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THE LOST ARCTIC VOYAGERS.

DR. RAE may be considered to have established,
by the mute but solemn testimony
of the relics he has brought home, that
SIR JOHN FRANKLIN and his party are no
more. But, there is one passage in his
melancholy report, some examination into the
probabilities and improbabilities of which, we
hope will tend to the consolation of those who
take the nearest and dearest interest in the fate
of that unfortunate expedition, by leading to
the conclusion that there is no reason whatever
to believe, that any of its members prolonged
their existence by the dreadful expedient of
eating the bodies of their dead companions.
Quite apart from the very loose and
unreliable nature of the Esquimaux representations
(on which it would be necessary to
receive with great caution, even the commonest
and most natural occurrence), we believe we
shall show, that close analogy and the mass
of experience are decidedly against the reception
of any such statement, and that it is in the
highest degree improbable that such men as the
officers and crews of the two lost ships would,
or could, in any extremity of hunger, alleviate
the pains of starvation by this horrible means.

Before proceeding to the discussion, we will
premise that we find no fault with Dr. Rae,
and that we thoroughly acquit him of any
trace of blame. He has himself openly
explained, that his duty demanded that he
should make a faithful report, to the Hudson's
Bay Company or the Admiralty, of every
circumstance stated to him; that he did so, as
he was bound to do, without any reservation;
and that his report was made public by the
Admiralty: not by him. It is quite clear that
if it were an ill-considered proceeding to
disseminate this painful idea on the worst of
evidence, Dr. Rae is not responsible for it. It
is not material to the question that Dr. Rae
believes in the alleged cannibalism; he does
so, merely "on the substance of information
obtained at various times and various
sources," which is before us all. At the same
time, we will most readily concede that he has
all the rights to defend his opinion which his
high reputation as a skilful and intrepid
traveller of great experience in the Arctic
Regionscombined with his manly,
conscientious, and modest personal charactercan
possibly invest him with. Of the propriety
of his immediate return to England with the
intelligence he had got together, we are fully
convinced. As a man of sense and humanity,
he perceived that the first and greatest
account to which it could be turned, was, the
prevention of the useless hazard of valuable
lives; and no one could better know in how
much hazard all lives are placed that follow
Franklin's track, than he who had made eight
visits to the Arctic shores. With these remarks
we can release Dr. Rae from this inquiry,
proud of him as an Englishman, and happy
in his safe return home to well-earned rest.

The following is the passage in the report
to which we invite attention: "Some of the
bodies had been buried (probably those of the
first victims of famine); some were in a tent
or tents; others under the boat, which had
been turned over to form a shelter; and
several lay scattered about in different directions.
Of those found on the island, one was
supposed to have been an officer, as he had a
telescope, strapped over his shoulders, and his
double-barrelled gun lay underneath him.
From the mutilated state of many of the
corpses and the contents of the kettles, it is
evident that our wretched countrymen had
been driven to the last resourcecannibalism
as a means of prolonging existence . . . .
None of the Esquimaux with whom I
conversed had seen the ' whites,' nor had they
ever been at the place where the bodies were
found, but had their information from those
who had been there, and who had seen the
party when travelling."

We have stated our belief that the extreme
improbability of this inference as to the
last resource, can be rested, first on close
analogy, and secondly, on broad general
grounds, quite apart from the improbabilities
and incoherencies of the Esquimaux evidence:
which is itself given, at the very best, at
second-hand. More than this, we presume it
to have been given at second-hand through
an interpreter; and he was, in all probability,
imperfectly acquainted with the language he
translated to the white man. We believe that
few (if any) Esquimaux tribes speak one
common dialect; and Franklin's own
experience of his interpreters in his former voyage
was, that they and the Esquimaux they
encountered understood each other "tolerably"

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