Abbildungen der Seite

placed herself in the boat, which she was well able to manage. Her father could not let her go alone, and they rowed off together in a tremendous sea, encouraged by perceiving that nine persons were still clinging to the forepart of the ship. The father, after many vain attempts, succeeded in landing on the rock, and making his way to the wreck, while Grace rowed off and on among the breakers, dexterously guiding her little boat, which but for her excellent management would have been dashed to pieces against the rocks.

One by one, with the utmost care and skill, the nine survivors were placed in the boat and carried to the light-house, where Grace lodged, fed, and nursed them for two whole days before the storm abated enough for communication with the mainland. One of them was a Mrs. Dawson, whose two children, of eleven and eight years old, had actually been buffeted to death by the waves while she held them in her arms, and who was so much injured herself, that it was long before she could leave her bed.

The vessel was the Forfarshire, a large steamer plying between Hull and Dundee. Her boilers had been out of order, their leakage had rendered the engines useless, and when the storm arose, the ship was unmanageable without her steam, and was driven helplessly upon the Fern Islands. The only boat had been lowered by eight of the sailors, who were pushing off in her when one gentleman rushed on deck, seized a rope and swung himself in after them. These nine were picked up by a sloop and saved. Of the others, the whole number had either been drowned in their berths or washed off the wreck, except four of the crew and five passengers, whom Grace Darling's valor had rescued. The entire amount of the lost was not known, but more than forty had certainly gone on board at Hull.

[ocr errors]

Some sailors at Sunderland went out to the wreck during the storm at the peril of their lives, but found only corpses to bring away. Grace's noble conduct rang throughout England, and every testimonial that could be offered was sent to her. We believe that this brave girl soon after died of decline.



THE 'HE Arctic seas have been the scene of some

of the most noted instances of daring and patience shown by mariners. Ever since the reign of Edward VI., when the brave Sir Hugh Willoughby and his crew all perished, frozen at their posts among the rocks of Spitzbergen, the relentless ice, and soft though fatal snows of those dreary realms, have formed the grave of many a gallant sailor. Many a life has been lost in the attempt to discover the North-west passage, between Davis's and Behring's Straits, and to trace the outline of the northern coast of America. Whether those lives were wasted, or whether their brave example was not worth more to the world than a few years more of continuance, is not the question here to be asked. The later Arctic voyagers had a nobler purpose than that of completing the survey of the barren coast, namely, the search for Sir John Franklin, who, in 1845, had gone forth with two tried vessels, the Erebus and Terror, on his second polar expedition, and had been seen and heard of no more.

Voyage after voyage was undertaken, in the hope at first of relieving and rescuing the lost ships' companies, and then of ascertaining their fate, until the Admiralty decided that to send forth more exploring parties was a vain risking of valuable lives,

and it was only the earnest perseverance of Sir John Franklin's wife and the chivalrous adventure of individuals that carried on the search, until, at the end of fourteen years, Captain, now Sir Leopold M'Clintock, in the Fox yacht, discovered the last records, which placed it beyond all doubt that the gentle and courageous Franklin had died peacefully, before evil days had come on his party, and that the rest had more gradually perished under cold and hunger, in the fearful prison of icebergs.

Gallant and resolute as were all these northern travellers, there are two names that perhaps deserve, above the others, to be recorded, because their free offer of themselves was not prompted by the common tie of country. One was the French Lieutenant Bellot, who sailed in the Albert in 1851, and after most manful exertions, which gained the respect and love of all who sailed with him, was drowned by the breaking of the ice in Wellington Sound. The other was Dr. Elisha K. Kane, an American naval surgeon, who in 1853 volunteered to command an American expedition in search of the lost vessels, which some supposed to be shut up by the ice in a basin of clearer, warmer water, such as it was thought might exist round the North Pole, and the way to which might be opened or closed, according to the shifting of the icebergs.

His vessel was the brig Advance, and his course was directed through Davis's Straits, and on the way

the Danish settlements in Greenland, they provided themselves with a partially educated young Esquimaux as a hunter, and with a team of dogs, which were to be used in drawing sledges over the ice in explorations.

The whole expedition was one Golden Deed, but there is not space to describe it in all its details : we must confine ourselves to the most striking episode in their adventures, hoping that it may send our readers to the book itself. The ship was brought to a standstill in Renfaelner Bay, on the west side of Smith's Strait, between the 79th and 8oth degrees of latitude. It was only the 10th of September when the ice closed in so as to render further progress of the ship impossible. On the 7th of November the sun was seen for the last time, and darkness set in for 141 days, - such darkness at times as was misery even to the dogs, who used to contend with one another for the power of lying within sight of the crack of light under the cabin door.

Before the light failed, however, Dr. Kane had sent out parties tò make caches, or stores of provisions, at various intervals. These were to be used by the exploring companies whom he proposed to send out in sledges, while the ice was still unbroken, in hopes of thus discovering the way to the Polynia, or polar basin, in which he thought Franklin might be shut up. The same work was resumed with the first gleams of returning light in early spring, and on the 18th of March a sledge was despatched with eight men to arrange one of these depôts for future use. Towards midnight on the 29th, Dr. Kane and those who had remained in the ship, were sewing moccasins in their warm cabin by lamplight, when steps were heard above, and down came three of the absent ones, staggering, swollen, haggard, and scarcely able to speak. Four of their companions were lying under their tent frozen and disabled, “somewhere among the hummocks, to the north and east, it was drifting heavily.” A brave Irishman, Thomas Hickey, had remained at the peril of his life to feed them, and these three had set out to try to obtain aid, but they were so utterly exhausted and bewildered, that they could hardly be restored sufficiently to explain themselves.

Instantly to set out to the rescue, was of course Dr. Kane's first thought, and as soon as the facts

« ZurückWeiter »