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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Had perished in the Arctic regions


John Franklin's career]

[Sidenote: Long overland journey]

[Sidenote: The Northwest Passage]

In British North America a new era of home rule began after the Earl of Elgin took his oath as Governor-General of Canada in January. The imperial government abandoned all control over the customs of Canada. The building of the first great Canadian railroad was begun on the main line of the Grand Trunk system. Discouraging reports from the extreme northern regions of America at last confirmed the impression that Sir John Franklin, with the other members of his expedition, had perished in the Arctic regions. A romantic naval career was thus brought to a close. Born in 1786, John Franklin entered the British navy at the age of fourteen as a midshipman, and soon saw his first active service at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801. In the following year he was taken on his first trip of exploration to Australia by his cousin, Captain Flinders of the "Investigator." In 1818 he was a member of an expedition sent out by the British Government to attempt a passage to India by crossing the Polar Sea. His bold seamanship during this voyage brought him into such prominence that during the next year he was appointed by the Admiralty to command an expedition to travel overland from Hudson's Bay to the Arctic Ocean. During the course of this expedition he and his companions walked 5,560 miles and endured

many hardships, of which Franklin wrote a thrilling narrative on his return to England in 1822. He then married Eleanor Porden, the author of the heroic poem "Coeur de Lion." In 1825 he was appointed to the command of another overland Arctic expedition. When the day of his departure arrived, his wife was dying of consumption. Lying at the point of death as she was, she would not let him delay his voyage, and gave him for a parting gift a silk flag to hoist when he reached the Polar Sea. On the day after Franklin left England she died. When he returned again he was knighted and showered with honors by various scientific societies of England and France. After serving as Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir John, in 1845, was appointed an admiral, and then another Arctic expedition to discover the Northwest Passage was organized. He sailed from Sheerness on May 26, 1845, and was last seen by a whaler in Baffin's Bay. Many years later a record was found on the northwest shore of King William's Land, announcing that Sir John Franklin died in the spring of 1847, and that the survivors of his expedition had attempted to make their way back on the ice to the American continent. To Sir John Franklin belongs the honor of the first discovery of the northwest passage leading from Lancaster Sound to Behring Strait.

[Sidenote: O'Connell's last speech]

[Sidenote: Death of O'Connell]

On February 8, Daniel O'Connell, the great Irish Parliamentary leader, made his last speech in the English House of Commons. The question on which he spoke was a proposed bill for the relief of famine in Ireland: "I am afraid," he said, in the course of this address, "that the English people are not sufficiently impressed with the horrors of the situation in Ireland. I do not think they understand the accumulated miseries which my people are suffering. It has been estimated that 5,000 adults and 10,000 children have already died from famine, and that one-fourth of the whole population must perish unless something is done." Failing in health himself, O'Connell went to Italy. At Rome, Pope Pius IX. prepared a magnificent reception for him. Before he could reach the Eternal City, O'Connell died in his seventy-second year. Lacordaire, who but shortly before this had pronounced his greatest of funeral orations over the bier of General Drouot, thus spoke of O'Connell: "Honor, glory and eternal gratitude for the man who gave to his country the boon of liberty of conscience. Where is a man in the Church since the time of Constantine who has at one stroke enfranchised six millions of souls?" When the body of O'Connell was buried at Glasnevin, it was followed to the grave by fifty thousand mourners, among whom Orangemen and Ribbonmen walked side by side. In England, O'Connell's death was regarded with a feeling akin to relief. There his persistent demands of "justice for Ireland" had come to be regarded with derision, bringing him the nickname of "Big Beggarman."

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