Sir John Franklin Opinion to Lord Haddington [Regarding the Arctic Expedition] (1845 January 24)

21 Bedford Place Russell Square

24th January 1845

My Lord

In obedience to your Lordships commands I lose not a moment in giving my written opinion on the questions your Lorship did me the honor of putting to me this morning.

1st As to whether I considered the question of a NW passage as one which ought again to be entertained; which I have no hesitation in answering in the affirmative, for the following reasons.

The discoveries of Parry & Ross have narrowed the parts in which the passage should be sought, to two of farthest, viz. that space between Cape Walker & Banks's land of Parry: where I should recommend the trial first to be made and in case of the Passage not being forced in that direction, then, to the northward by the Wellington Channel.

The ships commanded by these officers had not the advantage of steam, and I need hardly say that the benefits to be derived from the aid of such a power and incalculable. Having pointed out to your Lordship today some of these advantages I will not dwell farther on the matter than to say the addition of steam to the ships is in my opinion indispensable. It is gratifying also, to know that it may be efficiently applied to the ships without destroying their capacity for stowing the requisite stores of provisions.

If the proposed Expedition should unfortunately not be entirely successful in effecting a passage, it must contribute to our Geographical knowledge; and it cannot fail to make important additions to the series of Magnetical observations which are now carrying on in every part of the world.

I concede that the greatest impediments from Ice will probably be met between the 95th&125thdegrees of Longitude, the latter meridian being passed, I should expect to find the ice less heavy and such as may be penetrated with comparative facility. We know of no Islands to the North, westward of 120┬║.

Should there be any who say of these Arctic Expeditions, to what purpose have they been? I should desire them to compare our present map of that region and of the Northern Coast of America, with that of 1818 when these Expeditions commenced. They will find in the latter only three points marked on the Coast of America and nothing to the northward of it. Surely it cannot be denied that so large an addition to the Geography of the Northern parts of America and of the Arctic Regions is in itself an object worthy of all the Efforts that have been made in the course of former Expeditions.

I have the Honor to be

My Lord

Your Lordships

Most obedient Servant

John Franklin

Captain RN

Page images (3)

About this document ...

  • Written by: Sir John Franklin
  • Archive: National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom
  • Collection: Admiralty 7/187 Admiralty: Miscellanea. Arctic and Antarctic explorations. Documents relating to Arctic Expeditions
  • Date: 1845 January 24
  • Page(s): 1-3
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