30th December

Born: Titus, Roman emperor, 41 A.D.; Sir John Holt, lord chief-justice, 1642, Theme, Oxfordshire; John Philips, poet (The Splendid Shilling), 1676, Bampton.

Died: Richard, Duke of York, killed at Wakefield, 1460; Roger Ascham, eminent scholar and writer, 1568; John Baptist Van Helmont, alchemist, 1644, Holland; Jacques Saurin, eminent Protestant divine, 1730, Hague; James Francis Edward, the elder Pretender, 1765, Rome; Paul Whitehead, poet, 1774, London; Glans Gerhard Tychsen, orientalist, 1815, Rostock; Samuel Hibbert Ware, miscellaneous writer, 1848, Altrincham, Cheshire.

Feast Day: St. Sabinus, bishop of Assisium, and his companions, martyrs, 304. St. Anysia, martyr, 304. St. Maximus, confessor, about 662.


Roger Ascham, instructor of Queen Elizabeth in Latin and Greek, was born in 1515, at the village of Kirby-Wiske, near Northallerton, in Yorkshire, the youngest of the three sons of John Ascham, who was house-steward to the Scroope family. Educated at Cambridge University, he in time rose to be. the university orator, and became noted for his zeal in promoting, what was then a novelty in England-the study of the Greek language. In 1545, he published Toxophilus, a treatise on archery, for which Henry VIII rewarded him with a pension of £10 per annum-a sum then of much higher value than it appears to us now. This work was written not only as a specimen of an improved style of composition in English, but with a view to recommend the continuance of the use of the bow as a weapon of war, which the hand-gun, or musket, was then beginning to supersede, and also as an invigorating and healthful exercise. It is composed in the form of a dialogue between Toxophilus and Philologus, and besides praising and teaching the practice of archery, contains a large admixture of philosophical disquisition.

In 1548, Ascham, on the death of William Grindall, who had been his pupil, was appointed instructor in the learned languages to the Lady Elizabeth, afterwards queen; but at the end of two years, on some dispute or disgust with her attendants, he resigned his situation, and returned to his college. Soon afterwards, he accepted the post offered to him of secretary to Sir Richard Morrisine, who was about to proceed on an embassy to the court of the Emperor Charles V, in Germany. He remained abroad till the death of Edward VI, in 1553, when the embassy was recalled to England. During his absence, he was appointed Latin secretary to King Edward. It is somewhat extraordinary that though Queen Mary and her ministers were papists, and Ascham a Protestant, he was retained in his office of Latin secretary, his pension was increased to £20, and he was allowed to retain his fellowship and his situation as university orator. Soon after his return, however, he remarried, and then, of course, resigned his fellow-ship. On the death of Mary, in 1558, Queen Elizabeth not only required his services as her Latin secretary, but as her instructor in Greek, and he resided at court during the remainder of his life. He died December 30, 1568, in the fifty-third year of his age.

Only two works were published by Ascham during his lifetime, Toxophilus, and a Report of the Affairs of Germany and of the Emperor Charles's Court, which contains some curious descriptions of the personal appearance and manners of the principal persons whom he saw and conversed with. His most valuable work, The Schoolmaster, was published by his widow. Dr. Johnson has remarked that the system of instruction recommended in this work is perhaps the best ever given for the study of languages. His Latin letters were collected and published by his friend, Edward Grant, master of Westminster School, who prefixed to them a Life of Ascham written in Latin. The English works were reprinted in a collected form in 1761, and to this volume was prefixed a life, written by Dr Johnson, which has served as a basis for all subsequent notices of Ascham.


Perhaps the most remarkable voyage on record, was that of the arctic exploring ship Resolute. Abandoned by her officers and crew to anticipated destruction, she, as if instinct with life, made a voyage of a thousand miles alone, back to regions of civilization-as if in indignant protest against her abandonment.

In April 1852, Sir Edward Belcher, with the ships Assistance, Pioneer, Resolute, Intrepid, and North Star, left England to search for Sir John Franklin and his companions. Captain M'Clure, in the Investigator, was at that time struggling against appalling difficulties in the ice-bound seas north of the American continent. On the 6th of April 1853, Captain M'Clure and Lieutenant Pim had their memorable meeting on the ice; the former having come from the Pacific, the latter from the Atlantic. Lieutenant Pim belonged to Captain Kellett's ship Resolute, part of Belcher's squadron. The Investigator, the ship with which M'Clure had practically solved the problem of the North-west Passage, was abandoned in the ice, and her commander and the remainder of the crew were received on board the Resolute. With the exception of this single fact of rescuing M'Clure, Belcher was singularly unfortunate: achieving little or nothing in other ways.

On the 15th of May 1854, at his express command, but sorely against their will, Captain Kellett and Commander M'Clintock finally abandoned the Resolute and Intrepid, locked in ice off the shores of Melville Island. On the 24th of August, in the same year, again at the express command of Belcher, Commander Sherard Osborn abandoned the Pioneer, while Belcher himself abandoned the Assistance, both ships being ice-locked in Wellington Channel. The officers and crews of no less than five abandoned ships reached England before the close of the year.

It was one of these five deserted ships which, we may almost say, came to life again many months afterwards; to the astonishment of every one conversant with the arctic region. Late in the year 1855, Captain Buddington, in the American whaler George Henry, was sailing about in Davis's Strait, when, on the 17th of September, about forty miles from Cape Mercy, he descried a ship presenting unusual appearances; no signals were put out or answered; and, when he approached, no crew were visible. It was the Resolute, as sound and hearty as ever, with the exception of a little water which had got into the hold, and the spoiling of some of the perishable articles inside.

Any one with a map of the arctic regions before him, will see what a lengthened voyage the good old ship must have made from Melville Island, through Barrow Straits, Lancaster Sound, and Baffin's Bay, during the period of 474 days which intervened between her abandonment and her recovery. The probable track is marked in a map attached to Mr. M'Dougall's Eventful Voyage of the Resolute. It is supposed that ice, loosened during the short summers of 1854 and 1855, drifted with the current into Davis's Strait, and carried along with it the ship.

The gift of the adventurous old ship by America to England was gracefully managed. The United States congress, on the 28th of August 1856, passed the following resolution:

'Whereas it has become known to Congress, that the ship Resolute, late of the navy of Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, on service in the Arctic Seas in search of Sir John Franklin and the survivors of the expedition under his command, was rescued and recovered in those seas by the officers and crew of the American whale-ship, the George Henry, after the Resolute had been necessarily abandoned in the ice by her officers and crew, and after drifting still in the ice for more than one thousand miles from the place where so abandoned-and that the said ship Resolute, having been brought to the United States by the salvors at great risk and peril, had been generously relinquished by them to Her Majesty's government.
Now, in token of the deep interest felt in the United States for the service in which Her Majesty's said ship was engaged when thus necessarily abandoned, and of the sense entertained by Congress of the act of Her Majesty's government in surrendering said ship to the salvors: Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby requested to cause the said ship Resolute, with all her armament, equipment, and property on board when she arrived in the United States, and which has been preserved in good condition, to be purchased of her present owners, and that he send the said ship with everything pertaining to her as aforesaid, after being fully repaired and equipped at one of the navy-yards of the United States, back to England under control of the secretary of the navy, with a request to Her Majesty's government, that the United States may be allowed to restore the said ship Resolute to Her Majesty's service-and for the purchase of said ship and appurtenances, as afore-said, the sum of forty thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be required, is hereby appropriated, to be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.'

The final incident in the story was the formal presentation of the ship to the Queen of England, on the part of the government of the United States. This presentation was delayed no less than 469 days after the discovery or recovery of the ship by Captain Buddington, owing to various causes, some avoidable and others unavoidable.

On the 13th of November 1856, the Resolute, in excellent trim after her repairs, set sail, and arrived near Cowes on December the 12th, under the care of Captain Hartstein of the United States navy. Sir George Seymour, naval commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, made arrangements for a royal visit to the recovered ship. The Queen, the Prince Consort, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, and Princess Alice, left Osborne House, and steamed out to the old ship, which was decked out in colours, with the English and American flags flying at the peak. Captain Hartstein and the officers, in full uniform, received the royal party, to whom they were severally introduced. Captain Hartstein then said to the Queen:

'Allow me to welcome your Majesty on board the Resolute, and, in obedience to the will of my countrymen and of the President of the United States, to restore her to you, not only as an evidence of friendly feeling to your sovereignty, but as a token of love, admiration, and respect to your Majesty personally.'

The Queen made a short but kindly recognition of this address. The royal party then went over the ship, and examined it with great interest. Captain Hartstein, with a map spread out before him, traced the course which the deserted ship had followed, and the relation which that course bore to arctic voyages generally. Captain Hartstein, in reply to a question from the Prince Consort, expressed a belief that Sir John Franklin, or some of his companions, might still be alive, among the Esquimaux-a belief which many persons entertained at that time, but which gradually gave way to hopelessness. After the departure of the royal visitors, a dejeuner was given in the ward-room, during which one 'toast' was, 'The future success of the Resolute, and may she be again employed in prosecuting the search for Sir John Franklin and his comrades.'

The Americans had done their self-imposed work well and gracefully. With such care had the repairs and re-equipment been performed, that not only had the ship's stores-even to flags-been replaced, but the officers' libraries, pictures, musical-boxes, &c., had been preserved, and with excellent taste had all been restored to their original positions. The royal family were touched at the sight of these little memorials, as they went from cabin to cabin of the ship. Captain Hartstein was invited to visit the Queen at Osborne that evening. On the following day the Resolute was brought into Portsmouth harbour, amid great rejoicings, and complimentary salutes to the American flag. Many banquets were given to Captain Hartstein and his officers on subsequent days; the chief of which, for grandeur and importance, was given by the mayor and corporation of Portsmouth. A deputation from the Shipowners' Association of Liverpool came to Portsmouth, with an invitation for the American officers; which, however, their limited time prevented them from accepting. The prime minister entertained Captain Hartstein at his seat in Hampshire; the government gave a dinner to the American sailors on Christmas-day; and Lady Franklin invited all the officers to an entertainment provided by her for them at Brighton.

At length, on the 30th of December, the formal transfer of the interesting old ship took place. Captain George Seymour, of the Victory, with two subordinate officers, and small parties of seamen and marines, went on board the Resolute. Precisely at one o'clock, the Victory hoisted the American flag at her main, and fired a salute of twenty-one guns; while Captain Hartstein hauled down the American colours from the Resolute, and substituted the British, and the American crew manned the yards to give three cheers to the Victory. Captain Hartstein, with his officers around him, then addressed Captain Seymour:

'Sir, the closing scene of my most pleasant and important mission has now to be performed. And permit me to hope that, long after every timber in her sturdy frame shall have perished, the remembrance of the old Resolute will be cherished by the people of the respective nations. I now, with a pride totally at variance with our professional ideas, strike my flag, and to you, sir, give up the ship.'

Captain Seymour made a suitable reply; and soon afterwards the whole of the American officers and seamen were conveyed on board the United States' mail steamship Washington, in which they returned to their own country. The British government offered to convey then in the war-steamer Retribution, in friendly compliment to the American government; but arrangements previously made interfered with this plan.

The issue of this affair was, after all, not a pleasant one. The Admiralty, with indecorous haste, ordered the brave old ship to be dismantled and reduced to the state of an unsightly hulk. This was a bit of paltry economy, which assorted ill with extravagance in other matters. It was injudicious in many ways; for the old ship would have formed a memento of arctic expeditions; it would have afforded testimony concerning the currents and drift-ice of those regions; it would have been a pleasant object for Englishmen to visit, side by side with Nelson's famous ship in Portsmouth harbour; and it would have been gratifying to Americans visiting England, to see that the liberality of their government had been appreciated.