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Robert McCormick

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McCormick, Robert I Dr. Cormack I, 1800–1890, naval surgeon, naturalist. Student at Guy's Hospital and at St. Thomas's. M.R.CS. 1822. Entered navy in 1823 as assistant surgeon. Found various of his appointments disagreeable, but "had the good fortune," he wrote, "to be engaged in three of the most memorable expeditions of the present century" – that under Capt. William Edward Parry to the Arctic in 1827, that under Capt. James Clark Ross to the Antarctic in 1839–43, and that in search of Franklin in 1852–53. Published two books, based mainly on diaries that he kept during his voyages.



McCormick's antarctic diary, which constitutes the first part of his Voyages of Discovery in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas, and round the World, 1884, contains a description of the Christmas 1841 and New Year 1842 festivities of the crews of the Erebus and the Terror (Voyages, I, 251–55). This diary material (then unpublished) McCormick used, some lines of it verbatim, for his H.W. article. His ponderous account of the origin of the article appears in his diary entry for Dec. 4, 1850, given in his "Autobiography" (which is appended to Voyages): "Having written an article on 'Christmas Day at the South Pole,' which my friend Hunt, the editor of the Daily News, had asked me for, as a contribution to the Christmas number of Household Words, for Charles Dickens, I took it to him, when it was at once sent to press, and appeared in that number" (Voyages, II, 314–15). (McCormick's friend Hunt was at the time one of the subeditors of the Daily News; he did not become editor until late in 1851.)
      The Office Book assigns "Christmas in the Frozen Regions" [II, 306–09. Dec. 21, 1850] to "Dr. Cormack & CD." and records payment as "Handed to F. K. Hunt." Since McCormick had no contact with the H.W. office either in submitting the article or in receiving payment, Wills's error in recording his name is understandable.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  D.N.B.; Plarr's Lives

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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