New Arrival

A Rare Mid-Expedition Report from the Arctic

The North-West Passage. Capt. M'Clure's Despatches from Her Majesty's Discovery Ship "Investigator" off Point Warren and Cape Bathurst.

London: John Betts, 1853.

Price: $9,500.00


About the item

First edition. Folding map. 48pp. 8vo. A Rare Mid-Expedition Report from the Arctic. Contemporary purple blindstamped cloth, spine sunned, blue and gold ribbon affixed to top of boards, bookplate to front pastedown, library stamp and marks to front free endpaper, ms. ink ownership inscription to top of title-page, several ms. ink annotations throughout. Arctic Bib. 10565; Hill 1122; Sabin 43074; cf. Staton & Tremaine 3372 (later edition).

Item #366576

A number of pamphlets were issued in 1853 relating to the North West Passage. This despatch is dated 5 April, 1853 with instalments dated 24 August and 30 August, 1850. It was published before news of M’Clure’s successful (if inadvertent) crossing of the North West Passage became known.

"Captain M’Clure commanded this expedition on the Investigator , with the primary mission of rescuing the missing Sir John Franklin. While M’Clure did not accom- plish this task, in his efforts to return to England from the Bering Strait he completed the long-anticipated Northwest Passage, a feat for which he was knighted, and also collected the £10,000 reward offered by Parliament" (Hill). It was hardly smooth sailing. The Investigator was originally accompanied by the Enterprise, captained by Richard Collinson, though the two ships were separated early on in the Straits of Magellan. M’Clure’s party entered the Arctic via the Bering Strait, wintering at Prince of Wales Strait and made it as far east as Mercy Bay from where this despatch was filed .

Two months’ later, the ship was abandoned and the crew, suffering from scurvy and frostbite, were miraculously rescued by Captain Henry Kellet’s expedition who were also searching for Franklin. The crew of the Investigator were away for four years and eight months.