British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876
Matthew R. MILLER (engineer on the Discovery). Autograph manuscript journal signed, 15 April 1875 - 30 November 1876, a number of passages scratched out or cut out, apparently by the author, the volumes including a fold-out table of 'The extreme temperatures also the weekly means of the maxima and minima temperatures', a photograph showing the Discovery in Discovery Harbour, skilfully executed drawings of 'Rolling Pack', 'Our shooting Party', 'Diagram -- Section through Greenland', 'Kayak' 'Blacksmith's shop, H.M.S. Discovery. Built of blocks of ice with roof of coal bags', 'Miller Island', 'Our first view of Lady Franklin Sound', 'An Iceberg' and 'An Omiak', and related items, approximately 386 pages, 4to, in two volumes, cloth (bindings worn and loose); together with Journals and proceedings of the Arctic Expedition, 1875-6, 1877, disbound, inscribed on front free endpaper by Miller; with a photograph of a group of naval officers (faded and torn); and one other item.
Miller's account proceeds in a methodical way from the commissioning of the Discovery, with a thorough description of the vessel and its engineering, through the major events of the Discovery's voyage, including dropping anchor at Discovery Harbour, the polar winter enlivened by game-hunting and other excursions from the boat ('My face at the first start off head to the wind was as though it had been beaten by sting-nettles') as well as the construction of a theatre on board, and the opening of minor sledging operations; Miller does not accompany the major sledging expedition of Lt L.A. Beaumont, but does accompany the Discovery's captain, H.F. Stephenson, on a short sledging trip in early April, of which he gives a thorough account; the journal ends with the return of the expedition, and the ensuing to the celebrations and promotions. Miller's journal provides much factual information, including lists of personnel, a transcription of the sledging routine and rations, and daily notes of temperature and weather.
The British Arctic Expedition, under the command of George Nares, achieved a furthest north of 83°20'26", and a number of geographical discoveries, including the identification of the most northerly points of land in the Canadian Arctic, as well as valuable scientific work. The expedition was brought to a premature end, however, by outbreaks of scurvy, and because of this and the failure of the attempt on the North Pole by a sledging party under A.H. Markham it was judged to have been a disappointment.