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Title: Memorials of the Sea - My Father: Being Records of the Adventurous Life of the - Late William Scoresby, Esq. of Whitby
Author: Scoresby, William
Language: English
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=My Father.=

[Illustration: Wm. Scoresby]


=My Father:=











=This Volume,=


=His Father,=



_Torquay, Feb. 3, 1851._

=My Father.=




SECT. 1. My Father’s early Life                            3

      2. His First Year’s Apprenticeship                  12

      3. His Progress as a Seaman, with Incidents of
           Sea-life                                       20

      4. Capture by the Enemy, and Escape from a
           Spanish Prison                                 26

      5. Rewards of Masterly Seamanship                   31

      6. Entrance on, and Progress in Training in, the
           Greenland Whale-fishery                        36

  ENTERPRISE AS COMMANDER                                 42

SECT. 1. Disappointment in his First Command              42

      2. His Second Adventure and commencing Prosperity   52

      3. Further Successes, with their comparative Relations,
           in the Ship Henrietta                          55

      4. Episodical Incident—the Rescue of endangered
           Pleasurers                                     65

      5. The Greenland Doctor                             71

      6. Taming of a Bear—interesting Recognition         78


SECT. 1. Entrance on, and general Results of, this new
  Command                                                 86

      2. Dangerous Accident—admirable Tact                89

      3. The Dandy Sailor, or “Fine Tommy”                92

      4. Unfortunate Voyage, and Adventure in the
           Greenland Ices                                 96

      5. Successful Stratagem in War                     103

      6. Extraordinary Exploit in “cutting in,” single-handed,
           a moderately-grown young Whale                108


SECT. 1. Continued Prosperity; the Results, comparatively
  and generally, of this fresh Enterprise                116

      2. Treatment and Recovery of a half-frozen Seaman  126

      3. Judicious Treatment of Men having suffered
           from severe Exposure                          129

      4. The Crow’s Nest                                 135

      5. Extraordinary Celerity in preparing an empty
           Boat for the Fishery                          139

      6. Tact and Bravery in attacking and killing a
           dangerously-resisting Whale                   144

      7. Remarkable Enterprise: the nearest Approach
           to the North Pole                             152

      8. Devotional Habits, at Sea and on Shore          164


SECT. 1. The Greenock Whale-fishing Company              171

      2. “Cum au greim a gheibhthu”                      174

      3. Subsequent and concluding Enterprises           178

      4. General Results of his entire Whale-fishing
           Adventures                                    185

      5. Unusual Capture of Walruses                     189

  NOTICES                                                195

SECT. 1. Superiority as an Arctic Navigator              195

      2. Natural Science                                 203

      3. Improvements and Inventions                     215

      4. Miscellaneous and concluding Notices            224


=My Father.=



SECTION I.—_My Father’s early Life._

The name of SCORESBY, it is believed, is entirely unknown, in this country,
except in the case of the family, and one or two relations, of the subject
of the present records.

My Father’s “more immediate ancestors,” as a short biographical account of
him by a friend, states,[A] “occupied respectable stations in the middle
walks of life, supporting, in each case, unblemished character, and
possessing, at times, considerable property;” and, in periods rather
remote, holding conspicuous stations.

In Drake’s History of York, the family name, varying in the spelling in a
progress through several centuries, repeatedly occurs. But the single line
traceable through my Father’s ancestors, now alone appears to exist in
Britain. Walter de Scourby was “bayliffe of York,” in the year 1312; and
in the seventh and ninth years of Edward III., Nicholas de Scorēby, it
appears, was Member for York. Subsequently, we find, under the date of
1463, Thomas Scawsby, holding the office of Lord Mayor of that city. Some
member of the family, after the name assumed its present form, must have
given the designation of “Scoresby Manor” and “Scoresby Lodge,” to places
still known in the neighbourhood of York.

At the period, however, of this memoir, the family occupied more humble
stations in life, chiefly in the class of yeomen,—a class once of much
importance in this country, but now, unhappily, so diminished in numbers,
under the absorbing influence of extensive properties, as to be scarcely
recognised as a designation.

William Scoresby, my Father, ‘was born on the 3d of May 1760, on a small
estate farmed by his parent, called Nutholm, in the township of Cropton,
about twenty miles south-west of Whitby, in the county of York. In this
place the periods of his childhood and boyhood were spent.’

The memoir, here again quoted, refers to some incidents among his earliest
recollections, by which his life was greatly imperilled, marking ‘the
superintending providence of God, which, on all occasions, he gratefully

At an endowed school, in the nearest adjoining village, Cropton, his early,
and indeed chief, education was received. But the distance being
considerable, and the roads indifferent, his attendance was much
interrupted, and, in winter, totally suspended. His progress, therefore,
was far from being satisfactory. Nor was this disadvantage compensated by
any long continuance of opportunities for obtaining scholastic instruction;
for, at the age of nine, he was removed, and from that time forward
employed, as his strength and years might qualify him, in occupations among
the cattle, and about the farm.

Occasionally, during his advance towards manhood, he was engaged with the
neighbouring farmers, when, during such occupation, an incident, of
_apparently_ no material importance, occurred, which constituted, under the
ordering of an allwise and gracious Providence, the grand turning-point in
his destiny, from a probable ordinary and unobserved occupation, to a
stirring, adventurous and conspicuous life. The change was induced by some
unpleasant treatment he received from the family with whom he was residing.
He became disgusted with a position which, without satisfying the natural
capabilities and enterprise of his mind, exposed him to such indignities.
The idea had, probably, been often in his mind before; but he now first
resolved on leaving the occupation for which his father had destined him,
and on trying at the nearest sea-port, Whitby, the adventure of a seafaring

It is somewhat curious that the course of life, in respect to the adoption
of a seafaring profession, of two individuals,—Captain Cook and my
Father,—whose names are associated with much of interest in the history
of Whitby, and who became, in their relative degrees, conspicuous as
adventurous seamen,—turned upon apparently trifling incidents; and, as to
the exciting of feelings of disgust with their previous occupations, of a
similar character.

James Cook, like my Father, was, in early youth, employed along with his
father, in agricultural labours.[B] His turn of mind, however, being suited
to something requiring more tact than the ordinary toils in which farmers’
boys were wont to be engaged, he was removed from the work of the field to
that of the counter, with the view of learning the business of a country
shopkeeper. It was at the fishing town of Staiths, about ten miles
north-west of Whitby, and at the shop of a Mr. W. Sanderson, haberdasher,
where Cook, at the age of sixteen or seventeen, entered on his new
employment; and it was whilst there that the incident, which led to his
abandonment of domestic trade for sea-life, occurred.

It happened, as the early record goes, that, at a period when the coinage
generally in circulation was much defaced and worn, a new and fresh looking
shilling was paid in by a customer. Cook, attracted by the comparative
beauty of the coin, and thinking with regret of its going forth again in
the ordinary progress of business, substituted the sterling value, and
appropriated the new coin, as “a pocket-piece,” to himself. It was
ill-advised that he did so without previously asking permission or
intimating his purpose; for the shilling had been observed by his master,
its abstraction was detected, and Cook was suspected and charged with
dishonesty,—a charge which the production of the shilling from his pocket
_seemed_ to confirm. His keen sense of right feeling, and of what was due
to himself, rendered this incident so painful, that he determined, if he
could get permission to do so, to leave his employment, as a shopkeeper,
and, indulging a strongly imbibed prepossession, turn to the sea. The
unmerited suffering was abundantly compensated by that good and gracious
Providence, whose dispensations reach to the humblest, and specially
regards the oppressed. The young shopkeeper—turned apparently by this
fretful incident from his monotonous pursuits, and stimulated to seek an
adventurous profession, and not opposed, but kindly aided, by his master,
who had become perfectly satisfied of his integrity—was led into those
paths of distinction whereby he became so highly conspicuous, if not chief
among the circumnavigators of the globe!

“It is worthy of remark,” says Dr. Young, in his life of Cook, “that the
coin which so forcibly attracted his notice was what is called a
_South-sea_ shilling, of the coinage of George I., marked on the reverse
S.S.C., for _South-sea Company_; as if the name of the piece had been
intended to indicate the principal fields of his future discoveries.”

If the result of disgust at his experienced indignity turned not to
account, with my Father, in so eminent a degree,—it yet was so over-ruled
for good as to place him at the head of the adventurers engaged in the
whale-fishery of the Greenland seas, and to render his example,
perseverance, and talent, highly beneficial to his country in the
furtherance of that, then, extremely important branch of national

It was in the winter of 1779-80, that my Father proceeded to carry his
resolve into effect, by leaving his place and travelling to Whitby. Guided
by the suggestions of a relative, to whom he had communicated his
intentions, he was recommended to Mr. Chapman,—an opulent and respectable
ship-owner, and a member of the Society of Friends,—with whom he engaged
himself to serve as an apprentice, for three years, in a ship called the
Jane, commanded by a son of the owner.

As his services, however, were not required till the ensuing
spring,—because of the practice, as to ships trading to the Baltic and
Archangel, “of laying them up” for the winter,—he returned immediately
home, informed his father of what he had done, and then, at his suggestion,
went back to the farm he had somewhat abruptly left, and there remained
until his place could be satisfactorily supplied. This being speedily
accomplished, he set himself arduously to work to the studying, by the help
of whatever suitable books he could get hold of, of the subjects connected
with his new profession.

On the 1st of February 1780, according to previous arrangement, he
repaired to Whitby for the ratification of his agreement, and for receiving
directions as to when and how his services would be required. His anxiety
on this occasion, to proceed with his studies in the manner in which he
found himself making gradual and encouraging progress, led him at once into
an adventure of much peril, and into circumstances in which his
acquirements in the _principles_ of navigation had their first, yet most
successful and important, application.

Finding that his services would not be required until the month of April,
he determined, being full of ardour for self-improvement, not to lose a
single day; so that, although the afternoon had arrived before he finished
his arrangements with Mr. Chapman, he set out on his pedestrian course
towards the Moors, intending to sleep at the village of Sleights. Urged,
however, by his feelings, and tempted by the fineness of the evening, and
the brilliant sunset, by which the distant hills (then covered with snow)
were illumined and gilded, he resolved on proceeding to Salter Gate, a
position, in the midst of the Moors, eight miles further in advance, and
attainable only by a not very well-defined line of road across a heath-clad
and totally uninhabited country. It was a region, therefore, of complete
desolateness, through which he prepared to pass, and, on occasions of
snow-storms, one of great danger to any travellers who might be
unfortunately overtaken by them whilst in the midst of the Moors;—for, at
the period of which we now write, there were neither fences to confine,
nor poles (as in subsequent years were erected) to mark, the line of road,
so that an hour’s continuance of thick drifting snow might totally
obliterate, in many places, the distinctions betwixt the highway and the
general trackless heath. Hence it happened, that scarcely a winter passed
over without yielding the records of perilous or fatal adventures; and,
whenever snow-storms abounded, of travellers, more or less in number,
perishing by being overwhelmed in the snow-drifts.

It was not long before our traveller, advancing rapidly with vigorous and
elastic step within the region of lonesome moorland, became aware that he
had entered upon a critical adventure; for having arrived near the sixth
milestone on the high-moors over Whitby, he became unexpectedly encircled
by a dense and gloomy cloud, attended with a sudden and furious storm of
wind and fleecy snow, the snow descending so thick as to envelope him in
such dark obscurity, that, for some little time, he could neither see his
way to advance nor to return.

Recovering somewhat from his first embarrassment, and considering what
might be well to be done, he determined, adventurous as the attempt might
be, to go forward toward Salter Gate, yet six miles distant, and not a
house on the road. He had made but little progress, however, in advance,
before he found he had gone off the turnpike-road; nor did his first
attempt, as by a nautical traverse, seem to improve his situation. When
brought to a stand in this perplexing condition, it was, that his naturally
reflective mind suggested an use of his humble geometrical acquirements,
which afforded him essential service. He had observed how the wind first
assailed him, with reference to the direction of the line of road, which,
fortunately for him, like the roads of ancient construction, generally,
followed a steeple-chase directness, regardless of hill or dale, for the
point aimed at; and by adjusting his progress on the same angle, in respect
to the course of the wind, he hoped to be guided in his now perilous
undertaking. “Taking his departure” from this incidental starting-point, he
set forward with as much speed as the nature of the ground and the
resistance of the storm could well admit, and, proceeding in a straight
direction, over hill and dale, through moor and bog, he accomplished
another mile, and that so successfully as to reach its termination, to his
great satisfaction, scarcely twenty yards from the seventh milestone.
Encouraged by this success, he now advanced, in spite of storm and blinding
snow-drift, and under painfully reduced strength, approaching at the last
very near to exhaustion, until his enterprise and tact were happily
rewarded by arriving at Salter Gate, where, in the house for which he
originally aimed, he was enabled to obtain both shelter and refreshment.
The rest of the enterprise, after encountering various difficulties, from
the continuance of the snow on the ground, was in like manner accomplished,
so that with no great loss of time he was welcomed in safety at his
father’s house.

During this arduous and hazardous journey, as his biographer remarks, “he
proved the value and accuracy of his geometry whilst traversing the
high-moors, the importance of perseverance, and the gracious care of Divine

SECTION II.—_His first year’s Apprenticeship._

In the quiet of a country home, my Father now resumed those studies which
bore more immediately upon the profession he had chosen, and perseveringly
continued them till the time appointed, the middle of March, for his
joining his ship. His preparations towards the supplying of his maritime
costume and equipment being already made, he repaired to Whitby, and was
duly set to work, with others of the destined crew, to rig and fit out the
ship. Towards the end of the month the arrangements were so far advanced,
that she was hauled down the harbour into a berth convenient for putting to
sea. But whilst here a hard gale set in from the north, which brought so
heavy a sea into the harbour that the Jane was in danger of breaking
adrift. This circumstance called for the prompt and active exertions of the
crew to get out cables and hawsers for additional security, an occasion on
which my Father received his first lesson on mooring a ship,—a lesson
which could not be lost upon one who associated with great physical
strength and energy so observant and reflective a mind.

Early in the month of April, the weather proving favourable whilst the
spring-tides prevailed, the Jane put to sea, and for a time made pleasant
progress. Nearing the Naze of Norway, however, they were overtaken at
night, and that suddenly, by a heavy gale of wind, which in its effect was
in no small degree alarming, and from the quality of the crew, indeed,
twelve out of about twenty hands being apprentices, some mere lads, and
several quite inexperienced, eminently perilous,—for the ship being
lightly ballasted, was quickly thrown upon her “beam-ends,” the water
rising over the lee gunwale till it reached the “combings of the hatches,”
whilst the requisite measures, demanding instantaneous promptness, were
seriously delayed by the general inaptitude of the crew. They were enabled,
however, in time to save them from the threatened foundering, to get the
sails clewed up, whereon the ship righted, though the sails were left
fluttering, the sport and prey of the storm, until the morning. The gale
then happily abating, and veering to a favourable quarter, the canvas, as
far as preserved to them, which so recently had threatened their
destruction, became available for the furtherance of their voyage, and
enabled them without further adventure to reach Memel, the port of their

But when outward danger had been safely passed, and nothing but a feeling
of perfect security could naturally be realized, the object of this
memorial became sensibly alive to the impressiveness of the solemn
sentiment of our Church’s funeral service—“In the midst of life we are in
death!” The ballast had been taken out, and the hold and ’tween-decks
cleared to make way for the cargo, when my Father, being below, near a
“raft-port,”—an opening at the bow or stern by which a timber cargo is
received into the hold,—heard the voice of the Captain calling for a
boat’s crew to put him on shore. There being no _deck_ now laid upon the
hold-beams, but only a series of “carlings” from beam to beam, the summons
was attempted to be answered by running along these very narrow supports.
Ill directed, however, by the very deceptive light admitted by the
raft-port, my Father’s head came in contact with an unobserved break in the
upper deck, by which he was precipitated into the hold, a depth of about
twelve feet, and was taken up by his comrades in a state of insensibility.
In this alarming condition he remained for several hours, being meanwhile
carried for surgical assistance on shore.

He was but barely passed out of the immediate hands of the surgeon, who
contemplated his case hopefully, when the carpenter of the Jane was borne
to the same place, having also fallen into the hold in a similar way, with
an adze in his hand, a fearful cut from which in his forehead added to the
severe effects of so considerable a fall.

Under careful and skilful assistance, however, both the endangered
sufferers were soon restored, being enabled to return to the ship in about
eight days’ time,—the carpenter, indeed, with his wound but imperfectly
healed, and with a long and conspicuous scar which might have been
admonitory for the rest of his days. The lesson to my Father had not been
forgotten when, near half a century after, on recurring to the adventure,
he remarked, “This was another kind interposition of Providence which has a
claim on my grateful homage.”

Their cargo of timber being completed, they immediately sailed from Memel,
and joining convoy at Elsinore, safely reached the Thames, whither their
cargo was destined.

Whilst the ship was lying at Limehouse, my Father and another of the
apprentices obtained leave, on a Sunday, to go on shore and visit the great
Metropolis, where they met with another, and to them a previously unknown,
species of adventure. On reaching the city they were accosted by a man
dressed in regimentals (apparently a serjeant), who, pretending that he was
a Yorkshireman and knew them, contrived to insinuate himself into their
confidence, and offered to guide them in their object of sight-seeing,
remarking particularly that they had a fine opportunity of seeing the King,
who was about to attend a general review in Hyde Park. Catching at a
suggestion so naturally pleasant, they, without an idea of mistrust, put
themselves under his, apparently, friendly guidance, and proceeded in the
direction of the Park. On reaching Temple Bar he invited them to accompany
him into an eating-house, where he ordered refreshments.

But the landlady, on making her appearance—a respectable and benevolent
person, as they subsequently had good reason to know—observed and
surveyed the little party with a very unusual kind of scrutiny, first
looking the soldier sternly in the face, and then, with an expression
relaxed into compassion, turned her gaze on his youthful and obviously too
confiding associates. Repeating her scrutiny of their pretended friend till
assured of his identity, she addressed him with an air of stern authority,
and commanded him to leave the house. The man affecting surprise, and
‘presuming that she must have mistaken him,’ endeavoured, by a
well-practised self-possession, to avoid the threatened defeat of his
insidious purpose. But she, persisting in her knowledge and accusation of
him, and threatening to call in a constable to her aid, succeeded in
causing him to feel that it might be for his safety to take himself off.

On his departure she turned to the wondering young sailors, and to this
effect addressed them:—“I perceive, young men, you are from the country,
and are strangers in London. I am from the country myself, but I know that
man to be a villain. Not long since he stole some articles from this very
house, and I am fully assured he will wait for you to get you trepanned;
you shall therefore not leave my house this night.”

They accordingly remained her guests till the morning, when she allowed
them to depart for their ship; but on offering her compensation for her
kindness, she refused to take anything more than was barely sufficient to
pay for their moderate refreshments.

“This act of generous friendship,” remarks the writer of the Memoir,
“deserves to be recorded on three accounts: first, for the honour of our
common nature; secondly, to be contrasted with the villany of the pretended
soldier; and thirdly, to illustrate the watchful Providence of God.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Having delivered their cargo at Limehouse, and taken in ballast, they
sailed on their second voyage, to St. Petersburgh, for a cargo of hemp and
iron. Here they were unfortunately caught in the formation of ice, with but
little expectation of escaping during the winter. But on the 4th of
November, a gale from the eastward having broken up the impeding ice, they
immediately sailed, and in four days reached Elsinore, where they expected
to join convoy for England. All the men-of-war from home, however, having
sailed, they joined a fleet of similarly unprotected ships, numbering
altogether six-and-twenty sail, and together proceeded for England. About
half-way across the German ocean, they proved the advantage of their mutual
association for defence, a large cutter privateer having hove in sight, and
attacked the rear of the fleet. For a considerable time the enemy’s fire
was directed from a respectful distance against the nearest ships, which
they, according to their proportion of armament, as actively returned,—so
actively, indeed, that, in their ill-provided warlike stores, they soon
expended the greater part of their ammunition. The enemy, however, ignorant
of this circumstance, and unable to detach any single vessel, kept aloof,
probably for the chance of the night; but the night proved dark, and
afforded them a screen from the prowler, and they all escaped unscathed
into port.

They reached Portsmouth, their new destination, about the middle of
December, and delivered their cargo among the naval stores of the King’s

During the discharging of the cargo, my Father received vexatious abuse,
without any provocation on his part, from the chief-mate of the ship, which
so annoyed him that, under the impulse of a strongly excited feeling, he
had resolved to quit the Jane, and enter on board His Majesty’s ship the
Royal George, just then passing them from the graving-dock, where she had
been undergoing repairs. But reflecting on something which, in the bustle
and confusion amongst her crew as she hauled away, he had observed
incongruous with his feelings, he happily paused in his hasty resolve, and
ultimately decided on submitting himself to a continuance, though under the
constant exposure to like arbitrary annoyance, of the duties of his humble
station, with a view to the fulfilment of the engagement he had entered
into with the owner of the Jane. And, as estimated by the probability of
his being involved in the disaster of that ill-fated ship, had he entered
on board of her, the decision appeared to be Providentially guided; for at
no long interval after this time it was that the Royal George came to her
end so strangely, as to place the catastrophe alone and without parallel,
amid the varied and marvellous records of our naval history. The story is
well known. She was “careening,” for the purpose of having some caulking
of her seams effected, or damage of her copper sheathing repaired, whilst
anchored at Spithead, with her lower-deck ports open in all imaginable
safety. A sudden squall, whilst the ship swung across the tide, laid her on
her beam-ends; the water poured in by the open ports in such force and
quantity, that she sunk in less than eight minutes, involving officers,
men, and visitors, so generally in the common catastrophe, that out of
about 1200 souls, or upward, on board, only 331 escaped alive! The brave
Admiral Kempenfelt, an experienced and accomplished navigator, who, through
many perils of war and tempest had passed unscathed, suffered among the
rest, a fate which, very probably, had been that of my Father, had he
carried out his impetuously-formed design. But, with the good hand of God
upon him, he escaped the then unimagined peril.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the laying up of the Jane for the winter, the seamen, as usual, were
discharged, and the apprentices sent by a coasting vessel passengers to
Whitby. My Father repaired to his country home for the interval of service,
until summoned again to London, in the early spring of 1781, to join his
ship on her being chartered for a voyage to Riga, for a cargo of deals for
the Government.

SECTION III.—_His Progress as a Seaman, with Incidents of Sea-Life._

Entering the sea-service as a profession or business, as an unaided
adventurer, my Father felt, and ever acted on the feeling, that, under
the blessing of Providence, to which he distinctly looked, he must be
the fabricator of his own fortune. To learn his profession, from the
very elements of a seaman’s duty to its most manly and skilful
perfection; to acquire a knowledge of navigation, of which he had
anticipated but little, and to extend that knowledge to the highest
style of seamanship,—constituted the scheme and aspiration of his
naturally vigorous and enterprising mind.

But in beginning, as a country lad, at the beginning, with nothing of
position, or education, or influence, to raise him above the common and
ordinary class of learners in the school of maritime practice, he met with
no small difficulty in raising himself, as his purpose was to do, in
character and pursuits, above his fellows. His habit was—as soon as raw
inexperience enabled him to form a habit—to spend his leisure time, when
not on watch, aloof from the galley-congregation of idle, and often
profane, companions. And instead of following the useless and time-wasting
practices of those around him, his habit was, as opportunity offered, to
endeavour, by the help of a few appropriate books, to carry out his former
humble acquirements in figures into the really practical “working of a
day’s work,” and “the keeping of the ship’s reckoning.” Nor, in the
ordinary “watch,” did he associate intimately with the general body of the
crew, preferring, unless he could find a somewhat like-minded aspirant
after a better position, to walk alone on the main-deck or forecastle,
holding companionship only with his own thoughts.

Two incidents, in connection with this period of my Father’s personal
history, are fresh in my recollection,—one of them illustrative of his
difficult position in refusing familiar association with his fellow
mariners; the other illustrative of his success in the acquisition of
nautical knowledge, by his own persevering and unaided application.

A marked degree of ill-will, on the part of several of the crew in one of
his early voyages, followed his prevailing separation from familiar
association with them. This was exhibited by innumerable tokens and
expressions, both in word and action. Jeers, insinuations and ridicule,
were indulged in with painful and increasing frequency, and these not
unmixed with contemptuous or offensive actions. Naturally spirited and
quick-tempered, as the subject of this ungenerous behaviour was
constitutionally, it was hard to restrain the expression of indignation, or
to resist the urgent impulse to a just retaliation. But, acting on the
system of non-retaliation, so long as they kept “hands off,” he bore this
persecution with extraordinary forbearance. For constitutionally strong and
energetic, few would have been able to compete with him, as the issue
proved, if the lion in him were roused. His height was now near six feet;
his frame was strong-boned and muscular; his vigour and activity were
unusually great. But he restrained himself to the utmost, and his great
strength, as to the perceptions of his associates, continued long unknown.

At length the time of resistance, which he could not but feel must some
time or other arrive, came. It happened in this way. My Father had
descended the deck after his watch, and with the view, I believe, of
retiring, as usual, to a quiet part of the vessel alone, when two of the
crew made on him a premeditated attack—a kind of half-joking assault by no
trifling hits, rudely grasping him at the same moment, one on each side.
Endeavouring to shake them off without coming to extremities, he quietly
requested them to desist. Their sinister defiance and rudeness in grappling
him increased in offensiveness. “You had _better_ be quiet;” “Do be quiet;”
“Let me alone;” and other peace-desiring solicitations of like kind, were
tried. But the attack and effort to throw him became more determined. At
length, after a firm and decided utterance to the command “Hands off!”
indicating that the spirit was up, the attacked party in his turn grappled
the necks of his assailants, one with each hand, and, taking advantage of
the muscular reaction, after they had made a simultaneous but ineffective
thrust against him, he flung them, by a Samson-like impulse, right and
left, and both of them fell, heavily, prostrate on the deck! So unawares
was the throw, and so totally unsustained by cautionary preparation, that,
as to one of them, the subject of this self-earned retribution, lay
motionless, insensible, and bleeding! Others of the crew who had noticed
the scuffle came up, and seeing the man lie so helpless, and apparently
inanimate, exclaimed, “He is dead! Scoresby has done for him!” Happily, the
catastrophe was not so serious. By and by there was a return of motion, and
obvious reflux of life; but when at length the prostrate had, with much
difficulty, gathered himself up, he contrived to stagger meekly enough
away, without noticing the author of his humiliation, or ever after
attempting either a renewal of his bravadoes, or a retaliation for his
severe punishment.

It is hardly needful to say that, from that time, my Father was allowed to
pursue his own way without further molestation or offensive remark; and
that the respect which seamen are generally ready to yield to true bravery
and superior skill was as generously bestowed by the right-minded of the
crew, at least, as the fine and successful effort of the unfairly assaulted
one deserved.

       *       *       *       *       *

The other incident was of a totally different character.

My Father had early discovered, on his studying out the rules and practice
of navigation, as set forth in the comparatively humble nautical works of
that period, that there was much that was gratuitous, or arbitrary and
uncertain, in the allowances and corrections proposed to be made on the
“ship’s log.” On these things he made his own observations, and, in
calculating the ship’s position, which he was now tolerably well able to
accomplish, he made his _own corrections_, instead of those marked on the
“log-board” by the officer of the watch. His position, in consequence,
often differed very materially from the ordinary reckoning, as well as from
that kept by one of his associates among the apprentices, who, like
himself, was anxious for advancement in his profession.

At the time referred to he was in progress of his third voyage in the Jane,
when, having taken in their cargo of spars for masts, at Riga, they were on
their return towards Elsinore.

On the third day after their departure from Riga, a little after twelve at
noon,—the wind being easterly and the weather foggy, and the ship under
studding-sails, making a progress of about five knots,—the two young
navigators finished the day’s reckoning, and then proceeded to compare the
results. The position of the ship, as calculated simply from the register
on the log-board, necessarily differed from that deduced from the same data
on which the judgment had been exercised, and various allowances and
alterations made. Observing the nature of the difference, which amounted to
several miles, the intelligent youth exclaimed, “Why, by your account, we
are just running down Bornholm; but my journal is the same as the ship’s,
and we are going round to the northward of the island.” The question being
discussed with considerable animation betwixt them, it excited observation
among the crew, and reached the ears of the Captain. A sharp look-out for
land was ordered, when, in brief space, the look-out on the forecastle
shouted “Breakers a-head!” “Put down the helm—Let go the anchor!” cried
the Captain. The manœuvre was just in time to save the ship from
destruction. When she swung to her anchor it was in four-and-a-half fathoms
water; the breakers were close by the stern, and the stern not above twenty
fathoms from the shore,—and the shore, as had been predicted, was that of
the island of Bornholm!

The weather soon cleared up, when they found themselves in a sandy bay on
the south-east side of the island. The sea not being considerable they soon
got under weigh, and sailing round the island to the southward, they
reached Elsinore the next day. “It was to this private reckoning kept by
Mr. Scoresby,” observes the writer of the Memoir of which I have here and
elsewhere availed myself, “and the debate to which it led, that the
preservation of the ship and cargo may evidently be ascribed.”

“The reward which Mr. Scoresby received for this piece of essential service
was such,” adds the biographer, “as the deserving too frequently obtain
from their superiors in office, who feel themselves insulted when their
deficiencies are exposed by the efforts of their superiors in merit. The
preservation of the ship and cargo,” by the superiority of a mere tyro in
seamanship—a young apprentice, “drew upon him, especially, the envy of the
mate, who, it will be remembered, had aforetime shown a painful measure of
ill-will, and the disapprobation of some of the inferior officers. These
ungenerous influences, in their combined effect, rendered his situation so
uncomfortable that, on reaching the Thames, he left the ship, and engaged
in an Ordnance-armed storeship, the Speedwell cutter, destined to carry out
stores to Gibraltar.”

This step, which it is to be apprehended had not the sanction of the
parties to whom he was apprenticed, was attended with consequences which,
with one whose mind was early directed to regard a Providential hand
perpetually engaged in guiding, controlling, or, for merciful ends,
rebuking the affairs of man, could hardly fail to be impressive, and to
yield salutary convictions of the error into which a manly indignation at
ungenerous usage and jealous antipathy had urged him.

SECTION IV.—_Capture by the Enemy, and Escape from a Spanish Prison._

The Speedwell was soon equipped, and, the service being urgent,—the relief
of the garrison at Gibraltar,—with all haste got to sea. But admirably as
this fast-sailing cutter was adapted for a service requiring all possible
despatch, the weather proved very unfavourable for making a satisfactory,
much less a rapid, progress.

The delay was additionally trying to those on board the cutter, from the
deprivations in which the unexpected length of the voyage, by reason of
calms and adverse winds, involved them. For, economical of room for the
requisite stores whilst on the passage to the Straits, the Speedwell was
sent out so inadequately supplied with water, that the crew were reduced to
a distressingly short allowance.

This incident, however, afforded occasion and opportunity for the
development of my Father’s peculiar acuteness of intellect, and the
exercise of his natural science. Whilst suffering greatly from thirst, the
idea occurred to him that some refreshment might possibly be derived
through the medium of the pores of the skin by bathing—an idea which the
calmness of the weather enabled him to put to the test and satisfactorily
to verify. For on undressing and taking a rope for his security, and
jumping overboard, he realized, even beyond his expectations, a decidedly
refreshing influence—such as, under his report, to induce most of the
officers and crew not only to try the same experiment, but to render it a
prevailing practice, whenever the state of the weather would permit.

But a new incident soon substituted for this another species of deprivation
and suffering. They had advanced within sight of the Spanish coast, when,
on the 26th of October 1781, being off Cape Trafalgar, they fell in with a
force so overwhelmingly superior, as to render resistance useless. The
cutter became a prize to the enemy, and my Father, with his associates,
prisoners of war. They were taken into Cadiz Bay, and he, with some
others, were marched into the interior of the country, to St. Lucar la
Major, a small town of Andalusia, seated on the river Guadiana, a tributary
of the Quadalquiver.

Here, they were not ungenerously treated; whilst the rigour of
imprisonment, as at first practised, became gradually relaxed under the
imagined security of the captives. The degree of liberty, indeed, after
awhile became such, that the prisoners were entrusted to go unguarded, to
some distance from their quarters, to fetch water. In this indulgence my
Father saw a chance of escape, which, being participated in by one of his
associates, a spirited young sailor and friend, they privately conferred
thereon, and ultimately arranged to encounter the difficulties and risks of
the adventure.

Availing themselves of an occasion when various circumstances gave favour
to the experiment, they proceeded, in their usual manner, to the place
where water was procured; and, finding themselves unobserved, they walked
away, as if incidently strolling about, until they had obtained shelter, I
believe, from a wood. Here they pushed rapidly on, dropping their
water-vessels in a place of concealment, until having made what they deemed
a sufficient progress to baffle an ordinary pursuit, they hid themselves
for the remainder of the day. Then, with the stars only for their guidance,
they travelled, as by a steeple-chase route, throughout the night towards
the coast. This, indeed, became their prevalent plan of proceeding, to
rest in some concealment by day, and to travel by night.

Their progress proved, indeed, fully as adventurous, consistently with
their safety, as the liveliest imagination could have pictured. The perils
and difficulties they encountered from native Spaniards, or from the
pursuit of troops sent after them; from their imperfect concealment during
the day, or critical exposure in their progress during the night; from the
applications which they were necessitated to make on the _generosity_ of
the enemies of their country for relief and sustenance,—for they had been
deprived of everything they possessed except two little bundles of clothing
which, in contemplation of the adventure, they had previously concealed
beyond their prison; from their suspicious appearance in the dress, and
with the language of foreigners, inducing attempts to give them up to the
public authorities; with the aid and consolations, on the other hand, which
they occasionally met with from the sympathies of the gentler sex, even
whilst others were seeking their recapture,—yielded altogether a series of
exciting and anxious incidents, which, if the particulars could be
thoroughly recalled, might afford materials for a history of really
romantic interest. The fact of kind and generous sympathy, and effective
aid from women, I well remember as constituting a touching element in the
relation of their perilous undertaking. As Mungo Park, in his varied and
perilous travels, ever found kindness, in the instinct of a sympathising
nature, from women, savage though their race might be, so did my Father
and his associate realize, among the Spanish peasants, the like experience.
Once, in particular, I remember its being stated, that when our adventurers
had confided themselves to the supposed friendly shelter of a cottage, the
master of the cottage stepped away, in order to give information about the
fugitives at some neighbouring magisterial or military post, whilst his
wife, compassionating the proscribed strangers in a foreign land, meanwhile
contrived to give them a secret warning of their peril, and at the same
time to provide the means, by the back of the cottage, for their prompt and
effectual escape.

The remainder of the story, so far as relates to their escape from the
Spanish shores, may be summarily given.

Under the guidance of a gracious and prospering Providence, they arrived
safely at the coast, and, happily, when circumstances proved singularly
favourable for the completion of their adventurous project. For it so
happened (and happened it not by the providential ordering of times and
circumstances to fit each other for an issue accordant with confiding trust
and fervent prayers?) that when they reached this most critical position,
they found a _cartel_—an English vessel which had disembarked her freight
of prisoners of war, brought out in exchange—just preparing to depart for
the land of their hopes!

Penniless and friendless, as our now reanimated adventurers were, besides
being specially exposed to detection on the well-watched shores of an
enemy’s country, it required no little management and tact to get off
during the night; that so, fugitives as they were on the one part, and
intruders on the other, they might elude the observation both of the
Spanish officers and the captain of the cartel. But the same gracious
furtherance, as heretofore they had experienced, continued to prosper their
way, and all difficulties and hazards were safely accomplished; and, by the
friendly aid of the crew, upon whose humanity they cast themselves, the
means of concealment were provided until the circumstances of present risk
and anxiety should have passed away.

SECTION V.—_Rewards of Masterly Seamanship._

We are here brought to the describing of an incident particularly
characteristic of my Father’s talent as an accomplished practical seaman.

After the vessel was fairly at sea, and, furthered by a favourable wind, in
encouraging progress on her way to England, my Father and his gallant
associate ventured to appear upon deck. The natural surprise of the
Captain, on finding two intruding auxiliaries amongst his people, assumed
no very friendly character, even when the daring and almost romantic
undertaking of the strangers had been made known to him. On the contrary,
he received their explanation with no small measure of anger, and followed
up his pitiless inconsideration with heartless threatenings. He
threatened, with much apparent determination, either to land them again
amongst their enemies, or give them up as a boon, though of most unwilling
hands, to some English ship-of-war. Their appeals to his sympathy and
benevolence were unavailing. Their offer “to work their passage,” which
_they_ thought might be a compensation for their provision, was slighted,
on the ground that “the crew was sufficient.” But at length the Captain
suggested the alternative, at which he evidently aimed, of their paying for
their accommodation and passage to England. Being, as we have shown,
absolutely penniless, this was a difficult requirement, though the Captain
got over it by proposing that they should sign a document pledging
themselves, on arrival in England, to a payment which they deemed most
exorbitant. With this demand the urgency of their own purpose, and the fear
of the threatenings of the Captain, obliged them to comply, and the paper
was drawn up and signed.

Fortunately for them, the Bay of Biscay maintained its too dreaded
celebrity at the season referred to, by becoming the scene of a formidable
sea and storm. The gale commenced rather suddenly, and became rapidly so
fierce, that the seamen, who were quite inadequate in number, as well as in
capabilities, were unable to get in the sail within the limits of safety.
The canvas was flapping furiously aloft, and all efforts to reef were
distressingly slow. Meanwhile my Father and his comrade were eyed with
indignation and surprise by the Captain, as they moved on the deck, or
stood holding by the “weather-rail,” with quiet composure, as if ignorant
of, or indifferent to, the increasing peril of the position of the ship. At
last, an exclamation of astonishment burst from the Captain, that,
regardless of the general safety, they should not offer a helping hand.
They replied most coolly, “that the crew, they understood, was ample, and
needed no help of theirs, and they were but passengers!” The perplexed
commander turned away in ill-concealed vexation. Still the gale increased
in severity, till the ship was thrown almost on her “beam-ends,” and their
situation became quite alarming. He then renewed his application under a
severe taunt, as if it were unmanly to allow the crew to struggle so
against the difficulties of the storm, and they, two able and efficient
seamen, looking on! “Destroy the paper,” they said, “and let us work our
passage, and we shall be ready for your orders.” Desperate now, in his
anxiety to save the canvas and spars, and, indeed, to secure the safety of
the ship, the Captain produced the important and vexatious paper, and
tearing it passionately into pieces, he scattered its fragments on the wild
waste of waters to leeward.

Forthwith the two emancipated passengers spring forward to their duty as
members of the crew. They could not have been unobservant of the slovenly
manner in which yards and sails had been prepared for the operation of
reefing,—so ill-arranged, indeed, with a ship heeling almost yard-arm in
the water, and sails flying over the yards to leeward, as to render the
operation scarcely practicable. First of all the yards are, in a seamanlike
manner, laid to pass; braces are hauled taught, and lower yards steadied by
the “trusses” and “lifts;” “reef-tackles,” with a helping hand probably by
the men aloft, are well hauled out, and the inflated and flapping canvas
pressed in by the “buntlines” to the yards,—and then, bounding into the
rigging, their feet scarcely touch the “ratlines,” as, aided by the
elasticity of tension in the shrouds, they ascend up the mast. Way is
instinctively made by the previously dispirited hands for my Father to the
“weather-earing” of the topsail, and for his friend to leeward. Here, as in
most other operations, his singular energy, strength and skill, render him
wonderfully efficient. Seated across the yard-arm, with shoulder steadied
and supported by the “lift,”—the “earing” passed round and reeved in the
“reef-cringle” of the sail,—he is enabled, with little aid from the hands
on the yard, to haul out the sail by vast muscular strength, skilfully
applied, to the fitting position, when the cry “Haul out to leeward,” is
replied to by his associate there with similar vigour and celerity of
action, so that the enclosed section of the sail, previously so intractable
under other hands, is in a few moments laid compact on the yard, and
securely enfolded within the “reef-points.” Thus reef succeeded reef, till
the broad flapping sail displayed but its smallest dimensions—the
“close-reef” adapted for the storm, whilst corresponding operations were
performed on the other sails with marvellous smartness and despatch; for
the superior energy and commanding efficiency of these leaders, of a
previously heartless and dispirited crew, had happily infused into all a
new spirit of confidence, and stimulated to unwonted effort to imitate
their admired ability, and thus to become useful helps in the task to be

Within a less interval of time, perhaps, than had previously been wasted in
inefficient endeavours to accomplish the duties required by the sudden
violence of the storm, topsails are reefed and set compactly to the wind;
courses and other sails are reefed or made snug by handing;
top-gallant-yards, with spars and flying gear aloft, are sent down upon
deck; and the ship, now no longer pressed down by overwhelming top-weight
and fluttering sails, is restored to the desired equilibrium, and snugly
prepared to encounter and weather the storm!

From this time the duty of the ship was well and smartly done. The
superiority of my Father as a thorough practical seaman must have been both
felt and acknowledged: the distance at which he soared beyond the others
was too great and obvious for the intrusion even of that bane of social
concord—jealousy; and the effect seems to have been the infusion of a
higher character into the ordinary crew. Well, therefore, did our fugitives
from a Spanish prison repay to ship, captain, owners and crew, the benefits
they themselves received.

SECTION VI.—_Entrance on, and Progress in training in, the Greenland

After his exciting adventure in escaping from imprisonment in an enemy’s
country, my father retired, for a season, from his seafaring pursuits. He
returned to the homestead of his fathers, where, assisting in the
management of the farm, he remained about two or three years. During this
interval he married; the object of his choice being Lady Mary, (viz. Mary,
with the prefix of Lady, taken, not ostentatiously, but in rural
simplicity, from the characteristic designation of the day of her birth,
which was on _Lady-day_), the eldest daughter of Mr. John Smith, of
Cropton,—a rural district about five-and-twenty miles from Whitby,—who
resided on a small landed property which he had inherited from his

By no means satisfied, however, with this retirement,—which recent hard
and perilous service had, for a time, rendered congenial to his
feelings,—and as little contented with the limitation of his unusual
energies to such a contracted scope of employment, he turned his attention
again to the sea. And in this object he at length found a congenial
opening, in a region and employment admirably adapted to his physical
constitution and adventurous spirit, the _Greenland Whale Fishery_; a trade
which, at this period, the latter end of the eighteenth century, was
pursued with considerable enterprise from the port of Whitby.

On this new species of maritime service he embarked in the ship Henrietta,
Captain Crispin Bean, in the spring of the year 1785, as one of the seamen.
Of the incidents of his training in this adventurous and stirring
profession, we have, unfortunately, no special records. To the
requirements, however, in every species of knowledge and duty connected
with the Arctic navigation and the capture of the huge cetacea of the
north, he gave himself with such tact and perseverance, that, on his sixth
voyage, we find him to have risen over the heads of all his original
associates, and occupying the position of second officer, the
_specksioneer_ of the ship.[C]

A single incident, though of the most trifling nature, has been preserved
in connection with this period of my Father’s life, which I am induced to
record, simply because there was something in it illustrative of character.

As the ships employed in the whale fishery in the spring and summer were
usually _laid up_ during the rest of the year, it was the frequent
practice of the officers, who were generally engaged from year to year,
to embark as seamen in the coasting trade during the interval of winter.
My Father, habitually energetic and industrious, and having now an
increasing family to support, adopted this commendable course. On one
occasion it so happened that he was employed in a vessel whose chief
officer, the mate, was a young man possessing a full share of
self-conceit, evinced by a not unfrequent exhibition of supercilious
assumption of superiority—characteristics excessively obnoxious to my
Father’s manly disposition. But, notwithstanding the occasional
exhibition of an offensive manner towards himself as well as others,
such was always his high sense of the _duty of obedience to superiors_,
and of the importance, in principle, of _proper subordination_, that he
bore with restrained feelings in silence this youthful and vexatious
folly. An occasion, however, occurred, in which he might legitimately
suffer the fault to chastise itself, and it is to that to which my story

The vessel was lying in port about to take in ballast. In this operation,
which is often effected (as in this case) by the shovel of
“ballast-heavers” out of loaded “lighters” laid alongside the ship, there
is a liability to scatter a good deal of the shingle or other material, so
as to fall overboard to the encumbrance of the harbour. To prevent this
damage to the navigation, it is in many places a harbour regulation that a
canvas screen or sail, called a “port-sail,” should be placed below the
small port-hole cut in the side of the ship for the reception of ballast,
so as to catch the ballast-heavers’ scatterings.

In the good ship, the ——, however, this canvas protector happened to be
wanting when ballast was about to be taken in. The mate, with a manner (it
is presumed) of excessive superciliousness, came to my Father with a
_“bolt”_ (or roll) of canvas, asking him, as if doubting his capacity,
whether he could make such a thing? and then requesting him to set
immediately to work to supply the lack of port-sails. Assuming a look of
meekest simplicity, which for such a just retribution my Father could well
put on, he quietly asked, in reference to the order to make port-sails,
“how _many_ he was to make?” Mistaking the look of simplicity for
simpleness itself, the young officer, as he turned jeeringly away, replied,
“_half-a-dozen_, to be sure.”

One only, or two, at the most, could possibly be required; but, to punish
arrogancy, the order was strictly regarded. Some hours subsequently the
mate returned to the place where the work of the sail-needle was being
actively carried on, when, to his astonishment and vexation, he found the
deck covered with the breadths of canvas _cut out_ for the half-dozen
port-sails, and some two or three of them already seamed together! His
fierce demand, “Why have you cut up the whole bolt of canvas?” was
responded to in the former quiet manner of simplicity, “Did you not order
me to make half-a-dozen?”

Whilst thus justly chastised for his own folly, and biting his lips with
vexation,—the vexation being the more exciting because _consciously
self-earned_,—he could not refrain from resorting to abuse, where reason
and justice must fail him. But singularly enough it happened, whilst the
altercation which ensued was being carried on, and when it had been
broadly intimated to him, I believe, that his further services could be
well dispensed with, that a letter, just then brought by some one coming on
board, was put into my Father’s hand, offering him the unexpected
appointment and preferment which constitute the subject of our next
chapter. He was thus enabled, with no small advantage of position over the
still fretted and abusive officer, to say, “If you are not satisfied with
what I have commenced, I can leave you to do it yourself.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In concluding this chapter, it comes appropriately in connection, to
mention something of the state of my Father’s mind and feelings with
respect to the grand object of this probationary state with man—the
attainment and furtherance of a religious life.

On this topic I am the better enabled to write satisfactorily, because of
the repeated references to it which I have heard my Father make in
after-life. At all times, within my own recollection, he evinced a very
marked regard for religion, with a clear apprehension of the great
principles of our holy faith, and an ardent desire for the experience of
its divine consolations. But he used to refer back, with a kind of longing
regret, to the days of his youth, when he had _felt_ the consolations of
godliness, and realized the happiness of heavenly meditations. Often (as I
have heard him intimate) whilst pursuing his agricultural labours, and not
unfrequently, too, when walking to and fro in his night-watch at sea,—he
had been privileged to realize that enviable feeling of peaceful happiness,
in the lifting up of the heart in pious meditations and communings
heavenward, which constitutes at once an experimental evidence and present
reward of the reception of the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
For, however it may fall short in the ardency of its perceptions, or
however it may be liable to be confounded with the hasty and transient
impulses of mere excitement, yet, in its nature, and according to its
degree, the feeling thus realized belongs, I doubt not, to that truly
enviable class of Christian experiences described by St. Paul, as “the
peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” and as the rejoicing “with
joy unspeakable and full of glory.”


[A] “Memoir of William Scoresby, Esq.” by the late Mr. Samuel Drew, in the
“Imperial Magazine,” for 1822.

[B] Life of Captain James Cook, by the Rev. G. Young, of Whitby.

[C] The title “specksioneer,” derived from the Dutch, is applied to the
officer who has special charge of the fishing apparatus, and the conduct of
the flensing operations in the fishery. He is also a principal harpooner.



SECTION I.—_Disappointment in his first Command._

In the history of men who, relatively to their prospects by birth, have
attained to distinction in life, there will generally be found some special
incident, sometimes apparently trifling in itself, or some particular
circumstance, or chain of circumstances, in their professional career, on
which, under Providence, their fortune manifestly turned.

Both the _incident_ and the circumstance referred to were clearly and
strikingly marked in my Father’s history. The incident appears in what
occasioned the disgust which he took in early life at farming occupations,
whereby he was stimulated to enter upon a seafaring life. The
_circumstance_, or chain of circumstances, we find in the important
preferment which unexpectedly, as to the occasion, was given to him when,
over the heads of many associates, he was appointed to his first command.

Crispin Bean, the captain under whom my Father had had his training and
experience in Arctic adventure, was, for _his time_, a successful
whale-fisher. For, in the course of from seventeen to twenty years in
which he followed this commerce, he realized a _small_ fortune, sufficient,
at least, with a little patrimony, to satisfy his very moderate desires and
requirements, and to induce him to retire, whilst in fulness of vigour,
from his arduous profession. He was a man of excellent character, and one
for whom my Father always retained a sincere regard, and towards whom he
was ever ready to show kindly consideration, when his means for subsistence
and comfort were less sufficient in after-life. A vivid remembrance of Mr.
Bean’s regard and preference for him, on the turning point of his temporal
destiny, was observably retained, and was elicited, as I had myself not
unfrequent opportunities of noticing, both in his manner of speaking of his
former commander, and in his readiness to minister to him in acts of

It was after his voyage in the year 1790, that Mr. Bean announced to his
owner, Nicholas Piper, Esq., of Pickering, his intention of relinquishing
his command, and retiring from the sea. Himself entirely unprepared for
appointing a successor, Mr. Piper enquired whether there was any one, among
the officers of the Henrietta, whom he (Mr. Bean) could recommend for a
Master? Mr. Bean, well observant of my Father’s persevering energy,
seamanlike talent, and general superiority, replied,—“There is Scoresby,
the specksioneer, who, I think, is the man for the duty.” And to him, with
but little delay in further investigation, the command, to the agreeable
surprise of my Father, and the jealous vexation of some of his brother
officers, was transferred.

Mr. Piper, however, whilst so promptly exercising this generous confidence
in his appointment, failed, in consistency, when proceeding with the
measures for carrying it into effect. Considering his limited measure of
experience, when contrasted with the much longer engagement in the fishery
of the then chief officer, and some of the leading harponeers, he,
unfortunately, took _upon himself_ to re-engage these men for the ensuing
voyage,—a proceeding which, however prudential, my Father felt to be at
once uncourteous and unwise, though a measure which he was by no means in a
position either to contravene or satisfactorily to resist. Every ground of
hope, however, which he might have indulged in respect to any favourable
views of such a principle, in its working, failed, whilst his very worst
apprehensions were more than realized.

This result, indeed, came out the more characteristically, because of the
singular unfavourableness of the season, wherein he made his first trial,
for the objects of the adventure. The fishery, in general, proved
unprecedentedly unsuccessful. Of seven ships which set out from Whitby,
(the port from whence the Henrietta sailed,) one, the Marlborough, was
lost; four returned “clean,”—that is, without any cargo; and two had but
one fish each—one of them very small. Tradition has it—and the tradition
I can well believe to be a historical fact—that the cargoes of the whole
Whitby fleet of _Greenland_ whalers (except one) from the fishery of 1791,
were carried overland to Pickering, a distance of 21 miles, in one wagon!

It was in the worst class, that of “clean ships,” in which the Henrietta
stood at the conclusion of this unpropitious season. But she so stood, not
by any means deservedly, as regarded either the talent and perseverance of
her new Captain, or the opportunities which his enterprise had afforded to
his officers and crew for a position of, at least, leading prosperity. My
Father, indeed, whilst often speaking in after-times of this trying,
mortifying, and, as to his prospects in life, perilous failure, was known
to remark, that such were the opportunities which his own people had, of
doing as well as the most successful of his competitors, that there was
scarcely a “fish” caught by the whole Greenland fleet, but whilst the
Henrietta was in company, or during the capture of which he was not within

It was not the wish of the leading officers of the Henrietta, however, that
their position should be different. A strong feeling of jealousy was
injuriously cherished by certain officers over whom my Father had been
preferred; and so far was this carried, and so variously indicated, that it
became evident that their wish and _design_ was, _that their commander
should be found in the most humiliating position_ amongst his fellow
fishermen. The reality of the existence of this feeling was manifested in
various ways. Among the early indications of a conspiracy which my Father
clearly detected, was the positive and wilful inattention of some principal
officers to the objects of their enterprise, when he was in bed, with the
substitution of idle, if not venomous, converse, for officer-like diligence
and watchfulness. For on one occasion, when being on very promising
fishing-ground, he had sent a boat “on bran,”—the term used for
designating the condition of a whale-boat when stationed afloat, with the
crew ready for instant action, watching for the incidental appearance of a
whale,—he heard, whilst lying anxiously awake in his bed, the subdued
creaking of the “tackles,” as of a cautious and surreptitious hoisting up
of the boat; and, on afterwards going unexpectedly on deck, he found the
“watch,” both officers and men, engaged as we have just stated.

Attempts on the part of the officers to direct or dictate, not unfrequently
made, failed, as was right they should do, except in one instance (judging
from the case being often alluded to by my Father with regret), where the
yielding to a proposition against his better judgment met with its
consistent rebuke. A number of whales had been fallen in with, and the
greater part of the boats had been sent out in pursuit. Reckless and
ill-conditioned they pulled about hither and thither, frightening many, but
harpooning none, of the objects of chase. For a considerable period the
same folly or inefficiency was being enacted, and yet “fish” in encouraging
numbers were still to be seen. The chief mate, one Matthew Smith, came to
my Father to remonstrate with him for keeping the boats so long abroad
without something to exhilarate the men,—urging, that spirits, as he said
was usual, should be sent to them, or it could not be expected that they
could either succeed or persevere. Though more than doubtful of the wisdom
of employing stimulants in an adventure requiring the greatest coolness and
self-possession, my Father unfortunately yielded, and ordered the steward
to supply a quantity of brandy for being carried out to the absent sailors.
But the mate’s boat, which was sent with this _refreshment_ (?) was seen,
after it had proceeded a mile or so from the ship, to cease rowing, and
“lie to on its oars;” and there, as my Father’s sure telescope told him,
they remained, till the crew had “drank themselves drunk.” Then, in their
mad folly, they proceeded to the field of fishing enterprise, and
effectually marred any chance of success, if a single honest harpooner were
there, and gave a new and additional impulse to the existing recklessness
and disaffection.

But private resistance of orders, as well as apparent neglect of
opportunities frequently afforded them of advancing the grand object of the
voyage, ultimately grew into the most aggravated form of

On one occasion, when the Henrietta had been pushed into an unwonted
position of imagined peril among the ice by her commander’s adventurous
spirit, the alarm of her crew urged their disaffection into open mutiny.
They gathered themselves together, and proceeded to the quarter-deck, to
demand (as I have understood the incident) their being released from so
perilous a situation. My Father’s disregard of their remonstrances, and
expressed determination to persevere, were at length met by brute force and
open violence. One of the men, excited by his companions’ clamours, and his
own dastardly rage, seized a hand-spike, and aimed a desperate blow, which
might have been fatal, on the head of his Captain. But, now roused to the
exertion of his heretofore unimagined strength and tact, he, whilst warding
the blow with his hand, disarmed the assailant, and seizing him, as I have
been told, in his athletic arms, actually flung him headlong among his
associates, like a quoit from the hands of the player, filling the whole
party with amazement at his strength and power, and for the moment
arresting, under the influence of the feeling, the unmanly pursuance of
their mutinous purposes.

The power of one against so many who had committed themselves to a penal
act and assault, however, not being likely to continue to avail him, my
Father, with a decision of purpose scarcely less surprising than his power
of action, ordered a boy to take the helm, and whilst himself and others,
whom his example might influence, “squared the yards,” directed the ship’s
course (the wind being fair) _homeward_. Their demand to be released from
the ice being thus yielded, and, with circumstances so very different from
what they had expected, reduced, for a while, both the mutinous and
insubordinate of the crew, to a sort of dogged quiescence. But when the
ship, having cleared the ice, was still kept on the same course, and when
ice and haunts of whales began to be left far astern, anxiety and alarm
took place in the breasts of the authors of the mischief, who now, in their
turn, felt just cause for dreading the issue of a proceeding which they had
thus unexpectedly provoked. Words of unwonted calmness were now dropped by
one or other of the officers, in hopes of eliciting some indication that
the homeward direction was but a threat. Hints of the loss to the owners
and himself were thrown out, if he followed out his apparent purpose; but
all to no purpose—the Henrietta still wended her way before the
home-blowing breeze with steady and unrestrained progress. At length, so
great was the alarm excited, that the bold and blustering mutineers became
subdued, and they came forward, backed by their subordinates in the crew,
humbly soliciting that the ship might be hauled on a wind again for
Greenland, and promising that themselves, and every man aboard, would
submit to orders, and do their utmost to further the object on which they
had embarked.

To have persisted in a purpose undertaken from necessity, the result of
which could only be of unmixed injury to his employers as well as himself,
when yet there was a chance, however faint, of doing something in respect
to the intention of the adventure, might have been deemed an act of
obstinacy, rather than wisdom. Not, therefore, to lose any chance of
success, which this demonstration of better feeling might seem to promise,
the ship was forthwith hauled to the wind, and, as circumstances of wind
and weather allowed, every effort of seamanship was employed for hastening
their return to the fishing-ground northward. The sunshine, however, which
had rendered the gathering in of a limited harvest possible, was now
departed, and all subsequent endeavours to make up for lost time and
opportunities proved fruitless, so that the talented and efficient
commander of the Henrietta had the mortification of reporting the result of
his first and trial adventure as “a clean ship!”

On their arrival in port, the designs of the disaffected became gradually
developed. It was hoped, and evidently expected, that my Father, failing of
success, would be superseded; and it ultimately came out, though not until
the whole scheme of this nefarious conspiracy had been enacted, and the
failure of the experiment determined, that it had been matter of promise or
arrangement, in the event of the chief officer obtaining the command, that
the other officers in succeeding ranks should have a step in the way of
promotion; and that the men, generally, should have better, and more
_equal_ treatment, and, as they were vainly flattered, be rewarded with
higher wages!

Indications of this dastardly attempt to arrest the advancement of a young
and enterprising commander appeared in two or three circumstances, which
occurred soon after the Henrietta’s return to Whitby. One of these was the
discovery of a letter, fastened conspicuously on one of the sails,
addressed to Mr. Bean, the former captain, “requesting him to procure
another master, Captain Scoresby having left the vessel, or gone ashore.”

Another circumstance, of a bolder character, I remember being related,
which, however, operated in a manner directly the reverse of what was
designed by the originators of the ungenerous device. A party of the
officers, three or four in number, proceeded to the owner’s residence—I
believe over the Moors to Pickering—for the express purpose of complaining
of my Father’s unfitness for the command. One of their reasons, more
curious than manly, was founded on observation of their commander’s
_fearless and adventurous practice, as a navigator_,—entirely different
from the habit of the times. The complaint was to the effect, “that,
instead of keeping the ship clear of danger in the fishery, he was
continually running them into the ice; and his daringness was such that, if
he should be continued in the command, _he would lose the ship and drown
them all!_”

On a sensible man like Mr. Piper, the information, as to enterprising
character, conveyed by objections of this kind, was by no means lost. His
reflection thereon, as I understood it to have been, was, “Why this is the
very sort of man we need!”

My Father was not, of course, without his anxieties as to what the issue
might be. He had embarked in a post of great responsibility, where, beyond
the ordinary qualifications of the navigator, _success as a fisherman_ was
looked for, and so prominently regarded, too, that successfulness, above
all other qualities, stood absorbingly pre-eminent. Having failed on his
first, and most critical, trial, he anxiously expressed his regrets at his
failure, when he first met his disappointed and suffering owner. But he,
having meanwhile, I believe, spoken on the subject to his former captain
(Mr. Bean), replied encouragingly, “It can’t be helped: you must try
again.” The confiding owner, however, could not but be a little surprised
when, on the first fitting occasion after the intimation of his
re-appointment, my Father, meekly, but firmly, informed him, “that if he
again took the command he must have the appointment of all the hands—both
officers and general crew.” Mr. Piper’s usual “Pooh! pooh!” at a demand so
unexpected, produced no change in the reasonable requirements of his
anxious, but decided dependent. He consulted Mr. Bean thereon, and he, it
is reported, recommended acquiescence on the part of the owner. At all
events the owner did acquiesce. The happy effect and result will appear in
our next section.

SECTION II.—_His Second Adventure, and commencing Prosperity._

Under the fitting authority yielded to my Father, in respect to the
absolute selection and engagement of his officers and crew, he acted with
equal wisdom and decision. His first act was to discharge the whole of his
old and self-assumed accomplished or experienced officers, and to replace
them with younger and more tractable men; some of those who had served with
him in his first command, whose characters he had appreciated, being
advanced from inferior stations to places of responsibility.

The principle that had been conceded by the owner to his captain, as to the
absolute selection of his crew, was, however, in a very minor appointment,
attempted to be interfered with; but it only served to bring out in greater
distinctiveness the character with whom he had to deal. The circumstance
was this:—On the fitting out of the ship in the spring of 1792, my Father,
on going on board one morning for his usual superintendence of the work,
observed a stranger,—one whom he had not himself engaged,—busily
employed, as if quite installed in office, about the cooking department. In
surprise he asked the would-be _cook_ “who had sent him there?” “The
owner,” he replied, “had _shipped_ him as the cook.”

Without a word further, and without regarding consequences, so momentous to
himself which might result, he gave himself up to the manly impulse of his
mind, determining either to have the appointment revoked, or to relinquish
a post which had formed at once the object of his aspirings and the summit
of his hopes. His manner on the occasion, whilst most respectful to his
superior, was as unequivocally firm, as his mind was decided. Taking the
“ship’s papers” from their safe custody in a compartment of the cabin, viz.
the ship’s register, certain bonds claimed by the Customs and Excise, and
other documents required to be held by the ship’s commander,—he proceeded
immediately on shore to Mr. Piper’s apartments, at once presenting them,
and in so doing, resigning his command into the hands of the astonished
owner. His astonishment was hardly lessened when, on being asked the reason
of this strange conduct, my Father referred him to the appointment, without
his personal sanction, of a cook to the ship. The remonstrative “pooh!
pooh! pooh!” proved of no more avail than on a former occasion; but Mr.
Piper’s naturally good sense prevailing over his mortified pride of
authority, he conceded this point also, and my Father, returning on board
with his papers, sent the intruding cook to the right-about, leaving him
and Mr. Piper to settle the disagreeables as well as they might.

The principle, the firmness, and the tact of my Father, in respect to the
engagement and selection of his crew, were amply vindicated in the happy
result of his second adventure as commander. Men who had been selected and
appointed by him, readily deferred to him. Men who, contrary to ordinary
slow progress, step by step, had been advanced, _per saltum_, to places of
responsibility, gave spontaneous respect and honour to one who could so
estimate ability, and confide in the application of untried talents.
Discipline was easily preserved, and active, confiding, and cordial
obedience succeeded to the former disaffection. The commanding talent of
the director of the adventure thus obtained its proper scope, and resulted
in an almost unprecedented measure of success.[D] No less than _eighteen_
whales were captured, yielding 112 tuns of oil, on this, to my Father, very
momentous voyage; for, whilst a second failure might have permanently
blighted his hopes and prevented his prosperity, this extraordinary success
directed admiring attention to the commander, who had had largeness of mind
to contemplate, and superiority of ability to accomplish, so enterprising
and profitable an advance beyond what his predecessors from the port of
Whitby had either deemed in any way practicable, or had been limited, by
their too narrow conceptions of sufficiency, from attempting.

SECTION III.—_Further Successes, with their comparative Relations, in the
Ship Henrietta._

Future results clearly indicated the source, under a favouring Providence,
of my Father’s prosperity. These first fruits of adventure were justified
by the subsequent harvest, as the legitimate proceeds of superior
management. Merely accidental circumstances may yield, for an occasion or
two, or for several occasions, felicitous results; but where adventures
involving mind and talent for their conduct, prove, through a long series
of repetitions, under all the diversities of times and seasons, unusually
successful, they give evidence of a master-mind directing the operations.

During the subsequent five years of my Father’s enterprises in the same
ship—from 1793 to 1797 inclusive,—the Henrietta’s cargo stood generally,
I believe, at the head of the list of successful voyages amongst the whole
fleet of Greenland whalers. The least successful voyage was liberally
remunerating to the owner—the most successful, unprecedentedly so. The
total captures in whales, during the six successful years, including that
of 1792, was no less than eighty; and the produce in oil, (considered as
wonderful for that day,) 729 tuns.

Before the introduction of this species of energetic enterprise, the
adventurers, as a class, were content with small things. We have the
commendatory record concerning Captain Banks, of the Jenny, of Whitby, who
was esteemed a talented and successful fisherman, that he brought home
sixty-five whales in ten years, or six and a half per year; whereas the
average captures by my Father, during the period referred to, was thirteen
and one-third whales, or more than double the number of this successful

The catch in his fifth year of command reached the then extraordinary
amount of twenty-five whales; and in his last year, the proceeds in oil
were greater, being 152 tuns, than had before entered the port of Whitby
in any one ship.

Whilst giving the first detailed and authentic records of a Father’s life
and enterprises, it may be permitted, I trust, in the son, to dwell still
further on these comparisons, whereby the enterprises referred to may
obtain their just estimation in their bearing on the commercial prosperity
of the nation.

The comparison of my Father’s successes with those accustomed to be
realized by the northern whale-fishers in general, will afford to him, as
may have been anticipated, a highly commendatory result.

The most distinguished whale-fishers in the world, during a century and a
half, or more, were the _Dutch_, with whose ordinary successes the
comparison may, with propriety, first be made. Within the long interval of
107 years, ending with 1778, the produce of 57,590 whales was brought into
Holland by 14,167 ships, (reckoning repeated voyages,) yielding an average
of four and one-fifteenth whales per ship. During the ten years more
immediately preceding my Father’s commencement,—from 1769 to 1778, for
instance,—the average produce of the Dutch _Greenland_ whale-fishery, per
ship, a year, (ninety ships, on an average being employed,) was about three
and a half “fish.” In the ten years beginning with 1779, (sixty sail being
regularly sent out,) the average was about three and three-quarters. And in
the ten years, from 1785 to 1794, passing within the period of my Father’s
early enterprises, (sixty ships being then also annually engaged in the
fisheries of Greenland and Davis’ Strait), the catch was 2294 whales,
giving an average of three and eight-tenths whales per ship for each year.
Hence my Father’s success, compared with these various averages of the
Dutch fleet, rises, in respect of the number of whales captured, in the
remarkable proportion of above three and a half to one.

But we turn to _home_ comparisons, which as to the object in view is of
more importance to us,—though the materials for obtaining _general_
results are, I regret to find, but very scanty.

As to the whale-fishery of _Great Britain_, in 1787 and 1788, we find
(_Arctic Regions_, ii. p. 112,) 505 cargoes were obtained in the two years,
amounting to 15,894 tuns of oil, or 31·5 tuns per ship a year.

The records in hand of the Greenland fishery from _Scotland_, in the years
just preceding my Father’s commencement, relate only to the period from
1785 to 1788. In each of the two latter years, when thirty-one ships were
employed in the trade, the average success per ship was only two and
four-fifths whales. The general average for Scotland seems, indeed, at this
period to have been low; but, soon after the commencement of the present
century, the enterprise and perseverance of our northern sailors began, not
only to assert their proper position, but to recompense for past
inferiority,—their whale-fishery of these more recent times becoming
second to none, either in the ability with which it was pursued, or the
success with which it was rewarded.

With the port of Whitby, from whence the Henrietta sailed, we have already
drawn certain comparisons. We only add the general result of the fishery of
1786, 1787, and 1788, when twenty ships sailed from this port yearly for
Greenland. The catch per ship, for each of these years, was about three and
a half whales; but, including the next three years, one of which was most
disastrous, the average catch would hardly reach three fish per ship.

But the best comparisons of my Father’s successes are with those of the
Greenland whalers from _Hull_; these comparisons being rendered most
satisfactory because of the ample records before me of the whale fishery of
that port. The records referred to are comprised in an elaborate and
carefully kept manuscript, kindly entrusted to me for the present object,
belonging to Mr. James Simpson, painter, of Hull, in which an admirable
abstract is preserved of the whale-fishing enterprise of the port during a
consecutive period of fifty-nine years, from 1772 to 1830 inclusive.

From this document, for the comparison at present designed, we obtain the
following information:—During the twenty years, from 1772 to 1791,
reaching my Father’s commencement, 266 ships (including repeated voyages)
sailed from Hull to the Greenland whale-fishery, and obtained, altogether,
an amount of produce of 9377 tuns of oil, averaging 35·25 tuns a voyage for
each ship. In the six years _before_ my Father’s commencement,—1786 to
1791,—158 ships (gross amount) obtained 4975 tuns of oil, or 31·5 on the
average. And in the next six years, corresponding exactly with those of my
Father’s successful enterprise in the Henrietta,—1792 to 1797,—ninety-two
Greenland whalers, from Hull, procured 5464 tuns of oil, or 59·4 tuns per
ship a year.

My Father’s average success, taken in comparison of these various _home_
results, we hence gather, was about _four times_ as great as the ordinary
success (within the limited periods specified) of the British whalers
generally. It was also _four times_ as great as the usual average of the
_Whitby_ whalers; in like proportion above the average of the _Hull_
whalers during the previous twenty years; and more than double the Hull
average for the same actual period!

But to institute the most _severe_ comparison with the successes of his
competitors in this important field of commercial enterprise, we may notice
that during the period of his command of the Henrietta (omitting, for
reasons already assigned, the first year only), the amount of my Father’s
cargoes exceeded, by 151 tuns of oil, that of the most successful of the
Hull ships of the time, amongst more than fifteen annual competitors; and
was larger even than the amount attained by the six united cargoes of the
most successful ship out of the whole of the whalers from the port, taken
year by year! And, it is believed, could the comparison have been made with
the entire fleet of whalers proceeding from Britain to the Greenland
fishery, my Father, under this severest possible test of competition, with
all the disadvantages of time and chance against him, would still be found
at the head!

Among the captains of the Whitby fleet, no one, I believe, at all
approached his successes; and among those commanding the Greenland whalers
of Hull none came at all near him, except one—Captain Allan,—whose name I
feel it but justice to record as the most successful fisherman of his port,
and one of the first of his day. Captain Angus Sadler, whose remarkable
successes we hereafter notice, did not commence until 1796. And Captain
John Marshall, who afterwards became so celebrated among his compeers, was
but, as yet, rising towards superiority; besides, his enterprises, after he
became so signally successful, were conducted in Davis’ Strait,—a branch
of the fishery to which our comparison may not fairly extend.

The result of the enterprise of the other captains of this period was, in
each case, so far below that of the subject of these memorials, as only, in
two or three cases, to reach one-half his success. Captain Taylor, of the
Fanny, brought home 400 tuns of oil within those six years, and Captain
Wilson, of the Caroline, 318; but my Father’s catch, as above stated,
yielded no less an amount than 729 tuns! And when it is understood that the
Henrietta was of but small tonnage, (254 tons,) whilst many of the Hull
ships were from 50 to 100, or even 120, tons larger, the comparison
instituted becomes the more remarkable.

In these successes of my Father, the people of Whitby felt an universal and
exciting interest, for most of the principal inhabitants, as well as a
large body of those in the middle and lower classes, were, more or less,
directly or indirectly, participators in the gains of the whale-fishery.
But whilst all were astonished at the results of enterprises so
unquestionably due to an individual guidance, no small number were moved to
feelings of jealousy in consequence of successes, to which the fruits of
their personal ventures in other ships bore no reasonable proportion. The
modes in which this baneful feeling towards my Father was evinced, were as
various as they were sometimes annoying. At first, the extraordinary
results were ascribed to “luck;” and, subsequently, when more than luck was
too obvious to be denied, the waning phantom of superstition was resorted
to in order to escape the commendation of a frank acknowledgment of
superior merit. Some persons there were of an order of mind so simple, as
actually to believe what was jocosely told, that he “knee-banded” a portion
of fish in one year to facilitate the success of the next. Jeers and
lampoons were made use of as outlets for the expression of narrow and
jealous selfishness,—annoyances which the substantiality of my Father’s
advantages enabled him very well to bear, but which were often keenly felt
when played off against the less stern materials of his amiable and
tender-minded wife and susceptible young family.

The working of this principle, in envious manifestations of word and
feeling, presents a painfully characteristic fruit of human degeneration
from original perfectness. And the manner and sphere of its working yield
very characteristic instruction on the nature of the deteriorated mind.
Mankind can well bear, and be free to commend in generous frankness,
successful enterprise in _other_ departments than that of their own sphere.
Nay, by a strange concession of the secret mind, when under a disposition
to withhold the meed of praise in the department which trenches on
self-interest, or self-consequence, we find many disposed to bestow an
utterly extravagant measure of adulation, where it may be popular to do so,
on individuals and enterprises distinctly separate and remote from
interferences with themselves. But let a man be “ploughing in the same
field” of enterprise, or intelligent research; let the admired results of
the labour of one but stand out on the sculptured tablet of fame in bold
relief of the mere groundwork surface of the other explorers of like
mysteries; or let the profitable fruits of the industry of one contrast
with the sad failures or meagre successes of others engaged in the
self-same species of enterprise, and then we shall find, more or less
developed, among the many whose efforts have been overtopped and eclipsed,
and among the multitudes, perhaps, associated relatively or interestedly
with the mortified competitors, the feelings of envy and jealousy,
sometimes of hatred and malice, most sadly conspicuous and dominant.

In my Father’s case, where sometimes the owners, captains, and crews of
near a dozen ships sailing from the same port had their most ardent
enterprises, year by year, altogether eclipsed by his superior
success,—and where, by reason of relative or interested association, the
majority of a town’s population became participators in the mortifying
competition,—the measure in which the ungenerous feelings might possibly
have their existence and impulses, may be well imagined to have been very
extensive. That it was so in an extraordinary degree in the early progress
of my Father’s adventures, and during many years of his singular
prosperity, every member of his family had too painful evidence.

But as to the observant and intelligent classes separate from this baneful
prejudice, and as to some of more dignified minds amongst parties who were
personally interested in whale-fishing concerns, the character and merits
of the subject of these records were sufficiently appreciated and

The fame of his successes reached throughout the commercial ports of the
realm, and applications of a very tempting nature came unsolicited upon
him, for transferring his guidance and energies to other associates in
Arctic enterprise, with encouraging promise of far more profitable results.

My Mother, who was much attached to Whitby, as a place of residence, viewed
these repeated offers with much anxiety, feeling that my Father’s taking a
command elsewhere must involve her either in the trial of leaving Whitby,
or in the great inconvenience of a much more considerable period of
severance than the mere Greenland voyage required, of the family circle.
For awhile her objections prevailed; but ultimately, as in another chapter
we shall have to record, these objections sunk under the advantages
elsewhere proffered.

SECTION IV.—_Episodical Incident—the Rescue of endangered Pleasurers._

Before carrying forward the records of my Father’s new adventures in a more
promising field for his personal prosperity, I shall introduce an incident
of a very peculiar and interesting description, belonging to the period,
though not to the business of the fishery, whilst he still held his command
of the “good ship” Henrietta. It occurred whilst the ship lay at anchor,
incidentally, in the river Tees, on one of her most successful voyages,
homeward bound, when I was myself on board. Though I was but a child, I
remember the time well. The novelty of my position in being taken on
shipboard by my Father, when, a few days before, he had been on shore at
Whitby, and the interesting circumstance, to me, of the capture of a small
sand-bird, which I anxiously fed and endeavoured to keep alive, made an
indelible impression on my youthful recollection. The incident, however,
constituting the present story, I did not well understand till long
afterward, but which I now record with much confidence of being
substantially correct in every detail, from hearing it repeatedly related
in after-life.

The incident consisted in the interesting and gratifying circumstance of
the saving of the lives of two individuals moving in an upper sphere in
society, by my Father’s habitual facility and accuracy in the use of the
pocket telescope, and by the information derived therefrom being made use
of with his characteristic forethought and energetic promptness of action.

The success of the voyage had been such that the largest amount of whales
yet captured in the then progress of the fishery, being twenty-five in
number, had enriched by their produce this single adventure. Beyond the
capacity of the _casks_ taken out for the reception of the cargo, a large
quantity of blubber “in bulk,” or in massive flitches, had been stowed on
the top. The draught of water of the ship, thus unusually loaded, was found
on their arrival in Whitby Roads, which was just after the spring-tides had
passed off, to be too great for the flow in the harbour. Whilst waiting the
advance of the succeeding spring-tides, therefore, the ship was taken
northward to the river Tees, the nearest accessible port, and a supply of
empty casks sent thither by a small coaster, whereby the men were usefully
and savingly occupied throughout the interval in chopping up the loose
blubber, from which its valuable contents in oil were perpetually oozing
out, and securing it from further waste in the auxiliary casks.

Whilst this operation was still in active and _greasy_ progress, my Father,
in walking the deck, remarked on a large patch of sand, about a mile from
the ship, a gig, occupied by a gentleman and a lady, driving pleasantly up
and down. The day was fine, and the recreation of driving on a smooth and
extended surface of sand, so singularly firm that the wheels did not
penetrate beyond the slightest impression, was very enjoyable. But, as it
soon appeared, and as my Father providentially anticipated, it was by no
means—on the place selected—a _safe_ recreation.

The bank of sand referred to, of which there are many such within the wide
extent of the Tees, appeared uncovered at about half ebb, and became
accessible soon afterward by the drying of a slightly depressed channel
lying betwixt it and the shore. Previous to this time of tide the party had
been driving nearer the fields; but tempted by the fine smooth expanse of
surface of the outer sand, and encouraged by its admirable firmness on
trial, they forthwith limited their driving to the breadth of the
continuous surface, and continued to enjoy themselves in this recreation
and their social converse, unconscious of danger, till after the tide had
long been rising.

My Father, who continued observing them anxiously with his glass, had
noticed the rapid rising of the tide, which he soon found was entering the
channel, and separating them unconsciously from the shore. Engrossed as
they seemed in their pleasant recreation, he inferred, and that justly,
that their lives would soon be imperilled. Anticipating the danger, he
ordered a boat to be got ready to push off at a moment’s notice, should the
absorbing inattention of the strangers continue. At length he saw that they
had become aware of their position, and were driving their vehicle into the
narrow channel into which the tide had recently flowed. With palpitating
anxiety he perceived that the water was deeper than they had imagined, and
that the previously firm ground, disintegrated by the action of the tide,
had turned into the treacherous quicksand. He then saw the horse take
alarm, the gig sink down to the axles of its wheels, and the lady and
gentleman jump out in obvious terror behind, and with difficulty regain the
broad surface of the yet dry, and, happily for them, firm sandbank.

Promptly he summoned the crew of the boat, whom he had previously advised
of the probable result of this adventure, and sent them off with the urgent
and stimulating command, “Pull as for your lives, or they will be lost!”
Bravely and humanely did the sailors perform their cheerfully undertaken
task: every nerve was strained to give speed to the boat, whilst the
steersman, as he is wont in the pursuit of the whale, no doubt urged their
nervous and energetic efforts by the oft-reiterated cry “Give way! Give
way, or they will be lost!”

With intense anxiety and interest my Father watched every oar’s stroke in
the progress of the boat, and every action of those whose rescue he
sought. He marked the gradual rise of the tide, till it just washed the
highest part of the surface on which the dismayed party now stood. He
perceived that the sand became softened, and that they began to sink; but,
with a well-tutored judgment, he marked also, to his heart’s great joy,
that the boat would be in time. It approached them as they were gradually
sinking, when the lady threw herself forward in the water to anticipate the
rescue, and both in a few moments exulted, with nervous trepidation, in
their now conscious safety from a justly-dreaded watery grave. It was a
touching, heart-stirring result, realized as well by the author, under
Providence, of the timely relief, as by the generously sympathising sailors
and the parties themselves.

They were of course conveyed at once to the safety of the proximate shore,
and, being landed there, the seamen returned to look after their horse and
gig, which were all but submerged. The horse, with no small difficulty,
they got disengaged from its entanglement with the vehicle, which,
fortunately, had still energy enough left to enable them to swim it to the
shore. The gig was then sought after, secured, and floated to the same
place of safety. And, ultimately, the horse was reharnessed by their active
aid; and the two individuals, who had experienced such a providential
rescue, drove forthwith away from the scene of this memorable adventure.

The gentleman was found to be a Mr. M——, nephew to a dignitary of the
Cathedral Church at York; his companion, Mrs. S——, a lady of fortune.
The wife of the one, I understood, and the husband of the other, were also
spending the morning together mutually reciprocating in a social drive; but
they had chosen the common road of the highway, and, of course, ran no risk
of a similar adventure.

One would have been glad to have had to record, in connection with such an
unusual incident, that the preservation from a premature death, by the
sailors’ cheerfully devoted energies, had met with something like a
grateful recognition of the service rendered. The only acknowledgment,
however, which was made for this timely and momentous aid, whereby a
carriage and horse, besides the lives of two individuals in a genteel
position in society were saved, was the reward of a guinea to be divided
amongst the whole boat’s crew. The high-minded philanthropist feels
sufficient reward in the satisfaction of being privileged to be the
instrument of yielding distinguished benefits to his fellow-creatures; but
every right-minded person loves to see some fitting evidence of a grateful
apprehension of benefits conferred. As to the paltry offering to the
sailors, I remember my Father being grieved and vexed,—vexed that they
should have condescended to accept any reward, where the offering, in
reference even to the efforts made, much less to the service conferred, was
so contemptible. As for my Father himself, the opportunity of saving the
lives of two of his fellow-creatures was the source, in itself, of fervent
and permanent satisfaction, affording him, no doubt, one of the most
peculiarly pleasant and grateful recollections of his adventurous life.

SECTION V.—_The Greenland Doctor._

Some circumstances of a more playful nature belonging to the period
embraced by the present chapter may here be introduced, with a view to vary
and perhaps enliven these parental records.

The subject I select belongs to the history of a kind of
_steward-surgeon_,—the humble class of medical practitioners usually
employed at the period of my Father’s early career, being designed, on the
one part, to fulfil the technical requirements of the law, that a
whale-ship claiming the advantage of the Government “bounty,” must carry a
surgeon; and, on the other part, to gratify the officers in the captain’s
cabin by the improvement of the common culinary operations of the ship’s
cook, by the hands of the doctor or second-mate acting as cabin-steward and
pastry-cook. To my Father’s credit, however, it should be stated, that he
was the first, as I have understood, who sought out a more fitting person
for this department, and, obtaining a medical student from Edinburgh,
employed him strictly as a medical officer, and gave him the advantage of a
gentleman’s position.

On one occasion, during the period referred to, my Father had not
succeeded, when the time for the arrangement became pressing, in engaging
a surgeon for the voyage. Hearing, however, of a person living in a village
near Whitby, who had, according to repute, sundry qualifications
appropriable to the station as its _duties_ were then ordered, my Father
sent to inquire whether he would like a situation, the emoluments of which
might far exceed his usual earnings from a multifarious profession. The
“doctor,” (as we shall hereafter call him,) forthwith proceeded to Whitby,
and, on being particularly questioned as to his various capabilities, gave
a most ample schedule of the duties he was qualified to undertake. He could
bleed and draw teeth—the two essentials for the surgeon;—he could shave
and dress hair—the qualifications of the barber;—he could make pastry and
bake—the chief requisites of the cabin cook.

But, in order to his passing the mustering-officer of the Customs, a
medical certificate, to be obtained only by personal examination, he,
somewhat to his discomfiture, was told would be requisite. After some
consideration, as to the difficulties of such an ordeal, and the
probabilities of failure or success, he expressed his willingness to submit
to an examination. Whatever his anxieties might have been, in prospect of
the trial, my father could hardly be less solicitous than the doctor
himself about the result, as the sailing of the ship might possibly be
delayed if the present candidate for the post of medical-officer should

An appointment was forthwith arranged for this serious affair, Doctor
R——, of Whitby, being the examiner, and the Angel Inn, the place for the
exercise. My Father, who had accompanied his candidate officer to the place
of meeting, sent him, under guidance of a waiter, to a private room, where
Dr. R—— was waiting for him, wishing him, with no small measure of
anxious misgivings, good-luck in his examination. But the doctor was a
_wise_ man, and his simple-minded forethought did him essential service.

In a very few minutes, to my Father’s much surprise and disappointment, as
he naturally anticipated, the doctor returned. “How is this?” he exclaimed,
“What is the matter, that you have returned so soon?” “Oh,” said the
doctor, with a curious mixture of expression of subdued happiness and
self-sufficient gratulation, “it’s all over—I’ve passed.” “Passed!”
ejaculated my Father, “how is that possible? Doctor R—— had no time to
examine you.” The doubt was settled by the handing over of a slip of paper
containing a sufficient certificate. All curiosity to know how such an
issue could have been attained in so limited a space of time, my Father
impatiently asked, “But how was it, doctor? How were you examined?”

The doctor described the scene, as I well remember my Father’s account of
it, in about the following terms:—“When I went to Doctor R.,” said the now
happily appointed surgeon, “I spoke first; I said to him, Doctor R., the
long and the short of the business is this—_if I can do no good, I’ll do
no harm_.” “Then,” after a moment’s pause and consideration, with some
little expression of cool surprise, as the candidate described it, “Then,”
replied the examiner, “_you’ll do better than half the doctors in
England_;” and, without a word more, he proceeded to write out a

       *       *       *       *       *

Anecdotes of the doctor were not unfrequently told, with evident pleasant
recollections, by my Father, who seemed, in an unusual degree, to have
exercised a playful pleasantry with this simple-minded officer of many

The cookery he managed with a fair measure of ability; and the breakfast
cakes, though not always so _fair_ as they might have been, were
sufficiently enjoyable in comparison of hard coarse biscuits. But a little
disrelish was threatened by an accidental sight of the process of
cake-making, which it required the full measure of indifference to trifling
unfitnesses among the sailors of the mess to get over. One morning, early,
my Father happened to pass by the place where the doctor was industriously
preparing the paste for the oven. To his surprise he observed, and uttered
an exclamation expressive of the surprise, that the hands of the
manipulator of the elements of bread were not only unwashed, but most
remote from the ordinary colour belonging to cleanliness. The doctor bore
the exclamation with the coolest perseverance, and without even lifting
his eyes from the bowl in which he was mixing the materials, contented
himself with remarking, in reduplication of expression, the but
ill-consoling fact, as to the effect of the operation on his hands, “the
paste will clean them! the paste will clean them!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The doctor was ambitious of practice in shooting, and fond of embracing
occasions for the purpose. Whilst the ship was incidentally lying close
beset in the ice, without the possibility of any movement being effected,
my Father, on one occasion, bethought himself of an enlivenment of the
general depression incident to such a situation, at the expense of the
simple-hearted, good-natured doctor. For this he made the fitting
arrangements, and then, calling up the doctor, pointed him out a
dark-looking object, apparently a seal, lying at some little distance from
the ship, and asked him if he would like to go and try to shoot it? The
proposition was too pleasant to the doctor’s wishes to be rejected, and
preparations were forthwith made by the bringing up of two guns, with the
requisites for loading, upon the deck. My Father took one of the guns to
load, handing over the other to the doctor for the same purpose, and then
they descended upon the ice, which afforded a sufficiently firm footing for
their travelling to the place where the object of the contemplated sport
was seen.

As they proceeded, my Father favoured the doctor by offering him the first
shot; but supposing his own gun might suit the doctor best, being a finer
and lighter piece than the other, he proposed an exchange, which was
readily and thankfully accepted.

Coming near the place, they saw the dark-looking back of the creature
plainly appearing, with an occasional slight movement indicative of
wakefulness, behind a small hummock of the ice; then advancing cautiously,
till almost within shot, my Father suggested that the doctor should creep
forward, in shelter of the hummock, till he got the animal sufficiently
within command of his gun. Having attained the requisite position, my
Father, in an audible whisper, cried, “Now, doctor, now’s your time!” The
doctor having anxiously taken his aim, and satisfactorily covered the
creature with his gun, fired, when, instead of a seal, up started one of
the seamen, uttering a terrific shout of “Murder! murder! I’m a murdered
man!” My Father joined in the exclamation of horror at what the doctor had
done; and the doctor turning ashy pale, his knees tottering and his teeth
chattering from terror, had well nigh fallen insensible under his acute
emotions—emotions aggravated in intenseness of anxiety, by the cries of
the other seamen now rushing in a body to the place, to see the sad
catastrophe of “a man shot in mistake for a seal by the fool of a doctor.”

Happily for the dismayed and suffering sportsman, the catastrophe, though
almost too painful as a joke, was soon proved to be exaggerated and unreal,
by the supposed wounded seaman throwing aside the deceptive character he
had assumed, and coming forward to join in the laugh against him.

It is hardly necessary to mention that the whole affair was contrived, and
that, by the changing of guns, my Father had secured the well-charged one
of the doctor’s, and replaced it with one abundantly furnished with powder
and wadding, but devoid altogether of deadly shot.

It is seldom that practical jokes go off so well; for few persons will be
content to be made the dupe for others’ entertainment. The potion,
therefore, that we should not like to have given sportively unto ourselves,
we should be cautious in administering to others. Manifold cases of very
serious mischief, extending even to results fatal to human life, have
arisen from the unfitting or unseasonable playing off of practical jokes.
In the case which I have ventured to describe, however, there was little
risk. The position of the author of the joke in respect to that of its
subject, on the one part, and the good-natured simplicity of character of
the subject on the other, afforded, together, a sufficient security against
any essential mischief. Perhaps, too, where an entire ship’s company were
in much depression of mind, by reason of the alarming and tedious besetment
under which they were suffering, a beneficial and redeeming effect was, on
the whole, realised. For the doctor himself, so far from cherishing any
painful or unkindly feelings on account of the part he had unconsciously
played in the little facetious drama, was too happy in being relieved from
the temporarily imagined misery of having, whilst seeking sport, deprived a
fellow-creature of life. So effective, indeed, did this influence react
upon his feelings of anxiety, that he himself joined in the general
hilarity as heartily as any of his amused shipmates.

SECTION VI.—_Taming of a Bear—Interesting Recognition._

The _Polar Bear_ is popularly known as one of the strongest and most
ferocious of that class of animals which shrinks not from voluntary
conflict with man. The species is often met with, sometimes in considerable
numbers, upon the shores of the Arctic lands, and within the region of the
ices of the Greenland sea. It not unfrequently occurs of the length of
seven or eight feet, and four or five feet high, weighing as much as a
small ox. Specimens whose skin measured twelve to thirteen feet in length,
have been described by voyagers. The “paw of the bear,” of which there is
Scriptural mention, may, in the full-grown animal, as now met with, be from
seven to nine inches in breadth, and large enough to overspread two-thirds
of a square foot, or more, of the snowy surface on which it treads. Hence
its admirable adaptation for the region in which Providence has placed its

Of this animal the Arctic whaler has frequent opportunities of making
captures, and, sometimes, of adding a stirring variety to the ordinary
scenes of conflict and adventure. My Father’s experience, whilst affording
many examples of the former result, had a reasonable share of the latter.
It is to a special case, however, as indicated in our head-title, that the
present record relates.

On one occasion, when a female bear with cubs had been attacked, one of the
young ones was taken alive. It was a fine, and, for a cub, well-grown
animal. When first taken on board, it was temporarily secured on an
unoccupied part of the deck, but in a place near to which my Father had
incidentally to pass. Whilst thus passing, inconsiderate about any risk of
assault, the animal very unexpectedly made a spring at him, but
fortunately, checked by his rope, failed in the ferocious intent. This
circumstance suggested the idea, which he soon proceeded to carry out, not
only of chastising, but of subduing the captive animal. The proceeding
adopted was as follows:—

The rope already encircling the neck of the bear was put through a
ring-bolt on the deck, and the head was thereby drawn so closely down as to
limit its capabilities of extension within the range of a few inches, or
perhaps about a foot. My Father then took his station in a secure position,
and held out his hand invitingly towards it, an action which the irritated
creature retorted by a furious roar, and attempt to bite. This act he
rebuked by striking it over the snout with the fingers, closely compacted,
of one of his hands. At each blow, attempts were vainly made to catch and
tear the audacious instrument by which Bruin was thus being chastised. But
after very many repetitions of the now keenly-felt strokes of the hand on
this tender place of the head, and after as many failures, on the part of
the chastised creature, in his endeavours to retaliate, the bear began
evidently to feel a commanding influence, as indicated by the frequent
effort to avoid the coming blow. Occasionally, however, he would renew his
attempts to bite, roaring, with an obviously mixed expression of ferocity
and pain. Perseveringly, as the bear continued to resist, the same
chastisement was regularly administered, till at last, the recently
intractable animal began to be subdued under the master-power with which he

The effect of the process was, from time to time, tested, by holding out a
finger near to the creature’s face. If it attempted to bite, the
chastisement was continued until, on the application of the test, there was
either a quiet submission, or a turning away of the head. Ultimately the
animal was made acquainted with our accustomed modes of expressing
approbation, by being patted on the neck or side of the head; and, then, as
often as it rebelled, the usual punishment was renewed, and, whenever it
indicated submission, it either received the former token of approval, or
the more substantial and intelligible reward of being fed by the hand by
which it had been wont to be chastised.

The thorough subjection, indeed, of this naturally ferocious creature was
soon effected,—within the space, I believe, of two or three days,—and
from that time forward my Father’s command over it was uniform and supreme.
Nor was the kindness with which he treated the captive lost upon it; for it
yielded, as occasions permitted, very decided indications of an inversion
of its ordinary vicious propensities in respect to its considerate master.
Two illustrative cases belong to this record.

On the arrival of the ship in port, bruin was removed to the oil-yard,—the
premises on which the blubber was landed, in order to its being reduced
into marketable oil. Its arrival became a subject of popular interest, and
the inhabitants of Whitby flocked out in masses to see it.

Whilst so situated, the bear, somehow or other, obtained his release, and
escaped into an adjoining covert,—“Cockmill Wood.” The incident soon
became known at Whitby. A wild and dangerous animal—now rendered supremely
ferocious by reason of the almost perpetual teazing to which he had been
subjected from his numerous visitors—at large, within a mile or so of the
town, and in a wood intersected by a much-frequented footpath, proved the
occasion of great and general excitement. Men and lads, assisted by dogs,
and armed with guns and a variety of other destructive weapons, were
speedily in progress, and with overwhelming superiority, towards the
retreat of the bear, with a view to its destruction.

Happily for poor Bruin, my Father got timely intimation of the circumstance
that had occasioned so much alarm. He proceeded forthwith to the oil-yard,
where he provided himself with a short piece of rope, and then climbed the
cliff into the wood in search of the stray animal. Guidance was
sufficiently afforded by the stream of persons flowing towards the place of
his retreat, and, on nearer approach, by the noise and clamours of the

It was a curious scene. A motley crowd of men and boys and dogs formed, at
a respectable distance, a curvilinear front, with the surprised object of
attack quietly standing in the focus. Fortunately no blood had yet been
shed; no wounds or bruises yet given. It was the important moment of mutual
reconnoissance. It might have been a question how the creature should be
dealt with? Whether he should be summarily attacked with fire-arms, or, by
the help of the restrained dogs, his recapture attempted?

Any doubts which might have thus occasioned the desirable delay were now
speedily settled. My Father, with only the rope in his hand, made his
appearance. He passed through the ranks of the would-be warriors in the
contemplated fight; when, to their utter amazement, and to the no small
alarm of many, he proceeded without hesitation forward. Speaking to the
bear, in his usual manner, as he approached, and walking straight up to
him, face to face, he patted the shaggy neck, as he placed a prepared noose
of the rope around it, and then quietly led away the furious brute, which,
under his commanding guidance, became as tractable as a lap-dog!

The other incident connected with this animal is worthy of record, being,
if somewhat less adventurous, not less curious.

The care-taking and maintenance of a now considerably grown Polar bear soon
became matter of inconvenience. It might, there is little doubt, have been
sold advantageously for being itinerated as a _show_ about the country; but
my Father imagined a destination for it, where it would be better cared
for, by having it deposited along with the wild beasts in the Tower.

It being ascertained that the contribution would be very acceptable, the
bear was embarked in a coaster. On its arrival in the Thames, it was
received in a manner befitting its importance and security, and safely
transferred to its final destination.

It was about a twelvemonth or more, I believe, after Bruin’s regular
installation among the wild beasts of the National collection, that my
Father, happening to be in London, determined on taking a look at his old
acquaintance, Bruin. Proceeding to the Tower, he paid the usual
entrance-fee, and without intimating anything about his special object,
took the course through the collection, like other visitors, as guided by
the exhibitor.

His eye being wistfully directed in advance of his position, he at length
got sight of the looked-for object; when, breaking away from those pursuing
the prescribed progress, he hurried directly up to where his ursine friend
was encaged. A warning cry came urgently from the keeper, who had noticed
his near and bold approach to a place of danger—“Take care, sir, that is
one of the most ferocious animals in the collection;” but it was
disregarded. My Father only paused, whilst, by his familiar and accustomed
salutation,—“Poor Bruin! poor fellow!”—he gained the attention of the
animal, when, catching its eye, and perceiving he was recognised, he went
quietly up, thrust his arm through the cage, and, whilst he patted the neck
and head of the evidently delighted creature, received a species of fawning
response, which was eloquently interesting and touching. The keeper, who
had rushed forward on witnessing the daring intrusion on the interior of
the bear’s cage, now stood fixed in almost speechless astonishment. At
length, lifting his hands with a characteristic indication of his extreme
amazement, he exclaimed,—“Why, sir, I never saw the like of that all the
days of my life!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The subjection of the wildest and most ferocious animals to the authority
of man is not so much, we may observe, the result of man’s superiority as
of the Creator’s special appointment. It was His design and command, in
respect to the inferior creatures, that this should be so. The superiority
appointed originally to Adam was, that he should “have dominion over the
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing
that moveth upon the face of the earth.” But the appointment, which was
simple and natural when all was innocency, was afterwards renewed, we
find, under a _new influence_, that of _fear_, specially induced on the
general constitution of the animal creation. For among the blessings
graciously assured by the Almighty to the righteous Noah and his sons, on
their descent from the Ark, we have this pervading influence set forth in
these characteristic terms:—“The _fear_ of you, and the _dread_ of you
shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air;
upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea:
into your hand are they delivered.”—Gen. ix. 2.


[D] This measure of success, I find, had been in a trifling degree exceeded
by vessels sailing from the port of Hull, but only in four instances during
the preceding twenty years, comprising the enterprises of 286 ships,
reckoning their repeated voyages.



SECTION I.—_Entrance on, and General Results of, this New Command._

The aversion of his wife to a change in the port of sailing, though it
might retard, did not prevent my Father’s ultimately making that change. He
had been applied to by letter, and with reiterated urgency, and offers of
additional advantages, by a mercantile firm in London (Messrs. Edward Gale
and Sons) to take charge of a ship of theirs, which they were anxious to
employ in the northern whale-fishery. But, finding that the applications by
letter failed, or at least led to no satisfactory result, one of the
principals of the house determined on an application in person,—an
undertaking, at that time, involving a most troublesome and tedious
journey,—and, totally unexpected, made his appearance at the residence of
our family in Whitby.

The circumstance of Mr. Piper’s early consideration for, and confidence in,
my Father, on an occasion which, under the Divine blessing, proved the
turning-point of his fortune in life, had induced a feeling of regard and
gratitude so decided as to become strongly resistant of the temptation to
change. But, on the other hand, he had long felt dissatisfaction at the
abridgment of some allowances and perquisites enjoyed by his predecessor in
command, and promised to himself, which, though of but small consideration
in the meagre extent of the former wonted success, had accumulated, in the
estimation made year by year during his extraordinary successful career, to
a very handsome amount, in money value. His repeated remonstrances at this
deprivation and injustice being always met with a “Pooh, pooh! be content;
you have done very well,”—no doubt served greatly to weaken the binding
influence of ties otherwise so decidedly felt, and frankly acknowledged.
Hence, from an unwise and ungenerous policy, which, in the course of six
years had deprived my Father of a sum amounting, as he calculated, to about
300_l._ out of his rightful earnings, the alliance previously existing
betwixt himself and the owners of the Henrietta, was, with due and
honourable notice on his part, brought to a conclusion by the visit and
liberal proposals of Mr. Gale. These proposals, as I have understood,
involved a new and additional advantage to the commander, in a per centage
upon the value of the cargo obtained, together with the proffer of a small
share in the concern, on terms at once equitable and easy. On this
encouraging basis an arrangement was forthwith made with the house which
Mr. Gale represented, for the command, by my Father, of the _Dundee_, of
London, a ship much larger and finer than the Henrietta, on a whale-fishing
adventure in the Greenland seas.

In the spring of the year 1798, the Dundee, according to the arrangement
made, was, after being strengthened and fortified for the navigation of the
formidable ices of the north, fitted out, and set forth on her first voyage
to the fishery. The result far more than realized the hopes and
expectations of all the parties interested in the adventure; for, in a
surprisingly short interval of time, the return of the Dundee to the Thames
was announced, with the exulting and almost incredible report, that she
brought the spoils of no less than _six-and-thirty_ captured whales! The
report proved true; and, although many of the whales were of small size,
yet a quantity of produce, in oil and whalebone, such as no other
adventurer had hitherto obtained, was yielded by this extraordinary

During subsequent adventures, with but one exception in a series of five
years, my Father’s high reputation for pre-eminent skill and success, was
amply maintained. In one of these voyages (that of 1801) twenty-three
whales were captured, which yielded the previously unequalled quantity of
225 tuns of oil;[E] and the voyage following, which terminated his command
of the Dundee, produced twenty whales, yielding 200 tuns of the best kind
of train oil, with a proportional weight of whalebone.

These voyages were not only unequalled in the Greenland whale-fishery in
their measure of success, but likewise in the quickness with which they
were accomplished. _Ordinarily_, my Father’s ship, not sailing earlier than
his competitors in general, not only brought home the largest cargo of any
in the fleet, but returned amongst the soonest. The produce in oil,
therefore, partly from the freshness of the blubber when it was brought to
the “coppers,” and partly from the care taken, under his direction, in the
process of boiling, was, as I have advisedly designated it, of the _best

SECTION II.—_Dangerous Accident—Admirable Tact._

Whilst pursuing for a long series of years, so adventurous a profession as
that of the whale-fishery, accidents of a peculiar nature were not
unfrequently occurring. On such occasions, my Father’s promptness and
judiciousness of action were as admirable as they were characteristic.

But leaving such incidents, as far as may be, to their place,
chronologically, in our present Memorials, we adduce here a single example,
which may serve at once to illustrate and to justify this observation. The
case, indeed, though pertaining to his professional pursuits, did not occur
when at sea; but during the process of reducing the blubber of the whale
into oil, after the return of the ship into port.

The ship Dundee, whilst commanded by my Father, had but recently returned
from one of her usually successful voyages, and was laid, for discharging
at the quay, in Blackwall Dock, near to the premises in which the oil was
being boiled. My Father, during the most active part of the operations of
discharging and boiling, was in the habit of sleeping on board the ship;
and, at the time of the accident referred to, I, then a boy, happened to be
with him. Sometime during the night, we were all awoke by loud and fearful
shrieking, from the direction of the boiling-house. My Father, instantly
apprehending some accident there, jumped from his bed, and, just as he was,
flew up on deck and over the ship’s side, and in a few moments of time was
at the spot from whence the shrieks proceeded. The idea that had at once
flashed upon his mind was appallingly realized. One of the poor fellows,
engaged at the reducing of the blubber, was in the condition of being
dragged out of the boiling cauldron by his associate in the work!

My Father’s most powerful helping hand was opportunely available, and, with
the quickness of thought, he plunged the appalled sufferer into a large
cistern of cold oil and blubber, resting on the platform above the
copper,—a cistern, or “beck,” as it is called, out of which the contents
of the copper, after being boiled and emptied, were to be renewed. In this
most appropriate bath, the poor fellow was for a considerable time kept
immersed. My impression is that he was kept there until means were obtained
for his removal; and then he was conveyed, without further delay, to the
London Hospital. His life, notwithstanding the terrible severity, was thus
happily saved. My Father’s conduct was highly commended and applauded by
the medical staff of the Hospital, both for his discernment of the best
treatment, perhaps, which could have been administered, and for his so
promptly giving the sufferer the advantage of it.

The cause of this appalling accident, was, I believe, the breaking of the
staff of the stirrer, which the night-watch over the boiling was required
to have continually in motion, to prevent the “finks” (the cellular
substance of the blubber) sticking to the bottom or sides of the copper
when boiling. By the sudden failure of the staff, against which he pressed
his shoulder, he was projected forward, but, providentially, not so as to
fall headlong,—his effort to recover himself so far succeeding as to cause
him to plunge feet foremost, whilst he sunk, on attempting to reach the
shelving side of the copper, up to the waist in the horrible bath!

I yet remember, young as I then was, the return of the debilitated but
happy sufferer, after his discharge, “as cured,” from the Hospital. The
man, whom I had known familiarly as a stout, lively, good-natured fellow,
was now reduced into a mere shred—a poor, pallid creature, an almost
skeleton of a man! But his ultimate restoration, I believe, was quite
complete. He knew and appreciated the wisdom with which he had been
treated—he felt and acknowledged that to my Father, under Providence, he
owed his life.

SECTION III.—_The Dandy Sailor; or, “Fine Tommy.”_

In this connection, whilst now story-telling, we may perhaps, as fittingly
as elsewhere, introduce a little record, very often told by my Father, for
enforcing a moral lesson in respect of a species of folly which we often
witness, and from which some of my young readers, peradventure, may not
find themselves entirely devoid.

If the sacrifice of personal comfort to the tyranny of fashion appeared to
my Father a great absurdity; much more did the risking of health for the
indulgence of personal conceit in dress, or the braving of severity of
climate, inadequately clothed, from the vanity of singularity in hardiness,
seem to him as the very summit and extravagance of folly.

It was in support of his views on this particular subject, when conspicuous
instances of such folly happened to come before him, that my Father was
wont to tell, as an impressive warning, the instructive story of “Fine

_Fine Tommy_, who had acquired this appellation by particularity and almost
dandyism of dress when at sea, was a smart and well-looking youthful
sailor, who had shipped himself with my Father in one of the voyages in
which he commanded the “Dundee.” His personal conceit, so unusual with the
thoroughbred sailor, was nevertheless associated in him with such a measure
of activity and seamanlike acquirements, as to save him from that ridicule
of his associates, which in any other case would have been excessive, if
not intolerable. Whilst the temperature of the weather was but moderately
severe, his appearance on deck in a smart light shore-going jacket, exposed
him to little damage beyond the playful salutations of his
comrades,—salutations which he was wont good-humouredly to return by
speaking with indifference of the hitherto experienced cold, and ridiculing
the feminine weakness of a premature muffling of the person with
pea-jackets, huge boots, comforters, and mittens.

During most of the progress of the ship northward, Fine Tommy continued
successfully and proudly to brave, as I have just intimated, the gradually
increasing cold, and that without material inconvenience or damage. But at
length, when the region of ice had been some little way penetrated, the
previously prevailing southerly or temperate wind happened to shift during
the night to the northward, which, with a fresh blowing gale, brought a
rapidly lowering temperature, approaching the zero of the thermometic
scale. The ship soon became covered with ice, and a chilly penetrating
“frost-rime” powdered the hair, or (as in some cases adopted) the rough
wigs of the sailors. Before Fine Tommy’s watch was called,—for there were
usually three watches in the whale ships, affording eight hours below
alternately with four upon deck,—the extreme change, almost from a
bearable frostiness to the greatest severity of cold, had taken place. He,
incredulous of the influence as well as unconscious of the change that had
taken place, came up in his usual clothing, a thin jacket, light shoes, and
uncovered hands. Now jeered by his watch-mates as to his perception of
cold, he determinately faced the chilling blast, renewing his bravadoes of
indifference of feeling even to the then prevailing severity. This lasted
during his two watches for the day. All hands besides were muffled up in
every species of warm clothing, whilst Fine Tommy still walked the deck and
performed his various duties with no other protection against the really
Arctic severity of cold than aforetime.

On the calling of the watch the following morning, however, Fine Tommy did
not appear. The next day, too, he was absent from his station. When his
turn came to take the helm he was not there. Enquiry was made, and my
Father found, as he had well predicted, that Fine Tommy was ill, and
obliged to keep his bed. Day after day, and week after week, passed over,
and the absent one was still unseen. Even _months_ passed over until the
voyage, which had been prospered with splendid success, was approaching to
a close, so that the attainment of a temperate latitude and a return of
warm weather had begun to cheer our northern adventurers with the prospect
of a speedy realization of home enjoyment, when, like the hybernating
insect revived by the genial influence of the summer sun, Fine Tommy was
also resuscitated; and the long prostrate and once foolish defier of the
Arctic climate appeared again upon deck to breathe the restorative air as
it came pure from the grand repository of the atmosphere, instead of the
defiled and mixed vapours of the ’tween decks of a whale-ship.

The lesson thus impressively taught was often read in my hearing; the
application, in some cases, possibly, might be intended for myself. If one
was seen wading, as it were, in mud with a pair of light shoes inadequate
for defence either against cold or wet,—the admonition or remark was ever
prompt, “it would be well to mind Fine Tommy.” If a fashionable “dandy”
coat, in the days of dandyism, were worn in the severity of winter; if a
dress insufficient for protection or warmth were, by either sex, observed
to be worn; if the outside of a coach were mounted without an adequate
covering, or a ride in an open carriage undertaken with only the
habiliments usually worn in walking, the monition became natural, as the
moral was apt,—“to remember Fine Tommy.” Whenever, too, I have myself
remarked the analogous folly, every where, indeed, more or less observable,
of risking health or abandoning personal comfort to _appearance_ or
_fashion_, the moral of this very lesson has constantly been forced on my
recollection, tempting to the relation of the story, in order to the more
impressive effect of the warning,—“Remember Fine Tommy!”

SECTION IV.—_Unfortunate Voyage, and Adventure in the Greenland Ices._

One of my Father’s voyages in the Dundee, and but one in the various ships
he commanded for a period of upwards of a quarter of a century, commencing
with the year 1792, proved a failure. The failure, however, arose from one
of those incidental circumstances of climate, on the one part, and neglect
of a principal officer, on the other part, which no human foresight could
have anticipated, or human skill or diligence have remedied, after the
perilous character of the ice-entanglement became clearly apparent.

This misadventure occurred, singularly enough, when I happened, though only
a boy of ten years of age at the time, to be of the number of the souls on
board. On the invitation of my Father, who had landed from his ship in
passing Whitby, on his progress northward, to take leave of his family, I
had gone off with him, designing to return by the pilot boat, to see the
ship. I was astonished with what I saw; I explored with unmixed delight
every accessible compartment of the cabins and store-rooms below, and
conceived an irresistible desire to remain where I was, and go out on the
voyage. At length the call of the pilots for “Master William,” as the day
advanced to its close, put my desire to the test of practicability. For a
while I remained silent below, and when silence was no longer likely to be
available, I contrived the child-like device of hiding my hat, which, on
ascending the companion ladder bare-headed, I let it be understood I could
not find! My Father having noticed my delight, and interpreting rightly the
little device, remarked to the pilots,—“Don’t mind him; he will go along
with us.” A mother’s anguish, however, who loved me with the tenderest and
most ardent affection, flashed into my mind. It forced utterance in the
expression,—“But what will my Mother say?” The reply, curiously enough
regarded as being consolatory, sufficed to allay my scruples,—“She will
love you better when you come back!” The pilots still urging haste in my
embarkation, as the boat was thumping heavily against the ship’s gangway,
were at length made sensible of what they at first could not credit, that I
was to remain behind; and they set out for the shore in no small condition
of amazement, and with no slight feeling of sympathising embarrassment, on
account of the report they must yield to one, whom they sufficiently knew
as an anxious, susceptible, and affectionate mother!

But my own story must be here suspended, as it possibly may hereafter find
a place, if Providence yield me health and life for the undertaking, in the
series of the “Memorials of the Sea,” which, sometimes, I venture to
contemplate carrying on.

       *       *       *       *       *

The leading incidents of this disappointing enterprise, I am enabled to
give with a satisfactory measure of confidence, from a record made of it,
many years ago, in a private autobiography, from which, mainly, I extract
the following details.

After touching at Lerwick (Shetland), for the completion of our
supplementary crew of _boatmen_, we proceeded northward towards the usual
whale-fishing stations. On arriving in sight of Spitzbergen, and finding
the western coast accessible, with a vein of clear water running
continuously along shore, we pursued the encouraging opening as far as the
northern headland of Charles Island, in latitude 78° 53′ N. Here, tempted
by the clear water eastward, we reached into a wide inlet near King’s Bay,
when, by a sudden gale coming on from the northward and north-westward, we
were driven, encumbered by ice of recent formation, and fragments of old
ice, into the opening betwixt the foreland and the main, where the ship
ultimately became closely beset in the _Bay of Birds_ of Barentz.

At first, the officers in general thought little of the entanglement,
expecting that any favourable change of wind would serve to release us. My
Father, however, watching the augmentation in the thickness of the ice, by
pressure and frost, received, very early, a more anxious impression. He had
observed, indeed, that the ice was not yet thoroughly sealed together and
fixed into an immoveable mass. For, periodically, he perceived, that some
relaxation in the compactness of the general body of ices took place, which
he ascribed to the action of a tide; and, on one evening, before retiring
to rest, when a fine breeze, favourable for promoting an opening seaward
had begun to prevail, he rather confidently anticipated some relaxation
which might be available for our escape at the period of the favourably
acting tide. In this expectation, he gave special orders to the chief
officer, who had formerly been a whaling commander, and ought to have well
appreciated the importance of the instruction,—to call him when the
hoped-for relaxation of the ice might take place. But, disappointingly
enough, he awoke of himself after a rather long sleep, when, as his watch
indicated, the time of favourable tide must be passed. He anxiously dressed
himself and hasted upon deck; but, whilst much slack and navigable ice was
yet visible at some little distance to the north-westward, all about the
ship was close and impenetrable. His enquiry as to whether the ice about
the ship had not also slacked? led to the mortifying admission, reluctantly
extracted, that the ice had indeed slacked very near to the ship, but, as
was intimated in excuse, “it was so _rank_ and difficult that nothing could
be done without ‘calling all hands,’ and much trouble; and he,” the chief
mate, “thought it would perhaps be more cleared away, by the hopeful
breeze, by the time the Captain turned out!”

The highly culpable folly of this conduct became too soon apparent to all.
For when an easterly, and then a southerly wind blew, without inducing any
repetition of the slackness that had been missed; when we found the whole
of the accumulated ices frozen into a solid field, without crack, or
opening of any kind to be seen from the mast-head; when we marked our
position as deeply embayed within the projecting headlands, and the ice
everywhere wedged up against and cemented to all the circumjacent
shores,—every one became anxious respecting the success of the voyage,
whilst some began to entertain the depressing apprehension that the ship
might possibly be detained throughout the winter!

The story of our distressing detention, with the measures adopted partly
for the employment of the men, but which became ultimately available, even
beyond our utmost hopes, for facilitating our release, is too
long,—consistently with the extent designed for this volume, and the
completion hereafter, possibly, of some personal records,—for being given
in detail. It may be sufficient, for our present purpose, now to say, that
after the endurance of the misery of an eight weeks’ besetment, release was
happily attained, and the Dundee was again free (but not until the season
adapted for the fishery had thus been all but wasted) to range through any
part of the ordinarily accessible ocean.

Our course being directed towards the north-west, we soon fell in with
ships, and learnt that the fishery had been tolerably good, and that two or
three ships had already obtained almost full cargoes.

Shortly afterwards we met with fish, and all hands set forth in earnest
anxious pursuit. But they were, in fact, too anxious, and, in part,
discouraged by the idea that the season was about at an end. Their efforts,
in consequence, were ill directed or inadequately followed up, and only
mortifying failures resulted. Stimulated by the defects and failures of his
harponeers, my Father was induced to try the chase himself. Forthwith
taking his post at the bow of one of the boats, he soon gave evidence of
his superior efficiency. He “struck” whale after whale to the amount of
three; but not being adequately supported by the other boats, one of the
first of these escaped from the harpoon, under circumstances such as, he
considered, should have led to its capture. Excited by this failure, he
changed boats, in one of the other cases, after the fish, under the first
harpoon, had reappeared at the surface; and, as the harponeers generally
seemed heartless and inert, he changed again, after fastening another
harpoon, until he had planted no less than three or four harpoons, in the
same fish, with his own hands!

The season, however, soon came to a close, and these two whales, with a
dead one which was also discovered by himself, constituted the whole of the
Dundee’s cargo in this trying year,—a cargo yielding only five-and-forty
tuns of oil, yet amounting, after all, to nearly two-thirds of the general
average of the Greenland fishery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding this serious abstraction from the general average of his
five years’ adventures in the Dundee, my Father’s general pre-eminence
was, in the issue, still maintained. During these five voyages, ninety-four
whales were captured, and an amount of 812 tuns of oil brought to market.
The yearly average, _inclusive_ of the year of unavoidable failure, was no
less than 18·8 whales, producing 162·4 tuns of oil, besides the fair
proportion of whalebone, sealskins, etc.

Compared with the fishery from Hull and Whitby, and, as far as my materials
go, elsewhere, this result was considerably beyond that of any other
Greenland whaler. With respect to the Hull average for the same period, the
Dundee’s superiority was in the ratio of 162·4 to 77·5 tuns of oil, or more
than two to one. In comparison with the success of any other individual
ship, the Dundee still stood at the head of the list,—the nearest approach
in Hull being that of the Ellison, a ship commanded, during four years out
of the five, by the same enterprising and talented officer, Mr. Allan, as
we had occasion to notice, so favourably, in a former comparison. The
Molly, Captain Angus Sadler,—a hardy adventurous and able commander, who,
in subsequent years, became chief amongst his competitors from
Hull,—obtained, during my Father’s command of the Dundee, the next highest
amount of cargoes,—the total, in the five years, being 689 tuns of oil.
The Egginton, Wray, (one voyage under another captain) obtained, at the
same time, 508 tuns; the Symmetry, Rose, 481 tuns; the Fanny, Jameson and
Taylor, 460 tuns; the Manchester, Matson, 417 tuns, etc.;—the Dundee’s
cargoes, as has been shewn, being, in the same period, 812 tuns.

But, besides these comparisons, in all respects so favourable, we may again
venture, up to the end of eleven years of consecutive adventures, to take
the severest test of competition; viz. a comparison betwixt the Dundee’s
cargoes, and that of the select cargoes, for the five corresponding years,
of the most prosperous Greenland-man, from Hull, of each year. And under
this amount, being 806 tuns of oil, the Dundee is found still to stand the

SECTION V.—_Successful Stratagem in War._

An incident of a very stirring and exciting nature occurred in the very
outset of the unfortunate voyage just referred to, which I here take
occasion of introducing, as very characteristic of my Father’s tact and
cool self-possession.

A day or two after leaving the coast of Yorkshire, from whence I had myself
embarked,—the weather being fine with a brisk and favourable wind, and the
ship going steadily and swiftly under her ample and well-trimmed
sails,—all hands were set to work, my Father superintending, in clearing
the ’tween-decks of a variety of stores hastily taken in, and confusedly
scattered about, in order to make all snug and secure for the North-Sea
passage. So much were all hands, men and officers, engrossed by this
important labour of clearance and order, that, some how or other, the
“look-out” had been for awhile neglected, when, suddenly it was announced,
by a voice calling out from the deck at one of the hatchways—“a ship
bearing down close upon us!”

It being a time of war, and the North Sea abounding with ships of war and
privateers of the enemy, the announcement produced an instant suspension of
the work going on, and drew universal attention to a circumstance which
might possibly involve the safety of life and property in the ship.

My Father’s quick eye, and sure telescopic glance, discovered at once the
characteristic marks of an enemy, and vessel of war. She was bearing down,
steering easterly, exactly so as to intercept our track, but not on any of
the courses usually steered either for England, France, or Denmark. Already
she had approached within a little more than a mile of our position, and so
that in about a quarter of an hour we must be within hailing distance.

With the promptness and coolness characteristic of the Dundee’s Commander,
measures for self-defence, and skilful strategy, were arranged and progress
commenced. These measures, I conceive, are worthy of some particular

His habit, it should be observed, was to endeavour to anticipate, in quiet
contemplation, the various contingencies pertaining to his enterprise,
which, peradventure, might be considered as not unlikely to happen. The
meeting of an enemy, therefore, was one of those incidents that had been
regarded as by no means improbable, and the dealing with which, by what
ingenious tact or device might be available, had been well considered. For
to _fight_ with an enemy, where stratagy might answer for an escape, was
justly held as most unwise, where success in conflict could gain no
prize;[F] where failure must issue in loss of property, voyage, and
personal liberty; and where either failure or success must probably involve
a loss of life, for which there was neither call of duty to risk, nor
possible compensation to justify.

Fortunately, had the extremity required, he was in a position calculated
for a brave defence. The Dundee was as well armed as she was well manned,
carrying twelve guns, eighteen pounders, I believe, with a crew of betwixt
fifty and sixty men. The guns were already loaded, and in every way fit for
immediate service.

The stratagy, in this case, contemplated, was to give, to the threatening
assailant, the surprise of a concealed armament, and the impression as of a
designed deception in the class of ship assumed.

And fortunate it was, that there were circumstances connected with the
qualifications of the crew, and the construction of the ship, admirably
adapted for the experiment proposed. For contemplating, as we have
intimated, such a risk as that now threatening him, my Father had selected
out of the variety of hands offering themselves for the voyage, two men of
rather unusual qualifications,—one, who was an adept in beating the drum,
the other “in winding a boatswain’s call.” These qualities, amongst
seafaring men, being almost peculiar to classes employed in vessels of war,
induced a preference, in respect to them, over others, though the drummer
might by no means be equal to some who were rejected, in regard to general
seamen-like attainments.

The construction of the ship, too, was well adapted for the execution of
the proposed surprise, being “deep-waisted” with a high quarter-deck, and
having her guns entirely below, with no outward indication, at a distance,
of either ports or armament.

On the first alarm, the hands, with one accord, had begun to swarm up on
the deck, but their retirement was promptly commanded. The men required for
the guns were sent to their quarters, with orders to make all ready for
action, but to lift no port. The hands above, whilst requiring to move
about, were kept as much as possible on the leeside of the deck, where,
from the heeling of the ship and the enemy’s windward position, they were
in sufficient concealment. The _drummer_ and _boatswain_, now most
important elements in the plan, had their special instructions, whilst the
crew thus became generally sensible, by means of the orders given, of the
ingenious device of their commander, so as to be well prepared to give to
it its utmost impression.

Short as the time was,—the coolness of the commander being communicated to
the men, so as to relieve the urgent haste from any embarrassing
confusion,—all arrangements had been completed before the enemy came
within hailing distance. At that period (as _apparently_ from the first),
everything visible on board the Dundee indicated an unconcerned quietness,
and utter unconsciousness of danger from the stranger’s approach. The men
on deck were laid down flat on their faces. My Father coolly walking the
quarter-deck, and the helmsman engaged in his office of steering, were the
only living beings who could be discerned from the deck of the assailant.

Without showing any colours, in answer to our English ensign waving at the
mizen-peak, the stranger came down to within short musket-shot distance,
when a loud and unintelligible roar of the Captain, through his
speaking-trumpet, indicated the usual demand of the nation or denomination
of our ship. A significant wave of my Father’s hand served instead of a
reply. The drum beats to quarters, and whilst the roll yet reverberates
around, the shrill sound of the boatswain’s pipe is heard above all. And
whilst the hoarse voice of this officer is yet giving forth the consequent
orders, the apparently plain sides of the ship become suddenly pierced; six
ports on a side are simultaneously raised, and as many untompioned cannon,
threatening a more serious bellowing than that of the now astonished
Captain’s trumpet-aided voice, are run out, pointing ominously toward the
enemy’s broadside!

The stratagem was complete; its impression quite perfect. The adversary
seemed electrified. Men on the enemy’s deck, some with lighted matches in
hand, and plainly visible to us by reason of her heeling position whilst
descending obliquely from the windward, were seen to fall flat, as if
prostrated by our shot; the guns, pointed threateningly at us, remained
silent; the helm flew to port, and the yards to the wind, on our opposite
tack; and without waiting for answer to his summons, or venturing to renew
his attempt on such a formidable looking opponent, he suddenly hauled off,
under full sail, in a direction differing, by some six points, from that in
which he had previously intercepted our track!

SECTION VI.—_Extraordinary Exploit in “cutting-in” single-handed, a
moderately-grown Young Whale._

The tardy formality with which the “flensing” of the whale was
accomplished, irrespective of the particular magnitude of the animal to be
despoiled of its blubber and whalebone, was frequently a source of great
annoyance to my Father. The number of cuts, with the placing of straps, and
attachment of tackles, had become—like the skeleton forms issued by public
offices—an established system; and, cumbrous as it was, with respect to
fish of smaller growth, it was made generally applicable to all. The effect
of this was, that whilst the largest sized fish would be flensed in about
four hours, the taking in of one of the fourth, or sixth part its size
would occupy nearly half as much time. An hour and a half at least, but
more frequently two hours, at that period of the fishery, would be expended
upon one of the ordinary small-sized whales. The poor little carcass,
indeed, was encumbered by the number of the harponeers (to whose province
belongs the fixing of the tackles and the cutting away of the blubber)
congregated upon, or about it, whilst flensing.

As every instance of remonstrance, whilst failing in producing any
improvement, regularly induced unpleasantness of feeling, my Father was at
length provoked to put forth a challenge, to which his officers were able
to offer no possible objection, except the indication, by look and gesture,
that they would derive some recompense for the rebukes passed on them, by
certain and signal failure. His adventurous challenge was, that, with the
assistance of only one-third part of the available crew, he would go on a
fish, and send it in, single-handed, in _half the time_ occupied by the
four or six harponeers with the help of all hands!

Opportunities for the experiment being at this time abundantly afforded, he
forthwith prepared himself for this trial of skill. The available
hands—that is, excluding cook, steward, surgeon, etc.—were usually about
forty-five or forty-six in number. Out of these he took, not a picked set,
but only two boats’ crews, with their supernumeraries, according to their
existing classification, comprising about sixteen men. These he appointed
to their several stations about the deck; eight to the capstan, four,
perhaps, to the “crab” or “winch,” and the rest to manage the
“tackle-falls,” to cut up the blubber and heave it into the “flens-gut,” or
receptacle for it below. The two boys who were appointed, on the usual
plan, to hold the boat in which he was to stand whilst flensing, were,
perhaps, extra; but this I forget.

Previous to the commencement of the experiment, the preparing of his
cutting instruments, viz. a “blubber-spade” and “blubber-knife,” became
matter of personal and special attention. The _spade_, (an instrument with
the cutting part about eight inches broad, and used in the manner of the
“hay-spade,”) was not merely ground to a fine edge and then sharpened with
an oil-stone, but the sides (ordinarily left black with varnish, or
encrusted with rust,) were reduced by the grindstone to a bright and smooth
surface. His blubber-knife (an instrument with a three feet blade and three
feet straight handle) was, in like manner, carefully ground, sharpened, and
polished; so that these instruments, presenting the least possible
resistance, from the adhesion of the metal to the blubber, when in use, the
muscular strength of the flenser might, in no respect, be uselessly

All things being ready, and the men duly distributed, the time was noted,
and my Father, single-handed, as I have said,—except as to a man to put in
the straps[G] and attach the tackles, that he might not have occasion to
wet or grease his hands,—proceeded to the trial on his apparently
presumptuous challenge.

The plan he had previously determined on, and which subsequently became
very common in the flensing of small fish, was the following:—

The under part of the head (always being placed upward for flensing), with
the jaw-bones, “lips,” and tongue, is first attached to the capstan tackle,
and, being separated as it is hove up, is taken on deck altogether.
Meanwhile the skull, with the whalebone and upper part of the head,—which
is brought in sight, clear of the water, by the strain hove upon the other
section or lower jaw,—is secured by the second tackle, and speedily made
to follow its companion in the ascent to the deck.

One of the fins, having a strap previously put round it, is next hove upon,
till (the fish being free to roll over, so as to adjust its position to the
direction of the strain,) it is well raised upward, and, the blubber
annexed to it, put upon the stretch. The fin is then easily “unsocketed,”
and the blubber on the seaward side being cut across beyond it, it becomes
the attachment for heaving up a long slip of three or four feet in width,
and extending, with its upper part, high above the level of the deck. As
this ascends, (the fish meanwhile spontaneously “canting” outwardly from
the ship), the other fin appears in sight, and, being embraced by another
strap, is, in its turn, hove up by the “fore-tackle” correspondently, as to
its further progress, with its fellow. When the attachment of the second,
or fore-tackle, rises to about the level of the deck, the blubber-slip is
cut across, just above the place of that attachment, and the separated
portion, being lowered down upon the deck, is cut up, with singular
celerity, into square lumps, adapted for being easily thrown about by the
“pick-haak” men; and these, as rapidly as they are cut out, are made to
disappear through a hole in one of the main-hatches into the flens-gut

The moment the first, or “after-tackle,” is released, it is overhauled
again over the ship’s side, and, a fresh strap being fixed in the
continuous slip, (which, to preserve its continuity, is cut spirally from
the carcass,) the progress of the operation goes on, without ceasing, till
the whole superficies of blubber is removed.

The progress in the case referred to must, doubtless, have been regarded
with strange feelings of astonishment and mortification by the severely
rebuked harponeers; for, on the completion of the operation, the watch
being again appealed to, the adventurous challenge was found to have been
triumphantly vindicated. Instead of the work being effected, as challenged
to be done, in half the time which had been expended by thrice the force in
the number of men, it was found to have occupied but little more than a
third part of that interval. With all hands to help, the time frequently
expended by the harponeers in flensing a small fish had been nearly two
hours; my Father, with a third part of the crew, had, single-handed, done
the same thing in almost forty minutes!

       *       *       *       *       *

This extraordinary feat of tact and strength was first accomplished, I
believe, during my Father’s command of the Dundee; but the feat was
repeated, under my own observation, on board the Resolution, and the
tardiness of a burdensome system, still too prevalently acted upon by the
officers, was similarly rebuked. To the extent, at least of a saving of
_one-half_ the time spent in the operation by the harponeers, the bold
experiment, single-handed and with but one-third of the crew, was
successfully repeated.

My Father’s plan of proceeding, in this extraordinary feat, is worthy of
notice. His constitutional habit, as I may term it, of a sort of
_deliberate celerity_ was here the characteristic of his progress. But no
time was wasted. As fast as the men on deck could heave-up the blubber, the
blubber was freed to their hands. Every change of tackle, or place of
working, was so managed as to leave no interruption in the labours of his
men. As he never himself ceased working, he took care by judicious
preconsideration, that they should never stand idle. On the contrary, he
had his own part always in advance of their province, so that, in order to
keep pace with him, they were stimulated to the utmost practicable degree
of activity. The capstan, whilst the tackle was slack, or the strain
slight, actually spun round, whilst the hands on it, “shortening in on the
bars,” ran at their utmost speed. An instinctive spirit was infused into
every department; for no section of the men liked to be behind, so as to be
in the humiliating position of hinderers of the others.

Though the master-hand was accomplishing so much in so short a time,—more,
in this species of work, I may be bold to say, than any other man ever did
before or since,—there was no appearance of hurry. His sharp and
finely-polished _spade_ with which he chiefly worked, seemed to meet with
no resistance from the animal textures against which its edge was directed.
Instead of cutting downward through the blubber a spade-breadth at a time,
as most usually was done, he would run the instrument in a direction
obliquely horizontal, so as to separate the slip then heaving up from the
general envelopment of the blubber, for a yard or two in extent, at a
single stroke or thrust of the instrument. The slight attachment of the
blubber to the muscles of the carcass could then be usually torn away (with
a touch underneath with the spade when incidentally needful to be cut) by
the force with which the slip was being raised by the mechanical engines in
motion on the deck.

Thus proceeding with calm and quiet self-possession, and with unceasing
perseverance, few cuts being made but at the best advantage, and no stroke
of his cutting-tools being struck in vain, the work proceeded with such
despatch as to accomplish the extraordinary results we have just


[E] Up to the end of the eighteenth century my Father’s successes, with but
rare exceptions, were at the head of the list of the whole of the northern
whalers, both of Davis’ Strait and Greenland. But about this period Captain
Marshall, in the Davis’-Strait branch, began to take the lead of all
competitors there.

[F] Some of our readers may require to be informed, that an ordinary
merchant ship, not having “letters of marque” for acting as a privateer,
can have no claim on any property which the bravery of her captain and crew
might take from an enemy. So that, in the event of capturing an assailant,
as might have been possible in the case referred to, the hard blows and
damage must be borne by the merchantman, whilst the prize would fall due to
the first ship of war incidently met with, or otherwise to the sovereign or
public officers at home.

[G] _Blubber-straps_ are usually made out of whale-line, but some of
thicker cordage, and consist of a length of about two fathoms for each
strap, the ends of which being spliced together, constitute a flexible ring
of rope. A hole being cut through the commencing end of the slip of blubber
to be raised, the strap, being of course double, is inserted therein, and
the two ends, brought together from the opposite sides of the blubber, are
looped over the hook of the tackle, and so the attachment for heaving up
made complete. It may here be added, that the tackles for flensing are
fixed aloft to a strong rope, along which the blocks are distributed,
extending (but not very tightly stretched) from the mainmast-head to that
of the foremast, called the _guy_. The considerable height of this
attachment of the tackles (or, technically, “speck-tackles”) permits a long
slip of blubber to be hove up in continuity, whilst the distribution of the
blocks thereon admits of the two tackles being worked either jointly or
separately without interference.



SECTION I.—_Continued Prosperity:—the Results, comparatively and
generally, of this fresh Enterprise._

The change of command which, in the progress of our Memorials, comes now
under consideration, was brought about by two circumstances;—the great
inconvenience of a family residence at Whitby, whilst my Father was sailing
from, and returning to, London; and the incidental formation of a
co-partnery at Whitby, which my Father was invited to join, for the
building and equipment of a new Greenland ship from that port.

The advantages, in point of comfort and convenience alone, were such as to
render the change in ship and port to which this scheme pointed, highly
desirable; and most earnestly and imploringly was the proposition of the
parties at Whitby supported by my long discomforted and pining mother. But
the conditions submitted to my Father were equally acceptable. It was
designed that the co-partnery should consist of the holders of eight equal
shares, of 1000_l._ each; that Messrs. Fishburn and Brodrick, the designed
builders of the ship, should hold two shares, five other inhabitants of
Whitby, as arranged among themselves, each a share, making seven, and my
Father the eighth. His wages and perquisites, too, on the liberal and
advanced scale as allowed him by the Messrs. Gale, were to be continued.

Without difficulty, and with but little loss of time, the arrangements were
all completed, and the owners of the Dundee, who were justly esteemed for
their honourable and generous dealing by their Captain, had due and
respectful notice given them of the intended change, and were easily made
sensible of the propriety of it, as far as regarded his personal

In the “Resolution,” a fine, substantial, and in all respects well-built
ship of 291 tons burden, was comprised the property of the new co-partnery.
The cost of the ship, with casks and all other stores, was 6321_l._ 3_s._
4_d._ The provisions for the voyage, together with insurance, and the
advance wages usually paid to the men, amounted to 1470_l._ 4_s._ 1_d._
Thus the total expenditure in preparation for the voyage was 7791_l._ 7_s._
5_d._, leaving a small balance out of the sum subscribed in the hands of
the managers.

The proceedings on board the ship, with the results of this adventure, for,
and during the whole time of my Father’s command (a period of eight years),
are in considerable detail before me, being comprised in a regular series
of journals kept by myself. For young as I was when the Resolution
commenced her career of adventure—being then but thirteen—I was
regularly installed, and by no means unwillingly, in training for the
whale-fishery as a profession, as one of her apprenticed hands.

On the 21st of February, 1803, the ship was launched, and duly “christened”
the “Resolution;” and on the 21st of March, she left her moorings in the
harbour and proceeded to sea. We made the ice on the 2d of April; on the
12th were in latitude 78° 40′ N. in sight of the “Middle Hook of the
Foreland;” and on the 18th “struck” and killed our first whale. The 20th
was a prosperous day, for so early a period of the season, adding two more
large fish to our commencing cargo. The 29th, however, was very different,
being a day of mortifying adventure. We had obtained shelter, during a gale
of wind, under the lee-side of a “field,”—a large and continuous sheet of
ice extending beyond the reach of vision from the mast-head,—where several
whales, (chiefly old ones, with their cubs or calves,) were met with. Four
of them—comprising two old and two cubs—were harpooned during the day.
The little ones, of but trifling value, were captured; but both the
“mothers” escaped. One of them had been so energetically assailed as to
receive four harpoons,—a condition from which the capture generally
results,—when she made a most determinate advance beneath and beyond the
ice. She ultimately escaped, carrying away with her a spoil (a painful and
deadly boon, indeed, to herself) of a harpoon, with twelve attached lines,
comprising a total extent of 1440 fathoms, or about a mile and two-thirds,
in measure! The next day, however, yielded us some compensation, in the
capture of another _large_ fish, a result altogether not a little
inspiriting, where the attainment of an amount of six whales, before the
expiration of the month of April, was a circumstance rarely, if ever,
realized before. Our thirteenth fish was killed on the 8th of June; but,
though we persevered about ten days longer, and had well nigh captured
another fish, in which two harpoons were struck, we made no accession to
our not full, but, as the season went, most satisfactory cargo.

In looking over my journal for materials for this abstract, it was
singularly interesting and pleasant to the feelings to find, under date of
the 27th of June, when the good ship Resolution was on her homeward
passage, a written recognition, which I remember to have received from my
Father, of the Divine hand and Providence in respect of the successes
obtained. It is comprised in this brief but appropriate Collect:—“O most
merciful Father, who of Thy gracious goodness hast crowned our labours with
success, we give Thee humble and hearty thanks for this, Thy special
bounty, beseeching Thee to continue Thy loving kindness unto us, that we
may enjoy the fruits of our labours to Thy glory and our comfort, through
Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

The proceeds of this first voyage in oil were 163½ tuns: the _Whitby_
average of the same year (exclusive of the Resolution’s cargo) being only
62 tuns, and the greatest catch among the rest of the Whitby fleet being
eight whales, yielding 139 tuns of oil. Hence, with relation to the average
of the port,—six ships,—my Father’s success stood in the ratio of 2·8 to
1, or nearly three to one!

But subsequent voyages—the next three especially—proved regularly and
increasingly prosperous; the cargoes of the years 1804, 1805, and 1806,
yielding a produce of rather more than 600 tuns of oil, derived from the
capture of eighty-seven whales. The entire proceeds of my Father’s
enterprises in eight voyages, in this successful ship, amounted to 194
whales, yielding 1617 tuns of oil, or an average of twenty-four whales and
one-fourth, with 202 tuns of oil per voyage!

His competitors from the same port, during the whole of this particular
period, comprising 7·8 ships a year, obtained, on the eight years’ average,
only sixty-eight fish, yielding 646·4 tuns of oil; whilst the united
cargoes of the most successful ship of each year, amounted but to 138
whales, 1228 tuns of oil; this select amount being exceeded by nearly a
third part, by my Father’s individual catch; and the general average being
exceeded in the proportion of two and a half to one!

But it was hardly to be expected that, whatever might be my Father’s
peculiar superiority, as compared with the general body of competitors, no
one, out of many hundreds of different commanders, should be found
successfully to emulate, within a long series of years, even his
extraordinary enterprise.

Yet, closely as two or three individuals commanding in the Greenland
fishery might approximate, or occasionally exceed, his successes, it is
remarkable that no one, within any of the periods of the Henrietta, the
Dundee, or the Resolution, or within the whole period of nineteen years,
ever went beyond him!

My Father’s most successful competitor, within the longest period of
cotemporary enterprise, ending with the year 1810, was Mr. Angus Sadler, of
Hull. From 1796 to 1810 (fifteen voyages) they fished in the same region,
the Greenland Seas, my Father obtaining 2693 tuns of oil, and Mr. Sadler
2539. In the eight voyages of the Resolution, however, the competition was
singularly close; Mr. Sadler bringing home the produce of only two whales
in number less, and the exact same quantity (1617 tuns) of oil. But, in
this comparison, my Father was at great disadvantage from the inferior size
of his ship,—the Aurora, of Hull, which Mr. Sadler commanded in several of
his most prosperous voyages, being of the burden of 366 tons, and the
Resolution only of 291. This difference of capacity was very important,
enabling Mr. Sadler, in two or three different voyages, to bring home a
quantity of produce exceeding by some sixty or seventy tuns, altogether,
the capabilities of stowage of the Resolution,—which ship, five years out
of eight, having been what was called “a full ship,” might, no doubt, have
obtained some greater cargoes, and, by consequence, a better position in
the competition, had her capacity been larger.

It falls not within my present province, nor within the scope of my
materials, to set forth the considerable successes of some other leading
fishermen at the time of the Resolution’s enterprises. I may merely notice,
that Mr. Kearsley, of the Henrietta (trained under my Father), was the most
successful of the other _Whitby_ captains; and that some enterprising men,
commanding ships out of _Scotland_, began now, or soon after this, to take
a high position in the prosperous class.

The only other _general_ competitor of my Father’s yet to be named, whose
enterprises were cotemporary during the whole or greater part of his
career, from 1792 to 1810, was Captain John Marshall, of Hull. Within the
_western_ field of Arctic enterprise—the whale-fishery of _Davis’
Strait_—Captain Marshall stood pre-eminent. His successes there
corresponded very much with those of my Father in the fishery of Greenland;
and the total results did not materially differ. Whilst my Father’s
successes yielded, within the period referred to 2728 tuns of oil, Captain
Marshall’s, though deprived of the chance of one year’s adventure in which
he remained on shore, amounted to 2691 tuns. Had the full nineteen years
been completed, his successes would, probably, have been the greatest. But
the _services_, and the qualities required for them, differ so materially,
as not to permit, in fairness, of an arithmetical comparison of the _mere
quantities_ of produce. For success in the fishery of Davis’ Strait, at the
time under consideration, was a far more easy undertaking than in that of
Greenland. This fact is satisfactorily derived from a comparison of the
average success in the two fisheries. In seventeen years out of the
nineteen under review, (there being no ship from Hull to Davis’ Strait
during 1792 and 1793,) the average success of 313 Greenland whalers from
Hull was a produce in oil of 84·4 tuns, whilst the mean success of the
Davis’ Strait fishery, 190 ships, was for the same period
124·3,—indicating, most clearly, that the latter fishery then afforded a
better chance of a cargo than the fishery of Greenland, in the ratio of
very nearly three to two![H]

Hence, my Father’s success, when taken on the most extensive comparison
with the fishermen of his day, stands decidedly conspicuous and
pre-eminent. And this pre-eminence, it should be noted, was not only in the
amount of the cargoes he obtained, but also in the shortness of the time
occupied in his voyages; for whilst the general average of Greenland
voyages of this period (as indicated, at least, by the extensive enterprise
from the port of Hull,) comprised four months and nineteen days, the
average of my Father’s absence from sailing to his return was, in the
Resolution’s eight voyages, only three months and twenty-eight days!

       *       *       *       *       *

It may not be uninteresting to some of our readers to be informed, before
we conclude this section of results, of the actual realization in gross
amount of value, and in profits divided amongst the partners, in this
prosperous whale-fishing adventure. This, by reason of a complete abstract
of the payments and receipts during the greater part of the Resolution’s
career, I am enabled to give with perfect accuracy:—


Expenses on First Voyage, including Outfit            £    _s._ _d._
     of the Second                                   4008   18    4
  Ditto for Second Voyage.                           4476    2    6
  Ditto for Third Voyage                             4679   11    5
  Ditto on Fourth and Fifth                          9216   14    6
  Ditto on Sixth                                     5823   14    4
  Ditto on Seventh                                   4729   11    8
  Ditto on Eighth                                    4722   11    5
                                                  £37,657    4    2


Proceeds of Cargo and Government Bounty
     (20_s._ per ton on the ship’s measurement,
     or 291_l._) on the First Voyage                 6864   10    5
  Ditto, Second Voyage                               6568    1    0
  Ditto, Third                                       6287   10    9
  Ditto, Fourth and Fifth                          10,428    7   11
  Ditto, Sixth                                       7157    8    6
  Ditto, Seventh                                     8275   14    6
  Ditto, Eighth                                      8195   16   10
Amount of Receipts                                £53,777    9   11
  Ditto Expenses                                   37,657    4    2
Clear Profits                                     £16,120    5    9

This balance I have stated as “clear profits,” because, in consequence of
the perfect state of repair of the Resolution, the large augmentation in
the quantity of her stores, and the increased cost of shipping, the value
of the ship (augmented by the charge of outfit for the ninth voyage in the
table of expenses) was scarcely at all deteriorated. Hence we derive for
the clear profit on the original advance of 8000_l._,—a capital still
existing,—during eight years continuously, the sum of 2015_l._ 0_s._ 8_d._
a year, or 25 per cent per annum.

       *       *       *       *       *

With this result, the enterprises of my Father in the Resolution, of Whitby
(influenced, in a considerable degree, I believe, by a kindly and parental
consideration for myself), concluded. For on the very day on which I
completed my twenty-first year, he, at a Board of the co-partnery,
specially summoned, formally resigned his command; and, on the same
day,—the earliest at which, by reason of age, I could legally hold a
command,—I was unanimously elected his successor.

Whilst thus retiring from the command of the Resolution, my Father was by
no means disposed to abandon his stirring and highly remunerative
occupation. At the very period of his retirement, indeed, the opportunity
of a new and satisfactory connection was, incidentally by my own medium,
opened to him, of which he forthwith availed himself.

But before entering on the relation of his subsequent enterprises, we
shall proceed, according to our usual plan, to adduce a few incidents or
circumstances, illustrative, mainly, of character or talents, which are
associated with this period of our memorial history.

SECTION II.—_Treatment and Recovery of a half-frozen Seaman._

The peculiarity of the conflicts, and the severity of the climate,
encountered by the Arctic whale-fishers, yield a characteristic novelty
both to the incidents and accidents of their adventure. So that, although
the incidents of whaling enterprise may, for the most part, possess such
general characteristics as to admit of some classification among
themselves, they are at the same time novel, when considered in relation to
the results of ordinary adventure; whilst, every now and then, an accident
happens, or a circumstance is met with, which, taken on the broadest scheme
of comparison, is found to be _sui generis_.

Such incidents afford special occasions for the exercise of inherent
science and originality of intellect in those who have to deal with the
results. And, I may add, every accident or occurrence of this kind, which
claimed my Father’s directing consideration, was, in all cases that I ever
heard of, dealt with in a manner consistent with a condition of mind of
inexhaustible resources in itself.

Several cases of this description happened, whilst I was myself present,
during my youthful training as a seaman and a fisherman. The one referred
to, in the title of this section, was specially interesting.

Whilst the ship Resolution navigated an open lake of water, in the 81st
degree of latitude,—something like the Baltic Sea in magnitude,—during a
keen frost and strong northerly wind, a whale appeared, and a boat put off
in pursuit.[I] On its second visit to the surface the boat came up with it,
and a harpoon was securely struck. A convulsive and terrible heave of its
ponderous tail, which succeeded the wound, struck the boat at the stern,
and by its reaction projected the boat-steerer overboard. As the line
attached to the harpoon drew the boat instantly off, the crew threw some of
their oars towards him for his support, one of which he fortunately seized.

The auxiliary boats, as well as the ship, being at a considerable distance,
and the fast-boat being rapidly drawn away from the imperilled seaman, the
harponeer, under the instinctive impulse of humanity, cut his line with the
view of yielding him succour. But no sooner was the sacrifice made than, to
the great mortification of all in the boat, it was found to be useless;
for, in consequence of the loss of oars, some being thrown towards the
sufferer, and some broken or carried off by the stroke from the whale, the
boat had become altogether unmanageable!

A considerable time elapsed before the headmost auxiliary boat reached the
place: happily they were so far in time that the object of their anxious
solicitude still floated, stretched over an oar, whilst retaining but
little sensation.

On his arrival at the ship, being hauled up the side by ropes, with
judicious help from his comrades in the boat, he was found to be in a
deplorable condition. His clothes were frozen like a casing of mail, and
his hair was consolidated into a helmet of ice.

My Father, having ordered him to be taken into the cabin abaft, gave his
immediate attention, in guidance and precedence of the ship’s surgeon, in a
system of treatment which, under the circumstances, was, perhaps, the most
judicious that could have been adopted.

Whilst placed on the cabin floor, where the temperature was moderate, but
not high, the frozen clothing of the patient was forthwith removed, and his
person dried with warm towels, and then industriously rubbed, by two or
three hands at a time, with well heated coarse cloths and flannels. There
being great exhaustion, and all but a suspension of the circulation,
stimulating cordial was administered as he was able to take it.

When the process of friction had been continued until sensation began to be
restored, and the general faculties in some measure awakened, he was
covered with dry under clothing, and placed, amid an abundance of warm
blankets, in my Father’s bed. After a few hours’ sleep he awoke
considerably resuscitated, but complained of a painful sensation of cold.

Some warm and nourishing diluents having been given to him, he was
conducted to his own berth, and, with the view of removing his distressing
feeling of chilliness, two of his comrades were requested to accompany him;
where, one on each side, their abundant healthful circulation and animal
heat, proved most effective in ministering, restoratively, to these defects
in the condition of the patient.

The shock on his constitution, however, was greater, with respect to his
apparent early recovery, than was anticipated. He was so far restored,
within a few days, as to be able to engage in his usual duties; but months
elapsed before his countenance exhibited its wonted glow and appearance of

SECTION III.—_Judicious Treatment of Men having suffered from severe

The Resolution was moored to a flat sheet of ice, surrounded by streams and
open drift ice, on the 30th of April, 1808. It blew fresh, and the weather
was cold. In the evening a whale was harpooned, which ran out about the
length of a mile and a half of line from the fast-boat. Other harpoons, and
several lances, were then struck, and no doubt remained with the pursuers
but that it would speedily become their prize. But this expectation
signally failed. A tremendous and convulsive throe of the whale produced an
extraordinary effect: one of the lines, and also a harpoon were broken, and
the other two harpoons drawn out simultaneously, when, to the astonishment
of the beholders, the imagined capture was found, in one moment, to have
become free. It dived and escaped!

A storm meanwhile had commenced. Five boats, with their crews, remained for
the getting in of the long length of line run out from the first fast-boat,
whilst two, myself in one of them, returned to the ship, in aid of the
inadequate residue of men—for any nautical operation—left on board.

Thick snow set in, the storm increased, and the ship, being fast to a
_light_ piece of ice, drifted rapidly to leeward, and away from the boats.
We became distressfully anxious about the safety of the absent men. At one
the next morning the mooring was cut, and the ship being got under way, was
worked on short tacks to windward, in the supposed direction of the boats.
At three we were rejoiced by the appearance of three of the boats, which,
with crews unharmed, we got safely on board. The remainder, they reported,
might be expected by the same track in half an hour.

Cheered by this hope, we continued making every effort to get the ship to
windward. But, long after the time of their expected return, no other boat
appeared. Hour after hour of anxiety and distress passed over whilst we
navigated, off and on, among troublesome and dangerous ices. Guns were
fired occasionally, and at every unoccupied interval all hands were engaged
in the one object which sympathy urged—the straining of their eyes in the
hope of discerning the boats of their comrades through the obscurity of the
snow. The obscurity was not attenuated; the storm raged, and the sea
increased, whilst a foreboding gloom appeared in every countenance,
darkening and keeping pace with the dismalness of the night. The loss of
one-half of the Ipswich’s crew on a similar occasion was yet fresh on our
minds, and low whisperings of expressions of fear, and shuddering
responses, indicated a prevailing dread of a similar fate to their

At length, happy moment! a little after eight in the morning, a sudden
shout of joy announced the discovery of the boats, and in a few minutes we
had the undescribable satisfaction of seeing them alongside. Aided by those
on board with ropes and hands, they were all, twelve to fourteen in number,
received safe on board, and welcomed with the most heartfelt greeting by
their truly exulting shipmates.

The natural desire and effort to get below, into a place of genial warmth,
both with the shivering sailors and the sympathising people on board, was,
with most judicious consideration on the part of my Father, restrained. The
men had been suffering from more than a twelve hours’ exposure, without
food or adequate extra clothing, to cold and storm,—the thermometer, which
had been as low as 13 degrees, being still 8 or 10 degrees below
freezing,—and many were partially frost-bitten, and some stiff and
half-paralyzed with the severity of the weather. In this case, he wisely
considered, that sudden transition to the warm galley, and proximity to the
blazing fire of the cabouse below, might be productive of dangerous,
possibly of fatal, effects. He felt it was needful for their safety that
means should be _previously_ adopted for restoring, in some measure, the
arrested or retarded circulation.

Stimulants, in a case of this kind, moderately administered, were
considered advantageous; but friction, and muscular exercise, much more
essential to safety. Those, therefore, whose hands or feet, or faces or
ears, had become _white_ (like the appearance of a tallow candle) by the
utter abstraction of the blood, had their frost-bitten parts actively and
perseveringly rubbed with the open hands of others, and the worst cases
with snow, until the endurance of the severe, or even agonizing pain
usually attending the recovery, when the repelled circulation begins to be
restored in the affected parts, had removed the risk of _mortification_
taking place. Others were variously _exercised_, as they were able to make
muscular efforts of themselves, or with the assistance of others. Those who
were capable of the exertion were made to run about the deck, chasing, or
being chased, one by another. And soon apprehending, as most of them did,
the wisdom of the measures adopted, they not only entered into them
heartily, but those who had been the most affected, as soon as their limbs
obtained power for the exertion, were ready to join, or to attempt to join,
in the exercise and race, until some glow of warmth, and consciousness of
restored sensation, had taken place of the pre-existing chilliness or
insensibility. They were then, under strict cautions against approaching at
first too near the fire, suffered to go below; and, happily, under this
wise and effective treatment, all escaped without any permanent injury.

A stout Shetland boy had well nigh fallen a sacrifice to the severity of
the exposure. He expressed a great desire, whilst abroad in one of the
boats, for sleep, and earnestly entreated the men, who objected to the
indulgence of the inclination, to allow him to compose himself for half an
hour, “for he was sure,” he said, “that he should dream of the situation of
the ship.” After a few minutes’ repose, which they were induced to permit,
he was awoke, but with difficulty, and it required considerable attention
on the part of his companions to keep him from a sleep which, under such
circumstances, they well knew must be the harbinger of death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Other instances of the happy exercise of good judgment in the treatment of
men who had suffered long exposure to cold and hunger, might have been
adduced had I particularly noted them. One other case, though of no real
danger, (occurring May 29th, 1809,) may be briefly mentioned, in which I
was personally a participator.

It was blowing a fresh gale from the north-east, with strong frost,
thermometer 20°, but the sea was not very considerable because of the
sheltering influence of surrounding ice. Two whales were captured; but one
of them dying at a great depth under water, had to be hauled up by the
united crews of two or three boats, which proved a tedious and severe
labour. We were absent from the ship from fourteen to sixteen hours,
without food or shelter from the inclement gale, sometimes lying inertly on
our oars waiting for the rising of the harpooned whales, or for the hauling
up of the sunken one to the surface; and sometimes we were engaged in
pulling about, hauling in lines, or in “towing” the dead fish to the ship.
By the time we got on board we were mostly in a state of considerable
exhaustion, and all were painfully suffering from cold and hunger.

My Father had considerately provided for our return. Instead of the
distribution of ardent spirits,—the measure universally resorted to at
this period, with the view of cheering and restoring the depressed energies
of any long-exposed party of adventurers in the boats,—a far better and
more effective provision had been made. A huge kettle of coffee was boiling
on the fire, which, with the usual supplies of bread and beef, was
distributed in ample quantity among the half-starved party now returning;
and a more grateful or more salutary instance of administered refreshment I
do not remember ever to have enjoyed. The heat of this beverage, supplied
as it was so liberally to all, had the most happy effect in aiding the
restoration of the animal heat, and of exhilarating without unduly
stimulating the depressed physical condition of the men. The case afforded
an admirable practical example of the correctness of the principles
generally asserted, in favour of simple drinks over spirituous or fermented
stimulants, by the advocates of “Temperance.”

SECTION IV.—_The Crow’s Nest._

The invention of the CROW’S NEST in the form now universally used by the
British Arctic whalers, and adopted generally by our discovery ships,
deserves, from its convenience, comfort, and importance, a special record.

For the safe and effective navigation of the Arctic ices, as well as for a
due watch being kept for the discovery of whales, an elevated position on
the mast, as a station for the directing or “look-out” officer, is
absolutely necessary. In seas covered over with numerous masses of ice, or
in positions where the navigation is at once encumbered, difficult, and
perhaps dangerous, it is impossible for the officer _on deck_ to perform
the duty, at all adequately, of directing the ship’s course and progress.

From time immemorial, therefore, the captains of whalers, or other acting
officers, have always been wont to take their station occasionally, and
when necessity required, at the mast-head, or rather on the main top-mast
“cross-trees.” For the benefit of a little shelter from the piercing
breezes in this exposed situation, some ships were provided with a canvas
screen of about three and a half or four feet in height, passed round the
sides and fore-part of the top-gallant rigging, from the top-mast
cross-trees upward. This, with a sort of wooden rail for a seat, extending
betwixt the aftermost shrouds of the top-gallant rigging, afforded the
_best crow’s nest_ hitherto made use of; a shelter tolerably effective when
the ship was sailing by or near the wind, but altogether useless when going
with the wind abaft the beam. It was not very safe either, as accidents
from sleepiness, or the giving way of the very inadequate seat, sometimes
happened. Besides, when top-gallant sails were set, this contrivance was
all but useless. But a far inferior sort of protection than this was in
frequent or ordinary use at the time of my first experience in the Arctic
seas. For years, I remember, we had nothing more for sheltering behind but
bits of canvas on either side of the top-gallant rigging and round the
top-mast head, without anything in front; and in some voyages still
less,—a slip of canvas bound round the head of the top-mast and heel of
the top-gallant mast, spreading some eighteen inches to two feet wide, and
perhaps three and a half feet high, being all that the poor officer had to
shield him from the most penetrating severity of the Arctic winds. Often
have I myself sat, when a little boy, by the side of my Father for hours at
a time, in this wretchedly exposed position, shivering with cold generally,
and with hands and feet frequently in severe pain, whilst he habituated me
in his superior practice of navigating amid dangerous ices.

The consequences of this deficiency of protection were,—that the proper
navigation of the ship was often neglected, the discovery of many whales
sufficiently within view from thence was prevented, and the success of the
adventure was much restricted.

The greatest boon, therefore, of modern times, ever given to the Arctic
navigator, it may be safely, I think, said, was my Father’s invention of
the _round top-gallant crow’s nest_. It was in May, 1807, I believe, in
which the first of these was built. It was placed, in the first instance,
at the top-mast head, but ultimately, when the invention became perfected,
it was perched, like a rostrum, on the head of the main top-gallant mast,
with nothing whatever above.

This structure, as most approved by the inventor, is about four and a half
feet in height and two and a half in diameter. The form is cylindrical,
open above and closed below. The frame-work of the cylindrical part is
covered with leather or canvas. The entrance is by a trap-hatch at the
bottom. Arrangements are made for the depositing (sheltered from the
weather) of various pieces of useful apparatus, such as speaking-trumpet,
telescope, signal-flag, perhaps a rifle for shooting narwals, compass, etc.
For the more effectual shelter of the observer when standing up, a moveable
screen, two or three feet wide and adding a foot to the elevation, is
placed on the windward side, and shifted whenever the ship is tacked, or
the course materially changed.

The protection thus obtained from the chilling action of the wind is most
perfect. Not a breath of air stirs within this elevated rostrum. The
observer has free use of all his limbs, and, being safe from the
possibility of falling, has nothing to disturb him in giving his entire
attention to the navigation of the ship and the look-out for whales. Being
perched, too, on the most elevated part of the mast, there is nothing to
interfere with his view of the whole area of the circle of vision, having,
in clear weather, a diameter of twenty to twenty-two geographical miles. So
supported, and so effectually protected, with the means of sitting, and
space for moving about when standing, there is no particular hardship, in
tolerable weather, in remaining at the mast-head for some hours together.
Often has this elevated position been occupied by my Father, (and often by
myself, too,) during ten or twelve hours, and sometimes fourteen hours or
more, within the twenty-four.

This invention has not only added unspeakably to the comfort and security
of the officer at the mast-head, but has, no doubt, contributed greatly
both to the safety of ships navigating the Arctic ices, and, in respect of
its position for “a good look-out,” in no inconsiderable degree to the
prosperity of their adventures.

The attainment of this position during storm and snow, or when the rigging,
as not unfrequently happens, is covered with glassy ice, is the chief
matter of discomfort, difficulty, and risk. The frigid northerly blast
feels as if blowing quite through and through you. The ascent, by the
ordinary rigging and ratlings, conducts you to about three-fourths of the
elevation of the top-mast; you then step into midships, upon a series of
battens extending betwixt the top-mast backstays; and, finally, when
approaching the cross-trees, you proceed up a vertically stretched ladder
of ropes and battens,—ropes on the sides, and battens as steps,—until you
make lodgment within the crow’s nest by the trap-hatch, which, being then
put down, forms a part of the close and secure platform.

SECTION V.—_Extraordinary Celerity in preparing an empty Boat for active
Service in the Fishery._

In the celerity with which he accomplished complex or tedious operations
pertaining to seamanship or the whale-fishery, my Father stood quite
unrivalled. We have elucidated this characteristic in a former section, in
respect to the flensing of a young whale with extraordinary rapidity, and
we now adduce another example of a more incidental nature.

During the outward passage towards the fishing-stations, the boats,
designed for the fishery, are carried out in an entirely dismantled
state,—some being stowed away upon deck, and some, perhaps, below. On
reaching the ice it is usual to suspend a couple of boats, or more, by
their davits, at the quarters of the ship, to be ready for sealing, or any
occasional purpose. But the whale-lines and other fishing apparatus are not
wont to be put into them until the ship reaches, or approaches near to,
some of the accustomed fishing-stations.

The boats of the Resolution were in this second condition on the 11th of
April, 1808, when the ship, in her progress northward, had reached the 71st
degree of latitude,—a parallel in which whales were not expected to be met
with. It happened, however, on the occasion alluded to, (as I find it noted
in my log-book, kept at the time,) that a whale made its appearance very
near to the ship. It was in the morning, early, whilst my Father was yet in
bed; but he was not called, because, in the unprepared condition of the
boats, the officer of the watch, and indeed all the people on deck,
considered the pursuit of it to be utterly impracticable.

My Father, however, as little trammelled in judgment by ordinary usages as
he was in the habit of being guided by popular ideas of the limits of
practicability, was much annoyed by the officer’s assumption, which had
prevented his being called. “It was no use disturbing you,” the officer
pleaded, “as there was not a boat in readiness for the fishery.” “But a
boat might have been got ready,” was the confidently asserted rebuke. That
this could have been done, however, within the short period of time in
which a solitary whale might be expected to remain within sight, seemed to
the officers as utterly impossible; for whilst a whale, under such
circumstances, would seldom be found to remain within sight for half an
hour, the preparing of the boats with lines, harpoons, and other requisites
for the fishery, would, as they conceived, occupy several hours.

My Father maintained, however, the practicability of a boat being fitted
out, in a manner sufficient for efficiency, in the course of a quarter of
an hour; and, when the idea was unhesitatingly objected to as an
_impossibility_, he undertook to prove his assertion. A boat then hanging
at the larboard quarter, empty, except as to oars, he selected for an
experiment, and undertook, with the help only of the watch upon
deck,—about sixteen hands,—to have that boat ready for active service
within the space of fifteen minutes.

To the due apprehending of this unprecedented undertaking, it will be
proper to describe what is ordinarily deemed needful for fitting out a boat
for the harpooning and capturing of the whale. The loose furniture of oars,
harpoons, lances, etc., present no particular difficulty; but the supplying
of an adequate quantity of lines, and placing them in a condition for being
safely run out, is, as ordinarily practised, a long and tedious operation.
The lines, it may be mentioned, are taken on board from their winter
storehouse, in coils made up by the ropemaker, in the shape of a short
drum, each coil weighing a little more than a hundred-weight, and measuring
120 fathoms in length. They are so coiled, in regular layers, commencing
with that of the slender square or cylindrical centre on which they are
wound, that they may be either unwound, by reversing the original motion
of the coil from the exterior, or by taking up the inner end left loose in
the open centre, the line may be drawn out thence whilst the coil remains
at rest. For the lodgment of the lines, when deliberately preparing for the
fishery, they are _unrolled_ from the cylindrical mass, and coiled in
compartments in the boats as they come off; but as this could not be done
under a period of some hours, the running of the lines out of the centre of
the coils was the plan alone available for my Father’s object.

Whilst every article of the requisite apparatus was yet in the place of its
ordinary lodgment,—harpoons and lances being in the places appropriated
for them in the ’tween decks, and whale-lines in the gunroom,—the time for
commencing was noted, and my Father proceeded, as I very well recollect
witnessing, to the proof of this new feat of activity and management.

To the several hands of the “watch,” now gathered round him, was distinctly
apportioned his part of the undertaking; first of all in bringing promptly
on deck the requisite quantity of whale-lines and fishing apparatus, and
then in placing them fit for service. Several lines (I think about four in
number) were stowed away in different compartments of the boat, with the
interior cavity of each upward. The inner end of the line of one of the
coils, in the most favourable position for running, was rapidly “spliced”
to the “foreganger” of the harpoon by my Father, whilst the officers about
him were set to the splicing properly together of the alternate outside end
of one coil with the inner end of another, so as to constitute an
appropriate running series. Everything being accomplished, and the boat got
ready for lowering, the time was again noted, when, to the astonishment of
all on board, the interval expended was found only to have been _twelve_

The rebuke of the officer of the morning watch, thus experimentally
justified, occasioned, very naturally, a desire to question, if questioning
could in any one particular be maintained, the effectiveness or safety of
the preparations thus hastily made. And it _was_ questioned whether lines
so disposed, for being run off the ropemaker’s coils, would be safe to
trust to their running clear in the case of actual service. This matter was
soon settled by a most satisfactory experiment. As a whale when harpooned
does not go faster away than a man can run, it was proposed to run off the
whole of the lines out of the boat by hand, in order to prove that the
arrangements that had been made were adequate, both for ordinary service
and safety.

The decks were forthwith cleared, fore and aft, and the men arranged to run
with the line, from the boat to the forecastle, in unceasing succession,—a
service which they performed, after the word was given to start, with a
hearty goodwill and their utmost activity; and the experiment was admirably
successful. The whole of the lines went out of the boat, by the usual
notch over the stem, without hitch or failure of the slightest kind
interrupting their free progress from beginning to end!

SECTION VI.—_Tact and Bravery in attacking and killing a
dangerously-resisting Whale._

It was no uncommon event for my Father, in case of any difficult or
dangerous enterprise in the fishery, to take part himself in the adventure.
The special case now referred to will illustrate at once his practice and

On the 29th of May, 1807, a whale was harpooned by one of our officers. It
descended to some considerable depth, but speedily returned. On its
reappearance, it evinced an uncommon degree of irritation. Its motions,
whilst making but little progress a-head, were vehement and
incessant,—rolling itself quite over, or, in an oscillating manner, from
side to side; throwing its huge tail into the air, or flinging it with
fearful impulse right and left, and so keeping the surface of the sea
around it in perpetual commotion and foam. The display of its fins and tail
was so terrific and dangerous, that few of those in command of our boats
were hardy enough to approach it. But, under this violent action of the
fish, and the inaction of our men, the risk of losing the hoped-for prize
became imminent. This being evident to my Father, who, with discerning and
watchful eye, had all along been viewing from the mast-head, with intense
anxiety, the exciting scene with his glass,—he made the signal, and in a
manner indicative of urgent haste, for one of the boats to come to the
ship. In brief space,—the fish not being far distant,—he had personally
embarked on his dangerous enterprise.

On reaching the scene of action, where the wounded monster was still
exerting its excited energies in aiming blows at any approaching boats, or
thrashing the sea into a foam,—our accomplished whale-hunter quietly
assumed a station, in parallelism, nearly, with the direction of the
animal’s extended length, and within a few fathoms of its broadside. The
boat-steerer,—as the custom is,—he guided by the motion of his hand; but
the boat’s crew, being previously urged to exert a tremendous spring on
their oars when he should decide on making his attack, were to await his
verbal command.

A favourable pause, succeeding a terrific display of action and power, had
been watchfully discerned by my Father, when, giving the signal to the
boat-steerer to sheer towards the fish, and, simultaneously, the emphatic
order to the men,—“Give way, my lads; give way!”—he was in a moment
placed within reach; and then, at long arm’s length, whilst leaning over
the boat’s bow for distance’ sake, he plunged his well-sharpened harpoon
deep into the writhing creature’s side. Its usual vengeance-slash of its
tail was made harmlessly; for the order to “back off,” had been so
instantly and effectively obeyed, that the boat was beyond reach before
this ponderous engine of motion or destruction could be thrown out.

Rebuked, in a measure, by this daring attack of their commander, as well as
encouraged and stimulated by its success, one of the hitherto hesitating
boats immediately followed for a similar object; but the officer commanding
it, not having the same tact, advanced incautiously, at an unfavourable
moment, and too far within the range of the enemy’s destructive members, as
to subject himself and comrades to a formidable peril. The tail of the fish
was again reared into the air, in a terrific attitude over the boat. The
harponeer, who was directly underneath, happily discovered his danger, and
leaped overboard; and the next moment the threatened stroke was impressed
with tremendous force upon the centre of the boat, which literally buried
it in the water!

Providentially, no one was hurt. The officer who leaped overboard, escaped
certain death by the prompt adventure. The huge tail (a member measuring
perhaps twenty feet in width, extending to a superficial area of about
eighty square feet, and weighing from one to two tons), struck the very
spot on which he had previously stood. The effects of the blow on the boat
were extraordinary. The keel was broken; the gunwale, and all the planks,
except two, were cut through; and it was evident that the boat would have
been completely divided, had not the tail struck directly upon a deep coil
of the whale-lines. The crew, succoured by the various boats lying around,
were all speedily picked up; but the boat was so thoroughly smashed as to
be rendered useless.

This alarming discouragement, with the crippling of their strength and
resources by the destruction of one boat and the withdrawal of another for
the conveyance to the ship of the drenched and shivering sailors, threw the
principal burden of the exploit of capture on my Father. For though other
harpoons, after some minor adventures, were struck, the actual killing of
this leviathan of its tribe was effected by himself.

Contrary to the usual habits of the Greenland whale, this individual,
instead of occasionally seeking the depths of ocean for its protection,
especially on receiving a fresh and painful wound, remained mainly at the
surface. Its natural energies, but yet little acted on by the exhausting
influence of the _pressure_ of water, were consequently very little
impaired; for the superficial wounds of harpoons produce no immediate
effect upon life.

Hence, the operation of lancing was yet to be effected, before there could
be any chance of subduing the still existing dangerous vigour. My Father,
as was his wont, proceeded next to this venturous undertaking. Again he
plants his boat in parallelism of position with that of his gigantic game.
Full of ardour and confidence in their leader, his boat’s crew are ready
for any effort or adventure which the daring or activity of man may
accomplish. The proper moment for the attack is waited for, and, when
seen, instantly improved. The boat, as a thing of life, springs, at his
signal, towards the side of the whale. The Commander’s long lance—six feet
in the iron, and four feet in the handle—is darted, at arm’s length, into
the writhing carcass, up to the very socket; and, before the fling of fins
or tail can reach, he has recovered a safe distance. The effect of the
wound in the vitals is speedily seen. The previous white steamy vapour
ejected from the lungs has become tinged with red; and nature’s powers, as
experience indicates, must soon decay. Convulsive action in the monster, as
stimulated by this inward stab, being at length suspended, the favourable
moment is again improved. Another lance,—darted in as quickly as the
stroke of the tiger’s paw,—penetrates, for the second time, the vast
viscera of the whale; whilst the active agents of the attack escape, as
before, unscathed. The deadly thrust is quickly repeated; and, as the
capability of exerting instant violence is diminished, the deeply stricken
lance is worked actively up and down whilst still within, so that every
movement effects an additional wound, and the work of death is the more
speedily and mercifully promoted. Thick jets of blood now issue from the
blow-holes, and the sea, through the wide space of disturbed waters, is
tinged by the overflowing streams; whilst boats, oars, and men, are thickly
sprinkled with the sanguinous dye. Lanced, now, on both sides at once, with
these formidable instruments of destruction, the dangerous energies of
this vast animal become soon overpowered, and it now yields itself
passively to its inevitable fate. One effort alone remains. The instinctive
impulse or spasm of expiring vitality,—like the brilliant gleam or
coruscation of the expiring taper, is expended in a series of tremendous
death-throes. The writhing body of the giant captive is now thrown into
strangely powerful action; fins and tail play with terrific violence,
tossing up huge waves, and dashing the sea, for a considerable circle
round, into foam. The prudent fishermen push off to a safe distance, and,
looking on with the solemnised impression of a spectacle at once wonderful
and sublime, leave the convulsions of expiring nature to expend themselves.
The vital energies are exhausted; the huge carcass, so recently perilous in
the energies of life, rolls, by the gravitating tendency of its formation,
on one side, and slowly the helpless fin rises to the surface of the water,
and inherent power of motion ceases for ever! Three hearty cheers from all
hands engaged in the capture, with the waving and “striking” of the “jacks”
displayed in the boats from which harpoons had been struck, announce to the
ship the happy issue of the conflict; from whence, in turn, similar
exulting cheers are heard loudly responding.[J]

We have remarked, in a foregoing chapter, on the economy in Providence, by
which the fiercest quadrupeds, under human tact and intelligence, become
subdued and tractable. Here, again, we are led to reflect on the economy
manifest in respect to the _hugest_ of the animal creation, whether on
earth or in the ocean, whereby all become subject to man, either for
advantageous employment, as to their living energies, or for purposes of
utility as to the produce of their dead carcasses.

The capture of the whale by man, when their relative proportions, as to
physical power and mass, are considered, is a result truly wonderful. An
animal of a thousand times the bulk of man, with a corresponding
superiority in strength, inhabiting an element in which man cannot exist,
and diving to depths where no other creature can follow, with the
capabilities, too, of abiding there for an hour together, is attacked by
man on its own ground, not only in the tranquil Pacific, but in the
boisterous north-western seas; not only in the open seas of the tropics,
but amid ice-bound regions around the pole; and in each region is
constrained to yield its life to his attacks, and its carcass a tribute to
his marvellous enterprise.

Why this result, with such disproportionate physical powers in conflict,
should not only take place, but prevalently follow the attack, is
satisfactorily explained on the simple principle of the Divine enactment.
It was the appointment of the Creator that it should be so. And this,
besides what we have already quoted from the sacred records of creation, we
have again, by the inspired Psalmist and elsewhere, declared. Hence, as to
the fact of the dominion of man over the inferior creation, Divinely
yielded, we have the authority of this adoring appeal of God’s inspired
servant:—“What is man, that thou art mindful of him!” “Thou madest him to
have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under
his feet; all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of
the air, and the fish of the sea, and _whatsoever passeth through the paths
of the sea_. O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the
earth!”—Psalm viii. 6-8. No doubt this striking psalm has direct reference
to the world’s Great and Divine Redeemer; but what herein is true of the
“Son of Man,” is also, in respect to the consideration of the Almighty for
man and his appointed dominion, true of men as a species. And so it
follows, that the monsters of the deep, as well as the wild beasts of the
earth, yield to this law of creation, that man should have the dominant

       *       *       *       *       *

The whale, thus adventurously subdued, proved a large one of its kind, and
a very valuable prize. Its special dimensions and produce, though not
noted, may be very proximately gathered from the record (always made in the
whaler’s journals) which we have of the length of the largest of the laminæ
of whalebone, viz. 11 feet 9 inches. According to the general averages, as
given in the “Account of the Arctic Regions,” (vol. i. pp. 449-478,) this
specimen would be about 56 feet in length, and must have yielded about 20
tuns of oil, with about 22 cwt. of whalebone. The value of the capture (oil
being _very low_ in price at the time) was about 500_l._; but the same
capture, in the years 1801, 1813, or 1817, when prices were _high_, would
have been worth no less than 1000_l._ to 1100_l._

SECTION VII.—_Remarkable Enterprise.—The nearest Approach to the North

The adventurous attempt to reach the _North Pole_, like that of the
“North-west Passage,” may be considered as an enterprise peculiarly
British. Of six voyages expressly undertaken for this object, up to the
time, and inclusive of, Captain Buchan’s, in 1818, there was no advance
beyond the 81st parallel. The highest latitude reached was by Captain
Phipps, in 1773, who advanced to 80° 48′. Captain Buchan’s farthest was
about 80° 34′. And up to the present day we have no account which can be
fully relied upon of any ship, discovery ship or whaler, having approached
within forty geographical miles of the high northern latitude reached by my
Father in the year 1806.

The Honourable Daines Barrington, indeed, in his discussion of the question
of the “Probability of Reaching the North Pole,” adduces a great variety
of instances of the advance of whalers to far higher positions of northern
latitude; but for the reasons stated in the “Account of the Arctic
Regions,” (vol. i. p. 42,) I consider the authorities from which Mr.
Barrington derived his information as not satisfactory. As to the
defectiveness in authority of _mere recollections_, or even of the notes of
ordinary observers, in respect of adventures of this kind, I have a curious
example in the “Account of a Voyage to Spitzbergen,” by a Greenland
Surgeon, who sailed in the Resolution professionally, on the very voyage on
which my Father made his greatest advance northward. The author, in respect
to this advance, thus states from his journal:—“May 28. Latitude by
observation 81° 50′. Sea almost clear of ice, with a great swell; weather
serene. Had our object been the making of discoveries, there was not
_apparently_ anything to have prevented us from going a good way farther to
the north; at least we did not perceive any large fields of ice in that

Now this is mainly erroneous. Instead of 81° 50′, the highest latitude
_observed_ was only 81° 12′ 42″, and the statements as to the nature and
position of the ice, are equally diverse from what those circumstances
actually were.

       *       *       *       *       *

My Father’s notable enterprise in the attainment, probably, of the highest
latitude that had ever been reached by man was made in the ship Resolution,
in the voyage of 1806. Occupying, young as I was, the responsible office
of chief-mate in the ship, I have the records of the adventure preserved in
my journal in all their essential or important details.

The entrance into the ordinary fishing-stations on the western side of
Spitzbergen was, on this occasion, occupied by ice of extraordinary breadth
and compactness. We entered it on the 28th of April, in the latitude of 76°
N., and, pressing northward at every available opening, we reached the
latitude of 77° on the 7th of May. Several ships were then in sight. On the
10th, a gale setting in from the S.E., we were enabled to make considerable
progress through the encumbering ice, and soon left all our associate
whalers fairly out of sight; and from that time until the 19th of June
(after we had retraced much of our progress southward) we never saw a sail.

Up to the 13th of May, indeed, there was nothing unusual, as to the
practice of my Father, in the nature of the adventure. But on that day,
being in latitude about 78° 46′, within sight of Charles Island, on the
western coast of Spitzbergen, he entered upon a new and apparently
dangerous enterprise,—the attempt to find, whilst the sea was apparently
_filled_ with ice, in this high latitude, a navigable sea still nearer the

The ice around was singularly compact, and, to ordinary apprehension,
impenetrable. Northward of us it consisted, as far as our view extended, of
scattered masses of heavy drift-ice, closely cemented into a compact body
by recently formed _bay-ice_. To attempt a passage herein, if such were
possible, must, in any case, be a most difficult and laborious undertaking;
but if the compact body were entered, and not successfully penetrated and
passed beyond, it might involve a risk, which a considerable fleet actually
fell into, of the loss of the fishing season by a helpless besetment. There
were indications, however, which my Father’s experienced eye alone
discerned,—of open water to the northward. The bright reflection of the
snow-covered ices in the sky, constituting the phenomenon of the “ice
blink,” most certainly pointed out the continuous encumbering of the
navigation for a considerable way in advance; but, when elevated to the
very top of the mast, he could perceive a bluish grey streak _below_ the
ice-blink, parallel to and skirting the horizon, which he deemed a sure
indication of “clear water,” _beyond_ the proximate “pack.” Yet this grey
reflection, or “water-sky,” might not be of any great extent? It might
arise from a transient vein of water capable of being obliterated on the
first change of wind? Were such the nature of the opening, it might prove,
even if reached, the more dangerous trap, as its position was more advanced

These considerations, of very serious import, were settled, happily, by
another sign which the watchful navigator got sight of. He discerned, for
short intervals, occasionally, a very slight motion, as he conceived, of
the water in contact with some of the large lumps of ice near the ship.
His careful scrutiny of the masses, under an anxiously watchful eye, at
length assured him that there _was_ a movement. Experience then certified
that the movement could only arise from a _swell_, and that the swell must
proceed either from the main ocean, southward, or else from some immense
interglacial lake, or what is technically called “a sea of water,”
northward. That it _did not_ come from the southern ocean, the distance to
which he had penetrated, and the unmixed brightness of the ice-blink in
each of the southern quarters, convinced him; and that it _did_ come from
the northward he was able to satisfy himself, by carefully observing the
points or places on the masses of ice where the alteration of level in the
water was the greatest; for this scrutiny sufficed to show, that the axial
position of the ice, which the motion pointed out, was in strict
parallelism with a wave coming directly from the place of the “water-sky”
to the northward.

Encouraged by these indications, he determined on leaving a position
recently attained, where the ship had some little room, and pushing, at all
risks, into the formidable body of consolidated ices still beyond him. This
arduous and adventurous purpose was commenced on the 13th of May, with a
moderate breeze (favourable to our advance) from the south-west. Little
progress was, indeed, then made; but laborious perseverance, rendered
effective by a consummate application of all the means and resources
available for our furtherance, ultimately yielded the desired, and I might
add, deserved success. During five successive days, a series of labours
were carried on of the most energetic and persevering description. The
transit through the intervening ice,—which consisted, as we have
intimated, of extensive sheets of bay-ice, with heavy lumps and masses
consolidated therein,—was urged by all the variety of aids that were known
to be applicable. These aids, beyond the available force of occasional
favourable winds, consisted in the cutting of tracks or channels with
ice-saws, where the thickness was too great to be broken, or, where
thinner, in breaking the ice under the bows by boats suspended beneath the
bowsprit, whilst their crews rolled them violently, from side to side, as
in “sallying;” in making canals, by well-laden boats being run across
extensive planes of ice, where their weight, with that of their crews,
might be sufficient to break the resisting surface; in “warping” through
encumbered channels, or amid lumps of more ponderous ices; in “towing” with
boats, or “tracking” by men on the ice, during calms, along any clear
channels of water which might have been opened out a-head; and, finally, by
_sallying the ship_, in aid of any of these resources, for widening the
space in which she floated, so as to leave her free to move, where room
might exist in advance. And here, I think it due to my Father to notice, in
regard to the sallying of the ship,—an oscillating or rolling motion
accomplished by the running of the crew, simultaneously, from side to side
across the deck,—that the application of this most important auxiliary
process was original with him, and, as far as I can remember, _now_ for the
first time employed. It is a process, I may add, which has subsequently
been adopted by fishermen and discoverers in general, as a mean which may
often be made effective when, _under all other means_ for the promotion of
progress, the wedged-up or ice-bound ship has become utterly immoveable.

The manner in which these various operations were carried on was laborious
in an extreme degree. Whilst the crew were allowed but limited and distant
periods for rest, my Father’s exertions were such as, except under the
pressure of circumstances involving the alternative of life or death, I
think I never saw equalled. Not only was he always at his post directing,
instructing, stimulating his men when progress was being made or attempted,
but often looking out when the hands in general slept, or continuing his
superintending toils, watch after watch, when portions of the crew had,
alternately, their intervals of rest. In that severe service, indeed, few
men could have so persevered. An extraordinary vigour and strength of
constitution enabled him to accomplish, in labours of this kind, for which
he had so high capabilities, what most men would have broken down in

His exertions and talents, as we have indeed anticipated, had their due
recompense in the most successful results of the enterprise. After passing
an icy barrier of extraordinary tenaceousness and compactness, as well as
of formidable extent, we reached a region, in the 80th parallel, of
incomparably greater openness than we could have anticipated,—“a sea of
water,”—to which we could see no bounds, but the ice we had passed through
on the south side, and the land to the eastward.

Under a brisk gale of wind and with fine clear weather, we were enabled
rapidly to explore through a considerable portion of its extent, the
immense interglacial sea upon which we had entered. It was found to stretch
east and west, or E.N.E. and W.S.W. more nearly, to an extraordinary
extent, and to be bounded to the northward as well as to the southward by
packed ice of undeterminable extent,—the two bodies of ice being ten to
twenty leagues apart. And within this vast opening, though not till after
the northern and southern ices had closed together and joined to the
westward, we made the principal part of our fishery.

On the 28th of May, being in latitude 80° 8′, we killed our first whale;
and within the next fortnight, and near the same position, sixteen others
yielded their lives to our harpoons and lances. On the 29th of June, only
two-and-thirty days from the time of our first capture, we completed our
cargo, being “a full ship,” with the produce of twenty-four whales, one
narwal, two seals, two walruses, and two bears. This cargo, by far the
largest, I believe, of the season, yielded 216 tuns of oil, and almost
eleven tons of whalebone. The fishery, in consequence of the peculiar
position of the ice, and the unusual inaccessibility of the best fishing
stations, proved generally bad. Judging from the returns in my possession,
comprising the successes of twenty-four of the Greenland whalers of that
year, I should calculate the general average at about fifty tuns of oil per
ship, or less than one-fourth of the Resolution’s cargo. The united cargoes
of nine ships, out of eighteen, from one port (taking, of course, the worst
fished ships), exceeded only by a few tuns the single cargo which resulted
from the singular enterprise of my Father.

       *       *       *       *       *

But we return to the grand exploration of a region which, as far as
conclusive records go, has not, before or since, ever been _navigated_.

In the first instance, after our arrival in this vast northern opening of
the ice, we proceeded to the westward, and, finding no whales, tacked, when
we had reached the longitude of about 8° W., in the parallel of 79° 30′ N.
We then stretched to the northward and eastward, proceeding, generally,
near to or within sight of the northern “pack,” for a distance of above 300
miles,—a direct uninterrupted progress in this high latitude quite
unparalleled. On the 23d-24th, at midnight, an altitude of the sun, below
the Pole, carefully taken with a fifteen-inch sextant by Ramsden, gave the
latitude 81° 12′ 42″. We continued our progress until (early the following
morning) we had reached the longitude of 19° E., when our latitude, as
estimated from the recent observation, was 81° 30′ N. This was our farthest
advance northward, in which we had gained a position within about 510 miles
of the Pole! Even then, the navigation was still quite open to the E.N.E.,
(true) and from that point round to the S.E.; so open, that, as we could
certainly gather from the appearance of the sky, we could have easily
advanced many many leagues farther in the direction we had so extensively

Our situation, at our farthest advance, was singular and solitary indeed.
No ship, no human being, it was believed, was within 300 or 350 miles of
us. Unquestionably, the crew of the Resolution now occupied the most
northern position of any individuals in the world! The sea began to freeze
and threatened our detention. We had made no progress in the fishery, nor
could we find any whales. The seamen began to be anxious, fearful, and
troublesome, so that abundant considerations urged our return to the
westward, where, as has been shown, our commercial enterprise became so
signally successful.

The accuracy of the determinations for the latitude we have stated, was
variously verified during our progress both ways. Thus, going
north-eastward, we observed, May 23d, at noon, in lat. 80° 50′ 28″; at next
midnight, as we have noted, in 81° 12′ 42″. At the succeeding noon, after
above eight hours sailing on our return, we again observed in 81° 1′ 53″;
and, still running south-westerly, we sighted at 8 P.M. of the same day
Hackluyt’s Headland, some forty miles still to the southward of our

We have spoken of this adventure as reaching to the highest latitude ever
attained, as far as we have conclusive records, _by sailing_. Captain
Parry, in his Polar attempt of 1827, indeed, went beyond my Father’s
greatest attainment a distance of seventy or eighty miles; but this advance
was wholly gained by travelling across the ice. For with all the advantage
of a later period in the summer, and the penetration of the loose ice by
boats, the _travelling_ had to be commenced on attaining the latitude of
81° 13′.

In referring to this attempt, one can hardly refrain from expressing regret
at the success of an expedition so energetically pursued being marred by
circumstances which, under better arrangements, might have been avoided.
For had the plan as originally suggested, about twelve years before this
adventure, been acted on, I have no hesitation in affirming, that _a far
greater advance_ northward, if not complete success, must have attended the
daring enterprise. It falls not, indeed, within the object of the present
Memorials to take up again a question which is discussed in detail in a
communication of mine to the “Edinburgh Philosophical Journal,” and
published in the number for July 1828; but it may suffice to say, that the
opinion offered just above has now the sanction of the gallant conductor
of the enterprise himself, who, in a letter published by the late Sir John
Barrow, in his volume of “Arctic Voyages” (p. 313) states, that “he
believes it to be an object of no very difficult attainment, if set about
in a different manner.” And, it may be added, a plan for that adventure is
given in the letter now quoted, substantially embodying the characteristic
points of my original scheme,[K] and, indeed, in no essential particular,
except the suggestion for spending the previous winter at Spitzbergen,
differing from it.

Under such support in the idea, from one of the best authorities amongst
those experimentally acquainted with the difficulties of the undertaking, I
am led, not only to an increased conviction of the practicability of the
enterprise, but to the entertaining of the belief, that the triumph is yet
in store for the daring and adventurous nation

    “Whose _flag_ has braved a thousand years,
    The battle and the breeze;”


    “The meteor flag of England”

shall wave upon the axial point of the world at the Northern Pole!

SECTION VIII.—_Devotional Habits, at Sea and on Shore._

At this period of my Father’s life, his religious views and habits had
become matter of personal notice, and observation with myself,—so as, in
certain respects, to enable me to speak of them from distinct

He always spoke of religion with reverence, and manifested a particular
regard for the institution of the Sabbath. He was strongly attached to the
Church, and attended its public services with most reverential and
undeviating regularity. In theological views, he inclined to those of the
Rev. John Wesley, of whose character and principles he was a great admirer.
Holding the system of that eminent servant of Christ as auxiliary to the
Church,—he became much attached to it, so that, for a considerable extent
of his life, whilst by profession a churchman, he was commonly the holder
of a pew in the old Wesleyan Chapel at Whitby, and, on the Sunday evenings
(after the services of the Church had closed) was a constant attendant, not
unfrequently being accompanied by some members of his family, at the
religious services conducted there.

This feeling and habit brought him into personal intimacy with the leading
Wesleyans resident at Whitby, and into friendly intercourse with the
officiating ministers of that body—to whom he always evinced pleasure in
showing kindness and hospitality.

It was in this connection that he made the acquaintance, and obtained the
friendship, of the late talented Mr. Drew, to whose brief memoir, published
in the “Imperial Magazine,” which he edited, I have been indebted for
several particulars in my Father’s early life, not elsewhere to be found.

His attachment to the Wesleyans, indeed, had a further expression than that
of often joining in their devotional services, and having much friendly
intercourse with their members; for it extended to several instances of
substantial good-will in the form of liberal contributions, as well as in
loans of money in aid of their chapels.

My Father’s distinctive regard for religion, and religious ordinances, was
still further indicated by several circumstances which I had the
opportunity of noticing as prevalent with him when at sea. Among these
stand prominently in my recollection, the habit of having Divine service
performed on the Lord’s-day, whilst I accompanied him during his command of
the Resolution of Whitby. On these occasions, the crew, summoned by the
tolling of the ship’s bell, were assembled in the cabin, where my Father
conducted the service according to the form comprised in the Liturgy of the
Church, and afterwards (for some voyages at least,) read portions, such as
he deemed suitable, from some devotional book, or latterly, with my
assistance as I advanced in years and experience, from a collection of
plain, practical, and valuable sermons, which had been presented to me,
for the purpose, by that amiable and eminent servant of Christ, the Rev. T.
Dikes of Hull.

In addition to these devotional habits, may be noted, his habitual reliance
on the guidance and protection of Divine Providence. This was variously
indicated; not only by the use of pious expressions, which he was heard to
utter when he was about adventuring on some perilous enterprise, or when he
had been enabled safely to wend his adventurous way out of imminent
dangers, but in respect to a habit, which he suggested to me, as fitting to
be copied, of commencing his sea-journal with an appropriate prayer,
supplicatory of the Divine guidance and protection, and of inserting at the
conclusion of a successful fishery, a fitting collect of thanksgiving. The
insertion of the latter, in a foregoing section, may claim the addition
here of the form, as modified out of a collect in the Liturgy, for the
former, which I find uniformly inserted in many of my own
journals:—“Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in this our intended voyage, and
make it profitable to us, particularly by disposing us towards the
attainment of Thy everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and
chances of this mortal life, we may ever be defended by Thy most gracious
and ready help, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

The journal from which this form is quoted comprises, too, a poetic attempt
by my Father,—an acrostic on my own name,—strikingly characterised by
sentiments of devotion, humiliation, and adoration.

Another practice, which he prevalently pursued when at sea, in addition to
the religious exercises already noted, was that of devotional reading when
in bed. I refer to this particularly, not only because it was a practice
that I had constant opportunities of observing, but because of the
admirable contrivance (applicable, I think, to the condition of many
invalids,) adopted for rendering this exercise and recreation convenient
and agreeable without the labour of holding the book, or the prevalent
exposure of the hands to the cold and often freezing temperature of his

The contrivance consisted in an open deal frame, about eighteen inches by
twelve inside, like a light flat picture-frame when empty, which, in my
Father’s case, was fixed by hinges to the bulkhead forming the inner side
of his bed, so as to be turned up, flat against the side, when not in use.
Being hung on an oblique plane, it became, when let down for reading,
parallel to the position of the reader with his head, face upward, lying on
a pillow. The distance from the face was adjusted to his own reading focus;
but could easily be altered by different loops on the string or wire, by
which the end opposite to that affixed by hinges was supported from the
planking of the deck, or ceiling, overhead.

The book designed to be used was laid, with the open pages downward, upon
the interior of the frame, where it was supported by three parallel wires,
the side wires receiving the margins of the book, and the centre wire the
middle. These wires for the adjustment of distance were made to slide, by
loops at their ends, upon two other strong wires attached longitudinally to
the interior of the frame, so that the wires could be readily adapted for a
book of any size, from a large quarto down to the smallest volume.

       *       *       *       *       *

The condition of my Father’s mind, in reference to this all-important
subject, I find particularly indicated in two of his letters, fortunately
preserved, which were written to me at the period embraced by the present
chapter, whilst, as a youth, I was attending the scientific lectures of the
University of Edinburgh.[L] I select, with slight verbal correction, two or
three passages:—

“It is a great pleasure to us to learn that you know the value of time
which you have so nicely divided to suit the lectures, etc.; but, at the
same time, beg leave to say, that we think you have made a mistake when you
say, ‘I intend, if all’s well, to go to Mr. Wood’s on Sunday, as, on that
day, I have no lectures to attend.’ My dear son, I know it is too much the
custom to visit and take our pleasure on the Sabbath-day, which ought to be
strictly observed, as the wise Author of all things has appointed. He has
appointed one day in seven to Himself, that we may rejoice therein and
serve Him, as he has commanded us in the Holy Scriptures, desiring us
therein to search for wisdom, (as Solomon sought, and was blessed with
riches and honour,) which your Bible, and _Sunday Lectures_, and your own
prayers offered up to God, will procure for you, and He will yield His
peace which passeth all understanding. We are very poorly off indeed if
there be no better things in store for us than those of this world, which,
compared to spiritual things, are all vanity and vexation of spirit.”

After a very gratifying notice of my “steady conduct,” followed by some
judicious paternal counsel and warnings, the section of the letter now
quoted thus concludes:—“Hearken to the advice of a Father, and walk in the
_laws_ of the _Lord_, which you will find the greatest comfort this life
can afford.”

The other letter, after a high commendation of diligence in the acquisition
of knowledge, and the citing, for one’s example, the names and enterprises
of many of the most distinguished scholars and philosophers of antiquity,
proceeds as follows:—“But after a man may (like these distinguished
examples) have studied all arts and sciences, until he be as great a
proficient as Crichton, yet, _without religion_, he will, at the latter end
of his life, have, with Sir John Mason, to exclaim,—_Seriousness is the
greatest wisdom, Temperance the best physician, and a Good Conscience the
best estate._ Therefore, my son, with all thy getting, get wisdom and
understanding, and never be ashamed to carry a pocket Bible about with you,
wherein you may find comfort in every state of life, and, at the same time,
you will feel a thirst for every useful science, which, I flatter myself,
you will not relax in pursuit of.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In conclusion of this sketch of my Father’s views and habits, religiously
considered, I may just notice, that, although his principles sometimes
failed under special temptations, as in the case of Sabbath-day fishing,
yet the feeling of reverence for the day appointed for rest and devotion,
was seldom without some manifestation. If whales were pursued when
incidentally seen on the sacred day, they were not sought for, nor were
boats sent out on watch, as on other days, nor was ordinary work ordered or
permitted to be done. During his latter voyages, however, his practice
became more decided in this respect; for the fishery itself, pressing as,
in a worldly view, its claims might seem, was suspended during the Sabbath;
and the day was generally given to the appointed objects of the gracious
and beneficent institution.


[H] The proportion of profit, it may be noted, did not equal that of the
relative produce obtained from the two fisheries, in consequence of the
additional expenses of the Davis’ Strait voyage, in respect of the time
absent, and of the higher premium required for insurance.

[I] Given in substance in the “Account of the Arctic Regions,” vol. ii.
page 360.

[J] It will here be proper to notice, that in the foregoing description of
this adventurous capture, we have taken occasion (in the way of
illustration generally) to fill up the picture, in regard to some
particulars of well known and prevalent experience, beyond the extent of
the leading facts and outlines, or memorial records, specially before us.

[K] This plan was first communicated to the Wernerian Society of Edinburgh,
and published in the second volume of its Memoirs. It was subsequently set
forth in a revised form, in the “Account of the Arctic Regions,” published
in the year 1819.

[L] From attendance on the instructive lectures and demonstrations of
several of the most eminent men of science and learning of the day, during
a considerable portion of two sessions, I feel it a matter of grateful duty
here, by the way, to say, that I obtained a larger measure of general
information and scientific knowledge than, within like period, perhaps, any
other existing instrumentality could have yielded.



SECTION I.—_The Greenock Whale-fishing Company._

In the summer of 1810, whilst I was on a recreative tour in Scotland, and
visiting at the house of a merchant in Greenock, my adventures and
experience in the northern whale-fishery became a frequent topic of
conversation. This was the means of eliciting, in respect to several
gentlemen with whom I had intercourse, a strong disposition to embark in
this, to them, _new_ department of commercial enterprise. My Father, at
this very time, being on the point of retiring from the command of the
Resolution, was informed of the circumstance, which speedily led to his
forming a new and satisfactory connection with some of the first men, in
character and position, in that enterprising port.

The associates, originally, were, I believe, George Robertson and William
Forsyth (of the house of Messrs. Robertson, Forsyth, and Co.), and David
Hyde, Esquires, who, with my Father, each holding equal, or one-fourth
shares, constituted the new firm of “The Greenock Whale-fishing Company.”
Of this association, my Father was appointed the managing partner, with
authority to purchase and fit out one or not exceeding two ships, for the
Greenland fishery, in which he was to have the select or principal command.

Under this arrangement my Father proceeded to London, and purchased two
ships, only one of which, however, the _John_, was ultimately appropriated
to this Arctic adventure.

The John was a Batavia-built _teak_ ship, 316 tons burden. To ships built
of this species of timber, almost indestructible in respect of ordinary
decay, my Father was very partial; and, in purchasing the John, though she
proved more expensive than was expected (having cost 12,700_l._ to sea), he
was not, as to this peculiar and important quality of her timber,
disappointed. She proved a fine ship, an admirable “sea-boat,” and, except
as to capacity, which was rather too small, fully answered his

No time was lost in entering upon this new and responsible enterprise. The
John sailed, on her first voyage, in 1811, the season next succeeding my
Father’s last command of the Resolution; and the result, as to its
successfulness, well satisfied the sanguine hopes of the parties associated
in the risk. The cargo obtained was sixteen stout whales, which yielded a
produce of 200 tuns of oil.

With this commencement, the residue of the adventure of this concern amply
corresponded. During the four voyages to which the co-partnery extended,
103 whales were captured, and a produce of 837 tuns of oil, averaging 209
tuns a season, brought into port. In the last voyage of the series, that of
1814, thirty-four whales, yielding 249 tuns of oil, were taken; being, as
to quantity, the best of all my Father’s adventures. The cargo of the
preceding year, however, was, on account of the very high price of oil, the
most remunerative. The gross receipts of that year, on account of a cargo
of 190 tuns of oil, and about ten tons of whalebone, amounted to the
extraordinary sum of about 11,000_l._!

The entire successes of this _fourth_ command of my Father’s, as thus
exhibited, not merely equalled, it is seen, but actually exceeded any one
of his former enterprises. Though his cargoes, however, were nearly double
the general average of the fishery, there were now competitors, in this
field of enterprise, who, _within this limited and particular period_,
equalled or even outrun him in the race. The only accurate comparison which
I am here enabled to make, is with respect to the successes of the Hull
fishermen. And here I find two,—Captain Joseph Sadler, of the Gilder, and
Captain Harrison, of the Walker,—whose enterprises during these four years
were highly productive; having yielded, as to the former, something more
than the John’s cargoes, and as to the latter, just about the same amount.
But in both these cases, it may be noticed, that the tonnage of the ships
was advantageously larger than that of the John.

Before proceeding with an account of the concluding enterprises of the
subject of these memorials, we have an incident to notice, which, however
trifling in itself, may, it is hoped, interest the reader, because of its
characteristic nature and somewhat amusing result.

SECTION II.—_“Cum au greim a gheibhthu.”_

The capacity for receiving knowledge, and the capability of applying the
knowledge possessed, are characteristics of very different qualities of
mind. The latter of these qualities is, _per se_, incomparably the most
important and valuable. For one man, with comparatively moderate
attainments, but having a facility in applying the knowledge he has
acquired, will be a far more useful member of society, and is capable of
becoming a more distinguished character, than another of vastly superior
acquirements in learning, who does not possess the faculty of application.
Thus one, like the skilful mechanician, may be able out of small variety of
materials to construct apparatus of indefinite extent of usefulness, or,
like the expert and talented smith, may be able to construct out of one
material every species of instrument (to use a sailor’s phraseology), “from
a needle to an anchor,” whilst another, though possessing almost unlimited
stores of materials, may have little capacity for bringing them out and
applying them to purposes of usefulness. The former case is that of one
who is of himself a practical artist in knowledge; the latter, of one who
requires others to bring out and apply the knowledge which he has been
careful to store up.

My Father, in a truly eminent degree, possessed the first of these
characteristics of mind. Whatever knowledge he might gain he was apt in
applying, and so applying, by the powers of a vigorous intelligence, as to
make the result strikingly original.

The incident which I here record, was, indeed, of itself, rather curious
and amusing, than important or specially useful. But in it we find
developed an order of mind which, if it possess but one fact of a
particular species, will, if occasion should ever require, or admit of its
being done, turn that one fact to account.

Whilst resident for considerable intervals of time in Scotland, during his
engagement with the Greenock Whale-fishing Company, my Father had been
thrown into intercourse with some of the Gaelic speaking population of the
district. Some of their phrases had struck him as being curious and
forcible, especially in relation to the economics of worldly policy. Among
these, one phrase in particular had been fixed in his memory—“Cum au greim
a gheibhthu;” which, being interpreted in Scottish idiom, he understood to
imply, “Haud,” or “Keep the grip you have got.”

The occasion on which this phrase, somewhat felicitously, was brought into
use, was the following:—Returning from one of his voyages to the
Greenland seas, whilst sailing from the port of Greenock, they had
stretched, under a prevalence of south-westerly gales, to leeward of the
northern shore of the island of Mull, forming part of the county of Argyle.
The wind not availing for convenient progress on the destined course, they
took shelter in Tobermory, near the head of the Sound of Mull. This port,
as a site for commercial enterprise, was brought into consideration (undue
consideration as the trial has proved) by the “Board of Trustees for the
Encouragement of the Fisheries,” a little more than half a century ago. The
place naturally attracting my Father’s attention, he went on shore with
little delay. He proceeded to the inn first of all, and indicated his wish
to the landlord to have dinner provided for him before he returned to his
ship. The interval he naturally employed in examining the place and the
neighbouring scenery.

During the time whilst he remained at the inn, and was in communication
with its inmates, he observed,—when ordering his dinner, and when being
waited on as he was eating, as also, subsequently, when he asked the cost
of the entertainment he had received,—no language was spoken betwixt the
landlord and his wife (who mutually contributed to his requirements) but
the Gaelic. And on two or three occasions, especially on a discussion, as
he fancied, of the important matter of the reckoning, there seemed to be a
considerable difference of opinion betwixt the parties as _to the amount_
to be charged. Nevertheless whilst by the significant action, and
whispering tone, he gathered, or supposed he gathered, so much of the
purport of the discussion, not one word of what was said, as they had
justly inferred, could he strictly or certainly interpret.

But a trifling incident, by which his acquaintance with the maxim above
spoken of was elicited, gave a new and somewhat astounding annunciation to
his Gaelic-speaking hosts.

Some little time before his departure, being in want of some carbonate of
soda, which he occasionally took for a not unfrequent annoyance of acidity
at the stomach, a messenger, a little son of the landlord, was sent to the
apothecary, to procure what was required, he being furnished with sixpence
as payment for the same. On his return with the article it happened that
the parents of the boy, who had just finished one of their Gaelic
discussions, were both in the room, and were observant of his delivering
the carbonate, and, along with it, twopence, the amount of the change.
This, my Father declined receiving; but the boy, not thoroughly assured of
the intention, turned to his parents for directions how to act, who,
participating in his perplexity about retaining it, motioned him to return
the pence again. On his second essay to do this, he was met by the most
expressive and intelligible injunction,—“Cum au greim a gheibhthu,”—an
injunction which the lad received with not less surprise than satisfaction.

Whilst my Father, with his characteristic self-possession and coolness,
practised this little device, he was greatly amused in marking the
wonderful effects of his Gaelic maxim upon the minds and feelings of his
hosts. The mere utterance of a few words in a language supposed to be
unknown to their guest, might have sufficed, under any circumstances, to
have occasioned some surprise; but the so felicitous an application of a
national phrase in the peculiar circumstances of the case, seemed
absolutely to overwhelm them with consternation. For they naturally
inferred that their guest must be familiar with a language which he had
thus idiomatically employed, and therefore that he must have understood the
discussions, designed to be _most private_, which had been held in his
hearing. From that moment there was an obvious change of manner and conduct
towards their guest by his hosts; not that they were less respectful, but
more cautiously reserved; and it seemed not a little curious, after so much
of the native tongue had been heard, that not another word of Gaelic was
ever uttered by any of the household in my Father’s hearing so long as he
remained among them.

SECTION III.—_Subsequent and concluding Enterprises._

On the retirement of my Father from the Greenock Whale-fishing Company, the
command of the John, with the advantages and perquisites enjoyed by her
original commander, was transferred to his son-in-law, Captain Thomas
Jackson. Having previously, during a period of three years, held a command
in the transport service, besides having been associated with my Father in
his voyages of 1813 and 1814, Mr. Jackson took up this somewhat novel
service with that spirit, talent, and enterprise, which, in their action
and results, were alike commendatory and successful.

My Father, meanwhile, whose spirit of enterprise, if not wearied, had
become somewhat less constraining in furtherance of fresh undertakings, was
content, for the first time during a period of above thirty years service,
to remain for a season (that of the year 1815) unemployed. But, ill at ease
in a condition of entire idleness, he undertook, for a couple of voyages,
to sail out of Whitby (without engagement of property in the adventure) in
charge of the _Mars_, a new ship of 343 tons, belonging to his old and
steady friends, Messrs. Fishburn and Brodrick. The cargoes, in this
instance obtained, did not correspond with those which had hitherto claimed
for him an unrivalled superiority. They were still characterised, when
compared with the results of the fishery in general, as superior; but
superior only to an extent of one-fourth or one-fifth beyond the common

Another year of retirement from the sea-service, as a commander, succeeded
his engagement in the command of the Mars; but the time was not spent, as
before, without any professional object; my Father, in the autumn of 1817,
having purchased, solely on his own account, another teak-built ship, the
_Fame_, of 370 tons burden, originally brought into England as a prize from
the French.

The fitting out of the Fame was deferred until a period very inconveniently
late, under the idea, perhaps, of her being employed by the Government for
Arctic researches,—just at this time proposed to be renewed; and this idea
he might well be supposed to entertain, because of the knowledge of the
fact,—that it was in consequence of information communicated by myself to
the President of the Royal Society, Sir Joseph Banks, that the attention of
the Council of the Royal Society and the Government had been directed to
the long dormant enterprise, and that that distinguished patron of science,
with whom we both had frequent intercourse, was very desirous that I should
be employed (having requested me to be sent for to London with this view)
in the proposed adventure.[M]

Our expectations herein, however, I need hardly add, were altogether
disappointed, and, so far as _expense_, at least, was concerned, much to
the national disadvantage, as we could have accomplished one of those
enterprises (the Polar research of 1818) at one-tenth of the cost of the
appointed expedition, and, at all events, with as much effectiveness; for,
on that unfortunate occasion, _less_ could not have been accomplished.

In consequence of the delay by this and other causes induced, it was not
without very great efforts that the Fame was got ready for the fishery of
the ensuing season, 1818. The requisite preparations however, were
completed, whilst there was yet time for the adventure, and the ship, for
the first attempt, being put under my command, sailed from Liverpool on the
2nd April. Having obtained, for the season, which was not a prosperous one,
a good cargo, we returned, August the 18th, (as had been arranged) to

In the following spring my Father re-assumed his habitual occupation in
command of the Fame; but the great draught of water and somewhat sharp
build of the ship, rendering the tide-harbour, to which, in this first
instance, she had resorted, both inconvenient and unsafe, her port was
again changed for Hull, to which, with but a moderate cargo, she returned.
The next voyage, that of 1820, was, for the somewhat unfavourable season, a
very successful one; that of 1821 was moderately good; that of 1822
returned only an average cargo; and the attempt of 1823 was prematurely
arrested by the unfortunate destruction of the ship by fire.

The Fame had been fitted out for this contemplated voyage with unusual care
and expense,—considerable alterations and improvements, independent of
repairs, having been made; she had proceeded northward as far as the
Orkneys, where she had taken up an anchorage for the completion of her crew
with boatmen, when the catastrophe, which summarily frustrated the
undertaking, brought my Father’s Arctic adventures at the same time to a
sudden termination; for after so long a pursuance of his arduous
enterprises, and the acquisition of a handsome and ample competency, there
were much stronger motives for inducing him now to remain on shore, “for
the enjoyment of the fruits of his labours,” than to stimulate to further
efforts in any new undertaking.

The summary of these two latter enterprises, it will naturally have been
anticipated, does not correspond with that of the three-and-twenty years of
all but continuous successes. For though the cargoes obtained in his six
last voyages were, on the whole, considerably above the ordinary average,
yet they by no means maintained the claim to superiority.

This change, however, in my Father’s position as a fisherman, admits of a
satisfactory explanation. The circumstances on which success was now
dependent had, in some most essential particulars, changed. Superior
knowledge of the Arctic ices, and consummate skill in penetrating and
navigating the compact or tortuous interruptions to the usual retreats of
the whales, which with _him_ were so characteristic, were now no longer
available. So greatly had the whales been reduced in number, apparently,
by the enormous slaughter of their species during the last quarter of a
century; and so much scattered had the residue been by the perpetual harass
and attacks to which they had been subjected, that the positions, wherein
the _opportunity_ for making a successful voyage used to be constantly
afforded, were now almost entirely deserted. Hence the enterprise and
skill, enabling the fisherman to take the lead in penetrating the ice,
which had been wont to be eminently rewarded, had now become of little
avail. No one could calculate on the positions in which fish might be
found. In places apparently most likely, not a fish, perhaps, was to be
seen; whilst in circumstances least expected success might be met with. And
although a few active, enterprising, and clever men, were now and then
found taking a lead in respect to proportionate success, yet the fishery
altogether had become very precarious; so increasingly precarious, indeed,
that within about half-a-dozen years of this time the whale-fishery of the
Greenland seas proved so utterly unremunerative, as to be all but abandoned
as a distinct commercial enterprise. The port of Hull, for example, which
during the whole period of my Father’s command of a whaler had, on an
average, sent out twenty-two ships annually to the Greenland fishery,—in
1828, only five years after he discontinued the pursuit, had only one
Greenlandman, and the year following none.

His retirement from so active and enterprising a pursuit as had engaged the
subject of these records during a period, altogether, of six-and-thirty
years of his life, was by no means an event of unmixed benefit. It was far
otherwise. For the effect of wear and tear on the constitution, whilst for
this long period subjected to circumstances of peculiar anxiety and
excitement of adventure, soon became apparent under the trial of absolute
leisure and the deprivation of ordinary stimulus. It is, indeed, a
well-ascertained characteristic of the human system, strikingly indicative
of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, to derive temporary energy from
the very stimulus of the demands for energy. Thus strength, beyond all
previous imagination, is often yielded for special occasions, whilst the
capability of action is wonderfully maintained for the period of protracted
necessity or duty. But the trial comes when the tension of the mysterious
fabric of the human system has to be relaxed. The strength, for the
occasion, being beyond the ordinary powers of renovation, is maintained by
the nervous stimulant at the expense of a wear and tear which not only
becomes apparent on the cessation of the undue exercise, but in aggravated
proportion by reason of the natural reaction.

How far these operations in a too long continued stretch of the natural
powers might have induced the inferior state of my Father’s health, during
the six years of his life succeeding the time of his retirement from the
sea, it is impossible to say; though the fact of this deterioration of
health, in the interval of leisure, was abundantly apparent.

SECTION IV.—_General Results of his entire Whale-fishing Adventures._

In conclusion of these records of my Father’s Arctic enterprises,
commercially, there remain yet to be given the _general_ comparisons and
results, in which we shall again find them to be great and pre-eminent. The
materials for these comparisons, on my Father’s part, are compendiously
exhibited in the following summary of his various voyages:—


        │      │                 │   Cargo obtained.
No. of  │      │                 ├—————————┬—————————————
Voyage. │ Year.│ Ship commanded. │ Whales. │ Tuns of Oil.
  1     │ 1791 │    Henrietta.   │  clean. │     nil.
  2     │ 1792 │        "        │    18   │     112
  3     │ 1793 │        "        │     6   │      90
  4     │ 1794 │        "        │     6   │     120
  5     │ 1795 │        "        │    25   │     143
  6     │ 1796 │        "        │     9   │     112
  7     │ 1797 │        "        │    16   │     152
  8     │ 1798 │     Dundee.     │    36   │     198
  9     │ 1799 │        "        │    12   │     144
 10     │ 1800 │        "        │     3   │      45
 11     │ 1801 │        "        │    23   │     225
 12     │ 1802 │        "        │    20   │     200
 13     │ 1803 │   Resolution.   │    13   │     164
 14     │ 1804 │        "        │    33   │     188
 15     │ 1805 │        "        │    30   │     196
 16     │ 1806 │        "        │    24   │     216
 17     │ 1807 │        "        │    13   │     213
 18     │ 1808 │        "        │    27   │     210
 19     │ 1809 │        "        │    26   │     216
 20     │ 1810 │        "        │    28   │     214
 21     │ 1811 │      John.      │    16   │     200
 22     │ 1812 │        "        │    25   │     198
 23     │ 1813 │        "        │    28   │     190
 24     │ 1814 │        "        │    35   │     249
 —      │ 1815 │   [on shore.]   │    —    │      —
 25     │ 1816 │      Mars.      │    20   │     170
 26     │ 1817 │        "        │     6   │      82
 —      │ 1818 │   [on shore.]   │    —    │      —
 27     │ 1819 │      Fame.      │    10   │     120
 28     │ 1820 │        "        │    10   │     184
 29     │ 1821 │        "        │     9   │     143
 30     │ 1822 │        "        │     6   │      70

The total number of voyages in which he held the command in the fishery,
from first to last, was just thirty. The entire cargoes obtained, under
this personal guidance, comprised the produce of 533 whales,—“a greater
number,” says his friend Mr. Drew, “than has fallen to the share of any
other individual in Europe,”—with that of many thousands of seals, some
hundreds of walruses, very many narwals, and probably not less than sixty
bears. The quantity of oil yielded by this produce was 4664 tuns, of
whalebone about 240 tons weight, besides the skins of the seals, bears, and
walruses taken.

From hence we derive a general average, during the thirty voyages, of
eighteen whales, yielding 155·5 tuns of oil per voyage; or, omitting the
first voyage, which, for reasons stated in Chapter II., ought fairly to be
excluded, the average would be 18·4 whales, yielding 160 tuns of oil for
each voyage.

In comparison of the general average of the British whale-fishery, this, no
doubt, stands singularly high. But not having the materials for the exact
determination of this general comparison, we may take the Hull
whale-fishery for our guidance, which, from the large number of ships
regularly engaged therein, will, it is believed, afford a fair estimate.
And this section of the fishery, we find, comprised, betwixt the years 1791
and 1822 inclusive, an average of twenty-two ships annually, the cargoes of
which, during that period, averaged 84·5 tuns of oil a voyage per ship.
Compared with this, it is seen, that my Father’s yearly average was almost
double the quantity!

It is not possible, because of the lack of accounts as to several of my
Father’s ships, to ascertain, except proximately, the actual value of the
produce now determined; but, from the variety of information now before me,
as to the marketable value of Greenland produce during a considerable
majority of the years corresponding with these voyages, I have been enabled
to calculate the gross proceeds of the whole thirty years adventures, in
money, at 196,591_l._, or possibly a full 200,000_l._!

The proportion of expenses due to these enterprises and results may, in
like manner, be proximately calculated. For, if the Hull fishery, with
little more than half of my Father’s success, were fairly remunerative,—as
it obviously must have been to induce perseverance therein,—then, the
residue of his catch above that average may, mainly, be considered as clear
profit; for, in such estimate, we set off the _additional_ expenses
incurred where there is superior success against the actual remunerating
profits in the inferior success. On this estimate we should have the value
of, say, seventy-five tuns of oil and four tons of whalebone for the clear
profit; or, out of a gross annual produce of the value of 6600_l._, a
residue calculated to yield about 3000_l._ a voyage profit.[N]

This estimate would give the sum of 90,000_l._, or, omitting the first
voyage, 87,000_l._ for the amount of this individual skill and enterprise,
divided, in the shape of profits, among the owners embarked in the general
enterprise! On another ground of calculation, guided by the proportion of
expenses in certain known cases, the expenses were taken at two-fifths the
produce, which would reduce the profits (probably too low) to about

In setting forth this result as very remarkable, it is with reference, it
should be observed, to the instrumentality and _capital_ employed. It is no
uncommon thing for a sum like this, or much greater than this, to be
realized in commercial enterprises; but, in such cases, there are generally
many instruments and a large capital employed in the business. But here,
under the one individual direction, there was but one ship employed,
involving an investment of capital of from 6000_l._ to 12,700_l._, or, on
an average, not exceeding 9000_l._, and this small investment yielding,
through a series of about thirty years, no less a sum than 3000_l._ a year,
being at the rate of 33⅓ per cent per annum on the capital employed.

SECTION V.—_Unusual Capture of Walruses._

This incident, which belongs to the period of the Fame’s voyages, is here
introduced, in conclusion of the general series of my Father’s Northern
adventures, as presenting something of novelty in the modern whale-fishery.

The _walrus_ or _sea-horse_, as the whalers designate it, is one of those
extraordinary animals so prevalent in the Arctic regions, in which, like
the whale, are comprised the mixed characteristics of the inhabitants of
sea and land. The body, generally, from its extensive conformity, might be
supposed to be that of a huge seal; but the head is peculiar, approaching
the nearest, but only in rude and diminutive resemblance, to that of the
elephant, as being somewhat square-faced, with a hard and massive skull,
scarcely pervious to a musket-ball, and with two large external tusks
pointing downward. The fore paws may be compared to webbed hands; the hind
feet, in their ordinary position when at rest, form an expansive tail. The
skin, covered with short hair, is of remarkable substance, so as to produce
a strong, but rather porous leather, of about an inch in thickness. A thin
layer of fat lies beneath the skin.

As met with on the coast of Spitzbergen, this animal is found of the
length, ordinarily, of twelve to fifteen feet, and eight to ten feet in
circumference. But specimens elsewhere found on the coasts of some Arctic
countries, are represented as extending to twenty feet in length. The
Spitzbergen animal, full grown, is about the bulk of an ox; its weight, as
I have estimated it, being from fifteen to twenty-four hundredweight. But a
twenty-feet walrus could hardly weigh less than three tons.

Though the tusks, the fat, and the skins, have a fair commercial value, the
animal is never sought after as a special object of enterprise by the
whalers, except incidentally, and very few are taken. Large captures,
indeed, were occasionally made of sea-horses, in the early periods of
adventure after the discovery of Spitzbergen; but these animals have seldom
been met with by our modern whalers in any considerable number together,
and their capture, consequently, has very rarely exceeded half-a-dozen in a
voyage. No summary mode of killing them, indeed, had been prevalent or
understood by which due advantage might be taken of any extraordinary
opportunity. If met with in the water, where they might be attacked with
muskets or lances, the chance of capture was but small, as the wounded
animal would generally dive and escape. Formerly, I remember, harpoons of a
_small_ kind were provided expressly for the sea-horse; but with the whale
harpoon, now only used, the tough skin of the creature is hard to be
penetrated. If met with on shore or on ice, lances and muskets were more
available, and in such positions the principal, though scanty, captures of
modern times were wont to be made.

My Father’s enterprise, therefore, in the case now referred to, was the
more remarkable, not only because of the unusual number captured, but
because of the novelty adopted in the mode of attack, by which mainly the
success was gained.

Being on the coast of Spitzbergen, in the Fame, in the summer of 1819, when
no incumbrance was met with from ice, my Father was induced to stretch into
one of the fine picturesque inlets with which this remarkable region
abounds, Magdalena Bay, where an extraordinary sight on the beach attracted
his attention. Hundreds, if not thousands, of animals, which on their near
approach proved to be sea-horses, were seen congregated on the sloping
shore, thickly huddled together, basking in the bright sunshine and genial
warmth of the sheltered position.

No one on board having ever seen anything of the kind before, all were in
a state of excitement, which soon became naturally diverted into ardour for
conflict and capture. Measures were speedily concerted by which a due
harvest might, if possible, be reaped out of this wonderfully stocked
field. Muskets, evidently, could do little, as the vast herd, on being
alarmed, would doubtless hurry into the sea, before the discharged arms
could be reloaded, and harpoons could be of no avail. Lances and
whale-knives, however, promised a better instrumentality, and especially
one kind of the latter, the _tail-knife_, which in reality proved the most
effective of all. This instrument, designed for making perforations in the
tail and fins of the captured whale, when preparing to be towed to the
ship, constitutes a portion of the furniture of every whale-boat, and
consists of a nearly three-feet straight sharp-pointed blade, with a wooden
handle of like measure. It resembles the blade of a cutlass, out of which
weapon, indeed, this kind of knife is frequently constructed.

From accounts which at different times I have received from individuals
participating in the affair, I am enabled to offer such description of the
plan and proceedings as may serve, I hope, to give a tolerably correct
notion of this curious and novel kind of exploit.

Well furnished with what appeared to be the best weapons for the attack,
the boats set out on the adventure, spreading themselves, whilst at a
distance, so as to make a simultaneous and warlike descent upon the beach.

As this animal is but imperfectly adapted for locomotion on land, and its
progress, usually, sluggish and slow, there was a chance with the
individuals which had adventured highest up the slope of doing some
considerable execution among them. Though the walrus, ordinarily, appears
singularly fearless,—it might be said, stupidly fearless,—yet the whole
herd, in this case, was soon put into a state of commotion and alarm. The
principal attack on the flanks having arrested several of the number, the
general mass began a scrambling retreat, assuming a strangely formidable,
yet otherwise grotesque appearance, whilst, in their haste, the huge
carcasses were seen, in their mutual interferences, rolling one over
another down the beach.

Two or three of the leaders of the attacking party,—the foremost among
whom was, I believe, Mr. William Jackson, afterwards a successful
commander,—perceiving the risk of the vast herd escaping before they
should have time for any considerable success in captures, boldly threw
themselves betwixt the affrighted walruses and the sea, so as, to the
extent their means of destruction might enable them, to cut off their
retreat. And now it was that the _tail-knife_ was found to be a most
admirable weapon for the occasion, its sharpness of point, and length of
blade, yielding mortal results at almost every stroke, and its length of
handle enabling its wielder to avoid the formidable tusks of the creature
whilst attacking it close to hand.

The result exceeded the most sanguine expectations of the assailants. Many
wounded ones, I believe, escaped into the sea, but a famous slaughter and
advantageous spoil rewarded the adventure. One hundred and thirty of these
animals remained as trophies of the sailors’ victory, yielding, besides the
corresponding quantity of hides, a large weight of tusks and teeth, adapted
for dental purposes, and a quantity of oil, which, perhaps, we may roughly
estimate at 1500 to 2000 gallons.


[M] This fact having been differently reported and understood, the reader
who feels any interest in the subject may satisfy himself, I believe, of
the reality by reference to an article in the “Edinburgh Philosophical
Journal,” vol. xx. 1835-6, “On some Circumstances connected with the
Original Suggestion of the Modern Arctic Expeditions.”

[N] This estimate of profits, though exceeding those of the Resolution,
already given, may be still maintained, on the ground of the price of
provisions and the high rates of seamen’s wages and insurance, pertaining
to a period, except as to one year, of continuous war.



SECTION I.—_Superiority as an Arctic Navigator._

My Father’s superiority as a fisherman, as exhibited in the foregoing
pages, had an essential relation to his talents as a seaman and a
navigator. The former, indeed, was in no inconsiderable degree a fruit of
the latter; for it was his superiority as a navigator of ice-encumbered
seas particularly, which, for a considerable series of years, enabled him
generally to obtain a position in advance of his competitors, and thus
yielded to him the best opportunities, whilst the ground was undisturbed,
for making his fishery.

Not only, indeed, was he thus unrivalled among his associates in Arctic
enterprise, but to him was due the introduction of a truly scientific
system of arrangements, which, with their masterly application in practice,
enabled him at all times, when “beating to windward” among crowded ices, or
contending under the greatest obstructions and difficulties for a passage
“to the northward,” to take the lead.

The penetration of the Greenland ices, whilst in search of whales, being
very prevalently pursued by beating to windward, or by sailing “on a
wind,”—so prevalently, indeed, that, during a quarter of a century from my
Father’s commencement in command, nine days out of ten, or more, were spent
in this description of navigation,—it became a matter of grand importance
to have the ship, as “to trim,” “cut of the sails,” ballasting, etc.,
specially prepared for sailing “close-hauled.”

For this style of navigation, the arrangements prevalent in the merchant
service, at the time, were most ill adapted. When without cargo, the ships
usually went in light “ballast-trim,” and had their sails cut so as to
“bag” into a deep concave on the side acted on by the wind,—conditions
most unfavourable for “holding a good wind” or “working close.”

The whalers were thus universally circumstanced at my Father’s
commencement. They went ordinarily ballasted, or, sometimes,
“flying-light,” not only because of this being accordant with the general
practice with merchantmen, but with the view of lessening the concussions
against the ice when coming into violent contact with it. My Father, on the
contrary, adopted a totally different system. He caused such a large
quantity of the lower and second tiers of casks to be filled with water (to
which he subsequently added ballast of shingle or iron in the interstices
of the casks of the “ground tier”), that the ship became as deep as with
the third part of a cargo; his sails he had made to stand as flat, under
the force of the wind, as possible; he had his ship denuded of all useless
spars aloft, as well as of sails of little adaptation for sailing on a
wind; and, finally, the braces of the yards, and other running geer, he had
so adapted as to run free, and as light as consistent with safety.

His ship thus presenting the least possible quantity of surface to the
leeward-tending action of the wind, being so fully ballasted, and having
her sails, so far as he had the adjusting of them, adapted for standing
flat and “near the wind,” he was enabled to make a progress, in “windward
sailing” among ice, which, during a long period of years, defied all

But the adaptation of the ship, it was apparent, was not all. For the ships
which he had himself prepared for sailing on this effective system,
retained their advantage but very partially when they came under other
management. The Henrietta, which for several years had taken the undisputed
lead, was, after my Father left her, beaten by the Dundee, and the Dundee,
in like manner, by the Resolution; and not by the ship, only, which he now
commanded, was his former ship beaten, but by many competitors besides. The
loss of character in the ship he had retired from, indeed, became a matter
of much observation and remark both at sea and on shore; and the
circumstance was justly enough accounted for under the quaint
expression,—“she has lost her jockey.”

It was, in fact, strictly so. The succeeding commander—clever as he might
be in other respects, and successful as one, especially, of my Father’s
training was—had not the superiority in seamanship with which the ship had
formerly been managed. The special adaptations, therefore, which my Father
had turned to such good account, were now only partially available. Under
considerable difficulties in the navigation, or against hard competitors in
the navigators, the once leading ship was liable to fail, and very often
did fail. The advantages provided in the adaptation of the ship were, in
such cases, lost in the management. But where the navigator, as in my
Father’s case, was pre-eminently skilful, the adaptations for windward and
ice-encumbered sailing became in the highest degree efficient, and
resulted, as has been shown, in an unrivalled superiority.

A commander may sometimes become distinguished in war by successes acquired
at an unusual sacrifice of life. His resulting superiority may, in certain
cases, be dearly purchased. But there was no such counteracting element in
the pre-eminence, as an Arctic navigator, gained by my Father. His deeply
ballasted ship might have struck heavier against the ice than others, but
she rarely was _allowed_ to strike heavily. Concussions not unfrequently
fell to the lot of other ships, light enough, and free to rebound as they
might be, by which, nevertheless, bows or sides were stove in, and heavy
expenses in damages consequently incurred; but no such disasters were
encountered by him. His ship was wont to be a-head in adventure, navigating
the most difficult positions, braving most alarming threatenings of the
ices and the wind. But his ship went gallantly amid, and passed safely
through, all these dangers. He knew precisely what his ship, in
difficulties or dangers, _might_ do; and that, under his commanding
management, was done, and safely done. If, by the hundred chances which
might thwart a difficult operation,—in the perpetual movements of the ice,
the varying winds, the mistakes or defects of his helmsman, or the
unpromptness of the men in management of the yards and sails,—his intended
object or manœuvre should happen to be defeated, he was always ready, in
his inexhaustible and well-considered resources, to save his ship from the
imminent danger which a failure or blunder, in such cases, frequently
involved. His quick apprehension of almost every possible contingency,
served at once to develop and to bring into timely operation the resources
which his fertile talent supplied; whilst his keen discernment of the
quality and measure of the various movements of detached pieces or bodies
of ice, as unequally acted upon by wind or currents, enabled him so to
anticipate any probable risks, as to be prepared, however he might be
baulked in his principal design, for some other furthering project, or, at
all events, for a safe retreat.

The reality of my Father’s superiority, as a navigator, now being
described, admits, as to me it seems, of conclusive evidence in these two
remarkable facts,—that, for the long series of voyages in which he held
his first three or four commands, his ship, _in all difficulties where
talent could be availing_, always took the lead; and that, for the whole
time of his command, wherein he was wont to take the lead, equally in
danger as in advanced position, he was always enabled, under the constantly
recognised and sought-for blessing of Providence, to pursue his adventurous
object safely, or without damage of any essential consideration, to his

Within my own experience, whilst I accompanied him during nine voyages,
from a mere child to adult age, I had perpetual opportunities of discerning
his superiority over all the competitors we met with; and, during the same
experience, I had repeated occasions for noticing with proud admiration,
his wonderful skill in beating to windward amongst intricate ices, so as to
leave every ship that we found near us in succession behind. In the
morning, perhaps, at the commencement of a progress amid encumbering ices,
I have seen around the Resolution, in various positions, to windward as
well as to leeward, a considerable fleet of companion-whalers; and in the
evening of the same day, after twelve or fourteen hours efforts in getting
to windward, I have been able to see _no_ ship whatever within the limits
of vision from the level of the deck. On ascending then to the top-mast
head, where the extent of vision became vastly increased; I have generally
found the pursuing fleet, bent on the same course, to be far away from us;
some ships being left so much behind, perhaps, as to have disappeared, not
from fog, or darkness, but from mere distance to leeward!

This striking feat of skill—differing in degree of course, according to
the nature and extent of the navigable interstices of the ice, and the
force and direction of the wind, with the sailing qualities of the
competing ships likewise, as well as the seamanship of their
commanders—was, as I have intimated, repeatedly performed under my own
observation. But the like triumph of superiority was also gained, and that
on different occasions within my personal observation, when the competing
progress was being made through a compact body of ice into the northern
fishing stations, and where the penetration, in anticipation of the general
fleet, gained its due reward in an early and superior success.

The voyage of 1806, described in Chapter IV. Section VII., exhibited a
striking example of the successful application of this talent; and in that
of 1809, the same result was interestingly realized.

We had taken the ice, in the latter case, with the view of penetrating the
barrier betwixt the free northern ocean and the fishing stations in the
seventy-ninth and eightieth degree of latitude, along with a large fleet of
other whalers. For some days, whilst no material progress could be made, we
remained in varying relative positions presenting but little decided
advantage. At length, when circumstances gave room for the due exercise of
talent and perseverance, we made a progress so much beyond that of our
associates, that we gradually left them, farther and farther, behind us,
until the whole of the fleet were out of sight. We thus gained the
“northern water” considerably before the others, and, falling in with
whales in abundance, soon commenced a most encouraging fishery. By and by,
others of the fleet began to make their appearance; and I well remember the
astonishment of the captains and men of three ships which came close up to
us on the 5th of June, just as we had taken in our _fourteenth_ whale,
whilst they had only obtained six amongst them. One of these ships had been
near us, or in company with us, on the 27th of May, the day on which we
succeeded in surmounting the icy-barrier. She, however, had only made the
same passage the day before this, and had made but trifling progress in the

As there is no portion of the navigable ocean throughout the globe, at all
comparable, as a field for the exercise of superior talent in seamanship,
with the ice-encumbered regions around the poles; so my Father’s
capabilities in this beautiful practical science, had, at once, the
requisite scope for their abundant exercises, and their admirable triumphs.
No matter what the species of manœuvre or operation might be, he was
equally superior in all. In “making fast” to the ice in gales of wind—an
operation of singular difficulty and ofttimes of no small risk,—the manner
in which he brought up his ship to the nearest possible proximity with the
place of the ice-anchor, afforded time and opportunity for getting out and
attaching the mooring hawser, and then, with progressively reduced sails,
eased the ship’s action on the rope till fairly brought up, head to
wind,—was in the highest degree masterly and beautiful. Repetitions of
trial, and failure on failure, with much useless toil and re-setting of
sails, and, not unfrequently, with very hard blows against the ice, were
matters of such perpetual experience among the inferior navigators engaged
in the service, as to render the operations we have just attempted to
illustrate, the more conspicuously admirable.

SECTION II.—_Natural Science._

To my Father’s _natural science_, or original, almost intuitive, perception
and application of scientific principles, I have already made repeated
allusion. But this characteristic of originality, as well as superiority of
mind, deserves, I think, more special consideration.

Having to deal with circumstances perpetually varying, and frequently
presenting features entirely new, the profession to which he had devoted
himself afforded almost the best possible opportunities for the development
and application of this quality of mind. And, in a greater or less degree,
every voyage he undertook as commander served to elicit this admirable
characteristic. Those who understood him not, very naturally ascribed many
of his novel proceedings to eccentricity, and these might be liable to run
into this very usual extreme; but, for the most part, the apparent
eccentricity was, in reality, a sound result of reflective, philosophical
consideration. I might adduce some incidents, perhaps, in which the
originality of conception was pushed into an extreme: yet I could recal,
possibly, hundreds of others in which such conceptions resulted in
proceedings at once admirable, in their fitness, and, as such, worthy of

       *       *       *       *       *

1. Take, for example, the process of _sallying_ the ice-bound ship for
relieving her of any remediable pressure, and giving free action to the
power of wind or “warps” for promoting her progress. And in this we have an
adaptation of a previously unapprehended mean and provision, always at
hand, possessing extraordinary capabilities as a mechanical force. It may
not be uninteresting to elucidate this fact.

Suppose a ship, navigating the Arctic seas, to be held firmly on the sides
by the contact of two large sheets, or numerous compacted pieces, of ice.
The ice just a-head may be less compact, or there may be a proximate
channel, available for “boring” or sailing, if the existing pressure could
be relieved so that the ship might be free to move. For the relief of this
_lateral_ pressure, no mechanical force, except the action of the wind on
the sails when coming somewhat in the direction of “the beam,” had
heretofore been considered as available, or had been applied. But my
Father’s device afforded a novel, as well as a powerfully available,
agency. In what degree powerful is easily estimated. The ship, in the case
referred to, we will suppose is tolerably flat-sided (like the Resolution),
and floats, ordinarily, at the depth of the greatest width. Now the power
yielded by sallying may be considered as corresponding with that obtained
by a wedge acted on by a heavy weight; the _wedge_, in this case, being the
portion of the ship’s side that becomes depressed, operating by virtue of
the expansion of the ship’s _width_ when heeling, and the _force_ acting on
the wedge being the weight transferred from an even distribution with an
upright position of the ship, to an accumulation of weight on one side,
inducing a heeling position. Let the extent of heeling be considered as a
“streak” of nine inches, in which case, as the opposite side will be
proportionally and equally raised, the width of the line of flotation will
be increased, altogether (in a main breadth of 26 feet), about half an
inch, or a quarter inch on either side. The depressed side, then, in its
progress under water, as far as nine inches, will have expanded a quarter
of an inch in width, and the raised side an equal quantity; and both sides
will act on the contiguous ices with the mechanical force of a wedge of
nine inches long and a quarter-inch at the thick end,—exhibiting, on the
ordinary mode of calculating the power of the wedge, a gain of power for
either side in the proportion of twice the length of the wedge,[O] or 18
inches, to a quarter inch, or as 72 to 1.

The force acting on these wedges is that of the _weight_ of the men
employed in sallying, when all are placed on one side of the deck right
over the head or back of one of the wedges. In a whaler carrying fifty men,
the weight available for this purpose, say that of forty-six or forty-eight
of the crew, may be estimated at about three tons, one half of which only
would act downward, the other half being expended in the resistance upward,
of the opposite side.

Hence the mechanical force hereby derived, as represented by these data,
would appear to be that of two wedges of a power of seventy-two to one,
each acted on by a weight of a ton and a half, that is, a force of the
weight of 108 tons acting towards the separation of the ice and ship on
each side. But only half the amount of these two forces, it will be
obvious, comes effectively into operation; for the wedges, being on
_opposite_ sides of the ship, act antagonistically, thus spending one-half
of their power against each other, in the compressing of the opposite sides
of the ship together. The force really in operation, then, serving to push
off the ice from each side, or tending to separate the compressing masses
of ice, will be equivalent to two weights of fifty-four or altogether to a
weight of 108 tons.

If there were no resistance either from the _friction_ of the ice on the
ship’s sides, or from the _stability_ of the ship, the estimated mechanical
force, for the case assumed, would no doubt take effect. The resistance
from friction cannot, it is evident, be determined; but that of the ship’s
stability might be easily represented. At the _commencement_ of the heeling
position, however, the resistance from this source would be but trifling.
In its actual influence, in ordinary cases, the stability might abstract,
perhaps, a quarter or a third part from the entire force exerted, but still
leaving a free action equivalent to the weight of seventy or eighty tons
towards the separation of the ices, right and left.

But the force ultimately brought into operation, after a sallying motion is
once obtained, becomes still greater and more effective,—acting now and
then, in the nature of concussion from the momentum of a portion of the
ship’s weight, as thus may be illustrated:—

The weight of the crew, in the outset of the operation, being placed all on
one side of the deck, and then suddenly transferred to the other, will,
after the overcoming of the friction originally induced by the ice, cause
the ship to heel, and, on the reversing of the action (by the men running
back again across the deck) the direction of the heeling will be also
reversed. The process being carried on with a strict attention to the
adjustment of the moment of the running of the men (indicated by the word
of command, “over”) to the time of change in the natural oscillations of
the ship,—these oscillations (supposing the ice to be gradually receding)
will increase to a maximum, whilst the incidental concussions of the ship’s
sides against the contiguous ices will act as a “ram” on the wedge-like
expansion of the width of her two broadsides. The additional force thus
incidentally applied, it is evident, may be enormous. Hence the wonderful
effects sometimes produced by my Father’s ingenious device of
sallying,—effects not less important and striking when “clawing” to
windward of masses of ice in boring, when, by the mere action of the wind
on the sails the ship may have come to a stand, as when stuck fast betwixt
equally compressing ices on both broadsides at once. The moment the
sallying is perceived, the ship realises such relief from both pressure and
friction, as to start a-head as if acted on by a magical power!

It hardly requires, perhaps, to be explained, that our investigations of
the operation of sallying in urging a path through encumbering ices, are,
strictly, only illustrative. For the action of the ship’s side which we
have considered as that of a regular straight wedge is, in reality,
curvilinear, and, ordinarily, would be unusually thin at the apex, thus
giving, at the commencement of the heeling movement, a much higher degree
of mechanical power. The _extent_ of the compression on the ship’s sides,
too, we could only consider in a particular case, such as one of thin ice,
or ice touching the sides to no great depth. In case of compression from
thick ice, having contact with the ship’s sides to a considerable depth,
the resistance to the sallying would, of course, be much increased, and, by
consequence, the operation less effective.

It may just be added that the principle of sallying is evidently capable of
still more powerful application by aiding the _weight_ of the men, in the
first instance of movement, by auxiliary loads of guns, chains, casks, or
other heavy bodies transferred to one side of the deck; or, in a still
higher degree, by an auxiliary mechanical force derived from a “purchase”
from the ship’s lowermast, or top-mast head, to an anchor fixed in a
distant part of the ice on either side. An enormous power, it is evident,
might be derived from a leverage of this kind, sufficient almost to
compress or squeeze in the very timbers of the hull.

       *       *       *       *       *

2. Another example of the application of the principles of natural science,
may be adduced with respect to my Father’s practice in the capture of
certain harpooned whales. In the most usual habits of the mysticetus, when
struck in the Greenland seas, it descends to a considerable depth,
generally 600 or 700 fathoms, and, after an interval of about half an hour,
or so, returns spontaneously to the surface for respiration. But sometimes,
especially when a taught strain has been held on the line, the whale
continues to press so determinately into the depths of the ocean that it
dies by a process similar to drowning. In that case the heaving up of the
capture becomes a matter of great labour and difficulty, and, because of
the liability of the harpoon to draw, or of the lines to part, of much
uncertainty as to the result. It is a matter, therefore, of much importance
to avoid the possible contingency of a harpooned whale “dying down.” The
process ordinarily adopted for inducing the return of the fish to the
surface, after the downward course is suspended, is to haul on the lines as
soon as any impression can be produced, so as to stimulate to action and
urge an ascending motion. In very many cases this process is effective, but
by no means in all. For sometimes so desperate and continuous is the effort
to get down that, when necessity might urge a return to the surface for
respiration, the power to return no longer remains, and the helpless
monster dies at its utmost depression.

My Father, with his peculiar felicity of consideration and device, assumed
a measure of proceeding as _apparently_ unfitting as it was novel in its
character. When the usual processes for the obtaining of the fish’s return
to the surface had failed, and no prospect remained but that it must die
where it was, he would throw off the turns of his line round the stem or
“loggerhead” of the boat, and allow an extent of fifty or a hundred fathoms
more to run freely out and sink in the water.

The meaning of the device was this:—The entangled whale had no doubt
descended deep in the water, as its ordinary mode of escaping from its
natural enemies; but the attachment and restraint of the line it could not
escape from. It was an instinct with it, therefore, as he conceived,—as in
the case of some well-known quadrupeds, which may be driven but will not be
led,—to resist the restraining force, and to struggle to distance the
point from which the restraint proceeds. The untoward effect of this
instinct, my Father supposed, might be diverted by rapidly slacking out a
large extent of the entangling line, so that it might sink _below_ the
place of the fish, and so _draw downward_; for the same instinct which had
incited it so perseveringly to dive, might naturally be expected to urge
it, under this change of circumstances, to an upward course.

The experiment on being tried proved, in different cases, successful. The
whale, stimulated to a new course by a new direction being given to the
restraining line, returned to the surface, where it was received by its
waiting assailants, and, when deprived of its life, became a prompt and
easy prize, instead of an uncertain, hard-earned object of pursuit!

       *       *       *       *       *

3. Besides the cases just recited of aptness in natural science, another
occasion is before my recollection in which, during his varied adventures
in the whale-fishery, this characteristic of mind, with my Father, was
strikingly developed. A large whale had been “struck” on the borders of a
vast sheet of ice, denominated a “field,” which took refuge beneath the
frozen surface, and, after suffering the deprivation of air for a period
too considerable for its capabilities of endurance, died there.

After a long interval of patient waiting, on the part of the whalers, for
the turning out of the expected capture (for the compactness of a firm
field of ice generally obliges the whale to return to the outside for the
purpose of respiration), they proceeded to haul on the line to try to
facilitate their expectation. But when as much force had been applied as
the line might safely bear, their efforts came to a stand. There was no
reactive motion indicative of life in the whale, nor any progress towards
its withdrawal, if dead.

Various repetitions of a similar effort, after slacking out a quantity of
line to give some change to the direction of the tension, ended in the same
discouraging manner; so that a doubt arose whether the harpoon were yet
attached to the line, or whether it might have got entangled on some
submerged irregularity of the ice.

My Father at length left the ship to give his personal attention to this
difficult business. His first care was to examine the line at its fullest
tension; but the exact direction was not discoverable because of the
thickness of the verge of the ice. Slacking out, therefore, a considerable
quantity of the line, he caused the boat to be backed off to a little
distance, and, whilst it was kept off as much as possible by the oars of
several boats attached, the line was hauled in, till, becoming nearly
horizontal by tension, its direction beneath the ice could be clearly
determined. By this direction he traced, by the eye, an imaginary
corresponding line on the surface of the ice-field, which, by means of
numerous irregularities and hummocks, he was enabled to do
satisfactorily,—noticing particularly a very high and conspicuous hummock
in this exact direction, and at about the distance to which the quantity of
line run out might be supposed to reach. His next step, and that a truly
scientific one, was to try to vary the line of direction, so that he might
determine, by the intersection of lines, the position of the harpoon. This
he effected by again slacking out the line, but to a much greater extent,
and then causing the position of the boat to be changed by rowing slowly in
a direction parallel to, and at some distance from, the edge of the ice,
until the new direction might make a large angle with that previously
determined. Time being allowed for the rope to subside into its position
of rest, tension was given to it, as before, and another imaginary line
traced by the eye on the ice. My Father now perceived that the point of
intersection corresponded very nearly with the position of the remarkable
hummock, almost a mile distant, before noticed, and that it must be
immediately beyond it.

Taking a whale-lance in his hand he walked over the ice to the place, and
_just beyond_ the hummock he found a thin flat surface of much younger ice.
Striking his lance repeatedly into this, he gradually effected its
perforation; when, to his no small delight and to the amazement of the men
who had followed his steps, his lance struck against a soft and elastic
substance beneath:—it was the back of the dead whale!

Aid of hands and instruments being now obtained, the thin sheet of ice was
partly cut out and the fragments removed till the attached line could be
got at. When effected, it was again slacked out of the boat, and the end
firmly secured to the slender part of the body of the fish adjoining the
tail. The two lobes of the tail were then partly cut off, so as to hang
down in the water as sustained by a slight attachment, and thus by their
gravity to help to sink the carcass whilst they no longer were calculated
to catch the irregularities of the submerged surface of the ice, as the
tail, when perfect in structure and position, had previously done. A
considerable weight, I believe, in sand-bags, was also hung upon the
“bight” of the line for helping to sink the fish clear of obstructions
above, and, finally, the line being hauled on in the boat from whence the
fish had been originally harpooned, it progressively yielded to the force
applied, and in due time the loud and cheerful huzzas of the sailors
announced the completion of the capture in its appearance outside!

SECTION III.—_Improvements and Inventions._

We have had occasion, in the course of our memorial records, to describe
several important inventions or improvements of my Father’s in connection
with his professional occupations. There remain yet to be mentioned a
variety of other contributions, of a like order, to Greenland apparatus or
operations pertaining to the fishery, and also to objects of public
consideration generally.

As to whale-fishing apparatus and operations, his contributions in the form
of new contrivances and improvements were numerous, and, many of them, of
considerable importance. These, we shall not attempt to describe in any
measure of detail, but chiefly in the manner of notices.

In the stowage of his ship, for the economising of space and facilitating
the depositing of cargo, his improvements were valuable.

His _casks_ he had built on a plan adapted for the accurate filling of the
space in the “hold,” comprising special deviations from the general size
and form in the introduction of large “leagers” for the midships (on the
kelson), adjusted, in length, to the exact spaces of the stantions of the
hold beams, as also of narrow, short, or irregularly formed casks for the
extremities of the hold, fore and aft.

The _deck_ on the hold beams, instead of being laid, as usual, in a
continuous series of planks, was cut up into hatches, and laid level
betwixt the beams, so as, whilst forming a flat and even platform when laid
down, to open out the hold, on the removal of the hatch-like planking,
without other incumbrance against the stowing and filling of the casks
beneath, except the naked beams and their essential fastenings.

In the suspension of the _boats_, with regard to facility in lowering or
hoisting, as well as for safety, his improvements were of great importance.

It had been the practice in whale ships’ equipments, to suspend the boats,
usually seven in number, in double tiers at both _quarters_, one at the
“waist,” on each side, and one over the stern. The arrangements for these
objects were at once clumsy and incommodious. In place of the huge lofty
beams across the quarter-deck, from the extremities of which were suspended
the four “quarter boats,” my Father substituted compact, but lofty oak
“davits,” which, with their associate “skids” (upright timbers against
which the sides of the boats press and slide), were removable when not
required. For the double tier at the quarters, he substituted an additional
length of boats over the main chains, thus constituting an even running
series of three lengths of boats, having the advantage of great facility in
being lowered or hoisted, as well as a much improved security against
accidents in the passing of hummocks of ice, or from the sea in gales of
wind, to which the _lower_ quarter-boats, on the old plan of suspension,
were frequently exposed.

In _fishing_ and other _apparatus_, my Father made various improvements. In
the harpoon, the improvement consisted mainly in the mode of keeping it in
condition for use,—_bright_ and _clean_ as well as sharp; but in the lance
he altered the form of the blade, which had usually been sharp-pointed and
only moderately hardened, for a somewhat rounded point and a better quality
of steel with greater hardness,—the advantage of which was, that if
striking against a bone, the point was not liable to be fixed by its deep
penetration, nor to be turned up or broken, as often happened, by the

Some of the “flensing” apparatus, and one or two of the instruments used in
“making-off” the blubber, he variously modified and improved, substituting
for some very clumsy contrivances employed in the latter operation, compact
and well-adapted instruments.

The _ice-drill_, a handy and very effective instrument for setting an
_ice-anchor_, was his contrivance, being a great improvement upon the old

       *       *       *       *       *

The talent for contrivance and improvement, as thus practically evinced,
was by no means limited in its exercises to subjects of a mere
professional nature. The town and harbour of Whitby, with regard to some
important modern improvements, have reaped conspicuous benefits from my
Father’s suggestions.

His views on various matters of improvement in the town and harbour, with
their respective approaches, were first put forward in a pamphlet which he
published in the winter of 1816-17; and in 1826, about three years after
his retirement from the sea, the substance of the original pamphlet,
revised, extended, and illustrated by engraved plans, was again brought out
under the title of “An Essay on the Improvement of the Town and Harbour of
Whitby, with its Streets and neighbouring Highways; designed also for the
Maintenance of the labouring Classes who are out of Employment.”

The improvements herein suggested, appear so far to have commended
themselves to the local executive authorities, that, in certain important
particulars, corresponding improvements have already been carried into

Of these various suggestions, the one by far the most important of all is
evidently that designed for deepening the harbour-channel, and rendering
the entrance more safe and accessible.

For a long period the harbour of Whitby had been protected, seaward, by two
principal piers,—one running from the eastern cliff about 215 yards, in a
north-westerly direction, and the other (a fine specimen of massive and
substantial architecture) running north-north-easterly, along the western
side of the harbour, and extending beyond the line of the west cliff, a
distance of about 940 feet into the sea. This longer pier, at the time my
Father wrote, stretched out a distance of about 100 yards (reckoned from
the general direction of the coast) farther than the head of the other,
leaving, however, a clear width, for the entrance of the harbour, of about
ninety-two yards.

The effect of this arrangement, as to the extension of the western pier so
far beyond the other, was, as my Father well observed, extremely injurious;
for a deep bed of sand was constantly found encumbering the entrance by the
formation of a “bar,” which not only rendered the channel tortuous and
incommodious, but not unfrequently diminished the otherwise available depth
on the firmer bed of the river to an extent of several feet. And besides
this mischief to a harbour almost drying at low water,—the access, with
_scant_ winds from the westward, was rendered at once difficult and
dangerous because of the flood-tide sweeping strongly across the
harbour-mouth to the eastward, and tending, by its leeward set, to carry
the ship attempting to enter, against, or beyond, the left-hand pier, and
thus to risk her total destruction by stranding on the contiguous dangerous

For the correction of the evil and danger thus, apparently, induced, my
Father proposed the extension of the east-pier by a bend in a more
northerly direction, so that, whilst the reflux of the harbour water, and
the natural stream of the _Esk_, might, within the narrowed and extended
channel, carry out the loose sand of the bar into the sea, and thus deepen
the entrance,—the projection of the east pier might serve at once to guide
the tidal coast-stream of flood with more force into the harbour, and to
render the access more easy and safe by such a protection immediately under
the lee of any ship coming in with a scant wind from the westward.

This plan, with some little deviation, has already been carried into
effect. The pier has been lengthened in a N. by W. (westerly) direction, by
sections of fifty feet at a time, in the proposed direction; at each
section, now increased altogether to about 300 feet, the channel has been
found to be deepened and rendered less tortuous, and the entrance has
become more safe,—exactly as the projector of the improvement had

A grand improvement, as to the change of aspect and accommodation, to the
inner harbour, was also suggested by my Father, but has not yet been
carried into effect. The improvement suggested was for the formation of
the large space, above bridge, which is filled at spring tides from the
sea, into a permanent floating-dock,—a scheme which he conceived could be
easily effected by a wall, with gates, across the harbour, at, or near, the
place of the present bridge.

The effect of such an arrangement, indeed, is not easy to be anticipated.
How far the overflow of water would suffice to keep the channel clear of
sandy deposits? or to what extent the body of debris and shale from the
mines above might, in such case, make lodgment in the bed of the inner
harbour? cannot be certainly determined. Yet as there are existing wears at
some distance from the town across the river bed, and no permanent
deposits, except in their immediate contiguity, I believe, induced, it
seems not improbable but that with a sufficient number of escape sluices in
the seaward bounding-wall, the efflux, whilst carrying off the considerable
supply of water yielded by the river, might suffice, at the same time, to
urge outward the descending debris, and keep the channel free.

       *       *       *       *       *

In conclusion of these notices respecting my Father’s inventions and
suggestions for improvements, it will not be out of place to add the
substance of an interesting and curious autograph document (which fell into
my hands after his decease) referring to other speculations, contemplated
evidently as practicable, though neither explained, as to principle or
process, nor attempted to be carried out.

The document, which as to its manner reminds one of the Marquis of
Worcester’s “Century of Inventions,” bears the date of London, 23d
December, 1824, and is aptly entitled—“Hints; or Outlines of Improvements
conceived by W. Scoresby.” These outlines, of which the following are
pretty nearly literal and verbal extracts, are, in the original, thus

    “How swift is a glimpse of the mind!
        Compared with the speed of _its_ flight,
    The tempest itself lags behind,
        And the swift-winged arrows of light!”

“During forty years occupation at sea, (the document then proceeds to set
forth,) when duty called me to watch, my mind was, at intervals, employed
about many things which might have been made useful to the public, had they
been brought forward in due time.

Amongst these conceptions may be particularised the following:—

1. An improved method of ship-building, both as to ships-of-war and
merchantmen, by adding to their strength in framing, and promoting velocity
by placing the masts and rigging, and also adding to their durability by
preventing in a great measure the attack of dry-rot.

2. Seasoning timber to prevent the dry-rot in ships, churches, and other

3. To deepen the water on bar-harbours, and in navigable rivers, so as to
give easy access to all friends, and to shut out, when necessary, the
enemies of our highly favoured land!

4. To build _breakwaters_ in any depth, not exceeding twelve or fourteen
fathoms water, of materials that will not yield to the surge of the sea,
and, when immersed in the briny flood, will become tenacious and durable as
_terra-firma_, even as the granite rock.

5. To secure the banks of rivers, [subject to encroachments,] and to
support [endangered] buildings of any magnitude.

6. To improve low, wet, barren lands, near tide-flowing rivers, that bear
up only mire and dirt, by draining on the ebb and warping on the

7. To draw off the foul and inflammable air from coal-pits and other mines
liable to explosion.

8. To lay out new streets, nearly level, over uneven ground, with vaults
under them for containing fuel, etc. for the inhabitants, and so arranged
as to admit of pipes for gas, water, etc., being laid or altered without
molesting the pavements.

9. To improve the hanging of venetian blinds in windows, [and to render
them more manageable and useful] for keeping out the sun.

10. To prepare oatmeal for the table by a new method of drying and shelling
the corn.

11. “To keep in health” by regimen.

12. To improve the making of _lasts_, so that the boot or shoe may
comfortably fit the foot of the wearer.

13. An improved method of pulling down decayed buildings in towns, in order
to rebuilding, as also of making new roads, to the honour of the British
nation, the accommodation of trade, commerce, and of the public.

14. Lastly, To beautify the Church and draw man unto it, [not by mere
outward architecture and adorning, however admirable,] but by appointing
and supporting _faithful pastors_ now when the current of prejudice is
setting in so strongly against it!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Some few of my Father’s original ideas, on such topics as these, were
occasionally elicited in conversation, but, unfortunately, no record was
made of them by those immediately in intercourse with him, nor were any
papers, generally expository of his views, met with among those amid which
this curious and interesting document was found.

SECTION IV.—_Miscellaneous and concluding Notices._

The originality of mind, superiority of intelligence and peculiar abilities
of the subject of these records, were characteristics yielding much variety
of illustration in the foregoing pages.

His peculiar abilities as a whale-fisher, as may have been already
inferred, were conspicuous in every department, and in every practical
operation connected with the adventurous pursuit. If he could successfully
attack, and safely subdue, a vicious and dangerous whale which was working
destruction upon others who had assailed it; so he could harpoon a whale,
under circumstances of difficulty or _distance_, when no less powerful and
expert an arm could reach it. In the primary attack, the aim of the
harponeer is to get the boat fairly on the _back_ of the whale, that he may
the more effectually bury his barbed weapon deep in its body; but, as
ofttimes happens, the whale retires from the surface before the boat can
come up to it, and must then be assailed, if the distance will permit, by
the projecting of the harpoon with an energetic _heave_. To strike the
retiring or affrighted fish in this manner, with a weapon, which, with its
immediately attached line, is of the weight of eleven or twelve pounds, is
an operation requiring both strength and skill. Comparatively few
harponeers are able to perform this important object, effectually, beyond a
distance of twenty to twenty-two feet; and the distance of four fathoms, or
twenty-four feet, requires superior expertness. This, however, was an easy
range with my Father; whilst he has been known to heave his harpoon with
precision and success even as far as twenty-six or twenty-eight feet.

His management in the urging and furthering of the general operations of
the fishery was sometimes attended with extraordinary results. Thus, on one
occasion, during his command of the John of Greenock, he captured thirteen
whales in thirty hours, and flensed five of them, comprising a produce of
about eighty tuns of oil, of the commercial value (inclusive of the
whalebone) of about 3500_l._! The ice, in this case, closing and
threatening besetment, other ships in company urgently made their escape;
my Father, judiciously weighing the risks and probable advantages,
determined to abide the issue. He did so, his ship got beset, but, as he
had anticipated, was soon released, and on the relaxation of the pressure,
just as the ice was opening, whales again appeared, and he made further
important progress in the fishery!

       *       *       *       *       *

The originality of talent and tact so observable in the various records
heretofore given, became equally conspicuous, as occasions offered, in an
enlarged and general scope of application. The following case, though I do
not remember how I learnt it, is so characteristic of my Father, that I
cannot hesitate in offering it for illustration.

He had a remarkable keenness and power in the eye, which, in the case
referred to, he turned to account with a curious and surprising result.
Having occasion to visit a ship lying in a _tier_ in a dock, he
encountered, in his transit across from vessel to vessel, a fierce and
dangerous dog. Though warned against venturing to cross the deck on which
this formidable looking animal was placed as guardian, he, relying on the
power of the human eye, which he believed no animal, if its gaze were once
fixed, could bear, determined to venture on the experiment. Immediately on
the dog observing the approach of an intruder on its domain, it exhibited
the most expressive tokens of the intention to resist; and when my Father
put his leg over the bulwark of the contiguous vessel it flew fiercely
towards him. Pausing in this position, he strove to catch the eye of the
dog, an attempt which for some time it contrived to evade. But at length
succeeding so that whenever it glanced towards his face it met his steady,
stern, and penetrative gaze, an effect, in the discomposed expression of
the creature, became soon observable. Whilst thus obtaining and holding its
unwilling look, my Father moved his other leg over and slowly advanced with
one foot upon the rail of the guarded vessel,—a movement which was
resisted by fierce barking and sundry traverse-like springs, but, withal,
an obvious indisposition to attack the being whose eye was so over-awing.
Another step forward renewed the display of noise and action, but the
stern, fixed look, now perpetually watched, repelled the assailant. He next
stood firm on the forbidden deck, and yet was free from attack; he advanced
a step, and the dog still bounding from side to side, or forward and
backward in front, came no nearer. Another and another step was
deliberately, but determinately pushed forward, whilst the dog, repelled by
the immovable gaze, yielded the ground. The result, as I have understood,
was, that when the dog had been driven entirely across the deck where there
happened to be no defence as bulwark, betwixt the rail and the ship’s side,
my Father sprung a step or two suddenly forward, as if designing, in turn,
to become the assailant, when the panic-stricken brute, as suddenly
backing, unconsciously passed beneath the railing and fell overboard!

       *       *       *       *       *

As it has not been our plan in these memorial records to give a regular and
general biography, few circumstances in respect to habits on shore,
domestic relations, and private life, have been introduced. We may here,
however, supply some incidental matters in brief notices.

His habits of life were, in respect to matters of self-indulgence,
generally moderate and temperate. At sea, his favourite beverage was tea;
and though not connected with any Temperance Society, nor practising total
abstinence from stimulating drinks, he was a great tea-drinker. On
occasions of long exposure at the mast-head, or after irritation of the
throat by much exertion with the speaking-trumpet in giving directions to
the men at a distance, when on ice or in boats, he was wont to take what
was called an “egg-dram,” consisting of a raw egg beat up with a spoonful
or two of ardent spirits. This was not unfrequently carried up to him by
the steward, and taken in the crow’s-nest; but he almost regularly, except
at the dinner hour, resorted to tea on each succeeding occasion when
refreshment was needed. Under hard and prolonged engagements in fishing, or
penetrating the ice, when from twelve to eighteen hours (with but very
brief intervals below) might be spent aloft, his call to the steward, as
he anticipated a few minutes of respite, was often heard to prepare tea.
And “tea,” “tea,” some four or five or even six times, betwixt rising from
and retiring to his bed, has been the chief orders for refreshment in his
hard and protracted exertions.

       *       *       *       *       *

In character, my Father was patriotic, benevolent, and philanthropic; in
temper, quick and passionate, but soon composed, and singularly free from
animosity against those with whom he had been at variance, and _most
forgiving_ to those who had injured him.

He was an enthusiastic admirer of the British Constitution, in Church and
State; an ardent loyalist, and a sincere respecter of magisterial
authority. He loved his country, and made neither few nor unexpensive
efforts for the public benefit. On the last renewal of the Whitby Pier Act,
when difficulty and opposition were expected, he spent a considerable sum
in the engaging of professional assistance with the view to the renewal and
improvement of an Act so important to Whitby and the coasting navigation.

His course through life, though of almost uninterrupted prosperity, was not
of unmixed quietude. Jealousies and envyings on the part of some;
opposition, arising from misconceptions as to what they could not
understand, prevailed with others. But with those amongst whom he was cast,
of superior intelligence, he not unfrequently made his way satisfactorily
and agreeably. His personal superior intelligence and originality of
conception commended him to the favourable consideration of many of our
most eminent engineers and naval architects, and others professionally
engaged in public works. He was well known to the late Sir John Barrow, and
was a rather frequent visitor at the scientific assemblages at the house of
Sir Joseph Banks, as also many times a guest at the hospitable table of
that distinguished patron of science.

At all periods of his life, he was well estimated by many of those whose
judgment and superiority were publicly recognised; and, after his decease,
most of those who had not understood him, received new and favourable
impressions concerning him.

       *       *       *       *       *

In his regard to religion, there was no special profession. There was as
much freedom from ostentation as there was from hypocrisy, which he
despised. As to those things which mankind are prone to fail in, and as to
results in life in which it is found “that by reason of the frailty of our
nature we cannot always stand upright,”—I never recollect, in his own
case, his excusing them, or expressing views derogatory to Divine Grace, or
tending to the _abuse_ of its consoling doctrines. It was most manifest,
that his simple and entire reliance for justification before God, was in
Christ, and Christ alone; and it was equally manifest that he recognised
and held the duties of Christianity in their broad and practical bearing,
as of grand and indispensable importance for life and godliness.

But not to anticipate further another opinion, which may serve for a
conclusion of these records, I proceed again to quote from Mr. Drew, who,
after speaking, in summary, of his life as a seaman and a whale-fisher,
noticing very approvingly his improvements in the whale-fishery, and the
benefits conferred by his experience and observations on navigation and
commerce, proceeds (writing, it will be observed, whilst the subject of his
memoir was yet living,) in these commendatory terms:—

“In the career of this man we behold the progress of natural genius and
superior talents, surmounting every impediment, and conducting him from a
team of oxen and the plough to wealth and reputation, and to the highest
honours that the whale-fishery can bestow.

“To this it is pleasing to add, that, instead of imitating the conduct of
too many engaged in his profession, ascribing success to _luck_ or
_fortune_,—Mr. Scoresby, throughout the whole of his dangerous course,
acknowledges the overruling Providence of God, and does not forget, though
an inhabitant of time, that he has an interest in eternity.

“Of benevolent institutions he is the patron and friend, and the poor of
Whitby have experienced his bounty. The diffusion of the truths of
Revelation throughout the world has his best wishes and his [most liberal]
support. He views Christianity, not merely as a system of ethics, but as
possessing a soul-transforming power, which renovates the heart and
regulates the life, and as that alone which can make men wise unto

       *       *       *       *       *

Reader! If _very_ much has been said, in the foregoing pages, in respect of
superiority of talent, and energy and originality of mind in the individual
whose acts and adventures it has been my object to describe, the statements
and facts adduced will, I trust, be found to justify the terms made use of;
but if commendations beyond what some might be disposed to yield, have, in
any case, been bestowed, or if admiration extending to partiality may have
appeared to characterise any of my comments, I would confidently ground my
claim on your indulgence in consideration of the circumstance, that the
revered subject of these records was


Printed by M. MASON, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row.


[O] The inexperienced mechanic is liable to be puzzled with the action of
the _wedge_, because of its being estimated, in some modes of its
application, in the _double_ proportion of its length to that of once its
thickness, giving to it, _apparently_, twice the force of the other
mechanical powers. It may not be unfitting, for the sake of our young
readers, to explain the little difficulty. The wedge when acting against
one fixed and immoveable body for the removal of another body, has then,
only, the like force as the lever,—a force proportionate to the extent of
space passed over, in driving, by the length, with respect to the increase
in the thickness, of the wedge; but when acting for the separation of two
bodies, both moveable, both sides then become effective, and it necessarily
exerts double that power. And so does the lever. For if the lever be
employed in like manner, the action in separating two moveable bodies will
be just double that of its ordinary action where the fulcrum is absolutely
fixed. This, indeed, is obviously the same with all the mechanical powers.
Action and reaction being equal, the power exerted in raising or moving one
heavy body must be exerted reversely against the earth, or other fixed body
serving as a fulcrum to the lever, or for the attachment of one extremity
of a tackle or series of pullies, or for the securing of the capstan
spindle. Let the attachments of the machine and its object, however, be
both afloat, and then any of the mechanical powers, like that of the wedge,
will have an efficiency of double that of its ordinary operation where one
part is a fixture.

[P] This important work not being yet brought to a completion,—the
ultimate and abiding influence of the alterations cannot be accurately
predicted. The entrance of the harbour, by the new extension of the east
pier, having been narrowed, perhaps too considerably, a temptation is
offered to cast the terminal length, or head, in a bell-mouthed fashion
more easterly. If such an arrangement were made (as my intelligent
connection, Mr. Jackson of Whitby, suggests) it _might_ produce a very
mischievous effect by giving a broad fan-tail exit to the escaping ebb-tide
waters, and so diminishing their force at the very point where
concentration and compactness of efflux are of the greatest importance in
scouring the entrance and keeping it clear of sandy deposits.




1. Sabbaths in the Arctic Regions:
Second Edition. _Post 8vo._, cloth boards, 3_s._ 6_d._

2. The Mary Russell:
Second Edition. _Post 8vo._, cloth boards, 3_s._ 6_d._

3. My Father:
Being RECORDS of the adventurous Life of the late WILLIAM

THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION: _8vo. cloth boards, with two large Charts, 6s._

Remarks on Researches for North-west Passage: the Public Duty concerning
our gallant Countrymen—Historical Sketch of the Plans and Outset of the
Missing Expedition, and of Researches made for its Relief—Suggestion of a
Plan for present Measures of Search—the Passage of the Middle Ice of
Baffin Bay, with illustrative Incidents—on Aids to the furtherance of
Research—with an Appendix.

MAGNETICAL INVESTIGATIONS: _8vo., with Plates. Part I., 5s.: Part II., 10s.

Comprising original Researches on,—the Magnetic Capabilities of various
descriptions of Steel and Iron—the Ratios of Increase of Power by
Combinations of Bars and Plates—the Effects of Hardness, Quality, Form,
and Mass on the resulting Magnetic Power—the Determination of the Quality
and Temper of Steel best adapted for Compasses, with original Modes of
testing the Quality of Iron and Steel, and greatly improving Magnetical
Instruments in general.


Consisting of original Researches in Mesmeric Phenomena, with the view of
eliciting the Scientific Principles of this mysterious Agency—and in which
Experiments are described eliciting strong Electric or Magneto-electric
Conditions, with the intercepting of the Mesmeric Influence by Electrics,
and the neutralizing of the Effects of Substances, having an ungenial
Influence on the Subject, by the same Process as was found to neutralize
the Electricity of Sealing-wax, etc., as acting on the Electroscope.


A Sermon preached in St. James’ Episcopal Chapel, Edinburgh, August 4,
1850, on occasion of the Meeting of the British Association for the
Advancement of Science.—1_s._


_2 vols. 8vo.—Out of print._


Including Researches and Discoveries on the Eastern Coast of Greenland in
1822.—_1 vol. 8vo.—Out of print._

=“William Scoresby’s des Jüngern Tagebuch einer Riese auf den

A German Translation by Professor FREDERICK KRIES, published in Hamburgh



Frederick R. H. S., who fell asleep in Jesus, Dec. 31, 1834; aged 16
years:—_12mo. 4s._


Consisting of Fifteen Sermons, preached in the Mariners’ Church, Liverpool,
treated, for the most part _generally_, on subjects of Christian Practice
and Doctrine: _12mo. 4s._



As gathered by the Rev. H. CHEEVER, on a Voyage undertaken for his Health,
and Edited and Revised by the Rev. W. SCORESBY, D.D.

London; Printed by M. MASON, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row.


Page 17: villany as in the original
Page 28, Footnote F: incidently as in the original
Pages 34, 210: taught as in the original
Page 42: sea-faring standardised to the more common seafaring
Page 43: seaman-like standardised to the more common seamanlike
Pages 44, 101, 109, 113, 225: harponeers as in the original
Page 71: Section VI corrected to Section V
Page 81: teazing as in the original
Page 82: reconnoissance as in the original
Page 93: thermometic as in the original
Page 94: hybernating as in the original
Page 103, 183: inconsistent hyphenation of Greenlandman/Greenland-man as in
  the original
Page 105: stratagy as in the original
Pages 106, 118: inconsistent hyphenation of leeside/lee-side as in the
Page 112: correspondently as in the original
Page 127, 146, 225: harponeer as in the original
Page 132: cabouse as in the original
Pages 141, 190: inconsistent hyphenation of hundredweight/hundred-weight as
  in the original
Pages 143, 165: inconsistent hyphenation of goodwill/good-will as in the
Page 144: masthead standardised to the more common mast-head
Page 159: tenaceousness as in the original
Page 174: mechanician as in the original
Page 197: geer as in the original
Pages 200, 209: topmast standardised to the more common top-mast
Page 204: recal as in the original
Page 216: kelson, stantions as in the original
Advertisements: Rries corrected to Kries

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