Motion For An Address
rose to call the attention of the House to the communications with Her Majesty's Government respecting the Franklin Expedition, and the urgent nature of the claim for a further and complete search. He had been induced to bring forward this subject because it was one of peculiar and pressing interest to more than one of his constituents and friends, and among them the relatives of Captain Crozier, the friend and companion of Franklin, and that fact would account for so humble an individual as he was taking up this present most important question. In June last a memorial was sent in to the Government, signed by some of the most eminent and scientific men in the country in favour of a new expedition in search of Sir John Franklin and his gallant party. The object was one which deeply concerned humanity, and involved, he thought, to some extent the honour and the character of this country. He had hoped that the Government would have replied favourably to that memorial. It was not his wish to precipitate a hasty conclusion respecting it, but time pressed, and it was most important that, If anything was to be done, it should be done quickly. He was sure that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, both took a deep interest in this question, and he could not but think that some weighty reason must have prevented them from giving a favourable answer. He might also state that the memorial to which he had referred was strongly supported by an interesting letter from Baron Humboldt, who added the weight of his name and authority in favour of a renewed and thorough search. He would briefly remind the House of what had taken place in reference to this subject up to 1854. Aided by America, an expedition was sent out by this country, which searched through a certain large and extensive circuit. No memorials whatever were found in that district. Some striking and interesting facts, however, came to light within a short period after Dr. Rae's visit to the Arctic regions. That gentleman went out on a geographical expedition in connection with the Hudson's Bay Company. The account brought home by Dr. Rae was, that in a spot which had not been searched certain memorials of the crews of the unfortunate vessels had been found, and that this spot lay within a very limited area well mapped and charted. When this providential testimony reached them, and when they weighed the possibility of some of our gallant countrymen being still in that dreary region, one would think that a speedy search would have been instituted in accordance with the spirit and character and honour of England. But the sympathies of the Government were absorbed by the war which then broke out, and the only thing done was to institute an investigation through the medium of the Hudson's Bay Company, in order to obtain a corroboration of the facts communicated by Dr. Rae. This was necessarily an imperfect and ineffective search, yet it served to show that the Government were not disposed to rest satisfied with what Dr. Rae had done. The result of this expedition was to bring to light other memorials, and to strengthen the hope that perhaps some of the unfortunate individuals belonging to Sir John Franklin's party were still struggling for existence. Who would be so presumptuous as to say that at this moment some of those men might not be in those lonely regions still hoping that their brave and indomitable countrymen at home had not forgotten them, but would persevere in carrying out measures for their relief? He would not insult the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or the First Lord of the Admiralty, by supposing that the question of expense would for a moment weigh with them if they saw it to be a matter of duty to employ another expedition. Lady Franklin, with the true spirit of a woman, was prepared to devote such property as she had to a search for her husband in the event of the Government declining to do so; but she knew well the difference between an expedition undertaken by a private individual and one that would carry with it the weight and influence of the Government. She had written a touching letter to the noble Lord at the head of the Government upon the subject, and within a very few days afterwards the interesting circumstance took place of the American Government sending back the Resolute to this country; and the gallant officer who had been charged with the mission of bringing over that ship (Captain Hartstein) had volunteered to serve in any expedition that might be sent out. Would it not be humiliating to the spirit and honour of this country if it were left to an American expedition, or to one sent by Lady Franklin, to rescue some of the gallant survivors of Sir John Franklin's party, or to discover some more interesting memorials of the two crews? He could well understand why in 1849 or 1850 a question of doubt as to the expediency of such an expedition as that which he now proposed arose; but let them consider what had taken place since then. In the first place, one of the rewards of the Arctic searches had been the discovery of the north-west passage by his gallant countryman Captain M'Clure. It had been over and over again stated that the Franklin expedition must have perished previously to 1849 off Baffin's Bay, because the first expedition was unable to get beyond Leopold's Island. However, so far were these speculations from being correct, that the next expedition sent out discovered articles which proved that Franklin and his companions must have wintered in Beechey Island four years after the time at which it was confidently stated they must have perished. Again, it had been stated that the Franklin party could not by any possibility have gone in the direction which it was afterwards proved they had taken; and several of the speculations as to their locale made before the Arctic Committee had since been falsified by evidence. In 1852, when Dr. Rae was going out on the geographical expedition, he stated that there was no chance whatever of the missing crew being where he was going. The space within which there was any use in searching had been reduced to very narrow limits. It lay within four degrees of latitude and five of longitude. Beechey Island had been several times reached without much difficulty, and so had been the mouth of the Fish River; so that they had Beechy Island on the one side and the Fish River on the other. Between these two points there was a distance of about 400 miles, and within this space indisputably lay the spot where the vessels and crews were about the year 1850. Would they, then, when they had this place mapped and charted, leave it unsearched so long as the fate of 138 gallant men lay unascertained? Would they do this when they remembered how these men had risked their lives for the purposes of science? On the ground of expense he took it an expedition could not be denied; and as for the risk, there were, to their honour be it said, a number of gallant officers, both British and American, willing to undergo all the risks and hardships that might be attendant on a search for our devoted countrymen. And the risk was not at all what it had been in the case of the former expeditions. They had now a definite spot, mapped and charted, to which to limit the search; they had not only a strong hope, but a positive assurance, that within that limited region at least further memorials of Franklin and his comrades would be found. They had evidence which he thought conclusive to any plain man that a considerable number of the crew had been making their way towards the Fish River, and they must have left behind them some memorial. The carved stick was probably left to indicate the route taken, and, perhaps, some graves might yet be discovered, with the assistance of the Esquimaux, if interpreters were sent out. He was confident that had it not been for the accident of all our energies and sympathies being enlisted in the carrying on of a great war, at the time Mr. Anderson's expedition sailed, much more assistance would have been given to that gentleman. They could not tell what beneficial results might not follow the sending out of a properly equipped expedition, provided with the requisites for dividing into two parties to make a land search, and approach each other from opposite sides. If what had lately been stated with respect to some of the memorials already found was correct, it would appear that the north-west passage had been discovered before Captain M'Clure found it, by some of Franklin's party going down the Fish River. There was no want of the means of equipping another expedition. The Admiralty had vessels sufficient, including the Resolute, which had been so handsomely presented to us, fully equipped by the American Government. There were Arctic stores lying up as rubbish; and there were volunteers in abundance. He admitted that there was difficulty; but difficulty was no answer to duty. When we considered the calls made by the relatives of those gallant men, the claims of humanity, the demands of society, the testimony of eminent scientific men, and the touching appeal of Lady Franklin, he could hardly think that the First Lord of the Admiralty would feel it to be his duty to persevere in refusing to sanction another expedition. He would further observe that England had a mission to perform in favour of Christianity and civilization as well as of abstract science; and from the testimony of Captain M'Clure it appeared that considerable advantage had been derived in his expedition from the presence of a Moravian missionary; and perhaps one result of sending out another expedition would be that these frozen regions would be opened up to civilization and Christianity. The press generally was in favour of another trial, and under all the circumstances he again expressed his hope that he should not receive an unfavourable and dispiriting answer from the First Lord of the Admiralty. As a matter of form he would move for the production of all Communications that had been made to the Government since the last Session of Parliament respecting the Arctic Expedition.
thanked the right hon. and learned Gentleman for calling the attention of the House and the Government to this subject. He knew Franklin and Parry, and he had had conversations with many recent Arctic voyagers. He was a member of the Arctic Committee, and had heard and read everything that had been said and published on this subject for the last twenty years. He knew there was a responsibility in sending out men upon another expedition, because accidents might happen; but there were many volunteers ready to take the responsibility and risk. It should be remembered that the Government need not ask any one to go who was not a volunteer. Plenty of sailors might be got, and the Government could obtain a dozen competent officers to volunteer for another expedition. At present the risk was nothing compared with that of the previous expeditions, since former travellers had to penetrate from Beechy Island and to grope their way as they could along the whole north western passage. If the Government, however, determined to send another expedition, there was not a day or an hour to be lost. Two expeditions ought to be sent—one by sea and one by land. He would send two small vessels; and his belief was, that if the expedition were perfectly equipped and immediately despatched, even if Franklin and his crew were not found alive, there would at least be found records and relies that would be gratifying to the country. If any of the crew reached the main land alive, they might remain among the Esquimaux for twenty years; and the country would never give up the idea that some were still in existence unless a final expedition were undertaken. If it were only to instil into the minds of men engaged in the service of the country that nothing whatever would be left undone to insure their safety, he urged on the Government to undertake a new expedition. The opinion of scientific persons and of all who had thought on the matter was in favour of it. The Resolute, if not calculated to be sent out again, might be left an object of attraction for years in the condition in which the Americans had sent her over; but he begged to add his voice to the kindly and Christian appeal made to the Government by the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of any Communication made to Her Majesty's Government, since the end of last Session of Parliament, respecting the Franklin expedition, and the urgent nature of the claim for a further and complete search."
said, that from the convictions which he entertained on this subject, he was under the necessity of refusing to give his assistance to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. The Erebus and Terror left England in 1845, with 136 officers and men on board. They had found traces of them on Beecby Island in the graves of three men who had been buried in 1846. No further tidings were heard of Sir John Franklin's party till the year 1854, when Dr. Rae obtained from the Esquimaux information that forty white men had been seen on King William's Island, thirty near the entrance of the Back or Great Fish River, and five in Montreal Island. Dr. Rae brought to England relics which he had obtained from the Esquimaux, and one of these was Sir John Franklin's badge of the Guelphic Order. Now he (Admiral Walcott) could not think that Sir John had ever parted with that to any one. In 1855, Messrs. Anderson and Stewart obtained, through the Esquimaux, several pieces of mahogany, and a bit of rope, on which was the Queen's mark, and the Esquimaux said that they had belonged to white men who had perished of hunger. He (Admiral Walcott) yielded to no man in a desire to recover Sir John Franklin and his companions; but he should confess that he could not see in the horizon any beacon to light him to that hope. He knew that there would be plenty of volunteers, Captain M'Clintock had volunteered his services for another expedition; but that gallant officer said, that he believed 3,000 miles would have to be traversed in sledges. He (Admiral Walcott) was of opinion, that expense or risk should not be spared if there was a chance of rescuing gallant men; but all that zeal and enterprize could do had been done, all which humanity could dictate had been performed—even the disappointing problem of centuries had been solved: and as he did not believe there was the slightest chance of success in the present case, he could not consent to peril the lives of a number of British sailors in an expedition such as that proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman whose Motion was before the House. As to any benefit to be obtained in the way of scientific discovery, he did not think that the chances in this way were such as to justify such an expedition. By a former expedition the problem that remained in doubt had been solved; but it had also been ascertained that the north-west passage could never be turned to any useful purpose in consequence of the masses of floating or stationary ice which barred the passage to any practical navigation by shipping. Let this suffice. They would only send out new martyrs of a fruitless and unprofitable search, call up the remonstrances of the wise and the reproaches of the bereaved, already too audible; and realize anew that frightful spectacle of the British seamen perishing by inches of cold and hunger, to lie unburied on the frozen sea pale and intrepid, sad and unsubdued.
said, he was glad that the hon. and gallant Admiral had spoken before him, for in almost every word that fell from him he entirely concurred, and he was glad to have the gallant Officer's authority in confirmation of his own opinion, that we should but be exposing to unnecessary risk the lives of our gallant seamen, by sending out another expedition which we felt to be hopeless. The Government were not insensible to the appeal very naturally made by Lady Franklin for pursuing the search to the utmost possible limits, or to the appeal of those scientific bodies who had addressed the Government in favour of a further search; nor would the Government be insensible to these appeals, on the score of humanity, if they entertained the slightest hope that by sending out another expedition survivors might be found and their lives preserved. While such hope existed, no risk or expense had deterred successive Governments from sending out expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin and his companions. At the same time, he was happy to bear testimony to the gallant and generous feeling which had animated our Transatlantic brethren in sending out expeditions with that object. But let the House consider what had been done. It was now twelve years since Sir John Franklin's expedition left England; and since then six expeditions had been sent out; and though it was quite true that no one grudged the money while a hope of saving life remained, yet there had been expended in public expeditions, independent of expeditions fitted out by private individuals, and those sent by America, not less than £610,000. However, it was not the expense which deterred the Government from sending out another expedition; but, believing that there was no hope of finding any survivor of Sir John Franklin's fatal expedition, they did not feel justified in exposing to the risks, inseparable from such explorations, the lives of other gallant officers and men, though he had not the slightest hesitation in saying that, to the honour of our gallant navy, volunteers would be found, both officers and men, sufficient for twenty expeditions. The Government had, in many respects, a most painful duty to perform, but he did not think that any reasonable person entertained the expectation that any of the men of Sir John Franklin's expedition could be found alive. They left the country twelve years ago; and, taking the account which Dr. Rae gave, the last tidings of them were, that in 1850 a party of thirty or forty were seen passing over King William's Island, near the mouth of the Great Fish River, and they must have perished in that year. He was afraid that the last survivor of the expedition perished in 1850. He might state, that no one of the Arctic officers with whom he (Sir C. Wood) had conversed upon the subject had ventured to say that the last of the crew lived beyond that year, however anxious some of those officers were to take part in another expedition. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Napier) was a lawyer, and he would know what weight was to be attached to a decision in a court of law upon evidence. Now, this very question of the probability of any of the crew in the expedition of Sir John Franklin being now alive, had been argued in the Court of Session in Scotland; and that Court, after considering all the best evidence that could be adduced, decided that every person in that expedition must be presumed to have perished so far back as the year 1853. The right hon. Gentleman had said that a future expedition would run less risks than previous expeditions, because the area to be visited was limited, and mapped, and charted; but, however limited it might be, it was not mapped and charted, and yet, as it was supposed that Sir John Franklin's expedition perished there, it would be necessary for any new expedition that might be sent out to obtain information about him to run the very same risks which he ran; and it happened, moreover, that what the right hon. Gentleman called a limited area of five degrees of latitude, and four degrees of longitude was precisely that which was neither mapped nor charted. The right hon. Gentleman had assumed that all the ships belonging to the Franklin expedition had either perished or had been abandoned. If they had perished, the probability was that all on board had perished with them. If, however, they had been voluntarily abandoned, it was not probable that those who abandoned them would leave on board that which, after the necessaries of life, was the most valuable part of their property, namely, those journals and records which it was their special duty to make and keep. He (Sir C. Wood) therefore did not think that any new expedition ought to be sent out on the ground urged by the scientific advocates of the expedition, that at least the journals or logs of the Franklin expedition might be obtained. If, on the other hand, those articles were taken away by the crew in abandoning the ships, he thought it was equally obvious that the last of the survivors would perish with the bags and journals about them; and it was not likely that the last survivor, before his death, could have deposited them in a place which he had deliberately selected as that which was best calculated to enable any other person to discover them; and where, within an area of 1,200 miles, were they to search for something which, when found, would not be worth the trouble and danger of the search? He thought the prospect, therefore, of any new expedition being able to discover any scientific records of the Franklin expedition was so slight, that he (Sir C. Wood) did not think that a new expedition ought to be risked, and as to discovering any of the men alive he believed there was no prospect whatever. Some more relics of the ships, such as pieces of wood and iron, oars of the boats, or things of that kind, of which we already had an abundance, might be discovered; but it was very doubtful whether even any more of such relics could be met with. They were too valuable to the Esquimaux to escape their search, and the probabilities were that, if the ships had been abandoned, they had been visited and rifled. Would the Government, then, be justified under such circumstances in risking the lives of 150 men in a new expedition? He quite agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Scobell), that if another expedition were determined upon, two ships at least should be sent out, and that the expedition should be furnished with the means of landing and of passing at least two winters on the spot; but he really believed that it would not be worth while to risk any such expedition. His hon. and gallant Friend had appealed to the Government to send out another and final expedition, but there was a very strong reason why the Government should decline the responsibility of sending out any such expedition. Five vessels had already been abandoned in the different expeditions sent out on the search for Sir John Franklin, the crews of which had been rescued by other vessels; and it was not impossible that any other expedition might meet with the same fate as the Franklin expedition, and then there would have to be renewed expeditions without end to discover the survivors, in order that such people as those to whom his hon. and gallant Friend had alluded, namely, those who supposed that a portion of the Franklin expedition might be living, for the next ten or twenty years, might be gratified. But the lapse of time since that expedition sailed was so great that he (Sir C. Wood) believed there was no possibility of there now being a survivor. He had never felt that the risk of life which Arctic voyages involved was justified by the scientific results which might be attainable by such expeditions. He regretted at the time when the Franklin expedition was determined upon that the Government should have consented to risk so much for so little as the mere discovery of what was called the North-west Passage. He still remained of the same opinion. He regretted that the expectations of so many people who were interested in the question should be disappointed by the avowal; but, he must say again, that he was most unwilling to incur any fresh responsibility with regard to that expedition, and was obliged to say that Her Majesty's Government could not give any encouragement to the proposal to send out another expedition,
said, that he once thought on this subject as the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty did now, but he had recently been much in communication with Arctic officers, and from them he learnt that there was not only much to be gained in a scientific point of view, but that there was a possibility of some portion of the crew of the Franklin expedition being still alive. The enterprise originally undertaken for the discovery of a north-west passage, might have been one of doubtful advantage; but considering that the country had already spent £610,000 in exploration of the Arctic regions; that there was now only a very small territory in those regions which remained unexplored; that Franklin or some of his companions might possibly be living with the Esquimaux Indians in the neighbourhood of the very spot where traces of them had been found, he thought it behoved this great maritime nation to continue the exploration of that small spot of which we knew nothing. America expected, and the whole civilized world expected, that we should make at least one more effort. He would suggest that as Government had a great number of small steamers unemployed, and a large quantity of Arctic stores, which were at present utterly worthless, if they did not like to take the responsibility upon themselves of fitting out another expedition, they should place a couple of these steam vessels at the disposal of any body of scientific or mercantile men who would be willing to bear the other expenses of the expedition and the responsibility of finding proper crews. If they intimated their readiness to do that, he felt satisfied in his own mind that the necessary funds would be at once raised, and the expedition sent forth without delay. But if that course was to be adopted, it must be adopted at once, or it would be useless.
said, he did not think the country would accept as final the decision of the First Lord of the Admiralty. A great problem in geographical science had been solved by the Arctic expeditions; and, with the exception of the deplorable loss of the Erebus and Terror, those expeditions had been attended with a smaller sacrifice of life than often occurred on other stations where our ships were doomed to inglorious inactivity. This was a question on which landsmen must, after all, rely on the judgment of nautical officers, and certainly the weight of authority seemed enormously in favour of a further search. The First Lord of the Admiralty said, that nobody whose opinion was deserving of weight believed that any of Sir John Franklin's party still survived. Was the right hon. Gentleman unaware that Dr. Kane, Sir Francis Beaufort (late Hydrographer to the Admiralty) and Captain Sherard Osborn, entertained a belief that some of them might be yet alive? The interest felt by the country in this matter was a growing one; and, if the present Government abandoned it, it would force itself upon the attention of their successors. Lady Franklin was a woman not easily to be baffled in such a cause. She had set her heart and her fortune on what she deemed a great duty, and one way or another she would accomplish it. The public would rally round her, and an expedition would be fitted out. That would probably be small and insufficient, and on the Government would fall, in his opinion, a responsibility quite as great as that which the First Lord of the Admiralty declined to assume. The consigning of the Resolute to lie up in ordinary as a dismantled hulk could hardly be regarded as an act of courtesy by the American Government. A better appreciation might have been shown of the handsome spirit in which that vessel was presented to this country by our Translantic kinsfolk. The scientific authority on this question was backed up by everybody who had been connected with the great Arctic expeditions, and who gave their voice in favour of one more final attempt—not from a love of adventure, of which they had already had enough, nor from a love of fame, of which, too, they had had enough—but because they believed that if a further search were not made the Government and the people of this country would fail in their duty.
admitted that the First Lord of the Admiralty had spoken fairly and considerately, and that the Government had not been indifferent to the supposed fate of Sir John Franklin and his companions; but it appeared that his objection to the proposed expedition rested chiefly on financial grounds. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had sent out several expeditions, and spent a large sum of money, in order, if possible, to discover traces of Franklin and his brave comrades. True; but let it be remembered, that in proportion to the number of expeditions sent forth had they lessened their future labours and limited the sphere within which any fresh expedition would have to act. From the conversation he had held with Sir Robert M'Clure, who had quitted his ship at the end of the fourth year, and would have gladly remained another year in the Polar regions for the purpose of prosecuting those researches upon which he felt that his character as an officer was in a measure involved, it would not appear that the climate was so fatal to human life as had been represented. The American traveller, Dr. Kane, not only expressed his belief that he believed some of the men belonging to Franklin's expedition might be found among the Esquimaux, but said he should be glad to live with them himself, and he very amusingly described the difficulty which he had to prevent his sailors taking to a life among the Esquimaux. The Government, at any rate, would have plenty of volunteers if they would take the matter in hand. At all events, he did not understand from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he had submitted the proposition for another expedition to the opinion of the eminent men who had already prosecuted the work of discovery in the Arctic regions; or that, having submitted the question to their consideration, they had advised him against it. He had the highest possible respect for the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman; but, without meaning any discourtesy towards him, he (Mr. Whiteside) must say that, until he heard that that was the case, he would prefer the opinion of Sir Robert M'Clure or Captain M'Clintock, or the other eminent men who had signed the document which delared that it was a fit thing to undertake another expedition. If the Government did not themselves undertake the expedition, the result would be the sending forth an expedition by private subscription, the operations of which would not be so well or so wisely conducted as they would be if the right hon. Gentleman would be so good as to furnish two small screw ships, manned by gallant crews and commanded by brave and distinguished men, who by the prosecution of useful inquiries would at once benefit science and satisfy the humane feelings of the nation.
said, he was ready to give the right hon. Gentle- man who had brought forward this question, every credit for the feeling and anxiety he had shown respecting it. It had been stated, and stated truly, that there were many officers who had been in the Arctic regions—he might add, and many also who had not—who were most anxious to go upon the proposed expedition. But, acting in his official capacity, he (Admiral Berkeley) had seen all the officers who had been employed on previous researches, and he found that, whilst some few believed that a portion of Franklin's party might still exist, the greater number—indeed, almost all—were of opinion that they did not exist, and that the only satisfaction to be obtained from another expedition would be the poor one of ascertaining where their remains were. The right hon. and learned Gentleman stated that a ship sent to Beechy Island would be in no danger, the latitude and longitude of that place, and the navigation so far being already known; but he (Admiral Berkeley) would remind him that of three ships sent out on the last expedition in 1853, under one of the most gallant and determined young officers of the day, one was lost, and another twice placed in a position of the greatest possible danger. The commander of that expedition had nothing to discover. He was instructed merely to go to Beechy Island; and here was an extract from the letter of Captain Inglefield to the Admiralty, dated on board her Majesty's ship Phœnix, off Thurso, the 4th of October, 1853—
"It has not been without great difficulty, considerable peril to the safety of this vessel, and the total loss of the Breadalbane transport, without the loss of a single life.
"This unfortunate event, which occurred on the morning of the 21st of August, off Beechy Island, no human power could have averted; and my own vessel, which at that time had the transport actually in tow, barely escaped a similar fate, receiving a severe nip, which rose the stern several feet, and arched the quarter-deck, destroying the rudder and screw. One of the beams forward was sprung, and the port bow partially stove, breaking one of the riders and forcing in the planking.
"Shortly, however, a rapid run of the outer floe to the westward placed the Phœnix in the most perilous position. I ordered the hands to be turned up, not that aught could be done, but to be ready in case of the worst to provide for their safety.
"I now deemed it advisable for the safety of the vessel to proceed to the inner bight of the harbour, which, lying behind a shallow spit, perfectly secured her from ice driving in or out, and should we be unable to get away this year, would prove a good position for winter quarters.
Now, had anything happened to the Phœnix, the only ship remaining of the three, one having been left behind by order, would they not have had to send out another expedition to look for Captain Inglefield, and if anything had happened to that, another and yet another? He had studied these things well, as was his duty to do, and had felt great pain when he found that he differed from other officers on the subject. But he had arrived at the same conclusion as his right hon. Friend the First Lord, that he could not—dared not—recommend the sending forth another expedition upon so hopeless an errand. He was sorry to say this; but it was his fixed opinion, and not only his, but the fixed opinion of two gallant Admirals who had given him liberty to state as much on their part. He knew it was a most unpleasant duty for a British commander to restrain the courage of his officers and men; but it was sometimes absolutely and imperatively necessary in order to prevent that courage growing into rashness."I was ill prepared for such a contingency, as we had not left on board sufficient provisions for our now much-increased crew, having the people of the three other vessels of my squadron with me, besides supernumeraries and invalids."
said, the question was not whether the Government would undertake the responsibility of sending out another expedition, but whether they would demur to receive and act upon the recommendation of the House to that effect. The risk and danger, supposing the plan suggested were adopted, had been greatly overrated, and sufficient consideration had not been given to the limited area over which the search would have to be prosecuted. It was impossible to suppose that the Erebus and Terror could have disappeared from the face of the earth without leaving a trace behind. Indeed, we had negative evidence to show that they had not been destroyed by some sudden catastrophe. No doubt a considerable change had lately taken place in public opinion on the subject. He himself was conscious of such a change. Some time ago he had been of opinion that the time had gone by for any further search; but that impression had been materially changed within a short time by various considerations which had been put forward. He now entertained hope that some of Franklin's companions might yet be living among the Esquimaux. It was possible that some traces of the expedition might be discovered among the Esquimaux, but he thought it was at least due to the memory of the gallant men under Franklin's command that some endeavour should be made to ascertain their fate. The interest on this subject was not confined to literary men, or to persons interested in science and the general progress of discovery; but he believed that it would afford high gratification to the great mass of the people of this country if the Government made another attempt, if not to save the lives of Sir John Franklin and his brave companions, at least to learn something of their discoveries, their sufferings, and their heroism.
hoped he might be permitted, without offence to those whose feelings were engaged in this matter, to express an opinion that the decision at which the Government had arrived was one founded on justice and wisdom. An hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lindsay) had said just now that America and all the communities of the civilized world expected that some effort should be made in this matter. But there was another community which ought to be considered, and that was the community of this country; and his belief was that the great mass of the people of England thought that enough, and more than enough, had been done. The hon. Gentleman had made a new proposition—namely, that the Government should free themselves from responsibility by lending two ships, and that the means for the expedition should be provided from private resources. But that was not the duty of the Government. Their duty was to make up their minds as to what should be done, and then to do it on their own responsibility. But if they acted on the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman they would not practically be free from responsibility if anything went wrong. He believed the Government had made up their minds rightly on this question, and that the general opinion of the country would concur in the propriety of their decision.
in reply, said he regretted the conclusion to which the Government had come, and could not help thinking that in some respects Lady Franklin had been hardly treated; for at the end of the last Session the Government had promised to consider during the recess the propriety of sending out another expedition, and he had felt a difficulty in bringing the subject under the attention of the House until their decision was an- nounced. He would suggest, however, that she might at all events be supplied with stores and other things for any private expedition that might be sent out, without entailing responsibility upon the Government. It would, indeed, be singular if after incurring all the risk and expense we had, and arriving at the very point where we knew there would of a certainty be something discovered about the missing explorers, we determined on drawing back and proceeding with our inquiries no further. He did think the civilized world expected England to make the final search, and if she did not that she would stand condemned before them. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, however, he would not press the Motion to a division.
observed that it was the opinion of Sir George Back that it was not advisable to send out another expedition, in consequence of the risk to life which it would involve.
Motion by leave withdrawn.