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.
April 22. 1848. The ice near King William. Ships are abandoned. The HMS Erebus is twenty-two years old. HMS Terror is thirty five. Captain Franklinhas been dead nearly a year and it will be at least another season before the last desperate officers turn cannibal. The weather is godawful. 2 900 books sink in these ships, together with the new inventions of our time, unlikely to ever be recovered. Until that day comes, these books are missing f orever from this world, and we must make do without them and best comrades who have not read them.
I like to think of these wooden hebrides an unlit mile below the ice and below the black surface of the sea. Should their dark ribbons, masts and spars, their dark, slant under pressure, remain undiscovered, yet nothing of these frozen wrecks will ever fade, forever preserved in an endless 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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