1 I commenced by inuring my body to hardship.
2 Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking.
3 My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading.
4 You are well acquainted with my failure and how heavily I bore the disappointment.
5 I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise.
6 Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration.
7 These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted it to heaven.
8 But just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent.
9 I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.
10 I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight.
11 I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man.
12 I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole.
13 I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight.
14 I also became a poet and for one year lived in a paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated.
15 These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.
16 I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage.
17 But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.
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