Considering Sir John Franklin’s ships, the Erebus and the Terror, and how Franklin failed to cross the Arctic Ocean, and his death and the deaths of his men so plain and preventable.
The ships were abandoned April 22, 1848, in the ice near King William Island. The HMS Erebus was twenty-two years old. HMS Terror was thirty five. Captain Franklin had been dead nearly a year and it would be at least another season before the last few desperate officers turned cannibal. The weather was godawful. 2 900 books sank in those ships, together with the new inventions of the time, unlikely to ever be recovered. Until that day comes, those books are forever missing from this world, and we must make do without them and the men who did not read them.
I like to think of those wooden hebrides an unlit mile below the ice and below the black surface of the sea. Should their dark ribbons, masts and spars, and their dark and slanted decks, remain undiscovered, yet nothing of those frozen wrecks will ever fade, forever preserved in an endless and crushing night, until the last fire heats the deep and the great monsters, rising, bring all our fallen world with them.
Everything should be fitting. Everything should be wonderful.
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