E.J.H. on Dr Rae's Reports on the Arctic Expedition (1854 October 30)


Sir, - Although the opinions which I hold on the subject of Dr. Rae’s report go something beyond what you yourself have expressed, I trust that you will allow this letter to appear in your paper, if it is only for the purpose of eliciting the sentiments of others on a matter in which I am peculiarly interested – having had a brother on board Her Majesty’s ship Terror.

It appears to me that Dr. Rae has been deeply reprehensible either in not verifying the report which he received from the Esquimaux, or, if that was absolutely out of the question, in publishing the details of that report, resting as they do on grounds most weak and unsatisfactory. He had far better have kept silence altogether than have given us a story which, while it pains the feelings of many, must be insufficient for all.

To say nothing of the difficulties which, in your article of Thursday, you have touched upon, there are others which seem to me so patent that I can only wonder they did not occur to Dr. Rae himself.

1. Where the Esquimaux can live – where Dr. Rae’s party could find abundant means – what should have prevented Sir John Franklin and his party from subsisting too?

2. When they were forced – as, no doubt, they have been - to abandon their ships, can anyone believe that they would have encumbered themselves with forks and spoons and silver plates, instead of reserving every inch of available space for stores and articles absolutely necessary for subsistence.

3. Supposing that they died by starvation, is it likely that a large body of men would have died all together? Would they not have yielded one by one, each struggling on as far as he could, in the hope of either finding some store of provisions or meeting some party sent out for their rescue?

I, Sir, for one, have long given up all expectation of seeing my brother again in this world. But there are many who still cling to the hope of regaining their relations. My own belief is, that the ships have been abandoned and plundered by Esquimaux. I would only persuade myself that I am not compelled to believe the painful details which Dr. Rae has most unwarrantably published. But others believe that the crews may yet be subsisting somewhere, and until Dr. Rae’s report be verified they will not part with their belief for anything which he has said. I enclose my card and am

Sir, your obedient servant


Oct. 26.

About this document ...

  • Written by: E.J.H.
  • Published in: The Times (London)
  • Date: 1854 October 30
  • Notes: Letter to the Editor of the Times by a correspondent claiming to be a brother of Francis Crozier and taking issue with Dr. John Rae. Page 10.
Sunken ship