§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
, seeing the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty in his place, wished to ask a question of which he had given notice, relative to the expedition sent forth from this country in 1845 to explore the North-West Passage, and in respect to which a great and natural anxiety prevailed, not only on the part of persons connected with science, the promotion of which was included as one of the 631 objects of the expedition, but also on the part of the wives and families of those engaged in the expedition. These gallant men had been away for three years, and nothing had been heard of them for the last two years and ten months. He had therefore to ask what steps the Government or the Board of Admiralty had adopted, or were prepared to adopt, with respect to the means employed to discover that expedition under Sir John Franklin?—whether they had sent out any expedition in search of that gallant officer and his crew?—and whether, in addition to such expedition, they were prepared to offer rewards to any whalers or other mariners who in the course of an ordinary voyage or any extra voyage should obtain such information as would lead to the discovery of our fellow-countrymen? He believed, that if such an expedition had been sent forth by any other maritime nation in Europe, there would have been no want of large pecuniary means to secure the successful accomplishment of the object for which that expedition had been sent out, and to extend assistance to those engaged in it; and, indeed, he could not believe that any lack of such means would be experienced for so important an object.
§ MR. WARD
must state, in answer to the question of the hon. Gentleman, that there was too much cause for anxiety as to the present situation of Sir J. Franklin's expedition. Though it left England in the most perfect state of preparation, the ships were victualled only for three full years, which would expire in the summer of the present year. They were accompanied by a transport, which was required to complete their amount of provisions for the period of three years. They left in July, 1845; but, no doubt, unless intelligence were reeeived of them in the course of the present year, their prospects were very precarious. Two years and ten months had elapsed since intelligence of them had been received. But he thought he could satisfy the House that the Government had not been wanting in any precautions which humanity or experience could suggest, with the view of placing every available means of succour within their reach, at whatever points it seemed most likely to be of service. Three expeditions were now in course of preparation. The Plover left early in February for Behring's Straits, where she was to be met by the Pearl. The two vessels were to enter the Straits, where they would winter, and the 632 boats of the Plover were to sweep the whole coast eastward. The expedition which Dr. Rae would accompany would descend the Mackenzie River with fifteen sappers, and eight or nine seamen in four boats stored with provisions. Sir J. Ross would leave early in May with Captain Bird; and the Enterprise and Investigator had been sent to Baffin's Bay with provisions sufficient not only for themselves but for Sir J. Franklin and his companions, should they be discovered. And as in addition a reward was offered to the whale ships now beginning to sail from Hull, which should give intelligence on the subject, or afford assistance, he thought his hon. Friend would be ready to admit that no reasonable precaution had been omitted on the part of Her Majesty's Government.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
inquired if the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to state the amount of the rewards which were offered? The whalers would depart before the 21st or 22nd of this month, so that an immediate announcement was desirable.
§ MR. WARD
observed, that it was not to be expected such rewards could be offered by the Government as should induce persons on board those vessels to face the perils of a minute search, or to pass the whole winter. Rewards of 100 guineas would be offered for information, and this amount would be increased according to the assistance which might be rendered.