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an expression which he frequently uses in
his book, with the evident intention of
showing that their communication was not
altogether satisfactory. But, even making the
very large admission that Dr. Rae's interpreter
perfectly understood what he was told,
there yet remains the question whether he
could render it into language of corresponding
weight and value. We recommend any
reader who does not perceive the difficulty of
doing so and the skill required, even when a
copious and elegant European language is in
question, to turn to the accounts of the trial
of Queen Caroline, and to observe the constant
discussions that arosesometimes, very
importantin reference to the worth in English,
of words used by the Italian witnesses. There
still remains another consideration, and a
grave one, which is, that ninety-nine interpreters
out of a hundred, whether savage, half-savage,
or wholly civilised, interpreting to a
person of superior station and attainments, will
be under a strong temptation to exaggerate.
This temptation will always be strongest,
precisely where the person interpreted to is
seen to be the most excited and impressed
by what he hears; for, in proportion as he is
moved, the interpreter's importance is
increased. We have ourself had an
opportunity of inquiring whether any part of this
awful information, the unsatisfactory result
of "various times and various sources," was
conveyed by gestures. It was so, and the
gesture described to us as often repeated
that of the informant setting his mouth to
his own armwould quite as well describe a
man having opened one of his veins, and
drunk of the stream that flowed from it. If
it be inferred that the officer who lay upon
his double-barrelled gun, defended his life to the
last against ravenous seamen, under the boat
or elsewhere, and that he died in so doing,
how came his body to be found? That was
not eaten, or even mutilated, according to the
description. Neither were the bodies, buried
in the frozen earth, disturbed; and is it not
likely that if any bodies were resorted to as
food, those the most removed from recent life
and companionship would have been the first?
Was there any fuel in that desolate place for
cooking " the contents of the kettles"? If
none, would the little flame of the spirit-lamp
the travellers may have had with them, have
sufficed for such a purpose? If not, would
the kettles have been defiled for that purpose
at all? "Some of the corpses," Dr. Rae
adds, in a letter to the Times, "had been
sadly mutilated, and had been stripped by
those who had the misery to survive them,
and who were found wrapped in two or three
suits of clothes."Had there been no bears
thereabout, to mutilate those bodies; no
wolves, no foxes? Most probably the scurvy,
known to be the dreadfullest scourge of
Europeans in those latitudes, broke out
among the party. Virulent as it would
inevitably be under such circumstances, it
would of itself cause dreadful disfigurement
woeful mutilationbut, more than that,
it would not only soon annihilate the desire
to eat (especially to eat flesh of any kind),
but would annihilate the power. Lastly, no
man can, with any show of reason, undertake
to affirm that this sad remnant of
Franklin's gallant band were not set upon
and slain by the Esquimaux themselves. It
is impossible to form an estimate of the
character of any race of savages, from their
deferential behaviour to the white man while
he is strong. The mistake has been made
again and again; and the moment the white
man has appeared in the new aspect of being
weaker than the savage, the savage has
changed and sprung upon him. There are
pious persons who, in their practice, with a
strange inconsistency, claim for every child
born to civilisation all innate depravity, and
for every savage born to the woods and wilds
all innate virtue. We believe every savage to
be in his heart covetous, treacherous, and cruel;
and we have yet to learn what knowledge
the white manlost, houseless, shipless,
apparently forgotten by his race, plainly
famine-stricken, weak, frozen, helpless, and dying
has of the gentleness of Esquimaux nature.

Leaving, as we purposed, this part of the
subject with a glance, let us put a supposititious
case.

If a little band of British naval officers,
educated and trained exactly like the officers
of this ill-fated expedition, had, on a former
occasion, in command of a party of men
vastly inferior to the crews of these two ships,
penetrated to the same regions, and been
exposed to the rigours of the same climate;
if they had undergone such fatigue, exposure,
and disaster, that scarcely power remained
to them to crawl, and they tottered and fell
many times in a journey of a few yards; if
they could not bear the contemplation of
their "filth and wretchedness, each other's
emaciated figures, ghastly countenances,
dilated eyeballs, and sepulchral voices"; if
they had eaten their shoes, such outer clothes
as they could part with and not perish of
cold, the scraps of acrid marrow yet
remaining in the dried and whitened spines
of dead wolves; if they had wasted away to
skeletons, on such fare, and on bits of putrid
skin, and bits of hide, and the covers of guns,
and pounded bones; if they had passed
through all the pangs of famine, had reached
that point of starvation where there is little
or no pain left, and had descended so far into
the valley of the shadow of Death, that they
lay down side by side, calmly and even cheerfully
awaiting their release from this world;
if they had suffered such dire extremity, and
yet lay where the bodies of their dead
companions lay unburied, within a few paces of
them; and yet never dreamed at the last
gasp of resorting to this said "last resource;"
would it not be strong presumptive evidence
against an incoherent Esquimaux story,

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