Royal Naval Biography/Lyon, George Francis

Doctor of the Civil Law.
[Post-Captain of 1823.]

Is a native of Chichester and son of the late Colonel Lyon of that city. He was educated at Dr. Burney’s celebrated naval academy, at Gosport, co. Hants; entered on the books of the Royal William, flag-ship at Spithead, in 1808; and first embarked in a sea-going ship, the Milford 74, Captain {now Sir Henry William) Bayntun, Aug. 8, 1809. After serving for several months on the French coast, he proceeded to Cadiz in the same two-decker, then commanded by Captain Edward Kittoe, and destined to receive the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats, whom he subsequently followed into the Hibernia, a first rate, on the Mediterranean station. On the 23d Nov. 1810, we find him in one of the Milford’s boats, engaged in an attack on several of the enemy’s gun-vessels, near Santa Maria; on which occasion Lieutenants Thomas Worth and John Buckland, of the royal marines, between whom he was sitting at the time, both fell by one unlucky shot.

Mr. Lyon’s next ship was the Caledonia 120, bearing the flag of Sir Edward Pellew (now Viscount Exmouth), who soon appointed him acting lieutenant of the Berwick 74, Captain Edward Brace, under whom he served at the reduction of Genoa, in April, 1814[1]. On the 8th of the same month, he was wounded in an attack made by the boats of the Berwick and Rainbow, in conjunction with two Sicilian gun-vessels, upon the enemy’s posts near the pass of Rona, with a view to favor the advance of the British army, under Lord William Bentinck. On this occasion, two long 24-pounders and two mortars were taken: the total loss sustained by the boats was two men killed, and five, including Mr. Lyon, wounded. His appointment to the Berwick was confirmed by the Admiralty, July 30, 1814.

During the war with Murat, in 1816, Lieutenant Lyon appears to have been present at the siege of Gaeta, by the combined Austrian and Anglo-Sicilian forces, under General Baron Laner, and Captain (now Sir William Charles) Fahie[2]. On the last day of that year he was appointed to the Albion 74, fitting for the flag of Rear-Admiral (afterwards Sir Charles) Penrose, in which ship he bore a part at the battle of Algiers, Aug. 27, 1816[3].

In Sept. 1818, Mr. Ritchie, a gentleman of great science and ability, employed by the British government on a mission to the interior of Africa, arrived at Malta (where the Albion was then lying), attended by M. Dupont, a Frenchman in his pay, whom he had engaged at Marseilles for the purpose of collecting and preparing objects of natural history. It was understood that Captain Frederick Marryat, R.N. was also to have accompanied Mr. Ritchie, but that circumstances had occurred which induced that officer to relinquish his intention of joining the mission. Soon after Mr. Ritchie’s arrival at Valette, he became acquainted with Lieutenant Lyon, who, hearing him express his disappointment at having failed to obtain Captain Marryat as his companion on the proposed expedition, offered to supply his place, “hoping that the zeal by which he was actuated would in some degree make amends for his deficiencies in other respects.” Mr, Ritchie, without hesitation, accepted his proposal, and in consequence, lost no time in requesting Sir Charles Penrose to solicit the necessary permission for his quitting the Albion. On the 19th of November a favorable answer was received from the Admiralty; and Lieutenant Lyon, who had employed himself during the interval in acquiring the Arabic alphabet, and in otherwise preparing himself for the object in view, immediately followed Mr. Ritchie to Tripoli, where he landed on the 25th of the same month. In 1821, he published his Journal, under the title of “A Narrative of Travels in Northern Africa, accompanied by geographical notices of Soudan, and of the course of the Niger,” with a chart of the routes, and a variety of colored plates, illustrative of the costumes of the several natives of that country. The tour is divided into two parts; the first comprises a journey over the Gharian mountains to Benioleed, and the subsequent progress of the mission from Tripoli to Mourzouk,the capital of Fezzan, (lat. 25° 54' N. long. 15° 62' E.) where Mr. Ritchie died on the 20th Nov. 1819; the second embraces Mr. Lyon’s proceedings between that period and Mar. 25th, 1820, when he returned to Tripoli, after an absence of exactly one year, – “it being deemed too hazardous to attempt advancing any further into the interior, without fresh authority and additional pecuniary supplies from Government.” During this period Lieutenant Lyon wore the dress of a Moslem, kept his head shaved, allowed his beard to grow, and travelled under the name of Said-ben-abd-Allah. Previous to the commencement of his journey, he was instructed in reading Arabic by a fighi (or clerk) of one of the mosques, who also gave him all the requisite information respecting the ceremonies used in prayer; which, when he became perfect in them, he taught to Mr. Ritchie. The following extracts will enable our readers, some of whom may not have perused his narrative, to form an idea of what he had to contend with in the course of his travels:

“Mr. Ritchie felt much anxiety respecting a further allowance from Government, as we had scarcely more than money sufficient to pay the hire of our camels to Mourzouk, and beyond that place we were uncertain how we could procure a fresh supply for the use of the mission. He had brought with him a good deal of merchandize; but, from what he learnt at Tripoli, it was likely to be of little service to us, as it consisted of few or none of the articles of trade most commonly used in the interior. I furnished myself with a horse and the greater part of my equipments. M. Dupont thought fit to resign the office which he had pledged himself to fulfil, and abruptly left Mr. Ritchie, influenced, as we had reason to think, by the advice and suggestions of some of his supposed friends. The petty intrigues which were carried on in order to detract from the merits of the mission, and eventually to obstruct its progress, were most disgraceful. Such was the inauspicious state of our affairs, when we entered on our hazardous journey, determined at all events, that, however unpromising in its commencement, its failure should not be attributed to our want of zeal in the service we had undertaken.

“May 16th, at Mourzouk, (where the mission arrived on the 39th day after leaving Tripoli), – “I was attacked with severe dysentery, which confined me to my bed during twenty-two days, and reduced me to the last extremity. Our little party was at this time miserably poor, for we had only money sufficient for the purchase of corn to keep us alive, and never tasted meat, unless fortunate enough to kill a pigeon in the gardens. My illness was the first break up in our little community, and from that time it rarely happened that one or two of us were not confined to our beds. The extreme saltness of the water, the poor quality of our food, together with the excessive heat and dryness of the climate, long retarded my recovery; and when it did take place, it was looked on as a miracle by those who had seen me in my worst state, and who thought it impossible for me to survive. I was no sooner convalescent, than Mr. Ritchie fell ill, and was confined to his bed with an attack of bilious fever, accompanied with delirium, and great pain in his back and kidneys, for which he required repeated cupping. When a little recovered, he got up for two days, but his disorder soon returned with redoubled and alarming violence. He rejected every thing but water; and, excepting about three hours in the afternoon, remained either constantly asleep, or in a delirious state. Even had he been capable of taking food, we had not the power of purchasing any which could nourish or refresh him. Our money was now all expended, and the Sultan’s treacherous plans to distress us, which daily became too apparent, were so well arranged, that we could not find any one to buy our goods. For six entire weeks we were without animal food, subsisting on a very scanty portion of corn and dates. Our horses were mere skeletons, added to which, Belford” (a shipwright of Malta dockyard, who had volunteered to accompany Mr. Ritchie,) “became totally deaf, and so emaciated as to be unable to walk.”

“My situation was now such as to create the most gloomy apprehensions; for I reflected that, if my two companions were to die, which there was every reason to apprehend, I had no money with which to bury them, or to support myself; and must in that case have actually perished from want, in a land of comparative plenty. My naturally sanguine mind, however, and above all, my firm reliance on that Power which had so mercifully protected me on so many trying occasions, prevented my giving way to despondency; and Belford beginning soon to rally a little, we united, and took turns in nursing and attending on our poor companion. At this time, having no servant, we performed fur Mr. Ritchie and for ourselves the most menial offices, Mr. Ritchie being wholly unable to assist himself. Two young men, brothers, whom we had treated with great kindness, and whom we had engaged to attend on us, so far from communicating our forlorn situation, forsook us in our distress, and even carried off our little store of rice and cusscussoo[4], laughing at our complaints,, and well knowing that our poverty prevented the redress which we should otherwise have sought and obtained.

Mr. Ritchie was confined to his bed for 58 days. By the 20th of August he had tolerably recovered, though Lieutenant Lyon observed, with much regret, that his late and frequent disorders appeared to have very materially depressed his spirits, insomuch, that he almost constantly remained secluded in his own apartment, silent, unoccupied, and averse to every kind of society.

“Being now reduced to the last extremity, and Mr. Ritchie not thinking it right to draw for money on the Treasury, I drew a bill on my own private account, for 20l., with which we proceeded immediately to the Sultan, hoping it would have the desired effect; Mr. Ritchie having before explained to him, that if he accommodated us with 80 dollars, and sent the draft to his (the Sultan’s) wife, who was then resident at Tripoli, she would instantly receive the amount from the British Consul. He still, however, refused to assist us; when on a sudden, artfully pretending to mistake 80 for 8, he exclaimed, ‘Well! I did not think it necessary to draw a written agreement for so small a sum; I will advance the eight dollars you require, and you may return them when convenient.’ Further explanation to a man determined not to understand was wholly useless; and our poverty not allowing us to refuse the sum, however small, we accepted it; and immediately employed part of our newly acquired wealth in treating ourselves with a little meat. We determined to fatten our horses for sale, and to purchase some fowls and a milch ewe, as a resource against future illness. I often drenched the horses with water, when they were not thirsty, to increase their size and improve their appearance, and at length” (in October) “sold a grey one for seventy dollars, twenty of which, with a negress valued at 32, were paid to us on taking the animal away; the remainder was to be paid when the purchaser had sold his slaves. The girl was a native of Maudra, in Bornou, and about thirteen years of age. Mr. Ritchie was witness with Belford to my liberating her in due form from slavery; but as we were much in want of a servant, it was settled that she was not to return to her native country, my ticket of freedom being only to prevent all chance of her being sold. We economised, as well as we could, our small allowance of money, which, however, soon became much reduced, as we had incurred many debts, and now punctually paid them. Within the last two or three months we frequently had passed a whole day without food.

“Belford and I fell ill about this period, and were both confined to our beds; he with a bilious fever, and I with severe pains in my back and head, which frequently caused delirium. I had had repeated attacks of ague and fever from the beginning of August, generally about three times a week, and sometimes more frequently, which had much weakened me, and brought on a decided liver complaint, as well as an affection of the spleen. Fortunately, however, my spirits were good, or I must have sunk under so many attacks. In this month, about twenty Tripoli merchants died from the effects of climate, bad water, and the want of nourishing food; even many of the natives were very ill, and it was quite rare to sec a healthy looking person. I remained a week in bed, and arose from it quite a skeleton; Belford was still in a very dangerous state.

“On the 8th of November, Mr. Ritchie being again attacked by illness, I much wished him to allow of my selling some of our powder to procure him a few comforts; but to this he would not assent. On the 9th I again fell ill, and was confined to my bed; and Belford, though himself an invalid, attended on us both. Our little girl, however, assisted in nursing us. After lying in a torpid state for three or four days, without taking any nourishment or even speaking to us, Mr. Ritchie became worse, and at last delirious, as in his former illnesses. In the interval, my disorder having abated, I was enabled to rally a little, and to attend on my poor suffering companion.

“After he had somewhat recovered his intellect, he appeared very anxious to know whether any letters had arrived, announcing to us a further allowance of money from Government; but when I, unfortunately, was obliged to reply in the negative, he avoided nil comment on the subject. He would not drink any tea, of which we had still some remaining; but preferred vinegar and water, our only acid, which he drank ia great quantities. Being entirely free from pain, he flattered himself that he should, in a day or two, recover, particularly as he was not at all emaciated, but rather stouter than he had been for some months previous to his illness. One day he appeared so far recovered as to be able to get up; we placed him on the mat in the centre of the room, when he seemed much refreshed, and thanked us for the trouble we had taken; he then expressed a wish to have a little coffee, which, for a time, I was unwilling to give, fearing it might injure him: he was, however, so earnest in his request, that I was obliged at last to comply with it. In the evening, one or two of the Mamlukes came in; he spoke to them for a little while, and soon after fell asleep. In the morning I found he had crept from his bed, and was lying uncovered, and in a state of delirium, on the cold sand. We immediately put him to bed, and he again appeared to rally.

“On the 20th, we got a fowl, of which we made a little soup for him; and while he was taking it, a man came in, and told me a courier had arrived from Tripoli with letters. I went out, but returned, to my sad disappointment, empty-handed, the man having no despatches for us. The broth which Mr. Ritchie drank was the first nourishment he had taken for ten days, though we had used all our endeavours to prevail on him to eat. He said he felt much revived by it, and turned round to go to sleep. He seemed to breathe with difficulty; but as I had often observed this during his former maladies, I was not so much alarmed as I should otherwise have been. At about 9 o’clock, Belford, on looking at him, exclaimed in a loud voice, ‘he is dying!’ I begged him to be more cautious, lest he should be overheard, and immediately examined Mr. Ritchie, who appeared to me to be still in a sound sleep; I therefore lay down on my bed, and continued listening. At 10 I rose again, and found him lying in an easy posture, and breathing more freely: five minutes, however, had scarcely elapsed before his respiration appeared entirely to cease; and on examination I found that he had actually expired, without a pang or groan, in the same position in which he had fallen asleep.

“Belford and myself, in our weak state, looked at each other, expecting that in a few days it might probably be our lot to follow our lamented companion, whose sad remains we watched during the remainder of the night. And now, for the first time in all our distresses, my hopes did indeed fail me. Belford, as well as he was able, hastened to form a rough coffin out of our chests; and a sad and painful task it was. The body of the deceased was washed, perfumed, and rubbed with camphor; and I procured some white linen, with which the grave-clothes were made. Within an hour after the funeral had taken place, a courier arrived from Tripoli, bringing a truly welcome letter, announcing that a further allowance of 1000l. had been made by our Government towards the expences of the mission. Had this letter reached us a little sooner, many of our troubles and distresses would have been prevented.

“I waited on the Sultan to announce to him Mr. Ritchie’s death, at which the hypocrite affected to be much grieved, though he must have been well aware that had his inclination equalled his power to serve us, he might have enabled ua to procure the necessaries of life, and thus at least tranquillized the last moments of Mr. Ritchie. I informed him of the additional allowance which I expected, begging him to lend me some money. He talked much of his regard for me, but dwelt a great deal on his poverty; and ended by saying, he might perhaps be able to furnish me with a little, which he expressed with particular emphasis, reminding me that I already owed him eight dollars. I was not then, I own, in the humour to remonstrate with such a wretch, and plainly told him I would never more ask for his assistance or friendship. On my return home, I found poor Belford greatly overcome by the efforts he had made, whilst I was equally so from the exertions of mind I had undergone. The sequence was, that a strong fever confined us both to our beds, at the mercy of any one who chose to pillage us. We lay ten days in this state; our little girl was our principal nurse, and was very humane and careful.”

Lieutenant Lyon[errata 1] now found himself under the absolute necessity of returning home to receive instructions for his further proceedings; for, although money might have been procured at Tripoli, much time must have elapsed before he could have received it; and, Moreover, he had[errata 2] no one whom in his absence he could have left in charge of the goods at Mourzouk, Belford being too sick and helpless either to keep guard over them, or to remain alone in that place. Added to this, 1000l. was a sum by no means sufficient to carry him through Africa; as it would be requisite to purchase merchandize totally different from that which had already been provided, and without which he could not have made his way. Belford, from his weak state, could not accompany him far, and to proceed alone would have been actual madness, until the necessary arrangements for his future operations, and regulations as to pecuniary matters, had been fully made and understood. Under all these circumstances, therefore, and to his great regret, he could only resolve on a short journey into the interior, proceeding in the first place to Zucla, the principal town east of Mourzouk, in lat. 20° 11' 48" N. and from thence passing the desert to Gatrone and Tegerry, at which latter place (the southern limit of Fezzan) situated in lat. 24° 4' he arrived on the 2d of January, 1820. During his progress thither, he was more than once severely attacked with hemma, and suffered much in the spleen and liver. On the 8th of March, he repassed the northern boundary of the kingdom of Fezzan, and on the 21st, reached the ruins of Leptis Magna, the exploration of which ancient city had been successfully undertaken by Captain William Henry Smyth, R.N., in the year 1816.

Shortly after Mr. Lyon’s return to Tripoli, a dangerous fever broke out and made great ravages, many of the inhabitants dying daily in the town and suburbs. He remained there until the 19th of May, then sailed for Leghorn (where he performed quarantine), and passing overland, arrived at London, July 29th, 1820, In travelling through France he was so severely attacked by ophthalmia, as to be nearly deprived of sight; but on his arrival in England he soon recovered. At this latter period, poor Belford continued still deaf and much emaciated, and with but little prospect of his ever regaining health or strength.

In Dec. following, our enterprising traveller was named by Captain Smyth, as a person properly qualified to assist him in completing the investigation of the coast between Tripoli and Egypt. In a letter to Viscount Melville, on the subject of African explorations, that scientific officer says: – “From my long acquaintance with him, I make no hesitation in recommending Lieutenant Lyon as singularly eligible for such a mission, from his natural ardour, his attainments, his professional habits, and, above all, his very complete assumption of the Moorish character.” Instead, however, of being sent back to Tripoli, he was very soon afterwards promoted to the command of the Hecla bomb-vessel, then fitting out at Deptford, for the purpose of exploring Repulse Bay, &c. in company with, and under the orders of Captain Parry. An outline of this voyage, during which Captain Lyon “uniformly displayed the most laudable zeal and strenuous exertions,” has been given at pp. 353–361 of Suppl. Part IV. His “Private Journal” was subsequently published, and might be aptly termed the “Sayings and Doings of the Esquimaux.”

Captain Lyon obtained post rank Nov 13, 1823; and was appointed to the Griper bark, fitting out for another voyage of discovery in the icy regions, Jan. 10, 1824. A few days afterwards, the freedom of Chichester was presented to him, in the presence of the Duke of Richmond, High Steward of that city, on which occasion the whole corporation attended in their robes, and William Charles Newland, Esq., the mayor, addressed him in a neat and appropriate speech, of which the following is the substance:–

“He was,” Mr. Newland said, “extremely happy to meet him, and to congratulate him on again visiting his native city, after the perils he had escaped, as well during his travels in Africa, as in the late expedition under Captain Parry. With respect to the former, ho knew not which most to admire – the zeal and perseverance with which, under circumstances the most discouraging that could well he imagined, he had prosecuted the enterprise; or the natural and unaffected manner in which he had recorded it. Notwithstanding the death of his companion, the treachery of the natives, and the failure of his resources, he had penetrated further into that unhealthy and inhospitable country, than any Englishman who had ever come back to give an account of his travels. As to the expedition from which he was lately returned, if the attempt to discover a north-west passage had hitherto failed, he was well assured that the failure was not owing to a want of activity and exertion, hut that all had been done by him and his companions which it was possible to accomplish. He was happy to find that the Lords of the Admiralty had duly appreciated his services on that occasion, and had been pleased to reward them by raising him to the rank of Post-Captain. The corporation of Chichester were also desirous to testify their opinion of his intrepid and distinguished conduct, and therefore begged to present him with the freedom of their city. The box which contained it, and in which their sentiments were engraven, would probably accompany him on the next expedition, and sometimes remind him of the occurrences of that day, and of his friends then present, who, he assured him, would always feel a lively interest in his welfare, and whose best wishes for his health and happiness would attend him.”

The box was turned from a piece of oak, which had formed a part of the Hecla. The arms of the city of Chichester, in chased gold, are placed on the centre of the lid, the edge of which is bound by a broad fillet of raised oak leaves and acorns. The box is entirely lined with highly burnished gold, and in the upper part is the following inscription:–

“Presented, January 16th, 1824, by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of Chichester, to George Francis Lyon, Esq. Captain in the Royal Navy, in testimony of their admiration of the zeal, perseverance, and spirit of enterprise, displayed by him in his Travels in Northern Africa, and in the late Voyage to the Polar Seas, in search of a North-West Passage.”

In the evening of the same day, Captain Lyon, with a large party, among whom were Lord George Lennox, M.P. for the city, and many officers of both services, dined with the mayor and corporation. The Duke of Richmond would also have been present at this banquet, had not ill health prevented him.

The Griper was originally a gun-brig, of only 190 tons burthen. She had been considerably strengthened and raised upon, to enable her to accompany Lieutenant Parry, in the year 1819; and her complement now consisted of 41 persons, including Captain Lyon; Lieutenants Peter Smith Manico and Francis Harding; Mr. Edward Nicholas Kendall, assistant-surveyor; Mr. John Tom, midshipman; Mr. Thomas Evans, purser; Mr, William Leyson, assistant-surgeon, and three warrant officers. She sailed from the Nore on the 16th of June, 1824, for the purpose of making an attempt to connect the western shore of Melville Peninsula with the important discoveries of Captain Franklin; and was accompanied as far as the coast of Labrador by the Snap surveying-vessel, which had been ordered to carry out a spare bower-anchor and part of her stores. When these were all on board, her decks, chains, and launch were completely filled with casks, spars, plank, cordage, &c.; and her draft of water was upwards of 16 feet aft and 15 feet 10 inches forward. “Had I succeeded in reaching Repulse Bay,” says her captain, “with less stores than I now carried, certain starvation would have attended us all, if we were detained, as might have happened, a second winter. To give some idea of the weather,” in which they were removed from the Snap, “it will be sufficient to say, that during the whole of the time we were at work, the vessels were so entirely hidden from each other, by a dense fog, that the boats were directed to and fro, amongst loose ice, by the sound of bells, which we kept ringing.”

“On the morning of the 6th of August, the weather broke, although the wind continued to blow strong from the S.W. We obtained sights, and before noon made Cape Resolution. Early on the 6th, we again saw the land: this day was decidedly the first fine one we had enjoyed since leaving England. The whole of the 7th was equally delightful. The ship having but little way, our boats made several trips to the floe-ice for water, and we were enabled, for the first time since leaving Orkney, to allow the people sufficient to wash their clothes, as we were unable to stow more than six tons for our passage across the Atlantic.

“We had an excellent run all night, although the weather was rainy and very thick; and by 4 a.m., on the 8th, were abreast of Saddle-Back and the Middle Savage Islands, which are numerous, and several have long shoals running from them. I had set the islands and gone to bed at day-light, leaving the ship five miles from the land, and running about as many knots through the water; but was suddenly aroused by her receiving a slight blow, immediately followed by a heavy and continued shock, which heeled her so much that I imagined she was turning over. Running on deck, I found she must have struck on a rock, or piece of grounded ice, but she had forced her way over it; and on immediately sounding, had no bottom with 25 fathoms.

“Rain and fog continued until the forenoon of the 10th, when a breeze which sprung up from the N.W., directly against us, cleared the sky sufficiently to shew the Upper Savage Island; on which we had landed last voyage, bearing N.b.W., with the North Bluff N.W.b.N., distant 10 and 15 miles. Having found a heavier piece of ice than that to which we were fast, we warped to it, and our people were enabled to wash their clothes in its numerous pools, and amuse themselves on it for the day. In driving with the N.W. wind, we experienced considerable anxiety by being repeatedly swept past bergs, and frequently almost upon them. These dangerous bodies were extremely numerous here, and indeed, with the exception of the entrance of the strait, we had seen more ice than during our outward passage on the last voyage.

“We hung on until afternoon on the 11th, being unwilling to quit our floe, which was the largest yet seen, and on which, as the weather was tolerably fine, we were enabled to stretch lines for the purpose of drying cloathes, &c. which was now very requisite, as from the continual wet weather we had experienced, the ship and every thing within her had become very damp. We also sent our ponies[5], ducks, geese, and fowls, on the ice, which in the forenoon presented a most novel appearance; the officers shooting looms as they flew past, and the men amusing themselves with leap-frog and other games, while the ship lay moored with her sails loose, in readiness to quit our floating farm-yard by the earliest opportunity. A fresh N.W. wind set in at night-fall, and we again hung to the largest piece of floe-ice we could find. At day-light on the 12th, we had driven considerably. Standing alongside in the forenoon, and lamenting to one of the officers the want of amusing incident, we suddenly saw an Esquimaux close at hand, and paddling very quietly towards us. He required but little encouragement to land, and having hauled his boat up on the ice, immediately began to barter the little fortune he carried in his kayak. In half an hour, our visitors amounted to about 60 persons, in eight kayaks, or mens’, and three oominks, or womens’ boats, which latter had stood out to us under one lug sail composed of the transparent intestines of the walrus. Our trading had continued some time before we discovered four small puppies, and they were, of course, immediately purchased, as an incipient team for future operations. As a lane of water was seen in shore at noon, we were under the necessity of bidding our visitors adieu; my last purchase at parting was the ingeniously-constructed sail of a woman’s boat, which was gladly bartered for a knife. This was nine feet five inches at the head, by only six feet at the foot, and having a dip of thirteen feet. The gut of which it was composed was in four-inch breadths, neatly sewed with thread of the same material, and the whole sail only weighed three pounds three quarters.

“Our progress was now painfully slow. A thick fog distressed us all day on the 13th; but in the evening the sky broke, and the weather calmed. The temperature since morning had been as low as 30°, and the fog froze thickly in the rigging. At night-fall, a light breeze sprung up from the southward, and for the first time in many days the ship lay her course unimpeded by ice. We were off Cape Wolstenholm by the morning of the 20th, and in the afternoon abreast of Digg’s Islands, where we found the sea very full of ice. At day-light of the 24 th, we found ourselves near a heavy pack of ice, which lay against a yellow shoal beach at about four miles distant. Having stood along the coast with a light air, I landed with Mr. Kendall, for the purpose of obtaining observations. The situation of the point on which we landed, differs so much from the position assigned by Baffin to Sea-Horse Point, that I imagine he did not see this low part of the coast, but the mountainous land to the N.E., which answers more nearly to his latitude. The point we called after Mr. Leyson; and a broad strait of about .30 miles, which runs between this and Cape Pembroke received the name of Evans’s Inlet. The soundings in which the ship had worked at five miles from the shore, varied from 50 to 35 fathoms, muddy bottom. I am thus particular in stating our soundings on this day, as they are the commencement of constant labour at the leads, and also as a proof of the careless manner in which the old charts of the coast of Southampton Island have hitherto been marked; for it is in them laid down as a bold precipitous shore, having from 90 to 130 fathoms off it, while on almost every part which we coasted, our hand-leads were going at from four to ten miles from the beach, which in no one place could be appoached within a mile by any ship. On the 27th, the wind failing, we anchored in 20 fathoms. A native was seen coming off to us, and as he approached, we observed that instead of a canoe he was seated on three inflated seal skins, connected most ingeniously by blown intestines, so that his vessel was extremely buoyant. He was astride upon one skin, while another of a larger size was secured on either side of it, so that he was placed in a kind of hollow. His legs, well furnished with seal-skin boots, were immersed nearly to the knee in water, and he rowed with a very slender soot-stained paddle of whale’s bone, which was secured to his float by a thong. From their total want of iron, and from their extreme poverty, I am led to imagine that these people had never before seen Europeans; although it is not improbable they may have observed the Hudson’s Bay ships pass at a distance in the offing, on some occasions when they may have been driven by bad weather a little out of their annual course. We obtained the latitude 62° 29' 50“N. and long., by afternoon sights, 82° 48' 46“W.

“At 4 a.m., on the 28th, with the wind from the northward, and a heavy short sea, apparently caused by a weather tide, we weighed, and continued to run S.W. along the beach, until 11 a.m., when being off a low point, eight miles from our last anchorage, we saw a shoal running about five miles to seaward. Keeping an offing, we rounded this, and then found the land, which was still low, to trend from behind the point, which I take to be ‘Carey’s Swan Nest’ of Sir Thomas Button. Several store-houses, and two winter-huts, were seen on the beach, but no natives appeared. Having stood in for the shore, a strong tide assisted us until evening, when having run W.S.W. about 20 miles since noon, we anchored, at two miles from the shore, in 13 fathoms.

“At 4 a.m., on the 29th, the wind being light and contrary, with continued rain, I landed to procure water, abreast of the ship. Near our landing-place were the remains of a large Esquimaux establishment, and at a short distance from the shore was a large mound, which contained a dead person, sewed up in a skin, and apparently long buried. The body was so coiled up (a custom with some of the tribes of Esquimaux) that it might be taken for a pigmy, being only two feet four in length. This may account for the otherwise extraordinary assertion of Luke Fox, that he had found bodied in the islands in the ‘Welcome,’ which were only four feet long. Near the large grave was another pile of stones, covering the body of a child, which was coiled up in the same manner. A snow buntin had found its way through the loose stones which composed this little tomb, and its now forsaken, neatly built nest, was found placed on the neck of the child.

“At 9-30, when I left the beach, it was low water. At 11, the tide turned in the offing, and flowed from the eastward. We now observed inshore of us a long overfall, having deep water within it, and running at a mile from the beach to a low point, 5 or 6 miles W.S.W. of us.

“Weighing at 1 p.m.., we lay along shore until arriving at the above point, to which I gave a wide berth, as a heavy sea was breaking over a long shoal which ran from it, and the wind was freshening from the N.W., whence it soon blew a gale, and brought us under close-reefed topsails. A strong weather tide rose so short and high a sea, that for throe hours the ship was unmanageable, and pitched bowsprit under every moment. We now found, that although with our head off this truly dangerous shore, we were nearing it rapidly, and driving bodily down on the shoal. I therefore kept away a couple of points, a plan we now constantly followed, as it was the only method of keeping head-way on the ship in even a moderate sea; and it was more to our advantage than making 8 points leeway. By so doing we made a little S.W. offing, but were so uneasy, that I expected the masts to go every moment, and all hands were kept on deck in readiness. The tiller broke twice adrift, and two men were bruised. On the 30th, our noon latitude, 62° 14' 38", and long. 84° 29' 54", placed us exactly on Southampton Island, and two degrees eastward of Cape Southampton, as laid down in the charts.

“With a light wind, but heavy sea from the S.W., we made a N.W.b.N. course, over the place assigned to Southampton Island, with regular soundings, between 70 and 50 fathoms. At midnight, the wind came fresh from the westward with rain; and as I feared running over a spot where land is laid down as having been discovered, I lay-to until day-break of the 31st. The wind fell in the morning, and before noon a calm with thick fog set in. A light breeze after noon enabled us to keep N.W., as nearly as I could judge, and in the evening we made very low land, distant about 10 miles, its northern extreme bearing N. 23° 43' E.”

The situation of the Griper now became truly critical.

“We found ourselves settings as if with a current, towards the northern point, and were confirmed in this conjecture by evening sights, giving 12 miles casting since noon, although we had steered N.W. (true). Throughout the night we steered north-west by the polar-star, and ran under easy sail. Our soundings at 10 p.m. were 30 fathoms, between which and 28 they varied continually until 2-30 a.m., on the 1st of September, when we shoaled to 19. Fearing danger, I turned the hands up; but having shortly deepened to 27 and 25 fathoms, again sent them below. At 6 a.m., having quickly shoaled to 19, running N.N.W. from midnight, I shortened sail, but came to 17 at dawn, when we discovered land bearing N.N.W. and apparently not continuous to the right; but a thick fog which hung over the horizon limited our view. As our run had been about 50 miles N.N.W., and as I expected to find the American shore east of its position in the charts, I conceived that this would be Cape Fullerton of Middleton, and therefore kept it on our larboard hand, intending to pass it at 5 or 6 miles, which was its distance at this time. We soon, however, came to 15 fathoms, and I kept right away, but had then only 10; when being unable to see far around us, and observing from the whiteness of the water that we were on a bank, I rounded-to at 7 a.m., and tried to bring up with the starboard anchor and 70 fathoms of chain; but the stiff breeze and heavy sea caused this to part in half an hour, and we again made sail, to the north-eastward; but finding we came suddenly to 7 fathoms, and that the ship could not possibly work out again, as she would not face the sea or keep steerage way on her, I most reluctantly brought her up with three bowers and a stream in succession, yet not before we had shoaled to five and a half. This was between 8 and 9 a.m., the ship pitching bows under, and a tremendous sea running. At noon, the best bower-anchor parted, but the others held.

“As there was every reason to fear the falling of the tide, which we knew to be from 12 to 15 feet on this coast, and in that case the total destruction of the ship, I caused the long-boat to be hoisted out, and, with the four smaller ones, to be stored to a certain extent with arms and provisions. The officers drew lots for their respective boats, and the ship’s company were stationed to them. The long-boat having been filled full of stores which could not be put below, it became requisite to throw them overboard, as there was no room for them on our very small and crowded deck, over which heavy seas were constantly sweeping. In making these preparations for taking to the boats, it was evident to all, that the long, boat was the only one which had the slightest chance of living under the lee of the ship, should she be wrecked; but every officer and man drew his lot with the greatest composure, although two of our boats would have been swamped the instant they were lowered. Yet such was the noble feeling of those around me, that it was evident that had I ordered the boats in question to be manned, their crews would have entered them without a murmur. In the afternoon, on the weather clearing a little, we discovered a low beach all around astern of us, on which the surf was running to an awful height, and it appeared evident that no human powers could save us. At 3 p.m. the tide had fallen to 22 feet (only six more than we drew), and the ship, having been lifted by a tremendous sea, struck with great violence the whole length of her keel. This we naturally conceived was the forerunner of her total wreck, and we stood in readiness to take the boats, and endeavour to hang under her lee. She continued to strike with sufficient force to have burst any less fortified vessel, at intervals of a few minutes, whenever an unusually heavy sea passed us. And, as the water was so shallow, these might almost be called breakers rather than waves, for each, in passing, burst with great force over our gangways, and as every sea ‘topped,’ our decks were continually, and frequently deeply, flooded. All hands took a little refreshment, for some had scarcely been below for twenty-four hours, and I had not been in bed for three nights. Although few or none of us had any idea that we should survive the gale, we did not think that our comforts should be entirely neglected, and an order was therefore given to the men to put on their best and warmest clothing, to enable them to support life as long as possible. The officers each secured some useful instrument among them, for the purposes of observation, although it was acknowledged by all that not the slightest hope remained. And now that every thing in our power had been done, I called all hands aft, and to a merciful God offered prayers for our preservation. I thanked every one for their excellent conduct, and cautioned them, as we should, in all probability, soon appear before our Maker, to enter His presence as men resigned to their fate. We then all sat down in groups, and, sheltered from the wash of the sea by whatever we could find, many of us endeavoured to obtain a little sleep. Never, perhaps, was witnessed a finer scene than on the deck of my little ship, when all hope of life had left us. Noble as the character of the British sailor is always allowed to be in cases of danger, yet I did not believe it to be possible, that amongst forty-one persons, not one repining word should have been uttered. The officers sat about, wherever they could find shelter from the sea, and the men lay down, conversing with each other with the most perfect calmness. Each was at peace with his neighbour and all the world, and I am firmly persuaded that the resignation which was then shown to the will of the Almighty was the means of obtaining his mercy. At about 6 p.m., the rudder, which had already received some very heavy blows, rose, and broke up the after-lockers, and this was the last severe shock the ship received. We found by the well that she made no water, and by dark she struck no more. God was merciful to us, and the tide, almost miraculously, fell no lower. At dark, heavy rain fell, but was borne with patience, for it beat down the gale, and brought with it a light air from the northward. At 9 p.m., the water had deepened to five fathoms. The ship kept off the ground all night, and our exhausted crew obtained some broken rest.

“At 4 a.m., on the 2d, on weighing the best bower, we found it had lost a fluke; and by 8, we had weighed the two other anchors and the stream, which were found uninjured. The land was now more clearly visible, and the highest surf I ever saw was still breaking on it, and on some shoals about half a mile from the shore. Not a single green patch could be seen on the flat shingle beach; and our sense of deliverance was doubly felt from the conviction that if any of us should have lived to reach the shore, the most wretched death by starvation would have been inevitable. In standing out from our anchorage, which. in humble gratitude for our delivery, I named the ‘Bay of God’s Mercy,’ we saw the buoy of the anchor we had lost, in 10 fathoms, and weighed it by the buoy-rope, losing therefore only one bower-anchor. An occasional glimpse of the sun enabled us to determine the situation of our recent anchorage, which was in lat. 63° 35; 48", long. 86° 32'. The land all round it was so low, that it was scarcely visible from the deck at five miles’ distance, while the point which I had taken for Cape Fullerton, and which I named after Mr. Kendall, was higher than the coast of Southampton hitherto seen, although still low land. The extreme of the right side of the bay was named after Lieutenant Manico. The land of the Bay of God’s Mercy lies immediately in the centre of the ‘Welcome’, which is, in consequence, considerably and most dangerously narrowed by it. Hence it is evident that, although Southampton Island is laid down with a continuous outline, it has in fact never been seen except at its southern extreme. This but too clearly established fact could not fail to cause me great anxiety, and we were only enabled to run during the daylight, and not even then if the weather proved thick, for our compasses being of no use, we were helpless when the sun was clouded. In addition to this, we had been convinced by experience that the ship would never work off a lee shore, and our leads were in consequence kept going night and day.

“The nights had now become very long and dark, and the lateness of the season, with our slow progress, gave me great anxiety for the ship, situated as she was in a narrow channel of the most uncertain description, and constantly exposed to the severity of equinoctial gales. I wished to have found some sheltered anchorage in which to water, and at the same time to examine our rudder, which was evidently loosened by the blows it had received; but the whole coast hitherto seen, had neither an inlet, nor a single protected indentation.

“On the 7th, towards noon, the land was seen extending from N.N.W. to north. This we knew must he somewhere near Cape Fullerton, and as but little sea arose, I carried on, even although we dipped the waist hammocks under, to reach a sheltered anchorage before night. The wind blew with such violence as to cover the sea with one continued foam; but we succeeded in nearing the land, and brought up with two bower-anchors and 70 fathoms of chain, in 15 fathoms water, at four miles from the shore, off which the heavy gale blew down to us. Our position by observation, on the 8th, accorded so well with Middleton’s chart, that it was evident we had anchored between Whale Point and Cape Fullerton.

“At 4-30 a.m., on the 9th, we weighed, and ran along the land which trended east-north-east. A few whales were seen in the afternoon, and it is remarkable that this should be the first time of meeting with them, and also that we should not have seen either a narwhal or a bear, although we had passed through so great a quantity of ice in Hudson’s Strait. At 4 p.m., while steering N.E., 5 knots, before a heavy sea, Mr. Harding saw a white space on the water, having all the appearance of a sandy shoal; he instantly kept away, and running on deck, I saw it within half a cable’s length of our quarter, while at the same moment a cast of the lead gave no bottom with 40 fathoms. We wore, and stood off on the starboard tack; and now, having no weather shore to afford us either shelter or anchorage, we found ourselves obliged to continue under sail all night, in this narrow and extremely dangerous channel, to the great anxiety of all hands, and sad fatigue of the men, who were employed unceasingly with deep-sea and hand-leads, at a temperature of 28°; the hands of many were in so very sore a state, that I caused canvass mittens to be made for the use of the watch on deck; but on this, as on all other occasions, their cheerful alacrity and good-humour was above all praise. Throughout the night we worked in the centre of the ‘Welcome,’ guided by our leads, and never having less than 30 or above 50 fathoms. On the 10th, as the weather moderated, we made sail N.W.b.N.; but an uneasy sea prevented our keeping headway. At 3 p.m., some part of Southampton Island, possibly the mountains on its eastern shore, was visible to the N.E., from aloft, and the apparent termination of the American coast at Cape Dobbs, bore north, distant about 30 miles. On the 11th, at noon, we stood into 33 fathoms, at about 8 miles from Southampton Island; soon after, I brought up with the stream at 5 miles from the beach. The American shore was at this time visible from the mast-head, about 30 miles distant, and extending from N.W. to W.N.W. with a broad apparent opening, probably the entrance of the ‘Wager River,’ between its extreme points. The night being very fine, I determined on running slowly at 5 or 6 miles’ distance from the land, which appeared to trend N.b.W., and to be guided by the regularity of the soundings, which at midnight had increased from 33 to 40 fathoms. Up to this period, we had steered by the moon and polar-star.

“We now gradually began shoaling to 32, 30, 26, and, at 4 a.m., to 22 fathoms; when, fancying we were near some part of Southampton Island, which we had not yet seen, I kept away a couple of points; but, at 4-30, saw steep, rocky, and broken land, with many rugged islets off it, on our larboard bow, to which we must have been swept by some very rapid current or indraft; from its appearance, as it was not continuous to the southward, but trended away westerly, I am led to suppose it to have been Cape Montague, which is said to bound the northern entrance to the ‘Wager.’ As the breeze freshened at daylight from the N.E. and we were only in 17 fathoms, rocky bottom, I tacked at 5 a.m., and made all the sail we could carry, to work out of the indraft. We got but slowly off; for being so much below her bearings, the ship would not stand up under much sail, and towards noon saw Southampton Island, to the eastward, about 18 miles. I was, for a time, in hopes of getting under its lee; but the wind soon increased to a gale, with cutting showers of sleet, and a sea began to arise. At such a moment as this, we had fresh cause to deplore the extreme dulness of the Griper’s sailing; for though almost any other vessel would have worked off this lee shore, we made little or no progress on a wind, but remained actually pitching fore-castle under, with scarcely steerage way. We, however, persevered in our endeavours to make easting under fore-sail and close-reefed main-top-sail; but at 1-30 p.m., with our head N.N.W., we quickly shoaled from 30 to 20 fathoms, and, as we could not see a quarter of a mile round us, in consequence of the heavy snow, I turned the hands up to be in readiness for wearing; but the next cast gave 10, and I therefore luffed-to, and let go both bower-anchors, which brought her up with 70 and 80 fathoms of cable. I then let go the sheet-anchor under foot. From the time of striking low soundings until this was done, the sails furled, and lower-yards and top-masts struck, half an hour had not elapsed. We now perceived that the tide was setting past us from the N.E., at the rate of two knots on the surface; but by its action on the lead-line, and even the deep-sea lead, which it swept from the bottom, it was running at a far more rapid rate beneath. This, in addition to the heavy set of the sea, strained the ship very much, and the bitts and windlass complained a great deal; the hands, therefore, remained on deck, in readiness for any emergencies. To add still further to our anxiety, two or three streams of ice, having some very deep solid pieces amongst them, were seen driving down to us in the evening, and threatened the loss of our bowsprit, which at every pitch dipped quite under water; but it only fell on light pieces, and all the damage we sustained was the loss of the bobstays, and larboard iron bumpkin. The tide appeared to slack at 6 p.m., at which time we had 13½ fathoms; at midnight it was low water, 8½ fathoms, shewing a rise and fall of 30 feet.

“Never shall I forget the dreariness of this most anxious night. Our ship pitched at such a rate, that it was not possible to stand even below, while on the deck we were unable to move without holding by ropes which were stretched from side to side. The drift snow fell in such sharp heavy flakes, that we could not look to windward, and it froze on deck to above a foot in depth. The sea made incessant breaches quite fore and aft the ship, and the temporary warmth it gave while it washed over us, was most painfully checked by its almost immediately freezing on our clothes. To these discomforts were added the horrible uncertainty as to whether the c’aMcs would hold until day-light, and the conviction also, that, if they failed us, we should instantly be dashed to pieces, the wind blowing directly to the quarter in which we knew the shore must lie. Again, should they continue to hold us, we feared, by the ship’s complaining so much forward, that the bitts would be torn up, or that she would settle down at her anchors, overpowered by some of the tremendous seas which burst over her.

“During the whole of this time, streams of heavy ice continued to drive down upon us, any one of which, had it hung for a moment against the cables, would have broken them, and at the same time have allowed the bowsprit to pitch on it and be destroyed. The masts would have followed this, for we were all so exhausted, and the ship was so coated with ice, that nothing could have been dune to save them.

“We all lay down at times during the night, for to have remained constantly on deck would have quite overpowered us; I frequently went up, and shall never forget the desolate picture which was always before me.

“The hurricane blew with such violence as to be perfectly deafening; and the heavy wash of the sea made it difficult to reach the mainmast, where the officer of the watch and his people sat shivering, completely cased in frozen snow, under a small tarpaulin, before which ropes were stretched to preserve them in their places. I never beheld a darker night, and its gloom was increased by the rays of a small horn lantern which was suspended from the mizen stay, to show where the people sat.

“At dawn on the 13th, we found that the best-bower cable had parted, and us the gale now blow with terrific violence, from the north, there was little reason to expect that the other anchors would hold long. Although the ports were knocked out, and a considerable portion of the bulwark cut away, the vessel could scarcely discharge one sea before shipping another, and the decks were frequently flooded to an alarming depth. At 6 a.m. having received two overwhelming seas, both the other cables went at the same moment, and we were left helpless, without anchors, or any means of saving ourselves, should the shore, as we had every reason to expect, be close astern. The ship, in trending to the wind, lay quite down on her broadside, and as it then became evident to all that nothing held her, each man instinctively took his station, while those at the leads, having secured themselves as well as was in their power, repeated their soundings, on which our preservation depended, with as much composure as if we had been entering a friendly port. Here again that Almighty Power which had before so mercifully preserved us, granted us his protection, for it so happened that it was slack-water when we parted, the wind had come round to N.N.W. (along the land), and our head fell off to seaward; we set two try-sails, for the ship would bear no more, and even with that lay her lee gunwale in the water. In a quarter of an hour we were in 17 fathoms.

“In the afternoon, having well weighed in my mind all the circumstances of our distressed situation, I turned the hands up and informed them, that ‘having now lost all our bower-anchors, and chains, and being in consequence unable to bring up in any part of the ‘Welcome;’ being exposed to the sets of a tremendous tide-way and constant heavy gales, one of which was now rapidly sweeping us back to the southward, and being yet about 80 miles from Repulse Bay, with the shores leading to which we were unacquainted; our compasses useless, and it being impossible to continue under sail, with any degree of safety, in these dark 12-hour nights, with the too often experienced certainty that the ship could not beat off a lee-shore, even in moderate weather, I had determined to clear the narrows of the ‘Welcome,’ after which I should decide on some plan for our future operations.’

“Anxious to do what was best for the service, and considering that the Company’s ships were frequently as late as this period in leaving the factories, I decided on endeavouring to reach Hudson’s Strait, and proceeding to England, well knowing that although our risk in again passing Southampton Island would be very great, yet it was no worse than searching for winter-quarters; and Mansel Island being once passed, we should be in comparative safety. In order, however, to satisfy myself still further in this measure, I addressed a letter to my officers, requesting their respective opinions on our situation, without stating my own; and their individual answers advised, ‘that in consequence of our loss of anchors, &c. we should return to England without delay.’

“Thus were all our present hopes of discovery and reputation completely overthrown; our past difficulties of no avail; and our only consolation was, that to the latest moment every exertion had been made for the performance of the service on which we were sent. Individually, I felt most painfully the situation in which I was placed, in a ship but ill adapted, in her present over-loaded state, to navigate in these or any other seas; and my sole support was in the hope that the strictest investigation might be made into the conduct of myself and those under my command, and that the Lords of the Admiralty would again furnish me forth, and allow me an opportunity of shewing, that the failure of this expedition was not to be attributed to any want of zeal on my part, or of support from my valuable officers and men.”

On the 17th of September, an island was discovered to the S.W. of Point Manico, and named after Mr. Tom, in whoso watch it was first seen. Captain Lyon says:–

“As our track from Cape Southampton to the Bay of God’s Mercy, on the 31 St August, lay 30 miles to the eastward of our present position, we must have been actually passing within it at the time when our soundings decreased to 19 fathoms; and it was most fortunate, that on then shoaling the water, we had not kept away to the westward, which must in that case have ran us directly upon it.

Sept. 20th, – I was now much concerned to observe, that in each succeeding gale, the ship’s decks became more leaky, and that the shocks she had received in the Bay of God’s Mercy, with the severe strains experienced whilst at anchor on the 12th and 13th, had loosened her upper works very considerably. The heavy seas which we shipped continually all this day and night, kept our lower-deck and cabins constantly flooded, for the opening of the seams allowed of the water finding its way to the cork-lining, from whence it dropped for many hours after we had ceased to take the seas over all. The lower-deck had not now been dry for three weeks, and was in a most unwholesome state; but we were quite unable to remedy this, for the hatches were of necessity always battened down, and when that was the case the galley-fire would not draw. Sylvester’s stove might, indeed, have been of some use, but we could not try its effect us the square of the main-hatchway, the space in front of the stove, and even its warm air-chamber, were still crowded with small stores, which we had not room to stow elsewhere. On the morning of the 23d, I was much concerned at having some rheumatic cases reported to me, and at learning that the officers’ cabins absolutely leaked in streams.”

On the 23d, the Griper sounded in 40 fathoms, on the tail of that extensive shoal running out from Carey’s Swan’s Nest[6]. On the 25th, the boats brought on board, from a stream of ice lying off Nottingham and Salisbury Islands, sufficient blocks to thaw into three tons of water; and the ship was visited by a number of Esquimaux, in thirteen excellent canoes, with well-finished iron-headed weapons and good clothing. Captain Lyon now ascertained, that the Nottingham Island of Captain Parry is incorrectly laid down, as it lies to the southward of Salisbury, instead of being situated between that and Southampton Island. “I have no doubt,” says he, “that the small portion of land which we mistook for Nottingham in the last voyage, is in fact one of Baffin’s ‘Mill Islands’, the position of which has hitherto been so imperfectly known. Our cross bearings gave the southern coast of Salisbury, so as to correspond most exactly with the northern part as laid down by Captain Parry, and the form and size of this island is therefore determined “with the greatest certainty. We also at this time completed the bearings from Cape Wolstenholm; and the strait between it and the two islands is about 35 miles in breadth.”

On the evening of Oct. 2d, the crazy bark made and passed the northernmost of the bold precipitous group of Button’s Islands; the night was fine, and she ran into the Atlantic with a fair and moderate breeze.

“Never,” continues her commander, “have I ever witnessed a happier set of countenances than were on our deck this night. To have regained once more an open ocean, in a ship in which we had so often been in danger, was of itself sufficient to rejoice at; but when we reflected, that in two particular instances we had been left without the slightest probability of again seeing our country; that, when all hope had left us, we had been mercifully preserved; and that now, without the power of beating off a lee-shore, or an anchor to save us, we had run through 900 miles of a dangerous navigation, and arrived in safety at the ocean, I may say that our sensations were indescribable. For the first time since the 28th August, a period of five weeks, I enjoyed a night of uninterrupted repose. The 3d Oct. was a lovely day, and we most fortunately met with a piece of ice, from which a supply of blocks, sufficient to fill all our tanks, was obtained. Had it not been for this, we should inevitably have suffered serious distress on our homeward passage.”

Captain Lyon and his companions were, however, fated to meet with still further inconveniences, and to experience another convincing proof, that the order of the seasons and winds had been strangely changed during the autumn of 1824. On the evening of the 4th of October, a heavy gale commenced from the southward, and a long Atlantic swell quickly arose: there was not the slightest abatement of the storm for twelve days, and the horizon was always obscured, so that they remained in ignorance as to whether any pack or berg was lying to leeward of them, and their suspense, day and night, was very painful; for to see ice in such weather, was only a prelude to being wrecked upon it. On two of these days, the Griper shipped repeated and heavy seas; as often over the taffrail as the bow.

On the morning of the 12th, Captain Lyon spoke the Phoenix whaler, of Whitby; and on the 19th, the master of the Achilles, of Dundee, informed him that that ship had likewise been exposed, for nearly a month past, to a continuance of the worst weather that he had ever seen during thirty-four years’ service in these seas. A heavy E.N.E. gale blew all the 23d; but on the 26th, the wind became fair, and the Griper made great progress. On the 30th, her foretop-mast, already badly sprung, went in two places; the head of the foremast had been found much twisted about seven weeks before, and there was every reason to believe that the bowsprit was likewise seriously injured. On the afternoon of the 7th of Nov., soundings were struck in 70 fathoms; and next day, at 3 p.m., the coast of Cornwall was seen; on the 10th, at 10 a.m., the ship passed the Needles; and, considering her distressed state. Captain Lyon determined on running at once into Portsmouth harbour, where she was paid off on the 13th of the following month. Captain Lyon soon afterwards published a narrative of his voyage, with a reduced chart of his route, and an appendix, containing magnetic and botanical observations.

We next find this officer receiving the honorary degree of D.C.L. at Oxford, in June, 1825; soon after which he married Lucy, youngest daughter of the late Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and grand-daughter of James, first Duke of Leinster. He subsequently went to Mexico, as one of the Commissioners of the Real-Del-Monte Mining Company. Returning home, via New York, in the Panthea packet, bound to Liverpool, he was wrecked at Holyhead, in the same gale that nearly proved fatal to the Nimrod sloop of war, Jan. 14, 1827[7], and lost every thing belonging to him, including his journal, plans of the mines, &c. But his misfortunes did not end here: a few hours after he got on shore, he received the distressing intelligence of the death of his wife, which had taken place about four months before. He is now, we believe, at Brazil, engaged in another mining speculation.

Agent.– John Chippendale, Esq.

  1. See Vol. I. Part II. p. 634.
  2. See Vol. I. Part II. p. 718.
  3. See Suppl. Part II. p. 294.
  4. Flour prepared in a peculiar manner, so as to keep good as long as corn.
  5. Two had been procured by Lieutenant Manico, at Kirkwall.
  6. See p. 113.
  7. See Commander Samuel Sparshott.

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