Page images

DANGERS OF THE WHALE FISHERY: · From Scoresly's Voyage to Greenland.

On the 20th of June, 1822, having sent out four boats in search of whales, we found in the evening that two of them were missing. Four others were sent to look for their comrades, but after some time returned without them. At last on the next day, after long searching the ice and sea around, I was rejoiced by the sight of the stragglers, pulling towards the ship. As they came near, we were a little surprised at the solemn looks of the rowers. I called out and asked what had happened ? “A bad misfortune indeed,” replied the officer of the first boat; 6* we have lost Carr !” This awful news which we did not at all expect, shocked me greatly; so that it was some time before I was able to ask the particulars of the acct. deat, which had deprived us of one of our shipmates. It seems they were as follows: The two boats, which had been so long aba sent, had left their companions, led on by chase of a whale, and by the fineness of the weather, till they got quite out of sight of the ship. The whale led them into a vast shoal of these fish; they believed there could not have been less than a hundred. Afraid of alarming them before they had struck any, they rested quietly, waiting for a good opportunity to begin the attack. At last, a whale rose so near the boat, of which W. Cart was harpooner, that he ventured to pull towards it, though it was meeting him, and there seemed but little chance of success. Fatally for himself, however, he struck it with the harpoon. The boat and the fish passing each other with great swiftness after the stroke, the line was jirked out of its place; and instead of running over the stern, was drawn over the gunwale, and so weighed down the boat, that it began to till with water. In this dangerous moment, the harpooner who was a fine, active fellow, seized the bight of the line, and tried to relieve the boat by restoring it to its place; but by some sad mistake, a turn of the line fley over his arm, and in an instant dragged him overboard, and plunged him into the water,

to rise no more! So sudden was the accident, that only one man, who had his eye upon him at the time, knew what had happened: so that when the boat righted (which It immediately did, though half full of water) they all at once asked, on looking round at theman's exclamation,"what had got Carr?" It is hardly possible to imagine a death more awful, sudden, and unexpected. He had not even time to utter a single word; and the person who witnessed his removal, declared that it was so quick, that though his eye was upon him at the moment, he could scarcely distinguish him as he disappeared. As soon as the men recovered from their alarm, they set themselves to give the need, ful attention to their lines. When the fish rose to the surface again, another harpood was struck from the second boat, but the awful event that had occurred, cast such a damp upon all, that they became timid and cautious, and allowed the fish to remain so long on the water, that though much exo bausted, it recovered strength enough to make a violent effort, and, getting rid of the harpoon, escaped. Besides this fish, we also lost two others; so that our endeavours were fruitless, and also attended with serious loss, Other ships were more successful. One of them had her ancient flying ; which in the fishery is a sign of a full ship. A sight of

this kind has a painful effect on the minds

of unsuccessful fishers : they see their forta. 'Date companions returning prosperously home to their families, with the cheering knowledge that their full cargo will get them a good reception from their employers, while the yet labouring fishers, who have failed, have increasing difficulties and dangers to expect, from the foggy weather, &c. as well as to undergo the anxiety which the uncertain issue of the voyage must always cause. These feelings are doubtless most distressing when increased by envy; and they are the least felt by those who “commit their way unto the Lord,” trusting in him with full reliance on his promise, “that he will bring it to pass.”-On the 23d. being Sunday, we rested and had public worship as usual ; the weather being calm, during the service in the forenoon, all hands were able to attend. The arduous though unsuccessful labours of the week, made repose from the busy cares of our profession most acceptable; and the melancholy loss of one of our little number had a solemn effect on every mind, which was most favourable to devotion. As my crew entirely depended on me for religious instruction, I thought it my duty to address them with a particular view of improving the serious impression evidently made upon them by the awful death of W. C. He was

much esteemed by all; the bosom friend of one or two ; the messmate and watch mate of many, the kind companion of all, All therefore deeply regretted his fate. The thought that it might have been any one of their's, naturally led me to the personal in. quiry whether they were prepared to meet their God. The consciences of some no doubt replied that they were not; they perhaps felt for the first time, that religion is not a mere name or profession; but an active, in. ward principle, and that even the perfor. mance of its outward duties, could be of no use to them without their partaking of its personal influence. The solemn conduct and striking attention of our little company, shewed the interest every one felt on the occasion ; and the weather-beaten cheeks of many were bathed with floads of tears, that showed the powerful feelings by which they were impressed. Sunday 15th September. Had our divine service as usual. It is a lit. tle remarkable, that during the whole of our voyage, nothing ever happened to prevent us from engaging in public worship on the Sabbath day. In a few instances, the hour could not be exactly kept ; but time was always found, for having each of the services on the plan settled at the beginning of the voyage. I may also remark, that in no instance, when we were on the fishing station,

« PreviousContinue »