« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
for to this day we know only the broadest outlines of what happened. We know that the vessels passed through Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait in the summer of 1845, and, since they then explored Wellington Channel and circumnavigated Cornwallis Island instead of proceeding southward as intended, we assume that they found this latter course impossible on account of the ice. We know that, after wintering in Beechey Island, the voyage was resumed, that Peel Strait and Franklin Strait were happily passed, and that a position was reached which must have caused every man to feel that the object of their mission was within grasp. Then, with merciless irony, the ice-pack had them in its clutch, and their hopes slowly withered, to give place to a doubt which two protracted years of suffering inaction converted to despair. Of the final end we have no record. Only, along the shores of King William Land, long years afterwards, M'Clintock's search-parties found the line of skeletons and boats, and learnt from the Eskimo of the feeble band of white men who, struggling southward, "fell down and died as they walked along." Where the last man perished and the deserted Erebus and Terror left their bones we shall never know. One thing alone relieves the gloom of the story-Franklin had passed to his rest before that ghastly retreat began.
Of the numerous search expeditions to which the tragedy gave rise we have in the volume a tolerably comprehensive account. This is as it should be. If we had to find fault with Mr Traill it would be, as we have already hinted, upon the score of allotting far too large a portion of his book to the
trivial politics of the Rainbow's commission, and to the teacup storm in Tasmania, which rages over fourscore pages, while Franklin's Arctic land-journeys suffer a severe and inexplicable curtailment. In this connection we cannot do better than quote a passage from a letter of Lady Franklin to her husband. "The interest-I may say celebrity-attaching to your name," she writes, "belong to the expeditions, and would never have been acquired by the career you have run, however fair and creditable, in the ordinary line of your profession;" and this truth, so justly realised by one who knew him best, would have been better expressed by a different apportioning of the biographer's material. That Mr Traill is apt to omit the provenance of quoted passages and the dates of letters, and adheres to the common misspelling of Bering's name, are perhaps trivial faults; but we can hardly class as such a blemish which we have found on more than one occasion. In his Preface he mentions the "important and indeed invaluable help which has been derived from the able and exhaustive monograph on Franklin contributed to the World's Great Explorers' series by Admiral A. H. Markham." But this scarcely justifies the adoption of paragraphs from that work without quotation marks, yet only altered here and there by the addition or elimination of a word or two, or the turning of a phrase. Mr Traill has too good a reputation to render such a proceeding either necessary or advisable.
As we lay down the volume the character of the man whose stirring life it sketches takes definite shape in our mind. In one respect the world at large has, perhaps, inaccurately gauged it. To the
mystery which for so many years surrounded his fate Franklin without doubt chiefly owes his fame; and, after this, to his first landjourney, where the sufferings and privations endured reached their extremest limit. Combined, these have stamped him in the popular mind as a great Arctic explorer, as one whose knowledge of that region and the methods of travel peculiar to it were at that time unsurpassed, whose opinion and counsel in these matters it were well always to appeal to. But, making every allowance for the inexperience, the lack of appliances, and the difficulty of the food-supply in those days, it has always seemed to us that, so far as regards his practice of the art of travel, Franklin should be rated below most of his contemporaries; and the very two expeditions which have just been instanced as making him famous stand more or less in proof of it, as does also an incident in Tasmania in which the Government House party, lost in the bush, were within measurable distance of death from starvation. Possessed, indubitably, of pluck, daring, and power of endurance in no ordinary degree, Franklin at the same time appears seldom to have foreseen difficulties, and to have been almost culpably careless about his commissariat. It is a good thing never to say die, but it is also advisable to have a shot in the locker.
minded, unspoilt, unselfish, deeply religious, with the straightforward and older-fashioned religion which held by deeds rather than words, and by works rather than the hair-splittings of creeds,-his was pre-eminently a lovable nature. That this was so is shown in a thousand ways-the instant readiness of his old comrades to join him in fresh expeditions, the affection with which all his officers write of him, and the devotion of his men. Richardson, in his narrative, naming Franklin Bay after his leader, speaks with the warmest enthusiasm of "the gratitude and attachment to our late commanding officer which will animate our breasts to the latest period of our lives," and of "the hold he acquires upon the affections of those under his command by a continued series of the most conciliatory attentions to their feelings." It was this constant consideration for others which won the hearts of all with whom he had to do. A letter in the writer's possession shows that this was no mere outcome of good nature, but was rather regarded by him as part of his daily duty. "That mind," he writes, in the quaintly stiff phraseology of his time, "appears to me the best regulated which, being disposed to pay every possible respect to rank and station in society when the persons duly exercise their trust, can yet look with pleasure and cordiality on every member of society who creditably fills his station." This, then, was one of Franklin's aims, and in part the secret of his success. Whether he was or was not a great navigator matters little. It is sufficient that he died, as Gordon died, one of the most loved of England's heroes.
But if, as in this case, the worst accusation we can bring against a man is that he does not in all respects satisfy our ideal of what a good traveller should be, surely "thus to be dispraised were no small praise." In Franklin, it may be truly said, were united the best qualities of a sailor. Simple
MONARCH OR MONK? A LEGEND OF TOMSK.
TOMSK town, which with its five-and-forty thousand souls still ranks as second in all Siberia, lies in a province of the same name, the most populous after Tobolsk. It may, in truth, be called a goldborn township, for before 1830 it was little more than a Siberian village. But, in addition to the discovery of gold in the vicinity about that date, it owes much of its importance to its position on the great highroad that unites the East and West. After eight weary days on a river-boat from Tiumen, or half as many in a tarantass from Krasnoyarsk, men gather hope when suddenly Tomsk bursts upon their view. Part of the town is built on the edge of a high plateau, which, extending from the foot of the Altai Mountains in the south, somewhat abruptly descends about this latitude to the lowlands of the Ob, that are in turn continuous with the treacherous tundra1 of the north. Part also is situated on the plain below, wedged in between the right bank of the river Tom, a tributary of the Ob, and the bold bluff above. So, in approaching the town from the East, the traveller is unaware of its existence until he wellnigh reaches the broken brink of the higher level; and it is this half, too, with its statelier buildings, that first attracts the notice of the river-voyager.
The road from the south affords the same pleasant surprise, for it is only when one stands on the left bank of the Tom, awaiting the paddle ferry-boat of three horse
power, that one becomes aware of the presence of human habitations. After gaining the other side, the traveller passes between two brick pillars, each surmounted by the imperial eagle. These mark the entrance to the town, as also the beginning of a long broad street (if the rough and deeply rutted thoroughfare can be dignified with such a name) that traverses the lower quarter with a continual though gradual ascent. Here the appearance of the buildings still resembles that of a Siberian village, for they consist of two rows of decrepit shanties, each with its little yard enclosed by more or less of a high wooden paling. Sometimes these squalid tenements lack the power of even standing squarely on their foundations by the roadside,-probably because they have none. But as you penetrate farther, by degrees all this is left behind, till at one sharp steep bend you pass into the upper terrace, and soon find yourself in the central square, in the middle of which stands the massive white Troitsa Cathedral, with its golden bulbous dome attended by four cupolas reflecting a pale-blue tint. Opposite its main entrance is the long white Government building, at one corner of which is the artistic little residence of the Governor. Tomsk is a strangely unequal town in every sense of the word, for not only is it built on many different levels, but habitations glorious and mean contrive to set off one another even in the more aristocratic parts. Towards the north side the irregu
1 The belt of land that skirts the Arctic Ocean, swampy and treeless for the greater part, and extending inland for a distance that varies from 150 to 400 miles.
larity in level necessarily becomes more noticeable. The highest knoll has been secured in the interests of the town: from it rises the watch-tower that surmounts the fire-station. Pacing round the summit of the tower a fireman keeps ceaseless watch, and warns the inhabitants of the time of day by sounding out the hours on a harsh toned bell. Here also one used to find a hotel, where the lodger who took a room had to content himself with an iron bedstead, mattress, table, and chair. But better days have dawned, and a new establishment opened last summer will satisfy the desponding traveller who imagines that he has left all comfort west of the Urals.
throng the Gardens; from it one gets a charming view of the surrounding country. The University consists of but a single faculty— medicine-and of its 400 students only some 30 per cent are Siberians. The others come from the outlying districts of European Russia, and even, it is said, from the Caucasus. But its pièce de résistance is the Library, which is second only to that of St Petersburg. Its nucleus consists of the private collection of Count Stroganoff, which contains amongst other rarities a very early illustrated edition of Luther's Bible, bearing the date 1565, a first edition of Daphnis and Chloe,' and a valuable assortment of painted designs of exquisite workmanship from the private collection of Louis XVI., which show evidence of having come originally from the Vatican at Rome. There is also a very fair Archæological Museum, with a startling array of antiquities that he must first explain away who would deny that Siberia too has had her Stone, her Bronze, and her Iron Age. Moreover, it was only in March of last year that Professor Kastchenko discovered near the town some split mammoth bones. As he also found close at hand fragments of charred wood, he almost seems to be justified in asserting that this is not the work of natural forces, but of man desirous to obtain the marrow. Thus he interestingly suggests the probable contemporaneity of man with Elephas primigenius in these northerly latitudes.
Tomsk has a certain charm. It is not the dull sleepy place that one could well imagine it to be. Its noblest edifices command attention; it is the centre of a pretty considerable local trade-e.g., as it is the starting-point of the great post-road across Siberia, thousands of tarantasses and other vehicles are built there yearly; and it has "sights" of a very varied order. Be the traveller a physician, he will not regret a visit to the hospital. Be he interested in penology, Tomsk boasts of three prisons. If educational matters attract him, he will find some thirty schools, illustrating a great diversity of principles. These, with the magnificent university opened in 1888, bid fair to make Tomsk the intellectual centre of Siberia. The University lies on the outskirts of the town. The noble structure stands off the road in a garden, through which run avenues and footpaths. Beside it is the Arboretum, where most of the labour is performed by women. The Observatory peers above the multitude of shrubs and trees that
If the visitor has yet failed to discover anything that will arrest his attention, he can at least drive about a town where the isvostchiks take fourpence for a course, even if it be over what are nothing more than badly kept country roads.
Perhaps he will notice how, in the construction of a house, women bring up the carts laden with bricks, and transfer them thence on broad four-handled trays to the men, who do the building proper. Or maybe, if it is towards evening, he will pass a gang of convicts returning to the local prison after a day's work in the town, chatting pleasantly with the two or three warders, who, armed merely with revolvers, have been in charge of them. But woe to the traveller if he venture out to walk by night, for the uncertain gleam from the electric lamps does little to reveal the insecure and dangerous wooden pavement, whose planks have been surreptitiously removed at many points to serve an infinity of purposes, from use as firewood to repairing crippled roofs.
Nor will the environment of Tomsk allure the stranger much. The landing-stage on the river is at a distance of three versts from the town, and the road thither (which is on a par with everything of that description in the district) strikes across an arid plain. There also the new railway-station is built, on a piece of ground granted by a majority of the town councillors, to the great inconvenience of themselves and their fellow-citizens.
But it will only be a chance if you now learn that you have not seen everything. For Tomsk has still one other choice possession, and her populace regard it with reverent eyes. Indeed they do not care to include it among the "sights" of their town; they love it, treasure it, almost conceal it. If, however, you ask some pensive droshky driver who has drawn up by the side of the road (for there are no stands, and the isvostchiks take up a position where they choose) to bear you to
"Alexander's House," the prospect of his modest fare of twenty kopecks tends to shake his once firm resolution that he at least will conduct no stranger to gaze with unhallowed eyes on Tomsk's most holy memory, and, although somewhat reluctantly, he finally yields the point. Quickly our driver sought out the Monasterskaya, and stopped at the courtyard entrance of what was imposing house. We got out and entered the yard, which was А scene of great activity. Some men were carrying boxes and bales from the house to carts in which stood sturdy draught-horses, while others were lading them. Numerous store-houses and small sheds were built irregularly round the yard, and the house of the merchant Khromoff still seemed to be the centre of some form of business. The court extended to the back of the house, where the outhouses partook more of the nature of stables and cart-sheds. When once you have reached the rear of the main building, you observe on its other side a square plot of ground corresponding to the courtyard. This probably once formed a pleasure-garden, but is now like unto the garden of the sluggard. At least from what one can see through the tall black paling that now surrounds this sacred spot, one would imagine that no tidying hand had touched it for many years. The grass grows rankly on what was once a lawn. The paths are buried under a wild waste of weeds. Some dark dejected spruces serve to increase the gloom.
A woman soon appeared from a backdoor of the house, and, opening a padlocked gate in the paling, allowed us to enter the enclosure. She led the way to a corner of the square, where in the shade of a brooding conifer stood what seemed