When the accident first happened to the Fury, I confidently expected to be able to repair her damages in good time to take advantage of a large remaining part of the navigable season in the prosecution of the voyage; and while the clearing of the ship was going on with so much alacrity, and the repairs seemed to be within the reach of our means and resources, I still flattered myself with the same hope. Those expectations were now at an end. With a twelvemonth’s provisions for both ship’s companies, extending our resources only to the autumn of the following year, it would have been folly to hope for final success, considering the small progress we had already made, the uncertain nature of this navigation, and the advanced period of the present season. I was therefore reduced to the only remaining conclusion, that it was my duty, under all the circumstances of the case, to return to England in compliance with the plain tenour of my instructions. As soon as the boats were hoisted up, therefore, and the anchor stowed, the ship’s head was put to the northeastward, with a light air off the land, in order to gain an offing before the ice should again set in-shore.
Some Remarks upon the Loss of the Fury—And on the Natural History, &c., of the Coast of North Somerset.—Arrive at Neill’s Harbour.—Death of John Page.—Leave Neill’s Harbour.—Recross the Ice in Baffin’s Bay.—Heavy Gales.—Temperature of the Sea.—Arrival in England.
The accident which had now befallen the Fury, and which, when its fatal result was finally ascertained, at once put an end to every prospect of success in the main object of this voyage, is not an event which will excite surprise in the minds of those who are either personally acquainted with the true nature of this precarious navigation, or have had patience to follow me through the tedious and monotonous detail of our operations during seven successive summers. To any persons thus qualified to judge, it will be plain that an occurrence of this nature was at all times rather to be expected than otherwise, and that the only real cause for wonder has been our long exemption from such a catastrophe.
The summer of 1825 was, beyond all doubt, the warmest and most favourable we had experienced since that of 1818. Not more than two or three days occurred, during the months of July and August, in which that heavy fall of snow took place which so commonly converts the aspect of nature in these regions, in a single hour, from the cheerfulness of summer into the dreariness of winter. Indeed, we experienced very little either of snow, rain, or fog: vegetation, wherever the soil allowed any to spring up, was extremely luxuriant and forward; a great deal of the old snow, which had laid on the ground during the last season, was rapidly dissolving even early in August; and every appearance of nature exhibited a striking contrast with the last summer, while it seemed evidently to furnish an extraordinary compensation for its rigour and inclemency.