William Hoyt Coleman (born c1840) was one of the most popular and prolific subscribers to Robert Merry’s Museum; in letters spanning 13 years, he often wrote descriptions of life and times in New York state. He later became a journalist.

“Dr. Kane’s Boat—The Faith,” by William Hoyt Coleman (from Robert Merry’s Museum, January 1859; p. 24)

Mr. Merry:—Your article on Dr. Kane’s expeditions brought to mind a visit I paid to the Brooklyn Navy Yard a year or two ago. In one of the large ship-houses, lying on a pile of lumber, was an ordinary ship’s boat, seemingly much the worse for use. Wondering why it was placed there, I clambered up on the boards to examine it, when an inscription on the side caught my eye, which told the story. It was the “Faith,” one of the boats with which Kane and his companions escaped from their icy prison in those far-away northern seas. How changed it appeared when this fact was learned! The very wood seemed to glow with consciousness of the proud part it had played in the Arctic drama. There were the scars and bruises received in many a contest with bergs and floes, and there was the patched hole in the stern, caused by the grinding ice, which well-nigh crippled the gallant leader. I could almost see the forms of Kane and Morton and Hayes and Sontag, and those other brave men whose weary hands dragged the “Faith” and “Hope” over the trackless ice, in their retreat from the deserted brig. And last summer, while on board the “New World,” my attention was drawn to a powerful, foxy-looking dog, which, to my surprise and delight, proved to be Toodla, the survivor of Kane’s famous dog-team. Poor fellow! it seemed as if he must long for his snowy home again, during the sultry days of summer.

You remember Dr. Kane speaks of “our figure-head—the fair Augusta, the little blue girl with pink cheeks, who had lost her breast by an iceberg, and her nose by a nip off Bedevilled Reach,” which the men removed, and brought home with them? The other evening as I entered the reading-room of the Mercantile Library, what should I see but this identical figure-head, standing on one of the tables. Ordinary in itself, and battered by a hundred rude knocks, it had little merit as a work of art; but what piece of sculpture could in any wise compare with it in point of interest? That face had looked upon the mystic regions of the North, which few eyes have ever seen; had borne many a “nip” from the crushing bergs; and faced many a driving storm. It had witnessed the sufferings, the heroic endurance, the unflinching devotion to duty of those noble men, in their vain search for a lost navigator. It was not strange that an almost reverential feeling came over me as I looked upon “our Augusta.”

Willie H. Coleman.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.