companion,—“there is where he
first English ship was lost that was sent to these seas in 1815, in
Parry's third voyage; the Fury was so much injured by the ice
in her second winter, that the crew were obliged to abandon her
and to return to England in her companion, the Hecla.”
“A good reason for having another ship,” answered Johnson;
“that is a precaution which polar explorers should not neglect;
but Captain Hatteras was not the man to burden himself with a
“Do you consider him rash, Johnson?” asked the doctor.
“I? 0, I don't say anything of the sort. Dr. Clawbonny! But
see those piles there, with fragments of a tent hanging to them.”
“Yes, Johnson, it is there Parry unloaded all his ship's supplies,
and, if my memory serves me right, the roof of the hut he
built was made out of a mainsail covered by the running-rigging
of the Fury.”
“That must have changed a good deal since 1825.”
“Not so very much. In 1829, John Ross kept his crew safe
and sound in this light building. In 1851, when Prince Albert
sent out an expedition, this hut was still standing; Captain Kennedy
repaired it nine years ago. It would be interesting to visit
it, but Hatteras is unwilling to stop.”
“And he is probably right, Dr. Clawbonny; if in England
time is money, here it is safety, and for the delay of a day, of an
hour even, the whole voyage might be rendered useless. We
must let him do as he pleases.”
On Thursday, June 1st, the Forward sailed diagonally across
Creswell Bay; from Point Fury the coast rises in steep rocks
three hundred feet high; towards the south, it is lower; a few
snowy summits are to be seen, of a regular shape, while others,
more fantastic, were hidden in the clouds.
During that day the weather grew milder, but cloudier; they
lost sight of land; the thermometer rose to 32°; a few water-quail
quail were to be seen, and flocks of wild geese flew toward the
north; the crew laid aside some of their thick clothes; they
began to be aware of the approach of summer in the arctic
Toward evening the Forward doubled Cape Garry, a quarter of
a mile from the shore. The lead marked ten to twelve fathoms,
and they bore along the shore to Brentford Bay. In this latitude
they were to find Bellot Sound, a sound which entirely escaped
the notice of Sir John Ross in his expedition of 1828; his charts
indicated an unbroken coast-line, with the least irregularities indicated
with the utmost care; hence it is to be supposed that
when he passed by the entrance of the sound, it was completely
closed with ice and so could not be distinguished from the land.
This sound was really discovered by Captain Kennedy in an
excursion made in April, 1852; he named it after Lieutenant
Bellot, as “a just tribute,” as he said, “to the important services
rendered to our expedition by the French officer.”




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