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IT has been said, "There is an end to all
things. We have paid our debt to Sir John
Franklin and his missing crews." The truth
is, that we have but just earned the means of
paying it. Any question that may now arise
as to the propriety of making final search for
the survivors or remains of the lost expedition,
all knowing at last distinctly where to
seek, is simply the question whether, now
that we are able to pay in full our debt of
honourand of more than honour, of the
commonest humanitywe are to leave it
undischarged upon some plea of a statute of

Sir John Franklin, one of a gallant company
of one hundred and thirty-eight men,
sailed for the polar seas in the spring of the
year eighteen hundred and forty-five. He
was heard of the next summer, and then
never more. As one result of search, however,
it was found that his ships had entered
Barrow's Strait, where there were distinct
traces of their having been laid up for winter
in the neighbourhood of Cape Riley and
Beechey Island. An active search for further
vestiges of the course these travellers had
taken, and for exact tidings of their fate, has
since been carried on at sundry times by
twenty vessels and more than a thousand
men. The searches had already shown where
they are not, when from the borders of almost
the sole remaining spot in which a search
was possible, came startling intelligence that
There they are. Hereupon, there are some
people who profess that they are satisfied.
Now, they saynow that we know where to
find what we have been seeking, we still think
the man a mere enthusiast who would require
that we should take a step towards it. Let
it lie. Sir John Franklin and his companions
were declared dead in the London Gazette
nearly three years ago. It is almost twelve
years since the men thus officially extinguished,
left our shores. They are all bound
to be dead. Why should we look for them?
We care not that posterity should be told how
they died. Dr. Rae tells us that they died
cannibals, and he says he repeats this statement
on the authority of Esquimaux who say they
got it by report from other Esquimaux. Other
searches have shown reason to suspect that
some of our missing friends were murdered.
Others, again, have reason for believing that
a few of the lost voyagers may still be alive,
as preferring to starvation, the companionship
of the poor savage tribes. They may be
living in their snow huts, eating seal and
walrus; never losing the belief that England
seeks, and will not seek in vain, to rescue
them, and will, although it may be after
many years, bring them back to their homes.
What does it matter? That there can be
any such men we do not believe, or, if there be,
we care not for them, and we care not for what
they could disclose. There is an end to all
things. We have paid our debt to Sir John
Franklin and his missing crews. The search
is perilous, and we will have no more of it.

We hold this line of reasoning to be
unsound in every particular. Let us begin
with the peril that is to deter us from the
sending out of that small band of volunteers
whose labour for a single season would
most probably suffice to bring our long
search to a proper end. What is this peril,
that it should scare us? During the last
year or two we have been accustomed
to hear, without flinching, of as many men
killed in a day by battle and by blunder as
have perished in pursuit of knowledge or on
missions of humanity at either pole, for aught
we know, since the creation of the world.
But for the result of the Franklin expedition
we should have had reason to consider Arctic
voyages not very dangerous to life, though
no doubt sharp tests of human wit, and
skill, and powers of endurance. Not a few
ships have been lost; but, of the crews that
have gone outexcept the one catastrophe
that closes, and a lesser one that opened the
long story of adventure at the Polemore
men have lived than might have lived had
they remained at home; and they have lived
and learnt what they could not have learnt
at home. Shut up in Arctic monasteries,
with no monkish souls, men have learnt
energetically to respect and help each other,
to trust in each other, and have faith in God.
The entire series of books written by Arctic
sailors, except only one or two, bears most
emphatic witness to the fine spirit of manhood
nourished among those who bear in
company the rigours of the frozen sea. Of
all the brave men who have left our shores