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/*. Neill, Printer. 




CHAP. I. — Chronological History of 
the Northern Whale-Fisheries, - 1 

CHAP. II. — Comparative View of the Origin, 
Progress, and Present State of the Whale- 
Fisheries of different European Nations, 96 
Sect. L Whale-Fishery of the British, - 98 

2. Whale-Fishery of the British Colonies in 

America, - - 134 

3. Whale-Fishery of the Dutch, - 138 

4. Whale-Fishery of the Spaniards, French, 

Danes, Germans, Norwegians, Prussians 

and Swedes, - I6I 

CHAP. HI.— Situation of the early Whale- 
Fishery, — Manner in which it was conduct- 
ed, — and the Alterations which have sub- 
sequently taken place, - - 172 

CFAP.IV.— Account of the Modem Whale- 
Fisheiy, as conducted at Spitzbergen, 187 

Sect. 1. Description of a well-adapted Greenland 
Ship, with the additional strengthenings 
requisite for resisting the Concussions of 
the Ice, - - 187 

2. Proceedings on board of a Greenland Ship, 
fi-om putting to sea to her arrival on the 
Coast of Spitzbergen, - - 199 


Sect. 3. Observations on the Fishery of different 
latitudes and seasons, and under different 
circumstances of ice, wind and weather, 207 

4. Description of the Boats and principal In- 

struments used in the capture of the Whale, 221 

5. Preparations for the Fishery, - 230 

6. Proceedings on Fishing Stations, - 236 
7' Proceedings in capturing the Whale, - 240 

8. Alterations produced in the manner of con- 

ducting the Fishery, by pecidiar circum- 
stances of Situation and Weather, - 257 

a. Pack-fishing, - ib. 

b. Field-fishing, - 259 

c. Fishing in crowded Ice, or in open Packs, 266 

d. Bay-Ice-fishing, - 268 

e. Fishing in Storms, - 272 
/. Fishing in Foggy Weather, - 273 

9. Anecdotes, illustrative of peculiarities in the 

Whale-Fishery, - 276 

10. Proceedings after a Whale is killed, - 292 

11. Process of Flensing, - 298 

12. Process of Making-off, - 304 

13. Laws of the Whale-fishery, - 312 

14. Remarks on the Causes on which Success in 

the Whale-fishery depends, - 333 

15. Anecdotes illustrative of the Dangers of the 

Whale-fishery, - - 340 

a. Dangers from Ice, - '' 341 

b. , the nature of the Climate, 346 

c. the Whale, - 356 

16. Proceedings in a Greenland Ship, from lea- 

ving the Fishing Stations, to her arrival in 
Britain, - _ 36gi 

17. Legislative Regulations on the Importation 

of the Produce of the Northern Whale- 
fisheries, - - 378 


CHAP, v.— Account of the Davis' Strait 
Whale-Fishery, and a comparison with that 
of Greenland, with Statements of Expen- 
ces and Profits of a Fishing Ship, - 382 

Sect. 1. Some account of the Whale-fishery, as at 
present conducted in Davis' Strait, and 
on the Coast of Labrador, - ib. 

2. Comparative View of the Fisheries of Green- 

land and Davis' Strait, - 390 

3. Statements of Expences and Profits on some 

Whale-fishing Voyages, - 393 

CHAP. VI.— Method of Extracting Oil and 

Preparing Whalehone, and Remarks on the 

uses to which the several products of the 

Whale- Fishery are applied, - 397 

Sect. 1. Description of the Premises and Apparatus 

used in extracting Oil out of Blubber, 397 

2. Process of Boiling Blubber or Extracting 

Oil, - - 400 

3. Description of Whale-Oil, and Remarks on 

the cause of its offensive smell, - 408 

4. Description of Whalebone, and of the Me- 

thod of Preparing it, - - 415 
- 5. Remarks on the Uses to which the Oil, 
Fenks, TaQs, Jawbones, and other pro- 
duce of Whales are applicable, - 420 

CHAP. VH. — Narrative of Proceedings on 
board of the Ship Esk, during a Whale- 
Fishing Voyage to the coast of Spitzbergen, 
in the year 1816, - - 438 




No. I.— Abstract of the Acts of Parliament at present in 
force for the Regulation of the Whale-fish- 
eries of Greenland and Davis' Strait, 491 
II. — 1. Some Remarks on the most advantageous 

Dimensions of a Whale-Ship, - 506 

2. Additional Notices respecting the Fortifica- 
tions of a Greenland Ship, - 508 
III.— -Schedule of the Principal Fishing Apparatus 
necessary for a Ship, of 300 tons bm-den or 
upwards, intended to be employed in the 
Greenland Trade, - - 509 
IV.— Manner of Mustering the Crew of Whale- 
Ships, with some account of the Affidavits, 
Certificates, &c, required by Law, - 512 

v.— Account of a Trial respecting the right of the 
Ship Experiment, to a Whale struck by one 
of the Crew of the Neptime ; Gale v. Wil- 
kinson, - - 518 

VI.— Signals used in the Whale-fishery, - 521 

1. General Signals, - - 522 

2. Particular Signals, - 524 

VII. — Account of some Experiments for determining 
the Relations between Weight and Measr r- 
in certain quantities of Whale-Oil, - 525 

VIII. — Some account of the Whale Fishery conducted 

in the Southern Seas, - - 529 

IX.' — Observations and Deductions on the Anomaly 

in the Variation of the Magnetic Needle, as 

observed on Ship-board, - 537 

X. Explanation of the Plates, - - 552 

Index, ------ 561 





AN the early ages of the world, when beasts of 
prey began to multiply and annoy the vocations of 
man, the personal danger to which he must have been 
occasionally exposed, would oblige him to contrive 
some means of defence. For this end he would na- 
turally be induced, both to prepare weapons, and 
also to preconceive plans for resisting the disturbers 
of his peace. His subsequent rencounters with 
beasts of prey would therefore be more frequently 
successful ; not only in effectually repelling them 
when they sliould attack liim, but also in some in- 
stances in accomplishing their destruction. By 63?.- 

VOI.. II. A 


perience, he would gradually discover more safe and 
effectual methods of resistmg and conquering his 
irrational enemies ; his general success would be- 
get confidence, and that confidence at leng<:(i would 
lead him to pursue in his turn the former objects 
of his dread, and thus change his primitive defen- 
sive act of self-preservation into an offensive ope- 
ration, fonning a novel, interesting, and noble re- 
creation. Hence we can readily and satisfactorily 
trace to the principle of necessity, the adroitness 
and coiu'age evidenced by the unenlightened na- 
tions of the world, in their successful attacks on the 
most formidable of the brute creation ; and hence 
we can conceive, that necessity may impel the 
indolent to activity, and the coward to actions which 
would not disgrace the brave. 

If we attempt to apply this principle to the ori- 
gin of the schemes instituted by man, for subduing 
the cetaceous tribe of the animal creation, it may 
not at the first sight appear referable to the exi- 
gence of necessity. For man to attempt to sub- 
due an animal whose powers and ferocity he regard- 
ed mth superstitious dread, and the motion of 
which he conceived AvOuld produce a vortex i;'ifficient 
to swallow up his boat, or any other vessel in which 
he might approach it, — an animal of at least six 
hundred times his own bulk, a stroke of the tail of 
w^hich might hurl his boat into tlic air, or dash it 
and himself to pieces, — an animal inhabiting at the 


^me time an element in which he himself could 
not subsist ; — for man to attempt to subdue such 
an animal under such circumstances, seems one of 
the most hazardous enterprises, of which the inter- 
course with the irrational world could possibly ad- 
mit. And yet this animal is successfully attacked, 
and seldom escapes when once he comes within reach 
of the darts of his assailer. 

In tracing from a principle of necessity the pro- 
gress of such a difficult and hazardous undertaking, 
from its first conception in the mind to its full ac- 
complishment ; in the existing deficiency of authen- 
tic records, much must be left to speculation. The 
following view may at least be considered as plau- 

It seems to be tlic opinion of most writers on the 
subject of the Whale-Fishery, that the Biscayans 
were the first wlio exercised their courage in waging 
a war of deatli with the whales, and succeeded in 
their capture. This opinion, though, perhaps, not 
correct, as will hereafter appear, is yet a sufficient 
foundation for investigating the probable origin of 
this rem:irkablc employment. These people, like 
the inhabitants of almost all sea-coasts, were em- 
ployed, principally, in the occupation of fishing. 
A species of whale, probably the Balwna rostrata, 
was a frequent visitor to the sliores of France and 
Spain. In pursuit of lierrings and other small 
Hshes, these whales would produce a serious destruc* 

A 2. 


tion among the nets of the fishermen of Biscay and 
Gascony. Concern for the preservation of their 
nets, which probably constituted their principal pro- 
perty, would naturally suggest the necessity of dri- 
ving these intruding monsters from their coasts. 
With this view, the use of fire-arms, or, supposing 
the capture of these animals by the Basques and Bis- 
cayans to have been effected prior to the invention of 
gunpowder (a. d. 1330), which was probably the 
case, the use of arrows and spears would naturally 
be resorted to. On shooting at the whales, either by 
means of the bow or the musket, they would doubt- 
less be surprised to find, that, instead of their be- 
ing the ferocious, formidable, and dangerous ani- 
mals they had conceived, they were timid and in- 
offensive. This observation would have a ten- 
dency to supply them with such additional confi- 
dence and courage, that the most adventurous, from 
motives of emulation, the prospect of profit, or even 
from a principle of fool-hardiness, might be induced 
to approach some individual of the species, and even 
dart their spears into its body. Perceiving that it 
evinced no intention of resistance, but that, on 
the contrary, it immediately fled with precipitation 
to the bottom of the sea, and that, on its return to 
the surface, it was quite exhausted, and apparently 
in a dying state ; they might conceive the possibili- 
ty of entangling some of tlie species, by means of a 
cord attached to a barbed arrow or spear. If, to the 


end of this cord they attached one of the buoys 
used in their common fishing occupations, it woukl 
point out the place of the wounded animal, fatigue 
it in its motions, and would possibly goad it on to 
produce such a degree of exhaustion, that it might 
fall an easy prey to these adventurous fishermen. 
One of these animals being thus captured, and its 
value ascertained, the prospect of emolument would 
be sufficient to establish a fishery of the cetaceous 
tribe, and lead to all the beneficial effects which 
have in modern times resulted. 

Historians, in general, it has been observed, have 
given to the Biscayans the credit of having first suc- 
ceeded in capturing the whale upon the high sea. 
Those authorities, indeed, may be considered as un- 
questionable, which inform us, that the Basques and 
Biscayans, so early as the year 1575, exposed them- 
selves to the perils of a distant navigation, with a 
view to measure their strength with the whales, in 
the midst of an clement constituting the natu- 
ral habitation of these enormous animals ; that the 
English in 1594, fitted an expedition for Cape Bre- 
ton, intended for the fishery of the whale and the 
walrus (seahorse), pursued the walrus-fishing in suc- 
ceeding years in high northern latitudes, and in 
1611 first attacked the whale near the shores of 
Spitzbergen ; and that the Hollanders, and subse- 
quently, other nations of Europe, became participar 


tors in tlie risk and. advantages of these northern ex- 
peditions. Thus, according to these writings, the 
Basques and Biscayans, then the English, and af- 
terwards the Dutch, were the nations who first prac- 
tised the fishery for the whale. Some researches 
on the origin of this fishery, carried on in the north- 
ern seas, however, will be sufficient to rectify the 
error of these conclusions, by proving, that the 
whale-fishery by Europeans may be traced as far 
back, at least, as the ninth century *. 

Oppien, in his treatise dc Piscatu, has left some 
details of the ancient whale-fishery, which, however, 
we shall pass over ; because he seems to refer prin- 
cipally, if not altogether, to the smaller species of 
whales of the genus Dclpkinus. We, therefore, 
go on to authority which is more respectable. 

The earliest authenticated account of a fishery 
for whales, is probably that contained in Ohthere's 
Voyage by Alfred the Great. This voyage was un- 
dertaken about the year 890 by Ohthere a native 
of Halgoland, in the diocese of Dronthein, a per- 
son of considerable wealth in his own country, from 
motives of mere curiosity, at his own risk, and un- 
der his o^\^l personal superintendence. His enter- 
prise was communicated by the navigator himself to 
King Alfred, who preserved it, and has handed it 

* Noel. 


clown to US in his translation of Orosius*. On 
this occasion, Ohthere sailed to the northward along 
the coast of Norway, round the North Cape, to the 
entrance of the White Sea. Three days after leav- 
ing Dronthein or Halgoland, " he was come as far 
" towards the north, as commonly the whale-hunt- 
" ers used to travel f ." Here Ohthere evidently al- 
ludes to the hunters of the walrus or seahorse ; but 
subsequently, he speaks pointedly as to a fishery for 
some species of cetaceous animals, having been at 
that period practised by the Norwegians. He told 
the King, that with regard to the common kind of 
whales, the place of most and best hunting for them 

* The work of Orosius is a summarj' of ancient history, 
ending with the year 417, at which period he Hved. He was 
a Spaniard and a Christian. To this translation, Alfred add- 
ed, of his own composition, a Sketch of Germany, and the va- 
luable Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan, the former towards 
the North Pole, the latter into the Baltic Sea. The principal 
MS. of Alfred's Orosius, which is very ancient and well writ- 
ten, is preserved in the Cotton Library, Tiberius, b. 1. In 
1773, the Honourable Daines Harrington published the An- 
glo-Saxon Orosius, with an English translation. His MS. 
was a transcript fonnerly made of this. — Turner's Anglo- 
Saxons, vol. ii. p. 282, 283, and 284. 

t Hackluyt's Voyages, vol. i. p. 4. Turner's History of the 
Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii. p. 288.-296, reads, " Three days was 
" he as far north as the whale hunters farthest go." — '' Da 
" ves he sva feor nord sva sva liooel huntan fyrrest farad." . 


was in his own country ; wliereof some be 48 ells of 
length, and some 50, of which sort, he affirmed, that 
he himself was one of the six who in the space of 
three (hvoj days, killed threescore *. From this it 
would appear, that tlie whale-fishery was not only 
prosecuted by the Norwegians so early as the ninth 
century, but that Ohthere himself had personal 
knowledge of it. But when he affirms, that him- 
self, with five men, captured 60 of these whales in 
two days, when it is well known that fifty men, un- 
der the most favourable circumstances, and in the 
present improved state of the fishery, could not have 
taken one-half, or even one-third of that number in 
the same space of time, of any of the larger species 
of whales, — we are naturally led to question the 
authenticity of the account, as far as relates to this 
transaction ; and in questioning one part, throw a 
shade of doubt over the whole narrative. As, how- 
ever, the voyage of Ohthere is a document of much 
value in history, both in respect to the matter of it, 
and the high character of the author by whom it 
has been preserved, it were well to examine care- 
fully tliis circumstance, before we decide on a point 
so important, rlitherto I have followed Hackluyt ; 
but if we refer to the o iginal, we shall find, that 
Hackluyt himself, is probably, in this instance, the 

* Hackluyt's Voyagesj vol. i. p. 4^ 


occasion of the apparent inconsistency. Turner, in 
his " History of the Anglo-Saxons," gives a copy in 
the original language of this part of Alfred's Orosius, 
taken from the principal manuscript preserved in the 
Cotton Library. In reference to this passage, where 
the remarkable exploit of Ohthere is recorded, he ob- 
serves, that the Saxon words of tliis sentence haAe 
perplexed the translators. He has ventured to give 
it Si/me meaning, by supposing, that si/xa is an er- 
ror in the manuscript, and should be / .va ; by 
which alteration the passage reads, " On his own 
" land are the best whales hunted ; they are 48 ells 
" long, and the largest 50 ells. There, he said, 
" that of (fijcca) some fish, he slew sixty in two 
" days *." Thus, the whale here referred to, might, 

* The words of the original are, " Ac on his agnum lande 
" is se bets'ta hwoel huntath tha booth eahta and feowertiges 
" elna lange, tha ma?stan fiftiges ehia lange, thai'a he saede 
" thaet he syxa (or fyxa) sum of sloge syxtig on twani dag- 
" num." Turner's Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii. p. 292. note. 

The Honourable Daines Barrington, in the account of 
Ohthere's Voyage, published in his " Miscellanies," translates 
the passage, containing his exploit in the whale-fisherj^, in the 
words, " That he had killed some six ; and sixty in two days ;" 
but, conscious of the unintelligibleness of the sentence, he ob- 
serves in a note, that " Syxa," he conceives, " should be a se- 
" cond time repeated here, instead of syxtig or sixty ; it would 
" then only be asserted, that six had been taken in two daySj 
" which is much more probable than sixty." (p. 462.) 


possibly, be that species of Delphinus, so frequent- 
ly driven on shore in great numbers at Orkney, 
Shetland, and Iceland, in the present age ; where, 
in this way, a few small boats have been known to 
capture even a larger number than Oh there speaks of, 
in one day. If so, though it does not contradict or 
explain away the fact, of larger whales having been 
likewise hunted and captured, it removes the objec- 
tion as to the improbability of the exploit recorded, 
and enables us to adhere with greater confidence to 
our authority of the great antiquity of the whale- 
fishery by the Norv/egians. 

In various ancient authors, we have accounts of 
whales as an object of pursuit ; and by some nations 
held in high estimation as an article of food. Pas- 
sing over the notices of these animals by the classic 
authors as objects of peculiar di'cad, or as prognostics 
of peculiar events, I proceed to the consideration of 
those which mention the whale in the way of fish- 
ery or capture, as my more immediate object *. 

* For the following researches relative to the ancient history 
of the Wliale- fishery ;, up to the middle of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, I am chiefly indebted to a " Memoire sur I'Antiquite de 
" la Peche de la Baleine par les Nations Europeennes," by 
S. B. J. Noel, Paris, 1795, 12mo. The greater part of the 
references I have compared with the originals ; and where 
the spirit of the language has been altered by the translation?, 
.1 have endeavoured to correct it. 


A Danish work *, which, there is reason to sup- 
pose, was written about the middle of the twelfth 
century, but, at any rate, of a date much earlier 
than that which we assign to the first fishery of 
the Basques, declares, that the Icelanders, about 
this period, were in the habit of pursuing the whales, 
wliich they killed on the shore, and that these is- 
landers subsisted themselves on the flesh of some 
one of the species f . And Langebek does not hesi- 
tate to assert |, that the fishery of the whale (hval- 
fangst) was practised in the most northern coun- 
tries of Europe, in the ninth century. 

Whether the Normans, in the different invasions 
which they made on France, might have carried the 
method of harpooning and capturing the whale 
thither, or whether these processes, as I have before 
suggested, were known and practised by tlie fisher- 
men inhabiting the Bay of Biscay before their in- 
cursions, is uncertain ; nevertheless it would aj)- 
pear, that the French were not unacquainted with 
the business at a very remote period. Under the 

* Kongs Skugg-sio, 121. 

t The whale here referred to, is probably the species of 
Delphinus, usually called Bottle-nose, which is yet occasion- 
ally driven on shore by the mhabitants of Shetland, Orkney, 
Feroe, and Iceland. 

X Langebek, Rer. Dan. hist. med. cevi, ii. 108, 


date of 875, in a book, entitled thelVanslatioji and 
Miracles of St Vaast *, mention is made of tlic 
whale-fishery on the French coast. In the Life of 
St Arnoidd, blsliop of Soissons f , a work of the 
eleventh century, particular mention is made of the 
fishery by the harpoon, on the occasion of a miracle 
performed by the Saint. Some Flemish fisher- 
men had wounded, with strokes of their lances, a* 
large whale, the capture of which they believed to 
be certain, when suddenly, regaining his strength, 
the animal struggled so violently, that he was on 
the point of escaping from them. At this critical 
juncture, they considered their only resource was to 
invoke the Saint, say their legcndaire, and pro- 
mise him a part of the fish, if he would be propitious 
in assisting them to subdue it. The offering was 
happily accepted ; and, to their joy, the same instant, 
the whale is said to have suftcred them to approach 
it, and without further resistance was killed, and 
drawn to the shore at the will of the fishers. 

At this period, we have different authorities for 
supposing, that a whale-fishery was carried on near the 
coasts of Normandy and Flanders. We find, in the 
eleventh century, a donation of William the Con- 
queror, to the Convent of the Holy Trinity of Caen, 

■» a Translation et des Miracles de Saint Vaast." 
i> " Vie de Saint Arnould, Eveque de Soiwon^." 


of tlie tithe of whales captured at or brought to 
Dive *; and in a bull of Pope Eugene III. in 1145, 
we find again a donation in favour of the church of 
Coutances, of the tithe of the tongues of whales {- 
taken at Merry, a gift which was confirmed to this 
church by an act of Philip, King of France, in 
1319. Tliough there seems nothing in the words 
of these acts against the idea, that the v»'hales here 
spoken of were fished for in the sea, but, on the con- 
trary, they rather convey a belief, that the Normans, 
familiarised in the north with these hardy enter- 
prises, never hesitated the repetition of them in the 
Channel, with a superiority of means and of courage 
derived from experience ; yet, as hitherto, there is 
nothing decisive as to a fishery having been actual- 
ly carried on by the French, I do not feel myself 
competent to speak positively to the point. 

* " Decimam Divac, — de balenis et de sale," &c. Gall. Christ. 
xi. i?istruni. 59. 

f « Apud Merri, decimas Ungnarum cenarinn qua* 

" capiuntur inter Tar et Tarel fluvios, &c. — decima Ugnarum 
" crflAi'i/jJA'cv.y totius ripparia? maris," &c. Gal. Christ, xi. insir. 
240.-273. There are two serious errors in the text of tliese 
two charters. In the first we must read cclarum, instead o^ 
cenarum ; and, in the second, linguarum, instead of Ugnarum, 
for establishing the sense, without which they will be unintelli- 
gible. These charters likewise indicate, that the })eopIe of 
Normandy were in the habit of eating the tongues of whale«. 

14 WHALE-nSHEllV. 

The great I3'Aiissy, who has given a valuable 
work on the private life of the French*, quotes a 
manuscript of the thirteenth century, where mention 
is made of the flesh of the whale being used for 
food. Pie also quotes a fable f, tending to prove 
the same point ; and as he makes it appear, that 
the flesh, and particularly the tongue, was publicly 
sold in the markets of Bayonne, Cibourre, and Beariz, 
and that it was esteemed as a delicacy ; it is pre- 
sumed that it was sold in its fresh state, and that 
they took tlie whales at a little distance from the 
coast, in the manner practised in Normandy. In 
support of this opinion, it may be observed, that 
Edward III. King of England, had a revenue of 
6/. Sterling, upon every whale taken and brought 
into the harbour of Beariz; which, in 1338, was so 
considerable, that it became the subject of petition 
by Peter de Puyanne, Admiral of the English 
fleet stationed at Bayonne, and it seems was 
awarded to him, in consideration of his services in 
the capacity of Admiral, in which he was employ- 
ed t 

'" " La Vie jirivee des Fran^ais." 

t " BataUle de Charnage et de Careme ;" — " La Vie privee/' 
Ac. vol. ii. 66. 6S. 

X Rymer's '' Focdera." Tom. v. p. 46. 12, Edw. IIL 


Whilst the Norwegians, Flemings, French, and 
probably the Spaniards of Biscay, seem to have 
thus early subjected to their necessities or ambi- 
tion, the largest animals in the creation, the Eng- 
lish, it is not to be expected, remained long be- 
hind. Vs^e possess, indeed, few documents, which 
relate to any very early attempts to capture the 
whale by the English ; and those we have, leave 
us rather in doubt whether the whales therein re- 
ferred to, were such as were run on shore by acci- 
dent, or whales attacked and subdued upon the 
high sea. By an act of Edward II. * a. d. 1315, 
in an agreement with Yolendis de Soliere, La- 
dy of Belino, he reserves to himself the right 
of all whales cast by chance upon the shore ; 
and, by a subsequent act, (a. d. 1324.) the wreck 
of whales throughout the realm, or whales or 
great sturgeons taken in the sea, or elsewhere, 
within the realm, excepting- certain privileged 
places, were to belong to tlie King f . Another 

* Rymer's Foedera, torn. iii. p. 514. and 515. An. 8. 
Edward II. 

t " Item habet warectnm maris per totum reg-num, bale- 
" nas et sturgiones captos in mari vel alibi infra regnum, ex- 
" ceptis quibusdam locis privilegiatis per Reges." Cotton, 
MS. 17. Edward II. o. 11. 


act recorded by Dugdale *, expresses, that Henry 
IV. gave, ill 1415, to the Church of Rochester, 
the tithe of whales taken along the shore of that 

The wliale-fishcrs of the sixteenth century, who 
most distinguished themselves by their habitual 
success in capturing those formidable creatures 
which constituted the objects of their pursuit, were 
the inhabitants of the shores of the Bay of Biscay. 
On the French side, the fishers of Cape Breton, 
of Plech or Old Boucaut, the Basques of Beariz, 
of Gattari, St Jean-de-Luz, of Cibourre, &c., and 
the Biscayans, on the side of Spain, are all un- 
derstood to have been actively engaged in at- 
tacking the whales, whenever they appeared in 
the Bay of Biscay f ; and with almost uninter- 
rupted success. The animal, however, captured 
by these people, was not the great Mysticetus 
or common whale, but a species of Fin-whale, 
probably the Balsena rostrata of Linnaus, as ap- 
pears both by the testimony of the Dutch ^, and by 

* ** Hem*icus rex Anglorum, Anselmo Archiepiscopo, &c. 
" Sciatis nos dedisse S. Andreae de Rovecestra, &c. — Et deci- 
" mam Balenarum quae captae fuerint in Episcopatu Rofen- 
'* si." — Monas. Angl. i. 30. 

t Noel, Momoire, &c. p. 1 1 . 

:}: *• Nicuwe Beschry ving der VValvisvangst en Haringvisschet 
*' ly," vol. i. 


the known habits of the common whale, which has 
never yet been seen in the European seas, as far as 
I can learn, but only in or very near the regions of 
ice. Besides, the food of the mysticetus does not 
seem to occur in the necessary profusion except in 
the Polar Seas. The fin-whales, on the contrary, 
which feed in general on herrings and other white 
fish, find large supplies of food in most parts of the 
North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. 

At first, these animals used to present themselves 
in the Bay of Biscay, at a certain season every year, 
when they were attacked by the Biscayans. At 
length, however, when the capture of them became 
a particular object of industry, and the whales were 
disturbed and became less abundant, with a desire 
also, it appears, of enjoying a more uninterrupted 
fisliery, the Biscayans insensibly became bolder, and 
being good navigators, anticipated their return by 
pursuing them when they left the Bay, until they ul- 
timately approached the coasts of Iceland, Green- 
land and Newfoundland*. The Icelanders, now at- 
tracted by a prospect of a new branch of commerce, 
fitted out vessels, and uniting their energies with 
those of tlie Biscayans, conducted the whale-fish- 
cry on so extensive a scale, that, towards the end 


* Bescliryvinjr der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 1. 


of the sixteenth century, the number of vessels an- 
nually employed by the united nations, amounted 
to a fleet of 50 or 60 sail*. 

The first attempt by the English to capture the 
whale, of which we have any satisfactory account, 
was made in the year 1594. Different ships were 
fitted out for Cape Breton, at the entrance of the 
Gulf of St Lawrence, part of which were destined for 
the walrus-fishery, and the remainder for the whale- 
fishery. The Grace of Bristol, one of these vessels, 
took on board 700 or 800 whale-fins or laminae of 
whalebone, which they found in the Bay of St 
George, where two large Biscayan fishermen had 
been wrecked three years before. This is the first 
notice I have met with of the importation of this 
article into Great Britain f. 

However doubtful it might have appeared at one 
time, whether the English or the Dutch were the 
first discoverers of Spitzbergen, the claim of the 
English to the discovery and first practice of the 
whale-fishery on the coasts of these islands, stands 

* Beschryvmg, vol. i. p. i. 

t Hackluyt's Voyages, vol. iii. p. 241. 

X The Dutch allow that the English preceded them to the 
Greenland or Spitsbergen whale-fishery, four years. — Beschry- 
ving der Walv. vol. i. p. 2. 


Out of the several attempts which had been made 
to find a passage on the north of Eiuope or Ameri- 
ca to the East Indies, arose the Archangel trade ; 
for the prosecution of which, the Russia Company 
was established under an advantageous charter. 
The active prosecution of this trade, and the annual 
fishery about the North Cape and Cherry Island, 
for the walrus, so inured the English to these bois- 
terous and frigid regions, that, on the retreat of the 
objects of their pursuit, they extended their voyage 
(which had usually terminated at Cherry Island) to 
the northward, along the coast of Spitzbergen, 
where they resigned the capture of the walrus and 
seal, for the more important fishery of the whale. 

The discovery of the Greenland whale-fishery, it 
therefore appears, w^as not a circumstance that im- 
mediately resulted from the prior discovery of Spitz- 
bergen, but it arose out of the enterprising charac- 
ter of the adventurers, employed in commercial spe- 
culations at this period ; which character would, 
most undoubtedly, have led them to follow the ob- 
jects of pursuit, when they retreated to the north- 
ward, independent of the existence of these islands. 
Hence, whatever importance is attached to the dis- 
covery of these barren lands, the value of the disco- 
very is eclipsed by that of the whale-fishery in the 
prolific seas adjacent ; as it in a short time proved 
the most hicrative, and the most important branch 

E 2 


of national commerce, which had ever been offered 
to the industry of man. 

The merchants of Hull, who were ever remark- 
able for their assiduous and enterprising spirit, fit- 
ted out ships for the v>^hale-fishery so early as the 
year 1598*; which they continued regidarly to pro- 
secute on the coasts of Iceland and near the North 
Cape, for several years ; and after the re-discovery 
of Spitzbergen by Hudson in 1607, they were 
among the first to push forward to its coasts. 

Captain Jonas Poole was sent out on a voyage 
of discovery in the year 1610, by the " Company 
^^ for the Discovery ofunlmoxmi Countries,'' the 
" Muscovy Company," or the " Russia Company," as 
it was subsequently denominated. When unable 
to proceed farther to the northward, he returned 
to Spitzbergen, and employed himself some time in 
killing sea-horses, in order to reduce the expences of 
the voyage. Having observed a vast number of 
whales on the coast, he mentioned it to the compa- 
ny after his return, Avho, the next year, fitted out 
two ships for the fishery ; the Marie JMargaret of 
160 tons, under the direction of Thomas Edge, 
factor, and the Elizabeth of 60 tons, Jonas Poole, 
master. Edge had six Biscayans along with him, 
expert at killing whales, and his ship was fur- 

* Elking's View of the Greenland Trade and Whale-fishery, 
p. 41. 


iiislied with the requisite apparatus for the fishery. 
About the 12th of June they killed a small whale, 
which yielded twelve tons of oil, being, according to 
Captain Edge, the first oil ever made in Greenland. 
Whilst they were busily engaged killing sea-horses 
in Foul Sound, and preparing the oil, a quan- 
tity of ice set in, whereby the ship vras driven on 
shore and wrecked. The men being now totally 
destitute, the Elizabeth having parted company be- 
fore this accident, took to their boats on the 15th of 
July, and proceeded along shore thirty or forty 
leagues to the southward. Two boats parted com- 
pany off Horn Sound, and shortly afterwards fell 
in with a Hull ship, which happened to be on the 
coast, and gave the master intelligence, that they 
had left 1500/. value of goods in Foul Sound. 
He therefore proceeded to the place to get the goods 
belonging to the company, as well as to kill some 
morses for himself. INIeanwhile, Captain Edge, 
with two other shallops, had put offshore in lat. 77^^° 
for Cherry Island, and landed there with a N. W. 
storm on the 29th of July, after being fourteen days 
at sea. Here, they were so fortunate as to find the 
Elizabeth, just on the point of weighing anchor for 
England ; which ship having made a bad voyage. 
Edge ordered her back to Foul Sound, to take 
on board the goods left there. They left Cherry 
Island on the 1st of Au2:ust, and arrived in Foul 
Sound on the 14th, where they found the Hull ship 


and the rest of their men. Captain Edge now or- 
dered the cargo of the Elizabeth, consisting of sea- 
horse hides and hhihher taken at Cherry Island, of 
little Worth, to be landed, and the oil and whale- 
fins procured by his own crew to be taken in. In 
performing this, they brought the ship so light that 
she upset and was lost. Captain Edge then agreed 
with Thomas Marmaduke, master of the Hull ship, 
to take in the goods saved, at the rate of 5/. per ton, 
which being done, they set sail homewards on the 
211st of August, and arrived in Hull on the 6th of 
September, from whence the company's goods were 
shipped for London*. 

This was the first instance in which the Russia 
Company embarked in the whale-fishery at Spitz- 

Though the English had thus by rapid steps dis- 
covered and established a whale-fishery on the coasts 
of Spitzbcrgen, of vast national as well as private 

* Edge's " English and Dutch Discoveries/' — Purchas's 
Pilgrimes/' vol. iii. p. 46?. 

t Anderson, in his History of Commerce, under the year 
1597, mentions, that the Russia Company now commenced 
the fishing for whales near Spitzbei-gen. It is evident, how- 
ever, that the Spitzbergen fishery did not commence so early 
by several years ; and it is probable that the voyage of Edge, 
in l6ll, was the first of the fishery on t\\U coast. 


value, yet they had an opportunity of reaping but 
little benefit from the trade before other nations 
presented themselves as competitors. 

Such a novel enterprise as the capture of whales, 
which was rendered practical, and even easy, by 
the number in which they were found, and the con- 
venience of the situations in which they occurred, — 
an enterprise at the same time calculated to enrich 
the adventurers far beyond any other branch of 
trade then practised — created a great agitation, and 
di'ew towards it the attention of all the commercial 
people of Europe. By one impulse, their mer- 
cantile spirit was directed to this new quarter, and 
vessels from various ports were engaged, and began 
to be fitted for the fishery. In the next year, how- 
ever, when the Kussia Company sent two ships, 
the "(Vhale of 160 tons, and the Sea-Horse of 180 
tons, to the fishery, three foreign ships only made 
their appearance. They consisted of one from Am- 
sterdam, commanded by William IVIuydam, and 
another from Sardam, intended only, it seems, for 
the taking of sea-horses ; and a Spanish ship from 
Biscay, fitted for the whale-fishery *. The English, 
jealous of the interference of the Dutch ships which 
they encountered during the voyage, (who now, as 
on many former occasions, followed them closely 
wherever there was presented a prospect of emolu- 

* De BR\'b Ind. Orientalis, torn. ill. p- 51. 

04! WHALE-IlSHEllY. 

ment "*,) would not allow them to fish, but obligetl 
them to return home, threatening to make prizes of 
their ships and cargoes if ever they had the pre- 
sumption to appear again on the fishery f . They 
conceived themselves to be justifiable in this con- 
duct, from the supposition that the discoverers of 
Spitzbergen, as they considered themselves, and its 
whale-fisheries, were entitled to all the emoluments 
to be derived from them. The Dutch vessels ;}] 
which, on this occasion, were repulsed from the 
fishery, were piloted by a man who had been twen- 
ty years in the service of the Russia Company ; 
and the Spanish vessel which the same year at- 
temi^ted the Spitzbergen fishery, was piloted by an- 

* " In most of the new bi'anches of trade discovered by the 
" English, in the latter part of the sixteenth^ and the former 
" part of the seventeenth century, we may observe, that the 
" Dutch followed close at their heels. This has been seen in 
" the Russia Trade, — the N. E. and N. W. attempts for a pas- 
" sage to China, — in planting America, — in the circumnaviga- 
" tion of tlie globe, — and in the East India Commerce." — 
Macpherson's Annals of Contunerce, vol. ii. p. 26 1. 

t Ellcing's View of the Greenland Trade and Whale-fishery, 
p. 41. 

+ Mos^ authorities mention only one Dutch vessel as having 
sailed to Spitzbergen this year ; but, as De Bry, who mentions 
two vessels, wrote his account in the following year, I have 
preferred his authority to any other. 

1613.] SPiTZBEllGEN I'lSHEHY. 35 

other of the coiiipaiiy's servants, and procured a full 
cargo in Green Harhour. "\^^oodcock, the pilot, on 
his return to England, was, on the complaint of the 
company, imprisoned sixteen months in the Gate- 
house and ToAver, for conducting the Spanish ship 
to the fishery *. On this voyage the Russia 
Company's ships made no discoveries, in conse- 
quence of some quarrelling between the command- 
ers ; they, however, succeeded better in the fishery, 
having taken seventeen whales and some sea-horses, 
which produced them 180 tons of oil. 

In the following 3'ear (1613), the English Russia 
Company ha^dng received intimation that a num- 
ber of foreign ships were fitting for Spitzbcrgen, 
obtained a Royal Charter, excluding all others, 
both natives and foreigners, from participating 
in the fishery ; after which they equipped seven 
armed vessels, under the direction of Captain Ben- 
jamin Joseph, in the Tigris of 21 guns, for the 
purpose of enforcing this prerogative, and monopo- 
lizing the trade. 

Though the foreign adventurers were apprized of 
the resistance intended by the English, yet they 
all persisted in their object, and proceeded openly 
on the voyage ; excepting some vessels from Biscay, 
which put to sea under pretence of being bound to 

Purchas's " rjlgrimes/' &c. vol. iii. p. 467. 


the West Indies, to carry out men to Lima, by 
order of the King of Spain ; but eventually made 
their way to the coast of Spitzbcrgen. Thus, in the 
course of the season, there appeared in the fishing 
covmtry two Amsterdam shijis, furnished with 
twelve Biscayans, as harpooners, boat-steerers, and oil 
manufacturers, and two more from other ports of 
Holland ; together with a pinnace, partly manned 
with English, fitted from Amsterdam, for the 
walrus-fishery ; one ship and a pinnace also ar- 
rived from Dunkirk, one from Bourdeaux, one 
from Bochelle, three from St Jean de I^uz, and 
some Spanish ships from St Sebastian. These 
vessels being successively discovered by the English 
in their various retreats, were attacked in the way 
they had reason to anticipate ; and after the greater 
proportion of the blubber or oil, and whale-fins, 
which they had procured, was taken from them, most 
of them were driven out of the country. Even 
four English ships, fitted out by private indivi- 
duals, were likewise driven away, to which, in 
common with the foreigners, the Russia Company's 
people attached the name of interlopers. Some 
French ships only were permitted to fish, in consi- 
deration of their paying to the English a tribute 
of eight whales ; and one ship belonging to the 
same nation, which had been successful in the fish- 
ery, was allowed to retain half of the blubber it 
had taken, on condition of reducing the other half 


into oil for the English, who were not so w^ell ac- 
quainted with the process of manufacturing this 
article as the French. The Dutch vessel which 
had English seamen on board, was captured and ta- 
ken to London *, together \nth the greater part of 
eighteen and a half whales, which their other ships 
had procured, occasioning a loss, according to their 
estimation, of 130,000 guilders f . The English, 
however, were far from being gainers by these trans- 
actions ; for whilst engaged in making reprisals on 
their competitors, they neglected their o^vn voyage, 
whereby their ships returned home 200 or 300 tons 
dead freight, and occasioned a loss to the company 

* The Dutch, in their''modem publications on the whale- 
fishery, are silent on the subject of this capture ; as also is 
Captain Edge, who has given us an account of the early fishery 
of tlie English, in Purchas's Pilgrimes, &c. in which he him- 
self was engaged. I therefore presume, that the prize> on 
its arrival in England, was restored to its proper owners. 

+ " Beschryving der Walvisvangst," &c. Deel i. p. 25., and 
" Ind. Orientalis," by John Theodore de Bry, a. d. I619, 
where we have a full account of the transactions above referred 
to, in a chapter entitled " Descriptio regionis Spitzbergoe ; 
" addita simul relatione injurianim, quas. An. l6l3, alii pisca- 
" tores ab Anglis perpessi sunt : et protestatione conti'a Anglos, 
" qui sibi solis omne jus in istam regionem vendicarunt."— 
torn. iii. p. ¥J, 62. 


of three to four thoubiaiul pounds *. But tliougli 
the Dutch made a dreadful outcry against the pro- 
ceedings of the Englisli, we iind the latter afford- 
ing assistance and protection to some of the crew 
of a Dutch vessel who had been separated from 
their ship in a fog, whilst engaged, in opposition to 
the orders of the English Admiral, in conveying 
away from the land the produce of a whale they had 
taken f : and we also find, that while the Dutch 
were highly indignant at the opposition received 
from the English, yet they themselves assumed the 
same right over some Spanish vessels which enter- 
ed the Sound where they lay, by prohibiting them 
from fishing, and forcing them to depart :['. 

The Dutch, who constantly exhibited an uncom- 
mon degree of perseverance in all their commercial 
undertakings, were not to be diverted from partici- 
pating in so lucrative a branch of commerce, with- 
out a struggle, made an attempt, in 1(3 14, to con- 
tinue the trade, notwithstanding their discourage- 
ment, on a plan so extensive, as to combine the 
resources of the principal cities and sea-port towns 
of the United Provinces. In the first instance. 

* Purchas's " Pilgrimes," &c. vol. iii. p. 467- 
f De Bry, torn. iii. p. 59. 
X Idem, vol. iii. p. 58. 


however, the plan was only got to hear in Amster- 
dam, where a company was established. In consi- 
deration of repeated petitions to the States-Gene- 
ral, setting forth the great expenccs incurred by 
the merchants composing this company, in disco- 
vering the countries situated in the polar regions, 
and in commencing a whale-fishery therein, they 
obtained a charter for three years, granting them 
the right of all the fisheries, and other emoluments, 
included between Nova Zembla and Davis' Straits, 
and excluding all other ships of the realm from in- 
terference, under the penalty of confiscation of the 
ships and cargoes *. 

With this encouragement, they immediately sent 
to Biscay for additional harpooners, to assist and in- 
struct them in the fishery ; erected boiling-houses, ware- 
houses, and cooperages, to be in readiness to reduce 
the fat into oil, in the event of a successful fishery ; 
and, for the security of their ships, they sent along 
with them, four ships of war, of thirty guns each, 
which, together, amounted to a fleet of eighteen 
sail. This fleet was so formidable, that the English, 
notwithstanding their pretensions to an exclusive 
claim to the fishery, having only thirteen large 
ships present, and two pinnaces, thougli furnished 
with artillery, were obliged to allow the Hollanders 
to fish without interruption. The English got but 

* Beschryving der VVahisvangst, vol. i. p. 2, 3. 


half laden, and the Dutch made but a poor fish- 
ing *. 

King James seems to have entertained the same 
opinion with regard to the title of his subjects, to 
the sole occupation of the Greenland AVhale-fishery ; 
or, at least, he wished to establish such a title, 
since, in the course of the same year, he sent Sir 
Henry Wootten, his ambassador extraordinary, to 
treat with the Commissioners of their High Mighti- 
nesses the States-General, concerning the intrusion 
of the Hollanders into the English Greenland fishe- 
ry, together with their interruption of our East In- 
dia Commerce f . 

In 1615, the Russia Company fitted out but two 
ships and two pinnaces for the whale-fishery, while 
the Dutch sent out eleven, together with three ships 
of war. Three Danish ships of war, piloted by one 
James Vaden, an Englishman, likewise appeared 
on the fishery, with the object of exacting tribute 
from the English fishermen, on the score of a sup- 
posed title, on their part, to the right of the fishery. 
This absurd claim was answered by the English 
with their usual argument of Sir Hugh Willough- 

* Purchas's Pilgrimes, vol. iii. p. 467. ; and Churchill's Col- 
lection of Voyages and Travels^ vol. i. p. 565. 

t Anderson's History of Commerce, a. d. 16]4; and Mac- 
pherson's Annals, vol. ii. p. 275. 


by's prior discovery of Spitzbergeii. An uncom- 
mon quantity of ice, with foggy weather, so pes- 
tered the fishers this season, that the English got 
entangled, and lay fourteen days beset. They re- 
turned home, as before, half laden ; while the 
Dutch made a successful fishery *. 

Captain Edge, in the Russia Company's service, 
had eight ships and two pinnaces under his com- 
mand, in 161 6. " This year," says Edge, in his 
account of the English and Dutch Discoveries 
to the North f, " it pleased God to bless their la- 
*' hours, and they filled all their ships, and leji a 
*' surplus behifid, which they could not take in." 
They had 1200 or 1300 tons of oil by the 14th of 
August ; and all the ships arrived in tlie Thames 
in September in safety. The Dutch had four ships 
in the country, which kept together in obscure 
places, and made an indifferent fishing. 

Fourteen sail of ships, and two pinnaces, were 
equipped for the fishery, by the Russia Company, 
in the year following. They killed 150 whales; 
from whence they extracted 1800 or 1900 tons of 
oil, besides some blubber left behind, for want of 
casks ; and all their ships returned without acci- 
dent +. 

* Purchas, vol. iii. p. 467. ; and Anderson's Commerce, a. u. 

t Idem. 

X Idem. 


The superiority of tlie Dutch, in point of num- 
bers, pre^ented open broils in (ireenland, during 
two or three years ; but the spirit of jealousy still 
existed, and again burst fortli. Captain Edge, 
who liad under ]iis direction tlic wliole of tlie Green- 
land fleet, went on board of a Dutcli ship, which 
he met in the country, and sliowing him tlie King's 
commission, ordered the captain to depart, telling 
him to inform his comrades, that if he met any of 
them on the coast, he should take from them what- 
ever fishing they had made. Kdge treated the 
captain courteously and then allowed him to de- 
part, on his promising to seek two of his companions 
and return home ; in place of vvhich, however, meet- 
ing with a Hidl fisher, he induced to return back 
and commence the fishing in Horn Sound. Edge. 
on hearing this, sent his Vice-Admiral to attack 
them, and take the produce of their fishing from 
them ; but before he arrived, the Zcalanders being 
aware of liis approach, freighted two ships and sent 
them off', leaving one ship with some casks of blub- 
ber, and two whales and a half unflenched. The 
blubber was seized, togetlier witli the cannon and 
ammunition in the ship, to prevent reprisals on any 
of the Englidi fleet, which the Zealander, being well 
armed, threatened. This blubber, however, proved 
a prize of little or no ^•aluc to the English, as they 
had already procured more blubber anjl fins than 


than their ships could carry *. The cannon and 
some other articles were restored to the owners on 
the arrival of the ships in England. 

The Dutch, determined, in spite of the opposi- 
tion received from the English, to pursue a com- 
merce which promised such striking personal, as 
well as national, advantage, in 1617, procured a 
renewal of their charter for four years, whereby 
were incorporated two or three companies, formed 
in different States of the United Provinces. This 
charter interdicted any other persons in the country 
from participation in the trade, under the penalty 
of 6000 guilders for each ship, together with the 
confiscation of the vessel and cargo. From the 
substance of this charter, it appears, that the Dutch 
had, prior to this period, resorted to Jan JVIayen 
Island, for the pm'pose of fishing for whales f . 

With a view to make the whale-fishery trade 
more general, King James, who had then succeeded 
to the throne of England, in 1618, granted a pa- 
tent, whereby he embodied a number of English, 
Hcotfi and Zealand adventurers. This charter, how- 
ever, appearing to militate against the privileges of 
the Russia and East India Companies, who had 
been at the greatest expence in the discoveryand esta- 

VOL. II. c 

* Purchas, vol. iii. p. 4G7j-8. 

+ Beschryving der W.ilvisvangst, vel. i. p. 6'- 


blishment of the fishery, was annulled, notwithstand- 
ing that ships had been purchased, provisions contract- 
ed for, and other considerable preparations made by 
the different parties, for commencing the fishery. The 
Kussia and East India Companies being therefore 
still allowed to monopolize the trade, with their 
joint stock, equipped thirteen ships and two pin- 
naces for the Greenland fishery. 

But on this occasion the event proved most vui- 
fortunate ; for the Zealanders, exasperated by the 
rescinding of the Scottish patent, the seizure of 
their oil, and other insults, appeared in the country 
with twenty-three well appointed ships. They pla- 
ced themselves in the most frequented bays where the 
English fished, and setting on watch a great number 
of boats, prevented their success. Towards the end 
of July, ten sail being collected in the harbour at the 
Foreland, where lay two English ships and a pin- 
nace, a division of five in number attacked them, 
killed a number of their men, shot away their 
sails, and overpowered them. They then plunder- 
ed them of their cannon and ammvuiition, burnt 
their casks, and made prize of one of their ships for 
their indemnification. The rest of the English were 
dispersed, and most of them returned home empty 
as they were *. 

* Purchas, vol. iii. p. 46"p. ; Beschryving der Walvisvangst, 
vol. i. p. 26. 


In this conflict, it appears that the English were 
either overpowered by numbers, or, being discoura- 
ged by the unexpected attack, did not fight with 
their accustomed coohiess and valour. They fired 
short, according to the Dutch account, and were 
defeated, while the Dutch had the opportunity 
of satisfying our countrymen, as they observed, 
that they were as little deficient in personal cou- 
rage as in diligence and zeal, to carry on their trade. 
These dissensions were viewed by the Govern- 
ments of the two nations, with a happy degree of 
moderation, though it does not appear that they 
took any measures to prevent the recurrence of such 
events. On the arrival of the Dutch fleet with 
their prize in Holland, the States-General present- 
ed the English captain with a remuneration, and 
judiciously liberated his vessel *. 

The occurrence of these mortifying circumstances, 
together with the arrival of the vessels of other 
powers on the fishing stations, which tended to di- 
vide the quarrel, had the effect of producing a con- 
ference between the captains of the rival nations, for 
the consideration of the best method of adjusting 
their differences, and preventing the liability to fu- 
ture disturbances. The English, at this time, 
claimed the exclusive right to the fishery, while 
the Dutch and the Danes asserted an equal title. 


* Beschryvi))g der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 26. 


The English groimded their claim on the supposed 
discovery of Spitzbcrgen by Sir Hugh Willoughby, 
in the year 15.53 *, and on tlie discovery and esta- 
bhshnient of the fishery about which they contend- 
ed. The Dutch denied, and with justice, Sir Hugh 
Willoughby's discovery, and rested tlieir claim on 
the discovery of these islands by Heemskerke, Ba- 
rentz and Ryp, in the year 1596. And the Danes, 
supposing Spitzbcrgen to form part of West Green- 
land, which was at an early period possessed by 
them, asserted this as a sufficient title. 

Finding the determination of this point a matter 
of great difficulty, while it now appeared of less 
importance than they had at first conceived, having 
found that the whole coast abounded with fine bays 
and commodious harbours, each of which were e- 
qually resorted to by the whales, and equally Avell 
adapted for carrying on every operation relative to 
the fishery, they agreed at length to a division of 
these bays and harbours, which were to be consider- 
ed as the independent possession of those to whom 
tliey were allotted. 

The English had such iiifluence as to obtain, not 
only the first clioice, but tlie ])rivilege of occupying 

* This claim of the Englisli was fully answered by D. Peter 
Planei, " a rcri/ h-qnied cosmographer," who proved that Sir 
Hugh Willoughby never reached so Ikr north as Spitzbcrgen. 
His protest against the claims and conduct of the English, is 
included in De Bry's " Historica Descriptio regionis Spitzber- 
" gap," published in his Ind. Orient, torn. iii. p. GO.-G^. 


a greater number of bays or harbours than any of 
the rest. .Vfter the English, the Dutch, Danes, 
Hamburgh ers and Biscayans, each in succession, 
made a selection, in the order of their arrival on, or 
their suj>posed claim to the fishery. 

The En2:lish chose for themselves some of the 
principal southern bays, most free from ice, consist- 
ing of Bell Sound, Preservation or Safe Harbour 
in Ice Sound, and Horizon Bay, the whole situated 
on the south of the Foreland ; together with a small 
bay beliind tlie northern part of the Foreland, which 
they called English Harbour, and another more re- 
mote which still bears tlie name of English or Mag- 
dalena Bay *. 

The Hollanders, obliged to take up their quarters 
farther to the northward, chose the Island of Am- 
sterdam, with two bays adjoining, one on each side; 
and a third, which they called Hollander's Bay, 
formed between the island and the main. 

The Danes, who followed next after the Holland- 
ers, contenting themselves witli more circumscribed 
possessions, established themselves between the Eng- 
lish and the Dutch. Their principal place of re- 
sort they called Danes Island and Danes Bay. 

When the Hamburghers resorted to the fishery, 
they discovered a small bay to the northward of the 
Foreland, situated near the Seven Ice Bergs, which 

* Histoire des Pcches, torn. i. p. I3, 


being less encumbered with ice than many others, they 
took possession of for their fishing station, and nam- 
ed it after their native city. 

Lastly, The Spaniards and French, though among 
the earliest visitors to Spitzbergen, found, on their 
arrival, in the year when the division was made, all 
the bays on the coast already disposed of and occu- 
pied ; they therefore fixed themselves in an unclaim- 
ed situation, on the northern face of Spitzbergen. 

Thus we perceive the origin of the names of the 
different places called English Bay and English 
Harbour, Hollanders Bay and Amsterdam Island, 
Danes Island and Danes Bay, Hamburghers Bay, 
Biscayners Point *, ^c. 

These arrangements having been adopted, the 
fishery was subsequently carried on with greater 
hannony. Each nation prosecuted the fishery ex- 
clusively in its own possession, or along the sea- 
coast, which was free for all. It was understood, 
however, that the ships of any nation might resort 
to any of the bays or harbours whatever, for the 
convenience of awaiting a favourable wind, taking 
refuge from a storm, or any other emergency ; the 
prosecution of the fishery in the bays belonging to 
other nations, being alone prohibited. The better 
to secure the fulfilment of this part of the ar- 

* Anderson's Commerce, a, d. 1618; also Beschryving der 
Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 5, & 26. 


rangement, it was agreed, that whenever a boat was 
lowered in a strange harbour, or happened to row 
into the same, the harpoon was always to be remo- 
ved from its 7'est, so as not to be in readiness for 



All the early adventurers on the whale-fishery, 
both English and others, were obliged to be in- 
tlebted to the Biscayans for their superintend- 
ence and help. The office of harpooner f requiring 
great experience as well as personal courage, was 
only suited to the Biscayans, who had long been 
inured to the dangers and difficulties attendant on 
the fishery of the fin-whale. The Biscayans were 
likewise looked to for coopers, " skilful in setting 
" up the staved cask." At this period, each ship 
carried two principals ; the Commander, who was 
a native, was properly the navigator, as his chief 
charge consisted in conducting the ship to and 
from Greenland ; the other, who was called by the 
Dutch Speck.synder, or cutter of the fat, as his 
name implies, was a Biscay an, and had the unlimi- 
ted controul of the people in the fishery ; and in- 
deed every operation belonging to it was entire- 
ly confided to him. When, however, the fishery 

* Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. 

t The harpooner is the pei-son who strikes and kills the 


became better known, the commander likewise as- 
sumed the superintendence of the fishery. The 
office of spccksioneer, as it is called by the Eng- 
lish, was nevertheless continued, and remains to 
this day, though with a more limited preroga- 
tive. The specksioneer is now considered the prin- 
cipal harpooner, and has the " ordering of the fat," 
and extracting or boiling of the oil of the whale ; 
but he serves entirely under the direction of the 
commander of the vessel. 

It has been observed, that the merchants of Hull 
were among tlie most enterprising of the British 
subjects, in equipping ships for tlie whale and waL 
rus fishenes of Spitzbergen and the adjacent islands ; 
besides vrhich, they distinguished themselves by the 
discovery, on the part of the English, of Jan May- 
en Island, called by them Trinity Island, and by es- 
tablishing a whale-fishery there at a very early pe- 
riod. The Russia Company wishing to monopo- 
lize the whole of this branch of commerce, disputed 
the right of the Hull merchants to participate 
in it ; and wished to debar them from visiting 
even this secluded island. In consequence, how- 
ever, of a proper representation of the facts. King 
James at this time (1618) privileged the corpora- 
tion of Hull with a grant of the Jan IMayen Island 

* Anderson's History of Commerce, a. d. 1618. j Macpher- 
son's Annals, vol. ii. p. 292, ; 


Though the joint speculation of tlie Russia and 
East India Companies, in the Greenland wliale- 
fishery in 1618, proved unsuccessful, they, neverthe- 
less, made a second trial the following season, by 
equipping nine ships and two pinnaces ; Lut a boat 
with ten men, belonging to one of the ships, being 
lost, one of the sliips cast away, and five fail- 
ing of success, so discouraged them, that they 
agreed to relinquish the trade. 

After this determination, four members of the 
Russia Company compromised with the Society, 
and fitted out, on their own responsibility, seven 
ships in the year 1620 ; but on account of the num- 
ber of Flemings and Danes in tlie northern har- 
bours where they resorted to, they were induced to 
remove from station to station, and were disappoint- 
ed of a full lading. Their united cargoes amounted 
to 700 tons of oil. In 1621, the same number of 
vessels being sent out, succeeded rather better^ ha- 
ving procured 1100 tons of oil ; the next season 
they had very bad success ; and in the year 1623, 
the last of their union, they procured 1300 tons of 
oil. One of their largest ships was unfortunately 
lost this season, and twenty of the men perished*. 

In the mean time, the Dutch pursued the 
whale-fishery with more vigour than the Eng- 
lish, and with still better effect. It was no un- 

*^ Purchaa, vol. iii. p. 470. 


common thing for them to procure such vast quan- 
tities of oil, that empty ships were required to take 
home the superabundant produce*. Such an impor- 
tance, indeed, did they attach to this speculation, that 
the Dutch Companies always solicited, by petition, 
a renewal of their charter previous to its expiration ; 
and of such value was it deemed in a national point 
of view, that for a number of years they were encour- 
aged, by the fulfilment of their wishes. In 1622, 
in consequence of a petition to this effect, the char- 
ter of the Amsterdam Company was renewed for 
twelve years, and the charter of the Zealand Socie- 
ty was extended about the same time, whereby the 
latter were allowed to establish themselves in Jan 
May en Island, and to erect boiling-houses and coop- 
erages in common with their associates f . 

The Dutch having now incorporated a consider- 
able and opulent company, and possessing the en- 
couragement of the Prince of Orange's commis- 
sion:]^, they were enabled to protect their own fish- 
ery, and to secure themselves against interruption 
from other nations. For which purpose, as appears 

* Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 28. ; and Church- 
ill's Collection of Voyages and Travels, vol. ii. p. 471. 

t Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 7^-10. 

X Maurice de Nassau was Prince of Orange at this time. 


from a subsequent cliarter*, they erected forts and 
dwelling-houses in different parts of their posses- 

The privileges of these companies, furnishing 
them with the opportunity of aggrandizement, to 
the exclusion of all other persons belonging to the 
United Provinces, produced a considerable degree 
of discontent, when the fishery, towards the expira- 
tion of these last charters, was in its most flourishing 
state. Hence, it became the general wish of those 
excluded from participation, that the trade might 
be entirely laid open. To effect which, therefore, 
towards the time of the expiration of the Amster- 
dam and Zealand charters, the merchants of some 
of the other provinces petitioned the government 
against their renewal. These petitions having fail- 
ed, the Frieslanders, who, in particular, were wish- 
ful to embark in the whale-fishery trade, made a re- 
presentation to the States-General of Friesland to 
this effect. In consequence of which, inquiries, 
agreeable to their suggestions, began to be made re- 
specting the legality of benefiting any part of the 
community of a republican country, to the exclu- 
sion of the rest. The result placed the legality of 

* The whole of these charters I have by me^ in the Eng- 
lish and French, as well as in the origmal languages. I 
find them, however, like most law documents, so redundant, 
and, on the whole, so uninteresting, that I shall not encum- 
ber my pages with the translation. 


the proceeding in a liglit so equivocal, at the same 
time that the claim of the memorialists relative to 
their right to participate in the fishery, was so 
equitahle, and their arguments of the unhounded 
and natural freedom of the seas, so appropriate, 
that the States-General of Friesland were induced 
to giant a charter to a company formed in that 
province, which endowed them for twenty years with 
similar privileges, as those of the other companies of 

When, on the strength of this charter, the Fries- 
landers, in the year 1634, had prepared tliree ships 
for the fishery,, to prevent disturbance, and to secure 
themselves against future litigation, they perceived 
a necessity for procuring the sanction of the Zealand 
and Amsterdam Companies, to their right to parti- 
cipation. The States-General of Holland having, at 
their request, given a verbal acknowledgment to their 
charter, the tvv'o ancient companies gave instructions 
to the commanders of their ships to respect it also. 
To prevent also, as far as practicable, the possibility 
of unpleasant consequences, arising from the inter- 

* This period of time, it seems, was reduced to eight yecirs, on 
the union of the Frieslanders with the other fishing companies 
of Holland ; so that the freedom of the fishery, for every one, 
was declared at their expiration in 1 641,-2. Beschryvinjj 
•ler Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 10,-12. 


fereiice of the Frieslanders' ships with those of the 
other companies, in the course of the year, they con- 
tracted together and formed a triple union. The 
principal conditions of this union were, that the 
Company of Friesland, for the use of their vessels 
in tlie concern, should be entitled to all the privile- 
ges of the ancient companies, with the use of all 
their bays and harbours ; and that they should re- 
ceive one-ninth of the produce of all the ships of 
the vuiited companies as their share, out of which 
they were to allow the Amsterdam Company 10 
per cent.^ probably in consequence of these being 
the original adventurers ; that the influence of each 
company in matters of dispute, should be in the 
proportion of six votes to Holland, two to Zealand, 
and one to Friesland ; and that in case of any new 
discovery being made, the discoverer should be en- 
titled to all emoluments to be derived therefrom for 
five years, and then it should revert to the use of 
the general concern*. The whole of the articles of 
union amounted to twenty-four, but the preceding- 
are the most important. Though it appears, that 
the interests of the three companies were united in 
1634, the formal contract was not completed and 
.signed until the 23d of June 1636. The Iloliand 

* Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. \?>,-\5. 
Idem, vol. i. p. 1S.-20, contain.s the charter whereby the 
Zealandersj Hollanders, and Frieslanders were incoiporated. 


and Zealand Companies were the more willing to 
incorporate the Frieslanders along with them, from 
the hope, that this nnion would effectually prevent 
any other towns from joining in the trade. In this, 
hoAvevcr, they were disappointed ; for, at the solici- 
tation of different persons, it was found necessary to 
allow all who were in readiness within a certain li- 
mited time, to unite themselves with the concern. 
For the use of these additional adventurers, the 
ancient companies appropriated a part of their posses- 
sion, lying in the South Bay on the Main, where 
the Haarlingers erected their boiling-house*. 

^A^hile the Dutch followed the whale-fishery 
vv'ith perseverance and profit, they were successfully 
imitated by the Hamburghers and other fishermen 
of the Elbe, but the English made only occasional 
voyages. Sometimes tlie Russia Company sent 
out ships, at others, private individuals belonging 
to London, but more frequently the merchants of 
Hull embarked their property in the Spitzbergen 

About this period, when the fishery was chiefly 
pursued in the very bays where the ships lay at their 
moorings, it was found a matter of convenience and 
dispatch, to erpct various buildings for the accommo- 
dation of the coopers employed in making and repair- 
ing caslcs, and for the seamen who were engaged in re- 

* Ecschryviiicr dcr Walvisvangst, vol. i. ji. I7. 


ducing the blubber into oil, together with suitable 
erections for performing this operation. The erec- 
tions of the Dutch were the most considerable ; but 
even the English, though their shipping in the 
trade had never been very numerous, had, we learn, 
several substantial buildings on the margin of Ry- 
nier's River in Bell Sound ; among which, were a 
a cooperage firmly built of timber, and roofed witli 
Flemish tiles, 80 feet in length and about 50 in 
breadth ; a considerable boilers' lodging-house ; and 
boiling furnaces with chimneys of brick*. 

The adventurers in the whale-fishery, conceiving 
that considerable advantages might be derived, 
could Spitzbergen be resorted to as a permanent re- 
sidence, were desirous of ascertaining the possibili- 
ty of the human species subsisting throughout the 
winter in this inhospitable climate. The English 
merchants, it appears, offered considerable rewards, 
together with the supply of every requisite for such 
an undertaking, to any person who would volunteer 
to pass the winter on any part of Spitzbergen ; but 
not one was found sufficiently hardy to undertake 
the hazardous experiment. Such, indeed, was the 

* These buildings were erected originally by the " Fle- 
" mings, in the time of their trading liither/' as appears from 
Pelham's " Miraculous Preservation and Deliverance of Eight 
" Englishmen, left by mischance in Greenland l630/' publish- 
ed in Churchill's Collection, vol. iv. p. 750. ; and a verbatim 
copy in " Clarke's Naufragia," vol. ii. p. lf)3,-206. 


terror with which the enterprise Avas viewed, that 
certain criminals preferred to sacrifice their lives to 
the laws, rather than pass a year in Spitzbergen. 
The Kiissia Company, it is said, procured the re- 
prieve of some culprits who were convicted of capital 
offences, to whom they not only promised pardon, 
but likewise a pecuniary remuneration, on the con- 
dition that they v/ould remain during a single year 
in Spitzbergen. The fear of immediate death in- 
duced them to comply ; but when they v/ere carried 
out and shown the desolate, frozen, and frightful 
country they were to inhabit, they slirunk back 
with horror, and solicited to be returned home to 
suffer death, in preference to encountering such ap- 
palling dangers. To this request, the captain who 
had them in charge humanely complied ; and on 
their return to England, the company interceded 
on their behalf and procured their pardon *. 

Probably it was about the same time, that nine 
men, who were by accident separated from one of 
the London fishing ships, were left behind in Spitz- 
bergen : all of tliem perished in the course of the 
winter, and their bodies were found on the ensu- 
ing summer, shockingly mangled by beasts of prey. 
The same master who abandoned these poor wretches 
to so miserable a fate, was obliged, by the drifting 

* Pelham's Narrative. 


of the ice towards the shore, to leave eight of his crew 
who were engaged in hunting rein-deer for provision 
for the passage home, in the year 1630. These men, 
like the former, were abandoned to their fate ; for, 
on their proceeding to the usual places of resort and 
rendezvous, they perceived with horror, that their 
own, together with all the other fishing ships, had 
departed. By means of the provisions procured by 
hunting, the fritters of the whale left in boiling the 
blubber, and the accidental supplies of bears, foxes, 
seals and sea-horses, together with a judicious ap- 
plication of the buildings which were erected in 
Bell Sound, where they took up their abode, they 
were enabled not only to support life, but even to 
maintain their health little impaired, imtil the ar- 
rival of the fleet the following year *. 

The preservation of these men, revived in the 
Dutch the desire of establishing permanent colo- 
nies, and confirmed them in the idea of the possi- 
bility of effecting this desideratum. It was, how- 
ever, necessary that other trials should be made, be- 
fore the project could be carried into execution. 

In consequence, therefore, of certain encoiu*age- 
mcnts proclaimed in general throughout tlie fleet, 
seven men ^ oluntcered their services, were landed 


* Pelham's Narrative in Churchill's Collection, vol. iv. 
aiid Clarke's Naufragia, vol. ii. p. 1 79. 


at Amsterdam Island *, furnished with the needful 
articles of provisions, clothing, spirits, fuel, &c., and 
were left by the fleet on the 30th of August 1 633 f . 
About the same time, another party, likewise con- 
sisting of seven volunteers, were landed in Jan 
Mayen Island, and left by their comrades, to endure 
the like painful service vdth the former. On the 
return of the fleet in the succeeding year, this last 
party were all found dead |, from the effects of the 
scurvy ; but the other which was left in Spitzbergen, 
nine degrees fiuther towards the north, though they 
suffered exceedingly from their privations and un- 
usual hardships, all survived^. Encouraged by this 
partial success, for it appears that the melancholy re- 
sult of the experiment at Jan Mayen was as yet un- 
known to the Spitzbergen fishermen, it was proposed 
that another party sliould repeat the experiment in 
the ensuing winter. Accordingly, other seven vo- 
lunteers were landed as before, supplied with every 
supposed necessary, and quitted by their comrades, 
on the 11th of September 1634. Before the close of 
the month of November, the scurvy made its appear- 

* Amsterdam Island lies on the N. W. of Spitzbergen, in 
lat. 77^ 44' N. long. 9« 51' E. 

t Churchill's Collection, vol. ii. p. 413. 
X Idem, vol. ii. 415,-425. 
§ Beschryving der Walvisvangst^ vol. ii. p. 26,-31. 


ance among these devoted people, and by the be- 
ginning of March, had, by its dreadfiil ravages, 
destroyed the whole party *. The names of each 
of the fourteen men who suffered in the two 
trials, are perpetuated ; but of the names of those 
who successfully encountered the severities of the 
arctic winter, I have not met with any notice. Nei- 
ther does it appear what were the encouragements 
which stimulated those hardy adventurers to un- 
dertake the hazardous enterprise, though it is very 
evident the inducements must have been consi- 

In the year 1635, the Russia Company was en- 
dowed by Charles the First, with the exclusive 
right of importing the oil and fins of whales. 
This indulgence was merely a confirmation of the 
proclamation of the 1 7th of James the First, with 
the restriction, that the fishery should be prosecuted 
by this company in its joint stock capacity only f . 

The bold and unconscious manner in which the 
whales resorted to the bays and sea-coasts at this 
period, their easy and expeditious destruction, the 
consequent regularly productive state of the fish- 
ery, together with the immense herds in which 
the whales appeared, in comparison of the number 

D 2 

* Churchill, vol. ii. 427,-8. ; and Anderson's Commerce, 
*. D. 1634 ; also, Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. ii. p. 31. 

+ Anderson's Commerce, a. d. iGSn. 


which was killed, — encouraged the hope that the 
profitable nature of the fishery would continue un- 
abated. This consideration induced the enterpri- 
sing Dutch to incur very great expences in making 
secure, ample and permanent erections, which they 
gradually extended in such a degree, that at length 
they assumed the form of a respectable village, to 
which, in reference to the use that it was designed 
for, they gave tlie name of Smeerenhei'g *. 

Tlie result did not, however, justify the sanguine 
expectations of the Greenland Companies ; for the 
fishery, as it soon appeared, had already attained 
its acme f , and began to decline so rapidly from the 
year 1636-7, to the termination of the companies 
cliarters, that their losses are stated, on some occa- 
sions, as having exceeded their former profits '^. To 
the system of extravagance which they had adopted, 
with the vast expence which they incurred in the 
the construction of buildings, in a region where most 
of the materiak had to be imported, is attributed 
the subsequent failure of the Dutch chartered com- 

Towards the expiration of the charters of the uni- 
ted Dutch Greenland Companies in the year 1642, 

* Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 27,-28. The 
•word Smeerenberg is probably derived from the Dutch words 
smeer signifying^/, and hergen, to put up. 

t Forster's Discoveries in the North, p. 420. 

X Bescliryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 29. 


their renewal was attempted by the interested par- 
ties ; but in consequence of the people of Overyssel, 
Utrecht, Guelderland and others, having, by their 
representatives, most strenuously resisted the mea- 
sure, and petitioned for liberty to embark in the 
whale-fishery trade ; their High INIightinesses the 
States-General conceived that the renewal of the 
charters would not only give general dissatisfaction, 
but would likewise be inimical to the commercial in- 
terests of the United Provinces, and therefore caused 
the trade to be laid entirely open to all adventurers* 
This determination produced an effect so happy, that 
in a short time the trade was increased almost ten- 
fold. The number of ships annually sent out by 
the chartered companies, would appear to have onl}- 
amounted to about thirty, while, on the dissolution 
of the monopoly, the influx of shipping into the 
whale-fishery commerce was so great, that in a few 
years they accumulated to between two and three 
hundred sail f. 

* Beschryving, vol. i. p. 21. 

t De Witt, in his " Interest of Holland," mentions that the 
Greenland Whale-fishing trade increased ten-fold, on the dis- 
solution of the monopolizing companies. Now, as the Fries- 
landers, who fitted three ships, were considered as fomiing 
one-ninth part of the united companies, the fleet of the whole 
would probably amount to about twenty-seven sail, to which, 
adding the Haarlingers, and other additional adventurers, we 
may consider the Dutch Greenland Fishery, during the latter 


Prior to the time when the trade was laid open, 
the Jan Mayen whale-fishery, like that of Spitz- 
bergen, had attained its maximum *. The fish- 
ermen, by much experience, having become very 
dexterous in their profession, while the whales, yet 
unwary, assembled around this barren Island in vast 
profusion, produced such a prodigious destruction 
among them, that it is confidently affirmed, that 
one of the northern company's ships, commanded 
by a William Ys, made two voyages, and took 
home two complete cargoes, of 1000 barrels of oil 
each, in one year |. After this time, however, the 
fishery at Jan Mayen began to fall into decay. 
The whales, incessantly annoyed, withdrew to re- 

years of the monopoly, as employing at least thirty vessels. 
If De Witt be correct, therefore^ a ten-fold increase will make 
the fleet in subsequent years to have increased to three hun- 
dred sail. And, as these ships were double manned, they must 
have carried about sixty men each, which, multiplied by 300, 
the number of vessels employed, gives the total of their crews, 
18,000 men! Lieven Van Aitzina, quoted by De Witt, indeed 
says. That the Dutch Whale-fishery employed vipwards of 
12,000 men, at the same time that the English did not send a 
single ship, which was about the period referred to. It is 
therefore probable, that the above estimate may not be very 
wide of the truth. See Macpherson, vol. ii. p. 290. ; and 
Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol, i. p. 28. 

• Forster's Northern Discoveries, p. 422, 

t Beschryving, vol. i. p. 28. 


gions farther to the north, and even took shelter 
among the ice. This island, in consequence, fell 
rapidly into disuse, until it was at length, for the 
purpose of whale-fishing at least, abandoned alto- 

The Dutch being at war with England in 1653, 
and having neither men nor ships of war to spare for 
the protection of their whale-fishery, this lucrative 
branch of commerce was obliged, for the season, to 
be suspended. In the war of 1659, as well as in that 
of 1665 and two following years, the fishery was also 
conditionally prohibited. As at such times their 
unemployed fishing officers might be induced to en- 
gage in the service of foreign nations, and thus carry 
the trade abroad to the disparagement of their 
own country, a proclamation was issued, prohibit- 
ing, under severe penalties, all commanders, har- 
pooners, boat-steerers, &c. from embarking in the 
whale-fishery trade in the ships of any other nation 
during the war ; the exportation of fishing utensils 
was also prohibited and carefully guarded against ; 
and such ships as were occasionally allowed to pro- 
ceed to the fishery, under adequate protection, were 
prevented from landing their cargoes in any foreign 
country, under the penalty of 6000 guilders for 
each ship, security for which was demanded from 
the owners, before they were allowed to put to sea. 

Beschiyving, vol. i. p. 21. 


The Dutch whale-fishery continued to flourish 
for many years after the trade was laid open. Be- 
tween the years 1660 and 1670, four or five hund- 
red sail of Dutch and Hamburgh ships were year- 
ly visitants to the coast of Spitzbergen, while the 
English sometimes did not send a single ship*. 
The trade, after this, began gradually to decline. 
The whales, which were so constantly and vigorous- 
ly pursued, in a great measure left the bays, reced- 
ed to the sea, and eventually to the ice. The fish- 
ery, in consequence, became more precarious. Hi- 
therto it had been so regularly successful, as to 
amount almost to a certainty, but now it proved oc- 
casionally unsuccessful. Not only so, but the danger 
resulting from the ice, which the fishers were now 
obliged to encounter, was the occasion of frequent 
losses among their shipping. Notv/ithstanding this 
alteration in the trade for the worse, it only declin- 
ed in a comparative point of view ; for in conse- 
quence of the adoption of a system of frugality and 
retrenchment, they were yet enabled, on the whole, 
to realize very handsome profits. 

The magnitude of the Holland and Hamburgh 
fishing concerns, could not fail to attract the attention 
of surrounding nations. The British Governm.ent 

* In 1669, the English sent but one ship to the Greenland 
Whale-fishing, and none in the year before. — Macpherson's 
Annals of Commerce, vol. ii. p. 544. 


saw with regret, such a profitable and valuable spe- 
culation entirely laid aside. They saw its import- 
ance as a nursery for hardy seamen, as offering em- 
ployment for a great number of ships, while the 
requisite equipments would require the co-operation 
of a number of artisans, tradesmen and labourers ; 
and, above all, they saw its importance in a nation- 
al point of view, where valuable cargoes might be 
procured without ^r.y/ cost, excepting the expences 
of the voyage, while, on the contrary, great sums 
of money were annually sent out of the country and 
paid to foreign nations, for the purchase of those 
very articles which might be had out of the sea. 
To encourage, therefore, the renewal of the whale- 
fishery trade, an act of Parliament was passed in 
1672*, whereby the rigours of the navigation act 
were dispensed with, and its essential properties so 
modified for the ten following years, that a vessel 
for the whale-fishery, being British built, and having 
a master and one-half of the crew British subjects, 
might carry natives of Holland or other expert fish- 
ers, to the amount of the other half. As a further 
encouragement, the oil and whalebone imported were 
exempted from all duties, though the colonies were 
to pay 6s. per ton for oil, and 50s. per ton for such 
whalebone as should be imported in their own ship- 
ping, and half that duty, if taken thither by Eng- 

• 25th Char. II. c. 7- 


lish shipping. But the oil imported by foreign 
ships, was to be charged with 9/- Sterling per ton, 
and the whalebone with 18/. y^fr ton of duty. In 
consequence of this encouragement, some few pri- 
vate attempts were made to revive the trade ; but 
they, it seems, were attended with such indifferent 
success, that in seven years the trade was again 
entirely discontinued *. 

From 1672 to 167^, as likewise in the year 
1691, the Dutch whale-fishery was suspended, in 
consequence of war f. 

The act for the encouragement of the English 
whale-fishery at Spitzbergen, was continued in 1690 
for four years longer:}^ ; but as this did not effect the 
equipment of a single ship, the plan of a joint-stock 
company was again resorted to, as promising the 
most probable prospect of the renewal of the trade, 
and its prosecution with vigoiu- and success. Ac- 
cordingly, in the year 1693, Sir William Scaven, 
and forty-one persons more, having subscribed a 
joint capital of 40,000/. were incorporated by 
act of Parliament § for a term of fourteen years, un- 

* Anderson's Commerce, a. d. 1672. 
t Beschryving, vol. i. p. 21. 
X 2d William and Mary, c. 4. 
§ Idem, act 4tli & 5th c. I7, 


der the name of " The Company of INIerchants of 
" London Trading to Greenland." The privileges 
of this coi-poration principally consisted in an ex- 
tension of the indulgences granted by 25th Car. II. 
c. 7., among which, the permission to engage two- 
thirds of the crew of each fishing ship from foreign 
countries, in consequence of the great scarcity of 
English harpooners and other fishing officers, was a 
prominent article. 

The shipping interests of Holland having now 
become most extensively engaged in the whale-fish- 
ery, occasional accidents from the ice and other ca- 
sualties among such a number of vessels, were un- 
avoidable. It became, therefore, an object of im- 
portance to those concerned, to establish some laws 
for the disposal of the property saved from wrecks. 
Hence, a code of laws, which had been originally 
drawn up by the Greenland adventurers in 1677, 
was, in the year 1695, sanctioned and confirmed by 
the States-General *. 

The London Greenland Company thinking 
their originial capital of 40,000/. too inconsider- 
able to fulfil their extensive designs, in the in- 
terval between the time of their incorporation 
and the year 1703, increased their subscriptions 

Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol, i. p. 22,-34. 


to 82,000/*. In the mean time, the Parliament 
exempted all their importations from every custom, 
duty, or imposition whatever f. Notwithstanding, 
this company, from their great capital, the indul- 
gence of engaging so many foreign seamen skilled 
in the fishery, and other privileges, had every ap- 
parent chance of pursuing the trade with the best 
eflPect, especially when it is known, that at this pe- 
riod the whales were yet occasionally met with in 
great plenty ; yet, from various losses, combined pro- 
bably with unskilful management, they were so un- 
fortunate, that some time before the conclusion of 
their term, their whole capital of 82,000/. was ex- 
pended |. This amazing loss, together with former 
failures, so intimidated other persons from embarking 
in so hazardous a speculation, that even the exten- 
sion of all the privileges of the chartered company, 
together with a free trade to all adventurers ^, were 
not sufficient, for a length of time, to encoui'age the 

* Anderson's History of Commerce, a. d.'1696. Elking, in 
his View of the Greenland Trade, 2d edit.. Introduction, im- 
plies, that 45,000 1, of this subscription only was paid. 

t 7th & 8th Gul. III. c. 33. 

X Anderson's History of Commerce, A. D. I696. 

§ 1st Anne, c. l6. § 1. 


subjects of Great Britain to make any vigorous at- 
tempt to renew the fishery. 

The faihire of the latter Greenland Company ap- 
pears themore surprising, when we are informed, that 
in the early part of their term, namely, in the year 
1697, the foreign whale-fishery was universally suc- 
cessful. The superintendent of the Dutch fishery 
at this time remarks, that when lying in one of the 
bays with his ship, the Four Brothers, having a 
cargo of seven fish on board, a richly laden fleet 
assembled at that place, comprising 121 Holland- 
ers, whose cargoes consisted of 1252 whales ; 54 
Hamburghers with 515 whales, 15 Bremeners with 
119 whales, and 2 Embdeners with 2 whales: in 
all which fleet, there was not one clean* ship. The 
least number offish taken by any one of the Dutch 
ships was three, and many had procured full cargoes. 
This entire squacbon, therefore, comprising a fleet 
of 192 ships, carried home the produce of 1888 
whales f . 

* The term clean is applied to those ships which have met 
with no success in the whale-fishery. 

t Beschry ving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 5. — I find various 
accounts of the success of the fishery of this year ; the differen- 
ces in which, are probably occasioned by including the ships of 
certain ports and states among tliose of other nations, or exclud- 
ing some of those which properly belonged to them. Ac- 
cording to the " Histoire des Peches," the number of ships 


Elkiiig, in his " View of the Greenland Trade 
*' and Whale-Fishery," attributes the singular fail- 
ure of the London Greenland Company, to causes 
which have been generally overlooked. They are 
the following : 

1. Their ships were commanded by persons un- 
acquainted with the business, who interfered in the 
fishery ; whereas, " the chief harpooner ought to 
" have commanded''' at this time. 

2. Their captains had fixed pay ; whereas they 
should have been paid in proportion to their suc- 
cess in the fishery. Hence they had no encourage- 
ment to pursue the fishery among the ice, but fre- 
quently retired to some harbour in Spitzbergen, 
and amused themselves with hunting deer ; the tal- 

assembled in the Bay alluded to, was 188 ; the number offish 
taken by the Bremeners, was 190 ; and the number of fish 
which the whole fleet had on board, amounted to 1959- This 
corresponds more nearly with another account, now befoi'o 
me, which runs as follows : 

The cargoes of 121 Dutch vessels produced 41,344 puncheons of oil. 
47 Hamburgh, - 16,414 

12 Bremen, - 3,790 

4 Danish, - 1,710 

2 Swedish, - 540 

2 Embden, - 68 

The total cargoes of 188 ships consisting of? ^3 j^^ons of oil i 

1968 whales, produced^ 

According to Zorgdrager, the Dutch shipping employed in 

tlie whale-fishery this season consisted of 11 1 sail, which cap.* 

fured 1274^ fish. 


low, hides and horns of which were allowed them 
as a perquisite, and left their boats to seek whales 
where few, if any, were to be found. 

3. The blubber they happened to take home, was 
slovenly and wastefully managed in boiling, and the 
fins were ill cleaned : hence, when their goocfe were 
offered for sale, they fetched only an inferior price. 

4. Their lines and fishing instruments were in- 
jured or spoiled, for want of care, and many arti- 
cles embezzled ; whereby the company was repeat- 
edly put to the expence of renewing them. 

5. They fitted their ships extravagantly ; paid 
an exorbitant price for their boats and fishing ap- 
paratus ; and paid great sums for incidentals, much 
of which might have been saved. 

6. The last ship they sent out was unfortunately 
wrecked in the ice, after a successful fishery, having 
taken eleven whales ; — a misfortune which accele- 
rated the ruin, and increased the mortification of 
the company, insomuch that they were discouraged 
from persevering any longer *. 

The direct importation of Greenland produce 
into England being inconsiderable, its importation 
from Holland, or other foreign states, was permit- 
ted ; whalebone, however, was required to be brought 
into the country in fins only, and not cut, or in 

* Elking's View, &c. p. 46. 


any way manufactured ; nor could it be landed be- 
fore tlie duty chargeable thereon was secured or 
paid, under penalty of the forfeiture of the goods, 
and double their value *. And, by a subsequent 
statute, other penalties were declared against per- 
sons having foreign cut-whalebone in their posses- 
sion, or masters of ships importing the same f . 

From the year 1715, to 1721, one year with an- 
other, 150 tons of whalebone were imported yearly 
into London only ; even when the price was 400/. 
per ton. The whalebone which was at the same 
time imported into other ports of Great Britain 
and Ireland, may, at a moderate estimation, be 
supposed to be 100 tons more ; the value of which, 
100,000/., was annually paid to foreigners for 
whalebone, at this period \. 

It was not, it appears, until the whale-fishery 
was on the decline at Spitzbergen, that the Davis' 
Straits fishery was resorted to. The Dutch sent 
their first ships thither in the year 1719. 

The shipping employed in the Greenland and 
Davis' Straits whale-fisheries, in the year 1721, 
from a list published in London at the time, with 

* 9tli & lOtU Will. III. c. 23. § 12. & c. ir). 

t 4th Anne, c 12. § 6. 

X Elking's View, &c. page 65. 


the object probably, of stimulating the British 
subjects by the example of foreign nations, appears 
to have amounted to 355 sail : 251 of these ships 
were fitted out from different ports in Holland ; 
55 from Hamburgh ; 24 from Bremen ; 20 from 
the ports in the Bay of Biscay ; and 5 from Bre- 
men in Norway *. 

At this time, an attempt was made by a com- 
pany of merchants, belonging to Bergen, to es- 
tablish a trade with the Esquimaux, in Davis' 
Straits, when they likewise made a feeble effort to 
carry on a whale-fishery in that quarter. For this 
latter purpose, one ship was dispatched, which, 
meeting with a severe storm near Statenhook, 
where there is a dangerous current, was dismasted, 
and nearly upset. Notwithstanding her crippled 
state, she arrived at Bergen in safety. Two years 
afterwards (1723), the same company sent out an- 
other shij) to Davis' Straits, which, after wintering 
there, returned home the following summer, with 
120 barrels of blubber, procured from one whale, 
wliidi, with the whale-bone, sold for about 540 /. 
On another occasion, this company's fishing ship 
returned home clean, when, at the same time, their 
trading a esscl procuring a bad freight, they relin- 
quished botli these speculations f . 


* Anderson's Commerce, a. d. 172L 
+ Craiitz' Greenland, vol. i. p. 304. 


When, by the lapse of some years, the iinfa- 
voiirahlc impression produced on the minds of spe- 
culative persons, by the immense losses suffered 
by English ad^ enturers in the whale-fishery, had 
partly worn off, the propriety of attempting this 
trade became a subject of conversation among the 
Directors of the well known South Sea Company. 

This subject was introduced, it appears, by Hen- 
ry Elking, a person who had had long experience 
in tlie trade * ; who suggested it as a most desir- 
able speculation to the then sub-govenior of the 
South Sea Company, Sir John Eyles ; and so im- 
pressed him with the opinion of its practicability, 
that he proposed it to the company in January 
1721 f. The proposition was received and discus- 
sed with considerable warmth ; and though it was at 
length carried, some members, " without whose con- 
'' currcnce it was impossible to proceed .]:," again ex- 
pressed their doubts, and withheld their complete 
sanction. In consequence of this, Sir John Eyles ad- 
dressed a letter to ^Ir Elking, requesting him to lay 
before the Court of Directors, in writing, the argu- 
ments and principles upon wliich he considered that 
this company might succeed in the fishery, when so 
many persons before them had totally failed. El- 
king, therefore, drew up his tract, entitled, " A 
" ^'^iew of the Greenland Trade and ^^^hale-fishe- 

* Elking, p. 19. t Idem, p. 12. ^ TJem, p. 13. 


" ry, with the National and Private Advantages 
*' thereof* ;" wherein he attempted to sliow " How 
" the A'Vhale-fishery is, and ouglit to be perform- 
" ed ;" — " by whom it is chiefly carried on," 
" and how much to their advantage ;" — " A brief 
" View of the Early Fishery ; and what have been 
" the Causes that all the attempts of the English 
" to retrieve it, were unsuccessful ;" — " and a full 
" proof that England may retrieve the Trade, and 
" are able to carry it on to greater advantage than 
" any other Nation ;" — "and all the known Objec- 
" tions to the contrar)% answered and removed f ." 
His reasoning on this subject proved eventually so 
satisfactory, that, after various re-considerations, 
and the loss of much time, their debates closed, at 
que of the general courts of the company, held in 
1724, with the adoption of a resolution, that the 
whale-fishery should be attempted t. 

The British Legislature held out encom-age- 
ments to tliis company, sirnilar to those olFered to 
former adventurers. By act of Parliament, all the 
produce of the Greenland Seas was exempted from 
the existing duties during seven years, from Christ- 
mas 17'24, on the condition of its being imported 
in British ships ; the commander, and at least one- 

. .^ 1 ■ — — — ■ •"■ r 

* London, 1722, 12mo, 2d edit, published in 172.">. 

f Idem, ]). 20. 

.J: Anderson's Commerce, a. n. 1724'. 


third of each ship's company, being British sub- 
jects *. Two years afterwards, by another act of 
Parliament, the same privileges were extended to 
speculators in the Davis' Straits Whale-fishery, 
which fishery, had, since the year 1719, been car- 
ried on by the Dutch, with such success as to en- 
courage its continuation, and induce about one-third 
part of their shipping employed in the whale-fish- 
ery to resort thither f. This act expressly includ- 
ed the exemption, not only of the produce of the 
whale from all custom whatever, but likewise the 
fat, skins, and tusks of the seal, bear, walrus, or 
any other fish or creature caught in the Seas of 
Greenland or Davis' Straits |. 

The South Sea Company not being able to com- 
mence the whale-fishery the same year in which 
they had adopted the resolution to that effect, caused 
a fleet of twelve new ships of about 306 tons bur- 
den each, to be built in the River Thames for the 
purpose, equipped each vessel with the necessary 
supplies of cordage, casks, and fishing instruments, 
and engaged for their use the Duke of Bedford's 
wet-dock at Deptford, where boiling houses and 
other conveniences were constructed ^. In the en- 

* lOth Geo. I. c. G2. 

t Reste's Histoire des Peches, torn. iii. p. 208, &c. 

|. 12th Geo. I. c. 26. 

§ Anderson's Commerce, a. d. ITSl- 


suing spring (1725), the fleet being all in readiness, 
put to sea, and returned safe with 25 1 whales. The 
proceeds of this .voyage, though so moderate as 
scarcely to be sufficient to pay the expenccs of 
wages, provisions, and interest of the capital enga- 
ged, were yet superior to those of any succeeding 
year, during the period in which the company pur- 
sued the trade *. This cargo would have made a 
saving voyage, and even have afforded a tolerable 
profit, if procured by the same number of Dutch 
ships ; but owing to the extraordinary expences to 
which the English were subjected, they carried on 
the trade with much less chance of success than any 
of their contemjioraries. One additional expence, 
and that a very prominent one, was occasioned by 
their being obliged to procure their fishing officers 
Irom foreign ports, the English at this time being 
entirely unacquainted with the trade. Excepting, 
therefore, a few natives of Scotland, who were indu- 
ced to leave the service of the Dutch, on the com- 
mencement of the South Sea Company's fishery, 
and engage in their employ, the whole of their har- 
pooners, boat-steerers and line-managers, were pro- 
cured from Fohrde in Holstcin. These men, from 
their superior pay as officers, and the expences of 
their passages, which the company were obliged to 
bear, regularly cost them about 20/. each man. 

* Anderson's Commerce, a. d. 1725. 


Thus, 152 foreigners employed in the first voyage, 
cost 3056/. 18*. Sd., while above twice their num- 
ber of British subjects cost only 3151/. 15,y. 5(1. * 

In the year 1730, the company's ships were in- 
creased to twenty-two sail. The combined cargoes 
of this fleet consisted only of twelve fish, and their 
year's loss, in consequence, besides wear and tear, 
was 8921/. 5s. 9d. f 

The next year the same fleet v/as sent out, where- 
of one of the ships was lost, the remaining twenty- 
one sail captured but fourteen whales ; consequently 
this voyage was little better than the one prece- 
ding X' 

The company's ships were at this time provided 
with a new invented gun for shooting a harpoon, 
which enabled the possessor to strike the whale at 
a much greater distance than he could possibly ef- 
fect by hand. This instrument was productive of 
little advantage. It was ^vith great difficulty that 
the Dutch harpooners could be induced to make 
use of it ; these men, like the older fishers of the 
present day, having a particular aversion to adopt 
any new plan, however excellent, conceiving the me- 
thod which experience had established, to be the 
most effectual for ensuring success ; so that, with 

* Anderson's Commerce;, a. d. 1725. 

t Idem, A. D. 1730. • + Idem, a. d. 1731. 


these people, the introduction of any new system was 
ever deemed an innovation, wliilc the mere circum- 
stance of any plan or contri\ ancc being out of the an- 
cient practice or form, was generally of itself suffi- 
cient to prevent its adoption. In a ship, however, 
fitted out by INlessrs Elias Bird and Company, about 
the year 1733, the prejudices of the harpooners* 
were so far overcome, that the harpoon-gun was the 
means of taking two of the tish out of three, which 
constituted the vessel's cargo f , 

The South Sea Company having persevered in 
the whale-fishery with indifferent or bad success for 
eight successive years, whereby they sunk a vast 
sum of money, being hopeless of redeeming their 
losses, abandoned the whale-fishery after the season 
of 1732. A short time before this, they had soli- 
cited Government for a bounty to assist them in 
the speculation, and enable them to continue it. 
This request was subsequently complied with, but 

* As this occiured eight or nine years after the revival 
of the whale-fishery by the South Sea Company, it is very 
possible, that Bird's ship was furnished with some English har- 
pooners, who had been bred in the service of the company. 
These men were not likely to be so strongly prejudiced 
against new inventions as the Dutch were ; consequently, the 
harpoon-gun would, in their hands, meet a fair trial, and its 
importance be duly appreciated. 

t Anderson, a. d. 1731- 


not until they had determined to abandon the trade. 
The bounty first offered to adventurers, consisted in 
tin annual award of 20s. iJCi' ton on the burden or 
tonnage of all British whale-fishing ships of 200 tons 
and upwards *. Two ships sent out by private in- 
dividuals, alone enjoyed the benefit of this bounty ; 
but yet it appears without deriving any advantage 
from the voyage. 

The Bergen Greenland Conipan}% at this time 
again resolved to renew the Davis' Straits trade f ; 
but whether it was confined to the traffic with the 
Esquimaux, or it likewise extended to the whale- 
fishery, does not appear ; at any rate, this trial, like 
their former, seems to have been so imbecile, as to 
merit but little of our curiosity as to the event. 

In 1736, a London ship, which visited the whale- 
fishery, procured a cargo of seven fish \ ; a degree of 
.success which was fortunately different from that 
of most of tlie antecedent English whalers. At the 
same time, 191 Dutch ships captured 85 7 j whales. 
A successful attempt was also made in the whale- 
fishery the following year from Ireland, a number 
of fish having been killed in the neighbouring sea, 
sufficient to supply several counties with oil and 
bone ^. 

*6tl) Geo. II. c. 33. + Hist des Peches, torn. iii. 

X Anderson, a. d. 1736. § Gent. Mag. vol. vii. p. 70S-. 


Five English Greenland ships in 1739, fitted out 
by private gentlemen, obtciincd Hi whales *. 

The encouragement of duty-free imports, and a 
bounty of 20s. ^ler ton on the whole tonnage of the 
vessels employed in the northern whale-fisheries, not 
being found sufficient to induce any extensive em- 
barkation in the trade, the act of Parliament en- 
titling adventurers to these privileges was extended 
in the year 1740 to the 25th of December 1750, 
with the addition of 10s. more per ton as bounty, aiui 
tlie protection of fishing officers from being impres- 
sed into his JMajesty's service. These additional en- 
couragements were stipulated to continue only du- 
ring the war with Spain. 

A heavy storm occurred on the coast of Spitzber- 
gen, in the month of May 1746, in ^v]lich thirty 
Dutch vessels and tliree English were wrecked, and 
several others sustained material damage f . 

The im.portance of the whale-fisheries in a na- 
tional view, became more and more evident to the 
British I^egislature, who, therefore, to encourage 
still more its prosecution, enacted, in 1749, that the 
original bounty of 20s. should be increased to 40s. 
2Kr ton. By this act, ships of not more than two 
years old, built in the British colonies in America, 

* Gent. Mag. vol. ix. p. 495. 
t Idem, vol. xvi. p. 328. 


Were, under certain stipulations, entitled to the 
same Lounty as British built ships, provided they 
sailed before the 1st of May from America, and 
continued fishing until the 20th of August, unless 
they had procured a certain quantity of blubber, 
and provided also they returned from the fishery to 
some port in Great Britain. Foreign Protestants 
also, who had served three years on board of any 
British whale-fishermen, and had fulfilled the regu- 
lar forms of naturalization, were, during their re- 
sidence in England, by this act, endowed with the 
same privileges in the whale-fisheries, as the natives 
of Britain themselves *. 

This season the fishery in Davis' Straits Avas un- 
commonly prosperous. Forty-one Dutch ships took 
205 whales, making 8704 casks of blubber ; four 
Hamburgh vessels took 25 i whales, and some others 
were likewise successful f. 

About this period, the Hudson's Bay Company 
were in the habit of im.porting into Kngland a 
trifling quantity of the produce of the whale, from 
their establishment in Hudson's Bay ;. 

* 22cl Geo. II. c. 45. 

t Gent. Mag. vol. xix. p. 427. 

;}: Robson, in his " Account of a Six Years residence in Hud- 
•' son's Bay," p. 65., mentions these imports, and states, that 
the price of whale oil in the year 1742, was 18/. 13*. }jer ton : 
in 174;^, 14/. 8*. ; and in 1744, ]0/. Is. per ton. 


The effect of the bounty of 40s. per ton, toge- 
ther Avith the other inducements held out to spe- 
cuhitors in tlie wliale-tislicry, was such, that imme- 
diately after the passing of this last act of Parlia- 
ment, the whale-fishery began to assume 
a respectable and hopeful appearance. The mer- 
chants of Scotland began to participate with the 
English, in the year 1750. 

The combined fleets of England and Scotland, 
in the year 1752, amounted to forty sail ; in 1753 
they were increased to forty-nine sail ; in 1754 to 
sixty-seven sail * ; in 1755 to eighty-two sail, and 
the year following to eighty-three sail, which was 
the greatest number of ships employed in the trade 
for the tAventy years following, w^hile the least num- 
ber amounted to forty sail during the same period. 

The British v»'hale- fishery being now pretty firm- 
ly established, the Legislature wisely directed its 
attention to the method of effecting, by this com- 
merce, the m.ost important national advantages ; 
hence, at the same time that it encouraged the ad- 
venturers in the trade by bounties, it took the op- 
portunity of occasional enactments to introduce va- 
rious new regulations, as well as limitations to the 

* The number of ships on the fishery this yeai* (1754)^ from 
different nations, was 227; viz. 67 British; 132 Dutch ; 17 
Hanibuvghers ; 6 Danes ; 2 Bremeners ; 2 French ; and 1 
Embdener. — Scots Magazine, 1754. 


original acts, in which the perpetuity of the trade. 
and the economical application of the bounties were 
generally prominent objects. Thus, in the year 
1755, an act of Parliament for continuing, explain- 
ing, and amending the several previous acts for the 
encouragement of the northern whale-fisheries, con- 
tained the following additions. 

" That every ship employed in that fishery, shall 
have on board an apprentice, indentured for three 
years at least, for every fifty tons burthen, who 
shall be accounted as one of the number of men 
who, by law% ought to be on board such ship. 

" That no ship employed in tlie fishery, above the 
burthen of 400 tons, after the 25t]i of December 
1757, shall be entitled to a larger bounty than a ship 
of 400 tons would be entitled to. And, 

" That ships under 200 tons burthen, shall here- 
after be entitled to the bounty of 40s. pei^ ton, the 
same as those of 200 tons and upAvards, are entitled 
to it by former statutes*.". 

Parliament, the same session, empowered the 
Treasury to pay the bounty to the owners of three 
ships fitted out from London to the whale-fishery, 
but unavoidably lost in the ice ;. and at the same 
time declared it lawful in future, for owners of fish- 
ing ships to insure the bounty f. 

The Eritish whale-fishery of 1758 was very un- 
successful, the weather was vei y stormy, and seve- 

* Anderson's Commerce, a. d. 1755. + 28th Geo. II. 


ral ships were lost ; in 1762, it was also indifferent; 
and in 1764 it was again bad ; many of the British 
ships returned home clean, and few of them made a 
saving voyage. The Dutch, at the same time, fish- 
ed with little better success. 

From this time (1764), the advantages and regula- 
tions attached to the northern whale-fisheries were 
continued, by act of Parliament, to the 25th of De- 
cember 1767, from thence to the end of the follow- 
ing session of Parliament, and afterwards to the 
25th December 1770*. 

The King of Prussia interesting himself in the 
Greenland whale-fishery, caused some ships to-be 
equipped from Embden in the year 1768f. 

Some new regulations were introduced in Parlia- 
ment in 1771, for the whale-fishers; the principal fea- 
tures of which consisted in the extension of the privi- 
leges of the nextpreceding acts, to every British built 
substantial vessel, manned, provided, and sent out, 
agreeably to the usual requisitions, for a term of five 
years ; after which, the other privileges being the 
same, the bounty was to be reduced to 30s. per ton 
for another term of five years ; and to 20s. per ton 
for a third term of the same duration. The whole 
a\vards and bounties of this act were then, that is 
in 1786, to terminate. It was also involved, that 

* 4th Geo. III. c. 2.2. ; and Sth Geo. III. c. 27- 
-•■ F.ncv. Brit. Art. Cclohsy. 


every vessel of 200 tons claiming the above boun- 
ties, should be provided with four boats and thirty 
men, including the master, surgeon, and four ap- 
prentices ; and that every ship of 200 to 400 tons 
burthen, sliould carry an additional boat and six 
men, for every 50 tons above 200. 

Similar advantages, under certain restrictions, 
were extended, as on former occasions, to British 
Americans adventuring on the same fisheries *. 

The liberal extension of the encouragements 
thus offered to adventurers in the whale-fisheries, 
was not carried in the House of Commons without 
considerable debate. A retrospect of the state, 
progress, and success of the British fisheries was 
produced, from whence it was apparent, that with- 
out Parliamentary encouragement, the trade could 
not be pursued but with great loss to the merchants; 
and that a more extended act than had usually been 
passed, would be productive of advantage, by secur- 
ino* to the adventurer such a continuation of the 
bounties, as would be sufficient to induce him to in- 
cur the extraordinary expencc attending the equip- 
ment of ships adapted for this trade f . At the same 
time it was shewn, that during the twenty years, 
ending in 1769, since the bounty of 40s. per ton 
took place, there had been paid to tlie owners of 

* nth Geo. III. c. 38. 

•f" Macpherson's Aiinals of Commerce^ vol. iii. p. 511. 


the British whale-fi.sliermen in England, the snm of 
475,031/. 4s. Id., and in Scotland, 138,230/. 5,y. lOd. 
During this period, tlie number of English ships 
(including repeated voyages,) engaged in the trade, 
amounted to 786 sail, and their burthen to 247,218 
tons, and, at the same time, the number of Scotch 
ships was 229, and their tonnage 70,523. 

This season (1771) 121 Dutcli ships procured 
14,320 barrels of oil, the produce of 500 whales. 
Three of these ships were lost after having captured 
fifteen whales. 

The consumption of v\halebonc in the stiff stays 
used by the ladies, was at this period very great ; in 
consequence of which, notwithstanding tlie increas- 
ed importation from Greenland, Davis' Straits and 
the St Lawrence, tliis article still maintained a 
high price. 

The method of shooting harpoons at the whale, 
from a sort of swivel-gun, was, in the year 1772, 
reintroduced. Indeed this instrument had been so 
long laid aside, that the present was considered as 
a new discovery, and probably was the sole invention 
of the manufacturer. The Society of Arts, af- 
ter having witnessed two experiments v.ith the 
harpoon-gun, which fully satisfied them of its ef- 
ficacy ; with a view to testify their approbation 
of the instrument, and to encourage tlie use of iL 
presented the inventor witli a premium of twenty 


guineas *. Still farther to prove its utility, the so- 
ciety ordered six of the guns, and twenty-four 
harpoons, to be put on hoard of the Leviathan, 
one of the London whalers, and the same on board 
of the Rising Sun ; and to encourage the use of the 
instrument, the same society offered a premium of 
20/. for the most satisfactory account of taking 
whales by the gun-harpoon ; and, since this period, 
it has been in the constant habit of offering rewards 
to harpooners for taking whales by the same means. 

In the year 1774, a company of merchants being 
associated in Stockholm, for the purpose of attempt- 
ing the whale-fishery, were not only encouraged by 
the Swedish Government with the exclusive right 
to the fisheries of Greenland and Davis' Straits, for 
twenty years, but were likewise assisted with the 
loan of 500,000 dollars, at an interest of 3 per 
cent, f ; thus evincing the powerful impression which 
the King of Sweden had in common with others, of 
the high national importance of this branch of com- 

In an act passed for the encouragement of the 
Xcwfoundland fisheries in 1775, the bounties and 
other privileges awarded to the British whale-fish- 
ermen, were extended to the Irish ;{:. 

* Transactions of the Soc. of ArtS;, vol. ii. ; and Scots Maga- 
zine, vol. xxxvi. p. 392. 

+ Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iii. p. 557. 
t 15th Geo. III. c. 31. 


The Danes resumed the Greenland whale-fishery 
in the year 1775 *. 

Whales having been discovered in various regions 
of the globe, and other establishments having been 
made besides the northern fisheries, all of which, in 
some degree, received the encouragement of the 
British Legislature, though not in the same pro- 
portion ; and the different fisheries being subject 
to different regulations, under different acts of 
Parliament, it was found necessary to distinguish 
between them, and draw a line of separation. Ac- 
cordingly, the latitude of 59 ^^ 30' north was fixed 
as the southern limit of the Greenland seas ; which 
seas, therefore, include the whole of the navigation 
north of this parallel, contained between the Ame- 
rican coast on the west, and the European and Asi- 
atic coasts on the east and north f . 

The reduction of the bounty to 30s. per ton from 
the year 1777 to 1781 inclusive, was found to pro- 
duce such a remarkable diminution in the number of 
ships employed in the northern whale-fisheries, that 
it was deemed necessary to increase it again to 40s., 
instead of reducing it still further to 2lOs. per ton, 
as was specified in a former act of Parliament. 
Thus the number of ships fitted out of Britain in 
the year 1775, was 105 sail, and the following year, 


* Ency. ]ir' . Art. Celology. t 20th Gqo, III. c. 60. 


when the bounty was still at 40s., 98 ; but m 1781, 
after the bounty had been reduced during five years 
to 30s. the number of ships decreased to 39- In 
the same way, but in a greater proportion, the ship- 
ping increased, on the advance of the bounty again 
to 40s. jp^r ton, which took place in 1782, so that, 
in 1786, they amounted to 185 sail. 

As it was occasionally found to be a matter of 
some difficulty to procure the number of men re- 
quired by law for the whale-fishing ships, at the 
ports where they were fitted, the above act of Par- 
liament, besides renewing the highest bounty, per- 
mitted the ships to procure in Shetland or Orkney 
a part of their crew, not, however, exceeding two 
men for every 50 tons burden, and to land them at 
the same place on their return from the fishery *. 

The revival of the whale-fishery was attempted 
by the late King of France, in his dominions, by 
equipping, at his own expence, six ships from the 
port of Dunkirk in 1784. This adventure was at- 
tended with tolerable success. By the way of en- 
larging the trade, and enhancing the probability of 
success, assistance was procured in 1786 from Nan- 
tucket, near Halifax in North America, several fa- 
milies belonging to which island, in consequence of 
the offer of peculiar immunities, were induced to 
settle at Dunkirk f . 

* 22tl Geo. III. c. IJ}. t Ency. Brit. Art. Celoiooy. 


" In the year 1785, the King of Denmark grant- 
ed a bounty of about 30s. Sterling per ton to all 
vessels in the Greenland and Icelandic fisheries, 
on the condition of the ships being fitted out and 
their cargoes sold in a Danish port. Foreign built 
ships were employed, foreigners were encouraged 
to promote the view, and even foreign manufac- 
tures necessary for the Greenland fishery, were 
allowed duty free *." 

With an act of the British Parliament of 1786, 
were connected several additional regulations, re- 
lative to the bounties offered to the Greenland and 
Davis' Straits whale-fishers ; in which, the former 
acts being embodied and improved, it was rendered 
altogether so full, that it has ever since been con- 
sidered as the fundamental act. By this statute, 
the bounty was again reduced to 30s. per ton for 
the five ensuing years, — ships of 150 tons burden, 
if manned and equipped in proportion, were en- 
titled to receive it, — no ship, after the year 1791, 
however large, was to receive a bounty for more 
than 300 tons, unless employed in the fishery 
prior to the passing of this act. The act like- 
wise declared and described how the vessels, to 
be properly qualified, were to be owned, built and 
navigated, and from what ports they might pro- 
ceed, — it required, that each sliip be visited by 

tlic proper officers of the customs, and surveyed, to 

F 2 

* Oddy's European Commerce, p. 525. 


ascertain her suitableness and proper equipment, and 
certificate thereof to be given to the Commissioners 
of the Customs, — the owner and master then ma- 
king oath of the nature and object of the voyage, 
and that it is " 07i no other design oi' view of pro- 
*' Jit *," than the capture of whales and other crea- 
tures inhabiting the Greenland seas, and the master 
having given bond for his faithful dealings, — the 
Commissioners are required to grant licence for the 
ship to proceed. Each ship to be properly equip- 
ped, must be furnished with a certain number of 
officers, seamen, greenmen f and apprentices, boats, 
harpoons, lines, and other fishing stores, in propor- 

* It is remarkable, that this clause should have existed ; and 
much more so, that it should have been inserted after the pass- 
ing of acts for the encouragement of discoveries of a northern 
passage into the Pacific, and a near approach to the Pole, — 
when it is considered, that by this clause, the whale-fishers, 
who, it was believed, could the most conveniently attempt 
such an enterprise, were the only persons prevented from pur- 
suing such a " design or view of profit." The insertion of this 
sentence has evidently been intended, to prevent ships sent 
on other trading voy;>ges from being benefited by the bounty 
act ; and not to prevent attempts to make such discoveries as 
the Legislature offered premiums for accomplishing. In fact, 
the two acts, as they thus stand, if not incompatible, are at least 
inconsistent. Lately, however, this inconsistency has been 
pointed out to Government, and an exception has been intro- 
duced into the master's and owner's oath, as to any rewards 
offered by Government for the making of discoveries. (58th 
Geo. IIL c. 15.) 

t Greenmen are svich seamen or landsmen as have not be- 
fore been to the fishery. 


tion to its tonnage, and a sufficient quantity of 
provisions for the voyage, — must sail, unless in cases 
of unavoidable necessity, by the 10th of April ; 
and unless a certain specified success has been obtain- 
ed, must remain within the limits of the Green- 
land seas until the 10th of August ; — survey again 
to be made on the ship's return, — ^master and mate to 
make oath of their faithful attention to theprovisions 
of the law ; and must produce a log-book kept during 
the voyage, and make affidavit of the truth of its 
contents : — the ship then becomes entitled to the 
bounty, and the cargo is permitted to be imported 
free of duty. The act frirther states, that ships fitted 
out from Ireland may have bounty, — the bounty may 
be insured, — the ship's crew are protected during the 
voyage, and the officers in the coasting trade in 
winter, — the extent of the Greenland seas specified, 
— the Commissioners of the Customs to lay before 
Parliament, annually, an account of the ships em- 
ployed in the fishery, with a statement of their suc- 
cess, &c. : And the act concludes with the appro- 
priation of penalties, — defence to actions, — and the 
award of treble costs to defendants, where the plain- 
tiff is non-suited *. 

By accounts laid upon the table of the House of 
Commons this session, (1786), it appeared, that the 

* 26th Geo, IIL c. 41. § 1. to 21. — This important act, as far 
as it is yet in force, is given, in a condensed state, in the 
Appendix to this Volume, N°. I. 


"bounties granted for tlie encouragement of the Bri- 
tish whale-fisheries carried on in the Greenland seas 
and Davis' Straits, from the year 1733, when boun- 
ties were first given, to the end of 1785, had 
amounted to 1,064,272/. 18^. 2d. for England, and 
202,158/. 16^. l\d. for Scotland. 

The limitation of the bounty to 300 tons, wag 
found to be a necessary measure, in consequence of 
some very large vessels being sent out, with a de- 
sign to enhance the benefit derived from the na- 
tional bonus, without possessing the smallest ad- 
vantage over vessels of more moderate dimensions, 
in their suitableness for the fishery. From a list 
published about this time, it appears, that in 1788, 
255 British ships sailed for the whale-fishery, of 
which 1 29 were of a burden under 300 tons, 97 of 300 
to 350 tons, 16 of 350 to 400 tons, 11 of 400 to 
500 tons, 1 of 5Q5 tons, and 1 of 987 tons *. 

This season the French fitted out two ships for 
the Greenland fishery f . 

* These ships were fitted out of the following ports^ viz. 

From London, 91 From Exeter, 2 From Bo'ness, 


Hull, SQ Whitehaven, 2 



Liverpool, 21 Stockton, 2 



Whitby, 20 Scarbro, 1 



Newcastle, 20 Leith, 6 



Yarmouth, 8 Ipswich, 5 



Sunderland, 8 Dunbar, 5 



Lynn, 6 Aberdeen, 4 

f Oddy's European Commerce, p. 525. 


In 1789 an alteration took place in the regula- 
tion of the British fishery, relative to the time 
"which the fishermen were obliged to stay in the 
Greenland seas, unless they procured a certain spe- 
cified portion of success, by an enactment, that 
after the vessel had remained sixteen weeks in the 
Greenland seas, (reckoned from the time of sailing) 
she was at liberty to return home, and became en- 
titled to the bounty, notwithstanding her success 
might be less than the limited quantity *. By the 
same act, masters of fishing ships were prohibited 
from permitting any indentured apprentice to quit 
his service before the expiration of hisapprenticeshi^?, 
under the penalty of 50/. for each offence, unless 
legally discharged or turned over ; and no ship was 
to be entitled to bounty, unless the name of the ship 
were inserted in each apprentice's indenture f . 

The acts for encouraging and regulating the fisher- 
ies in the seas of Greenland and Davis' Straits, were 
continued in 1791 with some trifling additions, for 
one year more. 

The following session, the above and preceding 
regulations and indulgences were re-enacted, ^vith 
the reduction of the bounty to 25s. per ton, from 
the 25th of December 1792 to the 25th of Decem- 
ber 1795, and from this period until the expiration 
of the act in 1798, to 20s. j9fr ton ; at which latter 
rate it has continued ever since. By this act, ships 

* 29th Geo. III. c. 53. t Id. § 5, 6, & 7- 


not fitted out under the regulations for obtaining 
the bounty, if British vessels, and owned by Bri- 
tish subjects, &c. were declared at liberty to fish 
for whales, and import the produce duty free, the 
crew to be protected during the voyage, and the offi- 
cers in the winter season, in every respect the same 
as ships fitted out for the bounty. Whale-boats 
being of a construction adapted for the pui-pose of 
smuggling, were ordered to be laid up during the 
intervals of the voyages*. 

Such great progress was made in the whale-fish- 
ery carried on by the Nantucket whalers, in vessels 
fitted out of Dunkirk, that instead of two ships 
which adventured in 1788, in the year 1793, 40 sail 
were equipped from this port. This trade, as then 
established, was profitable, and promised considerable 
national benefit ; " in consequence, however, of the 
revolution, together with the peculiar state of the 
country since that period, it was suspended," some 
of the conductors of it returned to America, and 
the trade has not been yet revived f. 

During the war in which Great Britain was at 
this time engaged, the manning of the Greenland 
fleet was fovmd to be a matter of such particular 
difficulty, that the indulgence of making up the com- 

• S2d Geo. III. c. 22. 

t Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. p. 285. 


plement of the crew to the amount of three men for 
every 50 tons burden was granted ; and the pri- 
vilege of furnishing the requisite number of men, 
was extended to the Frith of Clyde and Loch 
Ryan, as well as the Shetland and Orkney Islands. 
These men being landed at their respective ports 
on the return of the ships, and a certificate thereof 
procured from the officers of the customs at the 
place, the bounty was to be granted, the same as if 
the whole crew had accompanied the ship through- 
out the voyage*. 

In 1795, an act for a limited time was passed, en- 
couraging inhabitants of the United Provinces (who 
had before been employed in the whale-fishery, or 
in certain occupations connected therewith,) to come 
over and engage in the whale-fisheries from Eng- 
land, endowing them, imder certain restrictions, and 
after certain oaths made, with the same advantages 
as British subjects f. 

The acts for the encouragement of the British 
whale-fisheries, as amended by the 32d Geo. III. 
c. 22. were continued in 1798, 1799,1800, and in sub- 
sequent years, mth little variation to the present 
time, except as to the following particulars. 

* 34,th Geo. III. c. 22. 

t 35th Geo. III. c. 56. — This act was revived and continued 
by different subsequent acts, until 25th March 1811, when it 


Until the year 1797, British built ships wholly 
owned by his Majesty's subjects, usually residing in 
Great Britain, Ireland, or the islands of Guernsey, 
Alderney, Jersey, Sark, or Man, registered, fitted 
out, and navigated, agreeable to the regulations of 
the 26th Geo. III. c. 41. and subsequent acts, were 
permitted to import into Great Britain, the produce 
of whales, seals, or other creatures, living in the seas 
of Greenland and Davis' Straits, or the seas adja- 
cent, after certain oaths made by the master, &c. 
free of all customs, subsidy or other duty ; but at 
the time of passing the tonnage-duty act of the 38th 
Geo. III. c. 76. an impost of 16s. lOd, ^jcr ton, was 
laid on train oil or blubber, fish-oil, or oil of seals, 
or other creatures living in the seas ; and Sj^er cent, 
ad valorem, on all other produce of the British 
northern whale-fisheries. In this act, the ambigui- 
ty and impropriety of considering train oil and 
blubber as similar articles, when the proportion of 
blubber to oil is as four to three*, occasioned a very 
inequitable application of the duty ; for the north- 
ern whalers, who brought home their cargoes in 
blubber, paid the same duty jier ton as the south- 
ern whalers, who brought theirs home boiled into 
oil ; consequently, the former paid more duty by one- 

* The proportion which blubber bears to oil, has always 
been considered by the Legislature, as the number 3 to 2 ; but 
it is found by experience, that four tons of blubber will gene- 
rally produce three tons of oil. 


fourth than the latter. This inequality was rectifi- 
ed by an act passed the 20th of June 1800, whereby 
blubber was permitted to be boiled into oil, under 
the inspection of the proper officers, and such oil 
admitted to entry, and the duty paid thereon *. 

An act for granting to his Majesty certain duties 
on goods imported int£), and exported from Great 
Britain, &:c. includes a duty of 20s. 3d. per ton on 
train oil, fish-oil, or oil of seals, or other creatures 
living in the seas, not otherwise enumerated; Is. 9d. 
per cwi. on whale-fins ; Is. each on undi-essed bear- 
skins, and 2d. each on undressed seal-skins f. But 
this act being superseded the following year by the 
consolidation act of the 43d Geo. III. c. 68, seems 
not to have been universally enforced on the pro- 
duce of the whale-fishery \. 

* 39th & 40th Geo. III. c. 51. § 1. 

+ 42d Geo. III. c. 43. table (A.) inwards. 

X The followuig are the duties which were imposed o» 
Greenland produce by this act. 

Duty. Drawback. 

L. 3. D. L. s. r. 
Train oil or blubber, or fish-oil of British 

fishing, the ton of 252 gallons, (on oil), 15 9 

(on blubber f) 10 6 

D?7/oof foreign fishing (on oil) per ton, 21 14 
WTiale-fins of British fishing, (per ton) 

of20cwt. - - 1 10 

D?«oof foreign fishing, (per ton) 120 90 


By the consolidation act of 49th Geo. III. c. 68., 
the duties on the produce of the Greenland and 
Davis' Straits fisheries, underwent different altera- 
tions ; the duty on oil of British fishing was redu- 
ced from three farthings p^?^ gallon (15s. 9d. jjer 
ton) to one farthing, with the addition of 1^. dd- 
jjer ton in time of war*. 

The following are the alterations, additions, li- 
mitations, emendations, &c. which have recently 
been adopted in Parliament, for the regulation of 
the northern whale-fisheries. 

In 1802, the number of fishing officers to be pro- 
tected from the impress during the voyage and in 
the winter season was limited ; sliips completing 
their crews in Orkney or Shetland, allowed to take 
two men for every 50 tons ; and owners unavoid- 
ably absent, permitted to make the necessary affi- 
davits, required before the sailing of their ships, 
in the presence of a justice of the peace f. In 
1803, whale-oil, blubber, and fins, &c. permitted to 
be landed and warehoused, without the duties being 
first paid;]:. In 1806, whale-fishing ships allowed 
to complete their crews, not exceeding th?^ce men 

" For the particulars of this act, which contain the duties 
now leviable on the produce of the fisheries, see the Appen- 
dix, N", I. to this Volume. 

t 42d Geo. III. c. 22. § 2, 3, 4. 

t 43d Geo. III. c. i:>2. § 4 & 5. tab. D. 


for every fifty tons, in certain ports of Orkney, Shet- 
land, &c. the act to continue in force until the sig- 
nature of preliminary articles of peace*. In 1809, 
certain affidavits were required from the master, 
and proprietor or consignee, of the whale-fishing 
ship and cargo, to prove that the articles therein 
imported were taken hy the crew of the said 
British huilt vessel, manned and navigated accord 
ing to law, owned by British subjects, &c. other- 
wise the cargo to be charged with the duties of 
foreign producef. In 1810, act 26th Geo. III. c. 
41. with the various emendations, &c. continued to 
25th March 1815 1. In 1815, the foregoing acts con- 
tinued until the 25th of March 1820 ; and also 
the northern whalers permitted to complete their 
crews in Orkney or Shetland, &c. in the same pro- 
portion and manner as in time of war^ ; and in 
1818, the obnoxious oath, required to be taken by 
the masters and owners of the fishing ships, that 
they proceeded " on no other design or view of 
" jj7'oJit" than taking whales, &:c. was modified, and 
an exception made as to the making of discoveries, 
or seeking after any rewards oflTered by Government, 
for " more effectually discovering the longitude at 

* 46th Geo. III. c. 9- § 1 & 2. 

t 49th Geo. Ill, c. 97. § 37. t -^^th Geo. III. c. 1 1. 

§ 55th Geo. III. c. 39. 


" sea, or encouraging attemf)ts to find a northern pas- 
" sage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and 
" to approach the northern Pole *." 

Scarcely was the peace of Europe established, be- 
fore the Dutch Legislature proposed a bounty for 
the encouragement of the vvhale-fishery from their 
dominions. No ship was fitted in 1815, and only 
one in each of the three following years, though the 
bounty was extremely judicious and liberal. The 
encouragement offered in 1815, was as follows : Each 
ship fitted for the whale-fishery from Holland, was 
entitled to 4000/ on the outfit, during her three 
first voyages, and 5000^.* more, if she returned clean. 
If she procured a cargo of 100 quardeelen of oil, she 
was entitled to no additional bounty ; but for every 
quardeelf she fell short, an additional bounty of 50 f. 
was due. Thus, a ship with 10 quardeelen of oil, 
received 4500 /^ additional bounty ; with 20, 4000^^ ; 
with 30, 3500/ ; with 40, 3000/ ; with 50, 2500/.' ; 
with 60, 2000/, and so on. Hence, a clean ship be- 
comes entitled to a bounty of 9000/ i equal to about 
750/., and a sliip with 100 quardeelen of oil, to 4000/ 

* 58th Geo. III. c. 15. § 1. & 2. 

'I' The quardeel of oil contains 12 steeken Dutch, or 6"0. 27 
gallons English. 

:{: Reckoning the value of the floi-in,=20d. English, 9000/ 
is just equivalent to 750/. Sterling. 


or 333/. 6s. Sd. The Government also peraiittcd 
the introduction of British officers into their ships, 
the art of the whale-fishery among the Dutch ha- 
ving been long on the decline. 




JlXaving now, SO far as my materials extend, 
brought down the account of the northern whale- 
fisheries in chronological order, it may not be amiss, 
before entering upon the practice of the whale-fish- 
ery, to give a short retrospect of the establish- 
ment of this trade, and of the progress made in it 
by different nations. This view of the subject, be- 
sides enabling the reader to draw a comparison of 
the perseverance and abilities evidenced by the dif- 
ferent powers engaged in this adventurous employ- 
ment, will likewise admit of a variety of interesting 
tables and deductions, which could not with such 
propriety be introduced into the chronological his- 

Tlie first intimation we have of the human race 
being found sufficiently courageous and enterpri- 


sing, to attack the mysticetus, is derived from Al- 
fred the Great's accoimt of the voyage of Ohthcre 
the Norwegian, performed in the ninth century. 
Though at the first sight, there may appear some 
inconsistencies in Ohthere's narrative, yet with the 
explanation I have already suggested, I conceive, 
that the account of the prosecution of the whale- 
fishery by the Norwegians, at this early period, may 
be considered in the main" points as authentic. 

Four or five centuries later, we learn from various 
historical notices, that the whale-fishery, as a gene- 
ral occupation, was practised by different nations of 
Europe, particularly the French, Spaniards, Fle- 
mings, and probably the English ; and that, in the 
course of the sixteenth century, the Basques and 
Biscayans had established a successful fishery for 
the fin-whales on their own coasts, and subsequently 
pursued them, first to the coast of Iceland, where 
the co-operation of the Icelanders was procured, and 
ultimately to the neighbourhood of Greenland and 

Each of the nations which have at different times 
attempted the Greenland fishery, will meet with a 
share of our attention, and will be considered in the 
order of their arrival on tiie coast of Spitzbergen. 

VOL. II. a 

98 WlIALE-nSHErcY 

Whale-Fishery of tlie British. 

The Greenland or Spitzb^rgen whale-fishery of 
the English, claims our first attention, both on ac- 
count of its greater antiquity, and its present supe- 
riority over that of other powers. 

At what period the English first embarked in the 
fishery of the whale, as an occupation, is not very 
certain. Several ancient charters, acts and grants 
of the realm, speak of whales taken or capturedy 
as well as of whales stranded, particularly an act of 
Edward II. ; but whether the fishery was then 
practised, or these words were introduced, on the sup- 
position that it might be prosecuted, is not easy to 
determine. We well know, however, from unques- 
tionable authority, that, attracted by the prospect 
of an occupation, though hazardous, at once novel 
and advantageous, the English, towards the close of 
the sixteenth century, procured the assistance of 
some Biscayans, fitted out some ships, and first com- 
menced the whale-fishery near Newfoundland. The 
fishery for the walrus, seal, and some species of 
whale, about the North Cape and Cherry Island, in 
which they were shortly afterwards engaged, toge- 
ther with the frequent voyages of discovery, under- 


taken at the expence of the Russia and East Inilia 
Companies, were the means of leading them to tlie 
coast of Spitzhergen, soon after its re-discovery by 
Hudson in 1607, where they soon relinquished the 
capture of these smaller animals, for the more pro- 
fitahle fishery of the mysticetus. 

They did not, however, immediately abandon 
the design of making discoveries ; for we find that 
one or two discovery vessels were generally attached 
to every whale-fishing expedition gent out by the 
Kussia Company. 

The first expedition of this company was parti- 
cularly unfortunate, as far as concerned their ships, 
as they were both wrecked. The first was driven 
on shore by the ice in a rocky bay at Spitzbergen, 
and the other upset and sunk. Their crews were 
all saved and taken home, together with the most 
valuable part of the produce of their fishing, by a 
Hull ship, which providentially happened to be on 
the coast of Spitzbergen at the time. Captain Jo- 
nas Poole, who, at the time of the lo?r, of the second 
vessel, was in the hold, had a most miraculoiiK 
escape. The vessel having been brouglit too light, 
she suddenly heeled to one side, the few goods in the 
hold slid to leeward, and tlie water began in- 
stantly to pour dov/n the hatches. Poole struggled 
to get upon the deck, but was twice beaten back by 
the falling of casks and the force of the Vvater, 
which rushed in torrents upon him ; but at length. 


though with broken ribs and other serious wounds^ 
lie v;as enabled to extricate himself from the vessel^ 
and was picked up by one of the boats, and his life 

In the fishery at Spitzbergen, the assistance of 
Biscayans was still required, as well by the English 
as by the other nations of Kurope, whic'i speedily 
embarked in the same speculation ; and it Avas some 
years before any of them ventured on the fishery, 
relying on the strength of their own unsupported 

Scarcely had the English established themselves 
in the Spitzbergen whale-fishery, before the Dutch 
and Spaniards followed their example ; and after 
them immediately succeeded the French, Danes 
and Hamburghers. 

The Russia Company, in consideration of their 
having originally discovered and established this 
commerce, and likewise of having incurred consider- 
able expence in sending out ships on voyages of 
discovery to the Polar Seas, — deemed themselves 
entitled to the sole right of the Spitzbergen whale- 
fishery ; and hence it was, that when the Dutch 
appeared as their competitors, the first year they 
drove them out of the country, and the second, be- 
ing confirmed in the right to a monopoly of the 
trade, by Royal Charter, a. d. 1613, they equipped 
an anned fleet, and drove out of the country fifteen 
<;ail of ships belonging to different nations, some of 


which they rifled, not excusing even their own 
countrymen, and permitted some French ships only 
to pursue the fishing along with them, on the con- 
sideration of a tribute of eight whales, which the 
French agreed to pay to them. 

The two years next following, their success was 
intlifferent ; but in I6l6 and 1617, they procured 
superabundant cargoes ; twenty-two ships and four 
pinnaces which they employed in the two years, ha- 
ving made upwards of 3100 tons of oil. 

The East India Company, who had joined the 
Russia Company in various northern voyages of 
discovery, whereby they are said to have incurred 
an expence of 120,000/., likewise joined them in 
the Greenland fisliery ; which branch of commerce 
was, for a short time, prosecuted by the two com- 
panies in cx)mbination. They fitted out thirteen 
ships in the year 1618, which proved an unfortunate 
adventure ; for the Dutch being exasperated at the 
seizure of their oil and fishing utensils on three se- 
veral occasions, had assembled an armed fleet, with 
the ostensible view of protecting their fishery ; but 
finding a favourable opportunity for making reprisals, 
they attacked the Knglish, killed a number of their 
best men, and captured one of their ships, which, 
however, on its arrival in Holland, was liberated by 
the Dutch Government. These differences between 
the English, Dutch, and other powers, were at 
length settled, by making a division among the dif- 


ferent nations, of the niuneious bays and harbours 
in Spitzbergcn, wliich were convenient as fishing- 
stations ; the first choice and greatest proportion of 
which were allowed to the English. 

By this time, the English alone had discovered 
the bays and harbours along the west coast of Spitz- 
bergcn, and the land to the northward of 80° ; 
AVitches Island, and athers as far north as 79° ; 
Hope Island, Edges Island, and various others to 
the eastward ^^ 

A second bad fishing voyage having been made 
by the united English Company, they were inducecl 
to relinquish the trade. Four members of the 
Russia Company then took it up on their own ac- 
count, and sent out seven ships in 1620, eight 
ships in 1621, and nine in 1622, which procured in 
the three years 3100 tons of oil ; but they had in- 
different or l)ad success the year afterwards, and the 
produce of tlie whales, on account of the great 
quantity imported by the Dutch, becoming less va- 
luable, they likewise abandoned the speculation. 

At the time the fishery was jn its most flourish- 
ing state, when the Dutch fished with such success 

* Purclias's Pilgrimes, vol. iii. p. 462,-473. — Thus it appears 
tliat the English, mid not the Dutch, as is often believed, were 
the explorers and survejors of the whole, or greater part of 
Spitzbergen, and the adjacent islands ; the principal exami- 
nation of this country by the Dutch, which, indeed, consisted 
only of a part of the west coast, liaving been performed, on its 
'first discovery, bj Barentz and Heeniskerke. 


that they realized iimiieiise profits, — the English, 
when they sent out vessels, were so commonly im- 
siiccessful, that little incitement was offered to the 
commercial part of the nation, to hazard their pro- 
perty in the business. 

The grant of the whale-fishery to the Russia Com- 
pany was renewed in 1635, by Charles the First, hut 
it does not appear that any revival of the trade was the 
consequence. Thus this trade, which some nations 
found to be particularly advantageous, was so nearly 
laid aside by the British, that for a number of 
years they made no spirited or effectual attempt to 
revive it ; but merely sent a few occasional ships, 
and sometimes had none on the fishery, when the 
Dutch and Hamburgh ers employ (^d between three 
and foiu' hundred sail. The Legislature, fully im- 
pressed with the importance of the speculation, in 
1672, gave a general encouragement to adventurers, 
by allowing the importation of Greenland produce 
free of duty, and by granting a limitation of the ri- 
gours of the navigation act, whereby the speculators 
might avail themselves of the assistance of .expe- 
rienced foreigners, to the amount of one-half of the 
crews of the ships employed in the fishery. This 
had the effect of producing a few private attempts 
to revive the trade, but still it seems with such ge- 
neral ill success, that after seven years it was again 
abandoned. As the Greenland trade then sunk 
entirely into disuse, the plan of a joint stock com- 


pany was once more resorted to, as offering one of the 
most probable means of effecting the wishes of the 
Government in its renewal. Accordingly, towards 
the end of the seventeenth century, a company of 
forty-two persons, who had subscribed 40,000 /. for 
the purpose, were incorporated by act of Parliament, 
for a term of fourteen years, and endowed with va- 
rious privileges. Though the company made use 
of their privilege, in employing a number of foreign 
fishermen, equipped several ships, increased their 
subscriptions to 82,000 /., and thus had every ap- 
parent chance of success, yet, before the termination 
of their charter, their capital, we are informed, was 
totally expended, and their trade and expectations 
completely blasted. 

The v/liale-fishery commerce again lay dormant 
for several years, when the South Sea Company, 
after a length of time spent in discussion and in- 
decision, took it up, and, in the year 1725, sent a 
fleet of twelve new ships of 300 tons burden each, 
to Greenland, and afterwards increased it to twen- 
ty-two sail. After they had persevered for eight 
years, in which time a very large sum of money was 
lost, this company, like all the former adventurers, 
found it necessary to give up the trade. 

The almost universal failure of the English in the 
whale-fishery, to this period, and the general good 
success of their contemporaries, has excited much as- 
tonishment. About the time that the English 


joint-stock company sunk a capital of 82,000/., the 
Dutch, in the course of ten years, included be- 
tween 1699 and I7O8, equipped 1652 ships, which 
caught 8537 whales ; the produce whereof sold for 
26,385,120 florins, of which, the sum of 4,727,120 
florins, was clear gain*. And, at the same time 
that the South Sea Company suffered vast loss in 
their whale-fishing speculation, the Dutch almost 
invariably were gainers by it. To attribute the dif- 
ference which thus existed, between the success of 
the Dutch and the iC-iglish, to a deficiency of per- 
sonal courage or natural intellect on the part of the 
l3,tter, would not be an agreeable solution, neither 
would it be altogether correct ; nevertheless, it is 
very evident, that the spirit and energies of the 
Dutch, were, in general, both better directed and 
better followed up. Indeed, the result of their fishing 
proves, that the character given by historians, of the 
Dutch in the seventeenth century, must be correct ; 
namely, that this nation was, at the period alluded 
to, one of the most hardy and entei*prising in the 

Various opinions have been suggested as to other 
causes of difterence in the success of the English 
and Dutch whale-fishers. Some of these will be 

Histoire des Pcches, vcl. i. p. 297- 



I. The interest of money in Holland was, at this 
time, much lower than in England. 

II. Their export trade in articles the produce 
of the Greenland seas, occasioned their enrichment 
at the expence of otlier nations, and the value of 
oil and whalebone was kept up, by not being allow- 
ed to accumulate in the market at home. 

III. Their seamen and fishing-officers were chief- 
ly natives ; this exempted them from the great ex- 
pence of hiring foreigners, to w^hich the British, un- 
til after the establishment of the boimty system, 
were constantly subjected*. 

IV. The Dutch built their ships at a cheaper 
rate than the English, and practised greater fruga- 
lity in their equipment f . 

V. They suffered little loss with an unsuccessful 
voyage, as the different tradesmen who supplied 
their ships w^ith provisions and stores, were in the 
liabit of venturing tlieir goods on the success of the 
voyage, receiving nothing if the vessel returned clean, 
but a very large profit if she procured a full cargo ^. 

Had the Dutch possessed all these advantages in 
reality, their superiority to the English in the fish- 
ery, would be no longer surprising. Some of these 

■* Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iii. p. 1 30, 
t Elking's View, &c. p. 49,-50. 
1;. Macpherson, vol. iii. p. 130. 


points, however, are not correct, as appears from the 
statements ofElking, in his " View of theGreen- 
" land Trade and Whale-fishery," who attempts to 
prove, that the EngUsh " are able to carry on the 
" fishery trade to more advantage than any other 
" nation." The first point of advantage the Dntch 
have been supposed to possess over the British, El- 
king does not allude to. As to the second, while he 
admits the fact, he shows it may be equally applied 
to the benefit of the British*. The third he de- 
nies, observing, that the Dutch have not a sufficient 
number of seamen among their own subjects, but are 
obliged yearly, to have many thousands of the most 
necessary and skilful hands from Jutland, Holstein, 
Scotland, Norway, Bremen, Oldcnberg, &c. who, af- 
ter the fishery is over, cany the money they have 
earned back with them, and thereby serve to impo- 
rerisli the country in one way, while, by their 
services, they enrich it in another. The fourth 
point, Elking likevvise combats. If their ships be 
cheaper than the English, he contends, that they 
are all less durable and not so strong f . He denies 
that they can fit them cheaper, having scarcely any 
article suitable for building or equipping a ship which 
is the produce of their own country. Hence, they 
must import iron, timber, planks, masts, hemp, tar, 
and almost every kind of provisions, all of which, 

* Elking, p. 57. t Idem, p. 50. 


either Britain or the colonies produce *. Besides, 
wages of seamen, he declares to be lower in England 
than in Holland. In the fomier, they are hii-ed 
for 24*. or 2Qs. jper month ; in the latter, their 
ordinary pay is 16 to 18 or 20 guilders j)cr month, 
which is from 30*. to 40*. Sterling f. On the 
other hand, he also shows, that the English have 
many advantages over the Dutcli, particularly as far 
as regards the ease with which the ships may be 
loaded and discharged, compared with the Dutch^ 
who have much expence in this respect j: ; and, on 
tlie whole, he concludes, that the English might 
save at least 50/. per ship on every voyage, which 
the Dutch are obliged to pay ^^. Tlie iifth point 
being equally practicable in Britain as in Holland, 
requires no reply. If Elking's view of the subject 
be correct, therefore, we are brought again to the 
point where we commenced, and must attribute the 
inferiority of the success of the English in the fish- 
cry at this period, to a deficiency in the qualifica- 
tions of the persons commanding the ships, or to 
the unskilfulness of their crews ; to their want of 
perseverance and confidence ; or to their energies 
being ill applied, or imperfectly followed up. And 
that some, or all of these causes, then operated in 
producing the effect, appears from the present state 

* Elking, p. 51. t Idem, p. IHo. % Idem, p. 54. 

§ Idem, p. b5. 


of the fishery. The Dutch are now as much he- 
hind us in the whale-fishery, as they were, at the 
period referred to, our superiors. 

Every encouragement which had yet been offered 
by the British Government to adventurers in the 
whale-fishery, being found inadequate to effect its 
establishment on such a scale, as to become of any 
national advantage, trial in 1733 was made, of a 
plan originally proposed by the South Sea Compa- 
ny ; which was, in addition to other privileges, to 
incite the merchants to speculate in the trade, by a 
bounty of 20.v. per ton, on the burden or admea- 
surement of the ships engaged in it. As the trade, 
however, still continued very feeble, the bounty, af- 
ter seven years, was increased to 30.9. per ton, and 
yet only from three to six sail of ships continued to 
be employed until the year 1749. This being the 
case, a farther increase of 10^. per ton was made to 
the existing bounty ; in consequence of which, the 
English fishery began to increase and flourish, and 
the merchants of Scotland began to participate in 
the trade. The acts of Parliament, by which these 
bounties were secured to adventurers, were after- 
wards subjected to various revisions and limitations, 
for the purpose of the more economical application 
of the money thus expended. The trade being 
then, to appearance, fully established, it became a 
subject of parliamentary discussion, — the propriety 
of retrenching the expence to which the nation had 


become siilijected, by the liberal encouragement 
given to the wliale-fishers in the way of boun- 
ties. This expcnce was found to be very great. In 
twenty years, included between 1750 and 1769? 
613,261/. 9s. lid. had been paid in bounties to 
British whale-fishers ; the average number of vessels 
employed during that period being 39t^o from Eng- 
land, and 11 A from Scotland, and the average sum 
paid annually in bounties to both, being 30,663 /. 
l-S". 6d. This great expenditure, together with the 
belief that the intention of Government in the ef- 
fectual establishment of the fishery was fulfilled, 
occasioned the bounty to be reduced to 30^. j^f?' 
ton ; but the number of British whale-fishermen 
having diminished from 98 to 39, in the course of 
the five years following, the bounty was again raised 
to 406'. 

" It was afterwards found, however, that so great a 
bounty was neither necessary to the success of the 
trade, nor expedient with regard to the public. 
In 1786, therefore, the acts conferring the said emo- 
luments being upon the point of expiring, the sub- 
ject was again brought under the consideration of 
Parliament ; and it was proposed to continue the 
former measures, but with a reduction of the bounty 
from 4iOs. to 306"." In proposing this alteration, it 
was stated, " That the sums which this country had 
paid in bounties for the Greenland fishery, amounted 
to 1,265,461 /. ; that, in the last year (1785), we had 


paid 94,858 /., and that, from the consequent re- 
duction of the price of the fish, the public at pre- 
sent paid Go per cent, upon every cargo. In the 
Greenland fishery, there are employed GOOO seamen, 
and these seamen cost Government 13/. 10,9. per 
man per annum, though we were never able to ob- 
tain more than 500 of that number to serve on 
board our ships of war. Besides, the vast encou- 
ragement given to the trade, had occasioned such a 
glut in the market, that it was found necessary to 
export considerable quantities of it, and thus we paid 
a large share of the purchase-money to foreign na- 
tions, as well as for our own people, besides supply- 
ing them with the materials of several important 
manufactures." This proposition was opposed by 
several members, but was finally carried ; and the 
propriety of the measure became very soon appa- 
rent. At that time, tiie number of ships em- 
ployed from England in the whale-fishery to Green- 
land and Davis' Straits, amounted to l63, besides 
23 from Scotland *. The proposed alteration took 
place the following year (1787) ; and notwithstand- 
ing the diminution of the bounty, the trade in- 
creased ; the number of ships fitted out of Bri- 
tish ports the same year, amounting to 250, and 
the next year to 255 ; " tlie cargoes of wliich, in 1788, 

Encyc. Brit. 4th edit. Art. Cetology 

112 WHALE-FlSHEltY. 

consisted of 5989 tons of clean oil ; 7654 cwt. of 
whalebone, besides 13,386 seal-skins *." 

* " The quantity of whale-oil imported into Great Britain, 
in the year 1787, was. 

Tons. Hds. Galls. 

From Greenland, - 9905 1 51 

Southern Fishery, 2184 1 25 

British Colonies, 3447 43 

West Indies, 2 4S 

States of America, 230 1 36 

Denmark, - - 7 00 

France, - - 22 3 22 

Ireland, - - 11 1 

Total imported, 15,809 31 

From these and other places, the quantity of train oil im- 
ported into Great Britain in the succeeding years, was. 








1795, Prize, 















































the above was 

British produce. 

and exported 


he official ratesj 







61,892 L 










41,228 i 




■f Oddy's European Commerce, p. S33. 


At length, when the British had become well ac- 
customed to the whale-fishery, and the trade was to 
appearance so firmly established as not to be affect- 
ed by any trivial alteration of the bounties, this 
emolument was, in December 1792, reduced to 25s., 
and in 1795, to 20s. per ton, at which rate it has 
subsequently continued. Some alterations have, 
however, occasionally taken place in the acts rela- 
tive to the bounties, and a small duty has been im- 
posed upon whale-oil, fins, and other produce of the 
Greenland seas. 

Thus, by means of national support to the 
whale-fishers in the form of bounty, was effected, 
what no other incitement was calculated to accom- 
plish, namely, the establishment of the northern 
whale-fisheries by British subjects, on a basis so 
firm, as to secure to the nation every advantage 
which could be expected from such a trade, in the 
most permanent way. 

It has been seen that, in point of ability for con- 
ducting the whale-fishery, the British, in their early 
attempts, excepting a few of the voyages of the 
Russia Company's ships, were universally eclipsed 
by the Dutch ; and that, notwithstanding the Eng- 
lish led the way to the haunts of the whale in the 
northern regions, and set the example of capturing 
this animal as an occupation ; — yet their labours 
were attended with such ill success, and their exer- 
tions were in consequence so much relaxed, that 


114 WHALE-riSHEIlY. 

instead of becoming experienced in the trade, tliey 
soon lost the little advance which they had made 
in the art, wliilc tliey were under the direction of 
the Biscayans ; and, in consequence, were long un- 
der the necessity of hiring a great number of 
foreigners, to assist them in the fishery. This obli- 
gation of the British to employ the Dutch as fish- 
ing-officers in their ships, was probably the occa- 
sion of a popular mistake, that the Dutch Avere the 
first whale-fishers at Spitzbergen. But, after the 
bounty system had been established a few years, 
the British became as expert, in the fishery as the 
Dutch, and the two rival nations probably exer- 
cised an equal talent for many years afterwards. 
The talent for the whale-fishery among the Dutch, 
however, was on the decline ; and in consequence of 
the imitation of their manner by the Britisli, in the 
middle, and indeed so late as the ninth decade of 
the last century, the energies of the fishermen were 
never brought into action. The Dutch, from in- 
dulging a habit of coolness, became inactive, and 
the British too closely copied their example. About 
the close, however, of the century, two or three of 
the captains of the whale-fishing ships, men of 
abilities, commenced a system of activity and per- 
severance, which was followed by the most brilliant 
result. Instead of being contented with two or 
three large fish, and considering five or six a great 
cargo, they set the example of doubling or trebling 


the latter quantity, and were only contented, so far 
as to relax their exertions, when their ships could 
contain no more. Thus arose a striking epoch in 
the history of the fishery. The ease, coolness, and 
inactivity of the Dutch, were superseded by the 
system of perseverance and exertion, whicli has con- 
tinued increasing ever since, until, at the present 
day, it has become very general throughout the 

As the Greenland and the Davis' Straits fisheries 
have met with similar encouragement from the Bri- 
tish Government, are regulated by the same laws, 
and prosecuted in a similar way, they have gene- 
rally, in the preceding pages, been considered in 
combination. The fishery of Spitzbergen, or the 
Greenland fishery, as it is generally called, having 
preceded the fishery of Davis' Straits about a cen- 
tury, must be considered as solely treated of during 
that interval after its establishment. From the 
various publications by the Dutch on the subject 
of their whale-fishery, I can trace their " progress 
and success in the most satisfactory manner, from 
their first establishment of a fishery at Davis' 
Straits, in 1719, down to the year 1795 ; but the 
precise year in which the English commenced it, 
or the degree of success they met with in their first 
attempts, I have not been able to ascertahi. 

H ^ 


It does not appear, that any attempt was made by 
the inhabitants of Scotland in the whale-fishery 
of Greenland or Davis' Straits, until the bounty sys- 
tem was established. Some merchants of Edinburgh, 
who had formed themselves into a company in Sep- 
tember 1749, for the purpose of trying this fishery, 
sent out a ship from Leith, being the first from 
Scotland, in the following spring. It failed in the 
whale-fishery, and brought home nothing but a few 
sea-horses. Its want of success was ascribed to the 
lateness of its arrival on the fishing stations, and to 
its having been for some time beset in the ice, at the 
distance of only nine degrees from the Pole. The 
company, so far from being discouraged by this fail- 
ure, sent out two ships the next year ; but the voyage 
proved more disastrous than the former, as one of the 
ships was wrecked, and the other again returned 
home clean. Still, however, they persevered in the 
trade, and, determined, if possible, to retrieve the 
loss they had already suffered, they equipped three 
ships in 17.'i3, all of which returned successful. In 
order to encourage this trade, many of the ladies of 
Edinburgh got their stays and hoops made of the 
whalebone brought home by their own ships *. 

The trade soon became more general in Scotland. 
A company was formed in Aberdeen, and a new 

* Scots Mag. 1749-1 752; & Gent. Mag. 1752. 


company in Eclinbiirgli, and vessels ^vere fitted 
from Leith, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee, Dun- 
bar, Borrowstounness and Greenock. Their suc- 
cess in 1753 was 611 whales, and in 1754, 36 whales, 
of which 18 belonged to the Edinburgh Companies. 
In 1755, 15 ships from Scotland procured 41 whales, 
1 bottlenose, and 1 seahorse ; and in 1756, the 
fishery was generally successful. Until the year 
1763, the whale-fishery from Scotland employed 
14 to 16 sail of ships, but for upwards of 20 years 
after this period, not more than 10 ships were sent 
out annually, and sometimes only 3 or 4. In 
1785, the trade began again to flourish, and in the 
year 1787, 31 ships were sent out, w^hich caught 84 
whales and 6571 seals ; the produce of which was 
about 2548 butts, or 1274 tons of blubber, being 
equal to about 33 or 34 tons of oil ^9er ship ; and 
in the following season, the same number of vessels 
caught 62 whales. Above 200 sail of ships proceed- 
ed to the fishery from England at this period. 
Between the years 1750 and 1788, 2449 whale- 
fishing ships, burden 740,065 tons, were fitted out 
from the ports of England, including repeated 
voyages, and 430 ships, burden 130,998 tons, fi-om 
the different ports of Scotland. The bounties paid 
to the owners of these vessels, in the course of the 
above interval of 39 years, amounted to 1,335,098/. 
Is. 2d. for England, and 242,837/. 19.S-. 2d. for 
Scotland. The official value of the produce of the 


whale-fisheries imported into England in the 41 
years, included between 1760 and 1800, was 
2,144,387/. 8^. ; and into Scotland in the 32 years, 
included between 1769 and 1800, was 381,374/. 
106". 2d. The official value of exports from Eng- 
land during the former period, chiefly consisting of 
rum for stores, was about 16,000/. 

The following table, extracted from Macpherson's 
Annals of Commerce, shows the number of ships, 
and the amount of their tonnage, employed in the 
British Greenland and Davis' Straits whale-fisheries, 
together with the sums paid in bounties, during a 
period of 39 years. 

It will, however, be observed, that the bounties 
paid do not always correspond with the tonnage of 
the vessels employed. This arises from some of the 
vessels having been lost ; some having forfeited the 
bounty ; and others having been of a greater ton- 
nage than 400 tons, for the excess above which, no 
bounty was paid, after the year 1757- 



VIEW of the Extent of the British Greenland and Davis' Sthaits 




No. of 


> 0. of 


Ships Em- 


Bounties Paid. 


Ships Em- 


Bounties Paid. 






L. S. D. 




















3,866 2 11 










6.274 2 11 









8,589 5 










9,361 5 










9,929 S 









9,315 5 








8,567 13 4 










8,271 13 4 










8,959 13 4 










8,477 13 4 










8,477 13 4 










8,045 13 4 






















































































































































2,880 15 










1,923 15 










1,435 15 










1,923 15 










2,189 5 






























4,094 10 










7.729 16 O' 










13.S93 19 4 










13.454 19 6 









13,230 3 6 








242,837 19 2 


From the year 1810 to 1818 inclusive, 824 ships 
sailed from England to the whale-fisheries of Green- 
land and Davis' Straits, and 361 from Scotland*. 
In the four years ending with 1817, 392 vessels 
sailed from England to these northern fisheries, the 
amount of whose cargoes was 3348 whales, besides 
seals, narwhales, bears and seahorses ; and the pro- 
duce 35,824 tons of oil, and about 1806 tons of 
whalebone, together with a quantity of skins. The 
average quantity of oil produced ^^r ship on each 
voyage, was 91.4 tons, and about 4 tons 12 cwL 
of whalebone. From Scotland there sailed in the 
course of the same period of four years, 194 vessels to 
the whale-fisheries, the amount of whose cargoes was 
1682 whales, &c., and the produce 18,684 tons of 
oil, and about 891 tons of whalebone, besides skins. 

* The number of ships fitted out each year from England 
and Scotland, was as follows : 

1810 1811 1212 1813 1814 1815 1816 1817 1818 

From England, 75 76 83 94 97 98 97 100 104 

Scotland, 22 22 27 43 46 49 49 50 53 

The number of vessels sent out from each of the different 

ports of England and Scotland during the above period of nine 

years, including repeated voyages, was as follows : 

From Berwick, 

































, 8 


The average cargo procured per ship on each 
voyage, produced 96.3 tons of oil, and about 4 tons 
12 cwt. of whalebone ; being the same quantity of 
whale-bone, but 4.9 tons of oil more than the aver- 
age procured by the English fleet during the same 
time*. It therefore appears, that of late years, 
the people of Scotland have sent out their full pro- 
portion of ships on the fisheries ; and with a degree 
of success which has been equal, if not superior, to 
that of the English fishers. 

The British whale-fishery of 1814 was uncom- 
monly prosperous, especially at Greenland ; 76 ships 
on this fishery having procured 1437 whales, be- 
sides seals, &c., the produce of which in oil only, 
was 12,132 tons, being an average of 18io fisli, or 
159-6 tons of oil per ship ! The average fishery 
of Davis' Straits the same season, was about one- 
third less per ship. The gross value of the freights 
of the British Greenland and Davis' Straits fleets, 
(bounties included,) estimating the oil at 32 /. per 
ton, which was about the average price, and the 

• These results together, with all the others immediately 
following, which refer to the four years ending with 1817, 1 have 
extracted out of an interesting " Account of the number of 
Fish, with the produce of Oil and Bone brought by each ship 
from the Greenland and Davis' Straits Whale-fisheries," for the 
years 1814,-15,-16,-17, made up, with great care, and publish- 
ed yearly, by Messrs Devereux and Lambert, London. 


whalebone at 80/. ^;C7' ton, exceeds in this one 
year 700,000/! 

Though the profits to the merchants on this oc- 
casion were singularly gi'eat, yet, on the average of 
the four years, ending with 1817, we find the car- 
goes brought from Greenland and Davis' Straits 
were only 93 tons of oil, and 4 tons 12 cwt. of 
whalebone pe?^ ship, value about 3700/. This, 
though a degree of success which would have been 
considered as very great fifty years ago, is now, 
on account of the extraordinary increase which has 
taken place in the expences of a whale ship, but 
barely sufficient to afford an encouraging profit to 
the adventurers. But when we consider, that 
while the general profit reaped from the trade was 
only moderate, some individuals and concerns have 
been almost invariably successful ; it is clear, there- 
fore, that some others must have been considerable 
losers by this speculation. 

In a national view, however, the benefit has been 
very different. In the five years ending with 1818, 
about 68,940 tons of oil, and 3420 tons of whale- 
bone, of British fishing, have been imported into 
England and Scotland. If we calculate the oil at 
36/. 10 A', pe?' ton, which was about the average 
price, and the whalebone at 90/., and add to the 
amount 10,000/., for the probable value of the 
skins, and other articles, — the gross value of goods 
imported into Britain from Greenland and Davis' 


Straits in five years, free of first cost, will appear to 
have been near three millions Sterling, 

The greatest cargo ever brought into Great Bri- 
tain in one vessel from the "whale-fishery, was pro- 
cured near Spitzbcrgen, by Captain Souter in the 
Resolution of Peterhead, in the year 1814. It con- 
sisted of 44 whales, which produced 299 tons of oil, 
value, reckoned at 32 1, per ton, the average price 
that year, 9568/. ; if to this we add the value of the 
whalebone and the bounty, the gross freight of this 
ship will appear to have been near 11,000/. Other 
ships, however, with less cargoes, have made still 
greater freights, particularly in 1813, when oil sold 
for near 60 1, per ton. In this year, the John of 
Greenock, commanded by my father, made above 
11,000/. freight ; and the cargo of the Esk of 
Whitby, commanded by myself, sold for near the 
same sum. The Augusta of Hull, Captain Beadland, 
procured a still greater cargo ; and the Lady Jane of 
Newcastle, Captain Holmes, which brought liome a 
larger cargo from the fishery that season than any 
other vessel, realized, I believe, the greatest profit 
ever made by one vessel in any one season, since the 
northern whale-fisheries were practised. 

Among the ports of Britain which have been dis- 
tinguished for speculating in the whale-fisheries, 
those of London and Hull seem to have been tlie 
most early engaged in the trade. 


From London, were generally equipped those 
vessels sent on discovery, which proved the immedi- 
ate cause of the establishment of the Spitzbergen 
whale-fishery ; and from the same place the first fish- 
ermen were sent out. The joint-stock companies, 
which, at different times, embarked their capitals in 
the trade, likewise sailed their ships from the Thames. 
Between the years 1780 and 1790, London sent 
above four times the number of ships to the north- 
ern whale-fisheries of any other port in Britain. In 
1786, 87 ships sailed from the Thames for Green- 
land and Davis' Straits, and in 1788, 91- In 1810, 
the number of the London shipping employed in 
the trade w^as reduced to 15 sail; in 1811 it was 
16 ; in 1814 it had increased to 20; the three fol- 
lowing years it v/as 19, and the last year (1818), it 
was 18 sail. The success of the London fleet was 
below the general average, each of the last five 
years, excepting 1814. 

The merchants of Hull were among the first to 
adventure their ships towards the frigid regions of 
the Pole, in pursuit of the whale. They were whale- 
fishers on the coasts of Norway and Iceland, before 
the discovery of Spitzbergen by the English ; and 
if they were not the first whale-fishers at Spitzber- 
gen, they were at least on its coasts looking for sea- 
horses, in the very year in which the Russia Com- 
pany first attempted the capture of the mysticetus. 
On this occasion, they were so happy as to be the 


means of saving the crews of two London sliips, 
both of which were wrecked. The Island of Jan 
JMayen was, on the part of the British, the discovery 
of the Hull fishers, and when their right to sail to 
the whale-fishery was disputed by the Russia Com- 
pany, on application to Government by the corpora- 
tion, this island was granted them for a fishing sta- 

The Hull whalers have generally been conspicu- 
ous for their success in their occupation ; and, of 
late years, for the number of their shipping. 

In 1786, 18 vessels sailed from this port to the 
whale-fisheries ; and in the year following the num- 
ber was more than double. In the latter year (1787,) 
the tonnage of the 31 ships belonging Hull, amount- 
ed to 8160 tons ; one of the fleet was lost, and the 
other 30 caught llOi whales, and 7941 seals, which 
produced 3583 butts of blubber, and 571 tons of 
whalebone. In 1788, the Hull ships sent to the 
Greenland fishery, were 29 sail, besides 7 to Davis' 
Straits : the whole caught 121 whales, 2997 seals, 
19 bears, and 4> narwhales, producing together 2938 
butts of blubber, and 46 tons 10 cwt. of wliale- 
bone. Two years afterwards, the success of the 
Hull ships was much greater, 17 of their fleet ha- 
ving taken 125 whales and 12,640 seals, whicli 
produced 1678 tons of oil, and 80^ tons of whale- 
bone. In 1799, the Hull fleet was particularly 
successful ; and in 1804, 24 Greenland sliips jnid 


16 Davis' Straits sliips, procured a total of 397 
whales, 23,659 seals, and 51 narwliales, which pro- 
duced nearly 4000 tons of oil, and 150 tons of 
whalebone. The increase in the Hull whale-fish- 
ing concerns, has of late been very remarkable. In 
1810, 34 ships sailed from thence to the northern 
fisheries ; in 1811, 43 ; in 1812, 49 ; in 1813, 55 ; 
in 1814, 58 ; and in 1818, 64. 

The amount of produce of the Hull shipping, du- 
ring the four years ending with 1817, was in whales, 
1785 ; and the quantity of oil obtained from their 
cargoes, 20,891 tons ; the average j9^r ship each 
voyage, was 91 tons of oil, being about 2 tons less 
than the general average of the British northern 

The greatest cargo ever brought into Hull 
from Greenland, was procured by Captain Sadler 
in the Aurora ; and the greatest cargo from Davis' 
Straits by Captain Marshall in the Samuels, in the 
year 1808 : the cargo of the Aurora produced 267 
tons of oil, and that of the Samuels 275 *. 

Among the English ports, those of Whitby, 
Newcastle, and Liverpool, rank next in importance 
to Hull, in point of shipping interest in the whale- 

Whitby first sent out sliips on the Greenland 
fishery in the year 1753. The two ships which 

'* Captiiin Rennet, Letter. 


were at tins time fitted out, proving tolerably siic- 
cessfiil, tAvo others were sent along witli them each 
of the three following years. In 17o7-8, four ships 
sailed to the fishery ; in 1759 none ; in 1760, one; 
and from 1761 to 1766, during the war, when the 
transport service was more profitable, the whale trade 
from Wliitby v-'as suspended. Mr Banks, one of the 
captains, after the revival of the trade, brought home 
65 fish, most of them sizeable, in 10 years *. This 
success of 6^ fish pc?' voyage, was at this time con- 
sidered as a very great average. 

In the year 1777, only 9 ships sailed from the 
different ports of Britain to the whale-fishery of 
Da^is' Straits, 6 of which were from Whitby : one 
of these caught 8 fish, yielding 117^ tons of oil, 
and the other 5 were likewise successful. Twenty 
ships were equipped from this port in 1786, and 
the same number the two following years. Their 
success in 1786, was 86 size f, and 12 small fish ; 
in 1787, 53 size, and 8 small fish, together with 
3048 seals ; and in 1788, 45 size, and 11 small fish. 
After this period, the ^\^hitby fleet decreased in 
number until 1795, when only four ships were fit- 
ted out, and it has since been usually fluctuating 
between 4 and 12 sail. 

* Charleton's History of Whitby. 

t A whale is called size, when the longest lamina of its 
Avhalebone measures six feet (in some poi'ts seven,) or upwards, 
in length. 


In the " History of Whitby," by the Rev. G. 
Young, we have some interesting notices respecting 
the whale-fishery of this port. The author informs 
lis, that the number of different vessels that have 
been employed from Whitby in this trade, from 
first to last, that is, from 1753 to 1817 inclu- 
sive, is 53. " Of this number 8 have been lost in 
the Greenland seas, and one burnt in the harbour, 
when ready to proceed on her voyage." — " The 
most disastrous year that has occurred was 1790, 
when two ships were lost, and the j*est indifferently 
fished." In 1792, out of seven ships that sailed to 
the fishery, " one was lost, four returned home clearly 
and the other two had but one fish each." The 
first shipwreck took place in 1771, the last in 
1792*. Hence we find, that since that period to 
the present, though 178 ships have sailed from 
Whitby to the fishery, including repeated voyages, 
no loss has happened. " The most successful years 
were 1811 and 1814: in the former, 7 ships 
brought home 171 whales, producing 1181 tons of 
oil, and 35 tons of fins ; in the latter, 8 ships 
brought 172 whales, producing 1390 tons of oil, 
and 42 tons of fins f . The number of ships dis- 
patched from Whitby to Greenland and Davis' 
Straits, including repeated voyages, in the space of 

* Young's History of Whitby, p. 5C)5. t Id. p. 566. 


52 years, comprised between 1767 and 1818, in- 
clusive, was 460 sail, and their cargoes amounted 
to 2921 whales, (an average of 6^ p(7r ship), besides 
a great number of seals, bears, narwhales, and sea- 
horses. Of this number of whales, considerably- 
above half have been taken by five ships now in 
the trade, of which ships, it may be remarked, 
that three of them have performed 124 voyages 
to the whale-fishery, without having missed a sin- 
gle season since they commenced *. " In ten 
successive voyages, the Resolution," (commanded 
eight years by my Father f , and two by myself), 
" obtained no less than 249 whales, yielding 2034 
tons of oil ; and the Henrietta, Kearsley, brought 
home, in ten voyages, ending with 1816, 213 
whales, producing 1561 tons of oil :L" In the last 
23 years, the Whitby fleet, averaging 73? ships 
per year, have procured 1879 whales, which yield- 
ed 17,643 tons of oil: and, in the last fourteen 
years, 116 ships, reckoning repeated voyages, have 


* The Volunteer has been 47 voyages ; the Heni-ietta 43 ; 
and the Lively 34 ; besides their voyages in the present year 

f My Father, in 28 voyages, in which lie has commanded a 
ship on the fishery, lias brought home 498 whales ; producing 
4246 tons of oil ; value, including whalebone, above 150,000/. 
all fished for, under his own direction, out of the sea ! 

t Young's Hist, of Whitby, p. 567. 

fSO whale-fishery; 

procured a greater number of fish, than fouj- times' 
the number of vessels did, which sailed to the 
fishery, in a fonner period of 38 years. This fact 
is a striking illustration of the improvement in the 
talent exercised by tlie fishers of the present day. 
On an average of five years, ending with 1818,. 
the Whitby whalers have procured 103^ tons of oil 
per ship each voyage, being 11 tons troyq per ship 
each voyage, than the general average of the north- 
ern fishing during the same period. 

Instead of going through with the comparative 
view of the fishery of the different ports, which 
would be too tedious to be interesting, I shall con- 
clude this account of the whale-fishery by the Bri- 
tish, with a Table, showing the relative success of 
the ships fitted out of different ports, during th© 
four years, ending with 1817 




O 01 


iO so (N I- 5S 

1^ Tjl «j •>* CO 

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r- W ^• © •-< t6 
■^S irf «5 to -ii^ ■* 


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en OS f- o i~ 'Ti 

r- 00 1-4 -^ O 

d t^ — 5 t-^ 00 

CD O W t- «i "5 

ti bi o» t^ IX c3 

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to O ■* of i-T O 

ODtOifltOCiO tP oo 

— ( 'o — < a> to c<5 oj c; 

to t-^ 00 ■>* f-i 00 [to t -to 

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The people of Ireland have never been dis- 
tingiiished for any particular exertion in the wrhale- 
fisliery. I have scarcely, indeed, met with a notice 
of any ships from this part of tlie United Kingdom, 
having been dispatclied to Greenland or Davis' 
Straits ; though the British Parliament has, at dif- 
ferent periods, encouraged the Irish to embark in 
the fishery, by offering them bounties, and putting 
them on an equal footing witli the British adven- 
turers. Some attempts, however, have been made, 
for prosecuting the whale-fishery on the Irish coast, 
and occasionally, with a considerable degree of suc- 

A Lieutenant in the Army, of the name of 
Chaplain, who, during the early part of his life, 
had been employed in the Greenland fishery, first 
tried the whale-fishery on the Irish coast. He 
had received intimation from a brother oflficer, 
when abroad, that many whales resorted to the 
north-west coast of Ireland in the spring of the 
year ; on which, being an enterprising man, he sold 
his commission and repaired to Ireland. Having 
procured two boats suitable for the whale-fishery, 
together with the necessary supply of harpoons and 
other instruments, he commenced his fishing occu- 
pation, but was able to kill only two whales in 
eight years. As the whales were numerous on the 
coast, Chaplain imputed his waiit of success to his 
imperfect apparatus, and being unable to purchase 


what was needful, he applied to the Irish Parliament 
for aid, and ohtained a grant of 500/. ; but dying soon 
after, it was never paid. His brother then pursued 
the project, ])ut with no better success. 

In 1759, two enteiYiising gentlemen, who lived 
on the sea-coast of the county of Donegal, revived 
Chaplain's undertaking. But though they procur- 
ed all the necessary assistance from persons experi- 
enced in tlie Greenland fisherv, tosjether with a 
well adapted vessel, fully equipped with boats and 
other apparatus ; and though numbers of whales 
were seen, both wlien they made their first attempt 
in 1760, and in the year following, yet they were 
unable to take more than one during the two first 
seasons in wiiich they persevered in the pursuit. 
After having expended 3000/. in the undertaking, 
they discovered, that the wliale which resorted 
to these seas, being of different habits fiom the 
Greenland whale, could not be taken in the same 
way. My ICesbet, therefore, one of the speculators, 
made a trial with the harpoon-gun, and fired both 
harpoons and lances at the whales, and with such 
success, that they killed three fish in 170*2, two of 
which were between 60 and 70 feet in length, and the 
other above 50 ; and in the year following, they also 
killed tv.-o whales of a large size, wliich v^as more than 
many of the ships, fitted for Greenland at a vast ex- 
pence, obtained. The same year (1763), the Irish 


Parliament granted 1500 /. to IVlessrs Nesbet, to en- 
courage them in this national undertaking*. 


JVliale-Fishery of the British Colonies in 

While the subjects of Great Britain pursued 
the wliale-fishery at Spitzbergen to a considerable 
extent, and with various success, and while they 
performed a voyage so distant, and practised the 
arduous operations of the fishery in the Polar re- 
gions, — the colonists in America had the advan- 
tage of conducting the fishery more immediately at 
liome. Hence we find many notices of their suc- 
cessful laboiu-s in this speculation. Their fishery 
in 1730 was prosperous, and in 1731, we learn that 
the New Englanders employed 1300 tons of ship- 
ping in the trade f . 

Anderson, in his History of Commerce, men- 
tions, that after the coasts of the Gulf and River 
St Lawrence fell into the hands of the British, by 

* Scots Mag. vol. XXX. p. 5\Q,-5\\. According to Macpher- 
son, the sum granted by the Irish Parliament for the encourage- 
ment of the fishery;, was 1000/. 

t Macphersons Aiuials of Conuiierce. a. d. 1730;,-I. 


the reduction of Quebec, the capture of whales, 
«eals and morses, in this quarter by British subjects, 
soon exceeded in extent any former fishery carried 
on by the French *. The increase in the whale- 
fishery of the New Englanders, at this period, was 
rery rapid. In 1761 they employed 10 vessels of 
about 100 tons burden eacli ; 50 m 1762, and 
above 80 in 1763 ; in consequence of which, such 
an increase in the importation of whalebone into 
Britain took place^ as reduced the price of that ar- 
ticle from 500/. to 350 1, jie?' ton f. For the en- 
couragcm?nt of this fishery, the fins and oil of whales 
-caught in the lliver St Lawrence and on the coasts 
of Britisii America, were allowed to be imported 
into Britain, on payment only of the " old subsidy," 
directed by act 25th Car. II. c. 7, t, of Gs: pe?' 
ton on oil, and 50^. j^^f' ^on on fins §. This encou- 
ragement, added to local circumstances, \rhich were 
convenient, had such an effect, that in 1767, (three 
years afterwards), the Am.erican colonists employed 
about 300 vessels, estimated at 60 tons, and 13 men 
each, in the v/hale-fishery about the coasts of l^ew- 
foundland, Labrador, and the Gulf of St Lawrence. 
In the Gulf only, they killed 100 of the best whales 
in about six weeks, and their success on other sta- 

* Ander. Com. a. n. 1763. ; and Scots Mag. vol. xxvi. p. l60. 

+ Anderson, a. d. 1763. ;{; 4th Geo. III. c. 29. 

§ Fins, as referring to the whale, is a term used in our acts 
of Parliament, in place of whale-bone. 


tions was likewise considerable *. In 1770, there 
were imported into England from the British 
American colonies, including Newfoundland, &c. 
5202 tons of whale-oil, and 112,971 pounds weight 
of whale fins ; and into Ireland from the same co- 
lonies, 22 tons of whale-oil f . 

The act permitting the importation of whalebone, 
&c. of American fishing into Britain, was continued 
in 1771 until the 25th December 1786, in vessels 
navigated according to la\/, and subject to no other 
impost but that called the Old Subsidy :L The 
ships of the colonists, if not more than two years 
old, were, by the same act, entitled to bounties on 
their tonnage similar to the British shipping, pro- 
vided they proceeded, after due inspection, from 
their ports in America before the 1st of May, for 
the Greenland seas, and returned from thence to 
some port in Britain \^ith the produce of their 

The American whale-fishery, at this period, was 
carried on by boats of about six men, and in a great 
measure by the Esquimaux Indians, from whom 
the colonists were in the habit of purchasing oil 
and fins. The oil and fins of the Esquimaux fish- 
ing, are stated to have been much inferior to those 
brought from Greenland ; the oil being adulte- 

* Anderson's Com. a. d, 1767. t Idem, a. d. 1775 

X nth Geo. III. c. 38. 


rated mtli a mixture of seal and cod oil, and tlie 
fins brittle *. 

" In order to encourage that great nursery for 
hardy seamen, the^ Newfoundland fishery," Par- 
liament, in the year 1775, offered premiums to suc- 
cessful fishers, as well whale-fishers as others. The 
vessels w ere to be " British built, of 50 tons burden 
or upwards, belonging to Great Britain, Ireland," 
or places subject to the British Crown, and na- 
vigated with not less than 15 men, three-fourths 
of them, besides the master, being British sub- 
jects. A^essels thus conditioned, " prosecuting the 
whale-fishery in the Gulf of St Lav.rence, or on the 
coasts of Labrador or T^ewfoundland, and catching 
one w^hale at least, were allowed to import their oil 
free of duty; andpremiimis of 500/., 400/., 300/., 
200/., and 100/., were allowed to the five vessels 
which should bring the greatest quantity of oil. 
The skins of seals, caught by European British 
subjects, were also admitted to be imported free of 
duty, in sliips legally navigated f ." 

In 1780, the British colonies afforded to Ireland 
24,489 gallons of oil, of their own fishing ; in 1781, 
16,466 gallons; in 1782, 22,908 gallons; in 1783, 
43,743 gallons, and in 1784, 30,985 gallons of oil :|:. 
The same colonics imported into Britain, in 1787, 

* Anderson's Com. a. d. 1771- i 15th Geo. III. c. ^1, 

X Macpherson's Annals of Commerce. 

138 lTHALE-riS«l^RY. 

3447 tons of oil* And in 1794, there were im- 
ported into Britain from the United States, 970,628 
gallons of oil; in 1795, 810,524 gallons, and in 1796, 
1,176,650 gallons of whale oil. 

At the present time, the whale-fishery of the 
Gulf of St Lawrence is conducted by the inhabi- 
tants of Gaspie and others, inhabiting the shores of 
the gulf and river. They seldom meet with the 
mysticetus, but usually attack a species of fin-wha% 
which resorts periodically to their coasts. 


Whale-Fishery of the Dutch, 

The Dutch have been eminently distinguished, 
for the vigour and success with which, for the space 
of more than a century, they prosecuted the whale- 
fishery at Spitzbergen. But though this branch of 
their commerce was so generally successful diu-ing 
such a long period, it was by no means equally pro- 
fitable at all times, from its commencement in the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, to its termi- 
nation near the end of the eighteenth century. On 
the contrary, there were occasional periods of general 
loss to the adventurers. 

* Oddy's European Conunerce, p. 533. 


Hence, the whale-fishery of the Dutch is divisi- 
ble into several eras, distinguished by some change 
of national character, or by their economy or lavish- 
ness in the equipment of their vessels ; to which 
circumstances, the difference in the degree of suc- 
cess that resulted from their labours in the different 
eras, is to be attributed. 

They first entered the fishing stations on the 
coast of Spitzbergen with one ship, fitted for taking 
whales, and another for hunting sea-horses, in the 
year 1612. But on this, as well as on future occa- 
sions, they were prevented by the English Russia 
Company's ships from enjoying to the full, the 
several advantages which the fishery was capable of 

As the Dutch, as well as the English, afterwards 
sent armed fleets to the fishery, the quarrels became, 
occasionally, of a serious nature ; but after a few 
years of hostility, the folly of conflicts, productive 
only of mutual injury, became glaring. A plan 
was therefore arranged, for preventing their in- 
terference with one another in the fishery, by 
making a division among the dilTerent nations, of 
the bays and harbours, suitable for fishing stations, 
in Spitzbergen. When this measure had, in a con- 
siderable degree, adjusted the existing differences, 
the Dutch took possession of their portion of bays 
and harbours, and built boiling-houses, warehouses, 
cooperages, and other erections convenient for tlic 


pin-poses of the fishery, and for reducing the blub- 
ber into oil. These buildings were principally made 
at the expence of the joint-stock companies, which 
were at different periods chartered by the States- 
General, prior to the year 1642, the period when 
the trade was laid entirely open to all adventurers *. 
The principal edifices of the Dutch were rais- 
ed on Amsterdam Island ; where the rapid in- 
crease of the shipping employed in the fishery, their 
universal good success, and the expectation that the 
trade would never fail, induced them to extend their 
buildings in such a degree, that the place became 
of considerable importance, and was characteristicly 
designated Smeerenberg. During the first twenty or 

* 1st Charter for 3 years, bears date 27th January I6l4, 
(Beschryvmg, vol. i. p. 3,-4^.); extended in l6l7 for 4 years; 
and in l621 for 1 year : 2d, The charter of the Zealand Com- 
pany, allowing them to participate in the trade, bears date 
28th May 1622, (Id. vol. i. p. 9.) : 3d, The charter of " the 
Greater and Lesser Northern Societies of Holland/' for 12 
3'^ears, bears date 22d December 1622, (Id. vol. i. p. 6,-8.) ; 
4ih, The Frieslanders' charter for 20 years, bears date 22d No- 
vember 1634, (Id. vol. i. p. 10,-12) ; 5t/i, The charter of the 
North Holland and Zealand Companies, united with that of 
West Friesland for 8 years, bears date 25th October l633, 
(Id. vol. i p. 18,-20.) This charter expired in l641, and 
was not afterwards renewed : 6ili, The Frieslanders joined, by 
agreement, with the Companies of Zealand and Holland, to be 
partakers of the benefit of their charter for 8 years : this agree- 
ment consists of 24 articles, and bears date 23d June l6S6, 
(Id, vol. i. p. 13,-16.) 


thirty years, the Dutch fishery maintained its im- 
portance, and was prosecuted with the most splen- 
did success. Tlie ships that were on the fishery, be- 
ing sometimes incapable of carrying home the ex- 
traordinary quantity of oil and fins which they ob- 
tained, empty vessels were occasionally sent out for 
taking in the superabundant produce *. 

After prosperity had invariably crowned their 
endeavours for a number of years, the whales at 
length appearing to have become sensible of the 
danger to which they were exposed from the fish- 
ers, commenced their retreat from the bays, and 
were afterwards discovered with less certainty, and 
consequently captured in fewer nvmibers. This 
circumstance marks the termination of the jirst 

The system of extravagance which had been 
adopted in times of prosperity, continued to be 
acted upon during the second era of the Dutch 
fishery. Heavy losses, arising from the expensive 
nature of all their buildings, which, in the final 
retreat of the whales from the bays, became pro- 
gressively of less importance, the extravagant e- 
quipment of their ships, and the increased expence 
required for adapting the ships for the sea-fishery, 
together witli the growing scarcity of the whales, 
at length obliged the chartered companies to adopt 

* Elking's View, &c. p. 43. 


measures of retrenchment, since their former profits, 
abundant as they undoubtedly had been, were 
in a great measure swallowed up by subsequent 
losses. Presuming, it seems, on their former suc- 
cess, they neglected to adapt their expenditure to 
the then altered and particular state of the fishery. 
This period of general loss, consisting only of a few 
years, is comprised in the second era *. 

The third era of the Dutch fishery, is distinguish- 
ed by the adoption of that system of frugality, 
through which, in combination with the exercise of 
natural talent, they were enabled to prosecute the 
fishery with a splendour and advantage, which 
excited the admiration of all the commercial na- 
tions of Europe. The chief improvements and pe- 
culiarities in the new system are said to have con- 
sisted of two measures. 

First, The number of men and quantity of stores 
required for ships of different dimensions, were ad- 
justed with careful minuteness, whereby prior re- 
dundancies were detected and discontinued. 

Second, The trades-people supplied the ships with 
stores on the principle of bottomry f ; that is, the 
baker, brewer, sailmaker, ropemaker, cooper, and 

* Forster, in his History of Voyages and Discoveries in the 
North, mentions that the fishery was in the fuhiess of its 
splendour, from l6l4 to l641, (p. 426.) And B. de Reste, hi 
the " Histoire des Peches/' observes, that it was in its most 
flourishing state about the year l630, (torn. i. p. 276-) 

t Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol, iii. p. 19^^- 


other artificers, agreed to venture their stores on tlie 
success of the voyage ; so tliat, in the event of a 
clean ship, they lost tlie whole or greater part ; hut 
in case of a full cargo heing obtained, they probably 
received above twice the value of the articles fur- 
nished. Tlius, when the fishery failed, the loss to 
the proprietors or freighters of the vessels was trifl- 
ing, though it is very evident, that, in the event of 
great success, their emoluments were less consider- 

This fishing which enriched the adventurers by 
its ample produce, occasioned no small degree of 
activity in the village of Smeerenberg, and in the 
Island of Amsterdam in general. Such, indeed, was 
the bustle produced by the yearly visitation of two 
or three hundred vessels, containing from 12,000 
to 18,000 men, being double manned*, that the 
place had the appearance of a commercial or manu- 
facturing town ; and of such consideration was this 
village, that the incitement of an advantageous 
traffic, drew a number of annual settlers to the place, 
for the purpose of vending such stores as brandy, 
wine, tobacco, and other commodities in constant 
demand, — to whom the exposure to cold, and the 
inconveniencies of the voyage, were amply com- 
pensated by the considerable profits which they 
derived. Not only shopkeepers, but bakers and 

* Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 28. 

144 WHALE-FISHtellY, 

other artizaiis, resorted thither. With the bakers, 
it was customary to signify to the sailors, by the 
blowing of a horn, the time when the bread was 
just drawn hot from the oven *, Thus the vast 
fleets of ships which crowded into the harbour when 
the fishery without was suspended, in consequence 
of storms, thick weather, or any other circum- 
stance f, occasioned the naturally barren and de- 
solate shores of Spitzbergen, to assume the ap- 
pearance of a populous country. And such was the 
flourishing appearance of Smeerenberg, that it was 
compared by the Hollanders with their famous set- 
tlement of Batavia, which was founded about the 
same time. 

During the time the fishery was confined to the 
Dutch chartered companies, the number of ships 
employed in it did not exceed 30 sail on an ave- 
rage ; but in a few years, after it was laid entire- 
ly open, the annual voyagers from Holland were 
increased tenfold; and it is surprising, that the 
success of the ships, notwithstanding the num- 

* Beschryving der Walvisvangst, vol. i. p. 28. 

+ After the boiling-houses at Smeerenberg were disused, 
the place continued to be a general rendezvous for such ships 
as had made a successful fishing ; to wliich they retired for the 
convenience of packing the blubber in their casks. This, to- 
gether with the above-mentioned purposes for which it was 
also visited, rendered the bay and harbour at all times croAvded 
witli ships, during the continuance of the- fishing season. 


ber which crowded into the trade for many years, 
was very considerable. 

Great as the importance of Smeerenberg had hi- 
therto been, it gradually declined, as the fish re- 
treated to a greater distance from the bays, and 
the mode of captm'e was changed. The blubber 
being then taken home in its raw state, the boil- 
ing-houses first became useless, the coppers were 
afterwards taken up, and many of the buildings 
wantonly dilapidated. As the place became still 
less frequently the resort of the fishers, the huts 
and warehouses, many of which had been built at 
great cxpcnce, progressively shared the same fate. 
Such as were spared by the wanton hand of mis- 
chief, at length yielded to the silent but certain 
operations of time, and fell into a state of decay. 

This era, comprising an interval of about 130 
years, is one of the greatest importance in the an- 
nals of the Dutch commerce. During this exten- 
sive period, the Dutch whale-fishery probably ave- 
raged 160 sail annually ; which fleet but rarely 
failed to return a very handsome profit to its own- 
ers, was consequently a general benefit to the people 
immediately interested in its success, and a univer- 
sal source of national wealth during the whole epoch. 

The fourtli era of the Dutch whale-fishery, is 
marked by an apparent change in tlic national cha- 
racter, and by an evident change in the commercial 
abilities of the people. From being one of the 


146" WllALE-riSHEKY. 

most eiitei-prisiug and intrepid nations in the world, 
they, through the dissolution of their unanimity, by 
the presence and influence of French soldiery, and 
the consequent introduction of French principles 
among them, liave greatly degenerated in public spirit 
and commercial talent. Hence, of late years, their 
energies have been relaxed, and they have been 
unable to keep pace with the improvements which 
have been adopted in the art of the fishery by the 
British, and their success has in consequence been 
much inferior. Such is the revolution which has 
occurred in the fishery of the Dutch, that their an- 
tient superiority over the British is now reversed ; — 
the British, in point of fishing talent, being, at pre- 
sent, beyond dispute their superiors : And as the 
English in the early and middle ages of the whale- 
fishery, were commonly under the necessity of en- 
gaging the assistance of the Dutch, so the Dutch 
now, in their turn, find British fishing-officers a 
valuable acquisition. About the year 1770, the 
Dutch fishery began to decline ; during half a 
century previous to this period, it had averaged 
182 ships jjer year, but from 1769 to 1778, the 
average was reduced to 134 sail, and about the time 
of the American war, to 60 or 70 ships i^er year *. 

* Oddy's Commerce^ p. 525. ; and Histoire des Pitches, vol. L 
p. 294. to 316. 



The Dutch, it may be remarked, have been 
more assiduous adventurers in the northern whale- 
fisheries than any other nation, having pursued the 
trade at all times since their commencement in the 
year 1612 to the present, except when the pecu- 
liar situation of the country with regard to other 
nations, prevented their ships from visiting the fish- 
ery ; and even then, in times of war, they often 
ventured abroad under the disguise of a neutral 
flag. Partial or total suspensions of their whale- 
fishery were thus occasioned in the years 1653, 
1659 (conditionally), 1665, 1666, 1672, 1673, 1674, 
1691, 1781, 1782, and during the last war. Ex- 
cluding these occasions, when the fishery was in- 
tercepted, the Dutch whale-fishery, during a pe- 
riod of 125 years, included between 1660 and 1795, 
employed 18,992 vessels, which captured 71,900 
whales ; averaging 152 ships and 575;^ fish, or 3f 
fish per ship each year. 

The Dutch Government has at all periods, since 
the discovery of the whale-fishery, encouraged its 
prosecution by various edicts of indulgence, but 
never by bounties, until the year 1815, when a 
premium of 4000/.' (to be continued for three years) 
was offered on the outfit of every ship, and 5000y* 
more if she returned home clean. If slie met v»ith 
success, 50y.' were to be deducted off the second 
bounty for every quardeel or barrel of oil she brought 
homC;, thus absorbing all the second bounty, if her 

K 2 


cargo should produce 100 quardeelen of oil or up- 
wards. Previous to this, the encouragements held 
forth were principally comprised in the exemp- 
tion of all the produce of the whale-fisheries, to- 
gether with some of the stores used in the equip- 
ment of the ships, from duty. The Government, at 
the same time that it encouraged its own subjects 
to embark in this trade, for the benefit of the State, 
was exceedingly careful that none of the advantages 
accruing from it should be divided with other na- 
tions. The means used for confining the prosecu- 
tion of the whale-fishery, by the subjects of the 
United Provinces, within their own dominions, 
were extremely rigorous. No ship was allowed to 
be equipped for the whale-fishery by Dutch sub- 
jects, from any country or kingdom but their own ; 
and no barrels, boats, or other implements used in 
the fishery, were permitted to be exported or sold 
abroad, under the severest penalties : no ship was 
allowed to be fitted in Holland for the use of any 
foreign power, under the penalties of its confisca- 
tion, &c. : none of the produce of the whale-fishery 
was allowed to be conveyed from Greenland to any 
foreign country to be disposed of, directly or indi- 
rectly, (excepting under the usual regulations of 
exportation), under the penalty of COOO florins, se- 
curity for which sum was required for each ship be- 
fore putting to sea, together with the confiscation 
of the ships by which such produce might be illc- 


gaily conveyed abroad : and no harpoon cr, boat- 
steerer, or other fishing-officer, was allowed to en- 
gage in the service of any foreign nation, in time of 
war, under severe restrictions *. 

The great fishery of the north has not always 
answered the expectations of the adventurers ; it is 
admitted, on the contrary, that in many disastrous 
years, the products were greatly inferior to the cx- 
pences. A thousand unforeseen accidents occasion- 
ally disappointed the vigilance of the directors of the 
different companies and societies of whale-fishers, 
and rendered the labours of the seamen, vvliose de- 
partment it was to capture the whales, ineffectual. 

Some speculators have imagined, that the fishery 
for the whale was, on an average, disadvantageous, 
and that, on the whole, it was injurious rather than 
beneficial to the State. Others have compared this 
branch of commerce to a lottery, in which, while 
some obtain large prizes, others suffer still greater 
loss ; and, consequently, as in a lottery, there must 
be an ultimate loss to the speculators. These opi- 
nions seem, however, to be grounded in error, since, 
from different careful calculations, it appears, that 
between the years 1669 and 177S, the Dutch 
whale-fishery was a general source of gain to the ad- 

* The greater part of these regulations ^vere in force only in 
lime of war. 


venturers, and of riches to the State. The national 
benefit, it is true, has always been diminished by 
part of the money expended in stores for the equip- 
ment of the fishing ships, being paid to strangers 
for foreign produce ; but the greater proportion of 
the expenditure reverted to the benefit of the State, 
by being paid for articles which were the produce 
of the country, and for wages to various artificers 
and labourers, who procured an ample livelihood in 
manufacturing the foieign produce into stores pro- 
per for the outfit of the fleet. 

Zorgdrager, whose authority is highly respected 
by his countrymen, estimates the expeuce of fitting 
a sliip with six boats and all other stores requisite 
for the whale-fishery, at 4924 florins 17 sols. His 
calculation is as follows : 

For casks, - • 2370/ 

Boats and all other stores, - 2554 

• 4924/ 

Wages of 42 men for the voyage, - 3000 
Hire of the ship and insurance, - 3000 

Provisions for the voyage, - 1523 

Sum total of advances for a whale-fish- 
ing ship, - _ _ 12447* 

* Histoire des Peches, vol. i. p. 279- This estimation being- 
made for a liired ship^ might be expected to admit of the de- 
duction of the owner's profits, when the calculation is applied 
tasuch ships as are the property of tiie adventurers. 


Thus, an expeiice of 10,000 to 13,000 florins was 
requisite, before a ship could he sent out and return 
from the fishery ; and this sum was necessarily ex> 
pended whatever might be the issue of the voyage. 
This estimation does not differ greatly from that of 
other intelligent persons. A work, entitled " Den 
Koopman," (TheJNIerchant,) states the average num* 
her of fishing ships to have been 180 sail, the a- 
mount of advances on which, after the rate of Zorg- 
drager's estimation, is 2,240,460 florins. Wage- 
naar, another celebrated historian of Holland, gives 
a calculation a little different. He estimates the 
total advances requisite for the equipment of 180 
fishing ships, at 1,800,000/ after the rate of 10,000/ 
for each ship. We find the particulars of AV^age- 
naar's calcidation in his work, called " Tegenwor- 
digen Staat der Vereenigde Nederlanden." They are 
as follow : 

36,000 new casks, 108,000/ 

2,700,000 hoops, for repairing old casks, &c 43,300 

Coopers' wages, 21 ,600 

172,0001b. of cordage, 35,000 

Making and repairing boats, vnih dieir stores, 15,000 

Iron- work, nails, smiths'' Avages, &c. , 5,000 

400,0001b. of beef, &c., 40,000 

2,800 firkins of butter, of 80 or 90 Arast. lb. each, 57,600 

150,000 lb. of stock-fish, 12,000 

550,000 lb. of biscuit, 40,000 

72,000 lb, of soft bread, 18,000 

Can-ied forward, 395,500/ 


Brought forward, 395,500/ 

550 ankers of geneva, 5,500 

Sugar, spices, &c., 3,000 

60,000 lb. of Friesland pork, 8,000 

144,000 lb. of cheese, 18,000 

20,000 lb. of Texcl and Leyden cheese, 1,500 

in ' j-rels of beer, (including excise duty,) . 27,000 

tcks of pease, barley, &c. &c., 40,500 

Herrings and salt-fish, 3,000 

Various cook"'s and cabin furniture ; expences 

of transporting stores on boai'd, &c., 38,000 

Hand-money to seamen, 180,000 

Wao-es of seamen, payable on the return of the 

ships, and other incidental expences during 

the voyage, 540,000 

For the freight or hire of the ships, at the rate 

of 3000 florins for each ship, 540,000 

Sum total of advances for 180 whale-fishing 

ships, 1,800,000/ 

The difference in the calculations of Zorgdrager 
and AYagenaar, is 440,460 florins on the total, and 
2447 florins for each ship. AVagenaar's estimation is, 
therefore, about one-fifth less than that of Zorgdra- 

Hence, the total amount of money expended an- 
nually by the Dutch in the prosecution of the 
Avliale-fishery, (exclusive of the additional expences 
resulting from success in the fishery,) seems to have 
been 1.800,000 to 2,340,460 florins ; and however 


disastrous the fishery might be, this sum was al- 
ways to he paid. But though it might have hap- 
pened, that this sum was on any occasion totally 
lost to the adventurers, yet the final loss to the State 
was not great, because that proportion of expences 
only which was required for foreign labour and 
foreign produce, was considered as subtracted from 
tlie national wealth. 

As it would be too elaborate and uninteresting, 
were I to follow the foreign authors in the whole 
particulars of their estimation of the national 
loss which accrued from one year's equipment of 
180 shij^s, supposing no returns from the fishery, 
I shall content myself with giving the result of the 
whole ; and to those who wish for further informa- 
tion on the subject, refer them to the originals* 
The Dutch authors divide the preceding table of 
^^ agenaar's in tlie following manner : 

1. They extract the value of certain articles which are the 
produce of the Provinces, such as butter, cheese, beef, 
bacon, pease, oatmeal, &c. to which they add the wages 
of coopers and other artificers, the money expended 
HI wliich remains entirely in the country, and 
amounts to 233,500/' 

* " Nieuwe Bcschryving dcr Walvisvangst en Haring Vis- 
schery, door D. do Jong, H. Kobel, en M. Salieth." And its 
French translation, " Histoire des Peches, des decouvertes, 
et des etablissemens des Hollandois, dans les Mers du Nord, par 
le C. Bejnarde de Reste." 


Brought forward, 233,500/ 
2. The value of aiticles of foreign produce, or 
any of the ingredients of which are imported 
from foreign countries, consisting of barrel 
staves, stock-fish, bread, beer, geneva, tim- 
ber, iron, hemp, &c. amounts to ... 306,500 y! 
Of this sum, the proportion which is 
paid to foreign powers for the raw 
materials, &c. is estimated at 217;600 

And the difference of these sums, 
which is entirely expended in the 
wages of artificers, labourers, &c. 

remains in the country, 88,900/ 

3. Amount of seamens wages, 720,000 

Of this sum, a part is carried abroad 
by the few foreigners who are en- 
gaged from neighbouring states, es- 
timated at 20,000 

Therefore, the difference of the two sums 

remains in the country, which is, 700,000 

4. All the money paid for the freight or hire and 
insurance of the fleet remains in the country, 
which, as before stated, amounts to 540,000 

Hence, the proportion of the advances of 1 80 — — 

fishing ships, which remains in the country, is 
estimated at 1,562,400 

And the proportion paid to foreign coun 

tries, only 237,600* 

* This sum should be increased, and the former sum dimi- 
nished, by the value of losses among the shipping, which, 
averaging 3.73 ships per year, makes 37,300/ 


The Dutch authors therefore conclude, that should 
it ever have so happened, that the whole fleet of 180 
ships should have returned home without a single 
fish, the adventurers would, in fact, lose the sum of 
1,800,000 florins ; hut so far from this sum being 
lost to the State, the equipment of the Greenland 
fleet, notwithstanding the total failure of the fish- 
ery, would augment the interior circulation of 
money, in the amount of the above enumeration of 
l,562,400y; and the amount of loss to the State, 
in this point of view, would only consist of that 
proportion of the total advances paid to foreign na- 
tions for hemp, tar, masts, timber, staves, iron, and 
other articles, which is calculated at 237,600 flo- 

M. Gerard Van Sante, published in 1770, " An 
Alphabetical List of the Captains of Fishing-ships 
sent to Greenland and Davis' Straits * ;" which, not- 
withstanding the unpromising title, is in reality 
an instructive work. It is from it, indeed, that the 
most interesting details of the success of the Dutch 
fishery during a period of more than a century, in- 
cluded between 1669 and 1779, are derived. While 
the whale-fishery opened to the inhabitants of 
Holland a new branch of commerce, it, at the 
same time, conferred two important advantages on 
the State ; the first and the most general was, that it 

* " Alphabetische Naamlyst van alle Groenlandsche en Straat 
Davische Comraandeurs." 


afforded a useful employment to a vast number of 
labourers and artificers, and it gave to tlie interior 
trade a new circulation and increased activity ; 
and the second was, that while it conferred an ac- 
tual benefit on the adventurers, and through tliem 
on the State, it likewise occasioned an improve- 
ment in the general relations of commerce with fo- 
reign powers. 

For estimating, as nearly as may be, the amount 
of the emoluments derived from the whale-fishery, 
by the individuals speculating in the trade, during 
the period detailed by Gerard van Sante, it may be 
divided into eleven equal portions of ten consecutive 
years, each of which, in the " Nieuwe Beschryving 
der ^^^alvisvangst," and in the " Histoire des 
Pechcs," forms a distinct table ; but for the sake of 
brevity, 1 shall include the whole in one point of 

Tabular View, &c. 

Vacc page 166. vol. ii.] 

TABULAR VIEW of the Dutch Geeenla 

Years Iiiclu- 

No. of 

Expences of 


Value of 
the Ships 

lixpsncas of Pre- 
paring the oil and 

Amount of 




Oi shijis ; or 


fins, with other 















1679— 1S8S 







1689—1 «98 















































17W— 1758 

















903 i 9,030,000 











4-10 : 

TABULAR VIEW of the Dutch Ba 

Years Inclu- 

i:o. of 



Expences of 
the Equi]J- 
ment of the 


Value of 
the Ships 

Expences of Pre- 
paring the Oil 
and tins, &c. 

Amount of 


of i 

























































Additional Expences in the Davis' Straits Fi3h-"| 

, ery, of 1000/". ^crship, in consequence of the J- 

greater length of the voyage, . . j 




* This interval between 1GG9 and 1678, consists only of 7 voyages instead of 

Note. — The annual amount of advances, col. 3., is calculated in this Table, accordin) ; 

but in this sum is included 4924/. 

for the first cost of casks, boats, and other stores for tp. 

on her first voyaj^c, were really 12,0 

00 to 13,000/. ; yet, on future voyages, it would be red's- 

*imation; or 



per shipper a 



afforded a useful employment to a vast number of 
labourers and artificers, and it gave to tlie interior 
trade a new circulation and increased activity ; 
and the second was, that while it conferred an ac- 
tual benefit on the adventurers, and through them 
on the State, it likewise occasioned an improve- 
ment in the general relations of commerce with fo- 
reign powers. 

For estimating, as nearly as may be, the amount 
of the emoluments derived from the whale-fishery, 
by the individuals speculating in the trade, during 
the period detailed by Gerard van Saute, it may be 
divided into eleven equal portions of ten consecutive 
years, each of which, in the " Nieuwe Beschryving 
der lȴalvisvangst," and in the " Histoire des 
Pechcs," forms a distinct table ; but for the sake of 
brevity, 1 shall include the whole in pne point of 

Tabular View, &c. 

To Face page 156. vol. ii.] 

TABULAR VIEW of the Dutch Gr.EE^'LAND Fisheky, During a Period of One Hundred and Seven Years. 

Years Inclu- 

No. of 




Expences of 
o! shi])s ; or 








Value of 
the Ships 


Expences of Pre- 
paring the oil and 
fins, with other 

Amount of 



Profit or Ba- 
lance in fa- 
vour of the 


No. of 

Casks or 
Vciten of 

Barrels or 
len of Oil. 


of Oil 



Value of Oil 
in Florins. 

Quantity of 
in Pounds. 

Price of 
100 lb. 

Value of the 
Fins in Flo- 

Amount of 

16S9— 1698 
1U99— 1708 






2,02 1, 120 





























1!;«9— 1778 


TABULAR VIEW of the Dutch Davis' Straits Fishery', During a Period of Sixt^^ Years. 

Years Inclu- 



I'o. of 




Expences of 
the Equijj- 
ment of the 










/• per 

Value of 
the Ships 


Expences of Pre- 
paring the Oil 
and Fins, &c. 

Amount of 




Profit or Ba- 
lance in favour 
of the Adven- 


OiT 3,161,000 


No. of 



Casks of 

Quardee- ^/!5.^ i Value of Oil 

lenof OU. v! ,in Florins. 

Quantity of Price of Value of 
Whalebone FinSj'ier Fins in Flo- 
in Pounds. 100 lb. rins. 

Amount of 


additional Ex 
ery, of lOOC 
greater leng 




42! 4,671,576 
39 5,958.829 
45 4,569,580 
52 2,389,800 
60 3,226,320 
62 5,294,552 






in the Dav 
ship, in con 
he voyage, 

s' Straits Fish-^j 
sequence of the ■- 


* This interval between 1009 and 1678, consists only of 7 voyages instead of 10, as, in the years 10 ('2, 1673, and 1674, a French war prevented the prosecution of the fishery. 

Note. — The annual amount of advances, col. 3., is calculated in this Table, according to Wagenaar, after the rate of 1 0,000/. per ship. Zorgdrager's estimation is 12,447/. per ship (page 150.) j 
'lit in this sum is included 4924/. for the first cost of casks, boats, and other stores for the fishery, only a small part of which require.5 to be renewed every year. Hence, though the expences of a ship, 
on her first voyage, were really 12,000 to 13,000/. ; yet, on future voyages, it vfould be reduced by the value of that proportion of store?, not lequiring annual renewal, to about the same as Wagenaar's ei- 
'imation. or 10,000/. ^jer shipper annum. 


Prom this table, it appears, that the expences in- 
curred by the Dutch Grecuhmd whale-fishers, in 
tlie course of 107 years, included between 1669 and 
1778, (three years of war omitted), amounted to 
177,893,970/.'; that the product of the fishery was 
in the same interval, 222,186,770/, which leaves 
a balance in favour of the fishers of 44,292,800/.* 
or 3,691,066 /. Sterling. If we divide the expences 
and, profits by 107, the number of years included in 
the estimation, we find the annual expenditure 
must have been 1,662,560/, and the annual re^ 
ceipts 2,076,512/, and consequently the annual 
profits 413,952/ But if an annual expenditure 
of 1,662,560/ afford an annual profit of the sum 
of 413,952/, there must be an advantage realized 
to the adventurers of about 25 j;<?r cent-. 

From the same table, we learn, that during a 
period of 60 consecutive years, from 1719 to 1778, 
the Dutch Davis' Straits fishers realized a profit of 
10,964,872/ or 1S2,74^S f. per a?inum. But the 
expences during this period being 40,677,610/, 
the proportional advantage to the adventurers must 
have been 27 per cent. 

The question, therefore, whether the Dutch 
whale-fishery was, on the whole, of benefit to the 

* Had the value of the ships been inckuled in these calcu- 
lations, instead of the freight or hire, the aimual ]iroiit per cent. 
on the capital embarked in the trade, would, I imagine^ have 
been reduced to near one-half. 

158 Wtt ALE-FISHER V. 

adventurers, meets a satisfactory solution in tlie af- 

It may not be uninteresting, before we quit this 
subject, to calculate the extent of national emo- 
lument which the Dutch have derived from the 
two fisheries of Greenland and Davis' Straits. 
Supposing the principle to be correct, that out of 
1,800,000/^, the advances required for 180 fishing 
ships, only 237,600 Jl, the proportion expended in 
foreign produce for stores, and in wages to foreign 
seamen, and 37,300^!, the average value of ships 
wrecked each year, were loss to the State, in case of 
no returns being made from the fishery, — we then 
easily calculate the benefit to the State arising from 
the known success of the Dutch fleet during the 
period comprised in the preceding table. 
Prom this table, it appears, that the " amount of 
receipts" of the whole Dutch Greenland fleet dur- 
ing a period of 107 years, was 222,1 86,770^.' 

Freight or " receipts" of the Davis' 

Straits fleet during 60 years, 51,643,082 

Gross produce of the whale-fisheries, 273,829,852 /' 
Now, the amount of expcnces of 
the two fleets, appears to be 

218,571,580/; we therefore say, 

As 1,800,000/, the expenditure 

Carried forward, 273,829,852 /.' 


Brought forward, 273,829,852/ 
of one year, is to 274,900/, the 
loss to the State in one year, so 
is the gross expeuce of the whole 
period, 218,571,580/ to the loss 
to the State out of these expen- 
ces, provided there had been no 
returns, 33,380,737 

The last sum deducted from the 
gross receipts, gives the apparent 
benefit afforded to the State from 
the whale-fisheries during the 
period in question, 240,449,115/ 

This balance, reckoning the florin at 20d. Eng- 
Ush, is equal to 20,037,426/. Sterling, or about 
156 tons of gold ; but if we reckon the florin at 
21</. English, the value will be equal to about 164 
tons of gold ! 

This tabular view of the Dutch whale-fisheries, 
likewise shows us the average risk of the trade, as 
it was then pursued, with regard to the safety of the 
vessels employed in it. In 107 years, 14,167 ships 
sailed to the Greenland fishery, whereof 561 were 
wrecked ; or, in a fleet of 100 ships, on an average, 
4 were lost each voyage ; hence the real risk with 
respect to premium of insurance, must have been 


4i per cent. In a period of 60 years, 3161 ships 
sailed to Davis' Straits, whereof 62 were \vrecked ; 
or, in a fleet of 100 ships on an average, 2 were 
lost each voyage; consequently the real risk with re- 
spect to premium of insurance, must have been 
21 per cent. In the present day, however, the ave- 
rage loss amone; the British Greenland and Da- 
vis' Straits fleets is not one-half so much. 

The great balance of profits received by the 
Dutch whale-fishers during 107 years, amounting 
to between fifty and sixty millions of florins, was 
all derived from the trade, during what I have 
called the third era of their fishery. But the re- 
sult of the fourth era will be found to be very dif- 

Between 1785 and 1794, inclusive, the average 
number of vessels fitted out from Holland for Green- 
land and Davis' Straits, Avas 60 sail. Their success 
in ten years, was 2,295 whales and 55,722 casks of 
blubber ; or 229^ fish, and 5,572 casks of blubber, 
equal to 7,243^ quardeelen of oil ^;£^r year. This 
oil, estimated at 35 florins jjer quardeel, produces 

the sum of, 253,522/ 

Reckoning for every hundred quardee- 
len of oil 3,000 lb. of fins, gives, for 
the above quantity of oil, 217,000 

Carried forward, 253,522/' 


Brought forward, / 253,,522 
pounds of fins, which, estimated at 
15Qf.per lOOlb., amounts to, 325,500 

Consequently, this part of the national 
industry of Holland, brought in an- 
nually in numerical value, the sum 
of, / 579,022 

The expences of a ship at this period, with an aver- 
age cargo of 120 quardeelen of oil, is estimated at 
13,800y^, which, multiplied by 60, the number of 
vessels employed, amounts to, y^ 828,000 

But the amount of freight as above esti- 
mated, was only 579,022 

Consequently, there must have been 
an annual loss to the adventurers 
of, */ 248,978 


Whale-Fishery of the Spaniards, French, Danes, 
Germans, Norxvegians, Prussians and Szvedes. 

The BiscAYANS appear to have engaged in the 
whale- fisher}^ on their own coasts, probably some 
centuries before tlie establishment of the fishery at 

V01-. ii. L 

* Metclerkamp, " Tf.bleau Statistique de lu Hollande/' p. i7-~ 


Spitzbergen. The whales ov fin-fish only resorthig 
to the Bay of Biscay, from the autumnal equinox 
until the spring, they began along with the Basques, 
in the sixteenth century, to pursue them in their 
retreat towards the north and west. In this pur- 
suit they were joined by the Icelanders, and for 
some years their combined fleets conducted a dis- 
tant and extensive fishery ; and were amply recom- 
pensed for the trouble and perils of the voyage, by 
the highly successful issue. 

After instructing the English, Dutch, and other 
nations, in the art of capturing the whale, some of 
the Biscayans themselves commenced the fishery at 
Spitzbergen on their own account. One Spanish 
ship, indeed, piloted by an Englishman, fished at 
Spitzbergen in 1613; but it was some years after- 
wards, before this fishery by the Spaniards became 
general. The most eligible harbours on the west 
coast being already occupied as fishing stations, 
they took possession of a situation on the northern 
face of Spitzbergen, whither they regularly resorted 
with their ships. It does not appear, however, that 
their fishing concern was at any time very exten- 
sive, since a great proportion of their fishing offi- 
cers seem to have been employed, for many years, in 
the service of other northern adventurers. It Is evi- 
dent, that after the different nations were sufficient- 
ly instructed in the art, the custom of hiring these 
foreigners would fall into disuse, especially as it 



must have been attended with no inconsiderable ex- 
pence ; and, therefore, the skilful Biscayans might, 
possibly, be sent out to Spitzbergen on the same 
employment by their own countrymen. Of the ex- 
tent of their fishing concerns, excepting at particu- 
lar times, we have no accoimt. In the year 1721, 
twenty ships were sent on the whale-fishery from 
diiFerent ports in the Bay of Biscay ; but towards 
the latter part of the last century, it would apjjear 
that the Biscayans had totally abandoned this occu- 

From the researches of IM. S. B. J. Noel *, it 
seems probable, that the French had not only an 
early knowledge of the use of the harpoon in the 
capture of the whale, but that they were actually 
engaged in this enterprise in the l4;th century; and it 
is not very certain, but they commenced this occupa- 
tion on some parts of the coast of France even some 
centuries earlier. In the early whale-fishery, how- 
ever, by the French, as well as in that by the Eng- 
lish, we labour under some difficulty in drawing 
conclusions from ancient charters, grants, c^c. to 
decide, whether they refer to whales accidentally 
stranded, forced on shore by the pursuit of boats, 
or captured in the main sea. On the whole, I con- 
sider there is reason to suppose, that in some of th^ 

'•' " ISremoiro sur I'Antiquite dc la Peche de la Baleine/' &c. 


instances quoted by JNI. Noel, an actual whale-fisli- 
ery must be referred to. 

Though the whalc-fishers inhabiting the shores 
of the Bay of Biscay, spoken of in the preceding 
pages, were principally Spaniards *, yet some of 
them were evidently French, and consequently the 
whale-fishery of this nation is partly involved in 
that of the Biscayans. As it would be needless to 
repeat here what lias already been advanced, it will 
be necessary only to observe, that when they began 
to pursue the fin- whales from the Bay of Biscay to 
the high sea, the numbers taken were so consi- 
derable, that, according to Rondelet, about the year 
1554, the Ushers of the coast of Bayonne made use 
of the bones of the whale for the inclosures of theii- 
gardens f . The French sent ships to Spitzbergen 
at a very early period, as appears by the account of 
all the rival fishers being driven out of the coun- 
try by the Russia Company's ships, in the year 
1613, excepting some French ships, which they 
permitted to fijsh there, on payment of a cer- 
tain tribute of v;hales. After this time, the French 
were in the habit of frequently visiting the Spitz- 
bergen fishery, and occasionally with a considerable 
number of ships, though it seems they seldom used 
to resoit to the bays, but usually fished in the open 

* Beschryving, &c, vol. i. p. 26,-27- 
+ " Memoire," p. 12. 


sea, and brought home their cargoes in the raw 
state. When Soccoa, Ciboiirre, and St Jean de 
Liiz, were taken and pkmdered by the Spaniards 
in 1636, they likewise seized upon 14 large ships 
laden with blubber, as they returned from the 
Greeenland seas *. 

The French, who greatly neglected the fishery 
in the 17th century, made an attempt to revive 
this branch of trade in 1784. Six ships fitted out 
at Dunkirk, at the expence of Louis XVI., made 
some successful voyages, both in the northern and 
southern whale-fishery. The advantages of the 
trade were obvious, and the French Government 
were eager to improve them. In 1 786, some of the 
inhabitants of the Island of Nantucket, near Ha- 
lifax, in North America, were invited to settle at 
Dunkirk, to carry on the fishery f. Several families 
accepted the invitation, and to encourage them to 
prosecute the trade, they were permitted to enjoy 
peculiar privileges and immunities. Ships were 
sent out to different seas, and had prosperous voy- 
ages. But this trade, as well as almost every other 
branch of French commerce, was completely inter- 
rupted by the Revolution, and the particular cir- 
cumstances in wliich that nation was placed with 
regard to foreign powers. 

* " Memoire/' &c. p. 13. 

+ Ency. Brit. 4th edit. Art. Cdolog/j. 


'^rhc Danes first resorted to the coast of Spitz- 
bergen in the year 1615, when they appeared in 
the fishing seas with three men of war, and de- 
manded tribute from the English. Their plea was, 
that they were the original discoverers of West 
Greenland, of which country these islands Vvcre at 
first supposed to be an extension, and, as such, 
claimed the Islands of Spitzhergeu, and imagined 
they were entitled to tribute from all other nations 
resorting thither. The English, however, very 
properly resisted this assumption, and preferred 
their own claim, but on a ground scarcely more 
tenable than that of the Danes. They decla- 
red themselves to be alone entitled to all ad- 
vantages derivable from the Spitzhergeu whale- 
fishery, in consequence of the supposed discovery of 
this country by Sir Hugh Willoughby in 1553 ; but 
more plausibly, however, in virtue of the discovery 
of the Spitzhergeu fishery by the English adven- 
turers in the year i6lO. 

Shortly after the first visit of the Danes to Spitzher- 
geu, other ships adapted for carrying on the whale- 
fishery were sent out ; and these were allowed to oc- 
cupy a small island and convenient bay, lying be- 
tween the possessions of the English and the 
Dutch, in the 80th degree of north latitude. In 
1620, the King of Denmark established a Green- 
land Company, which was to have sent out two 
ships yearly to the whale-fishery ; but in 1624 it 


was dissolved, the company being so poor that they 
could not continue the trade. Any Danish burgher 
was then declared to be at liberty to pursue the 
fishery. Another company, established in 1636, 
sent out ships, which neglected the fishery, and con- 
fined their operations to searching for gold and sil- 
ver. Their search being unsuccessftd, the company 
was discouraged, and speedily relinquished any fur- 
ther speculation*. In the year 1697, they sent 
four ships to Greenland, wliich procured 4710 pun- 
cheons of oil. In 1751, an ordinance was passed 
in favour of the Chartered Greenland Company, 
prohibiting all others, both natives and foreigners, 
from trading to any of the colonies established in 
Greenland, or within fifteen miles thereof, under 
penalty of seizure and confiscation. In 1753, their 
whale-fishing concerns established in different ports 
had increased to 90 sail, the cargoes of which, in this 
year, amounted to 344 whales f . 

The Greenland fishery afterwards declined, and 
was disused by the Danes for many years, befisre 
any attempt was made to revive it " In 1785, the 
King of Denmark granted a bounty of about SOs. 
Sterling pe?' ton, to all vessels in the Greenland and 
Icelandic fisheries, on condition of their fitting out 
their ships, and selling their cargoes in a Danish 

* Forster's Voyages and Discoveries in the Xortlij p. 171. 
t Gent. Mag. vol. xxi. p. 189- ; and xxi\'. p. 'I'?. 


port. Foreign built ships were employed, foreign- 
ers were encouraged to promote the view, and even 
foreign manufactures necessary for the Greenland 
fishery, were allowed duty-free *." After this pe- 
riod, the whale-fishery was generally prosecuted by 
private adventurers, but at no time with any very 
great energy. Twenty-seven ships were fitted out 
of Frederickstadt in 1803, and eight from Copen- 
hagen, of which three were wrecked f . 

Among the ports of Germany, that of Ham- 
burgh occupies the most respectable place in the 
annals of the whale-fishery. The Hamburghers 
commenced the fishery immediately after the Danes, 
and established themselves on the west coast of 
Spitzbergen, in a small bay situated near the 
Seven Icebergs, discovered by themselves, which 
was found to be but little incommoded with ice, 
and was, therefore, very suitable as a fishing station. 
This place still retains the name of Hamburghers 
Bay. From a table of the whale-fishery by the 
Hamburghers, given by Zorgdrager, it appears, that 
they long prosecuted the trade with success. From 
1670 to 1719, a period of fifty years, 2289 ships 
were sent out to Spitzbergen from Hamburgh, 
whereof 84 wtie wrecked ; the remainder captured 
and '.uok hcaie the produce of 9976 whales, which 

^ Oddy's ;Puropean Commerce, p. 525. t Idem. 


afforded 444,607 casks of blubber, being on an a- 
verage of the whole number of ships fitted out, 
4.36 fish or 194.2 barrels of blubber j9C?' ship each 
voyage. During the same period, the average suc- 
cess of the Dutch Greenland fishery was 4.96 fish 
joer ship each voyage. The proportion of ships 
lost by the Hamburghers was 3.7 in 100, and by 
the Dutch only 1.8 in 100, during the same time*. 

Thus far the success of the Hamburghers in the 
whale-fishery, was very uniform with that of the 
Dutch ; but the proportion of ships lost in the ice 
by the Hamburghers, was double that of the Dutch. 

In each of the years 1673,-73,-78,-80,-97, and 
1701, the whale-fishery of the Hamburghers produ- 
ced from nine to eleven whales per ship ; but in the 
years 1688,-89,-91,-1706,-10,-18, andl9, the aver- 
age was only I'oths of a fish jjcr ship; 311 ships which 
were fitted out, having only procured in the seven 
years 2151 whales. From 1719 to the present time, 
the fishery of the Hamburghers was rarely suspend- 
ed, but was generally conducted on a respectable 
scale, and with like success as that of the neighbour- 
ing provinces of Holland. The Greenland ships 
fitted out of Hamburgh in 1794, consisted of 25 
sail ; in 1795, 18 ; 1796, 19 ; and in 1797, 19. In 
1802 the Hamburgh fleet consisted of 15 sail, and 
their cargoes amounted to 62 whales, or 1011 casks 
of blubber, which produced 3409 barrels of oil. 

* Zorgdi-ager's Groenlandschc Visschery, p. 262,-270. 


The whale-fishers from other ports of the Elbe, 
have, in general, held a place of some importance^ 
especially those of Altona, which for many years re- 
gularly embarked in the trade. In 1SG2, Altona 
sent out ten ships, which took home only 304 casks of 
blubber, or 1536 barrels of oil, the produce of 21 
whales. Eleven ships from Gluckstadt, the same 
year caught only 24 fish, which afforded 346 casks 
of blubber, or 3124 barrels of oil. And two ships 
from the eastern ports procured 8 fish, yielding 508 
barrels of oil, from 145 casks of blubber*. 

The port of Bremen, in the Weser, sent twelve 
ships on the fishery in 1697, the united cargoes of 
which consisted of 3,790 puncheons of blubber ; and 
in 1721, a fleet of twenty-four ships sailed from the 
same port. In 1802, the Bremen Greenland fleet 
consisted of eight ships ; and the same number the 
following year, which caught 14 whales, producing 
1250 butts of blubber f. The whale and seal fish- 
ers from the Elbe and Weser, amounted to 42 
sail in the year 1817, and were increased to 53 in 
1818 J. 

* Oddy's European Commerce, p. 420. f Idem, p. 444 

:,M 8 1 7, From Hamburgh, 12 1818, From Hamburgh, 1 3 

Altona, 7 Altona, 9 

Gluckstadt, 12 Gluckstadt, 17 

Bremen, 7 Bremen, S 

4 other Ports, 4 5 other Ports, 6 

42 .'55 


The account of the early whale-fishery of the 
Norwegians, as presented to us in Alfred's Oro- 
sius, has been already sufficiently considered. Their 
fishery at Spitzhergen seems never to have employ- 
ed many vessels, and their enterprises thither to 
have been only occasional. A company established 
at Bergen for trading with the Greeulanders, made 
a feeble eflPort in 1721 to commence a whale-fishery 
at Davis' Straits ; but after continuing it occasion- 
ally for a few years with constant bad success, they 
abandoned the business ; but in the year 1733, 
they took the resolution of attempting it again *. 

In addition to those nations which have specu- 
lated in the whale-fishery already enumerated, I 
may mention, that the King of Prussia ordered 
the equipment of some ships in 1768 ; and that the 
Government of Sw'eben in 1774", granted to a com- 
pany established at Stockholm, the exclusive pri- 
vilege of the Greenland and Davis' Straits fishery 
for twenty years, and with a view of promoting an 
undertaking so useful to the State, assisted the ad- 
venturers with the loan of 500,000 dollars, at an in- 
terest of 3 per cent f . 

* Hist, des Peches, vol. iii. p. 20. 
f Macphersoiij voL iii. p. .5.'57. 

172 WHxiLE-FISHERl^. 




Immediately after the rediscovery of Spitzber- 
geii by Hudson, in the year 1607, the wah'iis- 
fishcrs, who carried on an extensive and profitable 
business at Cherry Island, finding the animals of 
their pursuit become shy and less abundant, ex- 
tended their voyage to the northward, until they 
fell in with Spitzbcrgen, the newly discovered coun- 
try, about the time when the Russia Company 
equipped their first ships for the Greenland whale- 
fishery. As the coast abounded with whales and 
sea-horses. Cherry Island was deserted, and Spitz- 
bcrgen became the scene of future enterprise. 

At this time, the mysticctus was found in im- 
mense numbers throughout tlie whole extent of the 
coast, and in the dilFerent capacious bays with 
which it abounds. Never having been disturbed, 
these animals were unconscious of danger, and al- 
lowed themselves to be so closely approached, that 


they fell an easy prey to the courageous fishermen. 
It was not necessary that the ships should cruize 
abroad throughout the extended regions of the Po- 
lar Seas, as they do at tlie present time ; for the 
whales being abundant in the bays, the ships were 
anchored in some convenient situation, and gene- 
rally remained at their moorings until their cargoes 
were completed. Not only did the coast of Spitz- 
bergen abound with whales, but the shore of Jan 
Mayen Island, in proportion to its extent, afforded 
them in like abundance. 

The method used for capturing whales, at this 
period, was usually by means of the hai-poon and 
lance, though the Dutch inform us that the Eng- 
lish made use of nets made of strong ropes for the 
pui-posc *. The harpoon, which was the instru- 
ment used in general practice for effecting their 
entanglement, consisted, as at present, of a barbed 
or arrow-shaped iron dart, two or three feet in 
length, to which was attached a wooden handle for 
convenience in striking or throwing it into the 
whale. Fastened to the harpoon, was a line or 
rope 300 fathoms in length ; more than sufBcient to 
reach tlie bottom in the bays, where the depth of 
the water seldom exceeds 8Q or 100 fathoms ; so 
that, on a fish descending after b.eing struck, the 
end of the line could always be retained in the boat. 

* Beschryving, &c. vol. i. p. 27- 


The movements of this Iwat, of course, corresponded 
with those of the wliale ; and so closely pointed out 
its position, that, on its re-appearance at the sur- 
face, the other assisting hoats were usually very 
near the place. It was then vigorously pursued, — 
secured by a sufficient number of harpoons, — and 
lastly attacked repeatedly with lances until it was 
killed. The lance in use was an iron spear, with a 
wooden handle, altogether 10 to 12 feet in length. 
The capture of the fish, in which, owing to the par- 
ticular excellence of the situation, they seldom fail- 
ed, being accomplished, it was towed by the boats, 
rowing one before another, " like a team of horses," 
to the ship's stern, where it lay untouched, from 
one * to two or three days f. The fat being then 
removed, was carried to the shore; where ample 
conveniences being erected, it was afterwards sub- 
jected to heat in a boiler, and the greater part of 
the oil extracted. 

As the process in use by the early fishers for ex- 
tracting the oil, may be interesting to some readers, 
I shall attempt to describe it, following the accounts 
by Captains Anderson and Gray, whose papers on 
Greenland and the whale-fishery, embracing this 
subject, are preserved among the manuscripts in 
the British Museum :}:. 

* Mr Gray's Account of the Whale-fishery, MS. Brit. Mus. 
t Captain Anderson's Account of Greenland, Idem. 
1^ There is no date to the papers of Messrs Anderson and 
Gray ; but, as Anderson was the person, (according to hh 


The blubber being made fast to the shore, a 
" water-side-man," standing in a pair of boots, mid- 
leg in the sea, flayed off the fleshy parts, and cut 
the blubber into pieces of about 2 cwt. each. Two 
men with a barrow then carried it piece by piece 
to a stage or platform erected by the side of the 
works, where a man, denominated a " stage- cutter," 
armed with a long knife, sliced it into pieces 1^ 
inches thick, and about a foot long, and then push- 
ed it into an adjoining receptacle, called a " slicing 
cooler." Immediately beyond this cooler, five or six 
choppers were arranged in a line with blocks of 
whales- tail before them ; and adjoining these blocks, 
was another vessel called a " chopping cooler," of 
two or three tons capacity. These men being si- 
tuated between the two coolers, took the sliced 
blubber from the slicing cooler, and after reducing 
it into little bits, scarcely one-fourth of an inch thick, 
and an inch or two long, pushed it into the chop- 
ping cooler. These operations were carried on as 

MS.) who took in eight men, whose ship sailed when they 
were engaged in hunting, and left them to winter in Spitzbergen 
in 1630, — the period here refen-ed to, must have been within 
a few years of this time. Gray's paper was registered by Mi 
Oldenberg, Secretary to the Royal Society, in the year 1 662,-3; 
so that both papers must refer to the same period of time, with- 
in a few years at the most. Gray's paper, (the one I have prin- 
cipally followed,) is by far the most clear and precise. It is 
contained in tlie " Bibl. Sloan." N». 6y8. Art. 27. ; and Ander- 
•»on's paper in the same department, N^. 3985. Art. 22. 


near as convenient to the place where the copper was 
erected. The copper hehl only half a ton. It was 
furnished with a furnace and the requisite appen- 
dages. A man, designated " tub-filler," with a ladle 
of copper, was employed in filling a hogshead with 
chopped blubber, dragging it to the copper, and emp- 
tying it in, until the copper was full. A fire of wood 
was in the first instance applied ; but after a copper 
or two had been boiled, the fmlcs or flitters were 
always sufficient to boil the remainder without any 
other fuel. 

When the blubber was sufficiently boiled, two 
men, called " copper-men," with two long-handled 
copper ladles, took the oil and finks out of the cop- 
per, and put it into a " fritter barrow," which, be- 
ing furnished with a grating of wood in place of 
a bottom, drained the oil from the fritters, from 
whence it ran into a wooden tank or cooler of about 
five tons capacity. Three coolers were usually pro- 
vided, and placed some feet asunder, a little be- 
low each other. A quantity of water was put into 
each before the oil, and the oil, whenever it came 
to a certain height in the first cooler, escaped 
through a hole by a spout into the second, the 
same way into the third, and from tlience by a 
jilug-hole into the casks or butts in readiness for its 
reception. AVhen the oil in these butts was tho- 
roughly cold, whatever it had contracted was filled 


up, and the casks then rolled into the water, and in 
rafts of 30 together, were conveyed to the ship. 

The whalebone was separated from the gum or 
substance in which it is embedded, rubbed clean, 
packed in bundles of 60 laminae or blades each, 
and taken to the ship in the longboat. Thus pre- 
pared, the cargo was conveyed home, either when 
a sufficiency was procured, or the close of the sea-> 
son put an end to the fishing occupations. 

The whale-fishers had different other buildings on 
shore besides those made use of in boiling the 
blubber. Those of the English, in one harbour, 
consisted of a stone hut or tent, covered with wood, 
and fitted up with cabins, &c. for lodging the blub- 
ber men in, and a large cooperage, with a lodging- 
room above it, for the use of the coopers when em- 
ployed preparing the casks. In Bell Sound, the 
English had a wooden house covered with Flemish 
tiles, originally built by the Flemings, 80 feet in 
length, and 50 in breadth, besides other smaller 
tents. And in addition to similar structures, the 
Dutch are said to have built warehouses, dwelling- 
houses, and forts. 

While some of the people belonging to the whale 
ships were engaged in boiling the blubber, the rest 
of the crew, it is probable, were occasionally employ- 
ed in the capture of other whales. 

Each nation which resorted to Spitzbergen, ha- 
ving a different fishing station, completely occupied 

VOL. II. i\i 


it, and retained it tenaciously for its owil use. As 
a place of resort, however, for escaping a storm, a 
contrary wind, or any other especial convenience, 
save that of fishing, the harbours were open to 

So long as the whales resorted to the bays of 
Spitzbergen in sufficient abundance, the method of 
fishing first adopted, continued to be practised ; but 
when the trade increased, and the annoyance to 
their species became so very great that they took 
the alarm and gradually receded from their fa- 
vourite haunts, a suitable change in the fishery 
was requisite. For twenty years after the com- 
mencement of the Spitzbergen fishery, the trade was 
in its most flourishing state ; the fish were nume- 
rous and unwary, and the adventurers seldom failed 
to fulfil the intentions of the voyage, by procuring 
ample cargoes. The fish seem to have become 
scarce in the bays about the years 1630 to 1640 ; 
upon which, the fishery fi-equently failed, and the 
Dutch companies were subjected to such heavy 
losses, that their great profits of former years were 
almost swallowed up *. Still, however, the whales 
were occasionally found in plenty, in particular 
places along the coast, or on particular banks, where 
some skilful and active individuals, made very pro- 
fitable voyages f. So long as the whales remained 

* Histoire des Peches, vol. i. p. 307. 
t Beschryvingj &c. vol. i. p. 31. 


in the immediate vicinity of the fishing estrv]:^isli- 
ments, the boats were sent out of the hays, the iisli 
captured at sea, towed into the harbour, stripped of 
the fat, and the blubber boiled as formerly * ; but as 
the whales increased their distance, this plan of pro- 
cedure became inconvenient ; so that tlje ships be- 
gan to cruise about the sea |, to kill the whales 
wherever they found them, to take on board the 
blubber, and only occasionally to enter a port for 
the convenience of making off, or awaiting, when 
the weather was unfavourable for lishing, an appro- 
priate change. 

The different operations connected with the fish- 
ery being now more tedious, so far from having oc- 
casion for empty ships for carrying away the super- 
abundant produce t, it was a matter of difficulty 
and uncertainty tlie procuring a cargo at all ; and 
with the most prosperous issue, there was not suffi- 
cient time for landing tlie cargo and extracting the 
oil ^ : the blubber was, tlierefore, merely packed in 
casks and conveyed home, where the remaining o- 
perations of extracting the oil, and cleaning and 
preparing the whalebone, were completed. Hence 
the various buildings which had been erected at 
a great cxpencc became ])errcctly useless ; the cop- 

u 2 

* Besdiryviniv, Sec. vol. i. p. ,"1. t IcJer.i, p. SO. 

t IdeiTi, vol. i. p. 29 § Idem, p. "0. 


pers and other apparatus that were worth the re- 
moval were taken away, and the buildings of all the 
different nations, both at Spitzbergen and at Jan 
Mayen Island, were either wantonly razed to 
the ground, or suffered to fall into a state of de- 
cay *. 

JNIartin, who sailed to Spitzbergen in 1671, ob- 
served several buildings connected with the " Har- 
lem Cookery" still remaining. They consisted of 
two dwelling-houses and two warehouses. He also 
noticed a kettle and coolers, a smith's anvil, tongs, 
and other tools, frozen among the ice. 

When the whales first approached the borders of 
the ice, the fishers held it in such dread, that when- 
ever an entangled fish ran towards it, they immedi- 
ately cut the line f . Experience through time, in- 
ured them to it ; occasionally they ventured among 
the loose ice, and the capture of small whales at 
fields was at length attempted, and succeeded. 
Some adventurous persons sailed to the east side of 
Spitzbergen, where the current has a tendency, it is 
believed, to turn the ice against the shore; yet 
here finding the sea on some occasions open, they 
attempted to prosecute the fishery, and it seems 
with some success, a great whale-fishery having 
been made near Stans Foreland in the year 1700. 

The progress of the retreat of the whales from 
the bays, first to the sea-coast, from thence to the 

* Beschryving, &c. vol. i. p. So. t Idem, p. 32. 


hanks at a distance from land, then to the borders 
of the ice, and finally, to the sheltered situations 
afforded by the ice, appears to have been fully ac- 
complished about the year 1700, or from that to 
1720. In consequence of this event, the plan of 
prosecuting the fisheiy, which, previous to this pe- 
riod, had undergone different alterations, now un- 
derwent a material change. This change did not 
only affect the manner of conducting the fishery, 
but it likewise extended to the construction of the 
ships, and the quality and quantity of the fishing 
apparatus. When the fishery could be effected en- 
tirely in the bays, or even along the sea-coast, any 
vessels which were sea-worthy, however old or ten- 
der, were deemed sufficient to proceed to Spitzber- 
gen, and were generally found adequate to the pur- 
pose ; especially as it was customary to allow the 
spring to be far advanced before they set out, where- 
by they avoided the inconvenience and obstruction 
to the advance of the ships into fishing stations, 
which is often presented by the ice in the early part 
of the spring of the year ; and, what was of equal 
consequence, they escaped those tremendous and 
destructive storms, to which the whale-fishers in 
modern times, who set out at an earlier period, are 
constantly exposed. On account of the increased 
exposure to the ice, new, or at least very substantial 
ships became requisite ; and even these, it was 
ibund necessary to strengthen by additional timbcKR 


011 the hows and stem, and additional planks on the 
sides. Besides the increased expence of the ships, 
a greater quantity of fishing stores became needful. 
When fishing among the ice, the whales, after ha- 
ving been struck, frequently penetrated to a great 
distance, out of the reach of their assailants, drag- 
ging the line away, until at length they found it 
necessary to cut it, to prevent farther loss. Hence, 
by the frequency of disasters among their ships, the 
increased expence of their equipment, and the lia- 
bility of losing their fishing materials, such an ad- 
ditional expence was occasioned, as required the 
practice of the most rigid economy to counterbalance. 
The destruction among the shipping by the ice, in the 
Dutch fleet alone, was frequently near twenty sail 
in one year, and, on some occasions, above that num- 
ber. The Greenlandmen of the present day, being 
mostly ice fishers, an account of the improved mode 
of fishing now practised, will be sufficient for the 
illustration of the method followed by the Dutch 
and other nations at a more early period ; particular- 
ly, as the way in which the whale is pursued and kill- 
ed, is pretty nearly the same at this time as it was 
a hundred years ago ; the improvements being con- 
fined to an increase of application, perseverance and 
activity, the effects of which, as I have before no- 
ticed, are truly wonderful. 

Davis' Straits, or the sea lying between the West 
side of Old Greenland and the East side of North 


America, and its most northern islands, has gene- 
rally, since the close of the 17th century, been the 
scene of an advantageous whale-fishery. This fish- 
ery was first attempted by the Dutch in 1719, as has 
before been mentioned ; after which period, it was 
usually resorted to by about three-tenths of their 
whalers, while seven-tenths proceeded to Spitzbergen. 
The whale-fishery of Davis' Straits, is conducted in 
an extensive limit, and differs only from that of Spitz- 
bergen or Greenland, in the sea being in many dis- 
tricts less incommoded with ice, and in the climate, 
on account of its lower latitude, or the influence of 
the land in receiving and dispersing the heat de- 
rived from the sun, being somewhat more mild. 
The alterations which have taken place in this 
fishery, are in some measure similar to what have 
occurred at Spitzbergen. The fish which, half a 
century ago, appear to have resorted to all parts of 
the western coast of Old Greenland, in a few years 
retired to the northward, but they still remained 
about the coast. Within a very few years, how- 
ever, of the present, they deserted some of the nor- 
thern bays in which they used to be captured in 
considerable abundance, and have of late been 
principally caught in icy situations, in a high lati- 
tude, or in the opening of Hudson's Straits, or at 
the borders of the western ice near the coast of La- 


Baffin's Bay was suggested as an excellent fish- 
ing station, by the voyager whose name it l>ear3, so 
early as tlie year I6l6, when his memorable navi- 
gation was performed, Baffin, in a letter pu- 
blished by Purchas *, addressed to J. Wostcnholm, 
Esq. one of tlie gentlemen who shared in the ex- 
pence of the expedition, remarks the probability of 
profit which might be derived from future voyages 
to this Bay as a fishing station, observing, that 
great numbers of whales occur in the bay, and easy 
to be struck ; and though ships cannot reach the 
proper places until toward the middle of July, 
" yet they may well tarry till the last of August, in 
which space much business may be done, and good 
store of oil made." 

To this situation, where the whales have never been 
molested, until two yexirs ago, it appears they still 
resort in the same manner, and in similar numbers, 
as in the time of Baffin. In 1817, two or three of 
the Davis' Straits whalers proceeded through the 
Straits into Baffin's [Bay to a much greater length 
than they were in the habit of adventuring ; where, 
in the month of July and August, they found the 
sea clear of ice, and in some parts abounding with 
whales. A Leith ship, which it appears advanced 
the farthest, made a successful fishery, in latitude 
76°-77°, after the season when it was usual for 

* Vol. iii. p. 843. 


ships to depart. This fact having become generally 
known, several other ships followed the example 
in the last season (1818), and persevered through the 
barrier of ice lying in 74°-75° towards the north- 
After they had succeeded in passing this barrier, 
they found, as in the preceding year, a navigable 
sea, where several ships met with considerable suc- 
cess in the fishery, at a very advanced period of 
the season. 

This discovery, therefore, of the practicability of 
pursuing the whales to their most northeni'retreats, 
and thus prolonging the fishery to a much later pe- 
riod than was before usual, is likely to prove an era 
of great importance in the fishery of Davis' Straits. 
Ships which fail of success in the old stations, will 
still, in the new fishery, have a reserve of the most 
promising character. And instead of the fishery 
being terminated by the disappearance of the whales 
from the old stations, it is probable it will in future 
be only terminated by the setting in of the frost. 
There is rarely any thick ice formed in June, though 
the sea be constantly at or near the freezing tempera- 
ture ; much less will there be a liability to strong 
ice being formed in September, which is but 3}^ de- 
grees colder than June, when the sea has had the ef- 
fect of the warmth of two mouths, during which the 
mean temperature of the air is usually from 6" to 9' 
above the fi-eezing point of sea-water. Hence, in- 
stead of this fishery being necessarily closed in July. 


the period when the whales have usually made theii" 
final retreat from the old fishing stations, it will iu 
future be extended to the end of August at least ; 
and it may ultimately appear, that there will be 
little danger of ships being permanently frozen up, 
unless previously beset in the ice, during any part of 
the month of September. 





Description of a ivell-adapted Greenland Ship, 
with the additioncd St7xngthenings 7'equisitefor 
resisting the Concussions of the Ice. 

A SHIP intended for the Greenland or Davis' 
Straits trade, should, I conceive, be of three to four 
hundred tons admeasurement, — very substantially 
built, — doubled and fortified ; — should have six or 
seven feet perpendicular space between decks, — 
should be furnished with a description of sails which 
are easily worked, — and should possess the property 
of fast sailing. 

The most appropriate dimensions of a ship in- 
tended for the northern whale-fisheries, seems to be 
that which is so large, as to be capable of deriving 
the greatest advantage from the best opportunity^, 
and no larger. 


A vessel of 350 tons requires nearly tlie same 
number of men, the same quantity of provisions 
and stores, and the same expence of outfit, as a ship 
of 350 tons burden ; while the difference in the 
cargoes of the two vessels when filled, is, in one 
voyage, more than a compensation for the difference 
in the first expence. Besides, for want of similar 
room and convenience, the smaller ship has not al- 
ways an equal chance of succeeding in the fishery 
with the larger. And as ships of about 350 tons 
burden have been occasionally filled, it is clear, 
vessels of 250 tons are too small for the fishery. 

In a voyage of confined duration, in which the 
opportunities of procuring a full cargo are but rare, 
the magnitude of the cargo, which may vvith usual 
means be obtained, is necessarily limited ; and not- 
withstanding it is impossible to state what that li- 
mit in future may prove, yet we fonn an opinion 
from what it has heretofore been. 

Ships of 350 tons burden, it has been observed, 
have been occasionally filled ; but we know of no 
instance in which a ship of 400 tons admeasure- 
ment, of the usual capacious build, has been de- 
ficient in capacity for taking in as large a cargo as 
of late years there has been any opportunity of pro- 
curing ; hence we consider, that an increase of di- 
mensions above 400 tons, is not only useless, but of 
actual disadvantage. 


As Oil tlie one hand, a ship of 250 tons burden 
is too small, inasmuch as her capacity will not ad- 
mit of the most advantageous use being made of 
the plentiful fisheries which sometimes occur, so, 
on the other' hand, a ship of 450 or 500 tons is too 
large, because, with the most prosperous fishings 
there would not be a jirobability, or scarcely a pos- 
sibility, that she should ever be filled. We, there- 
fore, conclude, that a ship of intermediate size be- 
tween 300 and 400 tons, is best adapted for the 
fishery. And, on the whole, perhaps, a roomy ship 
of 330 or 340 tons, possesses more advantages, with 
fewer disadvantages, than a vessel of similar build 
of any other capacity *. 

Greenland ships, in the early ages of the fishery, 
were very indifferent structures ; and even within 
the last thirty years, when the fishers were not 
much in the habit of penetrating far into the ice, 
shijrping of inferior quality were generally deemed 
sufficient for the trade. At present, however, when 
a good fishery is rarely made, without frequent ex- 
posure to the ice, and sometimes in very critical si- 
tuations, the vessels require to be substantially built, 
for the purpose of resisting the occasional pressure 
of, and frequent blows from the ice, to which the 
ships of persevering fishermen must always be more 
or less exposed. 

* For the farther investigation of the advantages and disad- 
vantages of ships of different sizes, see Appendix to this Vo- 
luine. No. II. 


The requisites peculiar to a Greenland ship, the 
intention of wliich is to afford additional strength, 
consist of doubling, and sometimes trebling, and 

The terms " doubling" and " trebling," are expres- 
sive of the number of layers of planks which are ap- 
plied to the exterior of a frame of timbers ; hence a 
ship which has one additional series of phinks, is said 
to be doubled; and such ships as are furnished with 
two, or part of two additional layers of planks, are said 
to be trebled. Doubling generally consists of the ap- 
plication of 2 or 2^ inches oak plank near the bow, di- 
minishing towards the stern to perhaps half that 
thickness, and extending, in one direction, from the . 
lower part of the main- wales, to within six feet (per- 
pendicular) of the keel forward, and to within eight 
or nine feet abaft ; and, in the other direction, that 
is, fore and aft wise, from the stem to the stern post. 
Doubling is used for producing an increase of 
strength ; and, at the same time, for preserving the 
outside or main planks of the ship, from being in- 
jured by tlie friction of passing ice. Trebling, 
which commonly consists of 1^ to 2 inches oak 
plank, is generally confined to the bows of the ship, 
and rarely extends farther aft than the fore chains, 
or chess-tree. It is seldom applied, but to second 
rate ships. Its principal use is to increase the 
strength of the ship about the bows ; but it also 


serves to preserve that part of the doubling wliich 
it covers, from being destroyed by the ice. 

Fortifying, is the operation of strengthening a 
ship's stem and bows, by the application of timber 
and iron plates to the exterior, and a vast number 
of timbers and stanchions to the interior. When 
it is required to be very strong and complete, the 
operation is generally performed somewhat in the 
following manner. Four straight substantial oak- 
timbers, called ice-beams, about 12 inches square 
and 25 feet in length, are placed beneath the hold 
beams, butting with their foremost extremities a- 
gainst a strong fore-hook, and extending nearly at 
right angles, across three or four of the hold beams, 
into each of which they are notched and secured 
at the point of intersection, by strong iron bolts, 
with the addition of cleats on the aftermost beam. 
The fore part of the ice-beams, which butt against 
the hook, are placed at a small distance from each 
other ; from thence they diverge in such a way, that 
their other extremities divide the aftermost beam 
under which they pass, into five equal parts. The 
next important part of the fortification is the point- 
ers, which consist of four or more crooked timbers, 
fitting the curve of the ship's bow on each side ; 
these are placed below the hold beams, against the 
inside of the ceiling, nearly parallel with the direc- 
tion of its planks, some butting against the fore- 
hooks, and others passing between them. Thej*- 


are secured by tree-nails and bolts driven intd tlie 
timbers of the ship's bow. Across these pointers 
four or five smaller timbers, called riders , disposed 
at regular distances, are placed at right angles; 
that is, in the same direction as the ribs of the ship. 
Now, from each of the points of intersection of the 
riders and pointers, consisting of 16 or 20 on each 
side of the ship, a stanchion or shore proceeds 
to the edge of one of the two ice-beams, placed 
on the same side, where it is secured in a rahhet. 
About five of these shores pass from the intersections 
of the riders with the upper pointer, to the external 
or nearest ice-beam ; five others from the intersec- 
tions of the riders with the lower pointer, to the se- 
cond ice-beam ; and the remaining ten, from the 
intersections of the riders on the middle pointers, are 
equally distributed between the same two ice-beams 
lying on that side. Eight or ten shores, therefore, 
terminate in the rabbet of each ice-beam. Lastly, 
the ice-beams are supported and connected by seve- 
ral strong pieces of wood, placed between each two 
in different parts, called carlings, whereby they are 
made to bear as one. Hence, it is evident, that a 
blow received on the starboard bow, will be impres- 
sed on the adjoining pointers, and the impression 
communicated through the medium of the lateral 
timbers or shores to the two ice-beams on the same 
side ; from thence by the carlings to the other ice- 
beams, and then by the shores on the opposite side. 


to the larboard bow and annexed pointers. Thus the 
whole fore part of the ship is so consolidated, that a 
blow cannot be received on any part of one bow, with- 
out being communicated by the fortification to every 
part of the opposite bow ; while every part to and 
through which the impression is communicated, 
must tend to support that place on which the blow 
is impressed. Every part of the bows, therefore, 
from the stem to the fore-chains, derives additional 
strength from the fortification. The stem itself is 
likewise supported by such parts of the fortification, 
as butt ao-ainst the fore-hooks; these consist of all 
the ice-beams and some of the pointers. 

To preserve the stem from being shattered or bruis- 
ed by direct blows from the ice, it is strengthened 
by an extra piece applied to the front, called the 
false or ice stem. On the sides of this are placed 
the ice-knees, which are angular chocks or blocks of 
wood, filling the concavity formed by the stem and 
bow planks, and extending from about the eight 
feet mark to the loading mark. In the best style, 
the ice-knees are twelve to fifteen inches in thick- 
ness at the stem, diminishing to, perhaps, six or 
eight inches thick, at the distance of about eight 
feet from the stem, from thence gradually becoming 
thinner, until they fall into, and incorporate with the 
common doubling, below the fore part of the fore- 
chains. This makes a neat bow ; and, in point of 



strength, is much preferable to the angular chocks 
or knees, which usually extend but five or six feet 
from the stem, and then terminate somewhat ab- 
ruptly upon the doubling. Ice-knees not only 
strengthen the front of the bows, and prevent the 
main planks from being bruised or shattered, as far 
as they extend, but likewise protect the stem from 
the twisting eiFect of a side blow. The stem, and a 
small part of the ice-knees adjoining, are still far- 
ther defended by plates of half-inch iron, called ice- 
plates, which are nailed upon the face of the ice- 
stem, and partly on the ice-knees, to prevent them 
being cut by the ice. 

Such are the principal requisites for strengthen- 
ing ships intended for the northern whale-fisheries. 
There are, likewise, other peculiarities in their struc- 
ture, which the nature of the trade requires. 

For additional strength as well as convenience, 
the hold beams of a Greenland ship should be placed 
low, or at a greater distance from the deck beams 
than is usual in other merchantmen, leaving a 
clear space of six or seven feet between decks. The 
strength derived from hold beams laid in this posi- 
tion, is principally serviceable when the ship is 
squeezed between two sheets of ice ; because, the 
nearer the pressure acts on the extremities of the 
beams, the greater is the resistance they are calcu- 
lated to offer. And with regard to convenience, a 
large space between decks is useful in various points 


of view : it admits of a considerable portion of the 
boats being carried out below, tlius efFeetually pre- 
serving them in heavy storms, in which, sometimes, 
boats lashed upon deck, are subject to be washed 
away or otherwise destroyed, while, at the same time, 
the deck is freed from unnecessary lumber and 
weight. It is likewise of great advantage in the 
event of a successful fishery, as it admits of a great- 
er quantity of blabber being taken in at once, be- 
sides facilitating many of the operations connected 
with the fishery. This position of the hold beams, 
though it takes from the capacity of the hold, does 
not, of course, affect the dimensions of the hull ; 
and in a ship of 350 tons, it will generally leave 
such a space in the hold as will admit of th?'ee tiers 
of casks, of 300 to 350 gallons capacity, and be 
completely filled by them ; whereas, if tlie dimen- 
sions of the hold were enlarged by the beams being 
elevated, it would require fbii?' tiers of convenient 
sized casks to fill it ; which additional tier, would 
occasion an amazing increase of labour in the diffe- 
rent processes connected with the packing of blub- 
ber in Greenland. 

Hammocks, as receptacles for sailors' beds, being 
incommodious, the crew are lodged in cabins or 
births, erected in the half deck : these consist of 
from twelve to twenty in number, each of wliich is 
calculated to contain two or three persons. 

When a sliip is on fishing stations, the boats are 
required to be always ready for use ; as such, they 

N 2 


arc suspended from davits or cranes fixed on the 
sides of the sliip, and are usually so contrived, 
that a boat can be lowered down into the water, 
manned and pushed off from the ship, in the short 
space of a minute of time. Prior to the year 1813, 
a ship having seven boats carried one at each waist, 
tliat is, between the main-mast and fore-mast, two 
at each quarter^ one above the other, and one a- 
cross the stem. As an improvement on this plan, 
in 1813, the Esk of Whitby and John of Greenock, 
had each their boats fixed in a line of three lengths 
of boats on each side. In the usual way of suspen- 
sion, it was necessary that the under quarter boats 
should be taken upon deck in every storm, accom- 
panied by a high sea, — an operation which, on some 
occasions, was scarcely practicable. They w-ere, 
likewise, subject to be damaged by the passing ice. 
The mode adopted in the Esk and John, in a great 
measure avoids both these inconveniences ; besides 
which it is attended with the peculiar advantage of 
admitting any particular boat of the seven to be 
lowered by itself, or all the seven boats at the same 
time. These advantages of the new manner of sus- 
pending the boats were at once so evident, that the 
plan was adopted in almost every new ship subse- 
quently fitted for the fishery, and in almost every 
old ship in the trade, excepting where want of 
length, or the consideration of the expence requisite 
for making the alteration, prevented it. 


The masts and sails of a Greenlaiidman are not 
without their peculiarities. As it is an object 
of some importance, that a fishing ship should be 
easily navigated, under common circumstances, by 
a boat's crew of six or seven men, it is usual to take 
down royal masts, and even some of the top-gallant- 
masts, and sometimes to substitute a long light pole 
in place of a mizcn-top-mast ; also to adopt such sails 
as require the least management. Courses set in 
the usual way require a number of men to work 
them when the ship is tacked : A course, there- 
fore, made to diminish as it descends, that is, nar- 
rowest at the foot or lower part, and extended by a 
boom or yard below as well as above, and this boom 
fastened by a tackle fixed at its centre to the deck, 
swings with the yards with little or no attention, 
and is found particularly convenient. Fore-sails, on 
this principle, have been in use about six or seven 
years. In 1816, I fitted a main-sail and cross- 
jack in the same way, the former of which we found 
of admirable utility. Boom-courses * are not only 
convenient in tacking, but are likewise a valuable 
acquisition when sailing among crowded dangerous 
ice. As the safety of a ship then depends, next to 
the skilfulness of the piloting officer, on a prompt 

* To prevent confusion in speaking of these sails, I liave 
confined the term ioow-sails to the new description of courses ; 
and ga^-sails to the fore and aft sails, the tops of which are eX" 
tended to a gaff. 


management of the yards and sails, boom-courses 
are strikingly useful, on account of the little atten- 
tion they re([uire, when any alteration in the posi- 
tion of the sails becomes necessary. And when the 
ship's head-way is required to be suddenly stopped, 
in a situation where she cannot be hiffed into the 
tvhicl, boom-courses swinging simultaneously with 
the top-sails, are backed without any annoyance from 
tacks or sheets, and of course assist materially in 
effecting the intention. Such is the advantage of 
this description of sails, that on one occasion when 
all the rest of my crew were engaged in the cap- 
ture of a whale, with the assistance of only two 
men, neither of them sailors. I repeatedly tacked 
a ship of 3.50 tons burden under three courses, top- 
sails and top-gallant-sails, together with jib and 
mizen, in a strong breeze of wind. Gaff -sails, be- 
tween the masts, in the place of stay-sails, are like- 
wise deservedly in much repute. To the mizen 
-and try-sail or gaff main-sail, that have been long 
in use, I have added a gaff fore-sail of similar form, 
besides which, my Father has also adapted gaff-top- 
sails between each mast. These sails produce an 
admirable effect when a ship is " on a wind," 
which is the kind of sailing most required among 



Proceedings onboard of a Greenland Ship, from 
putting to Sea to her Arrival on the Coast of 

When a ship is fiilly equipped, with at least the 
proportion of men, provisions, boats and stores, re- 
quired by law for her tonnage, together with va- 
rious other apparatus and appendages which expe- 
rience has found to be useful or indispensable * ; 
when the crew have been mustered f by the proper 
officer of the customs, and paid a month's wages in 
advance ; and when the requisites of law with re- 
gard to bonds, certificates, oaths, &c. have been fid- 
filled, and the ship cleared out at the custom-- 
house, — the first opportunity is embraced for putting 
to sea. This is generally accomplished in the course 
of the month of March, or at latest before the 10th 
of April. 

The crew of a whale-ship usually consists of 40 
to 50 men, comprising several classes of oflScers, such 
as harpooners, boat-stecrers, line-managers, cai'pen- 

* For a schedule of the extra stores, see Appendix No. III. 

t For the manner of mustering the crew of whale ships, 
with some account of the afiidavits^ certificates, ike. required by 
law, see Appendix, Np. IV. 


ters, coopers, &<;., together with forc-mast-mcii, land- 
men, and apprentices. ^\s a stimuhis to the crew in 
the fishery, every individual, from the master down 
to the boys, beside his monthly pay, receives either 
a gratuity for every size fish caught during the voy- 
age, or a certain sum for every ton of oil which 
the cargo produces. IMasters and harpooners, in 
place of monthly wages, receive a small sum in ad- 
vance before sailing, and if they prociu-c no cargo 
whatever, they receive nothing more for their Aoy- 
age ; but in the event of a successful fishing, their 
advantages are considerable. The master usually re- 
ceives three guineas for each size fish, and as much 
for striking a size whale, or discovering a dead one, 
together with IOa'. to 20,?. per ton on oil, and com- 
monly a thirtieth, a twenty-fifth, or a twentieth o^ 
the value of the cargo besides. He also has about 
51. pc?' month for his attendance on the ship while 
he remains on shore. Each harpooner has usually 
6s. per ton on oil, together with half-a-guinea for 
every size fish he may strike during the voyage. In 
addition to which, the chief-mate, who is generally 
also a harpooner, has commonly two guineas per 
month when at sea, and a guinea for each size fish. 
The specksioneer or chief harpooner, has also half-a- 
guinea2967'fish, and sometimes a trifle^ifrtonof oil ad- 
ditional; and the second mate, and other officers, who 
serve in a compound capacity, have some additional 
monthly wages. Eoat-steercrs, line-managers, and 


fore-mast men, commonly receive about 1^. 6il. 
])er ton each, besides their monthly pay, and land- 
men either a trifle per ton on oil, or a few shillings 
for each size fish. 

From the difference in the wages paid in different 
ports, it is not easy to say what is the amount of 
wages received by each class of officers belonging to 
the whale ships. In the general, however, it may 
be understood, that in a ship with 200 tons of oil, 
which is esteemed an excellent cargo, the chief 
mate receives about 95 /. for his voyage ; a Iiar- 
pooner about 70 /. ; and a common sailor, or fore- 
mast man, about 25/., including advance money and 
monthly pay. As the master's wages depend as 
much on the ^alue of the cargo, as upon its quanti- 
ty, it is difficult to give an opinion as to the amount : 
generally speaking, hov.cvcr, with a cargo of 200 
tons of oil, he will receive about 250/. to 300/. when 
his pay is according to the lowest scale, and perhaps 
500 /. or 600 /., or unwards, when he is r)a d after 
the highest rate. 

In time of war, the manning of the whale-ships 
at tlie ports where they were respectively fitted out, 
being sometimes impracticable, and always a mat- 
ter of difficulty, it was usual for the owners and 
mast^^rs of such ships to avail tliemselvcs of the pri- 
vilege allowed by act of Parliament, of completing 
their crews in Shetlarid and Orkney. These islandy 
v/ere therefore the frequent resort of m.ost of th.e 
fishermen ; those bound for Spitzbergcn commonly 


put into Shetland, and those for Davis' Straits into 
Orkney. But, in the present time of peace also, 
several ships, in consequence of the higher wages de- 
manded by the l^^>iiglish seamen, have availed them- 
selves of a late extension of the act, for permitting 
a certain amount of extra men to be taken on board 
in Shetland, or Orkney, during the continuance of 
the bounty system. This privilege being originally 
intended to terminate vv^ith the war, it became an ob- 
ject of justice to the Shetland and Orkney people to 
extend it to peace also. Since these islanders had 
formerly furthered the interests of the fishers, and en- 
abled them to send more ships than otherwise could 
have been manned, it was only reasonable that no 
obstruction at least, should be offered to prevent 
the fishers from repaying them for the accommoda- 
tion tliey afforded in time of war, by continuing to 
employ them after the establishment of peace. 

Ill Shetland, it is usual for the fishennen to 
trim their ships, and complete their ballast, by 
filling most of tlieir empty casks with water, where 
it has not previously been done^ — to replenish 
their fresh water, — to lay in stocks of eggs, fish, 
fowls, sea-sand, &c., — to divest the ships of all 
elevated lumber, and gaudy appendages to the 
m'asts and rigging, by the way of preparing them 
for enduring the Polar storms, with greater safety 
and convenience, — and, lastly, to fix a " crowds 
nesW' or " hurricane-house," on the mast of each ship. 


and prepare a passage to it as safe and convenient 
as possible. 

The crow's nest is an apparatus placed on the 
main-top-mast, or top-gallant-mast head, as a kind of 
watch-tower, for the use of the master, or officer of the 
watch, in the fishing seas, for sheltering him from 
the wind, when engaged in piloting the ship through 
crowded ice, or for obtaining a more extensive view of 
the sea around, when looking out for whales. When 
sailing amongst much heavy drift ice, as seen from 
the deck, it seems at a small distance impervious, 
although it may happen that scarcely any two 
pieces are connected ; but, from the mast head, 
the relative position of almost every piece may 
be distinctly seen, and an opinion may be formed, 
by the experienced observer, of the probable and 
actual movements of such pieces as the ship is re- 
quired to pass. This is an object of the greatest 
importance; because the varied movements of the 
different pieces, occasion such an alteration in the 
channel pursued, that were it not for a constant, 
attentive, and judicious watch by the master, *or an 
able officer, a ship could not pass through any 
crowded collection of drift ice, without the immi- 
nent risk of being stove. Now, in difficult situa- 
tions, a master's presence at the mast head, is some- 
times required for many hours in succession, when 
the temperature of the air is from 10* to 20° below 
the freezing pointy or more. It is therefore neces- 


sary, for the preservation of his health, as well as 
his comfort, that he should be sheltered from the 
piercing gale *. A piece of canvas tied round the 
licad of the main-top-mast, and heel of the top-gal- 
lant-mast, extending only from the cap to the cross 
trees, or at best a canvas stretched round the base 
of the top-gallant rigging, but open on the after part, 
was the most complete contrivance of a crow's nest, 
until a few years ago, when my Father invented an 
apparatus, having the appearance of a rostrum, 
which afforded an admirable defence against the 
wind. This contrivance, from the comfortable shel- 
ter it affords to the navigator, having come into 
very general use, it may not be improper to describe 
it more particularly. The one most approved by 
the inventor is about 4^ feet in length, and 2}^ in 
diameter. The form is cylindrical ; open above and 
close below. It is composed of laths of wood placed 
in a perpendicular position round the exterior edge 
of a strong wooden hoop, forming the top, and 
round a plane of mahogany, or other wood, which 
forms the bottom ; and the whole circumference of 
the cylinder is covered with canvas or leather. 
The entrance is by a trap-hatch at the bottom. It 
is fixed on the very summit of the main-top-gailant- 

* I have myself been pe\'en hours at the iiiast head;, without 
once desccndmg; and have many tmies spent 10 or 1^ hours 
•f a dav in the crow's nest. 


mast, from whence the prospect on every side is 
unimpeded. On the after side is a seat, with a 
place beneath for a flag. In other parts are recep- 
tacles for a speaking trumpet, telescope, and occa- 
sionally for a rijie piece *, with utensils for loading. 
For the more effectual shelter of the observer, when 
-in an erect posture, a moveable screen is applied to 
the top on the windward side, which increases the 
height so much as effectually to shield his head. 
When the ship is tacked, nothing more is necessary 
for retaining the complete shelter, than shifting 
the screen to the opposite side, which is done in an 

The Greenland ships usuiiliy leave Shetland to- 
wards the end of March or the beginning of April. 
From thence, if their view be to avail themselves 
of the benefit of the seal-fishery, they steer to the 
northward on the meridian, or a little to the west- 
ward, and commonly make the ice in the latitude 
of 70° to 72" north. But if the month of April 
be much advanced before they leave Shetland, they 

* The rifle has been occasionally used for shooting nar- 
•whales : when fired at from the deck, it is almost impossible 
to kill them, partly on account of the resistance of the water, 
which tlie ball must pass through, and partly on account of 
the deception in their position, produced by the refractive pro- 
perty of the water. Shooting from tlie mast head nearly per- 
pendicularly doAvnwards, in a great measure obviates both tliese 


generally steer for the whaling stations, on a course 
to the east of nortli, with the view of falling into 
that reniarkahle indentation of the Polar ice, lying 
in 5 or 10 degrees east longitude, which I have de- 
nominated the " Whale-fishers Bight." It used to 
be the practice to remain on sealing stations until 
the beginning of May, and not to enter the ice 
until about the middle of the month ; but of late 
it has become usual to push into the ice at a much 
earlier period, though the practice is neither with- 
out its dangers nor disadvantages. If a ])arrier of 
ice prevents the fisher from reaching the usual fish- 
ing station, he sometimes perseveres in search of 
whales on the southward margin of the ice, but 
more generally endeavours to push through it into 
an opening, which is usually formed on the west 
side of Spitzbergen in the month of May, where 
he seldom fails of meeting with the objects of his 
search. It is a common remark, that the more diffi- 
culty there is attending the passage through the 
ice, the better is the fishery when that passage is 
accomplished. In close seasons, very few ships pass 
the barrier before the middle or end of JMay. Those 
which first succeed, immediately proceed along the 
edge of the western ice to the latitude of 78 or 79 
degrees, or until they meet with whales. But in 
open seasons, the most commendable plan is to sail 
direct to the latitude of 80 degrees, when it can 


be accomplighed at a \evy early period, where large 
whales are generally at this season to he found. 


Observations on the Fishery of different Latitudes 
and Seasons, and under different ci^rumstances 
of lee, if'ind, and Weather. 

It is not yet ascertained, what is the earliest pe- 
riod of the year, in which it is possible to fish for 
wlialcs. The danger attending the navigation, a- 
midst massive drift ice in the obscurity of night, is 
the most formidable objection against attempting 
the fishery before the middle of the month of April, 
when the sun having entered the northern tropic, 
begins to enlighten the Polar regions throughout 
the twenty-four hours. Severity of frost, prevalence 
of storms, and frequency of thick weather, arising 
from snow and frost rime, are the usual concomi- 
tants of the spring of the year ; and these, wlien 
combined with the darkness incident to night, a 
tempestuous sea, and crowded ice, must probably 
produce as liigli a degree of horror in the mind 
of the navigator, wlio is unhappily subjected to their 
distressfrU influence, as any combination of circum- 
stances which the imagination can present. 


Some ships have sailed to the iiortliward of th^ 
seven ty-ei gilt degree of latitude, before the close of 
the month of ^Marcli ; but I am not acquainted with 
a single instance, where the hardy fishers have, at 
this season, derived any compensation for the extra- 
ordinary dangers to w^hich they were exposed. In 
the course of the month of April, on certain occa- 
sions, considerable progress has been made in the 
fishery, notwithstanding the frequency of storms. 
At the first stage of the business, in open seasons, 
the whales are usually found in most abundance on 
the borders of the ice, near Hackluyf s Headland, in 
the latitude of 80". A degree or two farther south, 
they are sometimes seen, though not in much plen- 
ty : but in the 76th degree, they sometimes occur 
in such numbers, as to present a tolerable prospect of 
success in assailing them. Some rare instances have 
occurred, wherein they have been seen on the edge 
of the ice extending from Cherry Island to Point- 
look-out, in the early part of the season. 

In the year 1803, the fishery of April was consi- 
derable in the latitude of 80" ; in 1813, many 
whales were seen near the sam.c latitude ; but the 
weather being tempestuous in an almost unprece- 
dented degree, but few were killed ; and in the in- 
termediate years, the fishery was never general in 
this month, and but seldom begun at all before the 
commencement of May. In 1814, the fishery com- 
menced before the middle of April, and some ships 


derived imcommon advantage from an early arrival. 
In 1815, some ships were near Spitzbergen in 
March, and fished in the first week of April in the 
latitude of 80", wliere a great nuniber of whales 
were seen. Accompanying the ice in its drift along 
the coast to the southward, the same tribe of whales 
were seen in the latitude of 78°, about the middle 
and end of the month, and a considerable number 
were killed. In 1816, fish were seen in 80", in the 
same month, but few killed, on account of the for- 
mation of bay ice upon the sea. In 1817, the 
weather was very tempestuous in April, and scarce- 
ly any whales were killed ; and in 1818, the fish- 
ery of this month was inconsiderable. 

Grown fish are frequently found at the edge, or 
a little within the edge of the loose ice, in the 79th 
degree of north latitude, in the month of May ; 
and small whales of different ages at fields, and 
sometimes in bays of tlie ice in the 80th degree. 

Usually, the fish are most plentiful in June ; 
and on some occasions they are met with in every 
degree of latitude from 75" to 80". In this month, 
the large whales are found in every variety of situa- 
tion ; sometimes in open water, at others in tlie loose 
ice, or at the edges of fields and floes, near the main 
impervious body of ice, extending tov*^ards tlie 
coast of JFcst Greenland. The smaller animals of 
the species are, at tlie same time, found farther to 

VOL. II. <^ 


the south than in the spring, at floes, fields, or even 
among loose ice, but most plentifully about fields 
or iioes, at the border of the main western ice, in 
the latitude of 78 or 78 J- degrees. 

In July, the fishery generally terminates, some- 
times at the beginning of the month, at others, 
tliough more rarely, it continues throughout the 
greater part of it. Few small fish are seen at this 
season. The large whales, when plentiful, are 
found occasionally in every intermediate situation, 
between the open sea and the main ice, in one di- 
rection, and between the latitiules of 75 "^ and 79" 
in the other, but rarely as far north as 80". 

The parallel of 78 to 78 J degrees, is, on the whole, 
the most productive fishing station. The interval 
between this parallel and 80**, or any other situa- 
tion more remote, is called the " northward," and 
any situation in a lower latitude than 78°, is called 
tlie " southward." 

Though the 79th degree affords whales in the 
greatest abundance, yet the 7()th degree affords 
them, perhaps, more generally. In this latter situa- 
tion, a very large kind of the mysticetus is com- 
monly to be found tliroughout the season, from 
April to July inclusive. Their number, however, 
is not often great ; and as the situation in which 
tliey occur is unsheltered, and, consequently, ex- 
posed to heavy swells, tlie southern fishery is not 
much frequented. 


The parallel of 77" to 77j% is considered a 
*' dead latitude" by the fishers, but occasionally it 
affords whales also. 

From an attentive observation of facts, it would 
appear, that different tribes of the mysticetus inha- 
bit different regions, and pursue different routes on 
their removal from the places where first seen. 
These tribes seem to be distinguished by a differ- 
ence of age or manners, and in some instances, ap- 
parently by a difference of species or sub-species. 
The whales seen in the spring in the latitude of 
80°, which are usually full grown animals, disap- 
pear generally by the end of April ; and the place 
of their retreat is unknown. Those inhabiting the 
regions of 78^, are of a mixed size. Such as resort 
to fields in May and beginning of June, are gener- 
ally young animals ; and those seen in the latitude 
of 76°, are almost always of the very largest kind. 
Instances are remembered by some aged captains, 
wherein a number have been taken in the south- 
ward fishing stations, which were astonishingly pro- 
ductive of oil. It is probable, that the difference 
in the appearance of the heads, or the difference of 
proportion existing between the heads and bodies 
of some mysticete, are distinguishable of a diffe- 
rence in the species, or sub-species. Those inha- 
biting southern latitudes, have commonly long heads 
and bodies, compared Avith their circumference, mo- 
derately thick blubber and long whalebone ; those of 

o 2 


the mean fishing Latitude, that is 780,-799, have 
more commonly short hroad heads, compared with 
the size of the body. In some individuals, the 
head is at least one-third of the whole length of the 
animal, but in others scarcely two-sevenths. Hence, 
it is exceedingly probable, that the whales seen early 
in April, in the latitude of 80 , are a peculiar tribe, 
which do not re-appear during the remainder of the 
season ; and that those inhabiting the latitude of 78* 
and of 76**, are likewise distinct tribes. 

Notwithstanding, if we descend to particulars, the 
great variety and uncertainty which appear in the 
nature of the situations preferred by the whales, 
and the apparent dissimilarity observed in their ha- 
bits, — it is probable, that were the different tribes 
distinguished, we should find a much greater de- 
gTce of similarity in their choice of situation and in 
their general habits, than we are at present able to 

Annoyed as the -svhales are by the fishers, it is 
not surprising that they sometimes vary their usual 
places of resort ; and it is not improbable, were they 
left undisturbed for a few years, but that they 
might return to the bays and sea- coasts of Spitzber- 
gen and its neighbouring islands, as Avas formerly 
the custom with certain tribes, at the commencement 
of this fishery. We are doubtless, in a great mea- 
sure, indebted to the necessity they are under, of 
performing the function of respiration in the air, at 


stated intervals, for being able to meet v.itb them 
at all ; though the coast of Spitzbergen may possi- 
bly possess a powerful attraction to the mysticete, by 
affording them a greater abimdance of palatable food 
than the interior western waters, covered perpetu- 
ally by the ice. From this necessity of respiring 
in the air, we may account for their appearance in 
tiie open sea in the early part of the spring. The 
ice at this season, connected by the winter's frost, 
is probably so consolidated, as to prevent the whales 
from breathing among it, excepting \vithin so much 
of its confines as may be broken by the violence of the 
sea in storms. After the dissolution of the continuity 
of the ice, by north, north-west, or west winds, they 
find sufficient convenience for respiration in the in- 
terior, and often retreat thither to the great disadvan- 
tage of the whalers. In such cases, if the formation of 
bay ice, or the continuity of the border of the heavy 
ice, prevents the ships from following, the whales 
completely escape their enemies, until the relaxation 
of the frost permits an entrance. 

It is not vmcommon, however, for an adult tribe 
of whales to resort partially to the open sea, between 
the latitudes of 76° and 79", during the months of 
May and June, and though more rarely, during the 
early part of July, when, at length, they suddenly 
betake themselves to the ice and disappear altoge- 


The systematical movements of the whales receive 
adclitioual illustration from many well known facts. 
Sometimes a large tribe passing from one place to 
another, which, under such circumstances, is denomi- 
nated a " run of fish," has been traced in its move- 
ments, in a direct line from the south towards the 
north, along the seaward edge of the western ice,' 
through a space of two or three degrees of lati- 
tude ; then it has been ascertained to have en- 
tered the ice, and penetrated to the north-westward, 
beyond the reach of the fishers. In certain years, 
it is curious to observe, that the whales commence 
a simultaneous retreat throughout the whole fish- 
ing limits, and all disappear within the space of a 
very few days. On such occasions, it has often 
happened, that not a single whale has been seen by 
any individual belonging to the whole Greenland 
fleet, after, perhaps, the middle of June, but more 
commonly after the firlfet or second week in July, 
notwithstanding many of the fleet may have cruised 
about in the fishing regions for a month afterwards. 
In the year 1813, whales were found in considerable 
numbers in the open sea, during the greater part of 
tlic fishing season, but in the greatest abundance 
about the end of June and beginning of July. On 
tlie 6 th of July they departed into the ice, and 
were followed by the fishers ; several were killed 
during the three succeeding days, but they wholly 
disappeared after the 9th^ Notwithstanding, sevc- 


ral ships cruised " the country" for some weeks 
afterwards, in all navigable directions through an 
extent of four degrees of latitude, and penetrated 
the ice as far as the main western body, in different 
parallels, it does not appear that a single whale was 
caught, and, as far as I was able to learn, but one 
was seen, and this individual was observed to be 
rapidly advancing tov>ards the north-west. I do 
not mention this as an uncommon circumstance, 
because a similar case occurs frequently, but as a 
single illustration of the foregoing observation. 

When the fishery for the season, in the opinion 
of the British whalers, has altogether ceased, it ap- 
pears from the observations of the Dutch *, that it 
may frequently be recommenced in the autumn, at the 
verge of the most northern waters, near Hackluyt's 
Headland. They consider the fish which then appear 
as the same tribe that are seen in this place in the 
spring of the year, and enter the ice immediately 
after it opens in the north. On the recommence- 
ment of the frost, they instinctively return, to pre- 
vent themselves being enclosed so far within the 
ice, as to occasion suffocation from the freezing up 
of the openings through which they might other- 
wise breathe. In consequence of this, together with 
the dangers attending the northern fishery in the 
.spring, the Dutch appear to have generally prefer- 

"^ Beschryving, &c. vol. i. p. .'52. 

216 \VU A I . E-V Ifm Ell Y . 

red the fishery of high northern latitudes in the 
autumn, as a considerahle degree of success was 
reasonably expected from it at this season, without 
the same risk of getting their ships beset as they are 
exposed to in the spring. The many calamities which 
have occurred to the Hollanders, from their ships 
getting beset, occasioned an excessive dread of 'the 
ice in high latitudes. Such of their ships as hap- 
pened to get enclosed by the ice under unfavour- 
able circumstances, not only failed altogether in the 
fishery, but not unfrequently accompanied the ice 
in its drift by the course of the south-westerly cur- 
rent, and remained beset until tlie approach of win- 
ter. In some instances, they were obliged to win- 
ter in the Polar regions, and on several occasions 
their ships were wrecked, and many, if not all, of 
their crews perished under the most afflicting cir- 
cumstances. In modern times, these events are 
more rare, notwithstanding the increased perseve- 
rance of the fishers among the ice. This may be 
attributed to the extraordinary exertions of skill 
and personal labour, which they now make use of, 
for accomplishing their release, whenever they find 
themselves unhappily enclosed in such situations as 
threaten them with permanent detention, or their 
ships with destruction. The means in common 
use for securing the safety of their ships, are like- 
wise ingenious. They seek the most protected situa- 
tion, keep an anxious watch, and remove their ships. 


when it can be accomplished, on the first approach 
of danger ; but if unable to move about, they cut 
canals or docks in the solid ice, into which they push 
their ships, and generally preserve them in safety. 

That tribe of whales above mentioned, which are 
seen in tlie spring and autumn of the year near 
Hackluyt's Headland, are supposed by the Dutch 
to be really inhabitants of the sea adjoining West 
Greenland ; that they always retreat thither when- 
ever the state of the ice will admit, and only appear 
within the observance of the fishers, when the so- 
lidity of the ice prevents their attaining those fa- 
vourite situations, where they probably find the 
most agreeable food *. 

The whales of lower latitudes, however, whose 
food . lies near the eastern margin of the main 
ice, when they enter the ice in JMay and June, 
seem to exhibit an intention of evading their pur- 
suers ; for in whatever manner they may retreat for 
a while, they frequently return to the same or other 
similar place accessible to the fishers. But after 
the month of July, this tribe also penetrates so 
deeply into the ice, that it gets beyond the reach 
of its enemies. 

Ships, when drifted along with the ice to the 
south-west, until they lose sight of the whales, en- 

* Bescliryving, &c. vol. i. p. 53. — As I liave never seen whales 
in this situation in the aiitiunn myself, I give the information 
entirely an the authority of the work here quoted. 


deavour to make their escape into the eastern sea* 
and resume the fisliery again in a higher latitude. 

There have been occasions in which whales liave 
been seen and killed in the latitude of 71 ' or TQ'', 
but the circumstances were peculiar, and the in- 
stances rare. 

Having now mentioned, generally, the principal 
places resorted to by the whales in the Spitzbergen 
seas, it will possibly be interesting to such as are in 
any way concerned in the fishery, to notice more par- 
ticularly their favourite haunts, under particular 

Experience proves, that the whale has its fa- 
vourite places of resort, depending on a sufliciency 
of food, particular circumstances of weather, and 
particular positions and qualities of the ice. Thus, 
though many whales may have been seen in open 
water, when the weather was fine, after the oc- 
currence of a storm, perhaps not one is to be 
seen. And, though fields are sometimes the re- 
sort of hundreds of whales, yet, whenever the 
loose ice around separates entirely away, the 
whales quit them also. Hence fields seldom af- 
ford whales in much abundance, excepting at the 
time when they first " break out," and become ac- 
cessible ; that is, immediately after a vacancy is 
made on some side by the separation of adjoining 
fields, floes or drift ice. Whales, on leaving fields 
which have become exposed, frequently retire t« 


other more obscure situations in a west or north-Avest 
direction ; but occasionally they retreat no further 
than the neighbouring drift ice, from whence they 
sometimes return to the fields at regular intervals 
of six, twelve, or twenty-four hours. It is a re- 
mark of my Father's, which may be useful to the 
fisher, that in penetrating from the sea towards the 
edge of a field in search of whales, seldom will any 
be found, unless some individujils are seen in the 
passage through the intervening loose ice. 

Whales are rarely seen in abundance in the large 
open spaces of water, which sometimes occur amidst 
fields and floes, nor are they commonly seen in a 
very open pack, unless it be in the immediate neigh-r 
bourhood of the main western ice. They seem te 
have a preference for close packs and patches of ice, 
and for fields under certain circumstances ; for deep 
bays or highis, and sometimes for clear water situa- 
tions ; occasionally for detached streams of drift ice ; 
and most generally, for extensive sheets of bay ice. 
Bay ice is a very favourite retreat of the whales, so 
long as it continues sufficiently tender, to be conve- 
niently broken, for the purpose of respiration. In 
such situations, whales may frequently be seen in 
amazing numbers, elevating and breaking the ice 
with their croiicns *, where thcv are observed to 

* The eminence on the head of the -vvlaale, in which |;he 
hjow-holes are situated, is tlius called. 


remain mucli longer at rest than when seen in opevi 
water, or in the clear interstices of th€ ice, or in-^ 
deed in almost any other situation. 

The most favourable opportunity for prosecuting 
the fishery, commonly occurs with north, north-west, 
or west winds. At such times, the sea near the ice is 
almost always smooth, and the atmosphere, though 
cloudy and dark, is generally free from fog or thick 
snow. The fishers prefer a cloudy to a clear sky ; he- 
cause, in very bright weather, the sea becomes illumi- 
nated, and the shadow of the whale-boats are so deeply 
impressed in the water by the beams of the sun, that 
the whales are very apt to take the alarm, and 
evade the utmost care and skill of their pursuers. 
The severe frost with Vvrhich these winds are some- 
times accompanied, is the principal inconvenience 
attending them. South-east or east winds, though 
of themselves disagreeable, on account of the thick 
weather v^ith which they are in general accompa- 
nied, and exceedingly dangerous, from the high swells 
which they often occasion, when they are boisterous, 
— have nevertheless their advantages. They crowd 
the drift ice closely together, cause a violent agita- 
tion among the pieces, and by these circumstances 
either drift the ice away from the places occupied 
])y the whales, or so annoy them as to induce them 
to leave their retreat and appear in the open sea. 

The nature of the circumstances most favourable 
for fishing, will be readily understood, when it is 


©bserved, that the fisheiy most particularly requires 
a, cloudy atmosphere, yet free from fog or continued 
$now ; smooth water, with a breeze of wind ; and 
navigably open, or perfectly solid ice. 

Calms are unfavourable for fishing. The still- 
ness which then prevails gives the whale a great ad- 
vantage in avoiding danger, by the distinct use of 
its hearing and sight ; so that it is difficult for a boat 
to approach within the distance to which a harpoon 
can be thrown, before the fish takes the alarm, and 
escapes. In a brisk breeze, on the contrary, where 
the surface of the water is rough witli " wind lip- 
per," both tlie sight and hearing of the whale must 
be very indistinct. 


Description of the Boats and Principal Instru- 
ments used in the Capture of the IVhale. 

Whale-eoats are, of course, peculiarly adapted 
for the occupation they are intended to be employ- 
ed in. A well constructed " Greenland boat," pos- 
sesses the following properties. It floats lightly 
and safely on the water, — is capable of being rowed 
with great speed, and readily turned round, — it is 
of such capacity that it carries six or seven men, 
seven or eight hundred weight of whale-lines, and 


various other materials, and yet retains the necessary 
properties of safety, buoyancy, and speed, either in 
smooth water, or where it is exposed to a consider- 
able sea. Whale-boats being very liable to receive 
damage, both from whales and ice, are always carver" 
built, — a structure which is easily repaired. They 
are usually of the following dimensions. Those 
called " Six oared boats," adapted for carrying seven 
men, six of whom, including the harpooner, are row- 
ers, are generally 26 to 28 feet in length, and about 
5 feet 9 inches in breadth. Six men boats, that is, 
■with five rowers and a steersman, are usually 25 to 
26 feet in length, and about 5 feet 6 inches in 
breadth. And " four oared boats," arc usually 23 
to 24 feet in length, and about 5 feet 3 inches 
in breadth. The main breadth of the two first 
classes of boats, is at about three-sevenths of the 
length of the boat- reckoned from the stem ; but, in 
the last class, it is necessary to have the main 
breadth within one-third of the length of the boat 
from the stem. The obiect of this is, to enable the 
smaller boat to support, without being dragged un- 
der water, as great a strain on the lines as those of 
a larger class ; otherrv'ise, if such a boat were sent 
out by itself, its lines would be always liable to be 
lost, before any assistance could reach it. The five 
oared or six men boat, is that which is in most ge- 
neral use ; though each fishing ship generally car- 
ries one or tvro of the largest class. These boats 


are now commonly built of fir-boards, one-half or 
three-fourths of an inch thick, with timbers, keel, 
gunwales, stem, and stern-post of oak. An im- 
provement in tlie timbering of wliale-boats has late- 
ly been made, by sawing the timber out of very 
straight grained oak, and bending them to the re- 
quired form, after being made supple, by the appli- 
cation of steam, or immersion in boiling water. 
This improvement, whicli renders the timbers more 
elastic, than when they are sav.n out of crooked 
oak, and at the same time makes the boat strong- 
er and lighter, was suggested by Thomas Brodrick, 
Esq. of Whitby, ship-builder. Though the prin- 
ciple has long been acted upon in clincher-built 
boats, with ash timbers, the application to carver- 
built whale-boats, is, I believe, new. The bow and 
stem of Greenland boats, are both sharp, and, in 
appearance, very similar ; but the stern fomas a 
more acute angle than the bow. The keel has 
some inches depression in the middle, from which 
the facility of turning is acquired. 

The instruments of general use in the capture of 
the whale, are the harpoon and lance. 

The harpoon (plate 18. fig. 2.) is an instrument 
©f iron, of about three feet in length. It consists 
of three conjoined parts, called the "socket," "shank," 
and " mouth ;" the latter of which includes the 
barbs or " withers." This instrument, if we except 
a small addition to the barbs, and some enlargement 
of dimensions, maintains the same form in v/hich it 


was originally used in the fishery two centuries ag». 
At that time, the mouth or barhed extremity was 
of a triangular shape, united to the shank in the 
middle of one of the sides ; and this being scoop- 
ed out on each side of the shank, formed two sim- 
ple flat barbs. In the course of last century, an im- 
provement was made, by adding another small barb, 
resembling the beard of a fish-hook, within each of 
the former withers, in a reverse position. The two 
principal withers, in the present improved harpoon, 
measure about 8 inches in length and 6 in breadth ; 
the shank is 18 inches to 2 feet in length, and /oths 
of an inch in diameter ; and the socket, which is 
hollow, swells from the size of the shank to near 2 
inches diameter, and is about 6 inches in lengtli. 
Now, when the harpoon is forced by a blow into the 
fat of the vv^hale, and the line is held tight, the prin- 
cipal withers seize the strong ligamentous fibres of 
the blubber, and prevent it from being withdrawn ; 
and in the event of its being pulled out, so far as to 
remain entangled by one wither only, which is fre- 
quently the case, then the little reverse barb, or 
" stop wither" as it is called, collecting a number of 
the same reticulated sinewy fibres, which are very 
numerous near the skin, prevents the harpoon from 
being shaken out by the ordinary motions of the 
whale. The point and exterior edges of the barbs of 
the hai-poon, are sharpened to a rough edge, by means 
of a file. This part of the harpoon is not formed of 


steel, as it is frequently represented, but of common 
soft iron ; so that when blunted, it can be readily 
sharpened by a file, or even by scraping it with a 
knife. The most important part in the construc- 
tion of this instrument, is the shank. As this part 
is liable to be forcibly and suddenly extended, twisted 
and bent, it requires to be made of the softest and 
most pliable iron. That kind which is of the most 
approved tenacity, is made of old horse-shoe nails 
or stubs, which are formed into small rods, and two 
or three of these welded together ; so that should a 
flaw happen to occur in any one of the rods, the 
strength of the whole might still be depended on. 
Some manufacturers enclose a quantity of stub-iron 
in a cylinder of best foreign iron, and form the 
shank of the harpoon out of a single rod. A test 
sometimes used for trying the sufficiency of a har- 
poon, is to wind its shank round a bolt of inch iron, 
in the form of a close spiral, then to unwind it 
again, and put it into a straight form. If it bears this 
without injury in the cold state, it is considered as 
excellent. The breaking of a harpoon is of no less 
importance than the value of a whale, which is 
sometimes estimated at more than a 1000 /. Ster- 
ling. This consideration has induced many ingeni- 
ous persons to turn their attention tov/ards improv- 
ing the construction and security of this instrument ; 
but though various alterations have been suggested, 

VOL. II. p 


such as forming the sliank of plies of wire, adding 
one or two lateral barbs, &c. c^c. they have all given 
place to the simplicity of the ancient liarpoon. 

A harpoon was recently produced in Hull, the 
design of which was to prevent the loss of a w halcj, 
provided the shank of the instrument should happen 
to break. To effect this, the thick part of the 
shank immediately adjoining the mouth of the har- 
poon, was pierced with an oblong hole, in the di- 
rection of the plane of the withers. Through this 
hole a small rope, or a strand of whale line, is pas- 
sed, and both ends secured to tlie line attached to the 
other end of the hai-poon. Hence, should the shank 
of the harpoon break, the connection between the 
line and tlie part of tlic harpoon fixed in the whale 
is still preserved ; and the connecting material is of 
such a strength, as to be, in ordinary circumstan- 
ces, sufficient for completing the capture. The 
safety rope is no hindcrance to the entrance of the 
harpoon into the whale, as it serves to increase the 
breadth of the shank only, and not its thickness ; nor 
is there any great risk of the shank breaking in the 
part which is pierced, its strength being very great. 
This contrivance, on the whole, appears to be 
calculated for effecting, in a considerable degree, the 
desirable purpose for which it is intended. 

I have been thus particular in the description of 
the harpoon, because it is an instrument of greater 
consequence than any other used in tlie fishery. 


Next in importance to the harpoon is the lance, 
(PI. 18. fig. 6.*) which is a spear of iron of the 
length of 6 feet. It consists of a hollow socket 6 
inches long, swelling from half an inch, the size of 
the shank, to near 2 inches in diameter, into which 
is fitted a 4 feet stock or handle of fir ; a shank 5 
feet long, and half an inch in diameter ; and a 
mouth of steel, which is made very thin, and ex- 
ceedingly sharp, 7 or 8 inches in length, and 2 or 
2^ in breadth. 

These two instruments, the harpoon and lance, 
with the necessary apparatus of lines, boats and 
oars, are all that are essential for captming the 
whale. But besides these instruments, so success- 
fully used in the whale-fishery, there is likewise an 
auxiliary weapon whicli has, at different periods, 
been of some celebrity. This is the har[)oon-gun. It 
is well calculated to facilitate tlie capture of whales, 
under particular circumstances, particularly in calm 
clear weather, when the fish are apt to take the alarm, 
whenever the boats approach within fifteen or 
tAventy yards of them. The harpoon-gun was in- 
vented in the year 1731, and used, it seems, by 
some individuals with success. Being, however, 
difficult, and somewhat dangerous in its application, 
it was laid aside for many years. In 1771 or 1772, 

V 2 

* I have given three figures of laiices, (fig. 4-, 5, 6,) of which 
I prefer No. (j. 

225 WHALE-inSHEllY. 

a new one was produced to tlie Society of Arts, 
wliich (liftered so niaterially from the instrument 
before in use, that it was received as an original in- 
vention. This society took a great interest in pro- 
moting its introduction, and with some difficulty 
and great expcnce effected it. Between 1772 and 
1792, the Society of arts gave in premiums to whale- 
fishers, and to artisans for improvements in the gun 
and harpoon, the sum of 350 /. or 400 /. In one 
year only, (1791,) they paid 36 guineas as premiums, 
to twelve persons, who had been successful in the use 
of the harpoon-gun. Since the year 1792, they 
have generally been in the habit of offering a premi- 
um of 10 guineas, to the harpoon er who should shoot 
the greatest number of whales in one season, not 
being less than three. Tliis premium, hov/ever, 
though it has been frequently offered, has been sel- 
dom claimed. The harpoon-gun has been highly 
improved, and rendered capable of throwing a har- 
poon near forty yards with effect ; yet, on account 
of the difficulty and address requisite in the ma- 
nagement of it, and the loss offish, which, in unskil- 
ful hands, it has been the means of occasioning, to- 
gether with some accidents which have resulted from 
its use, — it has not been so generally adopted as 
might have been expected. 

In its present improved form, as made by Mr 
Wallis, gun-smith, Hull, the liarpoon-gun con- 
sists of a kind of swivel, having a barrel of 


wi'ought iron, 24 to 26 inches in length, of 3 inch- 
es exterior diameter, and 1| inches bore. It 
is furnished witli two locks, which act simulta- 
neously, for the purpose of diminishing the lia- 
bility of the gun missing fire. In plate 19-, is 
a representation of the harpoon-gun; and fig. 1. 
and 3. of PI. 18., show the form of the harpoon 
which is fired from it. The shank of this harpoon 
is double, terminating in a cylindrical knob, fitting 
the bore of the gun. Between the two parts of the 
shank is a wire ring, to which is attached the line. 
Now, when the harpoon is introduced into the bar- 
rel of the gun, the ring, with the attached line, re- 
mains on the outside, near the mouth of the har- 
poon ; but the instant that it is fired, the ring flies 
back against the cylindrical knob. Some harpoons 
have been lately made with a single shank, similar 
to the common " hand-harpoon," but swelled at the 
end to the thickness of the bore of the gun. The 
whale line, which is closely spliced round the shank, 
is slipped towards the mouth of the harpoon, when 
it is placed in the gun, and when fired, is prevented 
from disengaging itself, by the size of the knob at 
the end. 



Preparations for the Fishery. 

On the first convenient opportunity after a ship 
arrives on the usual fishing-stations, preparations 
fiar attacking the whale are made. Previous to the 
sailing of the ship from her port, the principal ar- 
ticles requisite for this service are provided, and in 
the course of the outward passage, the different 
utensils are fitted for immediate use. Among nu- 
merous preparations carried on by the mechanics 
and seamen of the ship, most of Avhich are void of 
interest to general readers, the operation of " span- 
ning, harpoons" Avill alone be noticed. 

A piece of rope made of the best hemp, called a 
" Foreganger," about 2 J inches in circumference, and 
eight or nine yards in length, is spliced closely round 
the shank of the harpoon, the swelled socket of Vv'hich 
prevents tlic eye of tlie splice from being drawn off. 
A stock or handle, six or seven feet in length, is 
then fitted into the socket, and fastened in its place 
through the medium of the foreganger. The fas- 
tening of the stock is suflacient only for retaining it 
firm in its situation during the discharge of the wea- 
pon, but is liable to be disengaged soon afterwards ; 
on which the harpoon, relieved from the shake and 
twist of this no longer necessary appendage, main- 


tains its hold with better effect. After the stock 
drops out, it is seklom lost, but still hangs on the 
line by means of a loop of cord lixcd openly round 
it, for the purpose of preventing the stock from float- 
ing away. The foreganger is most commonly formed 
of white or untarred rope, which is stronger and 
niore flexible than tarred rope, consequently more 
easily extended when the harpoon is thrown. Every 
harpoon is stamped with the name of tlie ship to 
which it belongs ; and when prepared for use, a 
private mark, containing the name of the ship and 
master, with the date of the year, v/ritten upon 
leather, is concealed bencatli some rope-yarns wound 
round the socket of the instrument, and the same 
is sometimes introduced also into the foreganger. 
These marks serve to identify the harpoons when 
any dispute happens to arise relative to the claims of 
different ships to the same fish, and have sometimes 
proved of essential service, in deciding cases which 
might otherwise have extended to vexatious litiga- 
tion. A harpoon thus prepared with foreganger 
and stock, is said to be " spanned in." In this 
state, the point or mouth being very clean and 
sharp, i^ preserved in the same condition by a shield 
of oiled paper or canvas ; and the instrument, with 
its appendages, laid up in a convenient place, ready 
for being attached to tlie whale-lines in a boat when 


TIic principal preparations for commencing the 
fishery, are inchided in the " fitting of the boats." 
In this work, ail the people belonging to the ship 
are employed. The boats are first cleared of all 
lumber, and then the whale-lines, each consisting of 
120 fathoms of rope, about 2:^ inches in circumference, 
arc spliced to each other, to the amount of about six 
for each boat, the united length of which is about 
720 fathoms, or 4320 feet ; and the whole carefully 
and beautifully coiled in compartments in the boat, 
prepared for the purpose. A portion of five or six 
fathoms of the line first put into the boat called 
the " stray-line»" is left uncovered, by that wliich 
follows, and coiled by itself in a small compartment 
at the stern of the boat : it is furnished with a loop 
©r " eye," for the facility of connecting the lines of 
one boat with those of another. To the upper end 
of the line is spliced the foreganger of a spanned 
harpoon, thus connecting the harpoon with all the 
lines in the boat *. 

Every boat completely fitted, is furnished with 
two harpoons, (one spare), six or eight lances, and 
five to seven oars, together with the following in- 
struments and apparatus. A " jack" or flag fas- 

** Whale-lines are always made of the best materials, and 
manufactured Avith extraordinary care. As such they are usu- 
ally charged 20s. or 30^. per cwt. more than other cordage. 


teiied to a pole, intended to be displayed as a 
signal whenever a whale is harpooned ; a " tail- 
knife," (PI. 20. fig. 4.) used for perforating the fins 
or tail of a dead whale ; a " mik," or rest, (fig. 7.). 
made of wood, for supporting the stock of the har- 
poon when ready for instant service ; an " axe", 
(fig. 16.) for cutting the lines when necessary ; a 
" pigging" or small bucket, for bailing the boat, or 
wetting the running lines, to prevent the bollard 
from taking fire; a " snatch-block," (fig. 17.) ; " a 
grapnel," (fig. 11.); two "boat-hooks ;" a " fid," a 
wooden " mallet," and " snow-shovel ;" also a small 
broom and a " swab," together with spare tholes, 
grommets, &c. In addition to these, the two six- 
oared or other swiftest boats, are likewise furnished 
with an apparatus called a " winch," (PI. 19. fig. 2.), 
for heaving the lines into the boat after the fish is 
either killed or has made its escape ; and in some 
ships they also carry a harpoon-gun, with appara- 
tus for loading. The whole of the articles above 
enumerated, are disposed in convenient places 
throughout the boat. The axe is always placed 
within the reach of the harpooner, who, in case 
of an accident, can cut the line in an instant ; the 
harpoon-gun is fixed by its swivel to the boat's 
stem ; the lances are laid in the sides of the boat 
upon the thwarts ; the hand-harpoon is placed up- 
on the mxik or rest with its stock, and on the bow 
^f the boat with its point, and the foregangcr is 


clearly coiled beneath it, so that tlic harpoon can 
be taken up and disciiarged in a moment. The 
oars used for rowing the Greenland boats, are about 
16 feet in length, and those used for steering are 
18 or 20 feet. All the oars are fixed by rope- 
grommets to a single thole, so that when not in use, 
they can be readily unshipped or pushed out of the 
boat through the grom.met, as far as a stop on the 
extremity of each oar will admit, and then left to float 
parallel with the sides of the boat. An oar is used 
for steering in preference to a rudder, in conse- 
quence of its possessing many advantages : An oar 
does not retard the velocity of the boat so much as 
a rudder ; it is capable of turning the boat v»'hen in 
a state of rest, and m.ore readily tlian a rudder 
when in motion ; and it can be used for propelling 
the boat, in narrow places of the ice where the row- 
ers cannot ply their oars, by the process of sculling, 
and in calms for approaching a whale without 
noise, by the same operation. 

The crew of a whale ship are separated into di- 
visions, equal in number to the number of the boats. 
Each division, consisting of a harpooner, a boat-steer- 
cr, and a line-manager, together with three or four 
rowers, constitutes " a boat's crew." 

The harpconer's principal office is, as his name 
implies, to strike the whale, also to guide the lines, 
or to kill an entangled whale with liis lances. 
When in pursuit, he rows the bow-oar. He has 


the command of the hoat. When on board of the 
ship, he has different occupations, according to tlie 
nature of the operations which are going on. 

The boat-steercr, who ranks next to the harpoon- 
er. At the same time that he guides the course of 
the boat in the most favourable direction, likewise 
watches the motions of the whale pursued, — inti- 
mates its movements to the harpooner, — and stimu- 
lates the crew to exertion by encouraging exclama- 
tions. The line-manager rows the " after oar" m tlic 
boat, and, conjointly with the boat-steerer, attends to 
the lines, v.hen in the act of running out, or coiling 
in. The remainder of the crew of the boat is com- 
posed of seamen, or others, whose chief qualification 
consists in their capability of " pulling an oar." 

Besides the division of the seamen of a whaler 
into boats' crews, they are likewise classed, as in 
other vessels, into watches. A xcatch is a certain 
proportion of the ship's crcAV, generally a third, or 
a half, who, when at sea, are on duty, while the 
others rest. AVlicn in thirds, each watch consist?: 
of two boats' crews, with an equal share of those 
men constituting the crews of what may be called 
extra boats, or the excess above six. This division 
is usually, but very improperly, called " the quarter 
v/atch." In this kind of arrangement*, which is only 
adopted on the passages, or in the fishing country, 
when no whales are seen, nor any particular busi- 
ness going on, each man watches four hours, aiul 


rests eight. But when whales are astir, the crew 
is usually divided into two parties, called " the half 
watch," in which every man watches and rests four 
hours alternately. 

In the one-third watch, the chief-mate, speck- 
sioneer, and second-mate, who aro usually the three 
principal harpooners, have the charge of the three 
watches, though tlie one under the second-mate is 
called the Captain's Watch. When any of these 
principal officers are in the boats, the under har- 
pooners take charge of the watches. 


Proceedings on Fishing Stations. 

On fishing stations, when the weather is such as 
to render the fishery practicable, the boats are al- 
ways ready for instant service. Suspended from 
davits or cranes, by the sides of the ship, and fur- 
nished with stores, as before enumerated, two boats 
at least, the crevvS of which are always in readiness, 
can, in a general way, be manned and lowered into 
the water, within the space of one minute of time. 

Wherever tliere is a probability of seeing whales, 
when the weather and situation are such as to pre- 
sent a possibility of capturing them, the crow's nest 


is generally occupied by the master, or some one of 
the officers, who, commanding from thence, an ex- 
tensive prospect of the surrounding sea, keeps an 
anxious watch for the appearance of a whale. As- 
sisted by a telescope, he views the operations of any 
ship which may be in sight at a distance ; and oc- 
casionally sweeps the horizon with his glass, to ex- 
tend the limited sphere of vision in which he is 
able to discriminate a whale with the naked eye, to 
an area vastly greater. The moment that a fish is 
seen, he gives notice to the *' watch upon deck," part 
of whom leap into a boat, arc lowered down, and 
push off towards the place. If the fish be large, a 
second boat is immediately dispatched to the support 
of the other. When the whale again appears, the 
two boats row towards it with their utmost si^ed ; 
and though they may be disappointed in all their 
attempts, they generally continue the pursuit, un- 
til the fish either takes the alarm, and escapes 
them, or they arc recalled by signal to the ship. 
When two or more fish appear at the same time, 
in different situations, the number of boats sent in 
pursuit, is commonly increased ; and when the whole 
of the boats are sent out, the ship is said to have 
" a loose fall." 

During fine weather, in situations where whales 
are seen, or where they have recently been seen, or 
where there is a gi-eat probability of any making 
their appearance, a boat is generally kept in readi- 


ncss, maiiiicd and afloat. If the ship sails with 
considerable velocity, this boat is towed by a rope, 
astcni ; but when the ship is pretty still, whe- 
ther moored to ice, laid too, or sailing in light 
winds, the " bran-boat," as it is called, often 
pushes off to a little distance from the ship. A 
boat on watch, commonly lies still in some eligible 
situation, v^ith all its oars elevated out of the wa- 
ter, but in readiness, in the hands of the rowers, 
for immediate use. The harpooner and boat-steer- 
er keep a careful watch on all sides, while each of 
the rowers looks out in the direction of his oar. 
In field-fishing, the boats approach the ice with 
their sterns, and are each of them fastened to it by 
means of a boat-hook, or an iron spike with a cord at- 
tached, either of which is held b}^ theboat-steerer, and 
is slipped or withdra\Mi the moment a whale appears. 
There are several rules observed in approaching a 
whale, as precautions, to prevent, as far as possible, 
tlie animal from taking the alarm. As the whale 
is dull of hearing, but quick of sight, the boat- 
steerer always endeavours to get behind it ; and, in 
accomplishing this, he is sometimes justified in 
taking a circuitous route. In calm weather, where 
guns are not used, the greatest caution is necessary 
before a whale can be reached ; smooth careful row- 
ing is always requisite, and sometimes sculling is 


When it is knovni tliat a ^vhale seldom abides 
longer on the surface of the water than two mi- 
nutes, — that it generally remains from five to ten 
or iiftecn minutes under water*, — that in this in- 
terval it sometimes moves through the space of half 
a mile, or more, — and that the fisher has very rare- 
ly any certain intimation of the place in which it 
will re-appear ; — the difficulty and address requisite 
to approach sufficiently near during its short stay 
on the surface, to harpoon it, Vv^ll he readily appre- 
ciated. It is therefore a primary consideration with 
the hai-pooner, always to place his boat as near as 
possible to the spot in which he expects the fish to 
rise, and he conceives himself successful in the at- 
tempt when the fish " comes up within a start ;" 
that is, within the distance of about 200 yards. In 
all cases where a whale that is pursued has but 
once been seen, the fisher is considerably indebted to 
what is called chance for a favourable position. But 
when the whale has been twice seen, and its 
change of place, if any, noticed, the harpooner makes 
the best use of the intimation derived from his ob- 
servations on its apparent motion, and places his 
boat accordingly ; thus, he anticipates the fish in its 
progress, so that wlien it rises to the surface, there 

* Before I had particularly minuted the time that a wliale stays 
on the surface^ and remains below, I believed eacli intervalj 
and especially the former^ was mucli greater than it really is. 


is a probability of its being within the favourable ^ 
precincts of a start. 

A whale moving forward at a small distance be- 
neath the surface of the sea, leaves a sure indication 
of its situation, in what is called an " eddy," ha- 
ving somewhat the resemblance of the " wake" or 
track of a ship ; and in fine calm weather, its 
change of position is sometimes pointed out by the 
birds, many of which closely follow it when at 
the surface, and hover over it when below, whose 
keener vision can discover it, when it is totally con- 
cealed from human eyes. By these indications, 
many whales have been taken. 


Proceedings in capturing the Whale, 

The Providence of God is manifested in the 
tameness and timidity of many of the largest in- 
habitants of the earth and sea, whereby they fall 
victims to the prowess of man, and are rendered 
subservient to his convenience in life. And this 
was the design of the lower animals in their crea- 
tion. God, when he made man, having given him 
" dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the 
fowl of the air, and over every living thing that 


tnovetli upon the earth*." Tlie holy Pstalmist, 
when considering the power and goodness of GoD 
in the Creation, exchvims, " Wliat is man that thou 
art mindful of him ? and the son of man thou 
visitest him ?" And, in contemplation of the " glo* 
ry and honour" put upon man by the Almighty, in 
the power given him over created nature, he adds, 
*' Thou madest him to have dominion over the 
works of thy hands : thou hast put all things under 
his feet." — " The fowl of the air, and the fish of 
the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths 
of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is 
thy name in all the earth f ?" 

Hence, while w^e admire the cool and determin- 
ed intrepidity of those who successfully encounter 
the huge mysticetus, if we are led to reflect on 
the source of the power by which the strength of 
men is rendered effectual for the mighty under- 
taking ; our reflections must lead us to the " Great 
first Cause," as the only source from whence such 
power could be derived. 

AVlienever a whale lies on the surface of the 
water, unconscious of the approach of its enemies, 
the hardy fisher rows directly upon it ; and an in- 
stant before the boat touches it, buries his harpoon 


* Holy Bible, book of Gen. chap. i. ver. 26. & 2b'. 
f Idem, 8th Psalvu 


in its back. But if, wliilc tlie boat is yet at a little 
distance, the whale should indicate his intention of 
diving, by lifting his head above its common level and 
then plunging it under water, and raising his body, 
until it appear like the large segment of a sphere, — 
the hai*poon is thrown from the hand, or fired from a 
gun, the former of which, when skilfully practised, 
is efficient at the distance of eight or ten yards, 
and the latter at the distance of thirty yards, or up- 
ward. The wounded whale, in the surprise and 
agony of the moment, makes a convulsive effort to 
escape. Then is the moment of danger. The boat 
is subjected to tlie most violent blows from its 
head, or its fins, but particularly from its pon- 
derous tail, which sometimes sweeps the air with 
such tremendous fury, that both boat and men are 
exposed to one common destruction. 

The head of the whale is avoided, because it can- 
not be penetrated with the harpoon ; but any part 
of the body, between the head and the tail, will ad- 
mit of the full length of the instrument, without 
danger of obstruction. The harpoon, therefore, is 
always struck into the back, and generally well 
forward towards the fins, thus affording the chance, 
when it happens to drag and plough along the 
back, of retaining its hold during a longer time 
than when struck in closer to the tail. 


The moment that the wounded whale disappears, 
or leaves the boat, a jack or flag, elevated on a staff, 
is displayed ; on sight of which, those on watch in 
the ship, give the alarm, hy stamping on the deck, 
accompanied by a simultaneous and continued shout 
of " a fall *." At the sound of this, the sleeping 
crew are roused, jump from their t^ds, rush up- 
on deck, with their clothes tied by a string in their 
hands, and crowd into the boats. With a temperature 
of Zero, should Si fall occur, the crew would appear 
upon deck, shielded only by their drawers, stockings, 
and shirts, or other habiliments in which they sleep. 
They generally contrive to dress themselves, in 
part at least, as the boats are loxvei'cd down ; but 
sometimes they push off in the state in which they 
rise fi'om tlicir beds, row away towards the " fast 
boat," and have no opportunity of clothing them- 
selves for a length of time afterwards. The alarum 
of " a fall," has a singular effect on the feelings of 
a sleeping person, unaccustomed to the whale-fish- 
ing business. It has often been mistaken as a cry 
of distress. A landsman, in a Hull ship, seeing 
the crew, on an occasion of a fall, rush upon deck. 

* The wovd fall, as well as many others used in the fishery, 
is derived from the Dutch language. In the original it is 
written val, implying jump, drop, fall, and is considered as 
expressive of the conduct of the sailors, when munidng the 
l»oats on au occasion requiring extreme dispatch. 



with their clothes in their hands, and leap Into the 
boats, when there was no aj^pearance of danger, 
thought the men were all mad ; hut, with another 
individual, the effect was totally different. Alarm- 
ed with the extraordinary noise ; and still more so, 
when he reached the deck, with the appearance of 
all the crew seated in the boats in their shirts, he 
imagined the ship was sinking. He therefore en- 
deavoured to get into a boat himself, but every one 
of them being fully manned, he was always repulsed. 
After several fruitless endeavours to gain a place 
among his comrades, he cried out, with feelings of 
evident distress, " What shall I do ? — Will none 
of you take me in ?" 

The first effort of a *' fast-fish," or whale that has 
been struck, is to escape from the boat, by sinking 
inider water. After this, it pursues its course di- 
rectly downward, or re-appears at a little distance, 
and swims with great celerity, near the surface of 
the water, towards any neighbouring ice, among 
which it may obtain an imaginary shelter ; or it re- 
turns instantly to the surface, and gives evidence 
of its agony, by the most convulsive throes, in 
which its fins and tail are alternately displayed in 
the air, and dashed into the water with tremendous 
violence. The former behaviour, however, that is, 
to dive towards the bottom of the sea, is so frequent, 
in comparison of any other, that it may be consi- 
dered as the general conduct of a fast-fish> 


A whale, struck near the edge of any large sheet 
of ice, and passing underneath it, will sometimes 
run the whole of the lines out of one boat, in the 
space of eight or ten minutes of time. This being 
the case, when the " fast-boat" is at a distance, 
both from the ship and from any other boat, it fre- 
quently happens that the lines are all withdra\vii 
before assistance arrives, and, with the fish, entire- 
ly lost. In some cases, however, they are recover- 
ed. To retard, therefore, as much as possible, the 
flight of the whale, it is usual for the harpooner, 
who strikes it, to cast one, two, or more turns of 
the line round a kind of post called a hollai^d ; 
which is fixed within ten or twelve inches of the 
stem of the boat, for the pm-pose. Such is the 
friction of the line, when running round the bol- 
lard, that it frequently envelopes the harpooner in 
smoke ; and if the wood were not repeatedly wetted, 
would probably set to the boat. During tlie 
capture of one whale, a groove is sometimes cut in 
the bollard near an inch in depth ; and, were it not 
for a plate of brass, iron, or a block of lignum- vitae, 
which covers the top of the stem where the line 
passes over, it is apprehended that the action of the 
line on the material of the boat, would cut it down 
to the water's-edge, in the course of one season of 
successful fishing. The approaching distress of a 
boat, for want of line, is indicated by the elevation 
of an oar, in the way of a mast, to \vhich is added a 


second, a tliird, or even a fourtli, in proportion to 
tlic nature of the exigence. The utmost care and 
attention are requisite, on the part of every person 
in the boat, when the lines are running out ; fatal 
consequences having been sometimes produced by 
the most trifling neglect. When the line happens 
" to run foul," and cannot be cleared on the instant, 
it sometimes draws the boat under water ; on which, 
if no auxiliary boat, or convenient piece of ice, be at 
hand, the crew are plunged into the sea, and are 
obliged to trust to the buoyancy of their oars or to 
their skill in swimming, for supporting themselves 
on the surface. To provide against such an acci- 
dent, as well as to be ready to furnish an additional 
supply of lines, it is usual, when boats are sent in 
pursuit, for two to go out in company ; and when a 
whale has been struck, for the first assisting boat 
which approaches, to join the fast-boat, and to stay 
by it, until the fish reappears. The other boats 
likewise make towards the one carrying a flag, and 
surround it at various distances, awaiting the ap- 
pearance of the v/ounded whale. 

On my first voyage to the whale-fishery, such an 
accident as above alluded to, occurred. A thousand 
fathoms of line were already out, and the fast-boat 
was forcibly pressed against the side of a piece of 
ice. The harpooner, in his anxiety to retard 
the flight of the whale, applied too many turns 
of the line round the bollard, which, getting en- 


tangled, drew the boat beneath the ice. Another 
boat, providentially was at hand, into which the 
crew, including myself, who happened to be present, 
had just time to escape. The whale, with near two 
miles' length of line, was, in consequence of the ac- 
cident, lost, but the boat was recovered. On a sub- 
sequent occasion, I underwent a similar misadven- 
ture, but with a happier result ; we escaped with a 
little wetting into an accompanying boat, and the 
whale was afterwards captiu*ed, and the boat with 
its lines recovered. 

When fish have been struck by myself, I have on 
different occasions estimated their rate of descent. 
For the first 300 fathoms, the average velocity was 
usually after the rate of eight to ten miles pei^ 
hour. In one instance, the third line of 120 fa- 
thoms was run out in 61 seconds ; that is, at the 
rate of 8^ English miles^ or 7^ nautical mAes per 

By the motions of the fast-boat, the simul- 
taneous movements of the whale are estimated. 
The auxiliary boats, accordingly, take their stations, 
about the situation where the whale, from these 
motions, may reasonably be expected to appear. 

The average stay under water, of a wounded whale, 
which steadily descends after being struck, accord- 
ing to the most usual conduct of the animal, is about 
30 minutes. The longest stay I ever observed was 
56 minutes ; but in shallow water, I liave been in- 


formed, it lias sometimes been known to remain 
an hour and a half at the bottom after being struck, 
and yet has returned to the surface alive. The 
greater the velocity, the more considerable the 
distance to which it descends, and the longer the 
time it rem.ains under water, so much greater in 
proportion is the extent of its exhaustion, and the 
consequent facility of accomplishing its capture. Im- 
mediately that it re-appears, the assisting boats make 
for the place with their utmost speed, and as they 
reach it, each^ harpooner plunges his liarpoon into 
its back, to the amount of three, four, or more, ac- 
cording to the size of the vv'hale, and the nature of 
the situation. Idlest frequently, however, it de- 
scends for a few minutes after receiving the second 
liarpoon, and obliges the other boats to await its re- 
turn to the surface, before any further attack can be 
made. It is afterwards actively plied with lances, 
which are thrust into its body, aiming at its vitals. 
At length, when exhausted by numerous wounds 
and the loss of blood, which flows from the huge ani. 
mal in copious streams, it indicates the approach of 
its dissolution, by discharging from its " blow-holes," 
a mixture of blood along with the air and mucus 
which it usually expires, and finally jets of blood 
alone. The sea, to a great extent around, is 
dyed with its blood, and the ice, boats, and men, 
are sometimes drenched with the same. Its track 
is likewise marked by a broad pellicle of oi^ 


which exudes from its wounds, and ca^^pcars on the 
surface of the sea. Its final capture is sometimes 
preceded by a convulsive and energetic struggle, in 
which its tail, reared, whirled, and violently jerked 
in the air, resounds to the distance of miles. Iii 
dying, it turns on its back or on its side ; which 
joyful circumstance is announced by the capturers 
with the striking of their flags, accompanied with 
three lively huzzas ! 

The remarkable exhaustion observed on the first 
appearance of a wounded whale at the surface, after 
a descent of 700 or 800 fathoms perpendicular, does 
not depend on the nature of the wound it has re- 
ceived ; for a hundred superficial wounds received 
from harpoons, could not have the effect of a single 
lance penetrating the vitals, but is the effect of the 
almost incredible pressure to which the animal 
must have been exposed. The surface of the body 
of a large whale, may be considered as comprising 
an area of 1540 square feet. This, under the com- 
mon weight of the atmosphere only, must sustain a 
pressure of 3,104,640 lb., or 1386 tons. But at the 
depth of 800 fathoms, where there is a column of v.a- 
ter equal in weight to about 154 atmosplicres, the pres- 
sure on the animal must be equal to 211,200 tons*. 

* From experiments made witla sea water taken up near Spitz- 
bergen^ I find that 35 cubical feet weigli a ton. Now, supposing 
a whale to descend to the depth of 800 fathoms, or 1800 feeV, 


This is a degree of pressure of ^vliicli we can have but 
an imperfect conception. It may assist our compre- 
hension, however, to be informed, that it exceeds in 
weight sixty of the largest ships of the British navy, 
when manned, provisioned, and fitted for a six 
months cruise. 

Every hosit fast to a living whale carries a flag, and 
the ship to which such boats belong, also wears 
a flag, until the whale is either killed or makes its 
escape. These signals serve to indicate to surround- 
ing ships, the exclusive title of the " fast-ship" to the 
entangled whale, and to prevent their interference, 
excepting in the way of assistance, in the capture.' 

A very natural inquiry connected with this sub- 
ject, is. What is the length of time requisite for 
capturing a whale ? This is a question which can 
only be answered indirectly ; for I have myself wit- 
nessed the capture of a large whale, which has been 
effected in twenty-eight minutes ; and have also 
been engaged with another fish which was lost, af- 
ter it had been entangled about sixteen hours. In- 
stances are well authenticated, in which whales have 

which, I believe, is not uncommon, we have only to divide 
4800 feet, the length of the column of water pressing upon the 
whale, by 35 feet, the length of a column of sea- water, a foot 
square, weighing a ton, the quotient 1371, shows the pressure 
per square foot upon the whale, in tons ; which, multiplied by 
1540, the number of square feet of surface exposed by the ani- 
mal, affords a product of 21 1,200 tons, besides the usual pres- 
sure of the atmosphere. 


yielded tlieir lives to the lances of active fishers, 
within the space of fifteen minutes from the time 
of being struck ; and in cases where fisli have been 
shot with a harpoon-gun, in a still shorter period ; 
while other instances are equally familiar and cer- , 
tain, wherein a whale having gained the shelter of a 
pack or compact patch of ice, has sustained or 
avoided every attack upon it, during the space of 
forty or fifty hours. Some whales have been cap- 
tured when very slightly entangled with a single har- 
poon, while others have disengaged themselves, though 
severely wounded witli lances, by a single act of vio- 
lent and convidsive distortion of the body, or tre- 
mendous shake of the tail, from four or more har- 
poons ; in which act, some of the lines have been 
broken with apparent ease, and the harpoons to 
which other lines Avere attached, either broken or 
torn out of the body of the vigorous animal. Ge- 
nerally, the speedy capture of a whale depends on 
the activity of the harpooners, the favourableness of 
situation and weather, and, in no inconsiderable de- 
gree, on the peculiar conduct of the whale attacked. 
Under the most favourable circumstances ; namely, 
when the fishemien are very active, the ice very open, 
or the sea free from ice, and the weather fine, — the 
average length of time occupied in the capture of a 
whale, may be stated as not exceeding an hour*. The 

* Twelve large whales taken in different voyages, memo- 
randa of whose capture I have preserved, were killed, on an 


general average, including all sizes of iisli and all 
circumstances of capture, may probably be two or 
three hours. 

The method practised in the capture of whales 
under favourable circumstances, is very uniform 
with all the fishers, both Eritains and foreigners. 
The only variation observable in the proceedings 
of the different fishers, consisting in the degree 
of activity and resolution displayed, in pursuance 
of the operations of harpooning and lancing the 
v.lialc, and in the address manifested in improv- 
ing by any accidental movement of the fish, which 
may lay it open to an effectual attack, — rather than 
in any thing different or superior in the general me- 
thoCi of conducting the fishery. It is true, that with 
some the harpoon-gun is much valued, and used with 
advantage, while with others, it is held in prejudi- 
ced aversion; yet, as this difference of opinion affects 
only the first attack and entanglement of the whale, 
the subsequent proceedings with all the fishers, may 
still be said to be founded on equal and unanimous 
principles. Hence, the mode described in the pre- 
ceding pages, of conducting the fishery for whales 
under favourable circumstances, may be considered 

average, in 67 minutes. Tlae shortest time expended in the 
taking of one of tlie 12 Avhules, was 28 minutes ; the longest 
time 2 hours. One of these whales, we believed, descended 
670 fathoms perpendicular; another 720; and a third 750. 
One descended 1400 f.ithoms obliquely, and another 16OO fa- 


as the general plan pursued by the fishers of all the 
ports of Britain, as Vvell as those of other nations ^vho 
resort to Spitzhergcn. Neither is there any diiFerencc 
in the plan of attack, or mode of capture between 
fish of large size, and those of lesser growth : the pro- 
ceedings are the same, but, of course, with the smal- 
ler whales less force is requisite ; tliough it some- 
times happens, that the trouble attached to the 
killing of a very small whale, exceeds that con- 
nected vfith the capture of one of the largest in- 
dividuals. The progress or flight of a large whalo 
cannot be restrained ; but that of an under-sizc 
fish may generally be confined within the limits of 
400 to 600 fathoms of line. A full grown fisli 
generally occupies the whole, or nearly the vvhoie, 
of the boats belonging to one ship in its capture ; 
but three, four, and sometimes more small fisli, 
have been killed at the same time, by six or seven 
boats. It is not unusual for small whales to run 
downward, until they exhaust themselves so com- 
pletely, that they are not able to return to the sur- 
face, but are suffocated in the water. As it is re- 
quisite that a whale that has been drowned should 
be drawn up by the line, which is a tedious and 
troublesome operation, it is usual to guard against 
such an event, by resisting its descent with a tight 
strain on the line, and also by hauling upon the 
line the moment its descent is stopped, with a view 
of instating the wound, and occasioning such a 
degree of pain, as may induce it to return to the 

254 WlIALE-FISHEll^. 

surface, where it can be killed and secured without 
farther trouble. Seldom more than two harpoons 
are struck into an under-size whale. 

The ease with which some \vliales are subdued, 
and the slightness of the entanglement fey which they 
are taken, is truly surprising ; but with others it is 
equally astonishing, that neither line nor harpoon, 
nor any number of each, is sufficiently strong to 
effect their capture. IMany instances have occurred 
where whales have escaped from four, five, or even 
more harpoons, while fish equally large have been 
killed through the medium of a single harpoon. 
Indeed, whales have been taken in consequence of the 
entanglement of a line, without any harpoon at all ; 
though, when such a case has occurred, it has evi- 
dently been the result of accident. The following 
instances are in point. 

A whale was struck from one of the boats of the 
ship Nautilis, in Davis' Straits. It was killed, 
and, as is usual after the capture, it was disentan- 
gled of the line connected with the " first fast- 
boat," by dividing it at the splice of the foreganger, 
within 8 or 9 yards of the harpoon. The crew of 
the boat from which the fish was first struck, in the 
mean time were employed in heaving in the lines, 
by means of a winch, fixed in the boat for the pur- 
pose, which th»y progressively effected for some 
time. On a sudden, however, to their great asto- 
nishment, the lines were pidled away from them. 


with the same force and violence as by a whale 
when first struck. They repeated their signal, in- 
dicative of a whale being struck, their shipmates 
flocked towards them, and while every one expressed 
a sim.ilar deo;ree of astonishment with themselves, 
they all agTeed that a fish was fast to the line. In a 
few minutes, they were agreeably confirmed in their 
opinion, and relieved from suspense, by the rising of 
a large whale close by them, exhausted with fa- 
tigue, and having every appearance of a fast-fish. 
It permitted itself to be struck by several harpoons 
at once, and was speedily killed. On examining it 
after death, for discovering the cause of such an 
interesting accident, they found the line belonging 
to the above ihelitioned boat in its mouth, where it 
was still finnly fixed by the compression of its lips. 
The occasion of this happy and puzzling accident, 
was therefore solved ; — the end of the line, after be- 
ing cut from the whale first killed, was in the act 
of sinking in the water, — the fish in question, en- 
gaged in feeding, was advancing with its mouth 
wide open, and accidentally caught the line between 
its extended jaws, — a sensation so utterly unusual 
as that produced by the line, had induced it to shut 
its mouth and grasp the line which was the cause 
of its alarm, so firmly between its lips, as to produce 
the effect just stated. This circumstance took 
place many years ago, but a similar one occurred iu 
the year 1814. 


A liavpooncr belonging to the Prince of Brazils^ 
of Hull, had struck a small fish. It descended, 
and remained for some time quiet, and at length 
appeared to be drowned. The strain on the line 
being then considerable, it was taken to the ship's 
capstern, with a view of heaving the fish up. The 
force requisite for performing this operation, was ex- 
tremely various ; sometimes the line came in with 
case, at others a quantity was withdrawn with great 
force and rapidity. As such, it appeared e\'ident, 
that the fish was yet alive. The heaving, how- 
ever, was persisted in, and after the greater part of 
the lines had been drawn on board, a dead fisli ap- 
peared at the surface, secured by several turns of 
the line round its body. It was disentangled with 
difficulty, and confidently believed to be the 
whale that had been struck. But when the line 
was cleared from the fish, it proved to be merely 
the " bight," for the end still hung perpendicular- 
ly downward. What was then their surprise to 
find, that it was still pulled away with consider- 
able force ? The capstern was again resorted to, 
and shortly afterwards they hove up, also dead, the 
flsli originally struck, with the liarpoon still fast ! 
Hence it appeared, that the fish first drav.ii up had 
got accidentally entangled with the line, and in its 
struggles to escape, had still further involved itself, 
by winding the line repeatedly round its body. The 
first fish entangled, as w^as suspected, had long been 


dead ; and it was tliis lucky interloper that occa- 
sioned the jerks and other singular effects obser- 
ved on the line. 


Alterations produced in the Manner of conduct^ 
ing the Fishery^ by pecidiar Circumstances of 
Situation and JVeather. 

Hitherto I have only attempted to describe 
the method adopted for the capture of whales, under 
favourable circumstances, — such as occur in open 
water or amongst open ice in fine weather ; as, 
however, this method is subject to various altera- 
tions, when the situation or circumstances are pe- 
culiar, I shall venture a few remarks on the subject. 

1. Pack fishing. — The borders of close packs of 
drift ice are frequently a favourite resort of large 
whales. To attack them in such a situation, sub- 
jects the fisher to great risk in his lines and boats, 
as well as uncertainty in effecting their capture. 
When a considerable swell prevails on the borders 
of the ice, the whales, on being struck, will some- 
times recede from the pack, and become the prize 
of their assailcrs ; but most generally they flee to it 
for shelter, and frequently make their escape. To 
guard against the loss of lines as much as possible, 

vol.. IT. R 


it is pretty usual either to strike two harpoons from 
different boats at the same inomcut, or to bridle 
the Hues of a second boat upon those of tlie boat 
from wliicli the fisli is struck. This operation con- 
sists in fixing other lines to those of the fast-boat, 
at some distance fi-om the harpoon, so that there is 
only one harpoon and one line immediately attach- 
ed to the fish, but the double strength of a line 
from the place of their junction to the boats. Hence, 
should the fish flee directly into the ice, and proceed 
to an inaccessible distance, the two boats bearing an 
equal strain on each of their lines, can at pleasure 
draw the harpoon, or break the single part of the 
line immediately connected witli it, and in ei- 
tlier case, secure themselves against any consider- 
able loss. 

When a pack, from its compactness, prevents 
boats from penetrating, the men travel over the ice, 
leaping from piece to piece, in pursuit of the en- 
tangled whale. In this pursuit, they carry lan- 
ces with them, and sometimes harpoons, with 
which, whenever they can approacli the lisli, they 
attack it, — and if they succeed in killing it, they 
drag it tow^ards the exterior margin of the ice, 
by means of the line fastened to the hai-poon 
with which it was originally struck. In such cases, 
it is generally an object of importance to sink it 
beneath tlie ice ; for effecting which purpose, each 
lobe of the tail is divided from the body, excepting 
a small portion of tlu^ edge, from wliich it hangs 


pendulous in the water. If it still floats, bags of 
sand, kedges, or small cannon, are suspended by a 
block on the bight of the line, wherewith the 
buoyancy of the dead whale is usually overcome. 
It then sinks, and is easily hauled out by the line 
into the open sea. 

To particularise all the variety in pack-fishing, 
arising from winds and weather, size of the fish, 
state and peculiarities of the ice, &c. would require 
more space than the interest of the subject, to ge- 
neral readers, would justify. I shall, therefore, 
only remark, that pack-fishing is, on the whole, the 
most troublesome and dangerous of all others ; — 
that instances have occurred of fish having been en- 
tangled during 40 or 50 hours, and have escaped af- 
ter all ; — and that other instances are remembered, 
of ships having lost the greater part of their stock 
of lines, several of their boats, and sometimes, 
though happily less commonly, some individuals of 
their crews. 

2. Fleld-fishhig. — The fishery for whales, when 
conducted at the margin of these wonderful sheets 
of solid ice, called fields, is, when the weather is fine, 
and the refiige for ships secure, of all other situations 
which the fishery of Greenland presents, the most 
agreeable, and sometimes the most productive. A 
fish struck at the margin of a large field of ice, 
generally descends obliquely beneath it, takes four 
to ciijht lines from the fast-boat, and then returns 


cxliaustctl to the edge. It is then attacked in the 
usual way with liarpoons and lances, and is easily 
killed. There is one evident advantage in field- 
iishing, which is this : When the fast-boat lies at 
the edge of a firm unbroken field, and the line pro- 
ceeds in an angle beneath the ice, the fish must ne- 
cessarily arise somewhere in a semicircle described 
from tlie fast-boat as a centre, with a sweep not ex- 
ceeding the length of the lines out ; but most ge- 
nerally it appears in a line extending along the mar- 
gin of the ice, so that the boats, when dispersed 
along the edge of the field, are as effectual and as 
ready for promoting the capture as twice the num- 
ber of boats or more, when fishing in open situa- 
tions ; because, in open situations, the whale may 
arise any where within a circle, instead of a semi- 
circle, described by the length of the lines with- 
drawn from the fast-boat, — whence it frequently 
happens, that all the attendant boats are disposed 
in a wrong direction, and the fish recovers its breath, 
breaks loose, and escapes before any of them can 
secure it with a second harpoon. Hence when a 
ship fishes at a field with an ordinary crew and six 
or seven boats, two of the largest fish may be 
struck at the same time with every prospect of suc- 
cess ; while the same force attempting the capture 
of two at once in an open situation, will not unfre- 
quently occasion the loss of both. There have indeed 
been instances of a ship's crew, with seven boats. 


strik^ne", at a field, six fish at the same time, and 
of succeeding in killing the whole. Generally 
speaking, six boats at a field are capable of perform- 
ing the same execution as near twice that number 
in open situations. Besides, fields sometimes af- 
ford an opportunity of fishing, when in any other 
situation there can be little or no chance of success, 
or, indeed, when to fish elsewhere is utterly im- 
practicable. Thus calms, storms and fogs, are 
great annoyances in the fishery in general, and fre- 
quently prevent it altogether ; but at fields the 
fishery goes on under any of these disadvantages. 
As there are several important advantages attend- 
ing the fishery at fields, so likewise there are some 
serious disadvantages, — chiefly relating to the safety 
of the ships engrged in the occupation. The motions 
of fields are rapid, various, and unaccountable, and 
the power with which they approach each other, 
and squeeze every resisting object, immense, — hence 
occasionally vast mischief is produced, which it is 
not always in the power of the most skilful and at- 
tentive master, to foresee or prevent. 

Such are the principal advantages and disadvan- 
tages of fields of ice to the whale-fishers. The ad- 
vantages, however, as above enumerated, though they 
extend to large floes, do not extend to small floes, 
or to such fields, how large soever they may be, as 
contain cracks or holes, or are filled up with thin ice 
in the interior. Large and firm fields are the most 


convenient, and likewise the most advantageous for 
the fishery; the most convenient, because the whales, 
unable to breathe beneath a close extensive field of ice, 
arc obliged to make their appearance again above 
water among the boats on the look-out ; and they 
are the most advantageous, because, not only the most 
fish commonly resort to them, but a greater number 
can be killed with less force, and in a shorter space 
of time, than in any other situation. Thin fields, or 
fields full of holes, being by no means advantageoug 
to fish by, are usually avoided, because a " fast-fish" 
retreating under such a field, can respire through the 
holes in the centre as conveniently as on the exte- 
rior ; and a large fish usually proceeds from one 
hole to another, and, if determined to advance, can- 
not possibly be stopped. In this case, all that can 
be done is, to break the line or draw the harjioon 
out. But when the fish can be observed " blowing'' 
in any of the holes in a field, the men travel over 
the ice and attack it with lances, pricking it o\er 
the nose, to endeavour to turn it back. This 
scheme, however, does not always answer the expec- 
tations of the fishers, as frequently the fear of his 
enemies acts so powerfully on tlie whale, that he 
pushes forvv^ard towards the interior to his dying- 
moment. When killed, the same means are used 
as in pack-fishing, to sink it, but they do not always 
succeed ; for the harpoon is frequently drawn out^ 
or the line broken in the attempt. If, therefore, no 


attempt to sink the fish avails, there is scarcely any 
other practicable method of making prize of it, (un- 
less when the ice happens to be so thin that it can 
be broken with a boat, or a channel readily cut in it 
with an ice-saw), than cutting the blubber away, and 
dragging it piece by piece across the ice to the ves- 
sel, which requires immense labour, and is attended 
with vast loss of time. Hence we have a sufficient 
reason for avoiding such situations, whenever fish 
can be found elsewliere. As connected with this 
subject, I cannot pass over a circumstance which oc- 
curred within my own observation, and which ex- 
cited my highest admiration. 

On the 8th of July 1813, the ship Esk lay by 
the edge of a large sheet of ice, in which were se- 
veral thin parts and some holes. Here a fish being 
heard hloiving, a harpoon, with a line connected 
to it, was conveyed across the ice, from a boat on 
guard, and the harpooner succeeded in striking the 
whale, at the distance of 350 yards from the verge. 
It dragged out ten lines, (2400 yards) and was sup- 
posed to be seen blowing in diftcrent holes in the 
ice. After some time, it happened to make its ap- 
pearance on the exterior, when a harpoon was struck 
at the moment it was on the point of proceeding 
again beneath. About a hundred yards from the 
edge, it broke the ice where it was a foot in thick- 
ness, with its C7'0ivn, and respiiied through the 
opening. It then determinately pushed forward. 



breaking the ice as it advanced, in spite of the lan- 
ces constantly directed against it. It reached at 
length a kind of bason in the field, where it floated 
on the surface of the water, without any encumbrance 
from ice. Its back being fairly exposed, the har- 
poon struck from the boat on the outside, was ob- 
served to be so slightly entangled, that it was ready 
to drop out. Some of the officers lamented this 
circumstance, and expressed a wish that the har- 
poon were better fast, — observing, at the same 
time, that if it should slip out, the fish w^ould either 
be lost, or they would be under the necessity of 
flensing it where it lay, and of dragging the pieces of 
blubber over the ice to the sliip ; a kind and degree 
of labour every one was anxious to avoid. No 
sooner was the wish expressed, and its importance 
made known, than one of the sailors, a smart and 
enterprising fellow% stept forward and volunteered 
his services to strike it better in. Not at all inti- 
midated by the surprise which was manifested in 
every countenance, by such a bold proposal, — he pul- 
led out his pocket-knife, — leapt upon the back of the 
living whale, — and immediately cut the harpoon out. 
Stimulated by this courageous example, one of his 
companions jjroceeded to his assistance. While 
one of tliem hauled upon the line and held it in his 
hands, the other set his shoulder against the extre- 
mity of the harpoon, and though it was without a 
stock, he contrived to strike it again into the fish 


more effectually than it was at first ! The fish was in 
motion before they finished. After they got off its 
back, it advanced a considerable distance, breaking 
the ice all the way, and survived this uncommon 
treatment, ten or fifteen minutes. This admirable 
act was an essential benefit. The fish fortunately 
sunk spontaneously, after being killed ; on which 
it was hauled out to the edge of the ice by the line, 
and secured without liirther trouble. It proved a 
stout whale, and a very acceptable prize. 

A^'hen a ship approaches a considerable field of 
ice and finds whales, it is usual to moor to the lee- 
ward side of it, li'om which the adjoining ice usually 
first separates. Boats are then placed on watch, on 
each side of the ship, and stationed at intervals of 
100 or 150 yards from one another, along the edge 
of the ice. Hence, if a fish arises any where be- 
tween the extreme boats, it seldom escapes unhurt. 
It is not uncommon for a great number of ships to 
moor to the same sheet of ice. When the whale- 
fishery of the Hollanders was in a flourishing state, 
above 100 sail of ships might sometimes be seen 
moored to the same field of ice, each having two or 
more boats on watch. The field wovdd, in conse- 
quence, be so nearly surrounded wdth boats, that it 
was almost impossible for a fish to rise near the verge 
of the ice, without being witliiu the limits of a start 
of some of them. 


3. Fislmig in Crowded Ice^ or in Open Packs. — 
In navigably open drift ice, or among small detach- 
ed streams and patches, either of which serve in a 
degree to break the force of the sea, and to prevent 
any considerable swell from arising, we have a situa- 
tion which is considered as one of the best possible 
for conducting the fishery in ; consequently, it 
comes under the same denomination as those favour- 
able situations, in which I have first attempted to 
describe the proceedings of the fishers in killing the 
whale. But the situation I now mean to refer to is, 
when the ice is crowded and nearly close ; so close, 
indeed, that it scarcely affords room for boats to 
pass through it, and by no means sufficient space 
for a ship to be navigated among it. This kind of 
situation occurs in somewhat open packs, or in large 
patches of crowded ice, and affords a fair probabili- 
ty of capturing a whale, though it is seldom accom- 
plished without a considerable deal of trouble. 
When the ice is very crowded, and the ship cannot 
sail into it with propriety, it is usual, especially with 
foreigners, to seek out for a mooring to some large 
mass of ice, if such can be found, extending two or 
three fathoms, or more, under water. A piece of ice 
of this kind, is capable not only of holding the ship 
"' head-to-wind," but also to windward of the smaller 
ice. The boats then set out in chase of any fish 
which may be seen ; and when one happens to be 
struck, they proceed in the capture in a similar man- 


ncr as when under more favourable circumstances ; 
excepting so far as the obstruction which the quah- 
ty and arrangement of the ice may offer, to the re- 
gular system of proceeding. Among crowded ice, 
for instance, the precise direction pursued by the 
fish is not easily ascertained, nor can the fish itself 
be readily discovered on its first arrival at the sur- 
face, after being struck, on account of the elevation 
of the intervening masses of ice, and the great quan- 
tity of line it frequently takes from the ftist-boat. 
Success in such a situation, depends on the boats 
being spread widely abroad, and on a judicious ar- 
rangement of each boat ; on a keen look-out on 
the part of the harpooners in the boats, and on their 
occasionally taking the benefit of a hummock of 
ice, from the elevation of which the fish may some- 
times be seen *' blowing" in the interstices of the 
ice ; on pushing or rowing the boats with the great- 
est imaginable celerity, towards the place where the 
fish may have been seen ; and, lastly, on the exer- 
cise of the highest degree of activity and disj)atch, 
in every proceeding. 

If these means be neglected, the fish will gener- 
ally have taken its breath, recovered its strength, 
and removed to some other quarter, before the ar- 
rival of the boats ; and it is often remarked, that if 
there be one part of the ice more crowded or more 
difficult of access than another, it commonly retreats 
thither for refuge. In such cases, the sailors find much 
difficulty in getting to it with their boats, having; 


to separate many pieces of ice before they can pass 
through between them. But when it is not prac- 
ticable to move the pieces, and when they cannot- 
travel over them, they must either drag the boats 
across the intermediate ice, or perform an extensive 
circuit, before they can reach the opposite side of the 
close ice, into which the whale has retreated. 

A second harpoon in this case, as indeed in all 
others, is a material point. They proceed to lance 
whenever the second harpoon is struck, and strike 
more harpoons as the auxiliary boats progressively 
arrive at the place. 

When the fish is killed, it is often at a distance 
from the ship, and so circumstanced, that the ship 
cannot get near it. In such cases, the fish must be 
totvcd by the boats to the ship ; an operation which, 
among crowded ice, is most troublesome and labo- 

4. l^ay Ice Fishing. — Bay ice constitutes a situa- 
tion which, though not particularly dangerous, is yet, 
on the whole, one of the most troublesome in which 
whales are killed. In sheets of bay ice, the whales 
find a very effectual shelter ; for so long as the ice will 
not " carry a man," they cannot be approached 
with a boat, without producing such a noise, as most 
certainly warns them of the intended assault. And 
if a V hale, by some favourable accident, were struck, 
the difficulties of completing the capture are ahvays 
numerous, and sometimes prove insurmountable. 
The whale having free loco-motion beneath the ice, 


the fisliers pursue it under great disadvantage. 
The fishers cannot push their boats towards it but 
with extreme difRculty; while the whale, invaria- 
bly warned by the noise of their approach, possesses 
every facility for avoiding its enemies. 

In the year 1813, I adopted a new plan of fishing 
in bay ice, which attended with the most for- 
tunate result. The ship under my command, (the 
Esk of Whitby,) was frozen into a sheet of bay ice, 
included in a triangular space, formed by several 
massive fields and floes. Here a number of small 
whales were seen sporting around us, in every little 
hole or space in the bay ice, and occasionally they 
were observed to break through it, for the purpose 
of breathing. In various little openings, free of ice, 
near the ship, few of which were twenty yards in 
diameter, we placed boats ; each equipped with a 
harpoon and lines, and directed by two or three 
men. They had orders to place themselves in such 
a situation, that if a fish appeared in the same 
opening, they could scarcely fail of striking it. 
Previous to this, I provided myself with a pair of 
icc-shocs, consisting of two pieces of thin deal, six 
feet in length, and seven inches in breadth. They 
were made very thin at both ends ; and, in the cen- 
tre of each, was a hollow place exactly adapted for 
the reception of the sole of my boot, with a loop of 
leather for confining tlie toes. I was thus enabled 
to retain the ice-shoes pretty firmly to my feet, 

1>T0 Whale-fishery. 

vv hen required, or, wlien I wished it, of disengaging' 
them in a moment. ^Vhcrc the ice was smooth, it 
was easy to move in a straiglit line ; but, in turning, 
I found a considerable difficulty, and required some 
practice before I could effect it, without falling- 
I advanced with tolerable speed, where the ice was 
level on the surface, by sliding the shoes alternate- 
ly forward ; but when I met with rough hilly 
places, I experienced great inconvenience. When, 
however, the rough places happened to consist of 
strong ice, which generally was the case, I stepped 
out of my ice-shoes, until I reached a weaker part. 
Equipped with this apparatus, I travelled safely 
over ice which had not been frozen above twenty-four 
hours, and which was incapable of supporting the 
weight of the smallest boy in the ship. 

Whenever a fish was struck, I gave orders to the 
harpooner, in running the lines, to use every means 
of drowning it ; the trouble of hauling it up, under 
the circumstances in which the ship was placed, be- 
ing a matter of no consideration. This was attempt- 
ed, by holding a steady tight strain on the line, 
witliout slacking it, or jerking it unnecessarily, and 
by forbearing to haul at the line when the fish 
stopped. By this measure, one fish, the stoutest 
of three which we got, was drowned. When others 
were struck, and the attempt to drown them failed, 
I provided myself with a harpoon ; and, observing 
tlie direction of the line, travelled towards the place 


■vvhcre T expected the fisli to rise. A small boat 
was laimclied, more leisurely, in the same direction, 
for my support ; aud wherever the ice, in my track, 
was capable of supporting a man, assistance was af- 
forded me in dra'j!:2:infy the line. When the wound- 
ed fish appeared, I struck my harpoon through the 
ice, and then, with some occasional assistance, pro- 
ceeded to lance it, until it was killed. At differ- 
ent times the fish rose beneath my feet, and broke 
the ice on which I stood : on one occasion, where 
the ice was fortunately more than usually strong, 
I was obliged to leave my ice-shoes and skip off. lu 
this way we captured three fish, and took their pro- 
duce on board, while several ships near us made not 
the least progress in the fishery. After they were kill- 
ed, we had much trouble in getting them to the ship, 
but as we could not employ ourselves to advan- 
tage in any other way, we were well satisfied with 
the issue. This part of the business, however, I 
could not effect alone, and all hands who were oc- 
casionally employed in it, broke through the ice. 
Some individuals broke in two or three times, but 
no serious accident ensued. As a precaution, we 
extended a rope from man to man, which was held 
in the hands of each in their progress across the ice, 
tind which served for drawing those out of the wa- 
ter who happened to break through. Sometimes ten 
or a dozen of them would break in at once ; but so 
far was such an occurrence from exciting distress. 


that Ciicli of tlicir companions indulged a laiiglt 
at their expence, notwithstanding they, probably, 
shared tiic same fate a minute or two afterwards. 
The shivering tars were, in general, amply repaid 
for the drenching they had suffered, by a dram of 
spirits, which they regularly received on such occa- 
sions. I have seen instances, indeed, of sailors ha- 
ving voluntarily broken through the ice, for the mere 
purpose of receiving the usual precious beverage. 

5. Fishing in Sto?'jns. — Excepting in situations 
sheltered from the sea by ice, it would ])e alike 
useless and presumptuous, to attempt to kill whales 
during a storm. Cases, however, occur, wherein fish 
that were struck during fine weather, or in winds 
which do not prevent the boats from plying about, 
remain entangled, but unsubdued, after the com- 
mencement of a storm. Sometimes the capture is 
completed, at others the fishers arc under the ne- 
cessity of cutting the lines, and allowing the whale 
to escape. Sometimes when they have succeeded 
in killino; it, and in securing; it during; the ffale with a 
hawser to the ship, they are enabled to make a prize 
of it on the return of moderate weather ; at others, 
after having it to appearance secured, by means 
of a sufficient rope, the dangerous proximity 
of a lee pack constrains them to cut it acbift and 
abandon it, for the preservation of their vessel. ^Vf- 
tcr thus being abandoned, it becomes the prize of 
the first who gets possession of it. though it be in 


in the face of the original capturers. A storm com- 
inencing v.hile the boats are engaged with an en- 
tangled fish, sometimes occasions serious disasters. 
Generally, however, though they suffer the loss of 
the fish, and perhaps some of their boats and mate- 
rials, yet the men escape with their lives. 

6. Fishing in Foggy )Veathc7\ — The fishery in 
storms, in exposed situations, can never be voluntary, 
as the case only happens when a storm arises, subse- 
quent to the time of a fish being struck ; but in foggy 
weather, though occasionally attended with hazard, 
the fishery is not altogether impracticable. The 
fogs which occur in the icy regions in June and 
July, are generally dense and lasting. They are so 
thick, that objects cannot be distinguished at tlie 
distance of 100 or 150 yards, and frequently con- 
tinue for several days without attenuation. To fish 
with safety and success, during a thick fog, is, there- 
fore, a matter of difficulty, and of still greater un- 
certainty. When it happens that a fish conducts 
itself favourably, that is, descends almost perpendi- 
cularly, and on its return to the surface remains 
nearly stationary, or moves round in a small circle, 
the capture is usually accomplished without hazard 
or particular difficulty : but when, on the con- 
trary, it proceeds with any considerable velocity 
in a horizontal direction, or obliquely dovv nwards, 
it soon drags the boats out of sight of the ship, 
and shortly so confounds the fisliers in the intensity 

VOL. II. s 


of the mist, that they lose all traces of the situation 
of their vessel. If the fish, in its flight, draws them 
beyond the reach of the sound of a bell, or a horn, 
their personal safety becomes endangered ; and if 
they are removed beyond the sound of a cannon, 
their situation becomes extremely hazardous ; espe- 
cially if no other ships happen to be in the immedi- 
ate vicinity. Meanwhile, whatever may be their 
imaginary or real danger, the mind of their com- 
mander must be kept in the most anxious suspense 
until they are found ; and whether they may be in 
safety, or near perishing wdth fatigue, hunger and 
cold, so long as he is uncertain of their fate, his 
anxiety must be the same. Hence it is, that feel- 
ings excited by uncertainty are frequently more vio- 
lent and distressing than those produced by the ac- 
tual knowledge of the truth. 

Keen and vigilant observance of the direction 
pursued by the wlialc, on the part of the persons 
engaged in the chase, and a corresponding obser- 
vance of the same by their commander, can be the 
only means within the power of each party of secu- 
ring the ship and boats from being widely separa- 
ted, without knowing what course to pursue for re- 
uniting them. Much depends on the people em- 
ployed in the boats using every known means to ar- 
rest the progress of tlie fish in its flight, by attack- 
ing it with the most skilful, active and persevering 


efforts, until it is killed ; and then, as speedily as 
may be,, of availing themselves of the intimation 
they may possess relative to the position of the ship, 
for the pxirpose of rejoining her. But as their know- 
ledge of tihe direction of their movements generally 
depends on the wind, unless they happen to be pro- 
vided with a compass, and have attentively marked 
their route by its indications, any change in the di- 
rection of the wind, must be attended with serious 

To describe this subject fully, and to enter into 
the detail of the various modes which ingenuity 
may adopt for maintaining the proximity of a ship 
with her boats, and the safety of the latter when 
engaged in the fishery during the obscurity of a fog, 
would be tedious, and in a work of this nature su- 
perfiiious; I shall therefore proceed with another 
branch of my subject. But before 1 enter upon the 
subsequent operations of the whalers connected with 
a successful fishery, I shall give a few examples of re- 
markable strength, activity, or other peculiarity 
in the behaviour of whales after they have been 
struck ; being a few of the curious circumstances 
connected with the fishery which I have myself 
observed, or have received from unquestionable au- 

s 2 



Anecdotes illustrative of Peculiarities in the 
Wh a le-Fish ery. 

1. Surprising vigour of a Whale. — On the 
25th of June 1812, one of the harpooners be- 
longing to the Resolution of Whitby, under my 
command, struck a whale by the edge of a small 
floe of ice. Assistance being promptly afforded, a 
second boat's lines were attached to those of the 
fast-boat, in a few minutes after the harpoon was 
discharged. The remainder of the boats proceeded 
to some distance, in the direction the fish seemed 
to have taken. In about a quarter of an hour the 
fast-boat, to my surprise, again made a signal for 
lines. As the ship was then within five minutes 
sail, we instantly steered towards the boat, with 
the view of affording assistance, by means of a spare 
boat we still retained on board. Before we reached the 
place, however, we observed four oars displayed in sig- 
nal order, which, by their number, indicated a most 
urgent necessity for assistance. Two or three men 
were at the same time seen seated close by the stem, 
which was considerably elevated, for the purpose of 
keeping it down, — while the bow of the boat, by the 
force of the line, was drawn down to the level of 
the sea, — and the harpooner, by the friction of the 


line round the bollard, was enveloped in smoky ob- 
scurity. At length, when the ship was scarcely 
100 yards distant, we perceived preparations for quit- 
ting the boat. The sailors' ^ca-jackets were cast 
upon the adjoining ice, — the oars were throv^n dov^u, 
— the crew leaped overboard, — the bow of the boat 
was buried in the water, — the stern rose perpendi- 
cular, and then majestically disappeared. The bar- 
pooner having caused the end of the line to be fas- 
tened to the iron-ring at the boat's stem, was the 
means of its loss '-•" ; and a tongue of the ice, on 
which was a depth of several feet of water, kept the 
boat, by the pressure of the line against it, at such a 
considerable distance as prevented the crew from leap- 
ing upon the floe. Some of them were, therefore, put 
to the necessity of swimming for their preservation, 
but all of them succeeded in scrambling upon the ice, 
and were taken on board of the ship in a few mi- 
nutes afterwards. 

I may here observe, that it is an uncommon cir- 
cumstance for a fish to require more than two 
boats' lines in such a situation ; — none of our har- 
pooners, therefore, had any scruple in leaving the 
fast-boat, never suspecting, after it had received the 

* " Giving a whale the boat/' as the voluntary sacrifice of a 
boatistermedjisa schemenotuntrequently practised by the fisher 
when in want of line. By submitting to this risk, he expects 
to gain the fish, and still has the chance of recovering his boat 
iind its materials. It is only practised in open ice or at fields. 

278 WIlALE-FISHEliy. 

assistance of one boat with six lines or upward, that 
it would need any more. 

Several ships being about us, there was a possi- 
bility that some person miglit attack and make a 
prize of the whale, when it had so far escaped us, 
that we no longer retained any hold of it ; as such, 
we set all the sail the ship could safely sustain, and 
worked through several narrow and intricate channels 
in the ice, in the direction I observed the fish had re- 
treated. After a little time, it was descried by the 
people in the boats, at a considerable distance to the 
eastward; a general chase immediately commenced, 
and within the space of an hour three harpoons were 
struck. We now imagined the fish was secure, but 
our expectations were premature. The whale reso- 
lutely pushed beneath a large floe that had been re- 
cently broken to pieces, by the swell, and soon drew 
all the lines out of the second fast-boat ; the officer 
of which, not being able to get any assistance, tied 
the end of his line to a hummock of ice and broke 
it. Soon afterwards, the other two boats, still fast, 
were dragged against the broken floe, when one of 
the harpoons drew out. The lines of only one boat, 
therefore, remained fast to the fish, and this with six 
or eight lines out, was dragged forward into the shat- 
tered floe with astonishing force. Pieces of ice, each 
of which were sufficiently large to have answered the 
purpose of a mooring for a ship, were wheeled about 
by the strength of the whale ; and such was the ten- 


sion and elasticity of the line, that whenever it 
slipped clear of any mass of ice, after turning it 
round, into the space between any two adjoining 
pieces, the boat and its crew flew forward through 
the crack, with the velocity of an arrow, and never 
failed to launch several feet upon the first mass of 
ice that it encountered. 

While we scoured the sea around the broken 
floe with the ship, and while the ice was attempted 
in vain by the boats, the whale continued to press 
forward in an easterly direction towards the sea. 
At length, when 14 lines (about 1680 fathoms) 
were drawn from the fourth fast-boat, a slight en- 
tanglement of the line, broke it at the stem. The 
fish then again made its escape, taking along with 
it a boat and 28 lines. The united length of the 
lines was 6730 yards, or upwards of 3f English 
miles; value, with the boat,. above 150/. Sterling. 

The obstruction of the sunken boat, to the progress 
of the fish, must have been immense ; and that of 
the lines likewise considerable ; the weight of the 
lines alone, being 35 hundred weight. 

So long as the fourth fast-boat, through the me- 
dium of its lines, retained its hold of the fish, we 
searched the adjoining sea with the ship in vain ; 
but, in a short time after the line was divided, we 
got sight of the object of pursuit, at the distance of 
near two miles to the eastward of the ice and boats, 
in the open sea. One boat only with lines, and two 


empty boats, were reserved by the ship. Having, 
however, fortunately line weather, and a fresh breeze 
of wind, we immediately gave chase imdcr all sails ; 
though, it must be confessed, v*ith the insignificant 
force by us, the distance of the fish, and the rapidi- 
ty of its flight considered, we had but very small 
hopes of success. At length, after pursuing it 
five or six miles, being at least nine miles from the 
place where it was struck, we came up with it, and 
it seemed inclined to rest after its extraordinary 
exertions. The two dismantled or empty boats ha- 
ving been furnished with two lines each, (a very 
inadequate supply,) they, togctlier with the one in 
a good state of equipment, now made an attack up- 
on the whale. One of the harpooners made a blun- 
der ; the fish saw the boat, took the alann and agam 
lied. I now supposed It would be seen no more ; ne- 
vertheless, we chased neail)'^ a mile in the direction 1 
imagined it had taken, and placed the boats, to the 
best of my judgment, in the most advantageous si- 
tuations. In this v.e were extremely fortunate. 
The fish rose near one of the boats, and was imme- 
diately harpooned. In a few minutes two more har- 
poons entered its back, and lances were plied against 
it with vigour and success. Exhausted by its amaz- 
ing exertions to escape, it yielded itself at length 
to its fate, received the piercing wounds of the lan- 
ces without resistance, and finally died without a 
struggle. Thus terminated with success, an attack 


upon a whale, which exhibited the most uncommon 
determination to escape from its pursuers, seconded 
by the most amazing strength of any individual 
whose capture I ever witnessed. After all, it may 
seem surprising, that it was not a particularly large 
individual ; the largest lamina of whalebone only 
measuring 9 feet 6 inches, while those affording 
12 feet bone are not uncommon*. The quantity 
of line withdrawn from the different boats engaged 
in the capture, was singularly great. It amounted, 
altogether, to 10,440 yards f, or nearly six English 

* It has been frequently observed, that whales of this size 
are the most active of the species ; and that those of very large 
growth are, in general, captured with less trouble. 

+ The following is a correct statement of the quantity of lines 
withdrawn from eacli of the fast-boats, viz. 

From the first fast-boat 13 new lines, (the whole of 

which, together with the boat, were lost) ; harpoon Yards, 

drew, - - - 3120 

From the second fast-boat 6^ lines ; line broke, - i560 

third S| lines ; harpoon drew, 840 

fourth 14 lines; line broke, - 3360 

fifth ^ line ; harjioon drew, - 120 

sixth 2 Jj lines, - - (500 

seventh 2| lines, - - 600 

eighth 1 line, - . - 240 

Total in yards, 10,440 


miles. Of these, 13 new lines were lost, together 
with the sunken boat ; the harpoon connecting them 
to the fish having tlropt out before the whale wac 

2. Singular and unsuccessful Chase of a JVTiale. 
— After having taken a large circuit with the ship 
Esk in the open sea, in search of whales, we saw 
two or three individuals, when at the distance of 
about 20 miles from the Middle-Hook of the Fore- 
land *. It was on the 15th of June 1814 we were 
thus situated. The weather was fine, and no ice in 
sight. A boat was dispatched towards one of the fish 
we saw, which was immediately struck. The men 
were already considerably fatigued, having been em- 
ployed immediately before, in the arduous operation, 
hereafter to be described, called making off; but, of 
course^ proceeded in the boats to the chase of the 
fast-fish. It made its re-appearance before they all 
left the ship. Three boats then approached it, un- 
luckily at the same moment. Each of them so 
incommoded the others, that no second harpoon 
could be struck. The fish then took the alarm, 
and run off towards the east, at the rate of about 

* Charles's Island, lying parallel to the west side of Spitz- 
bergen, is usually denominated the Foreland ; the Middle 
Hook is a remarkable high ridge of mountains, near the mid- 
dle of the island. 


tour miles jicr hour ; some of the boats gave chase, 
and others took hold of the fast-boat, and were 
towed by it to ^\indward. When two boats, by 
great exertions on the part of their crews, had got 
very near to the fish, and the harpooners were ex- 
pecting every moment to be able to strike it, it sud- 
denly shifted its course when under water, and in a 
few minutes discovered itself in a southerly direc- 
tion, ■ at least half a mile from any boat. It then 
completed a circuit round the fast-boat, with the 
sweep of nearly a mile as a radius, and though fol- 
lowed in its track by the boats, it dived before any 
of them got near it, and evaded them completely. 
When it appeared again, it was at least half a mile 
to windward of any of them, and then continued 
arduously advancing in the same direction. The 
" lipper" on the water, arising from a strong breeze 
of wind, much impeded the velocity of the boats, 
and rapidly exhausted the little remaining strength 
of their crews. 

At various times during the pursuit, the boats hav- 
ing the most indefatigable crews, reached the fish 
within 10 or 15 yards, when, apparently aware of 
their design, it iraniediately sunk and changed its 
course ; so that it invariably made its next appear- 
ance, in a quarter where no boats were near. 

The most general course of the whale being to 
windward, it soon withdrew all the boats mant 


miles from the, sliip, not ^vitlistandiiig our utmost 
efforts, under a pressure of sail, to keep near them. 
I was, therefore, prevented from directing their 
movements, or, indeed, from affording them the 
least assistance. 

After six or seven hours pursuit, without success, 
the sky became overcast, and we were suddenly en- 
veloped for some time, in the obscurity of a thick 
fog. This circumstance excited much alarm for 
the safety of the boats. We were scon, however, 
relieved, by the fog being dispelled. In this inter- 
val, the boats were all moored to the fast-boat, the 
men being fearful of being dispersed ; but on the 
disappearance of the fog, the pursuit was recommen- 
ced with renewed and more detennined vigour. 
Still the harpooners were not able to succeed. They 
were now convinced of the necessity of using every 
measure to retard the flight of the fish. For this 
purpose they slacked out nine lines, a weight in 
air of ll^l^ cwt. while the crew of the fast-boat en- 
deavoured farther to retard its progress, by holding 
their oars firmly in the water, as if in the act of 
backing the boat a-stern. But this plan did not 
succeed. They then lashed two or three boats with 
their sides to the stern of the fast-boat, and these 
were dragged broadside first, with little diminution 
of velocity for some time. But the fish at length feel- 
ing the impediment, suddenly changed its course^ 


and again disappointed the people in two of the 
boats, Vvliich had got extremely near it. 

Several times the harpooners seized their vrea- 
pons, and were on the point of launching them at 
the fish, when, in an instant, it shot from them with 
singular velocity, and then disappeared. In this 
way the chase was continued for fourteen hours, 
when the fish again turned to leeward. Eut the men 
exhausted by such uncommon exertion, together with 
the hard labour to which they had previously been 
subjected ; at the same lime being without meat or 
drink, and sparingly shielded from the inclemency 
of the weather, by clothes di'enched in oil, — were 
incapacitated from taking advantage of the only 
chance they had ever had of success from the com- 
mencement of the chase ; they did, it is true, make 
the attempt, but their efforts were too feeble to be 
of any service. 

By this time we had reached the boats with the 
ship. The wind had increased to a gale, and a con- 
siderable sea had arisen. We had no hope, there- 
fore, of success. As, however, we could not possi- 
bly recover the lines at this time, stormy as the 
weather was, we applied a cask as a buoy to support 
them, and moored an empty boat having a jack fly- 
ing in it, to the cask, with the intention of keeping 
near it during the storm, and with the expectation of 
recovering our lines, and a faint hope of likewise 


gaining the fish, after the termination of the gale. 
The boat was then abandoned, and all hands, fatigued 
and oppressed with hunger and thirst, and some 
with cold, were safely, but not without difficulty, 
taken on board the ship, at the expiration of !I5|- 
hours of unremitting labour, under circumstances 
particularly unfavourable. 

We made an attempt to keep near the boat with 
the ship ; but the increasing force of the gale, drove 
us, in spite of every effort, about 30 miles to leeward. 
On the first cessation we made all sail, and plyed to- 
wards the boat ; and although the weather was con- 
stantly foggy, we succeeded in finding it, recovered 
boat and lines, but lost the whale. This disagree- 
able and unsuccessful adventure, occupied between 
three and four days. 

3. Two Whales struck at the same moment, 
wieocpcctcdly cajiturcd. — When engaged in the 
pursuit of a large whale, it is a necessary precau- 
tion for two boats at all times to proceed in com- 
pany, that the one may be able to assist the 
other, on any emergency. With this principle in 
view, two boats from the Esk were sent out 
in chase of some large whales, on the 13th 
of June 1814. No ice was within sight. The 
boats had proceeded some time together, when they 
separated in pursuit of two whales, not far distant 


from each other ; when, by a singular coincidence, 
the harpooners each struck his fish at the same 
moment. They were a mile from the ship. Ur- 
gent signals for assistance were immediately dis- 
played by each boat, and in a few min\ites one of the 
hai-pooners was under the necessity of slipping the 
end of his line. Fortunately the other fish did not de- 
scend so deep, and the lines in the boat proved ade- 
quate for the occasion. One of the fish being then 
supposed to be lost, five of the boats out of seven at- 
tended on the fish which yet remained entangled, 
and speedily killed it. A short time afterwards, 
the other fish supposed to be irrevocably lost, was 
descried at a little distance from the place where it 
was struck ; — three boats proceeded against it ; — ^it 
was immediately struck, and in twenty minutes 
also killed. Thus were fortunately captured two 
whales, both of which had been despaired of. They 
produced us near 40 tons of oil, value, at that time, 
1400 /. The lines attached to the fish last killed, were 
recovered in a remarkable manner. The harpooners 
were busily engaged in attempting to secure them, 
when the harpoon, by which alone they were pre- 
vented from sinking, slipped out ; but as it descend- 
ed in the water, it luckily hooked the lines belong- 
ing to another boat, ))y which both harpoon and 
lines were preserved. 


4. A Fish captured aper hehig Twice Lost. — 
An Aberdeen whaler cruismg in Greenland, to- 
wards the close of the fishing-season of the year 
1814, met with a whale, which one of the harpoon- 
ers struck. Stormy weather commencing, obliged 
them to cut the line. The next day a fish was 
struck, which proved to be the same, but which 
again escaped them ; " and on the following day, 
the identical fish came up at the ship's bow, blew 
vehemently, was again struck, and in half an hour 
was secured." 

5. A cwious Circumstance in the Fishery. — 
It is very generally believed by the whalers, that 
lish have occasionally been struck, which, by a sud- 
den extension or heave of the body, have instantly 
disengaged themselves from the hai-poon. This 
case usually happens when the whale is struck " with 
a slack back," as that position of the fish is deno- 
minated, in which the back being depressed, the 
flesh is relaxed. A harpoon then struck, occasions 
an uncommon wound. Hence, if the fish sudden- 
ly extends itself, and elevates its back, the wound 
appears of twice the size of the harpoon ; and con- 
sequently the weapon is capable of being thrown out 
by the jerk of the body. 

Under such circumstances as these, a large whale 
was struck by a hai-pooner belonging to the sliip 


Howe of Shields. On the fish extending and lift- 
ing its back with uncommon violence, the harpoon 
was disengaged, and projected high into the air, 
when, at the same moment, the fish rolled over upon 
its back, and received the point of the falling wea- 
pon in its belly, whereby it was entangled and 
caught ! This circumstance, romantic as it may ap- 
pear, is so well authenticated by the person who 
struck the fish, together with others who were in 
the boat at the time, and were witnesses of the fact, 
that I have no scruple in introducing it here. 

6. Capture of a Fish which survived forty 
Hours after being struck. — On the 28tli of 
May 1817, the Royal Bounty of Leith, Cap- 
tain Drysdale, fell in with a great number of 
whales in the latitude of 77" 25' N., and lon- 
gitude 5° or 6° E. Neither ice nor land v/as in 
sight, nor was there supposed to be either the one 
or the other within 50 or 60 miles. A brisk breeze 
of wind prevailed, and the w^eathcr was clear. The 
boats were therefore manned and sent in pursuit. 
After a chase of about five hours, theharpooner com- 
manding a ])oat, who, with another in company, had 
rowed out of sight of the ship, struck one of tlie 
whales. This was about 4 a. m. of the 29th. The 
captain supposing, from the long absence of the 
two most distant boats, that a fish had been struck, 



directed the course of the ship towards the place 
where he had last seen them, and about 8 a. m. he 
got sight of a boat which displayed the signal for 
being Jrist. Some time afterwards, he observed the 
other boat approach the fish, a second harpoon 
struck, and the usual signal displayed. As, how- 
ever, the fish dragged the two boats away with consi- 
derable speed, it was mid-day before any assistance 
could reach them. Two more harpoons were then 
struck, — but such was the vigour of the whale, that 
although it constantly dragged through the water 
four to six boats, together with a length of 1600 
fathoms of line, v4iich it had drawn out of the differ- 
ent boats, yet it pursued its flight nearly as fast as a 
boat could row ; and such was the terror that it ma- 
nifested on the approach of its enemies, that when- 
ever a boat passed beyond its tail, it invariably di- 
ved. All tlieir endeavours to lance it were therefore 
in vain. The crews of the loose boats being unable to 
keep pace with the fish, caught hold of and moored 
themselves to the fast-boats, and for some hours af- 
terwards, all hands were constrained to sit in idle 
impatience, waiting for some relaxation in the speed 
of the whale. Its most general course had hitherto 
been to windward, but a favourable change taking 
place, enabled the ship, which had previously been 
at a great distance, to join the boats at 8 p. m. 
They succeeded in taking one of the lines to the 
ship, which was fast to the fish, witli a view of re- 


tardiiig its flight. They then furled the top-gallant- 
sails, and lowered the top-sails ; but after supporting 
the ship a few minutes, head to wind, the wither of 
the hai-jioon iqjscf, or twisted aside, and the instru- 
ment was disengaged from its grasp. The whale im- 
mediately set off to mndward with increased speed, 
and it required an interval of three hours before the 
ship could again approach it. Another line was 
then taken on board, which immediately broke. 
A fifth harpoon had previously been struck, to re- 
place the one which was pulled out, but the line 
attached to it was soon afterwards cut. They then 
instituted various schemes for arresting the speed 
of the fish, which occupied their close attention near- 
ly twelve hours. But its velocity was yet such, that 
the master, wlio had himself proceeded to the attack, 
was unable to approach sufiiciently near to strike a 
harpoon. After a long chase, however, he succeed- 
ed in getting hold of one of the lines which the 
fish dragged after it, and of fastening another line 
to it. The fish then fortunately turned towards the 
ship, which was at a considerable distance to lee- 
ward. At 4 p. M. of the 30th, 36 hours after the 
fish was struck, the ship again joined the boats ; 
when, by a successful manoeuvre, they secured two 
of the fast-hnes on board. The wind blowing a 
moderately brisk breeze, the top-gallant sails were 
taken in, the courses hauled up, and the top-sails 
clewed down ; but notwitiistanding the resistance 
a ship tlnis situated must necessarily offer, she was 

T 2 


towed by the iisli directly to windward, with the ve- 
locity of at least Ij to 2 knots, during an hour and 
a half. And then, though the whale must have 
been greatly exhausted, it beat the water with its 
fins and tail in so tremendous a way, that the sea 
around was in a continual foam, and the most hardy 
of the sailors scarcely dared to approach it. At 
length, about 8 P. M, after 40 hours of almost in- 
cessant, and for the most part fruitless exertion, 
this formidable and astonishingly vigorous animal 
w^as killed. The capture and the flensing occupied 
48 hours ! The fish was 11 feet 4 inches bone 
(the length of the longest lamina of whalebone) ; 
and its produce filled 47 butts, or 23c\ ton ciisks 
with blubber *. 


Proceedings of the Fishei^s after a Whale ?> 

Befoke a whale can he flensed, as the operation 
of taking off the fat and whalebone is called, some 
preliminary measures are requisite. These consist 
in securing the fish to a boat, cutting away the at- 
tached whale-lines, lashing the fins of the whale 
together, and towing it to the ship. 

* This interesting occurrence was communicated to me by 
the late Captain of the Royal County, in a letter containing the 
accoimt of tJie trajisaction, as inserted in his log-book. 


The first operation pcrfoi-med on a dead whale, 
is to secure it to a boat. This is easily effected, by 
lashing it with a rope, passed several times through 
two holes pierced in the tail, to the boat's bow. The 
more difficult operation of freeing the whale from 
the entanglement of the lines, is then attempted. 
As the whale, when dead, alv/ays lies on its back or 
on its side, the lines and harpoons are generally 
far under water. When they are seen passing ob- 
liquely downward, they are hooked with a grapnel, 
pulled to the surface, and cut. But when they hang 
perpendicular, or when they cannot be seen, they 
are discovered by a process called " sweeping a 
fish." This is performed by taking a part of a 
whale-line in two different boats, ten or fifteen fa- 
thoms asunder ; and while one boat lies at rest 
supporting the end of the line, the other is rowed 
round the fish, and the highf, or intermediate 
part of the line, allowed to sink below the fish as it 
proceeds, until each of the parts held in the two 
boats are again brought together. Hence, when 
one part of the line has made a circuit of the fish, it 
must evidently enclose every other line or appen- 
dage affixed to it. Thus enclosed, they are pul- 
led up to the surface of the water, and each of 
them cut at the splice of the foreganger ; leaving 
the harpoon sticking in the fish with its foreganger 
attached, and allowing the end of the line to sink, 
and be hauled on board of the boat, from whence it 

"294 WHALE riSHERY. 

was withdrawn, at the convenience of the crew. 
While this is in progress, the men of other boats 
having first lashed the tail to a boat, are employed 
in lashing the fins together across the belly of the 
whale. I have observed two or three curious cir- 
cumstances connected with these operations, which 
I siiall venture to mention. 

On one occasion, I was myself engaged in tlic 
capture of a fish, upon which, when to appearance 
dead, I leaped, cut holes in the fins, and was in the 
act of " reeving a rope" through them, to lash them 
together, when the fish sunk beneath my feet. As 
soon as I observed that the water had risen above my 
knees, I made a spring towards a boat, at the dis- 
tance of three or four yards from me, and caught 
hold of the gunwale. Scarcely was I helped on 
board, before the iish began to move forward, turn- 
ed from its back upon its belly, reared its tail aloft, 
and began to shake it with such prodigious violence, 
that it resounded through the air to the distance of 
two or three miles. In the mean time, all the sail- 
ors, very properly, kept aloof, and beheld its extra- 
ordinary powers with the greatest astonishment. Af- 
ter two or three minutes of this violent exercise, it 
ceased, rolled upon its side, and died. 

In the year 1816, a fish was, to all appearance, 
killed by the crew of the Esk. The fins were 
partly lashed, and the tail on the point of being 
.secured, and all the lines excepting one, were cut 


away, the fish meanwhile lying as if dead. To the 
surprise and great alarm, however, of the sailors, it 
revived, began to move, and pressed forward in a con- 
vulsive agitation ; soon after it sunk in the water to 
some depth, and then died. One line fortunate- 
ly remained attached to it, by v^^hich it was di-awn 
to the surface and secured. 

On a former occasion, my hai-pooners had killed 
a fish and cut off the lines, when, though actually 
dead, it, being less buoyant than whales usually are, 
immediately sunk. It would have been altogether 
lost, had not one of the harpooners, with great pre- 
sence of mind and alacrity, seized a harpoon, and 
driven it vvith a powerful stroke under water, which 
had the good fortune to penetrate the head, though 
one of the most difficult parts to pierce, whereby the 
fish was recovered. 

A fish being properly secured, is then " taken 
in tow ;" that is, all the boats join themselves in 
a line, by ropes always carried for the purpose, and 
unite their efforts in rowing towards the ship. The 
couise of the ship in the mean time, is usually di- 
rected towards the boats. But in calms, or when 
the ship is moored to the ice at no great distance, 
or when the situation of the fish is inconvenient or 
inaccessible, the ship awaits the approach of the fish. 
Towing a fish is usually considered a cheerful^ 
though laborious operation, and is generally pei'- 


fonncd witli great expressions of joy. A large 
whale, by means of six boats, can be towed at the 
rate of nearly a mile pc7' hour. 

The fish having reached the ship, is taken to the 
larboard side, arranged and secured for flensing. 
For the performance of this operation, a variety of 
knives and other instruments are requisite, most of 
which are figured in Plates 18, 20, and 21. 

Towards the stern of the ship the head of the fish 
is directed ; and the tail, which is first cut off, rests 
abreast of the fore-chains. The smallest or poste- 
rior part of the whale's body, where the tail is unit- 
ed, is called the nimp, and the extremity or an- 
terior part of the head, the Qiose^ or nose-end. The 
rump then, supported by a tackle, is drawn forward 
by means of a stout rope, called the rump-rope, and 
the head is drawn in an opposite direction by means 
of the " nose-tackle." Hence, the body of the fish is 
forcibly extended. The right-side fin, being next 
the ship, is lashed upward towards the gunwale, 
A band of blubber, 2 or 3 feet in width, encircling 
the fish's body, and lying between the fins and the 
liead, being the fat of the neck, or what corresponds 
in other animals with the neck, is called the kcnt ; 
because, by means of it, the fish is turned over or 
kcnted. Now, to the commencement of this imagi- 
nary band of fat or kent, is fixed the lower extre- 
mity of a combination of powerful blocks, called 
the kcnt-pur chase. Its upper extremity is fixr 


€(1 1'oiind the head of the main-mast, and its fall 
or rope is applied to the windlass, drawn tight, and 
the npper surface of the fish raised several inches 
above the water. The enormous weight of a whale, 
prevents the possibility of raising it more than one- 
fourth or one-fifth part out of the water, except, in- 
deed, when it has been some days dead, in which 
case it swells, in consequence of air generated by 
putrefaction, until one- third of its bulk appears 
above the surface. The fish then lying belly up- 
ward, extended and well secured, is ready for com- 
mencing tlic operation of ficnsing. In this state, 
a suspension of labour is generally allowed, in which 
the crew get themselves refreshed with food and a 
dram, and equip themselves suitably for the ensuing 

An unlucky circumstance once occurred in an in- 
terval of this kind. At that period of the fishery, 
(40 or 50 years ago,) when a single stout whale, to- 
gether with the bounty, was found sufficient to re- 
munerate the owners of a ship for the expences of the 
voyage, great joy was exhibited on the capture of a 
whale, by the fishers. They were not only cheered by 
a dram of spirits, but sometimes provided with some 
favourite " mess," on which to regale themselves, 
before they commenced the arduous task of flensing. 
At such a period, the crew of an English vessel had 
captured their first whaie. It Avas taken to the ship, 
placed on the lee-side, and though the wind blew a 
strong breeze, it was fiistened only by a small rope 


attached to the fin. In this state of supposed secu- 
rity, all hand;, retired to regale themselves, the 
captain himself not excepted. The ship being at a dis- 
tance from any ice, and the fish believed to be secure, 
they made no great haste in their enjoyment. At 
length, the specksioneer having spent sufficient time 
in indulgence and equipment, with an air of import- 
ance and self-confidence, proceeded on deck, and 
naturally turned to look on the whale. To his as- 
tonishment it was not there. In some alarm he 
looked a-stern, a-head, on the other side, but his 
search was useless ; the ship drifting fast, had pressed 
forcibly upon the whale, the rope broke, the fish sunk 
and was lost! The mortification of this event may 
be conceived, but the termination of their vexation 
will not easily be imagined, when it is known, that 
no other opportunity of procuring a whale occur- 
red during the voyage. The ship returned home 


Process of Flensing. 

After the whale is properly secured alongside of 
the ship, and the men sufficiently refreshed, the 
harpooners, having their feet armed with " spurs,* 
(PL 20. fig. 15.) to prevent them from slipping. 


descend upon the fish. Two boats, each of wliich 
is under the guidance of one or two boys, attend 
upon them, and serve to hold all their knives and 
other apparatus. Thus provided, the harpooners» 
directed by the spccksioneer, divide the fat into ob- 
long pieces or '•' slips," by means of "blubber-spades," 
(PI. 18. %. 7, 8, 9, 10.) and " blubber-knives," 
(PI. 20. fig. 1.); then affixing a " speck-tackle" to 
each slip, progressively flay it off, as it is drawn up- 
ward. The speck-tackles, which are two or three 
in number, are rendered effective by capsterns, 
winches, or other mechanical powers. Each of 
them consists of a simple combination of two single 
blocks, one of wliich is securely fixed on a strong 
rope, extended between the main-top and the fore- 
top, called a guy ; and the other is attached by a 
strap to the blubber of the whale. The Jlensers 
commence with the belly and under jaw% being the 
only parts then above water. The blubber, in pieces 
of half a ton to a ton each, is received upon deck by 
the boat-steerers and line-managers : the former with 
" strand-knives," (PI. 20. fig. 3.) divide it into port- 
able cubical, or oblong pieces, containing near a solid 
foot of fat, while the latter, furnished with " pick- 
haaks," (PI. 20. fig. 9.) pass it between decks, down 
a hole in the main hatches. It is then received by two 
men styled kings, who pack it in a receptacle 
provided for it in the hold, or other suitable place^ 


called inojicns-gut, where it remains until further 

All the fat being taken away from the belly, and 
the right fin removed, the fish is then turned on its 
side by means of the kent, which, by the power of 
the windlass, readily performs this office. The up- 
per surface of fat is again removed, together with 
the left fin, and after a second kenting, one of the 
" lips" is taken away, by which, the whalebone of 
one side of the head, now lying nearly horizontal, 
is exposed. The fish being a little further turned, 
the whalebone of the left side is dislodged by the 
use of " bone hand-spikes," (PI. 21. fig. 6.) "bone- 
knives," and " bone-spades." Four of the articles 
represented by fig. 5. PI. 20., which, when combin- 
ed, constitute what is called the hone-gcer, are 
used, with the assistance of two speck-tackles, for 
taking up the whalebone in one mass. On its ar- 
rival on deck, it is split with " bone-wedges" (PI. 20. 
fig. 6.) into " jimks," containing 5 to 10 blades each, 
and stowed away. A further kenting brings the 
£sh's back upward, and the next exposes the second 
side of bone. As the fish is turned or kcnted round, 
every part of tlie blubber becomes progressively up- 
permost, and is removed. At length, Avhen the 
whole of the blubber, whalebone, and jaw-bones, 
liavc been taken on board, the kent, which now ap- 
pears a slip of perhaps 30 feet in length, is also 
separated, together with the rump-rope and nose- 


tackle, on which, the carcass being at liberty, ge- 
nerally sinks in the water and disappears *. When 
it floats, however, it becomes food for bears, sharks, 
and various kinds of birds, all of which attack it 
with most voracious earnestness. 

When sliarks are present, they generally take 
the liberty of helping themselves very bountifully 
during the progress of the flensing ; but they often 
pay for their temerity, with their lives. Fulmars 
pay close attendance in immense numbers. They 
seize the fragments occasionally disengaged by the 
knife, while they are swimming in the water ; but 
most of the other gulls who attend on the occasion, 
take their share on the Vving. The burgomaster is 
decidedly the master of the feast. Hence every 
other bird is obliged to relinquish the most deli- 
cious morsel, when the burgomaster descends to 
claim it. Bears seldom approach so near the ship, 
as to become partakers of the banquet. 

When dispatch is seconded by ability, the opera- 
tion of flensing can be accomplished on a fish af- 
fording 20 to 30 tons of blubber, in the space of 
three or four hours. Probably the average time 
with British fishers but little exceeds four hours. 

* When a whale has been 21 to 48 hours killed, its kreng, 
as the carcass after being flensed is called, becomes so swollen 
by the air generated by the process of putrefaction, tliat it Avill 
swim ; and, in a few days after deatli, will rise three or fouv 
feet above the siu-face of the water. 


But I have observed a foreign ship nearly 24 hours 
in flensing a whale ! This dilatoriness was occasion- 
ed by inexperience, and indifferent weather, in com- 
bination with an indulgence of ease, amounting to 

The process by which a small fish is flensed, is a 
little different from the preceding ; inasmuch as the 
preparations arc less formal, and the labour less ar- 

Flensing in a sxvell is a most difficult and dan- 
gerous undertaking; and when the swell is at all 
considerable, it is commonly impracticable. No 
ropes or blocks are capable of bearing the jerk of 
the sea. The harpooners are annoyed by the surge, 
and repeatedly drenclied in v/ater ; and are likewise 
subject to be wounded by the breaking of ropes or 
hooks of tackles, and even by strokes from each 
others knives. Hence accidents in this kind of 
flensing, in particular, are not uncommon. The 
harpooners not unfrequently fiill into the fish's 
mouth, when it is exposed by the removal of a sur- 
face of blubber ; where they might easily be di'own- 
ed, but for tlie prompt assistance whicli is ahvays 
at hand. 

Some years ago, I was witness of a circumstance, 
in wliich, a harpooner was exposed to the most immi- 
nent risk of Iiis life, at the conclusion of a flensing; 
process, by a very curious accident. This harpoon- 
er stood on one of the jaw-bones of tl^e fish, with a 


boat by his side. In this situation, while he was 
in the act of cutting tlie kreng adrift, a boy inad- 
vertently struck the point of the boat-hook, with 
which he usually held the boat, through the ring 
of the harpooner's spur ; and, in the same act, seiz- 
ed the jaw-bohe of the fish with the hook of the 
same instrument. Before this was discovered, the 
kreng was set at liberty, and began instantly to 
sink. The harpooner then threw himself towards 
the boat; but being firmly entangled by the foot, 
he fell into the water. Providentially, he caught 
the gunwale of the boat with his hands : but, over- 
powered by the force of the sinking kreng, he was on 
the point of relinquishing his grasp, when some of 
his companions got hold of his hands, wliile others 
threw a rope round his body. The carcass of the 
fish was now suspended entirely by tlie poor fel- 
low's body, which was consequently so dreadfully 
extended, that there was some danger of his being 
drawn asunder. But such was his terror of being 
taken under water, and not indeed without cause, 
for he could never have risen again, that notwith- 
standing the excruciating pain he suffered, he con- 
stantly cried out to his companions to " haul away 
the rope." He remained in this dreadful state, 
until means were adopted for hooking the kreng 
with a grapnel, and drawing it back to the surface 
of the water. His escape was singularly provi- 
dential : for, had lie not caught hold of the boat as 

304 \yHALE-FlSHERY. 

he was sinking, and met with such prompt assist"* 
ance, he must infalhbly have perished. 


Process of3Iaking Off. 

When a iish is caught, or sometimes when there 
is a good prospect of success in the fishery, even 
before a fish is caught, the centre of the ship's 
hokl is disencumbered of a few of its casks, to 
be in readiness for the reception of the bhib- 
ber. The cavity thus made, together with all 
the space between decks which can convenient- 
ly be appropriated to tlie same purpose, receives 
the name of the flcns-gut. Now, when the 
flens-gut is filled with blubber, or when, no fish 
being seen, a favourable opportunity of leisure is 
presented, the operation of making off* is general- 
ly commenced. This consists of freeing the fat 
from all extraneous substances, especially the mus- 
cular parts, and the skin ; then cutting it into small 
pieces, and putting it into casks through the bung-^ 

* The expression " making off," seems to be derived from 
the Avord afmaakcn of the Dutch, signifying to finish, adjust, 
or complete, referring to the nature of the operation, — as a 
concluding, fmishing, or adjustmg process. 


Before the process of making-off can, however, 
be commenced, several preparatory measures are ne- 
cessary. The sliip must be moored to a convenient 
piece of ice, or placed in an open situation, and the 
sails so reduced as to require no further attention 
in the event of bad weather occurring. The hold 
of the ship must be cleared of its superstructure of 
casks, until the " ground-tier," or lowest stratum 
of casks, is exposed ; and the ballast-water must be 
" started," or pumped out of all the casks that are 
removed upon deck, as well as out of those in the 
ground-tier, which are first prepared for the reception 
of the blubber. In " breaking out the hold," it is 
not necessary to lay open more of the ground-tier at 
a time, than three or four casks extend in length. 

The water which is discharged from the casks in 
the hold, provided they have been before in use, gives 
out a great quantity of a strong disagreeable vapour, 
consisting probably of sulphuretted and phosphuret- 
ted hydrogen, with a mixture of other gaseous fluids, 
produced by the decomposition of the oleaginous, 
and other animal substances, left in the casks after 
former voyages. This decomposition seems to be 
encouraged, if not wholly produced, by the action 
of the water on the animal matter ; because the 
same casks, if bunged close, when empty, give out 
but a small quantity of gas, and that of inferior 
pungency. The gas proceeding from oily casks, 

VOL. II. T' 


having contained water, resembles, in some degree, 
though vastly more pungent, the gas evolved by 
" bilge-water," or the stagnant water which rests 
among the timbers of a very tight ship. The gas 
discharged from oily casks, is usually stronger and 
more abundant, in proportion as the water from 
which it is disengaged, has been a longer time in 
the casks. A considerable quantity of it is gener- 
ated, in the space of three or four months. This 
gas blackens metals, even gold, restores some me- 
tallic oxides, is disagreeable in respiration, and af- 
fects the eyes of the persons employed in the hold, 
where it is most abundant, so as to occasion ophthal- 
mic inflamm.ation, and frequently temporary blind- 

While the line-managers, together with the 
" skeeman *," the cooper, and perhaps a few o- 
thers, arc employed in breaking out the hold, the 
rest of the crew on the deck arrange all the 
variety of apparatus used for the preparation of 
the blubber, before it is put into the casks. Of 
this apparatus, the most considerable part is the 
•' speck-trough," with its appendages. It consists 
of a kind of oblong box or chest, about twelve feet 
in length. If feet in breadth, and 1^ feet in depth. 
The speck-ti'ough is fixed upon the deck, as nearly 

* The officer who has the direction of operations conduct- 
ed in the hold. 


as possible over the place where the casks are to 
be filled in the hold. A square hole, made in its 
bottom, is placed either over the nearest hatch-way 
to the scene of operations, or upon a corresponding 
hole, cut in the deck. 

The speck-trough is then secured, and its lid 
turned backward into an horizontal position; in which 
position it is supported on one side by its hinges, 
and on the other, by screw props or pillars ; or it is 
altogether rested upon several little stools. The 
surface of the lid, which, thus placed, fonns a level 
table, is then covered with blocks of whales' tail, 
from end to end. This substance, from its sinewy and 
elastic nature, makes excellent " chopping-blocks," 
and preserves the " chopping-knives" from injury, 
when used for dividing the blubber upon it. Into 
the square-hole in the bottom of the speck-trough, is 
fitted an iron-frame, to which is suspended a canvas 
tube or " hose," denominated a lull. The lull is open 
at both ends. Its diameter is about a foot, and its 
length sufficient to reach from the deck to the bottom 
of the hold. To the middle, or towards the upper 
part of the lull, is attached a " pair of nippers," 
consisting of two sticks fastened together, by a kind 
of hinge at one end, and capable of being pres- 
sed together at the other. The nippers being pas- 
sed across the body of the lull, and their detached 
extremities brought together, they embrace it so 
closely, that nothing can pass downward while they 

u 2 


remain in this position ; but when, on the othey 
hand, the nippers arc extended, the hdl forms a 
free channel of communication between the speck- 
trough and the hokh 

Every thing being now in readiness, the blubber, 
as it is thifown out of the flens-gut by the kings, 
undergoes the following several operations. It is 
received upon deck by the " krengers," whose of- 
fice is to remove all the muscular parts, together 
with such spongy or fibrous fat, as is known by ex- 
perience to produce very little oil. When these sub- 
stances, which go under the general denomination 
of Kreng, are included among the blubber in the 
casks, they undergo a kind of fermentation, and ge- 
nerate such a quantity of gas, as sometimes to burst 
the containing vessels, and occasion the loss of their 
contents. From the krengers, the blubber passes 
to the harpooners. Each of these officers, provided 
with a blubber-knife or a strand-knife, places him- 
self by the side of a " closh" (PL 20. fig. 10.) fixed 
in the deck. An attendant, by means of a pair of 
" hand-hooks," (PI. 19. fig. 3.) or " apick-haak," (PI. 
20. fig. 9.) tlien mounts a piece of blubber upon the 
spikes of the closh, and the harpooner slices off the 
skin. From the skinners, the blubber is passed 
into an open space called the hank, jirepared as a 
depository, in front of the speck-trough, and it is 
then laid upon the " chopping-blocks," as want- 
ed. It now falls under the hands of the boat- 


steerers, who, armed with " choppiiig-knives," (PL 
20. fig. 2.) are arranged in a line by the side of 
the chopping-blocks, with the speck-trough before 
them. Thus prepared, they divide tlie blubber, 
as it is placed on their blocks, into oblong pie- 
ces, not exceeding four inches in diameter, and 
push it into the speck-trough intended for its recep- 
tion. And, finally, the blubber falls under the di- 
rection of the line-managers stationed in the hold, 
who receive it into tubs, through the medium of the 
lull, and pass it, without any instrument but their 
hands, into the casks through their bung-holes. 
AVhen the line-manager brings his tub beneath the 
lull, he makes use of the words " let lob," on which 
the boy who holds the nippers, permits the blub- 
ber to escape, until he is warned by the words 
" nip the lull," or " nip," to prevent any more from 
descending. When a cask is nearly filled, the 
packing is completed by the use of a " pricker" 
(PI. 18. fig. 11, 12.); one piece after another being 
thrust in by this instrument, until it can contain 
no more. It is then securely bunged up. 

An excellent apparatus for cutting blubber, has 
been recently introduced, which promises in a few 
years to supersede the use of the speck-trough and 
its cumbrous appendages. It consists of a square 
tube of wood, 5 or 6 feet in length, and about 16 
or 18 inches square. An iron frame containing 
four cutting knives, placed parallel to one ano- 


ther, with their edges upward, is fixed on fric- 
tion-rollers near the bottom of the tube ; and 
immediately below this frame another exactly si- 
milar is placed at right angles. The knives 
of the two frames, therefore, divide the cavity of 
the tube into 25 exact squares. In Plate 22., 
are two representations of this apparatus. Figure 1, 
shows the instrument in its proper position ; and 
fig. 2. is a horizontal section of the sam.e. ^Vhen 
it is in use, the blubber to be cut is put into the 
tube at the top, and falls upon the edges of the 
knives. The knives are then put into rapid hori- 
zontal motion, by which the blubber is readily cut 
into proper sized pieces, falls into the lull attached 
to the bottom of the machine, is conducted into the 
hold, and disposed of in the same manner as before 
described. Ko other pressure besides the weight of 
the blubber, is requisite for forcing it through the 
machine; but to assist the action of the knives, their 
edges are sometimes made higher at the middle 
than at the ends. 

A\''hcn the ground tier-casks, as far as they have 
been exposed, arc filled, the second tier of casks is 
** stov/cd" upon it, and likewise filled Vvith blubber, 
togetiier v;ith the third tier-casks, when necessary. 
As in this progressive manner, when fish can be had 
in .sufficiency, all the hold is filled, and likewise the 
space between decks, — it is evident, that the pro- 
cess of making-off must be tedious, disagreeable and 


laborious. Fifty men actively employed, can pre- 
pare and pack about three tons of blubber in an 
hour ; though more frequently they are contented 
with making-ofF little more than one-half of that 
quantity *. When a ship, which makes a successful 
fishing, is deficient in casks, the remaining vacan- 
cies adapted for the reception of the cargo, are filled 
with " blubber in bulk ;" that is, the blubber, in 
large pieces as it is taken off the whales, is laid skin 
downward, upon the highest tier of casks, and over 
this, stratum after stratum, until the vacancies are 
filled. A little salt is usually scattered over the sur- 
face of each stratum of blubber, which assists in pre- 
serving the animal fibre, and in preventing the dis- 
charge of the oil. Blubber in bulk, notwithstand- 
ing every precaution, however, generally loses much 
of its oil. A quick passage homeward, with cool 
weather and smooth sea, are favourable for its pre- 
servation ; but under the influence of opposite cir- 
cumstances, it becomes greatly reduced. 

* The operation of making-off, was always, in the eai'ly ages 
of the fishery, perfoniied on shore ; and even so recently as the 
middle of last century, it was customary for ships to proceed into 
a harbour, and there remain so long as this process was going 



Laws of the Whale-Fisher ij. 

Wherever a number of individuals in different 
interests, but under similar circumstances of time 
and place, are embarked in the same traffic or oc- 
cupation, their advantages generally clash v/ith each, 
or at least interfere in such a way that they arc 
liable to strive to promote their own advantage on 
every occasion, though it be at the expence of their 
neighbour. The generality of this fact in a greater or 
less degree, has induced some manufacturers, merch- 
ants, and tradespeople, to establish amongthemselves, 
where the Legislature has omitted it, a suitable, and, 
as nearly as possible, an equitable system of regula- 
tions, for their mutual benefit. 

Thus, in the Greenland Whale-fishery, the import- 
ance of a code of laws was, at a very early period, ap- 
parent. A fish struck by the people of two different 
ships, became an object of dispute, the first striker 
claiming the whole, and the second demanding a share 
for his assistance. Stores saved from wrecked vessels, 
and especially the cargoes of wrecks, being objects of 
much moment, were also liable to occasion disputes 
in a still higher degree. Hence, about the year 1677, 
the Dutch issued a code of regulations, founded on 
equitable principles, for the prevention of quarrels 


and litigation among tlic fislicrs, to which all per- 
sons interested in the trade were expected to con- 
form. But as these regulations, from their want 
of autliority, were not sufficiently observed, — and in- 
deed, in their original form, were found to be sub- 
ject to some difficulties, — the States-General of 
Holland and AVest Friesland, in the year 1695, as 
appears from a resolution dated the 25th of January 
of the same year, approved and confirmed (after re- 
vision) the general" regulations with respect to tlie 
saving of the crews and stores of vessels wrecked in 
the ice, the right to whales under peculiar circum- 
stances, and other matters connected with the fish- 
ery. To these regulations, every captain, speck- 
sioneer and officer concerned in the fishery, was ob- 
liged to subscribe. They consisted of tv/elve arti- 
cles, in substance as follows *. 

1. Whenever a ship is lost, and the captain and 
crew endeavour to save themselves, the first vessel 
they approach shall be bound to take them on 
board ; whenever this ship meets with another, this 
other shall take one-half of the men who have been 
saved, except only in case the ship met with shall 
happen to have already any other shipwrecked sea- 
men on board ; in the event of which, the number 
in each ship shall be summed up and equally di- 

* " Beschrj'ving der Walvisvangst," Sec. Deel i. bl. 2'2 ; alsti 
•' Jli^toire des Pcchcs," Tome i. p. 127. 


videcl between the two : And whenever either of 
those ships shall meet with a third, they shall again 
divide with her, one-half of their shipwrecked sea- 
men ; and thus continue subdividing with every 
ship they meet, until they become equally dis- 
tributed throughout tlie fleet, or at least until the 
number left be so far diminished, as to cease to be a 
burden to the savers. 

2. The victualling stores of the people saved, 
shall be exclusively consumed by themselves ; and 
when any division of the shipwrecked crew is made 
to any other vessels, an equal proportion of the re- 
maining victuals must go along with them ; but in 
the event of the said crew not having brought any 
provisions along with them, then they shall be as- 
sisted therewith, for humanity's sake, they working 
for the samiC as other seamen. 

o. Whenever a ship shall be cast away in Green- 
land, the commander or captain, or the person re- 
presenting the same, so long as he remains by the 
wreck, shall have his free choice whether the stores 
shall be saved or not, and by wliom they shall be 
saved, provided the person on whom he fixes shall 
have it at his option to receive them. 

4. In all instances, however, of a wreck being 
found without any person near or on board the same, 
he or they who shall meet with it, shall be legally 
authorised to take on board any of its stores, spars, 
rigging, sails, casks, cargo or goods ; and on carrying 


tlic same home, he (the saver) or the owners of his 
vessel, shall be entitled to one equal half thereof, 
and the remaining moiety, without any charge or 
expence whatsoever, shall he given up to the ori- 
ginal proprietors. 

5. When it happens that a wreck is abandoned by 
the captain, officers and crew, and the stores, cargo 
and goods belonging to it are afterwards saved, — the 
captain, officers and crew, so deserting the wreck, 
shall not have any claim whatever on the goods 
so saved, any more than if they had been totally 

6. But the crew of the ship lost, or any part there- 
of, v.ho may be present at the time any stores, or 
any part of the cargo, shall be saved, and shall as- 
sist in saving them, shall, out of the neat fourth 
part of all that may be saved, receive the montlily 
wages due to them at the time the ship was lost ; 
but, in the event the one-fourth part should be 
inadequate for this purpose, each individual shall 
sustain an equal proportion of the existing deficien- 
cy ; and if the said one-fourth should exceed the sum 
requisite for paying tlie monthly wages as above, 
the surplus shall be added to the remaining three- 
fourths, as the equal and joint property of the sa- 
vers and the owners of tiic v^ recked vessel. 


7 *. The coinmander by whom any thing is sa- 
ved, shall calculate the value thereof, (deducting 
that part required for paying the monthly wages of 
the shipwrecked crew, as in the last article) and 
comparing the said value or capital thus arising 
with the market price of train-oil and whalebone, 
he shall pay his officers and crew in like proportion, 
«is they would have been entitled to, had the same 
value of oil and fins been obtained in the fishery : — 
In this estimate of the value of the goods saved, when 
rendered into their corresponding proportion of oil 
and fins, he shall reckon 50 barrels of blubber and 
1600 lb. of whalebone as one fish. 

8. All goods thus saved from wrecks, shall, in 
case of damage being received by the saving ves- 
sel, be subject to average the same as all other pro- 
perty in the ship f. 

9. Any one having killed a whale in the ice, but 
who cannot conveniently take it on board, shall be 
considered as the owner thereof, so long as any of 
his crew remains along with it ; but whenever 
it is deserted, though made fast to a piece of 

* In the French, this article is rendered totally different, and 
to me is quite unintelligible ; in the Dutch it is also ambigu- 
ous ; but I flatter myself, I have conveyed pretty nearly the 
meaning of it. 

t The cargoes of Dutch ships probably became liable to 
general averages, in consequence of their frecpiently usuig' 
hii'ed ship.-; for the v/halc-lisherv. 


ice, it becomes the property of the first wlio can get 
possession of it*. 

10. But if a fish be made fast to the sliore, or 
moored near the shore by means of a grapnel or 
anchor, v»ith a buoy, a flag, or other mark attached 
to it, signifying that it is not deserted, — the person 
^vho left it there, shall still be considered the sole 
proprietor, though no person may be with it. 

11. Any person being wounded or maimed in de- 
fensive operations, while in this service, either in 
the passage to or from Greenland, shall receive a 
reasonable compensation from the Commissioners of 
the fishery, according to the injury sustained, and the 
degree of zeal and bravery manifested on the occa- 
sion; the expence of which to be borne by the 
whole fleet. 

12. Lastly, if a case shall happen which is not 
provided for by these regulations, it shall be set- 
tled by reference to wise and prudent arbitrators. 

(Signed) Simon Van-Beaumont, &c. 

The above articles being duly announced, were 
enforced by commissioners chosen from amongst the 
principal Greenland owners of Holland, for conduct- 
ing and carrying into effect, this and other mattery 

* The latter part of this article is emitted in the French, and 
a sentence of a similar signification with the former part sub- 


connected with the prosperity and regulation of the 

Eesides the preceding regulations, which were 
subscribed to on oath by every fishing captain and 
chief officer before sailing, there was another set of 
rules adapted for the crews of each ship, to the ob- 
servance of which, every man was sworn before one of 
the Commissioners, v;ho went on board of each ship 
to administer the oatli. This affidavit was a kind 
of charter-party, importing, that they would attend 
prayers morning and evening, on pain of an amerce- 
ment at the discretion of the captain ; that they 
would not get drunk or draw their knives, on for- 
feiture of half their wages ; and that they would not 
fight on forfeiture of the whole. That no one should 
lay wagers on the good or ill success of the fishing, 
nor buy or sell on these conditions, in case they took 
one or more fish, on penalty of 25 florins ; that they 
would be contented with the provision allowed them, 
and that they would never light fire, candle or 
m.atch, by night or day, without the captain's leave, 
under the same penalty*. 

Among the British wliale-fishers, it does not ap- 
pear that any particular laws were ever expressly laid 
down, for the adjusting of differences ; yet custom 
has established certain principles, as constituting the 
rule of right, the legality of which is sufficiently ac- 

*^' Reece's Cyclopaedia, Art. Fisherii. 


knowledgetl, by their being imivcrsally respected. 
The fundamental articles are two. 

First, That a fast-fish, or a fish in any way in pos- 
session, whether alive or dead, is the sole and un- 
questionable property of the persons so maintain- 
ing the connection or possession ; and, secondly, 
That a loose fish, alive or dead, is fair game. 

The first of these regulations is founded in equity, 
and needs no modification ; but the second can on- 
ly be recommended for its simplicity, as it some- 
times decides contrary to the apparent principle of 
right. Its simplicity, however, must be considered 
as of gTeat moment, when its frequent application 
in the whale-fishery is known ; because, from this 
excellence, it is so readily understood, that it has a 
tendency to prevent a great deal of litigation, to 
which a more limited and modified construction 
might render it liable. 

1 . Under the first law, whenever a fish is struck, 
it becomes the solo indisputable property of the 
people by whom it was struck, and it remains their 
property so long as they retain their connection 
with it, through the medium of their lines and 
har|)oons ; but whenever the continuity of the line 
is broken, no matter by what means, the fish is 
esteemed loose. 

When a fish is struck, and the harpoon draws 
out, if cither the line or the harpoon were only to 
lie across its back, the fish would still be considered 
as fast. 


If a fish, "wliicli can be said to be fast, no matter 
how slightly, were struck again, and killed by the 
people of any other ship, excepting that of the ori- 
ginal striker, they would not have the least claim up- 
on the fish on account of the assistance given ; nay, 
even if the first fast-harpoon should drop out, or the 
line should break, an instant after another ship's peo- 
ple had struck a harpoon, the fish would still be the 
sole prize of the original striker. Hence, the only 
question which is liable to be disputed, is. Whe- 
ther the fish, at the time of being harpooned by the 
second ship, was fast or loose ? In disputes of this 
nature, it is the business of the original striker to 
identify the fish in dispute, which can generally be 
done by the wound of the harpoon ; but as he must 
be always considered as fast, so long as his jack is 
continued flying in the boat and ship, it becomes 
the part of the second claimant to prove the contra- 
ry. To prove a fish to have been loose at a certain 
moment of time, however, is generally a matter of 
difficulty, though every one may be convinced of the 
fact ; for who can say, though no harpoon or line 
was visible, that the line or harpoon was not adher- 
ing to the fin, tail, belly, or other concealed part of 
the fish ? 

The same law holds with a dead fish as with a 
living one ; a dead fish being the sole and unques- 
tionable property of the person who maintains the 


A fish may be said to be in possession, whenever 
it is connected, by any rope, pole, staff, or any other 
similar controllable* medium, to a ship, or to a 
boat containing one or more of her crew, or to or 
with any individual belonging to the crew of the 
said ship, whether he be in a boat, or on the ice, or 
even in the water. Thus, if a fish be fast by a 
liarpoon and line, or a line without a harpoon, — ^by 
a man resting upon the fish, or touching it in any 
part, though he be in the water himself, or upon a 
piece of ice, — by having a man holding it with 
a boat-hook, a cord, a lance, or any other article, — 
or, indeed, by a man either holding one end of any 
article which touches the fish with the other, or be- 
ing in a boat with whose lines one end of such ar- 
ticle is connected, — the fisli thus circumstanced is in- 
disputably in possession. But no boat, or any num- 
ber of boats connected with the fish, in the most se- 
cure manner, where no person is with them, can 
secure the possession of the fish, for even these 
boats themselves appear to be in some measure free 
prizes; at least, vmder such circumstances boats have, 
occasionally, been peremptorily detained. 

* I use tlie word controllable here, to distinguish the articles 
meant, from some others, which, though foniiing a connection, 
do not establish the possession. For instance, a man may have 
hold of, or be upon a piece of ice, which, on the opposite side, 
vests against a fish, or touches it ; but though, in this case,. 
tlicre is a kind of connection, the ice, not being under liis con- 
tronl, does not convey the necessary possession. 


II. Under the second law ; whenever a fish is 
loose, whatever may he the case or circumstances, it 
becomes a free prize to the first person who gets 
hold of it. 

Thus, when a whale is killed, and the flensing 
is prevented by a storm, it is usually taken in tow ; 
if the rope by which it is connected with the ship 
should happen to break, and the people of another 
ship sliould seize upon it while disengaged, it be- 
comes their prize*. 

Should tlie flags of a ship and its fast-boat be 
.struck, on the supposition that their whale has es- 
caped, the same whale may be struck by the peo- 
ple of any other ship who can approach it ; and 
though the case should prove doubtful, whether the 
fish were really fast or loose at the time, the second 
striker would have the advantage in his claim, 
in consequence of the jacks of the first striker being 

* Some instances of this kind have, however, occurred, 
wlierein the riglit of the original proprietors has appeared so 
evident, that the fisli, which might have been perversely de- 
tained, was liberally restored. Such was the case, where a 
ship was towing one dead fish towards another, for the purpose 
of securing both of them, before the flensing was commenced, 
when the line broke, and the fish was left a little distance astern. 
In the interim, before a boat could be dispatched, to regain it, 
the crew of a strange boat, which happened to be near, seized 
it, and towed it to their own ship. The case, however, being 
glaringly inequitable, the fish, after some little altercation, was»^ 
given up. 


taken clown, which is considered as an acknowledg- 
ment that the fish was loose, and consequently a free 

If, when a fish is struck, the lines of the fast- 
boat should be expended before any assistance ar- 
rives, and the men should abandon the boat and be- 
take themselves to the ice, or even to swimming, 
supported by their oars, while the boat is allowed 
to be drawn under water, with the hope of securing 
the fish by the sacrifice, — that moment when the 
men quit the boat and release it from their grasp, 
the continuity with the whale is broken, and it is 
considered to be loose. Hence, though the rest 
of the boats belonging to the same vessel may 
immediately arrive, though they may disperse them- 
selves around the spot, remain on watch for the 
return of the fish to the surface, and assist in 
killing it, yet, whenever the fish is subdued, it be- 
comes the indisputable prize of the second striker*. 

* A remarkable case in point, occurred in the Spitsbergen 
fishery, about fifteen years r.go. Two London ships were in 
company, near the edge of a field of ice, where several fish were 
astir. A harpooner belo'^ging to one of them, the Neptune, 
struck a whale when at a distanv e fro n his companions ; Avhich, 
taking his line out, before assistance could reach hiin, he fas- 
tened its end to the boat, and allow d the boat to be taken under 
water, with the expect"* ion of its being the means of regain- 
ing the fish. Boats were sent from the ship in company, with 
the ostensible viev/ of assisting ; from one of which, the whale, 



This is a hard case, and appears inequitable. The 
reason wliy it is not modified, is, probably, that 
many fish would be altogether lost which are 
now captured, whilst a further cause for litiga- 
tion would be opened. In the present state of 
the law, for instance, disputes can only relate 
to the circumstance — fast or loose ; but if the law 
were modified, so that a fish struck by the peo- 
ple of any sliip, should be the property of that ship, 
fast or loose, so long as her boats continued the 

on its first appearance, Avas struck. All assisted in the cap- 
ture. The Neptune's people expected it was their prize : 
but their competitors seized it, when dead, together with 
the boat and lines that had been drawn under water, 
and took them, in spite of opposition, to their own ship. 
The two captains who met to canvass the matter, parted with 
angry violence : the one refusing to give up the advantage he 
had so imhandsomely obtained : the other thi'eatening to refer 
the case to a court of law. On the return of the ships, the 
case was tried before Lord EUenborough, when the defendant, 
having offered to give up the boat, tlie Jury gave a verdict for 
the plaintiff, (the owner of the Neptune,) damages one shilling, 
costs forty shillings. But it was found, that as soon as the 
crew abandoned the boat, the fish was loose, and consequently 
a free prize to the defendant. As this important case involves 
the law with regard to boats, lines, and harpoons, when taken 
away from the hands of the proprietors by a whale, as well as 
the law relating to a loose fish, I have, for the satisfaction of 
whale-fishers, given the trial at some length in the Appendix, 
No. v., from a communication with which I have been favour-* 
ed by Jiunes Gale, Esq. owner of the Neptune. 


pursuit, an additional cause of dispute would occur : 
for, besides the simple question, A¥hetlier the fish 
was fast or loose ? we should have to inquire, Whe- 
ther the original striker's boats had, or had not, re- 
linquished the pursuit ? And, whenever a master 
observed a fish escape from any neighbouring ship, 
he would be dubious of striking such fish, or any 
other, which, from its conduct, he might mistake for 
the same. Hence, the fear of litigation might ope- 
rate so forcibly, and, at the same time, so contrary 
to the economy of the fishery, that a number of 
wounded whales, and others supposed to be wound- 
ed, would escape, which, in the present state of the 
law, are attacked and captured without scruple. 

The same objection holds with regard to any 
other general alteration in the laws of the fishery, 
which occurs to me. 

The only improvement, therefore, which, on the 
whole, I conceive, in the present state of things, the 
law is capable of, is that arising from the application 
of the golden precept, given by the Saviour of Man- 
kind, " Whatsoever ye would that men should do 
to you, do ye even so to tliem.*" This would shew 
a person, that to attempt to take a fish out of the 
hands of another is a crime ; and to endeavour to 
seize a fish which has just escaped from its strikers 
with lines, or with lines and boat, (so long as they 

New Testament, Maithav, ch. vii. ver. 12. 


have a chance of succeeding in tlie recapture,) is ai| 
act at once mean and dcspicahlc. It would also shew 
him, that nothing could justify such an act, but the 
certainty, that the original strikers could have lit- 
tle or no chance of ever recovering the possession of 
the fish themselves. As the application of this max- 
im, howe'^er, must depend upon the integrity of 
character of those individuals engaged in the trans- 
action, it cannot be expected, in a case where self- 
interest is so deeply concerned, that it should be 
universally respected. So lir.bie, indeed, is the judg- 
ment to be warped by an interested feeling, that its 
decisions in such a case are rarely to be depended 
on, unless the question can be considered abstractly 
from this prejudicial influence. 

If any person should, unintentionally, be led to 
strike a fish which has just escaped from another, I 
conceive he is justified in retaining it, the meanness 
of the act not consisting in the transaction itself, 
but in the design to seize upon a fish, in point of 
equity the right of another. But any one who is 
the original striker of a whale, must, undoubtedly, 
condemn him wiio designedly interferes, and must 
esteem the act of intentionally anticipating his 
boats, as little better than a robbery. 

From the second law, a fish m.ay alternately be- 
come the property of several persons, each of whose 
claim immediately ceases, the moment he loses pos- 


The crew of the Mars of Whitby, commanded by 
my Father, killed a whale at the commencement of 
a storm in the beginning of INIay 1817. It was 
taken to the ship and secured by a new nine-inch 
hawser; but such was the violence of the sea, that 
when the ship was on the point of rounding a pro- 
montory of ice, which was capable of affording ex- 
cellent shelter from the sea, the hawser broke. 
When the gale abated, my Father proceeded in 
search of his fish, found it, and got up to it, a few 
minutes after the people of another vessel had seiz- 
ed it. His claim was, therefore, at an end with 
regard to the fish, and even the part of the hawser 
which was fast to it, was exultingly refused him. 
But the triumph of the new possessors was short ; 
the swell drove their ship against the ice, and they 
were obliged to cast the fish adi'ift. A third ship 
then found it, and succeeded in making prize of 

If, when a person, from friendly motives, sends 
his boats to assist those of another ship in the cap- 
ture of a fish, it should happen that the fish slips 
loose, and his boats succeed in first re-striking it, 
the whale in this case, according to the Greenland 
law, is the prize of the last striker, because it was 
loose : but according to principles of right and strict 
honour, I conceive it is the property of the first strik- 
er, and as such, ought to be given up. Three reasons 
occur to me for enforcing such a doctrine : \st. The 


consideration, that the auxiliary ship would not, 
probably, have become tlic possessor of this lish, had 
it not been previously struck by the other : ^cUy, 
That as the boats were sent out with the view to 
assist the then possessors in the capture, they ought 
to fulfil the object for which they embarked in the 
cause, and not convert it into a plea for taking the 
fish to themselves ; and, ^dly. The golden precept, 
already mentioned, " Whatsoever" ye vrould that 
men should do to you, do ye even so to them." 

From what has been now advanced, it will pro- 
bably appear to be a matter of doubt, whether or 
not, on the whole, any alteration in the Greenland 
fishing laws would be beneficial to the trade. Un- 
certain, however, as this point is, there can be no 
doubt, but that the speculators in the fishery in ge- 
neral, as well as the underwriters of their ships, 
would be materially benefited by some amendment 
in the custom relative to the stores and cargoes 
saved from Avrecked vessels. 

At present, the fishing laws are extended to the 
case of wrecks, which, together with their cargoes 
and stores, are considered, equally with a loose fish, 
as free prizes. This extension of the fishing laws 
is frequently acted on : stores are saved from 
wrecks and appropriated entirely to the use of the 
savers, and no account of them whatever, rendered 
to the original o\vners. But although this applica- 


tion of tlie law has been repeatedly admitted, I am 
not aware that it has been legally established. In 
support of this principle, however, the fishers con- 
tend, that the existing laws are well adapted to the 
nature of the trade, and that their application, v. ]ie- 
ther to fish, or to the stores and cargoes of wrecks, 
is vmiversal ; that the British laws, relative to sal- 
vage, and the claim of the original owners on aban- 
doned or lost property, is foreign to matters of this 
nature; and, consequently, that in a court of law, the 
case must bo adjudged by the custom established in 
the fishing seas, where the transaction took place, 
and not by the laws of the country where the case 
is tried. 

The propriety of appropriating all wi'ecked stores 
to the use of the savers, is argued from the suppo- 
sition, that few persons w'ould consider the benefit 
of the usual salvage, (supposing it never to exceed a 
third), as a sufficient remuneration for encumbering 
themselves with the stores of wTecks ; and much 
less would the same reward induce any one to save 
the cargo of a wi-ecked ship, because by so doing, 
they would burden themselves with the property of 
others, of which they must be obliged to render an 
account, when subsequently it might appear, that 
had not the room in the ship been thus occupied, 
they might have procured a full cargo of blubber 
of their own takinc;, on which no one could have 
any claim ; and consequently the owners of the 

230 WlIALE-FISHEliy. 

vessel saving the stores would suffer a loss equal to 
the value restored to the owners of the wreck. 

Now, if it were really the case, that a small salvage 
only could he legally claimed by the savers of 
WTecked stores, which would have the effect of pre- 
venting any stores whatever from being saved, it 
would be an impolitic law, because the leaving of 
goods in Greenland is absolutely a national loss ; but 
if, on the other hand, it should appear that, by the 
enacting of an express law offering a larger salvage 
than is usual, the preceding objections would be ob- 
viated, and the quantity of stores saved from wrecks 
increased, — then would it become an object worthy 
of legislative interference, especially if to a national 
advantage should be added that of an equitable ar- 
rangement in the distribution of property. Sup- 
posing, for instance, the salvage established by law 
were to be one-half on all fishing-stores, and other 
materials belonging to wrecks, but two-thirds, or 
even three-fourths, on the cargoes of wrecks, it 
might answer tlie desired end. It would, at any 
rate, obviate an existing fear of controversy, which 
induces some owners to give positive orders to their 
captains, to take no wrecked stores on board. Sub- 
stituting the above salvage, then, instead of a re- 
gular one-third, or even less, I conceive the abstract 
of Dutch lav/s already before the reader, v/ould, on 
the whole, be admirably adapted to the present 
circumstances of the fishery. Articles iO. and 11, 


might be omitted as unnecessary at the present day, 
and likewise the first clause of the 1st article; for 
the principle of humanity is happily not so far 
extinct that any British seaman should need a le- 
gal order to induce him to save, protect and nou- 
rish a fellow-creature in distress ! 

The following circumstance, which occurred n 
good many years ago, has a tendency to illustriite 
the existing Greenland laws, and to set them in a 
prominent liglit. 

During a storm of wind and snow, several ships 
were beating to windward, under easy sail, along the 
edge of a pack. When the stonn abated, and the 
weather cleared, the ships steered towards the ice. 
Tv;o of the fleet approached it, about a mile asun- 
der, abreast of each other, when the crews of each 
ship accidentally got sight of a dead fish, at a little 
distance within some loose ice. Each ship now 
made sail, to endeavour to reach the fish before the 
other ; v.hich fish being loose, would be a prize to the 
first who should get possession of it. Neither ship 
could outsail the other, but each continued to press 
forward towards the prize. The little advantage 
one of them had in distance, tiie other compensated 
with velocity. On each bov/ of the two ships, was 
stationed a principal officer, armed with a harpoon, 
in readiness to discharge. But it so happened, tha^ 
the ships came in contact with each other, v/hen 
y/ithin a few yards of the fish, and in consequcncs 


of the shock witli which their bows met, they re- 
bounded to a considerable distance. The officers, 
at the same moment, discharged their harpoons, 
but all of them fell short of the fish. A hardy 
fellow, who was second mate of the leeward ship, im- 
mediately leaped overboard, and with great dexterity 
swam to the whale, seized it by the fin, and pro- 
claimed it his prize. It was, however, so swoln, 
that he was unable to climb upon it, but was o- 
bliged to remain shivering in the water until assist- 
ance should be sent. His captain, elated with his 
good luck, forgot, or at least neglected, his brave 
second mate ; and before he thought of sending a 
boat to release him from his disagreeable situation, 
prepared to moor his ship to an adjoining piece of 
ice. ISIeanwhilc, the other ship tacked, and the 
master himself stepped into a boat, pushed off, and 
rowed deliberately towards the dead fish. Obser- 
ving the trembling seaman still in the water, hold- 
ing by the fin, he addressed him with, " Well, 
my lad, you've got a fine fish here," — to which, after 
a natural reply in the affirmative, he added, 
" But don't you find it very cold ?" — " Yes," re- 
plied the shivering sailor, " I'm almost starved ; I 
wish you would allow me to come into your boat until 
ours arrive." This favour needed no second soli- 
citation, the boat approached the man, and he was 
assisted into it. The fish being again loose and 
6ut of possession, the captain instantly struck his 


harpoon into it, hoisted his flag, and claimed his 
prize ! IMortified and displeased as the other mas- 
ter felt at this trick, for so it certainly was, he had, 
nevertheless, no redress, but was obliged to pennit 
the fish to be taken on board of his competitor's 
ship, and to content himself with abusing the se- 
cond mate for his want of discretion, and with con- 
demning himself for not having more compassion 
on the poor fellow's feelings, which would have pre- 
vented the disagreeable misadventure. 

As in some measure connected with the laws of 
the whale-fishery, I might also mention the signals 
used by the fishers ; but as they are of interest to 
few persons excepting such as are concerned in the 
fishery, they are placed in the Appendix * 


Remarks on the Causes on which Success in the 
Whale-Fishery depends. 

Success in the whale-fishery has been very ge- 
nerally supposed to depend, not upon the exercise 
of talent and industry on the part of the masters and 

*" Appendix, No. VI. 


crews of the fisliiiig ships, but solely upon the freaks 
of fortune. 

That there is something rescmhling vhat is called 
chance or luck in the fishery, cannot be disputed ; 
but that the fishery is altogether a chain of casual- 
ties, is as false as it is derogatory to the credit of 
the persons employed in the entei'prize. For a per- 
son Avith a die to throw the highest point once in 
six times, is what might be expected from chance ; 
but for him to throw the highest point many times 
in succession, would afford a presumptive proof that 
he employed some art in casting the die ; so it is 
with the fishery. The most skilful, from adventi- 
tious and unavoidable circumstances, may occasion- 
ally fail, and the unskilful may be successful ; but 
if we mark the average of a number of years^ that 
is, where the means are equal, a tolerable estimate 
may be formed of the adventurer's ability, and his 
fitness for the undertaking in which he is engaged. 

The great variety of success which is observed to 
result from the exertions of the different Greenland 
commanders, wlien the average of several voyages 
is taken, confirms the above position ; and the cir- 
cumstance of some masters, in whatever ship they 
may sail, almost always succeeding, whilst others, 
]iowever fovourably circumstanced, seldom or never 
procure a full cargo, warrants this conclusion, — 
that, most generally, a successful fishery depends on 
the experience, determined perseverance, and per- 


sonal talent of the master of the vessel, supported 
by a necessary degree of skill among the people 
composing his crew. There are occasions, however, 
especially in those seasons when the Greenland seas 
arc open, or in some mcasm'e free from ice, in which 
personal talent becomes of comxparative little avail. 
This was strikingly the case in the year 1817, 
and in some degree in 1818. In the former season, 
in particular, the ice lay at a distance so remote 
from Spitzbergen, that a space of about 2000 square 
leagues of the surface of the sea, which is usually 
covered by ice, was wholly void of it. Hence the 
whales, having an immense sea to sport in, and 
finding no ice in the usual places to act as an ob- 
stacle to prevent their flight, or as a shelter to in- 
duce their stay, were cither constantly moving from 
place to place, or took up their abode in the most 
unfrequented and unexpected situr.tions. What- 
ever judgments, therefore, were formed, though 
founded on the most plausible appearances, or 
whatever probabilities the judicious fisher was led 
by experience to estimate and act upon, proved falla- 
cious, and tended only to embarrass liim in all his 
proceedings. Thus inferences and deductions the 
most sagacious in appearance, had no tendency but 
to mislead and perplex the navigator. Besides, tlic 
range of space in the fishing country being so asto- 
nishingly great, and tlic whales, except in a few 
particular spots, so unusually scarce, it followed, that 
the fishery, as was actually the case, must be ex- 


tremely partial : For, whenever a ship happened to 
cruise in a direction where no fish were found, much 
time was expended before she coukl cither retum, 
or visit some other remote situation, considered as 
a probable retreat of the whales ; and meanwhile, 
perhaps, a successful fishery was made in the very 
spot she had left. 

The only general indication, in the season of 
1817, which could be of the least service to 
the fisher, to assist liim in the choice of a situa- 
tion, was the colour of the sea. In places where 
the water was transparent and blue, or green- 
ish blue, it was in vain to look for whales ; but, 
in a certain streara of cloudy water of a deep 
olive green colour, wliich extended, with some in- 
terruptions, from the latitude of 80° N. in the pa- 
rallel of 2° or 3" E. to the latitude of 74^ in the 
parallel of 5"^ to 10"* W., all the whales which were 
seen throughout the season, or at least nine- tenths of 
them, occurred; and the chief part of those which were 
caught, were found in the same stream of water. 
This kind of sea- water, respecting which I have had 
occasion to speak in the first volume of this work, oc- 
curs to a remarkable extent in the Greenland seas. It 
is the favourite resort of whales during the fishing 
season ; evidently because it abounds with various 
descriptions of actinia?, sepias, medusa?, and cancri, 
w^hich constitute the chief, if not the sole nourish- 
ment of the whale. Such whales as were seen in 
the clear blue-coloured sea-water, were never ob- 


served to be at rest, but invariably in motion, as if 
they were in the act of performing a journey to 
some other place. In the cloudy green sea, on the 
other hand, they were observed to halt, and gene- 
rally made it their home, as it were, during a pe- 
riod of several days or weeks. At length, early in 
the month of July, they totally disappeared from the 
green-coloured sea likewise, and retreated to some 
other situation, unknown to the fishers, to which, 
though the ice was generally open and navigable at 
the time, it v/as found to be almost impossible to 
trace them. The general conduct of whales, after 
being struck, was in this season peculiar. Instead 
of immediately descending to the depth of near a 
mile, they frequently never went down at all ; and 
those which did descend, after receiving the har- 
poon, seldom proceeded more than 200 to 300 yards 
below the surface. The year referred to, (1817,) 
was what the fishers call an open season, to distin- 
guish that state of the country, when the ice lies 
remote from Spitzbergen, from the close season, 
when the country is nearly full of ice. 

The fislicry of open seasons is more uncertain 
than that of close seasons. In the former, the fish- 
er has but little dependance on any certain place 
for affording whales ; but, in the latter, whenever 
the barrier of ice is passed, he has the fullest confi- 
dence of meeting with tliem, near the borders of 

vol.. ir. Y 


the western ice, between the parallels of 78" and 
79^ of latitiule. 

Success in the fishery has some dependance on 
the suitable equipment of the sliips employed in 
the trade, — on a sufficient apparatus, — and fre- 
quently, in no inconsiderable degree, on that valu- 
able property of a ship, called fast-sailingr When 
any opening occurs in the ice, of a tempting ap- 
pearance, it frequently happens that a number of 
ships enter it together. The fastest sailers lead 
the way, and often procure a whale or two, or more, 
before the heavy-sailing ships can perform the navi- 
gation ; and, by the time the latter accomplish it, 
the " run of fish" is frequently over. 

When the ice lies so far to the eastward, that it 
covers the green-coloured water, usually resorted to, 
during the fishing season, by the whales, it is ad- 
visable to persevere in the fishery in icy situations ; 
but when the green-coloured sea is uncovered by 
the ice, it is generally more advantageous to fish in 
the open sea. 

Too great anxiety on the part of the command- 
ers, is sometimes the occasion of failures in the 
fishery. When such is the case, they are apt to be 
dissatisfied with the situation they occupy, tliough 
whales may be occasionally seen in it, and though 
they may, now and then, present them with an op- 
portunity of making a capture. Hence the too 
anxious fisherman not unfrcquently leaves the place 


where wliales were seen, and proceeds to a distant 
quarter, where he cannot nieet with whales nt 

Not a little depends, in the fishery, on the confi- 
dence the sailors have in the skill of their captain, 
and in the efticiency of the personal talents and 
exertions of their officers. If the officers are frequent- 
ly unfortunate, they are apt to lose confidence in them, 
and proceed, even when good opportunities occur, 
without spirit to the attack. The greater their 
spirits and coniidence, the better is the chance they 
have of success. Hence the crew of a ship which 
has met with success, can generally fish better, and 
more advantageously, under the. same circumstances, 
than the people of a clean ship. JNIen, discouraged 
])y the failure of their exertions, lose their spirits, 
and, with them, their activity. Their judgments 
even are clouded by the depression of their minds, 
so that they become inferior, in every respect, to suc- 
cessful fishers, of the same natural talent. Hence 
it is of great importance, that the ardour and confi- 
dence of the crew of a whaler sliould be encourac^ed 
and stimulated : for, on their exertions, when plen- 
ty of whales are in view, success almost entirely de- 
pends. But for the regidation of the ship's move- 
ments, — for the choice of a situation, — for direction 
in difficulties, — for a stimulus when discouraged, — 
for encouragement when weary, — and for a variety 
of other important matters, the master alone must 

Y 2 


be looked to, on ^vhoni, indeed, almost every consi- 
derable effort of judgment or forethought devolves. 
When a sudden impulse, — when uncommon exer- 
tion, — or w^hen long-continued labour is required, 
the judicious distribution of spiritous liquors among 
the crew, is sometimes of essential benefit ; but as, 
on the one hand, spiritous liquor stimulates by its 
direct influence ; so, on the other hand, it produces a 
corresponding depression, by its re-action, so that its 
use, under ordinary circumstances, is perhaps inju- 
rious, rather than the contrary. 


Anecdotes Illustrative of the Dangers of tht- 
Wh a I e -Fishery. 

It is evident that the capture of so large an ani- 
mal as a whale, possessing strength in proportion 
to its bulk, witli an uncommon degree of activity 
for its size, and inhabiting an element in which 
its invaders cannot exist, must always be accom- 
panied with danger to the fishers. Though fatal 
accidents do not so frequently occur, as a general 
view of the bold and hazardous operations connect- 
ed with the capture of wiiales would lead us to ex- 
pect ; yet the fishers frequently encounter imminent 
risks, and occasionally lose their lives in the enter- 


As the subject is generally interesting, I shall 
give a few instances of accidents and remarkable 
occurrences, illustrative of the dangers of the whale- 
fishery, most of which occurred within the sphere 
of my own observation. 

Those employed in the occupation of killing 
whales, are, when actually engaged, exposed to 
danger from three sources, viz. from the ice, from 
the climate, and from the whales themselves. 

Of these three principal sources of accidents, 
each of which will be illustrated in order, it may 
be observed generally, That casualties from the 
ice are neither so common, nor so fatal, as those 
arising from the whale, or from the climate ; that 
the climate is the source of the most fatal disasters, 
but happily not the most frequent ; and that the 
whale itself, though generally undesignedly, is the 
source of a great proportion of the accidents which 

I. The ice is a source of danger to the fishers, 
from overhanging masses falling upon them, — from 
the approximation of large sheets of ice to each 
other, Avhich are apt to crush or upset the boats, — 
from their boats being stove and sunk by large 
masses of ice, agitated by a swell, — and from the 
boats being enclosed and beset in a pack of ice, 
and their crews tlius prevented from joining tlicir 

342! "WnALE-FISnEil Y . 

Dangers from Overhanging Masses of Ice 
falling on the I^oats. — The crew of one of the Hull 
whalers having, a few years ago, killed a fish by the 
side of an ice-berg, in Davis' Straits, the fins were 
lashed together, and the tail secured to a boat, in 
the usual way, but by the efforts only of one boat's 
crew; all the other boats belonging to the same 
ship, being engaged in the capture of two more 
whales, neither of which were yet subdued. This 
circumstance occasioned some altercation among the 
crev/ of the boat, as to the propriety of their re- 
maining by the dead whale, or of quitting it, and 
proceeding in an empty boat, v/iiich was at hand, 
to the assistance of their companions. The latter 
measure was carried; but as it was deemed expe- 
dient that one man should remain in the boat, to 
which none of them would consent, they were under 
the necessity of either remaining in idleness by the 
fish, or leaving the fish and boat by themselves. 
But every one being anxious to participate in the 
more active exercises of the fishery, they at length 
agreed unanimously to quit the boat connected with 
the dead fish, and to proceed to the aid of their 
comrades. The arrangements were just accomplish- 
ed in time ; for they had not rowed miany fiithoms 
from the place, before a tremendous crash of the 
beig ensued, — an immense mass of ice fell upon the 
boat they had just quitted, and neither it nor the 
fish were ever seen afterwards. 


Two harpooners who sailed with me, to the 
fishery in the year 1814, were engaged, at a 
former i period, in the capture of a whale ^t 
Davis' Straits, in the service of the ship James, 
when the boat from which the fish was struck, was 
dragged by the line under an overhanging precipice 
of a huge ice-berg. It remained some time sta- 
tionary, and then was again withdrawn to a small 
distance, when a mass immediately fell from the 
summit, which, had they remained in their original 
position, must have crushed the boat to pieces, and 
buried the crew in the deep. Their escape was in- 
deed so happy and so striking, that they did not 
scruple to designate it as providential ; and the dan- 
ger was yet so near, that the waves produced by the 
concussion of the ice on the water, passed, in consi- 
derable sprays, over the boat. 

Dangers arising frmi Ice, when JBoats are en- 
closed and beset, and their Ct^ervs thus prevented 
from joining their Ships. — June 17th 1813, 
several Greenland fishing ships penetrated the ice 
into an enticing opening, in which a number of 
whales were sporting in fancied security. The 
John, of Greenock, Neptune, of Aberdeen, and Earl 
Percy, of Kirkcaldy, v/ere immediately, to appear- 
ance, successful. The crew of the John, in a short 
time, killed several fish ; the people of the Neptune 
killed one, and struck a second ; and the crew of th^ 


Earl Percy struck one also. Things were in this 
state, when I arrived in the same situation, with the 
Esk. My harpooners, happily as it proved, did not 
succeed in any measure. The sea was as smootli as 
the surface of a pond ; but the ice, I observed, was 
in a strange state of disturbance. Some floes, and 
some large pieces, moved with a velocity of three 
or four miles per hour, while other similar masses 
were at rest. Some sheets of ice, though quite de- 
tached from the main body, moved tov.ards the 
south, as it were by magic, and with such a degree 
of rapidity, that they left traces in the water o^ er 
which they passetl, resembling the eddies produced 
by a strong cvu'rent in a shallow river. The John, 
which, on her first arrival in this situation, had na- 
vigated an open lake some leagues in circumference, 
was, in the space of a few hours, closely beset. The 
captain of the Neptune, alarmed by the danger to 
which his men and boats were exposed, left his ship 
to the care of his second mate, with 11 or 12 men, 
and proceeded himself in a boat, making the fifth, 
to their assistance. In a few minutes, these five 
boats, together with two belonging to the Earl 
Percy, were closely fixed in the ice. The ships, 
meanwhile, were progressively forced to a distance, 
by the quantity of ice which poured in from the 
north, and interposed itself between them and the 
boats. In the course of the following morning, the 
intervening ice had spread to the width of seven or 


eight miles ; and shortly afterwards, the people in the 
boats, and those in the corresponding ships, lost sight 
of each other. Happily for the men who were in these 
boats, the John was near ; and so long as she remain- 
ed in safety, their lives were not exposed to immedi- 
ate danger. My Father, who at this time command- 
ed the John, had anticipated the consequences of the 
ice closing, and sought out a place of refuge. This 
consisted of a cove in an adjoining field, filled with 
bay- ice, into which lie thrust his ship, and obtained 
the desired shelter. After three days, the ice slack- 
ed, and the Neptune's boats, together with those 
belonging to the Earl Percy, left the John, al- 
tliough neither the sea nor their ships were visible. 
In this adventure they proved successful. When 
they had rowed many hours to the south-eastward, 
they discovered a ship, on their approach to which 
they were invited on board, and received some 
refreshment. After this, having received infor- 
mation of the relative situation of their ships, 
they put off, and soon afterwards had the happiness 
of regaining their respective vessels. This circum- 
stance, which was the occasion of so much anxiety, 
danger, and loss of time to the crews of the Nep- 
tune and Earl Percy, proved the contrary to the 
people of the John, as they added to her cargo 
seventeen whales, within tlic space of five days ; 
and, on the sixth, tlie ice having again slacked, 
they made their escnpc into a place of safety. 

546 "^VHALE-nSHEHY^ 

UndeT this head, I could adduce a great num- 
ber of anecdotes ; but as they possess a consider- 
able degree of sameness, the preceding may suf- 

II. The climate of the Polar regions becomes a 
source of danger to the whale-fishers, when boats 
are separated from the ship to which they belong, in 
foggy weather, — when they are overtaken by a storm, 
and pre\'ented from joining their ship, — and when 
the people in the boats are long exposed to inclement- 

Boats separated from their Ship in Thick JVeor- 
ther. — During a calm foggy season, towards tlie 
latter end of June, about the year 1800, a harpoon- 
er belonging to the Hercules whaler, struck a fish, 
which, taking but a small quantity of line from the 
fast-boat, ran off along tlie surface of tlie water with 
astonishing velocity. Tln-ee boats belonging to the 
same ship had just time to join company with tiie 
fast-boat, to which they were secured by means of 
a rope, and towed witliout danger of disunion. In 
a short time they were effectually separated from 
their ship. The fish dragged them 30 or 40 miles 
in a southerly direction, without their being able to 
overpower it. After passing many hours in a state 
of increasing anxiety of mind, benumbed with cold 
and oppressed with hunger, they at length heard 


some sound as if proceeding from a ship. They 
raised a loud huzza, which fixed the attention of the 
watch in the ship, and in a few minutes they had 
the happiness of forming a junction with the Hen- 
rietta. At their request, assistance was instantly 
afforded them, with which the whale, that they had 
so long pursued in vain, was presently killed. They 
were then received on board of the Henrietta, got 
permission to place their fish alongside, and were 
refreshed with an ample supply of food and drink, 
and then retired to rest. They remained 48 hours 
on board of this ship, during which time the wea- 
ther w^as constantly calm and foggy. When the 
weather cleared, they observed a humm.ock of ice 
in the horizon, which, mistaking for a ship, they 
put off towards it with their fish in tow. They 
w^ere provided with a compass, for assisting tiiem in 
the navigation, and received the promise of Captain 
Kearsley, that he w^ould remain with his ship, the 
Henrietta, in the same position for a few hours, that 
they might return to him, provided they were unable 
to find their own ship. The fog recommenced, and 
after six hours absence, the boats with the fish re- 
turned. As a breeze of v/ind now sprung up, in a 
direction fair for England, the Henrietta, which 
was nearly fiill, prepared to take advantage of it. 
The people of the Hercules were therefore obliged 
to depart. They put off again to traverse the sea ; 
but as the Henrietta receded to a distance, their 


courage failed them. Rather than again brave the 
terrors whieli they had but recently escaped, they 
determined to sacrifice the whale. They accord- 
ingly returned to tlie ship they had left, cast their 
fish adrift, which, being picked up by the Hen- 
rietta's crew, was added to her cargo, and, agreeable 
to the usage of the fishery, became her prize. The 
condition was, that the Hercules's men should, if 
practicable, be put on board of their own vessel. 

The fish being flensed, the Henrietta stretched 
to the northward about 30 miles, and fell in with 
a ship, which proved to be the Dundee, command- 
ed by my Father. From him they received in- 
formation of the situation of the Hercules, and pro- 
ceeded according to his directions, firing guns at 
intervals, as the fog had returned, until at length 
they were rejoiced by the sound of a gun in answer. 
By repeating their signals, they soon afterwards 
joined the ship of which they were in search, and 
the men and boats were restored to the Hercules ; 
but the fish, according to agreement and general 
usage, was detained. 

Doats overtaken hij Storms, and prevented 
from joining their S/rips*. — On the commencement 

* Though the circumstance immediately following has no re- 
I'erence to the fishery, excepting in so far as the circumstance 
opcurred in Greenland, it is inserted here, on account of the 
ijiterest connected with the ad\cnture. 


of a heavy gale of wind. May 11. 1813, fourteen 
men put off in a boat from the Volunteer of Whit- 
by, with the view of setting an anchor in a large 
piece of ice, to which it was their intention of 
mooring the ship *. The ship approached on a 
signal being made, the sails were clewed up, and a 
rope fixed to the anchor ; but the ice shivering with 
the violence of the strain when the ship fell astern, 
the anchor flew out, and the ship went adiift. The 
sails being again set, the ship was reached to the 
eastward (wind at north), the distance of about two 
miles ; but in attempting to wear and return, the 
ship, instead of performing the evolution, scudded a 
considerable distance to leeward, and was then reach- 
ed out to sea ; thus leaving fourteen of her crev/ to 
a fate the most dreadful, the fulfilment of which 
seemed almost inevitable. The temperature of the 
air was 15" or 16'^ of Fahr. when these poor wretches 
were left upon a detached piece of ice, of no consider- 
able magnitude, without food, without shelter from 
the inclement storm, and deprived of every means of 
refuge except in a single boat, which, on account of 
the number of men, and violence of the storm, was in- 
capable of convepng them to their ship. Death 
stared them in the face whichever way they turned, 

* The " ice-anchor" is represented by fig. 2, and 3. PI. 21. 
and the " ice-axe," with which the hole is made, by fig. 1. 
Sometimes an " ice-drill" fig. 4. PI. 19- is made use of for this 


and a di\ision in opinion ensued. Some were wish"- 
ful to remain by the ice, but the ice could afford 
them no slielter from the piercing v/ind, and would 
probably be soon broken to pieces by the increasing 
swell ; others were anxious to attempt to join their 
ship while she was yet in sight, but the force of the 
wind, the violence of the sea, the smallness of the 
boat in comparison of the number of men to be con- 
veyed, were objections which would have appeared 
utterly insurmountable to any persons but men in 
a state of despair. Judging that, by remaining on 
the ice, death was but retarded for a few hours, as 
the extreme cold must eventually benumb their 
faculties, and invite a sleep which would overcome 
the remains of animation, — they determined on ma- 
king the attempt of rowing to their ship. Poor 
souls, what must have been their sensations at thi« 
moment, — when the spark of hope yet remaining 
v/as so feeble, that a premature death even to them- 
selves seemed inevitable. They made the daring 
experiment, when a few minutes trial convinced 
them that the attempt was utterly impracticable. 
They then, with longing eyes, turned their efforts 
towards recovering the ice they had left, but their 
utmost exertions were unavailing. Every one no^t 
viewed his situation as desperate ; and anticipat- 
ed, as certain, the fatal event which was to put 
a period to his life. Kow great must have 


beeu their delight, and how overpowering their 
sensations, when at this most critical juncture a 
ship appeared in sight ! She was advancing di- 
rectly towards them ; their voices were extended, 
and their flag displayed. But although it was im- 
possible they should be heard, it was not impossible 
they should be seen. Their flag v/as descried by the 
people on board the ship, their mutual courses were 
so directed as to form the speediest union, and in a 
few minutes they found themselves en the deck of the 
Lively of Whitby, under circumstances of safety ! 
They received from their townsmen the warmest 
congratulations ; and while each individual was for- 
ward in contributing his assistance towards the 
restoration of their benumbed bodies, each ap- 
peared sensible that their narrow escape from death 
was highly providential. The forbearance of God 
is wonderful. Perhaps these very men, a few hours 
before, were impiously invoking their own destruc- 
tion, or venting imprecations upon their fellow-be- 
ings ! True it is, that the goodness of the Almighty 
extendeth over all his works, and that while " Mer- 
cy is his darling attribute," — " Judgment is his 
strange work." 

The Resolution of Whitby was moored to a flat 
piece of ice, surrounded by streams and open drift-ice, 
on the 30th of April 1808. In the evening, a whale 
was harpooned, which took about the length of a 


mile and a lialf of line from the fast-boat. Three 
other harpoons and several lances were then struck. 
A convulsive effort of tlie whale followed, when, 
to the astonishincnt of every one, it was found to 
be free. It dived and escaped. By a single ener- 
getic throe, one of the lines and one of the har- 
poons, were broken, and two other harpoons were 
drawn out. In the interval of time, in which the 
boats had been engaged, a storm commenced ; the 
loss of the fish was therefore considered as a happy 
release. The crews of five boats were left to haul 
the lines in, and two (myself in one) returned to the 
ship. Thick snow immediately began to fall, the 
boats were already out of sig]it,and their distance was 
constantly increasing on account of the rapid drift 
of tiie sliip to leeward. At 1 a. m. the mooring 
was cut, the sails set, and the ship worked on short 
tacks to windward, in the supposed direction of tlie 
boats. At 3 A. M. we were rejoiced by the sight of 
three of the boats ; the crews of which informed us^ 
that the remaining two might be expected in half 
an hour by the same track. During five tedious 
hours of anxiety and distress, we navigated off and 
on among troublesome and dangerous ice. Guns 
were fired occasionally, and at every interval all 
hands vsere occupied in straining their eyes, with 
the hope of descrying the boats through the obscu- 
rity of the snow. The snow was not attenuated, 
the storm raged, and the sea increased, while a 



aympatlietic gloom appeared in every countenance, 
which progressively darkened and kept pace with 
tlie dismalness of the night. The loss of one-half 
of the Ii^swich's crew, on a similar occasion, was 
yet fresh on our minds, and involuntary shudder- 
ings indicated our dread of a similar fate to our 
comrades. At length, hap])y moment, a little after 
8 A. M. a shout of joy announced the approach of 
the boats, and a few minutes afterwards their crews 
received the most heartfelt greeting from their ship- 
mates. Being much affected with long exposure to 
cold, they were not suffered to approach a fire, until 
by an exertion as violent as they were capable of, 
in chasing each other round the decks, they had 
excited a genial glow of heat in their bodies, and 
fitted themselves for the change of temperature. 
A stout Shetland boy wa« very near falling a sacri- 
fice to the severity of the exposure. He expressed 
a great wish for sleep, and earnestly entreated the 
men to allow him to compose himself for half an 
hour ; which indulgence he procured in part, by de- 
claring with confidence that he should dream of the 
situation of the ship. After a few minutes repose, 
he was awoke with difficulty, and it required con- 
stant attention on the part of his companions to 
preserve him from a sleep, which they well knew 
was, under such circumstances, the harbinger of 



One of tlie most calamitous evciits^ which, iu 
modern times, has occurred in the fishery, was 
that above alluded to, which happened to the crew 
of the Ipswich, Captain Gordon, about fifteen 
years ago. A whale was struck and killed by 
tlie Ipswich's people, early in the spring of the 
year; a season in which the weather is most un- 
certain. A storm commenced, accompanied with 
snow, before the capture was completed, but never- 
theless the fish was taken to the ship, and having 
shelter from the ice, it was flensed. INIean while 
four boats' crews were employed on a piece of ice, 
in hauling in the lines of the fast-boats, &c. ; du- 
ring tlie performance of which duties, the ship drift- 
ed out of sight of them. Every effort was then 
made by the captain, for discovering these ifnhappy 
rnen, who, being above twenty in number, constituted 
nearly lialf of his crew. But the weather conti- 
nuing thick and stormy, and the frost m^ost intense, 
it is probable they all perished before the conclu- 
sion of the gale ; at least none of them were saved, 
nor can I learn that any of their bodies were ever 
found *. 

The remarkable property of oil in smoothening 
the surface of the sea when considerably agitated, 

* The particulars of this unhappy affair I was desirous to 
have given at some lengtli ; but tliough I applied to those ca- 
pable of affording the information, I have not yet been favour* 
ed with any reply. 


and of preventing breakers in the main ocean, was 
sometimes resorted to by the ancient whalc-fishers 
for their preservation when overtaken by storms at 
sea. It was not unusual, I believe, a century ago, 
for every whale-boat to carry along with it a keg of 
oil, for this very purpose; which oil being slowly 
poured overboard in a storm, afforded a sort of de- 
fence to the boat as it drifted to leeward. The 
height of the waves, it is true, is not affected by 
the action of the oil, but as it intercepts the at- 
traction w'hich dry air possesses for water, it pre- 
vents the immediate action of the v/ind, quells the 
ruffled surface of the waves, and in a great degree 
prevents the tendency to breakers, which consti- 
tutes the principal danger in a stonn. 

Danger of long Exposure to inclement JVinds. 
— The whale-fishers being well defended against 
the cold by suitable clothing, seldom suffer much 
from it. INIany instances, indeed, occur, in which 
the sailors have their faces, feet or hands, partially 
frozen, and a few instances where the seeds of 
disorders are sown, which sometimes occasion pre- 
mature death ; but, on the whole, calamitous cir- 
cumstances of this nature do not often happen. I 
have witnessed several instances of the pernicious 
effects of severe cold, but nothing so remarkable ae 
to be worthy of communication. Those events re- 
sulting from shipwrecks in the Polar regions, have 


356 \VHALE-FISHi:ilV. 

produced the most distressful consequences ; but 
they do not come uuder this division of my work. 

III. The most extensive source of danger to the 
■whale-fisher, when actively engaged in- his occupa- 
tion, arises from the object of his pursuit. 

Excepting wlien it has young under its pro- 
tection, the whale generally exhibits remarkable 
timidity of character. A bird perching on its back 
alarms it ; hence, the greater part of the accidents 
which happen in the course of its capture, must be 
attributed to adventitious circumstances on the part 
of the whale, or to mismanagement or fool-hardi- 
ness on the part of the fishers. 

In this employment, the fisher is liable to receive 
contusions from oars forcibly struck by the fish, or 
from direct blows from its fins or tail ;-^he is liable 
to aceidents, from getting entangled by the line», 
or from the boat being drawn under water by the 
fish, through the medium of the lines ; — and he is 
in danger of being thrown overboard by the heeling 
or jerking of the boat, or more particularly from the 
boat being stove, upsety sunk, or projected into the 
air, by the force of a blow from the whale. 

Contusions from Bloxi'S hjj the Whale. — Several 
instances have occurred, in whicli serious accidents 
have been occasioned by blows from the whale ei- 
ther directly struck, or impressed through the me- 
dium of oars. Harpooners have been struck dead 


-bv a single blow of a wbale's tail, and otber fishers 
have received dangerous wounds. But as I am not 
in possession of so many of the particulars of these 
circumstances as to be able to give them in the nar- 
rative form, this description of accidents must pass 
without any particular illustration. 

Injuries sustained by Entanglements of the 
Lines. — One of the crew of the John of Greenock, 
who was in a fast-boat, in the fishery of 1818, un- 
fortunately slipped his foot through a coil of line 
in the act of running out, which drew him forward 
to the boat's stem, and separated his foot by the 
ancle. He was conveyed by the first boat to the 
ship, where the assistance of several surgeons being 
procured, tlic lower part of the leg was cut off. 
After this, the poor fellow having received the 
most unremitting attention from Captain Jackson, 
with the best sustenance and accommodation the 
ship could afford, was restored to health, and his 
wound in a great measure healed, before the con- 
clusion of the voyage. It is worthy of being remark- 
ed, that the captain and crew of the John subscribed 
upwards of 24 /. for his relief, which was increased 
by the owners of the ship, and others, on arrival, to 
about 37 /. This sum was placed in the '' Provi. 
dent Bank," at Greenock, from whence he was per- 
mitted to draw it, after the rate of 7 s. per week. 

A harpooner belonging to the Henrietta of Whit- 
by, when engaged in lancing a whale, into whicli 


he had previously struck a harpoon, incautious- 
ly cast a little line under his feet that he had just 
hauled into his boat, after it had been drawn out 
by the fish. A painful stroke of his lance in- 
duced the whale to dart suddenly downward, his line 
began to run out fiom beneath his feet, and in an in- 
stant caught him by a turn round his body. He had 
but just time to cry out, " Clear away the line," — 
" O dear !" when he was almost cut asunder, drag- 
ged overboard, and never seen afterwards. The line 
was cut at the moment, but without avail. The 
fish descended a considerable depth, and died ; from 
whence it was drav.'u to the surface by the lines 
connected with it, and secured. 

Fishers throxvn Ovcrhoard^ hy the jerking or 
sudden heeling of the Boats, in consequence of 
Blows from Whales. — On the 3d of June 1811, a 
boat from the ship Resolution, commanded at the 
time by myself, put off in pursuit of a whale, and 
was rowed upon its back. At the moment that it wa3 
harpooned, it struck the side of the boat a violent 
blow with its tail, the shock of which tlircAv the 
boat-stcerer to some distance into the water. A re- 
petition of the blow projected the harpooner and 
line-manager in a similar way, and completely 
drenched the part of the crew remaining in the 
boat, with the sprays. One of the men regained 
the boat, but as the fish immediately sunk, and dre^v 


the boat away from the place, his two companions 
in misfortune were soon left far beyond the reach of 
assistance. The harpooner, though a practised 
swimmer, felt himself so bruised and enervated by a 
blow he had received on the chest, that he was to- 
tally incapacitated from giving the least support to 
his fellow sufferer. The ship being happily near, 
a boat which had been lowered on the first alarm, 
arrived to their succour, at the moment when the 
line-manager, who was unacquainted \nih the art of 
swimming, was on the point of sinking, to rise no 
more. Both the line-manager and harpooner were 
preserved ; and the fish, after a few hours close pur- 
suit, was subdued. 

A large whale, harpooned from a boat belonging 
to the same ship, became the subject of a general 
chase on the 23d of June 1809. Being myself in 
the first boat which approached the fish, I struck 
my harpoon at arm's length, by which we fortunate- 
ly evaded a blow that appeared to be aimed at the 
boat. Another boat then advanced, and another 
harpoon was struck, but not vvitli the same result ; 
for the stroke was immediately returned by a tre- 
mendous blow from the fish's tail. The boat v»'as 
sunk by the shock ; and, at the same time, whirled 
round with such velocity, that the boat-steercr was 
precipitated into the water, on the side next to the 
fish, and was accidentally carried do^vu to a consi- 
derable depth by its tail. After a minute or so, he 


arose to tlie surface of the water and was taken iip^ 
along- with liis companions into my boat. A simi- 
lar attack was made on the next boat which came 
up ; but tlie harpooncr being warned of the prior 
conduct of the fish, used sucli precautions, that the 
blow, tliough equal in strength, took effect only m 
an inferior degree. The boat was slightly stove. 
The acti^ ity and skill of the lancers soon overcame 
this designing whale, accomplished its capture, and 
added its produce to the cargo of the ship. Such 
intentional mischief on the part of a whale, it must 
be observed, is an occurrence which is somewhat rare. 
Again. AVhile the same ship, (Resolution,) na- 
■\ igated an open lake of water, in the 81st degree, 
of north latitude, during a keen frost and strong 
north wind, on the 2d of June 1806, a whale ap- 
peared, and a boat put off in pursuit. On its se- 
cond visit to the surface of the sea, it was harpoon- 
ed. A convulsive lieave of the tail, which succeed- 
ed the wound, struck the boat at the stern ; and by 
its reaction, projected the boat-steerer overboard. 
As the line in a moment dragged the boat beyond 
his reach, the crew threw some of their oars towards 
him for his support, one of which he fortunately 
seized. Ilie ship and boats being at a considerable 
distance, and the fast-boat being rapidly drawn 
away from him, the harpooner cut the line, with 
the view of rescuing him from his dangerous situa- 
tion. But no sooner was this act performed, than 


to their extreme mortificatioii they discovered, that 
in consequence of some oars being thrown towards 
tlieir floating comrade, and others being broken 
or unshipped by the blow from the fish, one oar 
only remained ; with which, owing to the force of 
the wind, they tried in vain to approach him. A 
considerable period elapsed, before any boat from 
the ship could afford him assistance, though the 
men strained every nerve for the purpose. At 
length, when they reached him, he was found with 
his arms stretched over an oar, almost deprived of 
sensation. On his arrival at the ship, he was in a 
deplorable condition. His clothes were frozen like 
mail, and his hair constituted a helmet of ice. He 
was immediately conveyed into the cabin, his clothes 
taken ofl', his limbs and body dried and well rubbed, 
and a cordial administered to him which he drank. 
A dry shirt and stockings were then put upon him, 
and he was laid in the captain's bed. After 
a few hours sleep he awoke, and appeared consi- 
derably restored, but complained of a painful sen- 
sation of cold. He was, therefore, removed to his 
own hirthy and one of his messmates ordered to lie 
on each side of him, whereby the diminished cir- 
culation of the blood was accelerated, and the ani- 
mal heat restored. The shock on liis constitution, 
however, was greater than Vvas anticipated. He re- 
covered in the course of a few days, so as to be able 
to engage in liis ordinal y pursuits ; but many 


months elapsc^tl, before ]iis eoiintenance exhibited its 
v.'oiitcd appearance of health. 

Boats Sunk, Stove, or Upset, hij blows from 
IVIiales. — The Aimwell of Whitby, while cruising 
the Greenland seas, in the year 1810, had boats in. 
chase of whales on the 26th of IMay. One of them 
was harpooned. But instead of sinking immediate- 
ly on receiving the wound, as is the most usual 
manner of the whale, this individual only dived for a 
moment, and then rose again beneath the boat, struck 
it in the most vicious manner with its fins and tail, 
stove it, upset it, and then disappeared. The crew, 
seven in number, got on the bottom of the boat ; 
but the unequal action of the lines, which for some 
time remained entangled with the boat, rolled it oc- 
casionally over, and thus plunged the crew repeat- 
edly into the water. Four of them, after each im- 
mersion, recovered themselves and clung to the boat ; 
but the other three, one of whom was the only per- 
son acquainted v/ith the art of swimming, were 
drowned before assistance could arrive. The four men 
on the boat being and conveyed to the ship, 
tlie attack on the whale was continued, and two 
more haqioons struck. But the whale irritated, in- 
stead of being enervated by its wounds, recommen- 
ced its furious conduct. The sea was in a foam. 
Its tail and fins were in av» ful play ; and in a short 


time, harpoon after harpoon drew out, the fish was 
loosened from its entanglements and escaped. 

In the fishery of 1819, the Henrietta of Whithy 
suffered a similar loss. A fish which was struck very 
near the ship, by a hlo\v of its tail, stove a small hole 
in the boat's bow. Every individual shrinking from 
the side on which the blow was impressed, aided the 
influence of the stroke, and upset the boat. They 
all clung to it while it was bottom up ; but the line 
having got entangled among the thwarts, suddenly 
drew the boat under water, and with it part of the- 
crew. Excessive anxiety among the people in the 
ship, occasioned delay in sending assistance ; so that 
when the first boat arrived at the spot, two survivor?; 
only out of six men were found. 

During a fresh gale of wind in the season of 1809, 
one of the Resolution's harpooners struck a suckinc? 
whale. Its mother being near, all the other boatb. 
were disposed around, with the hope of entangling 
it. The old v^hale pursued a circular route round 
its cub, and was followed by the boats ; but its ve-r 
locity was so considerable, that they were unable to 
keep pace with it. Being in the capacity of har- 
pooncr on this occasion myself, I proceeded to the 
chase, after having carefully marked the proceedings 
of the fish. I selected a situation, in which I con- 
ceived the whale would make its appearance, and 
was in the act of directing ray crevr to cease rowing, 
when a terrible blow was struck on the boat. The 


wiialc I never saw, but tlie effect of the blow was 
too important to be overlooked. About 15 square 
feet of the bottom of the boat were driven in ; it fil- 
led, sunk, and upset in a moment. Assistance was 
providentially at hand, so that we w^e all taken up 
without injury, after being but a few minutes in the 
water. The whale escaped ; the boat's lines fell out 
and were lost, but the boat was recovered. 

A remarkable instance of the power which the 
whale possesses in its tail, was exhibited within my 
own observation, in the year 1807. On the 29th of 
]VIay, a wliale was harpooned by an oiBcer belong- 
ing to the Resolution. It descended a considerable 
depth ; and, on its re-appearance, evinced an uncom- 
mon degree of irritation. It made such a display 
of its fins and tail, that few of the crew were hardy 
enough to approach it. The captain, (my Father,) 
observing their timidity, called a boat, and himself 
struck a second harpoon. Another boat immediate- 
ly followed, and unfortunately "advanced too far. 
The tail was again reared into the air, in a terrific 
attitude, — the impending blow was evident, — the 
harpooner, who was directly underneath, leaped 
overboard, — and the next moment the threatened 
stroke was impressed on the centre of the boat, 
which buried it in the water. Happily no one was 
injured. The harpooner who leaped overboard, 
escaped certain death by the act, — the tail having 
struck the very spot on which he stood. The ef- 


fects of the blow were astonishing. The keel wae 
broken,-^-^the gunwales, and every plank, except- 
ing two, were cut through, — and it Vvas evident 
that tlic boat would ha^e been completely divided, 
had not the tail struck directly upon a coil of lines. 
The boat was rendered useless. 

Instances of disasters of this kind, occasioned by 
blows from the whale, could be adduced in great 
numbers, — cases of boats being destroyed by a sin- 
gle stroke of the tail, arc not unknown,-— instances 
of boats having been stove or upset, and their crews 
wholly or in part drov.iied, are not unfrequent, — 
and several cases of whales having made a regular 
attack upon every boat which came near them, 
dashed some in pieces, and killed or drowned some 
of the people in them, have occurred within a few 
years, even under my own observation. 

Boats, together •with their Crews and Ajipara- 
tiis, pi^ojected into the Air. — The Dutch ship 
Gort-Moolen, commandetl by Cornelius Gerard 
Ouwekaas, with a cargo of seven fish, was anchored 
in Greenland in the year 1660. The captain, per- 
ceiving a whale a-head of his ship, beckoned his at- 
tendants, and threw himself into a boat. He was 
the first to approach tlie wlialc ; and was fortunate 
enough to harpoon it before the arrival of the se- 
cond boat, which was on the advance. Jacques 
\ ienkes, who had the direction of it, joined hi« 


captaii immediately afterwards, and prepared to 
make a second attack on the fish, when it should 
remount again to the surftice. At the moment of 
its ascension, the boat of Vienkes happening unfor- 
tunately to be perpendicularly above it, was so sud- 
denly and forcibly lifted up by a stroke of the head 
of the whale, that it was dashed to pieces before the 
hai-pooner could discharge his weapon. Vienkes 
flew along v\ith the pieces of the boat, and fell upon 
the back of the animal. This intrepid seaman, who 
still retained liis weapon in his grasp, harpooned the 
whale on which he stood ; and, by means of the har- 
jDoon and the line, which he never abandoned, he 
steadied himself firmly upon the fish, notwithstand- 
ing his hazardous situation, and regardless of a con- 
siderable wound that Ire received in his leg, in his fall 
along with the fragments of the boat. All the efforts 
of the other boats to approach the whale, and deliver 
the harpooner, were futile. The captain, not seeing 
any other method of saving his unfortunate com- 
panion, who was in some way entangled with the 
line, called to him to cut it with his knife, and be- 
take himself to swimming. Vienkes, embarrassed 
and disconcerted as he was, tried in vain to follow 
this counsel. His knife was in the pocket of his 
drawers ; and, being unable to support himself with 
one hand, he could not get it out. The whale, 
mean wliile, continued advancing along the surface 
of the water with great rapidity, but fortunately 


never attempted to dive. While liis comrades de- 
spaired of his life, the harpoon by which he held, at 
length disengaged itself from the body of the whale. 
Vienkes being then liberated, did not fail to take 
advantage of this circumstance ; he cast himself into 
the sea, and, by swimming, endeavoured to regain 
the boats which continued the pursuit of the whale. 
When his shipmates perceived him struggling with 
the waves, they redoubled their exertions. They 
reached liim just as his strength was exhausted, and 
had the happiness of rescuing this adventurous har- 
pooner from his perilous situation *. 

In one of my earliest voyages to the whale-fishery, 
I observed a circumstance v/hich excited my highest 
astonishment. One of our harpooners had struck 
a whale, it dived, and all the assisting boats had 
collected round the fast-boat, before it arose to the 
surface. The first boat which approached it ad- 
vanced incautiously upon it. It rose with unex- 
pected violence beneath the boat, and projected it 
and all its crew, to the height of some yards in the 
air. It fell on its side, upset, and cast all the men 
into the water. One man received a severe blow in 
his fall, and appeared to be dangerously injured; 

* I give this ancedote on the authority of the author of the 
Histoire des Peches^ who translated it from the Dutch. Part 
of the story bears the marks of tnith ; but some of it, it must 
be acknowledged^ borders pja the marvellous. 

368 WllALE-FISHEllV. 

but soon after liis arrival on board of the ship, he 
recovered from the effects of tlie accident. The rest 
of the boat's crew escaped without any hurt. 

Captain Lyons of the Raith of Leith, while prose- 
cuting the wliale-fishery on the Labrador coast, in 
the season of 1802, discovered a large whale at a 
short distance ii-oni the ship. Four boats were dis- 
patched in pursuit, and two of them succeeded in 
approaching it so closely together, that two harpoons 
were struck at the same moment. The fish descend- 
ed a few fathoms in the direction of another of tlie 
boats, which was on tlie advance, rose accidentally 
beneath it, struck it with its head, and threw the 
boat, men and apparatus, about fifteen feet into the 
air. It was inverted by the stroke, and fell into the 
water with its keel upwards. ^\il the people were 
picked up a\i\e by the fourth boat, which was just at 
hand, excepting one man, who having got entang- 
led in the boat» fell beneath it, and was unfortu- 
nately drowned. Tlie fish was soon afterwards killed. 
The engraving which forms tlie frontispiece to tliis 
volume, executed from an original drawing by James 
Waddel, Esq., is illustrative of this accident. 



Proceedings in a Greenland Ship, from leaving the 
Fishing Stations, to her arrival in Britain. 

When a ship has on board an ample cargo, or 
when the fogs set in, and the whales totally disap- 
pear, so as to put a period to the fishery for that 
season, there remains no sufficient motive to induce 
farther stay in the country ; the course of each ship 
is, therefore, directed immediately homeward. 

It is not unusual for a ship to bear away, without 
the navigators having first obtained any certain 
knowledge as to their situation in longitude. Not 
having, perhaps, seen any land for some weeks, or 
even months, or possibly not since their arrival on 
the fishing stations ; having neither a chronometer on 
board, nor the means of taking a lunar observation ; 
they set out ignorant of the meridian on which 
they sail, and sensible of their being liable to an er- 
ror of 5 or 6 degrees of longitude. In such cases, 
they steer a south-westerly course by the compass. 
If they happen to be in a more westerly situation 
than they expect, an increase in the westerly varia 
tion reacts a little in their favour ; and if they prove 
to be farther easterly, a decrease of the variation of 
the compass, tends to give them more westing than 
VOL. II. A a 


they calculate upon. The increase of variation 
with the longitude in a westerly direction, acts, 
therefore, in the navi" .tor's favour, but only in a 
trifling degree. I' another respect, however, this 
regular altcratioii of the variation serves to point out 
the situation of tlie ship in longitude, within 2" or 
S'^, when a sufficiently delicate instrument is on 
board for observing the variation with accuracy. 

If the homeward bound Greenlandmen steer too 
far to the eastward, they make the coast of Xorway, 
and if too for to tlie westward, they probably make 
Fcroe. The appearance of certain birds, sea-weeds 
and medusa^ — sudden alterations in the swell, — 
and the examination of the depth of the ^^■ater, are 
the principal intimations wliich give them a know- 
ledge of tlieir situation. The appearance of sea- 
weeds and medusae in the water, and of solan 
geese, skua-gulls and land birds on the wing, denote 
their proximity to land. A westerly swell general- 
ly prevailing between the latitudes of 60° and 65", 
its sudden cessation indicates shelter from some land. 
If, in the 62d or 63d degree of latitude, the westerly 
swtII be suddenly obstructed, it is evident that the 
Feroe Islands are not far distant to the v>^estward ; 
but if the same effect takes place in the 61st degree, 
it denotes the proximity of Slietland to the Vvcst- 


Subject to mists as the Shetland Islands are, the 
navigator, in thick stormy weather, is sometimes 
exceedingly embarrassed in approaching them. Pos- 
sessing no satisfactory knowledge of his situation, 
he cannot, perhaps, determine, whether he be on 
the east side or west side, or on the meridian of 
these islands. In the latter case, he apprehends 
danger from the Skerries, which lie on both sides of 
the land, at a considerable distance from the main, 
some of which are so small, low and rocky, that, in 
bad weather, or in the night, they constitute a very 
fonnidable source of danger. He apprehends some 
little risk of nmning to the westward of Orkney, if 
he be much to the westward of Shetland, or of being 
detained on the coast of Norway, if he prove to be 
on the east side. The westerly winds, which are 
here prevalent about the middle and latter end of 
summer, though tolerably favourable for a ship 
in a fair way, between Shetland and Norway, re- 
tard such as happen to be on the coast of Nor- 
way, especially if they be unable to clear the land 
on the starboard tack. 

In approaching Shetland in foggy weather, or 
during the night, the soundings are the only satis- 
factory guide. If the navigator be pretty certain 
of liis latitude, and try for soundings in the parallel 
of 60^ or 61 degrees, he will have no bottom with 
100 or 120 fathoms of line, at the distance of thirty' 
miles from the west side of Shetland : but on the 

A a 2 


east side, he ^vill have soundings in 70 or 80 fa- 
tiioms, fine sand, or sand and shells, midway between 
Shetland and Norway; coarser soundings, with some 
increase of dept^i nearer to Shetland ; and no bottom 
at 120 fathoms, witliin sight of the Norway land. 
The circumstance, therefore, of obtaining soundings, 
is the general criterion of being in east longitude ; 
and of finding no bottom, of being to the westward 
of Shetland in west longitude. 

In the year 1812, I steered into the latitude of 
60°, in longitude by lunar observation about 3^* W. 
As a matter of curiosity, I tried for soundings, and, 
to my great surprise, found bottom in 78 fathoms. 
Had I not had the greatest confidence in my lunar 
observation, (especially as wc had left Greenland with- 
out obtaining any departure, and without having seen 
land for two months previous,) I should, undoubted- 
ly, have steered a south-westerly course, which would 
have run us to the westward of Scotland. IVIy mate, 
and some other experienced officers on board, felt 
assured that we were to the eastward of Shetland. 
Such, however, was my confidence that we were to 
the westward, that we sailed 18 miles to the east- 
ward, struck soundings in 45 fathoms, rocks and 
shells, and then 20 miles farther on an E. by S. 
course, when our soundings w ere CO fathoms, shells. 
Tlie weather had previously been clear, but it was. 
now dark. On calculating from my lunar observa- 
tion the position of the sliip, the island of Fula ap- 
peared to be at the distance of 10 miles, bearing 


north. We stood off and on during the night, and 
at day light descried the very island of Fula, hear- 
ing N. N. E. distant 15 or 20 miles ! I mention 
this circumstance thus particularly, hecause I feel 
assured, that such is the confidence Greenland cap- 
tains in general have in their easterly situation when 
they find soundings, that, witliout the same advan- 
tage of a lunar observation as I on this occasion pos- 
sessed, it is highly probable they would have run to 
the westward of Britain altogether. 

An accurate survey of the Shetland isbnds, with 
particular soundings on every side, marking the ex- 
act situations where soundings, with a certain length 
of line, can no longer be obtained, would be a great 
advantage both to the Greenland and Archangel 

Besides the great call for a survey of the Shet- 
land Islands and the soundings around them, an- 
other great safeguard to this navigation, v;ould be 
the erection of Light-houses on two or three of the 
most dangerous and prominent parts of the coast *. 
To advance in the night towards this coast, where 
rocky islands abound, and strong tides prevail, is a 

* My friend Mr Stevenson, the distinguisl^cd Engineer to the 
Commissioners for Northern Light-houses, infonns me that, on 
the motion of William Erskine, Esq. Sheriff of Orkney and 
Shetland, the Board has recently resolved to erect light- 
houses on the Shetland Islands, beginning with one on Sum- 
brough-Head. The advantages will be great; and, at the 
same time, I understand; will infer no additional ch.-u-ge on the; 


hazardous uiiclcrtakiiig, ncitlier is it altogether safe 
to lie-to near it ; for ships which have lain-to in 
the evening, at the distance of five or six leagues 
from Sumbrough-Head, (the southern extremity of 
Zetland), have sometimes been sv/ept by the tide to 
within a few furlongs of the shore, in the space of 
two or three hours ! This remarkable effect of a 
tide, the nature of which is but very imperfectly 
known, I myself experienced in the Esk, in the year 
1814. The circumstances were as follow : In the 
evening of the 26th of March, v/e passed Fair Is- 
land, with a south wind. The weather being stormy 
and hazy, we reefed our sails, and hauled to the 
eastward at 8 p. m., being then 10 miles S. W. by S. 
from the southern point of Shetland. We proceed- 
ed on an E. S. E. course, under easy sail, supposing 
ourselves quite out'of the influence of any rapid tide, 
and consequently in safety ; meaning to stand off 
and on during the night, and proceed to Lerwick 
after day-break. I liad just retired to rest, when 
the officer of the watch called out, " Land'' I jump- 
ed upon deck, and, incredible as it was, saw a lofty 
peak of land, scarcely two miles distant, under our 
lee, and presently afterwards observed land a-hcad, 
and to windward ! The niglit being tempestuous and 
dark, our situation was very alarming. The ship was 
instantly " weared," a smart sail set, and we soon 
cleared tlie land to the westward. I recognized the 
land to be Fitfil-Head ; consequently the ship must 


have been diifted by the tide into Quendale Bay ; 
a small inlet at the southern extremity of Shetland. 
We stretched to the westward about three hours, and 
then returned, supposing, from the state of the sea, 
that the ship could not have fetched the land we 
had before seen ; but the influence of the returning 
tide had caught us, and to our surprise at day-light, 
though the atmosphere was not foggy, no land was 
in sight ! Soon afterwards, however, a certain hazi- 
ness in the atmosphere dispersed, and Fair Island 
made its appearance, bearing west, and Sumbrough 
Head N. N. K. V2 miles distant. From a correct 
estimation of the courses and distances steered, I 
ascertained, that in the evening (8 to 10 P. m.) the 
ebb-tide had carried us N. f E. pe?' compass, 11 
miles in two hours ; and that during the night, the 
flood-tide had taken us in the opposite direction 
about 12 miles. Our situation at day-light, indeed, 
was almost precisely the same as that where vv^e had 
hauled the wind the night before ; and had we not 
had certain evidence of having seen the land, we 
should have supposed we had been deceived. 

Vessels returning from Greenland or Archangel, 
are so very liable to make the coast of Norway, when 
the navigators imagine themselves at the distance 
of some degrees, that the circumstance is notorious. 
An error of 5 or 6 degrees of longitude, in the 
reckoning of a Greenland ship, is by no means un- 
common, notwithstanding the coast of Spitzbergen 


may have been seen immediately before setting out 
on the passage liomeward. As this error is inva-r 
riably in one direction, the canse must be regu- 
lar. Ships which have made the Norway land, have 
been frequently supposed to be steering direct for 
Shetland. This error has usually been attributed 
to an easterly current ; if such a cause, however, do 
operate at all, most certainly it is not the sole cause. 
There is little dou])t but it is chiefly owing to the 
increase of the westerly variation of the compass, 
in consequence of the " local attraction" of the ship 
on the magnetic needle, when steering on a course 
to the westward of the magnetic meridian ; and 
partly to an error in the departure of the Green- 
land ships, arising from the situation of the south- 
ern parts of Spitzbergen being laid down 3 or 4 
degrees too far to the westward in the charts. 

That there is a kind of focus or centre of attrac- 
tion in every vessel, towards which, in north lati- 
tude, the north point of the compass is invariably 
drawn, is a fact which is now sufficiently establish- 
ed. When the compass, therefore, is placed near 
the stern of the vessel, which is its usual situation, 
its north point in the northern hemisphere, is at- 
tracted towards the centre of the ship. Hence, if 
the ship's head is directed towards the west, the 
north point of the compass being deflected forward, 
produces an error of a quarter to half a point to- 
wards the north, in very high latitudes, and au 


equal error in the same direction when sailing on 
an east course ; so that when a ship's head, by the 
compass placed near the middle of the quarter-deck, 
appears to be west-, it is actually W. ^ S. or W. ^ S, 
compared with the true magnetic meridian ; and 
when it appears to be east, it is E. ^ S. or E. ^ S. 
On more oblique courses, such as N. E., S. E., 
S. W. and N. ^.V. the equation or anomaly of va- 
riation^ though less considerable, is still very per- 
ceptible. A ship steering with a fair wind from 
Greeenland, S. W. :|; W. by the compass, scarcely 
makes good a S. S. W. course, though the variation 
should be but two points. This quarter point of 
attraction or anomaly of variation, all the way 
from latitude 78° to 61®, a distance of 1020 miles, 
occasions an error of 152' of longitude, or about 
2 3 degrees, which the reckoning will be to tlic 
westward of the ship *. This, of itself, is nearly 
sufficient to account for the frequent mistakes Vvhich 
are made, but amply so if we view it in connection 
with the liability to err, occasioned by the insuffi- 
ciency of the usual allowances made for lee-way, 
when westerly winds prevail, together with the other 
source of error already mentioned, in the departure 

* This subject, the anomaly of variation, having been con- 
sidered more at large in the Fiist Volume of this Work, it is 
unnecessary to state in this place the facts and observations 
from which the above conclusions arc derived. 


from Spitzbcrgen, which operates in tlic same di- 

Hence, where there are such prevailing sources 
of error, and these, instead of compensating each 
other, all tending in the same direction, celestial ob- 
servations become of the greatest importance. As, 
hov/ever, the prevalence of cloudy or foggy weather 
admits of but few opportunities of taking lunar 
observations, the chronometer, from the facility with 
which the time may be generally got, becomes a most 
useful instrument. But as accidents have rarely arisen 
from the want of a chronometer, detention only in 
the passage being the usual consequence, this in- 
convenience is not considered of sufficient import- 
ance to bring chronometers into general use in this 


Legislative Regulations on the Importation of the 
Produce of the Northern Wliale-Fisherics. 

IiMMEDiATELY on the arrival of a fishing ship 
at the port from whence she sailed, the mustering 
officer of the customs repairs on board, receives the 
manifest of the cargo *, with a true copy thereof, 

* A immifcst is a kind of schedule in writing, signed by the 
master of the vessel^ contiiining the name or names of the place 


examines into the identity and number of the crew, 
by the usual form of mustering, and places an of- 
ficer or two on board to take cliarge of the cargo on 
the part of the revenue. The duty of these officers 
is to take account of every cask or other article of 
which the cargo consists, as it is discharged from tlie 
ship, and one of them to accompany the same to its 
destination, carrying an account thereof in writing, 
and not quitting the lighter wherein it is contained 
until he is relieved by another officer, who is j^laccd 
in the capacity of lajiding-waitcr on the premises, 
wlierc the blubber is warehoused or boiled. 

Within twenty-four hours after the ship arrives 
in port, the master is required, under the penalty 
of 100/., to attend at the customhouse, to make 
his report, that is, to make affidavit of the built, 
burden and cargo of the ship he commands ; on 
which occasion he must deliver his manifest to the 

or places where the cargo was laden ; the name of the master ; 
the name, admeasm-ement, and built of the Aessel ; and the 
port to which she belongs ;.and a true account and description 
of every individual part of the cargo. — 26th Geo. III. c. 40. 

§1- • 

Goods imported in a British vessel, into a British i)ort, 
without being regularly described in the manifest, i-enders the 
master or commander of the vessel, liable to forfeit double the 
value of such goods, together with the full duties payable on 
the same. — 26th Geo. III. c. 40. § j. 


collector or other chief officer, (if it lias not before 
been demanded of him,) under tlie penalty of 200/. * 
At the same time, the log-book mvist be produced ; 
and its contents, as required by law f , verified on 
the oath of the master and mate ; and affidavit also 
made by the same persons, of their faithful deal- 
ings, according to the requirements of law, during 
the voyage. After these things are accomplished, 
the mustering officer's certificate, and schedule of 
the crew, the commissioners' licence, and the affi- 
davits of master and mate, are transmitted to the 
commissioners, who, being satisfied of the faithful- 
ness of all the proceedings, are required to order 
payment of the bounty on demand |. 

Previous to the cargo being admitted to entry, 
free from the duties imposed on the produce of fo- 
reign fishing, the owner, importer, or consignee of 
the cargo, together with the master or commander 
of the vessel, must severally make oath, each to the 
best of his knowledge and belief, that the said car- 
^0 was the produce of fish, &c. actually caught by 
the crew of a British built vessel, wholly owned by 
liis ISIajesty's subjects, usually residing in Great 
Britain, &c. registered and navigated according to 
law J, 

* SCthGeo. II L c. 40. § 11. 

t 2Gth Geo. III. c. 41. § 10. 

+ HGth Geo. III. c. 41. § 6, 

§ iOih Geo. III. c, 98. § 37- Appendix No. I. & IV, 


The importer or consignee of any goods imported 
into Britain, is required, within twenty days after 
the master shall have made his report, under cer- 
tain penalties, to make a due entry with the collec- 
tor or other chief officer of the customs at the port 
where the ship shall arrive, of all the goods by him 
imported therein, and pay the full duties thereon *. 
In the whale-fishery trade, however, the duties are 
not usually paid until the blubber is reduced into 
oil, and the exact produce thereof ascertained, 
though the time exceed the twenty days allowed 
by the above act f ; but should the proprietors have 
occasion to send any part of the produce away be- 
fore the whole cargo is boiled off, entry must be 
made of such quantity at least, and the duty charge- 
able on it paid, before it can be allowed to be removed 
from under the eye of the superintending officer 
appointed by the Customs. 

* 26th Geo. III. c. 40. § 14. 

t By act 49th Geo, III. c. 68. ; and 39th & 40th Geo. III. 
c. 51. 5 1., blubber is allowed to be boiled into oil, under the 
inspection of the proper officers, and such oil admitted to en- 
try, and the duties paid thereon. 





Some Account of the Whale-Fish cry, as at jjrc- 
sent conducted in Davis' Straits, and on the 
Coast of Labrador. 

X HE maimer of conducting the fishery in Davis* 
Straits, being so very similar to the proceedings in 
the Greenland fishery, I shall only notice briefly, 
such circumstances as are peculiar to the former. 

Ships intended for Davis' Straits, commonly put 
to sea a little earlier than the Greenland ships. A 
few years ago, they were in the habit of saihng in 
the latter part of February ; but, at present, they 
seldom leave their ports before the beginning or mid- 
dle of ^larch. On their passage outward, the Davis' 


Straits fishers usually touch at Orkney or Shetland, 
for the purpose of procuring men, and such trilling 
stores as are furnished at a cheap rate in these islands, 
together with a view of trimming and preparing 
their vessels for accomplishing the passage across 
the Atlantic. 

In consequence of the frequent storms and high 
seas which prevail in the spring of the year, the pas- 
sage across the Atlantic is often attended with dif- 
ficulty. Instead of steering direct for the southern 
point of Greenland, which lies in about 59^ " north 
latitude, this navigation is usually performed in 
tiie parallel of 58", for the purpose of avoiding a 
dangerous body of heavy drift ice, which sometimes 
extends to a considerable distance to the southward 
of Cape Farewell. After sailing 5° or 6" of longi- 
tude to the westv.ard of the Cape, a more iiorthcrly 
course is generally pursued, until the ships fall in 
with the Labrador ice, in the parallel of Gl*-' or 62°. 
The greatest danger in this navigation is from ice- 
bergs, Vi'hich the whalers are constantly liable to meet 
with after passing the meridian of Cape Farevvell, 
up to their arrival at the face of the ice, connected 
with the shore of Labrador. In the night, or in thick 
vveathcr, they arc particularly hazardous, and espe- 
cially in storms. In moderate A\iiids, indeed, such 
an intimation of their proximity is derived, either 
from their natural effulgence in some states of the 
atmosphere, or from their intense .blackness in 


others, that they can be generally avoided. But in 
storms, when a ship ceases to be under command^ 
they become one of the most appalling dangers which 
can be presented to the navigator. 

In the Spitsbergen seas, though the ice is equal- 
ly dangerous to the shipping, and is often the occa^ 
sion of their loss, — tliough it presents a friglitful 
appearance and a most formidable danger, — yet it 
seldom proves fatal to the navigators, as they can 
commonly escape upon it, and sustain themselves 
till an opportunity of making their escape is pre- 
sented. But the danger from ice-bergs is more 

Two most fatal shipwrecks have occurred in the 
Davis' Straits fleet, within the last five years. The 
lloyalist. Captain Edmonds, and the London, Cap- 
tain jMathews, having been lost with all hands ; 
the former among ice-bergs in 1814, and the latter, 
it is supposed, in a similar way, in 1817. Little 
is known respecting these distressing events, espe- 
cially with regard to the London. As to the other 
ship, how^ever, I have received a few particulars from 
an intelligent seaman, Captain Bennet of the ^^e- 
nerable, who was in company with the lloyalist 
immediately before she was wi-ccked. April the 
14th, the Venerable was in latitude 61" 7', longi- 
tude by estimation 56" 13' west ; the lloyalist in 
company. They fell in with drift ice at 8 a. m., 
when a heavy gale of wind commenced, and conti- 


Jiiied twelve hours, after which the wind abated 5 
but suddenly veering to the Tv. W. a tremendous 
stonn arose, which, accompanied with sleet or snow, 
continued without intermission during twenty hours. 
Before dark of the 15th (nautical day), Captain 
Bennet saw several ice-bergs, at which time he be- 
lieved the Royalist was lying to windward of an 
extensive chain of these islands of ice, among which 
she was wTecked in the course of the same night. 
The unfortunate ctew probably perished immediate- 
ly, as the sea was uncommonly high. 

A subscription w^as opened at Hull by the own- 
ers of the whalers, which met w4th liberal support 
from the humane of other classes of people, both in 
this and in neighbouring tovms. The sum raised 
amounted to 1122/. 13^. 6d., which was divided in 
the following manner. To the captain's widow, 
216/. 11^. 3d. ; to the widow of the chief mate, 51/. 
19s. 6 d.; and to the widows and families of the 
rest of the crew certain monthly shares, proportion- 
ate to the number and age of their children, until 
the whole was expended. 

The London was lost about the same situation in 
the year 1817. A subscription, amounting to 
530/. lls.y raised chiefly by the people of Hull, was 
divided among the widows and families of the crew 
in the manner following. To the widow of the cap- 
tain, 42/.; three shares ^cr month, of 7*. each, to 
every other widow; and one sliare |;(7r month to 

VOL. II. B b 


every child under fourteen years of age. The last 
monthly payment was made on the 24th of De- 
cember 1818* 

The fishery on the coast of Labrador commences 
occasionally in tlie month of March. On this station, 
which is inhabited by a large description of whales, 
some fishers have persevered altogether, and have 
sometimes procured great cargoes. It is, however, 
a dangerous fishery. The nights being long and 
dark on their first arrival, they are obliged to use 
lanterns in tlieir boats, when fish happen to be 
struck, or to remain unsubdued at the close of 
day, for the purpose of keeping the ships and boats 
together ; on which occasions, the stormy weather 
that frequently occurs at this season, exposes them 
to continual danger. Those who prosecute the 
northern fishery, after making the ice at the 
" South- West," as the neighbourhood of the La- 
brador coast is usually denominated, proceed al- 
most immediately up Davis' Straits, towards Baf- 
fin's Bay. If, in the month of April or begin- 
ning of ]May, they commence this navigation, and 
sail along the edge of the western ice to the 

* Captain Beiuiet's communication by letter. — It is some- 
what remarkable, that Captain Mathews of the London, wlio 
perished when his sliip was lost, was engaged as chief-mate of 
the Royalist, for the voyage in which she v/as wi'ecked, but, 
by some accident, was prevented from sailing in her. In the 
first instance, he had an extraordinary escape from premature 
death, and yet tlixce yeai-s iifterwards he suffered a similar ca-» 



northward, they often find it joining the ice con- 
nected with the west coast of Greenland, in the la- 
titude of 66l° or 67", and meet with a considerable 
barrier of it in 68°, immediately beyond which, a 
few leagues from land, is a good fishing station. As 
the ice opens to the northward, the \vhales retreat 
in that direction, and the fishers follow as prompt- 
ly as possible. Tlie whalers often reach Disko 
early in May ; but it is generally the latter 
end of this month, or the beginning of June, 
before they can pass the second barrier of ice, 
lying about Hare Island, in the 71st degree of 
latitude, and enter the northern inlets frequented by 
the whales. The three inlets, called the South-east 
Bay, Jacob's Bight, and the North-east Bay, were 
most productive fishing stations a few years ago ; 
but of late they have afforded but few whales. 
From hence, if no fish are found, the whalers pro- 
ceed to the western part of the Straits, towards Cum- 
berland Island, or persevere along the east side of ^ 
Davis' Straits towards Baffin's Bay ; to the extreme 
parts of which the fish appear to retreat as the sea- 
son advances, and as the ice clears away from the 
northern and eastern shores. 

Perhaps tlie following may be considered as 
an eligible plan of fishing on a Davis' Straits 
voyage. To proceed at the usual season, and in the 
usual manner, to the drift-ice bordering the coast 
of Labrador, where whales, though not in great 
nimibers, usually remain during a great part of the 

B b 2 


season, and there to persevere in the fishery until the 
latter end of ^Vpril or heginning of May, by which 
time the fish at the South-West sometimes retire 
into the ice or to the northward ; then to follow the 
whales which go north, and attack them in latitude 
65° or 66°, where they occasionally make a halt. 
About the middle of JNlay to proceed up the Straits, 
try the fishing station in the 69th degree, then the 
western part of the Straits, when open, in the 70tli 
or 71st degree, and on the first opening of the ice 
near Hare Island, to explore the inlets in latitude 
71° and 72 ^ If considerable success has not, by 
that time, been obtained, to proceed up Baffin's 
Bay as the ice clears away, to the farthest navigable 
point, where a reasonable prospect of success is al- 
ways offered. The farthest point attained in the 
month of June will, perhaps, not be above the 72d or 
73d degree of latitude ; but in the month of July or 
early in August, the extreme parts of Baffin's Bay 
will probably be open, and aiiord a productive fish- 
ing station, should all others fail. Thus, the fish- 
ery of Davis' Straits may be extended, in one sea- 
son, during six months, instead of four or five, the 
usual interval ; and, at all times, with a more than 
ordinary probability of success. 

At the South-West, in latitude 61° or 62% fish 
have been killed in the month of July, but only in 
icy situations, near the Labrador coast. 

In Baffin's Bay, and in the inlets of West-Green- 
land, the fishejry is conducted under the most favour- 


able circumstances. The water being shallow in many 
situations, the boats require only a small quantity 
of line ; and the weather being warm, the sailors 
perform their occupations, if not with pleasure, at 
least with comfort to themselves. But at the South- 
West, each operation of the fishery is performed un- 
der rather unpleasant and even dangerous circum- 
stances. Darkness of night, exposure to storms, 
and frequency of swells, are all unfavourable to the 
fishers. The flensing of a whale at the South- West, 
is usually more troublesome and more hazardous 
than elsewhere, owing to the prevalent swell which 
rarely altogether subsides. 

Davis' Straits fishers, within the present century, 
after making a successful fishery at a distance from 
land, have been in the habit of resorting to the bays, 
and there mooring in safety, until the troublesome 
process of making-off was accomplished. ' . 

On the passage homeward, the ships usually steer 
down the middle of the Straits, and proceed suffi- 
ciently far south for avoiding the " Cape-ice," before 
they haul up to the eastward. From thence, the 
prevalence of westerly winds in the summer season, 
generally affiards them an easy passage across the 
Atlantic. Their course is nearly due cast ; which 
being on a parallel of latitude, they can have no 
difficulty in finding Shetland, Orkney, or the norths 
west coast of Scotland, accordingly as they may 
wish ; their only particular caution being to keep 
a good look-out for land, some tiuic before they may 


calculate on its proximity, in case of an error in 
their longitude. In Orkney, the men taken on 
board on the outward passage, are landed on their 
return ; and tlie crew are mustered, when the num- 
ber of men engaged at the port from which the 
vessel sailed, was not sufficient for performing this 
legal ceremony at home. These matters accomplish- 
ed, the sliip proceeds immediately to her port. 

The legislative regulations on the importation of 
Davis' Straits produce, are the same as on cargoes 
obtained in the Greenland fishery. 


Co?nparatrje View of the Fislieries of Greenland 
and Davis' Straits. 

Hitherto the comparative advantages of the 
fisheries of Greenland and Davis' Straits have been 
entirely matter of opinion, no one having, I believe, 
taken the pains to make correct estimates on the 
subject. It may, therefore, be worth while to give 
the result of some calculations, made with a view 
of ascertaining the relative value of the two fish- 
eries to individuals who embark their property in the 

Among the Dutch fishers, we find that, during 
a period of 107 years, included between 1669 and 
1778, each ship in a fleet of 132 saii, which pro- 


ceeded annually to Greenland, afforded to the own- 
ers, on an average, a profit of 3126 florins ; and 
that in a period of 60 years, ending with 1778, a 
fleet of 53 ships, which sailed annually to Davis' 
Straits, realized to the owners a profit of 3469/* 
per voyage : thus, exceeding the produce of the 
Greenland fishery by 34>2 f. on each ship j^e?' voyage; 
after ample allowance is made for the greater length 
of the voyage to Davis' Straits, together with the 
additional wear and tear. 

Among the British fishers, the advantage seems 
also to have been on the side of Davis' Straits, particu- 
larly of late years. In the four years ending with 
1817, the Greenland fishery has produced on an 
average 88 tons of oil, and 4> tons 9o cwt. of whale- 
bone pe?' ship, each voyage ; but the Davis' Straits 
fishery has, during the same period, averaged 102 
tons of oil, and 4 tons I6f cxvt. of whalebone ^9^r 
ship ; exceeding the average cargo of the Greenland 
ships by 14 tons of oil and 7 J cwt. of whalebone, 
value, according to the mean rate of oil and fins, 
about 530 /. But from this, if we deduct tlie value 
of skins taken by the Greenland fishers, but not 
estimated in their cargoes, say 20 /. to 30 /. ;;^r ship, 
and the additional expences of a Davis' Straits 
voyage, occasioned by the greater wear and tear, and 
the provisions and wages for a voyage longer by one 
or two months than that to Greenland, we shall 
reduce the balance in favour of the Davis' Straits 
fishers to a very small sum. 


During the above four years, the amouut of the 
<'argoes of the British Greenland whale-fishing ships, 
(consisting of 376 sail, repeated voyages included,) 
was 3508 vdiales, which produced 33,070 tons of 
oil, and 1682 tons of whalebone. At the same 
time, 210 ships employed in the Davis' Straits 
fishery, procured 1522 whales, yielding 21,438 tons 
of oil, and 1015 tons of whale-fins. 

It seems worthy of remark, that the whales 
caught near Spitzbergen, afforded a larger propor- 
tion of whalebone, compared with the quantity of 
oil, than the fish of Davis' Straits ; the Greenland 
fish yielding a ton of fins for every 1 9^ tons of oil, 
and the Davis' Straits fish a ton of fins for every 
21 tons of oil. It is remarkable that this should 
have been the case, when we consider that small 
fish afford less whalebone than large fish, in pro- 
portion to their produce in oil, and yet the Green- 
land fish which, on the average of four years, were 
inuch smaller than those caught in Davis' Straits, 
have produced the largest proportion of whalebone. 
The whales taken at the Greenland fishery in four 
years, only average 9^ tons of oil each, but those 
caught at Davis' Straits average 14 tons. It wovdd 
therefore appear, that the large whales caught near 
Spitzbergen are much stouter than those taken in 
Davis' Straits, and afford so much greater a propor- 
tion of fins, as more than compensates for the defi^ 
ciency in the sm^U whales. 



Statements of Eoopences and Pj'ojits on some 
Whale-jishing Voyages. 

The fluctuating value of shipping, renders it dif- 
ficult to give a fair estimate of the expences of a 
whale-ship. The Resolution of Whitby, burden 
291 tons, when new, in the year 1803, cost but 
7791 /., including all expences of stores and outfit, 
premiums of insurance, and advance money of sea- 
men ; while the Esk, of ^54< tons admeasurement, 
launched and fitted out of the same port in 1813, 
cost above 14,000/. 

The following statement shows the cost and ex- 
pences of the ship Resolution, before putting to sea, 
on her first voyage, in the year 1803. 

L. S. D. 

Cost of the ship's hull, 2320 10 

Expencesof doubling, fortifying, &c.... 471 7 5 

Mast-maker's and joiner's bills, 505 18 4 

Sail-maker's bill, 240 11 5 

Cordage., — Rigging, and cables, 580 11 

AVhale-lines, &c 27G G 5 

Rigger's bill, 33 2 4 

Boat-builder, for 7 boats, 144 1 11 

Carried forward, L.4572 8 10 


Brought forward, L.4572 8 10 

Oars, timber, deals, harpoon-stocks, &c. 45 17 1 

Irorir-zaorl: — Anchors, 66 11 4 

: Ice-saws, ice-anchors, &c. 35 12 

Cooking-hearth, 20 

Harpoons, lances, knives, &c. 189 7 9 

Cooper's bill for casks, 1091 14 8 

Ship-chandler's bill, 69 1 9 

Painter's bill, 37 19 8 

Plumber and glazier's bill, 20 15 10 

Sundries, 171 14 5 

Expences of outfit. 

Provisions, Coals, &c 769 1 11 

Insurance against sea and enemy, 413 3 

Advance money to seamen, &c 287 19 2 

L. 7791 7 5 

This ship was sold in eight shares ; and the sum 
subscribed by the owners, and deposited in the 
hands of the managing-owners, was 8000 /. The 
expences incurred, and the profits realized by this 
adventiu-e, during fifteen voyages, arc exhibited in 
the following statement *. 

* I am indebted to my friends Messrs Fishburn and Bro- 
drick, managing owners of the Resokition, for the documents 
from which this statement was ch\iwn up. 


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Hence tlie balance in favour of the owners of 
the Ilesolution, for fifteen voyages, appears to be 
19,473/. 106'. 2d., besides the vahie of the ship, 
and the value of the outfit for the sixteenth voyage. 
If we reckon these at 6500 /. the profit derived from 
8000/., originally advanced, in addition to the inte- 
rest of the capital embarked, will amount to about 
26,000 /., notwithstanding the last three voyages 
were but indifferent ; of which sum, 25,200 /. has 
actually been divided. To present this statement 
without some qualification, however, would give a 
very erroneous view of the general advantages of 
the fishery to individuals ; it is therefore necessary 
to mention, that'^the Resolution, in her first ten 
voyages, procured 600 or TOO tons of oil, above the 
average of the fishery, during that period, if not 

The usual expences of a Greenland voyage, in- 
cluding outfit, when no cargo is obtained, may be 
stated at 2200 /. exclusive of interest of capital, and 
wear and tear. For every ten tons of oil procured, 
there will be an additional expence of 80 /. or 90 /. 
for discharging and boiling the cargo, for oil-money 
and fish-money, and for other extraordinaries con- 
nected with a successful fishing. Thus the expence 
of a sliip, with a cargo of 200 tons of oil, will be 
at least, 4000 /. These expences, however, will vary 
with the kind of wages paid to the captain and 
crew, — with the nature of the equipment, — and, in 
,«:ome measure, with the price of oil. 





Description of the Premises and Appa?'atus used 
in extracting Oil out of Blubber, 

On the margin of the river, wet-dock, canal, or 
other sheet of water, communicating with that 
wherein the whale-fishing ship discharges her cargo, 
are usually provided the necessary premises for re- 
ducing the hluhber into oil, consisting commonly 
of the following articles. 

1. A copper vessel or boiler, 3 to 6, or even 10 or 
more tons capacity, of a circular form in the horizontal 
view, and elliptical in the perpendicular section, is 
j&xcd at the elevation of 6 to 10 feet above the ground. 


provided with an appropriate furnace, and covered 
with a tiled or slated shed. Some of these coppers 
have a sudden depression in the bottom, into which 
the refuse of the blubber subsides when it is suffi- 
ciently boiled ; and at the elevation of a foot or 18 
inches above the bottom, (higher than the cavity 
usually occupied by the refuse,) is a grating -and 
conducting pipe, through which, on turning a stop- 
cock, the greater part of the oil in the copper is 
conveyed into an adjoining cooler. 

2. On the same, or on a little lower level than 
that of the copper, is fixed a square or oblong back 
or cooler, built generally of wood, but sometimes 
of brick or stone, lined with lead or cement, capable 
of containing from 10 to 20 tons of oil or upwards. 
Adjoining to this is anx)ther back, sometimes a third, 
and occasionally a fourth or a fifth, each placed a 
little lower than the one preceding it, so that the 
lowest shall stand with its base about two or three 
feet above the level of the ground. In some very 
modern works, the coolers are all fixed at the same 
elevation. Each of the backs is provided with one 
or more stop-cocks on the most accessible side, for 
convenience in (hawing the oil off into casks. 

3. Altogether above the level of the copper, and 
immediately adjoining it, on the side directed towards 
the river or canal, an oblong wooden cistern, called 
the " starting-back," is usually erected, for contain- 
ing blubber, which ought to be a vessel of equal or 


nearly equal capacity to that of the copper. It is 
generally provided with a crane, which, ..ith a winch, 
or other similar engine attached, is so contrived as 
to take casks either from the quay or from a lighter 
by the side of the quay, and convey them at once 
to the top of the starting-hack. Over this vessel is 
extended a kind of railing or '* gauntrce," on which 
the casks rest, without being injured, and are easily 

4. The starting-back being elevated two or three 
yards above the level of tlic ground, occasionally 
admits of a " fenk-back" or depository for the refuse 
of the blubber, immediately beneath it ; which fenk- 
back is sometimes provided with a dough on the 
side next to the water, for " starting" the fenks into 
a barge or lighter placed below. In some exten- 
sive premises, however, the fenks are deposited in a 
large shallow cistern, or pit sunk in the earth, and 
made sufficiently large to contain the whole refuse 
of one cargo ; where it remains undisturbed, until 
the action of the sun extracts the remaining oil, and 
brings it to the surface. 

5. The premises likewise comprise a shed for the 
cooper, and sometimes a cooper's, or m.aster boiler's 
dwelling-house ; the inhabitant of which takes the 
charge of all the blubber, oil, whalebone, and other 
articles deposited around him. 

6. Warehouses for containing the oil after it is 
drawn off into casks, are also used, not only for 


preserving it in safe custody, but for defending the: 
casks from the rays of the sun, otherwise they are 
apt to pine and become leaky. — And, 

7. Sometimes " steeping-backs" and apparatus 
for preparing whalebone, arc comprised within the- 
same enclosure. 

Process of Boiling Blubber or Extracting Oil. 

The blubber, which was originally in the state of 
firm fat, is found, on arrival in a warm climate, to' 
be in a great measure resolved into oil. The casks 
containing the blubber, are conveyed, by the me- 
chanical apparatus above mentioned, to the top of 
the starting-back, into which their contents are emp- 
tied or stajied, through the bung-holes. When the 
copper is properly cleansed, the contents of the start- 
ing-back, on lifting a clough at the extremity, 
or turning a stop-cock, fall directly into the copper, 
one edge of which is usually placed beneath '*. 

* In the premises of William Mellish, Esq. Shadwell Dock, 
London, which are the best adapted of any I have yet seen, the 
starting-hack, which is about ten tons in capacity, has a false 
bottom full of small holes, placed a few inches above the true 
bottom : by which the oil is drained off, and passes through a 
grating and conducting pipe, into an adjoining copper, and is 
boiled by itself; while the fenks collected by the grating, are, 
at the same time, boiled in another copper placed equally con- 


The copper is filled within two or three inches of 
the top, a little space being requisite to admit of 
the expansion of the oil when heated ; and then a 
brisk fire is applied in the furnace, and continued 
until the oil begins to boil. This effect usually 
takes place in less than two hours. Many of the 
fritters or fcnks float on the surface of the oil before 
it is heated, but after it is " boiled off," the whole, 
or nearly so, subside to the bottom. From the time 
the copper begins to warm, until it is boiled off or 
ceases to boil, its contents must be incessantly 
stirred by means of a pole, armed with a kind of 
broad blunt chisel, to prevent the fenks from ad- 
hering to the bottom or sides of the vessel. When 
once the contents of the copper boil, the fire in the 
furnace is immediately reduced, and shortly after- 
wards altogether withdrawn. Some persons allow 
the copper to boil an hour, others during two or 
three hours. The former practice is supposed to 
produce finer and paler oil, the latter a greater quan- 
tity. The same copper is usually boiled twice in 
every twenty-four hours, Sundays excepted. Sup- 
posing the copper to be filled at four in the morning, 
it is generally brought to boil by half-past five, 
and boiled off at half-past six or seven. It then 
stands to cool and subside, until about two o'clock 
in the afternoon, when the " bailing" process com- 
mences. One of the backs or coolers having been pre- 
pared for the reception of the oil, by putting into it a 
vo]-. II. c c 


quantity of Avater*, for the double purpose of pre- 
venting the heat of the oil from waqiing or rending 
the back, and for receiving any impurities which it 
may happen to hold in suspension, — a wooden 
spout, with a large square box-like head, which 
head is filled with brush- wood or broom, that it may 
act as a filter, is then placed along, from the " cop- 
per-headf" to the cooler, so as to form a communica- 
tion between the two. The oil in the copper being 
now separated from the fenks, Avater, and other im- 
purities, all of which have subsided to the bottom^ 
is, in a great measure, run off through the pipe 
communicating with the cooler, and the remainder is 
carefully lifted in copper or tin ladles, and poured 
upon the broom in the spout, from whence it runs 
into the same cooler, or any other cooler, at the plea- 
sure of the " boilers |." Besides oil and fenks, the 
blubber of the whale likewise affords a considerable 
quantity of watery liquor, produced probably from 
the putrescence of the blood, on the surface of which, 
some of the fenks, and all tlie greasy animal matter 
calledyoo//6' oy footing, float, and upon the top of 
these the oiL Great care, therefore, is requisite, on 
approaching these impure substances, to take the oil 

* Some persons dispense with the water, believing that it 
promotes rancidity in the oil. 

t The platform built around the edge of the copper, is 
called the copper-head. 

X The men employed in extracting oil are thus denominated. 


off by means of shallow tinned iron or copper ladles, 
called 6-khnmc?'s, without disturbing the refuse, and 
mixing it with the oil. There must always, however, 
be a small quantity towards the conclusion, which is 
a mixture of oil and footing ; such is put into a cask 
or other suitable vessel by itself, and when the 
grossy part has thoroughly subsided, the most pure 
part is skimmed off, and l)ecomes fine oil, and the 
impure is allowed to accumulate by itself in another 
vessel, where, in the end, it affords " brown-oil." 

The refuse now left in the copper, is hailed into 
a tunnel or spout, which conveys it into the fenk- 
back, where it remains as long as the capacity of 
the vessel will admit ; a portion of brown-oil, which 
is constantly found rising to the surface, being, in 
the mean time, occasionally skimmed off. 

A few years ago, my Father instituted a process 
for reducing blubber into oil, by the use of steam ; 
and a similar process has been adopted in Hull and 
other ports, and applied to the extraction of oil, 
with considerable advantage. 

From a ton, or 252 gallons by measure, of blub- 
ber, there generally arises from .50 to Q5 gallons of 
refuse, whereof the greater part is a watery fluid. 
The constant presence of this fluid, which boils at a 
much lower temperature than the oil, prevents the 
oil itself from boiling, which is, probably, an advan- 
tage, since, in the event of the oil being boiled, 
some of the finest and most inflammable parts would 

c c 2 

404 WHALE-riSHElir. 

fly off in the form of vapour ; Avhcrcas, tlic principal 
part of tlic steam -wliich now escapes, is produced 
from tlie water. Some persons make a practice of 
adding a quantity of water, amounting, perhaps, to 
half a ton, to tlie contents of each copper, with the 
view of weakening or attenuating the viscid im- 
purities contained in the blubber, and thus obtain- 
ing a liner oil ; others consider the quantity of 
■watery fluid already in the blubber, as sufficient for 
producing every needful effect. 

Each day, immediately after the copper is emp- 
tied, and while it is yet hot, the men employed 
in the manuficture of the oil having their feet 
defended by strong leathern or w^ooden shoes, de- 
scend into it, and scour it out with sand and wa- 
ter, until they restore the natural surface of the cop- 
per, wherever it is discoloured. This serves to pre- 
serve the oil from becoming high coloured ■'', which 
will always be the case, when proper cleanliness is 
not observed. 

The starting-back being previously filled with 
blubber, its contents are again transferred into the 
copper, and the fire is applied as before. This is 

* The palest-coloured oil is most esteemed by buyers, and 
is supposed to be the best ; simply, perhaps, because it seems 
to have been manufactured with care, and appears to be free 
from any admixture of brown or black oil, produced from the 
fenk-back, or found in the hold of the ship. 


generally accomplished by four, or half-past four 
o'clock in the afternoon. The copper again hoils by 
half an hour after five or six, and is boiled off 
by seven or eight in the evening. The men cm- 
ployed in this service, consisting of about six per- 
sons, alternately watch in the night by couples. 
Those on watch commence about two in the mor- 
ning to empty the copper, which done, they again 
fill it from the starting-back, which is always made 
ready the night before. Thus the process goes on, 
until the whole cargo is finished. 

Ey means of three coolers, severally capable of 
contiiining at least twice the quantity of oil pro- 
duced from one boiling of blubber in the copper, each 
can be allowed, in turn, to stand undisturbed up- 
Vv'ards of twenty-four hours. Thus, v. hile one is in 
the act of being filled, another stands to cool and 
settle, and the third is drawn off. If the backs 
be twice this size, or four times the capacity of the 
copper, every one will require two days to be filled 
by one copper, and after being filled, may subside 
during two or three days undisturbed. Even two 
backs in number, of this capacity, would admit of 
an interval of twenty-fovu* hours each, after being fill- 
ed, before it would be necessary to begin to empty it. 

Thus prepared and cooled, the oil is in a market- 
able state, and requires only to be transferred from 
the coolers into casks for the convenience of convey- 
ance to any part of the country. Each of the cool- 

406 "\VHAIX-FISHE11Y. 

crs, it has been observed, is furnished Avith <i stop- 
cock, beneath which there is a platform adapted for 
receiving the casks ; where they are filled with 
great case, by the introduction of a leathern tube, 
extending from the orifice of the stoprcock into the 
bung-hole. At the conclusion of the process of 
boiling each vessel's cargo manufactured on the pre- 
mises, the backs are completely emptied of their 
contents. To effect tins, w^ater is poured in, until 
the low^er part of the stratum of oil rises to within 
a few lines of the level of the stop-cock, and permits 
the greatest part of the oil to escape. The quanti- 
ty left, amounts, perhaps, to half an inch, or an incli 
in depth. To recover this oil without v/aste, re- 
quires a little address. A deal-board, in length a 
little exceeding the breadth of the cooler, is introdu- 
ced at one end, a little diagonally, and placed edge- 
ways in its contents. The ends of the board being 
covered with flannel, when pressed forcibly against 
the tvv'o opposite sides of the cooler, prevent the oil 
from circulating past. The board is then advanced 
slowly forv^ard towards the part of the back, where 
the stop-cock is placed ; and in its progress (the ends 
being kept close to the sides of the cooler, and the up- 
per edge a little above the surface of the oil,) all the • 
oil is collected by the board, while the water has a free 
circulation beneath it. ^Vhen the oil accumulates to 
the depth of the boaid, its further motion is sus- 
pended, until the oil thus collected is drawn off 


Another similar board is afterwards introduced at 
the farthest extremity of the cooler, and pas.^cd for- 
ward in the same maimer, whereby the little, oil 
which escapes the first is collected. !N^ow the rem- 
nant, which still refuses to run off by the orifice of 
the stop-cock, being collected in a corner, is taken 
up by skimmers ; and the footing or sediment which 
ajipears at the last, is disposed of in the same way 
as the footing fi*om the copper, until the oil it con- 
tains rises to the surface and can be removed. 

In most of the out-ports, the oil is generally de- 
posited in casks, in which it remains until it is dis- 
posed of by the importers. In London, however, 
and in some concerns in Hull and other ports, the 
speculators in the whale- fishery are provided with 
cisterns or tanks, wherein they can deposite their 
oil, and preserve it until a convenient time for sell- 
ing, without being subject to the waste which usu- 
ally takes place when it is put into casks. From 
these cisterns, any quantity c£in be drawn off at 

The smell of oil, during its extraction, is undoubt- 
edly disagreeable ; but perhaps not more so than 
the vapour arising from any other substance 
submitted to the action of heat when in a putrid 
state. The prevailing opinion, however, that a 
whale-ship must always give out tlie same unplea- 
sant smell is quite erroneous. The fact is, that 
the fat of the whale, in its fresh state, has no 


ofFensi\e flavour whatever, and never becomes dis- 
agreeable until it is brought into a warm climate and 
becomes putrid ; neither is a whale-ship more un- 
pleasant than any other trader, until after her cargo 
is opened on her arrival in port. 


Description of Whalc-Oil, and Remarls on ihe 
Cause of its offensive Smell. 

Whale-oil prepared by the method just de- 
scribed, is of a pale honey-yellow colour ; but some- 
times, when the blubber from which it is procured 
happens to be of the red kind, the oil appears of a red- 
dish-brown colour. When first extracted, it is com- 
monly thick, but after standing some time, a mucila- 
ginous substance subsides, and it becomes tolerably 
limpid and transparent. Its smell is somewhat of- 
fensive, especially when it is long kept. It consists 
of oil, properly so called, a small portion of sper- 
maceti, and a little gelatin. At the temperature 
of 40", the latter substances become partially con- 
crete, and make the oil obscure, and at the tempe- 
rature of 32", render it thick with flaky crystals. 
It is sold by the ton of 252 gallons, -vvine-measurc. 
Its specific gravity, is 0.9214. A gallon of oil, by 
measure, weighs 7 lb. 10 oz. 12^^ dr. avoirdupois, at 


the temperature of 60® ; consequently tlic ton \vill 
weigli 1933 lb. 12 oz. 14 (b., or 17 c^vt. 1 qr. 1 lb. 
12 oz. 14 dr. * 

The value of Avhale-oil, like that of every other 
similar article, is subject to continual variations. In 
the year 1742, oil sold in England for 18/. 13.?. 
JUT toil', in 1743, for 14/. S.?. ; in 1744, for 10/. 
l,y. ; in 1754, for 29/. ; in 1801, for 50/. ; in 1807, 
for 21/. ; and in 1S13, when the price was 

* It is remarkable, that 7^ pounds of whale oil should have 
been generally admitted by the dealers in this article, as an 
equivalent for a gallon by measure, when the real equivalent 
is greater by 2 oz. 12.5 drams. The buyers have indeed ge- 
nerally, of late, objected to the purchase of oil by weight, be- 
cause they have found it deficient of the London gauge ; which 
deficiency the sellers have been in the habit of attributing to 
the inaccuracy of the process ; but the true cause has not, that 
I know of, been before explained. The error of 2 oz. 12.5 
drams per gallon, makes a deficiency of 5.| gallons in the ton, 
at the temperature of 60", and at lower temperatures, a deficien- 
cy still greater. As the practice of selling oil by weight is per- 
fectly fair, under all circumstances of temperature, or form of 
the containing vessels ; whereas the quantity by measure varies 
with every change of temperature, and is liable to error from 
the inaccuracies of the process of guaging, — it would be more 
satisfactory for persons concerned in the oil trade, to adopt the 
method of weighing. For the advancement of such a mea- 
sure, some farther remarks on this subject, and the result of 
some experiments for ascertaining the expansion of oil by heat, 
.ire included in the Appendix to this X'olume, N" VII. 


the highest ever obtained, for 551. or 60 1. per 
ton *. 

The application of the gas produced by the dis- 
tilhition of coal for lighting tlie public streets and 
buildings, manufactories, shops, &c. which formerly 
were lighted with oil, it was apprehended would be 
ruinous to the whale-fishery trade, and certainly had 
a very threatening appearance ; but hitherto, owing, 
perhaps, to the amount of whale-oil lately imported, 
having been less than the ordinary quantity, this ex- 
pected effect of the employment of gas lights has not 
been felt. 

When blubber is boiled in Greenland, the oil 
produced from it is much brighter, paler, more lim- 
pid, and more inflammable, than that extracted in 
13ritain. It is also totally free from any unpleasant 
flavour, and burns without smell. Hence it is evi- 
dent, that whatever is disagreeable in the effluvia 
of wliale-oil, arises from an admixture of putrescent 
substances. These consist of blood and animal 
fibre. This latter is the reticulated and cellular 
fibre of the blubber, wherein the oil is confined, 
which produces the fenks when boiled. When pu- 

* The average price of whale oil during the last nineteen 
years, was about 34^. 15^. viz. 

In I In I In I. In /. In /. 

1800, Sr> 1804, 31 1808, 27 1812, So I8I6, 28 

1801, 46 1805, 30 ISOy, 36 1813, 50 1817, 46 

1802, 31 1806, 29 1810, 38 1814, 32 1818, 3S 
1S03, 3? 1807, 21 1811, PA 1815, 3S 


trcfaction commences, a small portion of the blood 
contained in tlie blnbber is probably combined with 
the oil, and the animal fibre, in considerable 
quantity, is dissolved in it. These substances 
not only occasion tlie unpleasant smell common 
to whale-oil, but by being deposited on the wick of 
lamps in burning, produce upon it a kind of cinder, 
whicli, if not occasionally removed, causes a great 
diminution in the quantity of light. A sample of 
oil v,hich I extracted in Greenland about ten years 
ago, is still fine, and totally free from rancidity. It 
has certainly acquired a smell, but it is not more 
unpleasant than tliat of old Florence oil. Hence, 
were whale-oil extracted in Greenland, before the 
putrefying process commences, or were any method 
devised of freeing it from the impurities which 
combine with it in consequence of this process, it 
would become not only more valuable for common 
purposes, but would be applicable to almost every 
use to which spermaceti-oil is adapted. In fact it 
would become a similar kind of article. 

In the first age of the fihihery, all the blubber 
taken, used to be reduced in Spitzbergen or Jan 
IVIayen, and imported in the form of oil only. This 
shows that the process can be accomplished in the 
cold climate of Greenland ; but in the present state 
of things, the site of the fishery being removed to 
a great distance from the land, whereas formerly it 
was carried on in tlie Acrv bavs, there is not suffi- 


cicnt time in one season for performing tliis operation 
on shore. INIy Father has made several attempts 
to accomplish it on ship-board, but the tenacious 
confinement of the oil by the fibre of the blubber, 
rendered every attempt to extract the whole con- 
tents unavailing. After the process was finished, 
he always found that the fcnks still held a consider- 
able proportion of the oil, amounting to perhaps 
one-third of the original quantity, which he could 
hit on no cfiectual method of extracting. He tried 
a hydrostatic press and other machines for squeezing 
it out, but these likewise failed of producing the 
wished effect. The idea was therefore abandoned, 
particularly as the increase in value of the oil thus 
obtained was not sufficient to compensate for the 
quantity which was lost. It therefore appears, 
that the putrefying process serves to relax the te- 
nacity of the cellular substance of the blubber, and 
permits nearly the whole oil to ooze out, and is 
therefore serviceable to the manufacturer, though 
injurious to tlic quality of the oil. 

Between the adipose and muscular substances 
surrounding the body of the whale, is interposed a 
kind of loose spongy fat, or in some places fat in- 
termixed with muscular fiesh. This substance, be- 
fore alluded to under the name of hren£r, aflTords so 
little oil in the usual Avay, that it is frequently 
thrown overboard. But on the application of the 
boiling apparatus to it in Greenland, my Father 


succeeded in obtaining a ton or two of oil in the 
course of one season ; a product which, thougli it 
paid near about the expence of the apparatus, was 
attended with such trouble and inconvenience, that 
he never afterwards repeated the operation. 

In performing some experiments on oil in Green- 
land, during the lishing season of 1818, I adopted 
a process for refining oil extracted from blubber, 
before the putrifying process commenced, by which 
I procured a remarkably fine oil. It was nearly 
colourless, beautifully transparent, and very limpid. 
Its specific gravity, temperature 60°, (compared 
Vv'ith snow water of the same temperature,) was 
0.9202, and the gross oil from whence it was sepa- 
rated 0.922. This oil retains its fluidity, and even 
its transparency, at a very low temperature. A 
fine specimen of seal oil, refined in the same way, 
remained unchanged in appearance, at the tempera- 
ture of 1.5°, when common whale, seal, sperm, and 
other oils, were as thick as hog's lard, and had 
quite lost their pellucidness. The oil refined by this 
process, is more inflammable than spermaceti-oil,-— 
and so pure, that it will burn longer, without form- 
ing a crust on the wick of the lamp, than spermaceti 
oil, or any other oil with which it has yet been com- 

Besides the oil produced from blubber by boil- 
ing, the whalers distinguish such as oozes from the 
jaw-bones of the fish, by the name oijaxic-bonc oil; 


and inferior oils, Vv^liich are discoloured, and more 
impure, by the denominations of brown oil, and 
black oil or bilge oil. Brown oil is produced in the 
way described in the process of boiling ; black or 
bilge oil is that which leaks out of the casks in the 
course of the voyage, or runs out of any blubber 
which may happen to be in bulk, and accumulates 
in the bottom of the ship. This oil is always very 
dark coloured, viscous, and possessed of little trans- 
parency. In the hold of the ship, it imbibes va- 
rious impurities ; and when strongly acted upon 
by the hydrogenous gases of the bilge-water, is 
sometimes so changed in its qualities, that it com- 
bines to a certain extent with the salt-water on 
which it floats, and is rendered totally useless. 
When, however, its oleaginous properties continue 
unchanged, it is preserved and sold for inferior uses, 
at a proportionate reduction of price. 

From what has been advanced, we see why the 
palest oil is esteemed the most valuable. Pale 
limpid oil has a chance to be the most pure, be- 
cause any inferior oil mixed with it, or much animal 
matter combined with it, always has a tendency to 
heighten the colour and render it viscous. 

As oil kept in open vessels, we are informed, be- 
comes gradually more and more oxygenated, and 
also less fluid, it is necessary to keep v/hale-oil 
closely barrelled up. Another precaution for pre- 


serving it uninjured, is to keep it at such a tem- 
perature that it shall not freeze ; as it is probahle 
that the resinous part only concretes with cold, 
and that a gas is disengaged, which consists of 
some of its most volatile parts, and materially in- 
jures its property of burning *. At least, oil which 
has been kept over a winter or two, is supposed to 
be scarcely capable of burning ; though I suspect 
the prejudice against old oil, unless it has been very 
ill kept, is much greater than the actual deteriora- 
tion of the article can warrant. 

AVhale-oil is said to be rendered more fluid, as 
well as more combustible, by the addition of cold 
drawn linseed oil f . 


Descri'ptwn of Whale-hone, and of the Method of 
Preparing it. 

Whale-bone, or whale-fins, as the substance 
is sometimes, though incorrectly named, is found 
in the mouth of the common Greenland whale, 
to which it serves as a substitute for teeth. It 
fonns an apparatus most admirably adapted as a 
filter for separating the minute animals, on which 
the whale feeds, from the sea-water in which they 

• Nicholson's Journal, vol. ii. p. 10'. t Idcui. 


It is a substance of a horny appearance and con- 
sistence, extremely flexible and elastic, generally 
of a bluish black colour, but not unfrequently strip- 
ed longitudinally with white, and exhibiting a beau- 
tiful play of colour on the surface. Internally it 
is of a fibrous texture, resembling hair ; and the ex- 
ternal surface consists of a smooth enamel, capable 
of receiving a good polish. 

This substance, when taken from the wliale, con- 
sists of lamina?, connected by what is called the giuji 
in a parallel series, and ranged along each side of 
the mouth of the animal. The laminae are about 
iiOO in number, in each side of the head. The 
length of the longest blade, which occurs near the 
middle of the series, is the criterion fixed on by the 
fishers for designating the size of the fish. Its great- 
est length is about 15 feet ; but an instance very rare- 
ly occurs of any being met with above 12 ^ or 13 feet. 
Its greatest breadth, which is at the root end, is 10 
or 12 inches, and its greatest thickness 1% or -A of 
an inch. 

The two sides or series of the whale-bone, are 
connected at the upper part of the head, or crown- 
bone of the fish, within a few inches of each other, 
from whence they hang downward, diverging so 
far as to enclose the tongue between their extremi- 
ties ; the position of the blades w ith regard to each 
otlier, resembles a frame of saws in a sa^v mill ; 
and, taken altogether, they exhibit, in some mea- 


sure, the form and position of the roof of a house. 
The smaller extremity and interior edge of each 
blade of bone, or the edge annexed to the tongue, are 
covered with a long fringe of hair, consisting of a 
similar kind of substance as that constituting the 
interior of the bone. 

Whalebone is generally brouglit from Green- 
land in the same state as when taken from the fish, 
after being divided into iporiahle junks, or pieces, 
comprising 10 or 12 laminae in eacli ; but occasion- 
ally it is subdivided into separate blades, and the 
gum and hair removed when at sea. 

One of the first importations of whalebone into 
England, was probably in the year 1594^ when a 
quantity of this substance, being part of the cargo 
of a wrecked Biscayan ship, was picked up at Cape 
Breton, by some English ships fitted out for the 
whale and morse fisheries, after the example of the 
Icelanders and Biscayans *. 

This substance has been held in such high esti- 
mation, that, since the establishment of the Spitz- 
bergen whale-fishery, the British have occasionally 
purchased it of the Dutch, at the rate of 700 /. per 
ton f . It is calculated, that at least 100,000 /. per 
annum were paid to the Dutch for this article, 

VOL. II. Dd 

* Hakluyts Voyages, vol. iii. p. 191' 

f Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iii. p. .512. 

41.1 WHAT.r-riSHKllY- 

about the years 1715 to 1721, when the price was 
400 /. * About the year 1763, the price in Eng- 
land was 500 /. per ton ; but, after an extensive 
importation of this article from New England, the 
price declined to 350 /. f and subsequently as low 
as 50 /. per ton. Of late years, the price has usual- 
ly been fluctuating between 50 /. and 150 /. pter 
ton. \^^halebone becomes more valuable as it in- 
creases in lengtli and thickness. 

On or near the premisses where the oil is extract- 
ed, the whalebone is commonly cleaned and pre- 

The first operation, if not already done, consists 
in depriving it of the gum. It is then put into a 
cistern containing water, until the dirt upon its 
surface becomes soft. When this effect is suffi- 
ciently produced, it is taken out, piece by piece, 
laid on a plank placed on the ground, where 
the operator stands, and scrubbed or scoured with 
sand and water, by means of a broom or a piece of 
cloth. It is then passed to another person, who, 
on a plank or bench, elevated to a convenient 
height, scrapes the root-end where the gum was at- 
tached, until he produces a smooth surface ; he or 
another workman, then applies a knife or a pair of 

* Elking's View of the Greenland Trade, &c. p. 65. 
t Macpherson's Annals, vol. iii. p. 37 !• 


shears to the edge, aud completely detaches all the 
fringe of hair connected with it. Another person, 
who is generally the superintendant of the concern, 
afterwards receives it, washes it in a vessel of clean 
water, and removes with a bit of wood, the impuri- 
ties out of the cavity of the root. Thus cleansed, it 
is exposed to the air and sun until thoroughly dry, 
when it is removed into a warehouse, or other place 
of safety and shelter. 

Before it is offered for sale, it is usually scrubbed 
with brushes and hair-cloth, by which the surface 
receives a polish, and all dirt or dust adhering to it 
is removed ; and, finally, it is packed in portable 
bundles, consisting of about a hundred weight each. 
The size-hone, or such pieces as measure six feet 
or upward in length, is kept separate from the un- 
der-size ; the latter being usually sold at half the 
price of the former. Each blade being terminated 
with a quantity of hair, there is sometimes a diffi- 
culty in deciding, whether some blades of whalebone 
are size or not. Owing to the diminished value of 
under-size bone, and more particularly, in conse- 
quence of the captain and some of the officers en- 
gaged in a fisliing ship, having a premium on every 
size fish, it becomes a matter of some importance in 
a doubtful case, to decide this point. From a decision, 
which I understand has been made in a court of law, 
it is now a generally received rule, that so much of 
the substance terminating each blade, as gives rise 



to two or more hairs, is whalebone ; though, in factr 
the hair itself is actually the same substance as that 
of which the whalebone is composed. 


Remarks on the Uses to which the Oil, Fenks, 
Tails, Jaw-hones, IVJialebone, and other pro- 
duce of Whales, are applicable. 

1. Oil. — The oil produced from the blubber of the- 
whale, in its most common state of preparation, is 
used for a variety of purposes. It is largely used in 
the lighting of the streets of towns, and the interior 
of places of worship, houses, shops, manufactories, 
&c. ; it is extensively employed in the manufacture 
of soft soap, as well as in the preparing of leather 
and coarse woollen cloths ; it is applicable in the 
manufacture of coarse varnishes and paints ; in 
which, when duly prepared, it affords a strength of 
body more capable of resisting the v/eather, than 
paint mixed in the usual way ^vith vegetable oil* » 

* Mr Thomas Vandevham of London, communicated to the 
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and 
Commerce, " An account of processes for preparing cheap and 
durable paints with fish-oil ;" for which communication, th& 
Society voted him the Silver Medal, and a premium of Twenty 
Guineas. (See Repertory of Arts, vol. x. 2d series, p. Il6.). 

USEIS OF OIL. — On.-GAS. 421 

it is also extensively used for reducing friction in va- 
rious kinds of machinery ; comi)ined with tar, it -is 
much employed in ship- work and in the manufacture 
of cordage ; and either simple or in a state of com- 
bination, it is applied to many other useful purposes. 

One of the most extensive applications of whale 
oil, that for ilhmiination, has recently suffered a 
considerable diminution, in consequence of the ap- 
propriation of gas from coal to the same purpose. 
This discovery, brilliant as it is acknowledged to be, 
which, in its first application, bore such a threaten- 
ing aspect against the usual consumption of oil, 
may soon, it is probable, be the means of bringing 
the oil of the whale into more extensive use than it 
has at any former period been. Whale-oil of the 
most inferior qualities is found to afford a gas, 
which, in point of brilliancy, freeness from smell, 
ease of manufacture, &c., is found to be greatly su- 
perior to that produced from coal. Some remarks 
on the properties of this gas, and the mode in which 
it is produced, may be proper in this place ; and 
that I may be acquitted of giving a too favourable 
character of oil-gas, I shall follow some jiecounts tliat 
liave been published in the " Quarterly Journal of 
Literature, Science and the Arts." 

The process for the formation of gas from oil, is 
simple, and the apparatus compact and not expensive. 

One or m.ore retorts being provided and brought 
to a moderate red heat, oil, contained in an air-tight 


vessel, is allowed to flow into tliem, which is princi- 
pally decomposed in its passage through, and con- 
verted into gas suitable for illumination. The flow 
of the oil into the retorts, and the production of gas, 
can be regulated to a convenient rate. Some oil, 
however, it will generally be found, passes over, in a 
state of vapour without suffering decomposition, 
which, if allowed to escape by the burner, may occa- 
sion an unpleasant smell. To prevent this, the gas 
is made to pass through a worm in a vessel of water, 
by which the steam is condensed into oil, runs at 
once into the oil cistern, and is again exposed to de- 
composition in the retorts. Lest there should still be 
any oil suspended in the gas in a state of vapour, a 
further precaution for purifying it is taken, by con- 
veying it into another vessel, where it is further cool- 
ed and washed, by passing in a zig-zag direction 
through water, and rendered fit for use*. 

The patent apparatus for the production of gas 
from oil, is made by Messrs Taylors and Martineau, 
the patentees, of various sizes and powers, to suit 
dwelling houses and other buildings, in which room 
is an object of importance. 

" One which is capable of furnishing gas for from 
twelve to twenty argand lamps, may be convenient- 

* Quarterly Journal of Literature, &c. vol- viii. p. 1 2 1 . — When 
a certain quantity of gas has been produced, it is found that 
the retorts begin to lose their poAver of decomposing oil ; but, 
by throwing bits of common brick into the retorts along with 
the oil, their capability of producing gas is not only restored 
but augmented. 

OIL -(J AS AlTAllATUS. -i23 

ly placed in sucli a fire-place as is usually found in 
back kitchens, and will occupy a space only of about 
three feet square, or more conveniently of four feet 
by three, and will require a height of about eight 
feet*." A large apparatus now in use at Apothe- 
caries Hall, measures ten feet in breadth, six feet in 
depth, and about eight feet in height. 

The gasometer for private houses, should scarce- 
ly be of less capacity than 80 to 100 cubic feet ; and 
for mansions and larger establishments, 300 to 600 
cubic feet. The former will only require a gasome- 
ter of about four feet wide, four feet high, and five 
or six feet longf . 

The only particular attention requisite with the 
patent apparatus, seems to be the cleaning out of the 
retorts, which, from the accumulation of carbonace- 
ous matter, becomes necessary from time to time, 
and the keeping up of a moderate fire when the ap- 
paratus is in use J. 

This carbon is the only residuum in the retort, 
and the only products of the oil " besides the gas, 
are a minute quantity of sebacic and acetic acids, 
and a portion of water," all of which are separated 
by passing the gas through water ^. 

The advantages of oil-gas, when contrasted with 

* Journal of Literature, &c. vol. viii. p. 122. 
f Idem, p. 123. X Mem, p. 121. 

§ Idem, vol. vii. p. .31fi. 


that obtaiiicd from coal, are as fallow : " The mate- 
rial from \\ hich it is produced, containing no sulphur 
or other matter by which the gas is contaminated, 
there are no objections to its use on account of the 
suffocating smell in close rooms. It does no sort of 
injury to furniture, books, plate, pictures, paint, &c." 
all of which are liable to be damaged by coal-gas. 
*' AH the costly and offensive operation of purifying 
the gas by lime, &c., is totally avoided when it is 
obtained from oil. Nothing is contained in oil-gas, 
which can possibly injure the metal of which the 
conveyance pipes are made*." 

* Quarterly Journal, vol. vii. p. 315. — It is also mentioned 
in this publication (p. 312.), in reference to the defects and in- 
convenience of coal-gas, that coals contain a large proportion of 
sulphur, which is volatilised with the gas; and it has hitherto been 
found impossible to purify it sufficiently for lighting close rooms. 
The suffocating smell, and the property it has, of tarnishing 
every thing metallic, exclude its use from dAvelling-houses, on 
account of the injury it would do to our health, our furniture, 
books, pictures, plate, paint, &c. Besides (p. 313.) " the ap- 
paratus necessary for the production of coal-gas is very large, 
expensive, and unmanageable ; the purification, imperfect as it 
18, very troublesome ; and the residual matter is peculiarly of- 
fensive. This confines its adoption to public companies or large 
establishments, thereby materially limiting its utility, and pro- 
ducing an injurious monopoly. And the employment of coal 
instead of oil, for the purpose of illumination, has an injurious 
effect on one of the most important branches of trade a mari- 
time country can possess ; and in proportion as coal-gas is used, 
.our fisheries are injured." 


" The oil-gas containing no unmixed hydrogen, 
(which occasions the great heat of coal-gas,) there is 
no greater heat in proportion from the iiame of oil- 
gas, than from burning oil in lamps, wax-candles," &c. 

" The apparatus for the production of oil-gas, is 
much less expensive than that necessary to make 
coal-gas ; it occupies much less space, — it requires 
much less labour and skill to manage it, — it is not 
so liable to wear and tear, and not so costly to repair 
as a coal-gas apparatus. There are no oifensive pro- 
ducts to remove ; and on its present improved con- 
struction, it may be introduced into any dwelling- 
house without nuisance*." 

" The oil-gas lias a material advantage over coal- 
gas, from its peculiar richness in olefiant gas, which 
renders so small a volume necessary, that one cube 
foot of oil-gas will be found to go as far as four (two?) 
of coal-gas f." Because, as oil- gas requires more oxy- 
gen for its consumption than coal, a less quantity of 
the former is consumed in a flame of equal size, while 
the brilliancy of the light is superior |. This cir- 
cumstance produces a great saving of room and of 

" The superiority of the light from oil-gas over 
other artificial lights, is fully shown by its render- 
ing the delicate shades of yellow and green nearly 
as distinct as when viewed by solar light ^"." 

* Quarterly Journal, vol. vii. p. 314. 

+ Idem, p. 315. ;{: Idem, No. xi. 

§ Idem, p. "\6. 

426 wiiALE-i-isriEiiY. 

The economy of oil-gas for purpose"? of illumina- 
tion, may be judged of from tlie following data : — 
" One gallon of common whale-oil will produce 
about 90 cube feet of gas *, and an argand burner 
will require a cube foot and a,-half per hour to main- 
tain a perfect light ; consequently, a gallon of oil, 
made into gas, will afford such a light for sixty 
hours ; and the expence, at a moderate price of oil, 
will be, allowing for coals, labour, &c. not more for 
one burner than three farthings per hour. 

" Such a burner will be equal, in intensity of 
light, to two argand oil lamps, or to ten mould 

" The expence of argand oil lamps is usually ad- 
mitted to be about lid. per hour each. 

" Suppose 10 mould candles to be burning, (at 
4 to the lb. will he 21 lb. costing 2*. lie?.), one- tenth 
part will be consumed in each hour, and the cost of 
the light is then 3 id. per hour f." 

A^^itli wax-candles, reckoned at 4^. 6d. per lb. 
the same quantity of light per hour would cost 14</. 

The following will therefore be the result : — 

* " Mr De Ville, of the Sti-and, who has made many nn- 
portant experiments and observations on gas iUumination, with 
a view of applying it to light houses^ is inclined to estimate the 
average produce in gas, of a gallon of oil, at SO cubical feet." — 
(Quarterly Jcurnal, vol. vii. p. iilG.) 

t Qura-tcrly Journal, vol. vii- p. ;U i. 

riiopEiiTiES or oii.-GAS. 427 

" Argand burner, oil-gas per hour, Of cZ. 

Argand lamps, spermaceti oil, 3 

Mould candles, 3^ 

Wax candles, 14"* 

When a quantity of light smaller than that g-iven 
out by ten candles is only vvantcd, the cost mil be 
proportionally less ; and as the gas improves by 
keeping, whatever remains over from day to day 
will be an advantage to the consumer. 

Besides, the above estimation of the cost of oil- 
gas " is taken on the usual price of good whale-oil ;" 
whereas, oil of the most inferior kinds, such as 
brown oil, bilge or black oil, and even the greasy 
substance called footje or footing, are applicable to 
the manufacture of gas, in the use of which the cost 
may be reduced to less than one-half. 

The first application of oil to the formation of gas, 
has been attributed to Messrs John and Philip 
Taylor, who, " about two years since," (that is, two 
years prior to the month of July 1819,) conceived 
" that it might be practicable to construct an appa- 
ratus capable of converting oil into gas, which would 
be preferable to coal-gas for lighting houses f ." In 
their attempts for accomplishing this important de- 
sign, they have been highly successful ; so success- 
ful, indeed, that it is apprehended that when the 

• Quarterly Journal, vol- vii. p. 315. 
+ Idem for July 1819, p. 313. 

!itt fc.jw#. - 


apparatus they have contrived has become generally 
known, it will command the attention of the public, 
and be brought into extensive application. It is> 
however, but justice to a gentleman of Hull, Mr 
J. B. Emmett, to mention, that experiments were 
instituted by him so early as August 1816, in which, 
I understand, he succeeded in procuring a gas, very 
superior to that from coal, by decomposing whale- 
oil; and that in April 1817, the substance of his 
investigation of this property of oil, was published 
in the " Philosophical Magazine," and also appear- 
ed in April and May, in several of the Yorkshire 

'J'o persons who are concerned in the whale-fishe- 
ries, as well as those who consider every thing of 
importance which involves our national prosperity, 
it must be gratifying to observe the laudable exam- 
ple which has been set by the inhabitants of Nor- 
wicli, Ipswich, &c. of giving encouragement to the 
fisheries by lighting their streets witli gas from oil. 
In places where coal is not very cheap, gas, it seems, 
can be produced from oil, at about the same expeuce 
as coal-gas ; consequently, the numerous advantages 
of the former, will render it highly preferable. 

A recentcontrivance, tending to encourage the ma- 
nufacture and increase the consumption of oil-gas, 
I have great pleasure in mentioning. I allude to 
the patent Portable Gas Lamp, invented by Da- 
vid Gordon, Esq. of Edinburgh. This consists of a 


strong apparatus of copper or brass, of a spherical 
urn-like, or any ornamental or convenient form, in 
which gas may be compressed by a forcing pump, or 
other apparatus, and consumed in burners attached 
to it, with the same facility and security as an ordi- 
nary lamp. 

For regulating the escape of the condensed gas, 
!Mr Gordon has adopted two ingenious contrivances, 
one by a conical leather valve, and the other by an 
improvement in the common stop-cock ; either of 
which admits of such minute regulation, that a 
flame of any degree of intensity, from a light that 
is scarcely perceptible, to the full brilliancy of which 
the gas is capable, may be produced at pleasure, 
and varied with the greatest facility. 

A particular account of this interesting invention, 
with an illustrative plate, may be seen in the valua- 
ble Journal recently commenced in Edinburgh*. 
" There is one application of the portable gas lamp," 
say the editors of this work, " to which we attach a 
very high value. By an extreme tliminution of the 
aperture, the flame can be rendered so small (in 
wliich case it is reduced to a blue colour) as to give 
no perceptible light, and to occasion almost no con- 
sumption of gas. In this state, the lamp may be 
used in bed-rooms, and the imperceptible flame may 
at any time be expanded into the most brilliant 

" Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. — See vol. i. p. 373. 


light, by turning the cock, by means of a metallic 
rod terminating near the bed." 

One of these lamps, not larger than a common 
tea-urn, when filled with oil-gas, condensed 25 times, 
will afford a flame equal to 5 candles, 6 to the pound, 
for about 12 hours. A sphere of 12 inches diame- 
ter, filled in the same way, will, with two argand 
burners, equal to 12 candles, burn for upwards of 
6 hours with coal-gas, and 12 hours with oil-gas. 
A cylinder, 6 inches in diameter, and 2 feet high, 
exclusive of the hemispherical ends, is calculated to 
supply an argand burner, equal to 10 candles, for 6 
hours, with coal-gas, and 12 hours with oil-gas *. 

For facilitating the process of filling these lamps, 
a reservoir, connected with a gas-work, may be kept 
constantly charged with condensed gas ; so that a 
sufficient portion of its contents could be transferred 
to the portable lamp, with the same ease and dis- 
patch as filling it with oil. 

Whale-oil, when freed from the incombustible 
and contaminating animal matters, which are usually 
dissolved in it, in consequence of putrefaction, is 
tlien applicable to a variety of purposes, in which 
the common oil cannot conveniently be employed. 
The following is a list of some of the processes for 
refining whale-oil : — 

• Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. — See vol. i. p. 376. 



1. An account of processes for edulcorating train oil, 
by Mr Dossie, was read before the Society for the 
Encouragement of Arts, Sciences, and Commerce, 
July 15. 1761 * 

2. Two processes for purifying rape-oil, applicable 
also to train-oil, have been published in the 
" Cours complct d' Agriculture," (torn, xii), by 
M. Curaudeau f. 

3. A patent was granted to Mr Joshua Collier of 
Southwark, broker, dated 13th December 1798, 
" for a chemical process for freeing fish oils from 
their impurities, in point of smell, taste, and co- 
lour ; and for improved strainers for oils and other 
liquids ; with other instruments for ascertaining 
their qualities, and assisting their burning I" 

4. A patent, bearing date December 13. 1806, was 
granted to William Speer, Esq. of Westminster, 
(late of Dublin), for a new method " of purifying, 
refining, and otherwise improving fish oils, and 
other oils, and converting and applying to use the 
unrefined parts thereof §." 

5. A patent for " a method of sweetening, purifying, 
and refining Greenland whale and seal oil," was 
granted to Mr Henry AVilliam Vanderkleft of 
London, dated 26th July 1814 1|. 

" See Gent. Mag. for I76I, p. 49.5. 

f See Nicholson's Journal, vol. xiii. p. 150. 

t " Repertory of Arts," vol. x. p. SS9' 

§ Idem, (2d series,) vol. xii. p. IT-I-- 

W Idem, (2d scries,) \o\. xxv. p. 270- 


6. " A method of extracting all the gross or inuci- 
laginous matter from feiiks or Greenland blubber, 
produced from whales, when boiled into oil ; 
which method not only renders the oil so boiled, 
more free from its usual rancid smell and taste, 
but in a great degree adds to its burning and in- 
flammable qualities," was invented by Mr Wil- 
liam Allamus Day, of London, for which a pa- 
tent was granted, bearing date December 20. 

7. Mr Edward Koche invented a simple method of 
rendering rape-oil equal to spermaceti oil, for the 
purposes of illumination ; which invention, proba- 
bly, might have a similar effect upon common 
Avhale or seal oil f . 

8. A process for refining whale oil, by agitation in 
a mixture of tannin and water is employed by 
Mr Speer of Bowling Street, Westminster, and 
with such effect, that the most rancid oil, after 
being submitted to the process, becomes so pure 
that it may be burnt in houses :}:. 

Whale-oil, in its unrefined state, frequently 
obtains an unmerited bad character for burning, 

• Repert. of Arts, (2d series,) vol. xxvi. p. 90- 
t Idem, vol. xxx. p. 95. 

{ The only notice I have seen of this invention, occurs in 
Parkes' " Chemical Essays," vol. i. p. 57» 



wlien the fault lies in those who have the charge of 
the lamps in which it is consumed. Want of pro- 
per cleanliness is a very common fault, and one 
which is most inimical to the ohtaining of a good 
light. It is a practice not uncommon with those 
who use oil lamps, especially in kitchens, to fill the 
lamp up, night after night, without removing the 
residue, and cleaning it out, by which all the impu- 
rities mechanically mixed in the oil are progressive- 
ly deposited and concentrated, until the cavity of 
the lamp becomes almost filled with a gross sub- 
stance, of the consistence of common paint. Pure 
oil, of the quality of some that T have myself pre- 
pared, would no doubt continue to burn with a pro- 
per effect, though the lamp were not cleaned out 
for a month together, provided care were taken to 
prevent the access of dust ; but, in the use of the 
best oil of commerce, tlie lamps ought to be emp- 
tied, and carefully cleaned out, at least once or twice 
a-wcek. A common error, also, in the trimming of 
lamps, consists in furnishing them with wicks of too 
great diameter. The wicks should be so thick as 
to prevent them from slipping down the tubes in 
which they are supported ; but they shoidd by no 
means fill the tubes, otherwise the course of the oil 
is interrupted, and an inadequate supply afforded 
for producing the requisite fiame. It is a precau- 
tion which ought not to be neglected, to dry the 
wick by a fire, before it is used. 

VOL. II. . E e 


2. Fcnks. — The fenks, or ultimate refuse of the 
blubber of the whale, form an excellent manure, es- 
pecially in soils deficient in animal matter. The 
late eminent judge. Lord Meadowbank, found this 
sort of refuse the very best matter to be added to 
peat moss, in order to bring it into complete fer- 
mentation, and to produce the rich manurt- known 
to agriculturists by the name of " INIeadowbank 

Fenks might likewise be used, it is probable, in 
the manufacture of prussian blue, and also for the 
production of ammonia. 

Footing, which is the finer detached fragments 
of the fenks, not wholly deprived of oil, may be used 
as a cheap material, in the formation of gas for illu- 

3. Whale's Tail, consisting chieily of tendinous 
fibres, is capable of being converted into glue, and 
is extensively used in the manufacture of this arti- 
cle, especially in Holland. A small quantity of oil 
may likewise be extracted from the tail. The tail, 
being of a strong texture, and very tough, is used 
by the whale-fishers for chopping-blocks, on which 
the blubber of the whale is divided into pieces suit- 
able for passing through the bung-holes of the casks. 

4. The Bones. — The jaw-bones, with the skull 
or crown-bone of the whale, are the largest found in 
nature. They are sometimes met with of the length 
of 25 feet. Jaw-bones are principally used as the 


ribs of sheds, and in the construction of arches and 
posts of gate-ways. The external part of tlicse 
bones, being harder iiid of a more compact texture 
than the interior, is appUed to the formation of the 
sheeves of blocks, in place of lignum-vitae. Any of 
the bones, when ground into powder, forms a valu- 
able ingredient in manure. 

5. JVIialehone. — This singular substance, when 
softened in hot water, or simply by lieating it be- 
fore a fire, has the property of retaining any shape 
which may be then given it, provided it be secured 
in the required form, until it becomes cold. This 
property, together with its great elasticity and flexi- 
bility, renders it capable of being applied to a great 
variety of useful purposes. 

The first way in which whalebone seems to have 
been employed, was in the stays of ladies. Its ap- 
plication to this purpose, was, at one period, when 
the quantity imported was small, so general, that it 
attained, in the wholesale way, the price of 700 /. 
2Kr ton. Subsequently, however, it has become less 
valuable, and of late it has fallen somewhat into dis- 
repute, some ladies having superseded its use in 
stays, by supporting themselves with plates of steel. 
There has, for many years, been an extensive con- 
sumption of this article in the manufacture of um- 
brellas and parasols. The white enamel, (found in 
some specimens of whalebone), has recently been fa- 
bricated into ladies hats, and into a variety of orna- 

E c2 


mental forms, as head-dresses ; and the black ena- 
mel, and the coarser material of wliich the interior 
is composed, have been worked into a great variety 
of useful articles, for which patents have been ob- 
tained. The black enamel is employed in the same 
way as cane, in the construction of the seats or backs 
of chairs, gigs, sofas, &c. ; and the grosser parts in 
the interior of the blade, when divided into fibres, 
and curled, are capable of being used in the stuffing 
of mattresses, &c. The hair on the edge of the 
whalebone, answers admirably every purpose of bul- 
lock's hair in stuffings for chairs, sofas, settees, car- 
riages, mattresses, cushions, &c. An attempt has 
been made to build whale-boats of this material ; 
but the great alteration which takes place in its di- 
mensions, in diffijrent states of the atmosphere^ on 
account of its ready absorption of moist-'ire, renders 
it inapplicable. It has been used, with a much bet- 
ter effect, in the construction of portmanteaus, and 
trayelling trunks. Hygrometers, the ramrods of 
fowling-pieces, fishing-rods, the shafts, spring's, and 
wlieels of carriages, &c. are articles, in the formation 
of which, whalebone has already been employed. 

The following is a list of some patents which 
have been taken out for the peculiar appropriation 
of this substance. 

1. Mr Bowman, of Leith, obtained a, patent, bear- 
ing date 30th of October 1807, for the adapta- 

USES OF WilAI.EBONi:. 457 

tion of whalebone to the manufacture of " hats, 
caps, and bonnets for men and women ; harps for 
harping or cleansing corn or grain ; and also the 
bottoms of sieves and riddles ; and girths for 
horses ; and also cloth for webbing, fit for making 
into hats, caps, &c. ; and for tlie backs and seats 
of chairs ; sofas, gigs, and other similar carriages 
and things ; and for the bottom of beds ; and also 
whalebone reeds for weavers *." 

A patent was gi-anted to JNIr Samuel Crackles, 
of Hull, brush-manufacturer, " for a method of 
making and manufacturing brushes from whale- 
bone ;" dated November 3. 1808 f . 

JMr H. W. A^ander Kleft, of London, procured 
a patent, bearing date August 17- 1813, for the 
invention of a " walking staff, calculated to con- 
tain a pistol, powder, ball, and screw telescope, 
pen, ink, paper, pencil, knife, and drawing uten- 
sils ;" the exterior of which may be covered or ve- 
neered witli prepared whalebone t. 
A patent has also been granted to JMr R. Dixon, 
49. High Holborn, London, for an improvement 
in the mode of manufacturing portmanteaus and 
travelling trunks, by the use t)f whalebone. 

■ Repertory of Arts, vol. xi. (2d scries,) p. 411. 
t Idem, vol. xiv. (2d series,) p. 1 56. 
4. Idem, vol. xxA'i. (2d scries,) p. 88. 




L HE ship Esk, under my command, sailed from 
Whitby on the 29th of March 1816 ; put into Ler- 
wick to trim the ship on the 1st of April ; sailed 
again on the 3d, entered the frigid confines of the 
icy sea on the 14th, and killed our first whale on 
the 25th of the same month. 

On the 30th of April we forced into the ice, 
with a favourable wind ; and, after passing through 
a large body of it, entered an extensive sea, such as 
usually lies on the western coast of Spitzbergen at 
this season of the year, early on the morning of the 
followir.g day. The wind then blowing hard from 
the S. S. E., we kept our reach to the eastward un- 
til three o'clock in the afternoon, when we vmex- 
pectedly met with a quantity of ice, which inter- 


rupted our course. Vie then wared, by tlie way 
of avoiding it, but soon found, though the weather 
was thick with snow, that we were completely em- 
bayed, in a situation that was truly terrific. In the 
course of fourteen voyages, in which I had before 
visited this inhospitable country, I passed through 
many dangers wherein my own life, together wth 
those of my companions, had been threatened ; but 
the present case, where our lives seemed to be at 
stake for a length of time exceeding twelve hours, 
far surpassed in awfulness, as well as actual hazard, 
any thing that I had before Avitnessed. Dangers 
which occur unexpectedly, and terminate suddenly, 
though of the most awful description, appear like a 
dream, when they are passed ; but horrors which 
have a long continuance, though they in some mea- 
sure decrease in their effect on the mind, by a 
lengthened contemplation of them, yet they leave 
an impression on the memory which time itself can- 
not altogether efface. Such was tlie effect of the 
present scene. Whilst the wind howled through 
the rigging vs^ith tempestuous roar, the sea was so 
mountainous that the mast-heads of some accom- 
panying ships, within the distance of a quarter of a 
mile, were intercepted, and rendered invisible by 
the swells ; and our ship frequently rolled the lee- 
boats into the water, that were suspended with their 
keels above the rougldree-raJiX ! At the same time, 
we were rapidly approaching a body of ice, the 

440 ^\- 1 1 A 1 .E-l' 1 S I! TAX y . 

masses of wbicli, as hard as rocks, might be seen at 
one instant covered with foam, the next concealed 
from the siglit by the w.ives, and instantly after- 
wards reared to a prodigions height above the sur- 
face of tlie sea ! It is needless to relate the means 
by which we attempted to keep the ship clear of 
the threatened danger, because those means were 
without avail. At 11 v. M. we were close to the 
ice, when, perceiving through the mist, an opening 
a short distance within, we directed the drift of the 
ship towards it. As we approached the ice, the 
sails were filled, so that the first blow was received 
obliquely on the bow, when the velocity of the ship 
was moderate. In this place, the pieces of ice were 
fortunately of smallish dimensions ; at least, all the 
larger masses we were enabled to avoid, so that, af- 
ter receiving a number of shocks, we escaped with- 
out any particular accident into the opening, or slack 
part of the ice above noticed. This opening, as far 
as we could see, promised a safe and permanent re- 
lease. But in this we were grievously disappointed : 
for, when we attempted to ware the ship, which soon 
became necessary, she refused to turn round, not- 
withstanding every effort, in a space which, in ordi- 
nary circumstances, would have been twice sufficient 
for the evolution. In consequence of this accident, 
which arose partly from the bad trim of the ship, 
iind partly from the great violence of the wind, she 
fell to leeward into a close body of ice, to which wc 


could see no termination. The Mars of Whitby, 
and another vessel, which closely followed us as we 
penetrated the exterior of the ice, being in better 
trim than the Esk, performed the evolution \vith 
ease, and were in a few minutes out of sight. In 
this dreadful situation, we lay beating against the 
opposing ice, with terrible force, during eight suc- 
cessive hours ; all which time, I was rocked, with 
no agreeable feeling whatever to console me, at the 
top-gallant-mast-head, directing the management of 
the sails, to avoid the largest masses of ice, any one 
of which would have perforated the side of the ship. 
By the blessing of God, we succeeded to admira- 
tion ; and, at 8 a. m. of the 2d of May, gained a 
small opening, where we contrived to navigate the 
ship, until the wind had somewhat subsided, and 
the weather cleared, so that we had the opportunity 
of forcing into a more commodious place. On exa- 
mining the ship, we found our only apparent da- 
mage to consist in the destruction of most of our 
rudder works, a few slight bruises on the sides, and 
a cut on the lower part of the stem of the ship. The 
first damage would have been very serious,had not we 
fortunately had a forge, with an excellent smith, on 
board, whereby this important piece of machinery, 
the rudder, was so secured, as to serve for every 
common occasion. 

From this time, to the 20th of May, the fishery 
was generally interrupted by the formation of new 


ice ; insomuch, that, during this interval, we killed 
but one whale, while few of our neighbours suc- 
ceeded so well. 

On the 19th of JNIay, we penetrated the ice to the 
utmost extent of any opening, where, in the latitude 
of 791 degrees, we met with several small whales, 
sporting and feeding about the edges of some exten- 
sive fields of ice. In four days, we killed five small 
" fish." The wind prevailing then from the S. S. E. 
to S. W., continuing in that direction, and occa- 
sionally blowing hard, forced a swell into the ice, 
which, though totally imperceptible to the sight, 
broke the fields and floes to pieces, and brought the 
fragments so closely together, that our ship, along 
with the Mars, and three others, were soon im- 
movably fixed. During the succeeding week, we 
never moved, excepting occasionally a few yards, 
which we effected with vast labour, to "avoid the 
terrible crushes of the ice that were apparent all 
round us, and which, in one instance, lifted the North 
Britain six feet above her usual water-mark. The 
next twelve days were spent in the most arduous 
labour, in warping the ship through occasional open- 
ings of the ice. On several occasions we had re- 
course to sawing ; and, in some cases, we wrought 
for many hours with our whole force and ingenuity, 
without being able to move an inch. At length, 
on the 1 2th of June, we happily escaped, though oiur 
companions were all left behind. They, however. 


having particularly favourable winds and weather, 
were not long detainad. We immediately struck 
and killed our eighth fish. 

On the 14th we parted company with the Mars, 
and proceeded alone to the southward ; when, after 
a chace of sca eral hours, we captured a large whale. 
On the 20th we killed another. In the course of 
the week, between the 17th and 24th, three large 
whales, wl ich would have afforded a fourth part of 
a cargo, escaped us, by the unparalleled unskilfnl- 
ness of our harpooners. 

We now penetrated the drift-ice in the latitude 
of 78°, to the distance of seventy miles from the ex- 
terior, where we met with several whales. One was 
stnick and captured, and a second was shot by means 
of the harpoon-gun; but owing to the want of prompt 
assistance, the latter was lost. On the following 
day, (27th of June,) another large fish fell beneath 
our lances ; which, with a sucking fish we got on 
the 25th, made our number thirteen, and our quan- 
tity of oil about 125 tons. This was a larger cargo 
than any ship had procured that we had yet met 
with, excepting only one. On the 28th, the John 
of Greenock, commanded by my brother-in-law, JMr 
Jackson, joined us. 

After proceeding to the westward the greater 
part of the 28th, we arrived at the borders of a com- 
pact body of field-ice, consisting of immense sheets of 
prodigious thickness. Here a number of ships were 


already assembled, some of which had made a very 
profitable fishery on the day preceding our arrival. 
Our latitude was at this time 78° 8' N., and longitude 

As the whales had quitted this position, and as 
I considered the situation not particularly desirable, 
notwithstanding extensive spaces lay between the 
different sheets of ice, the ship was allowed to drift 
to the eastward all the night. The wind, however, 
subsiding to a calm, in the morning of the 29th of 
June, I found the ship was very little removed from 
the place where she lay when I went to bed. I 
soon perceived that the floes had approached each 
other very considerably, and that they were still in 
the act of closing. Fearful of being again heset, 
and particularly in a situation where the ice was so 
heavy, and at such a great distance from the sea, we 
lowered four boats to tow the ship through an open- 
ing at a short distance from us. At the very mo- 
ment when we were about to enter it, it closed. 
The John had just passed through it. Another 
channel, of at least a mile in width, and scarcely 
that distance from us, lying to the southward, we 
immediately directed the ship towards it. Finding 
as we advanced, that the northern floe was not only 
setting towards the southern one, but was, at the 
same time, revolving with a velocity nearly equal to 
that of the ship, I was induced to lower all the 
boats for the purposic of accelerating our progress. 


The effect was then considerable ; assisted by a light 
air of wind, the ship attained the velocity of about 
three miles per hour, while the northern floe liad a 
velocity of about two. As the channel between the 
two floes was constantly as broad as our distance 
from the narrowest part, we were tempted to ad- 
vance. But when we came within a hundred yards, 
our progress became sensibly lessened by a light air 
of wind, that at this moment unfortunately sprung 
up a-head ; as such, I began to look out for a place 
of refuge, and succeeded in discovering a deep in- 
dentation in the southern floe, which appeared cal- 
culated to afford a secure retreat. Conceiving, how- 
ever, that we should be still more secure were we to 
return, we attempted to stop the ship before she en- 
tered between the two first points ; but owing to a 
mistake in taking out a rope that was found to be en- 
tangled, by which a considerable loss of time was sus- 
tained, theshipadvancedso farthat she had passed the 
points, and could not be hauled back without a risk 
of being arrested by the ice at the projection, and 
crushed to pieces. I, therefore, ordered the boats 
again to tow forward ; and they had already got the 
ship into the safety of the indentation, within ten 
yards, when a small piece of ice coming athwart her 
bow, stopped her progress, and she was in a minute 
afterwards subjected to a considerable squeeze, 
^leanwhile, two eastern projections of the approach- 
ing floes had met ; and one of tlicse, which was cx- 



pected to have been of sufficient strength to have 
stopped the motion of the ice, was unfortunately 
shivered to pieces by the severity of the pressure*. 
At this time, a thin part of the southern floe lay 
against the starboard-side of the ship, readily squeez- 
ed up, and appeared incapable of doing any damage, 
while two pieces of ice, touching the northern floe, 
and pressing against the larboard-side of the ship 
appeared so small, that their action was not regard- 
ed. From neither of these, therefore, did we appre- 
hend any danger, particularly as the motion of the 
ice soon abated ; and as the ship never showed any 
symptom of a dangerous pressure, such as lifting 
abaftf , heeling to one side, shaking of her frame, or 
cracking of tlie tim.bers, we imagined that she had 
escaped without damage. There was a danger, how- 
ever, on the larboard-quarter, of v/hich wj were to- 
tally unconscious. The piece of ice that touched 
the ship in that part, though of itself scarcely six 
yards square, and not more than one yard above 

• While we v/ere thus endangered, the John was m circum- 
stances still more alarming. After she had passed the narroAv 
channel through which we made the first attempt to escape, 
she was suddenly involved by distant ice, and made a very 
narrow escape from bein.'i" crushed to pieces. 

+ Ships pressed by the ice abaft, almost always rise to a 
considerable height above the usual floating line ; luindreds of 
ships have been lifted several feet without sustaining any da- 


water, concealed beneath the surface of the sea, at 
the depth of 10 or 12 feet, a hard pointed projection 
of ice (called by the Grcenlandmen a tongue,) ^yhich 
pressed against the keel, lifted the rudder, and caus- 
ed a damage that had nearly occasioned the loss of 
the ship. Yet so perfectly unconscious were we of 
any danger, that we employed ourselves about an 
hour and a-half after the accident, endeavouring to 
heave the ship a-head, into the adjoining indenta- 
tion or bay at which we originally aimed, as a place 
of greater security ; and it was not until the pres- 
sure relaxed, and tlie ship began to sink in the 
water, that we became in any degree sensible of our 
danger. The carpenter then having sounded the 
pump, discovered, to our great concern, a depth of 
8^ feet water in the hold ! This amazing flow of 
water in so short a time, was most alarming. With 
despair pictured in every face, the crew set on the 
pumps. A signal of distress v^as at the same time 
hoisted, which was no sooner seen, than a dozen 
boats - approached us from the surrounding ships. 
Bailing, by means of tubs and buckets at the fore- 
hatch-way, fore-scuttle and companion, was resorted 
to, to assist tlie effect of the pumps. These means, 
together with the two principal pumps, (of 9 inches 
bore or diameter,) and a spare pump in the fore- 
hatch- way, delivered such an astonishing quantity 
of water, that in a very short time, the men were 
enlivened by the intelligence, that the water dimi- 


nishcd rapidly in the hold, and that the ship began 
to rise again. In the space of four hours the water 
had lowered to nearly four feet ; but the forebatch- 
way pump then becoming useless, and tiie bailing 
being less effectual, the water once more resumed 
its superiority and gained upon us. 

Something, therefore, w as now to be done to stop, 
if possible, the influx of the water. As the leak 
could not be found in the inside, fbtke?ing^', as be- 
ing the most common and ready means, was (as soon 
as the floes w^ere sufficiently separate,) immediately 
resorted to. But what was our astonishment to find, 
when about to apply a sail to the quarter of the ship,, 
the place where the water seemed to enter, that the 
" after keel" was entirely detached from the timbers 
to the distance of nearly tw'o feet, turned into an 
horizontal position, and all the bolts draw^n ; while, 
along with it, a large portion of one of the gcwhoar ci- 
st rakes-f was torn from its place ! This singular po- 

* Fothenng, is a peculiar method of endeavouring to stop a 
leak in the bottom of a ship while she is i^float. It is perform- 
ed by drawing a sail, by means of ropes at the foiu- corners, 
beneath the damaged or leaky part, then thrusting into it a 
quantity of chopped rope-yarns, oakum, avooI, cotton, &c. ; or 
by thrumbing the sail, that is, sewing long bunches of rope- 
yarn all over it, before it is placed beneath the ship. These 
materials being sucked into the leaky part, the flow of the 
water into the ship is interrupted, or at least diminished. 

+ Garboard-slrake or saiid-iirake, is the first range of strakes 
or planks laid upon a ship's bottom, next the keel, into which 
it is rabitted below, and into the stem and stern-post at the ends. 


gition of the keel, rendered fothering impracticable, 
or at least in a great measure ineffectual ; we, there- 
fore, endeavoured to stop some of the leak, by thrust- 
ing bundles of oakum down to the place by means 
of poles and tubs, a part of which remained beneath, 
and seemed to do some little service. A sail was 
next applied to the place, but, owing to the circum- 
stances just mentioned, without producing any ef- 

In consequence of the vigorous assistance of about 
150 men from the John, North Briton, Don, Supe- 
rior, Elizabeth, Perseverance, &c. the water, though 
it could not be wholly withdrawn, was yet so kept 
under in the hold, that, for the space of twenty-four 
hours, it fluctuated between the depth of four and 
six feet. As, however, the pumping and bailing 
could not possibly be continued by our own ship's 
company, it was necessary to make use of some means 
to attempt a speedy remedy, whilst our assistants 
were numerous. The different plans which I con- 
ceived might be adopted in the present case, or 
which I knew had been adopted to stop a leak in 
fonner cases, were the following, viz. 

I. To fother. — I proposed to attempt to pull the 
keel entirely away, that the plan of fothering might 
be adopted with a better prospect of success. This, 
however, was strongly opposed by some able carpen- 
ters, who conceived, that the removal of the keel 
VOL. n. Y f 


might tear away more of the garhoai^d-straket and 
occasion the immediate loss of the ship. 

II. To heav^ the ship down, — that is, to discharge 
the whole of the cargo and stores upon the ice, turn 
the ship on one side, until the wound should come 
above water, and then repair it. Tliis plan was par- 
ticularly recommended by all the masters who vi- 
sited me, and by most of the carpenters. 

III. To caulP- the ceil'mg. — It appeared to me, 
that, could the ceiling or inside-planking be made 
water-tight, as it yet remained uninjured, it would 
swim the ship, though the whole of the keel were 
removed. But as the whole of the ceiling could 
not be come at, on account of the water which lay 
upon it, and as the caulking of the whole ceiling 
would require more time and materials than we 
could command, the same purpose, I conceived, 
would be answered, by making a stop-water between 
two of the frames of timber on the fore part of the 
leak, and caulking the ceiling abaft it. This plan, 
however, could not be adopted, unless the water were 
withdrawn ; it was not, therefore, at this time practi- 

IV. To well the ship. — This operation, consisting 
in the building of a bulk-head or partition on the 
fore part of the leak, and caulking it, so as to con- 
fine the water within it, would likewise require a 
stop-water between t#o frames of timber, to prevent 
the water making a passage between the timber and 


planks. As it likev/ise would require the water to 
be wholly extracted, it was therefore impracticable. 

V. To tu7m the ship keel upward, — This plan, 
being a kind of desperate experiment, 1 was de- 
termined to adopt, in the event of all others fail- 
ing. To effect this, it would be necessary first to 
discharge the cargo, and to unrig the ship, then, let- 
ting her fill with water, after securing the cabin- 
windows and hatches, to turn her keel up, and re- 
pair the damage ; and, lastly, to return her back 
to her proper position, and pump out the water. 
In performing these operations, the aid of some 
other ship to assist in heaving the Esk down, and 
returning her back, v/ould probably be indispens- 

With the 2fZ and 5th plans particularly in view, 
we now set about unrigging the ship, and dischar- 
ging the cargo and stores upon a flat place of the floe 
against which we had moored. 

As there was a chance that a bunch of rope-yarns, 
straw or oakum, might enter some of the larger 
leaks and retard the influx of water, if applied near 
the place through the medium of a fothering sail, 
we, in the mean time, prepared a lower studding 
sail, by sewing bunches of these different materials 
all over it, which, together with large shreds of old 
thin canvas, whalebone-hair, and a quantity of ashes, 
fitted it well for the purpose. Thus prepared, it 

Ff 2 

452 AvnAi,F.-FisHErwY. 

' was hauled beneath the damaged place ; but not the 

least effect was yet produced. 

During the whole of Saturday, (the day on which 
the accident happened,) together with part of Sun- 
day, we received ample and vigorous assistance from 
neighbouring ships, which was increased on IMonday 
morning by some men from the Royal Bounty^ the 
JMargaret, John, and North Briton. 

By this time my own sailors were completely 
worn out, and most of our auxiliaries wearied and 
discouraged ; for the water gained to the depth of 
nine feet in the hold, in spite of the utmost exer- 
tions of the men who last arrived, though they were 
fresh and active. It therefore appeared, that there 
could be neither justice nor prudence in exhausting 
these men also, where there did not appear to be 
even a possibility of advantage resulting from their 
labours. Hence, as the ship could never be hove 
down while any water remained in her, this plan 
was, of necessity, abandoned ; and the 5th plan, 
which alone remained to keep alive our hopes, 
was resorted to. The pumps, meanwhile, were 
merely kept in action until the ship should be in 
readiness. Preparatory to putting the plan in exe- 
cution, we placed twenty empty casks in the hold, 
to act against a quantity of iron ballast which was 
in the ship, caulked the dark-lights, removed all the 
dry goods and provisions that would injure with the 
wet, secured all the hatches, scuttles, companion. 


&c., then, erecting two tents on the ice, one for shel- 
tering myself and the other for the crew, we ceased 
pumping and permitted the ship to fill. 

I was the more ready to attempt this experiment, 
when I considered, that our assistance must soon 
fail us, as many who were forward to help in the be- 
ginning had akeady deserted us ; and that the crews 
of two ships before they left us, had become so care- 
less and trifling, that they retarded every operation 
by their untimely levity. It was peculiarly distres- 
sing to me to observe, that men who had come ap- 
parently with the intention of aiding us, not only 
were useless themselves, but relaxed the exertions of 
others by their open declarations, that the state of 
the ship was without hope. These inconsiderate 
men did not even scruple to converse, in the hear- 
ing of our people, on the subject of plundering 
the ship the moment they had the opportunity, 
and even were heiard to name the particular ar- 
ticles of which they would endeavour to make prize. 
One fellow had the impudence to demand of our 
blacksmith for some iron-work which he found 
in the ship, intimating, that in a short time 
it would be the prize of any one, — another pil- 
fered a musket, — others were observed examining 
some small sails which lay on the ice, with a view, 
doubtless, of seeing how far they would suit their 
convenience. Some of this unfeeling party, when at 
the pump, evinced, by their improper conduct, their 
widi that the ship were abandoned. Instead of 


pumping, I could observe them treating the service 
in which they were employed as a mere jest. The 
two great pumps being worked with the same ma- 
chine, the men on one side of the deck would frequent- 
ly baulk the stroke of those on the other by an un- 
timely jerk; then the whole gang would express 
their amusement by bursting into a laugh ! I was 
so grieved with their conduct, that I was on the 
point of ordering them to leave the ship, when I 
was fortunately relieved from the trial, by their vo- 
luntary departure, immediately on the arrival of 
the fresh force from the lloyal Bounty and Mar- 
garet *. The tantalizing behaviour of these men, 
might possibly be encouraged, if not excited, by 
the unmanly spirit which was evinced by many 
of my own crevv'. j\len of whom I had conceived 
the highest opinion for firmness and bravery, great- 
ly disappointed my expectations at this crisis. 
Among the whole crevv', indeed, scarcely a dozen 
spirited fellows were to be seen. One of the prin- 
cipal officers refused to work any longer in the 
hold, until I appeared at the hatchway and put 
him to the blush ; another officer, a boat-steerer, 

" Captain Allen being informed, that one or two of his men 
had been guilty of some improprieties of conduct while on board 
the Esk, ordered the future alloAvance of grog of the guilty in- 
dividuals to be stopped during the voyage. This gentleman 
likewise, I was told, enforced a caution to his crew against 
plundering, by threatening to stop the v.ages of any man who 
should be found to trespass in thia respect. 


whom I ordered to fill the bailing tubs, quitted his 
station, on the weak pretence, that the water was 
spilt upon ■ him. My chief mate, however, and a 
few others, it is but justice to say, shewed that 
arduous zeal, that steady obedience and unrelenting 
perseverance, which are properties when combined, 
that dignify the seaman, and characterise him as 
truly British. And notwithstanding some of the 
men who visited us, were considered rather as 
a burthen than a help, yet there were otliers who 
acquitted themselves to admiration. Most of the 
people belonging to the John and North Briton, were 
unexceptionable, as well as those of the JMargaret, 
during their short stay, those belonging to the Pres- 
cotand some others. INIy brother Jackson, though his 
ship was on the opposite side of a floe, scarcely ever 
left m.e ; and the master of the North Briton, Mr 
Allen, beha\ed in a most gentlemanly manner. 
Some of the officers of different ships, though un- 
known to me, distinguished themselves by their ac- 
tivity and zeal for our service. 

As no ship could with propriety venture near us 
to assist in turning the Esk over, on account of the 
hazardous position of the ice around her, we had no 
other means of performing this singular evolution 
than by attaching purchases to the ice from the 
ship. We proceeded as follows : A new hawser of 
9i inches circumference, was taken under the ship's 
bottom, the end clenched to the main-mast, and the 


other part taken upon the ice : this was then con- 
nected, with different purchases fixed to the ice, in 
such a way, that the power was increased thirty-six 
times ; or, abating friction, I suppose every man 
would be able to produce the effect of nearly a 
ton. The other end of the same hawser, was in 
a similar way attached to the fore-mast, and, by 
means of ice-anchors, and a complex combination 
of blocks, was also connected with the ice. 
When, therefore, these purchases should be put in 
force, the hawser would have a tendency to draw 
the keel upward, towards the edge of the floe across 
which it lay, and to pull the offside gunwale down- 
ward, and consequently to reverse the position of the 
ship. For the purpose of increasing the effect of 
the purchases, as well as for retaining the ship's 
masts downwards, if the reversion should be per- 
formed, we suspended an anchor from the main-mast- 
head, and another from the fore-mast-head, by means 
of hawsers, applied in such a way that one part went 
under the ship's keel, and could be cut when it was 
required to restore the ship to her former position. 
These anchors beinc: likewise connected with the 
ice, by means of a slack-rope, would be preserved 
from sinking, when they sliould be separated from 
the ship by cutting the hawser at the keel. 

Every thing being thus prepared, whilst the wa- 
ter flowed into the ship, I sent our exhausted crew 
to seek a little rest. For my own part, necessity 



impelled me to endeavour to obtain some repose. I 
had already been fifty hours without rest, which 
unusual exertion, together with the anxiety of mind 
I endured, caused my legs to swell, and become so 
extremely painful, that I could scarcely walk. 
Spreading, therefore, a mattrass upon a few boards 
laid on the snow, within one of the tents, notwith- 
standing the coldness of the situation and the ex- 
cessive dampness that prevailed from the constant 
fog, I enjoyed a comfortable repose of four hours, 
and arose considerably refreshed. 

Immediately afterwards, (about 8 P. M. of the 1st 
of July,) I proceeded with all hands to the ship, 
which, to our surprise, we found had only sunk a 
little below the 16 feet mark externally, while the 
water but barely covered a part of 'tween decks with- 
in. Perceiving that it was not likely to sink 
much farther, on account of the buoyancy of the 
empty casks, and of the materials of which the ship 
itself was composed, we applied all our purchases ; 
but, with the strength of above 150 men, we could 
not heel her more than 5 or 6 strakes. When thus 
careened, with the weight of two anchors suspended 
from the masts acting with the effect of powerful levers 
on the ship, I accompanied about 120 men on board. 
All these being arranged on the high side of the 
deck, ran suddenly to the lower side, when the ship 
fell so suddenly on one side, that we were appre- 
bcnsive she was about to upset ; but, after turning 


a little way, tlie motion ceased. The tackles on the 
ice being then hauled tight, the heeling position of 
the ship was pi*eserved, until we mounted the high- 
er part of the deck, and ran to the lower, as before. 
At length, after a few repetitions of this manoeuvre, 
though the weight of men suddenly passing from 
side to side, could not be less than 8 tons, no im- 
pression whatever was produced *. 

On account of the peculiar buoyancy and stabili- 
ty of the shij>, it hence appeared, that the plan of 
upsetting her was not practicable, without the aid 
of some other ship to assist by additional purchases ; 
and, as no other ship could with safety be brought 
to us, this method was at length relinquished. 

The situation of the ship being now desperate, 
there could be no impropriety in attempting to re- 
move the keel and garboard-strake, which prevented 
the application of the fothering : for, whatever 
might be the result, it could scarcely be for the 
worse. Putting, therefore, the bight of a hawser 
over the end of the detached part of the keel, we 
fastened one end to a timber head, and, with the 
other at the capstern, soon hove it asunder ; but im- 
mediately slipping cut of tlie rope, it sunk f . The 

• The frontispiece to Vol. I. represents the state of the 
Esk at this juncture. — See the Explanation of the Plates, Ap- 
pendix, No. X. 

t This piece of keel was 22 feet in length. 


piece of garboard-strake yet remained attached to the 
ship ; a line was with some difficulty fixed to it, hut 
it was found insufficient to drag it off; a hawser 
likewise failed, though we contrived to clench it 
round the plank, until, after heaving upon it in va- 
rious positions, it was at length torn asunder. This 
plank we found was 9 feet in length, and had at- 
tached to it a piece of the dead wood, 6 inches in 

These incumbrances being removed, the thrumh- 
cd sail for fothering was immediately applied to the 
place, and a vast quantity of fothering materials 
thrown into its concavity, when it was fairly imder- 
neath. Over this sail, we spread a fore-sail, and 
braced the whole as tight to the ship as the keel- 
bolts which yet remained in their horizontal posi- 
tion, would permit. The effect was as happy as we 
could possibly have anticipated. 

Some time before all these operations were com- 
pleted, our people, assisted by the John's crew, who, 
after a short rest, had returned to us, put the three 
pumps and bailing tubs in motion, and applied their 
energies with such effect, that in eleven hours the 
pumps sucked ! In this time, a dcptli of 13 feet wa- 
ter was pumped out of the hold, besides the leakage. 
The John's crew remained at the pumps yet four 
hours longer, until our own men cleared the after-hold 
of casks, and got every thing in readiness to put in 
execution the caulking of the ceiling, agreeably to 


the method I proposed in plan No. III. The John's 
crew, on this occasion, exerted themselves with a 
spirit and zeal which was truly praiseworthy. Their 
conduct not only merited, hut excited the approba- 
tion and gratitude of the whole of my people. 

As our men were by this time again worn out, 
and as the assistance of some carpenters was parti- 
cularly needed, we fired a gun, and repeated our 
signal of distress, which brought, very opportunely, 
two boats, with six men each, from the Prescot, and 
the same number from our tried friend Mr Allen, 
of the North Briton. As we likewise procured the 
carpenters of these two ships, together with those of 
the John, they commenced operations by cutting 
through the ceiling, between two frames of timber, 
directly across the hold, at the distance of about 
26 feet from the stern-post ; a situation which, we 
were assured, was on the fore part of the leak, or 
between the leak and the body of the ship. The 
timbers, in this place, were unfortunately found so 
closely connected, that we had to cut away part of 
one of the floors, that we might come at the outside 
plank, and caulk the crevices between it and the 
timbers ; which operation, on account of the great 
depth of timber, and the vast flow of water that is- 
sued at the ceiling, was extremely difficult, tedious, 
and disagreeable. A man of tlic name of Nichol- 
son, the carpenter of the North Briton, laboured in 
this place among the ^vater, with a perseverance 


and assiduity that was really astonisliiDg, notwith- 
standing every blow of his axe brought a shower of 
water about his head. 

Meanwhile that we had good assistance, I allow- 
ed our crew four hours rest, half of them at a time ; 
for which purpose, some of their beds were removed 
from the ice to the ship. Here, for the first time 
during four days, they enjoyed their repose ; for, on 
account of the cold and damp that prevailed when 
they rested on the ice, several of them, I believe, 
never slept. Some of the John's people, returning 
to us, swayed up the top-masts, and rigged most of 
the yards, while our men were employed stowing the 
main hold, which, by the floating of the casks, was 
thrown into a singular state of disorder. Some of 
the casks were found without heads, and all the 
blubber lost, and many were found bilged, or other- 
wise damaged. 

After the carpenters had completely cleared the 
roomsiead*^ they drove oakum into it, along with an 
improved woollen sheathing substance, and occasion- 
ally, where the spaces were very large, pieces of fat 
pork. The spaces or crevices between the planks of 
the ceiling and the timber being then filled, all the 
above substances were firmly driven down by means 
of pine wedges, and the space between each of the 

* Koomslead is the sj)ace between any two ribs or frames 
of timber in a ship. 


wedges caulked. This would have been very com- 
plete, had not the mcreased flow of water overcome 
the pumps, and covered the ceiling where the carpen- 
ters were at work. They were, therefore, obliged to 
wedge up the place with great expedition ; and being 
at the same time greatly fatigued, the latter part of 
the operation was accomplished with much less per- 
fection than I could have wished. We, however, 
were happy to find, that the intention for which we 
laboured, was in some measure accomplished ; for no 
sooner were the wedges driven from side to side, and 
the interstices caulked, than the water, being no long- 
er able to find a free passage between the outside and 
inside planking, as it had previously done, now 
sprung through the ceiling, abaft the stop-water, 
in numerous little jets. 

Hitherto calm weather, with thick fog, having 
constantly prevailed, was the occasion of several 
ships remaining by us and affording us assistance, 
which would otherwise have left us ; but the wea- 
ther having now become clear, and a prospect of 
prosecuting the fishery being presented, every ship 
deserted us, except the John, and she was preparing 
to leave us likewise. The knowledge that we should, 
in a few hours, be left entirely alone, in a sliip that 
was little better than a wreck, and in a situation 
of perpetual jeopardy, at the distance of 100 miles 
from the sea, — the persuasion that, from the great 
quantity of water which yet flowed into the hold. 


the ship would sink in consequence of the most 
trifling accident or increase of the leak, — the cer- 
tainty that, under the most favourahle circumstan- 
ces, considering the dilapidated state of the ship, 
her cargo, sails and stores heing principally on the 
ice, it would require a considerahle length of time 
before the ship could possibly be removed, as the 
greater part of the crew must be constantly em- 
ployed at the pumps, — the great probability there 
was, considering the advanced state of the season, 
that all the fleet of whale-ships would immediate- 
ly endeavour to remove into safer ice, near the sea, 
and consequently, that should the ice in which we 
occupied a dangerous position *, eventually crush 
the ship, there would be no refuge for us, but what 
was at such a distance that it might, by the clear- 
ing of the ice, be rendered inaccessible, — the con- 
sciousness, that were the ship safely out of the ice, 
she might yet founder at sea, from the fothering 
sails washing away, or from the water accumu- 
lating in the lee-bilge during a gale of wind, and 

• It was somewhat remarkable, that during the first five 
or six days after the accident, the two floes between which 
the ship received the damage, were in frequent contact at a 
small distance from us. Sometimes they approached each 
other, where the ship lay, within a few yards, at others, inter- 
mediate pieces of ice would almost touch her. Under any 
otlier circumstances we should have been in constant alarm ; — 
as it was, we were too much involved in distress to be sensible 
of any augmentation of danger from the ice. 


hence the lives of the crew would in all probability 
fall a sacrifice to their temerity ; — these numerous 
and important considerations were so strongly im- 
pressed on the minds of the sailors, that they ap- 
peared determined to quit the ship and take re- 
fuge in the John, as soon as she should attempt 
to leiive us. That they had determined on this, 
I had sufficient information to convince me ; and, 
from the knowledge of the character of many of 
my crew, who, from their conduct during the pre- 
ceding operations and trials, proved themselves to 
be in general a spiritless set of men, I was confident, 
that unless the assistance of the John were by some 
means secured, the Esk, after all the labour bestow- 
ed on her, and the progress which had been made to- 
wards her preservation, must yet be abandoned as a 
wreck ! Some of my men had long importuned me to 
hire the attendance and co-operation of the John, by 
giving up to her the half of our cargo, if less would 
not suffice : — these importunities I constantly resist- 
ed, until, finding tlie necessity of the case, I at length, 
at the unanimous request of my whole crew, made 
the proposal to Captain Jackson, who, with the 
consent of his crew, agreed to stay by us and assist 
us, agreeably to the conditions of the following 
contract ; the original of which was voluntarily 
signed by every individual of both ships' compa- 


Greenland Sea, 3d July 1816. 
The ship Esk of Whitby being in distress, and the crew 
of themselves unable to preserve her, it is agreed between 
the undersigned masters, officers, and seamen of the ship 
John of Greenock, and of the said ship Esk, that the for- 
mer shall afford assistance to the latter, agreeable to the 
terms and conditions following : 

I. That the ship John shall remain by the Esk, and 
shall accompany her to some port of Shetland, if requir- 
ed, and that the crew of the John shall, during the 
fitting of the Esk for the passage, and during the passage 
to Shetland, assist to the utmost of their power, in any 
measures necessary for her preservation. 

II. In consideration of which services, the crew of the 
ship Esk do agree to give up to the ship John, forty-eight 
tons of oil, or blubber in proportion, after the rate of four 
tons of blubber to three tons of oil, together with one-half 
of the Esk's present cargo of whalebone, — and hereby they 
consider themselves as having relinquished all title and 
claim to the said oil and whalebone, as well as to any 
wages, oil-money, fish-money, or other perquisites, which 
might be dependent thereon. 

III. It is agreed by the master of the Esk, on the part 
of his o\vners, that provided the ship Esk shall, by the 
united exertions of the two ships'* companies, be preserved 
and arrive safe at the port from whence she sailed, and 
that the John accompanies, and the crew assists so far as 
Shetland, the sum of One hundred pounds shall be given 
by the owners of the Esk to the crew of the John, to be 
equally divided amongst each individual, excluding har- 
poon ers. 

IV. It is likewise agreed by the master of the Esk, on 
the part of his omiers, that provided any of the John's 

VOL. II. Q g 


crew, by the unavoidable separation of the ships, shall Be 
carried to Whitby, a reasonable allowmice for their travels 
ling expences homewards, shall be paid them. r. 

And, V. It is mutually agreed by all parties^that should 
any dead fish be found or other whale be captured within 
the limits of this contract, whichever of the ships' crews it 
or they may be seen, struck, or killed by, the whale or 
whales so found or captured, shall be equally divided be- 
tween the two ships. 

[Signed by all Hands of each Ship.] 

I preferred thus giving up a quantity of blubber 
to paying any pecuniary salvage, for two particular 
reasons : First, Because, should the ship eventually 
have been lost, the above award would become no 
gift at all, since any ship which had fallen in with 
the wreck, might have appropriated the same to 
their own use, with the probability that no part of 
it could be claimed by the owners of the Esk : 
Secondly, Because any pecuniary salvage that might 
have been agreed on must have been paid, whether 
the ship might eventually have been saved or lost ; 
for, as the people of the John, in affording assist- 
ance, would be obliged to sacrifice their future pros- 
pect in the fishery of the same season, they would 
have a reasonable claim on a remuneration for the 
sacrifice they made, whatever might be the result 
of their endeavours to save the ship. Thus, by 
giving blubber as a salvage, we gave away merely 
what we were unable to take home of ourselves, or, 
in other words, what we could not keep. 


In making this contract, I should have been fully 
justified in acting according to tlie best of my judg- 
ment for the benefit of the owners, without consult- 
ing the will of the crew ; but as it was their first 
proposal, and in a great measure their own act, and 
particularly as each individual was more or less in- 
terested in the blubber given up, and might have 
been induced, on arrival, to have demanded wages 
and perquisites on it, the same as if it had been 
taken home, I judged it a matter of prudence to 
prociu'e each man's written acknowledgment to the 
contract, whereby the decision of the case as to their 
claim for wages on the blubber given up to the 
John, would be placed within the power of the 
owners, without any one having the means of ques- 
tioning that decision. 

The acquiescence of the John's crew was only 
necessary, to sanction the master's conduct in lea- 
ving the fishing country with half a cargo before 
the usual period, whereby, for the advantage ob- 
tained from us, they sacrificed their chance of fur- 
ther success in the fishery of the season. 

As the foregoing agreement was not sufficiently 
explicit and binding on the part of the masters and 
owners of the Esk and John, the following contract 
being drawn out, was signed hj^ myself and Mr 




The ship Esk, of Whitby, lying at a vast distance from 
the sea, in a dangerous situation of the ice, being seriously 
damaged, extremely leaky, in a great measure unrigged, 
her cargo and stores discharged, the ship a mere hulk, and 
altogether in great distress, — her crew at the same time 
being worn out by hard and continued labour, and unable 
of themselves to preserve the ship from sinking and take 
her home, — are circumstances which render the assistance 
of some other ship indispensable. The master and crew of 
the ship John of Greenock, therefore, being willing to 
afford the requisite aid, it is hereby agreed between the un- 
dersigned masters of the two ships, the Esk and the John, 
that such requisite assistance shall be afforded on the one 
part, and that such certain award shall be presented on the 
other, as are expressed in the conditions and terms follow- 
ing : 

Part I. — The undersigned Thomas Jackson, master of 
the ship John of Greenock, on his own part, and on the 
part of his owners, with the unanimous consent of every 
individual of his crew, doth engage and agree to the four 
articles next following : 

1. That he will, with liis ship and crew, to the utm.ost 
of his power, assist and endeavour to preserve the ship 
Esk, to rig her, to stow lier cargo and stores, and to fit her 
for the passage homewards. 

2. That he will then take her in tow, when practicable, 
and use every exertion to remove her from the place where 
she now lies, and attend on and accompany her homewards, 
as far as some port of Shetland, if required. 


3. That he will at all times furnish the £sk with as 
many of his crew as he can conveniently and safely spare, 
to assist in pumping and navigating the Esk on the home- 
ward passage to Shetland. And, 

4. That he accepts of as, and declares the award herein- 
after mentioned to be, an ample and sufficient compensation 
for the services he hereby engages to perform ; and that 
no claim in the way of salvage, demurrage, or other cir- 
cumstance, shall or can hereafter be made by himself or 
owners of the John, on the master or owners of the Esk. 

Part II. — In consideration of which services, the sacri- 
fice of all future expectation from the fishery of the pre- 
sent season, the consequent detention, and so on, — the un- 
dersigned WiUiam Scoresby Junior, master of the ship 
Esk, on his part, and on the part of his owners, with the 
free and unanimous consent of every individual of his crew, 
doth engage and agree as follows : 

1. That he will abandon into the possession of the ship 
John 48 tons of whale-oil or blubber accordingly, after the 
rate of 8 butts to 3 tons, together Avith one-half of the 
whalebone, or thereabouts, which may at present form the 
cargo of the Esk. 

2. That the above quantity of blubber and whalebone 
shall become the property of the owners of the ship John, 
on which himself or owners can have no claim whatsoever, 
on the conditions of Part I. being accomplished. 

3. That provided the ship Esk shall, by the united 
exertions of the crews of the two contracting ships, be 
preserved, arrive at the port from whence she sailed, and 
that the John accompanies and the crew assists to the ut- 
most of their power, so far as Shetland, as agreed ; he, on 
the part of the owners of the Esk, agrees to pay, in addi- 


tion to the whalebone and oil above specified, the sum of 
One hundred pounds, to be equally divided among the 
John's crew, liarpooners excepted. And, 

4. Should any of the John's crew, by the unavoidable 
separation of the two ships, be carried to Whitby, a rea- 
sonable allowance for their travelling expcnces homewards, 
shall be paid them by the owners of the Esk. 

Part III. — It is furthermore mutually agreed by the 
vuidersigned William Scoresby junior^ and Thomas Jack- 
son, on their own parts, and on the part of their owners, and 
as far as concerns them, \n\h the free and unanimous con- 
sent of their respective crews, as follows : 

1. That provided the ship John shall, by any casualty, 
be obliged to separate from the Esk, and withdraw her 
assistance, within the space of seven days from the date 
hereof, the award mentioned in Article 1., Part II., shall 
be considered as the joint property of the owners of the 
two ships, and that accordingly, the one-half of the oil and 
whalebone, as therein awarded, or the value thereof, free 
of all charges for freight, demvuTage, or other circumstan- 
ces, excepting actual outlay, shall be returned to the own- 
ers of the Esk, as soon after the arrival of the John at her 
port, as conveniently may be. 

2. That should any dead fish be found, or other Avhale 
be captured within the limits of this contract, whichever of 
the ship's crews it or they may be seen, struck, or killed 
by, the whale or whales so found or captured, shall be 
equally divided between the two ships. And it is declar- 

3. That all the foregoing articles and stipulations of this 
contract are entered into, not from any regard of relationship, 
friendship, or other human tic, but from the sole principle of 


mutual obligation, consequently for the benefit of the o>vn- 
ers of each concern. The award is thus given on the part 
of the Esk from the urgent nature of the circumstances, 
and accepted on the part of the John, from the small pro- 
bability there is of procuring such an increase to her cargo 

Done on board the Esk, at six o''clock P. M. 
(civil day,) of the 3d day of July 1816. 

o- J Thomas Jackson, 

*^ William ScoresbyJuti. 

„. J John Dunbar, ) ittt-, 
^'S^'^ Willm. Ward, j Witnesses. 

These agreements being fully urderstood and 
signed, the John hauled alongside of the ice, 
which had now opened near the Esk for the first 
time since the accident, and took on board the whole 
of our loose blubber, estimated at 78 butts, and 
51 butts in 25 casks, together with about half of 
our whalebone as agreed. In the mean time, we 
hauled the Esk a little out of the way, and pro- 
ceeded in stowing the casks in the 7fiain hold ; in 
stowing and filling with water the casks of the after 
hold : in caulking and battening the seams of the 
ceiling, &c. &c. In the bilges of the ship, beneath 
the fore-hatchway, we placed two empty casks on 
their ends, with the upper heads taken out, and the 
lower heads bored full of holes, for the purpose of 
admitting the water which might accumulate in 
the ship when heeling, and freeing it from any sub- 


stances calculated to choke the pump or pumps 
which might be introduced into the casks for ex- 
tracting it*. 

Every thing now going on favourably, whilst our 
crew and assistants were in full and vigorous em- 
ployment, I was obliged to retire to seek that re- 
pose which my wearied frame could want no longer. 
During 120 hours I had rested only 12, whereas 
in ordinary circumstances, I should have indulged, 
myself in 40 or 50 hours of repose. It was not 
therefore surprising, that the swelling and pain of 
my legs became so serious, that I could scarcely 
move about. In justice to Mr Jackson, I may ob- 
serve, that in the course of the same period, he vo- 
luntarily submitted to similar privations as myself. 

During the 4th of July, we had a fresh breeze 
of wind, with fine weather. The floe to which the 
ship was moored, was found to have performed two- 
thirds of a revolution in the course of the five pre- 
ceding days. 

For the purpose of securing the sails which were 
beneath the ship, in their places, when she should 
be put in motion, I adopted the following contri- 

* This contrivance we found exceedingly useful ; for on 
the passage homeward, the chips produced by the carpenters 
in making the stop-water in the hold, frequently choked our 
principal pumps, and annoyed us exceedingly. We were re- 
peatedly obliged to hoist them out and clear the pump well ; 
sometimes twice or thrice a-day. 


vance, which, on account of the concavity of the 
ship near the stern, was particularly' requisite. First, 
two ring-bolts were driven into the stern-post at 
the water's edge, one in each side, and the same at 
the bows. Two thick ropes were then connected, 
by means of several similar pieces of whale-line, 
placed at equal distances on each, in the form of a 
rope-ladder, in which the steps or connecting pieces 
of whale-line were 11 feet in length. The ends of 
the thick ropes being then fixed to the ring-bolts 
in the stern-post, the ropes themselves were extend- 
ed along the bottom of the ship, put through the 
bow-ring bolts, and by the hawse-holes connected 
with the windlass. When, therefore, they were 
drawn tight, the connecting pieces of the whale- 
line embraced the sails, pressed them closely to the 
ship, and had a surprising effect in diminishing the 
influx of water into the hold. 

On the 5th, assisted by all hands from the John, 
our people, after four hours rest, applied them- 
selves with such vigour, that the stowing of the 
hold and the rigging of the ship were completed ; 
the materials of every description removed from 
the ice, and the sails set, before seven o'clock in the 
morning. The ice having then cleared away in a 
most favourable manner, under a moderate breeze 
of wind, we left the floe ; but what was our asto- 
nishment and mortification to find, that the ship 


could not be guided ! The rudder was become 
perfectly useless, — so that, with the most appro- 
priate disposition of the sails possible, and the re- 
quisite position of the helm, the ship could not be 
turned round or diverted in the least from the 
course in which the impetus of the wind on the 
sails was the most naturally balanced. This was 
an alarming disappointment. However, as the ship 
was in such constant danger of being crushed in 
the situation where she lay, the John, with the 
greatest difficulty imaginable, towed us three or four 
miles to the eastward into a place of comparative 
safety. Under other circumstances, it would have 
afforded matter of much amusement to see the 
singular way in which the Esk was drawn forward. 
She could not be brought to proceed fifty yards on 
the same course, notwithstanding the most prompt 
and appropriate adaptation of the sails and helm, 
but continued sheering from side to side to the 
utmost extent that the rope, by which she was 
towed, would allow. On one occasion, this rope 
was broken, and we were obliged repeatedly to slack 
it out, to prevent a recurrence of the accident. 
About 10 A. M. we moored to another sheet of ice, 
and immediately proceeded to attempt a rectifica- 
tion of the ship's steerage. For this purpose we 
unshipped the rudder and hoisted it upon deck, 
where we applied an additional piece to the lower 
and back part of it, consisting of a surface of about 



20 square feet of planks on either side, united and 
consolidated by blocks of timber. We likewise se- 
cured the corners of the fothering sails to staples 
di-iven into the counters of the ship, whereby less 
interruption was made in the course of the water 
to the rudder, and consequently a better effect 
might be expected from it. And lastly, we filled a 
number of empty casks in the after-hold, some with 
sea-water out of the ship's hold, and others with 
fresh water from the surface of the ice, for the pur- 
pose of trimming the ship more by the stem, to 
compensate in some degree for the loss of the after- 

All these matters being completed, we should 
have, immediately made sail, but on account of a 
strong wind and thick weather we could not, with- 
out imminent danger, attempt to penetrate the 
compact body of ice, that at this time barred our 
escape to the sea. I therefore took the advantage 
of the opportunity to procure a long rest, which I 
found so refreshing, after the unusual exhaustion 1 
had experienced, that I arose after many hours, 
perfectly restored. 

In the forenoon of the 6th of July, the wind sub- 
sided, and the fog cleared away ; we therefore cast 
off from the ice. When the ship was under sail, 
we made the necessary experiments of wearing, 
tacking, plying, &c. in which we were pleased to 
find, that the rudder answered the intention, though, 



on account of the slow and leewardly motion of the 
ship, an attempt to ply to windward entirely failed. 
Meeting shortly with an impervious mass of ice, 
lying directly across our track, which, on account of 
the direction of the wind, and the return of the fog, 
we could neither weather, nor discover a passage 
through, — we moored, along with the John, to a 
detached piece of ice. The attention of the carpen- 
ters in caulking the ceiling of the ship, together 
with the advantage derived from the fothering sails, 
had now produced an effect so considerable, that, on 
Sunday, the 7th of July, the original leakage was 
found to be reduced nearly four-fifths ! During an 
hour, in which we were engaged in the performance 
of Divine Service, the pumps were allowed to 
*' stand;" 2^ feet of water , which, in this interval, 
flowed into the hold, was pumped out in twenty 

The weather having cleared, (on Sunday even- 
ing,) a passage to the eastward was discovered among 
the floes. An easterly wind, however, prevailing, 
we were unable to make any progress, until the 
John took us in tow. After plying 3 or 4 miles to 
windward, we entered a narrow channel, leading to 
a roomy situation, in a south-easterly direction. 
Though a quantity of drift-ice lay in this channel, 
and, in one instance, the John had occasion to force 
a passage for the Esk, yet we passed through the 
midst of it without striking a single piece of ice. 


Oil the 8th, we stretched to the S. S. E. until 
5 A. M., in a free navigation, though ice in vast bo- 
dies extended on either side us. A floe then inter- 
rupting our course, we were obliged to work to wind- 
ward of it ; a field afterwards appeared connected 
with it, along the side of which we had still to beat 
against the wind, towed by the John, a distance of 
several miles. At 10 P. m. there appeared a fa- 
vourable channel leading to the S. E., which we 
pursued ; and, after winding among numerous pieces 
of drift-ice, vdth occasional heav}'^ floes, until the 
morning of the 9th, we again had the relief of an 
easy navigation. This day we had a gentle favour- 
able wind, with pleasant clear weather. Several 
ships were seen. Saw a whale, and sent from the 
two ships, three boats in pursuit, but were not suc- 
cessful. The John, running foul of a piece of ice, 
in attempting to drag us round it, launched upon a 
tongue, and grounded. She remained about half 
an hour immoveable ; meanwhile we proceeded alone. 
At mid-night we saw the land, Charles' Island, or 
the Foreland, about 60 miles distant ; at the same 
time, we passed clear, to seaward, of all the ice with- 
in sight. Latitude 77° 24' N. 

Our carpenter continued his labours in the after- 
hold, with some effect, though, in general, fresh 
leaks were daily breaking out. For the security of 
the ceiling, a great number of stanchions were 
placed between it and the beams of the gun-room 


deck, to prevent the pressure of the water from 
forcing the planks from the timbers. 

On the 10th, spoke the Valiant and the Phoenix. 
The latter ship furnished us with a spare pump, 
which we considered a great acquisition to our means 
of security. We had now in readiness four pumps, 
two of which were placed in the casks that we had 
fitted as pump-wells, in the bilges of the ship. We 
saw the last ice on the 11th. To this period, we 
had generally half of the John's crew on board. 
We now had twelve men, selected for our service, 
whom we classed along with our own crew. 

In the morning of the 121th, the wind increased 
from the east ; the sky became dark and threaten- 
ing ; and a heavy swell rolled from the south-east- 
ward. The violent agitation of the ship, together 
with her increased velocity, very soon tore away 
many of the fastenings of the fothering-sails, which 
we soon perceived towing astern of the ship. This 
circumstance occasioned a considerable alarm. We 
had not before ascertained how far the contrivance 
of swimming the ship by the ceiling could be de- 
pended on : the experiment was therefore made at 
a very critical moment, when the sea was so con- 
siderable, that it would have been a matter of much 
uncertainty, whether we could have escaped on 
board the John, in the event of the ship founder- 
ing. What added to our apprehensions was, that 
the leak appeared to increase, whilst the main pumps 


became almost useless on account of the heeling posi- 
tion of the ship, and the accumulation of the water in 
the lee-bilge. The bilge-pumps, therefore, became of 
essential importance. Steered S. S. AV., with a velo- 
city of 3» to 7j miles j:;^r hour, under three courses, 
the top-sails and jibs. The John carried much 
more sail. 

The swell continued, with some variation, during 
the two following days, though the wind was, in ge- 
neral, moderate and fair. On the 15th, our lati- 
tude was 71° 40' N. 

I now made some experiments to ascertain the 
quantity of water discharged by the pumps, from 
which some interesting deductions were made. I 
first gauged two tubs that had been used in bail- 
ing, one of which was found to be of the capacity of 
18 gallons, and the other of 20. The foimer, I 
found on trial, was, at the common rate of pumping, 
filled with eight strokes from one pump. Shortly 
after the accident, I had observed, that from 55 to 
75 strokes were made by each pump j^cr minute ; 
but I shall not consider the mean number more 
than 60. Therefore, as this tub was filled by eight 
strokes, and sixty were made in a minute, it would, 
of course, be filled 7^ times in a minute. Hence, 
7^ multiplied by 18, (the contents of the tub in 
gallons), gives 135 gallons, as the quantity of water, 
usually discharged by one pump in a minute. From 
tliese data, together with the estimation of the 


quantity of water discharged from the ship by bail- 
ing, it is not difficult to ascertain, very nearly, the 
whole quantity of water that was discharged, from 
the time of the accident, to this period. The means 
in use for the extrication of the water, during the 
early part of the period, were as follow. 

Gallons per 

1. The two large pumps, which discharged.... 2 70 

2. The extra smaller pump, 90 

3. Two large tubs f filled 6 times per min....l80 

4. Two to four pails, 8 times ^^r minute, 90 


Hence we may draw the following conclusions : 

From the 29th of June, at 2 p. m., (the time 
when the damage was first discovered), to the 1st of 
July, at 10 A. M. a period of 44 hours, all the above 
means were in general use, for the discharge of the 
water, and were plied by 160 to 220 men, whereby 
630 gallons, or 2^ tons, on an average, were dis- 
charged pe?^ minute. Hence 44 hours, or 2640 Tons, 
minutes x 21, 6600 

The next 7g hours was an interval of rest. 

From the 1st of July, at 5| p. m. to the 2d 
at 5 J A. M., an interval of 12 hours, the three 
pumps, and all the bailing vessels, were in the 
fullest possible play, whereby the hold was, 
for the first time, ])artly cleared of water. 

Carried forward, 6600 


Brought forward, 6600 
Therefore, 2h tons, multiplied by 720, the 
number of minutes in 12 hours, 1800 

From 5h A.M. of the 2d of July, to 3 p. m. 
of the 3d, an interval of 33^ hours, two pumps 
were in almost constant exercise, and some- 
times three. Therefore, estimating the quan- 
tity of water at 1| tons per minute, we have 
33.5 hours x 60' x 1.5 tons, ;....3015 

From 3 P. M. of the 3d July, to 2 P. M. of 
the 7th, an interval of 95 hours, two pumps 
were in frequent exercise. Therefore, esti- 
mating the average quantity of water dis- 
charged at f of a ton jjer minute, we have 
95 hours x 60' x 0.75 tons, 4275 

Tons, 15690 
Hence, at a moderate computation, it appears, 
that between the 29th of June and the 7th of July, 
an interval only of eight days, the enormous amount 
of 15,690 tons of water were pumped and bailed out 
of the Esk's liold ! 

Hence, also, it appears, that during the first two 
days after the accident, the regular leakage was 

about, 150 tons ^?t7- hour. 

During the 3d day, 130 ditto. 

4th day, 100 ditto. 

5th day 70 ditto. 

6th day, 52 ditto. 

7th day, 34 ditto. 

8th day, 20 ditto. 

vol.. II. II h 


These estimates, great as they may appear, do 
not, I believe, exceed the truth ; especially as they 
are confirmed by the mensuration of the internal 
cavity of the Esk's hold, which affords results cor- 
responding with the above, to a surprising nicety. 

The l6th of July was a calm day. An oblong 
thrumbed sail, whicli had been several days in pre- 
paration, was, after many trials, placed and secured 
beneath- the wounded part of the ship. It consist- 
ed of strong canvas, 8 yards in length and 3 in 
breadth; and was covered completely with long 
thrumbs of rope-yarns. The two edges were marled 
to two pieces of a hawser ; and these ropes connect- 
ed by a short piece of chain. The chain being then 
introduced between the rudder and the stern-post, 
was drawn closely upward ; and the hawsers being 
extended to the bows, stretched the canvas firmly 
across the damaged place. The leak, in consequence, 
became for a time inconsiderable ; but on the follow- 
ing day, having a fresh gale of wind from the east- 
w^ard and considerable swell, under which we were 
sometimes towed with the velocity of 9 knots per 
hour, this well-adapted sail was rent, and shortly 
shared the same fate as those that preceded it. The 
leak immediately increased. The Phoenix joined 

Our distance run on the 18th, was 184 miles, on 
a S. W. course. The water again alarmed us, by its 
accumulation in the iec-bilge, and the iippearance 


of several fresh leaks when the ship heeled. By- 
shortening sail, however, and shifting a considerable 
weight of different articles to Vv'indward, our safety 
was secured. Our lati. :de 67° 16' N. 

On the 19th, a seven-inch rope by which we were 
towed, broke. We had great difficulty in getting 
another hawser on board of the John, on account of 
the turbulence of the sea ; but, by means of several 
buoys, and a cask wliich was sent astern by the 
John, we at length succeeded. In the evening, we 
had fine weather ; when the wind, for the first time 
during the passage from the ice, became contrary. 

The 20th was a most agreeable day; the atmo- 
sphere was clear, sea smooth, wind moderate, and to- 
wards night favourable. Our latitude at noon, was, 
64° 39' N., and our longitude at 9 a. m. by lunar ob- 
servation, was, 1° 4' 30" E. Leak on the increase. 

The next day we had a fresh gale of wind from the 
eastward, strong south-westerly swell, and fog so 
dense, that the John, at the distance of 150 yards, 
was scarcely discernible. Our course was S. W. and 
S. b. W. I W. Latitude at noon, 63' 44', longitude 
by chronometer, 1° 86' E. This night, the first stars 
were seen since the month of April. 

The easterly wind increased to a strong gale on 
the 22d ; and at 3 a. M., when the ship's velocity- 
was at 9 knots per hour, the pressure of the helm 
strained a new wheel-rope, and carried away the 
whcd-stanchion. Considering the stern-post endan- 


gered, and, consequently, the ship itself, we imme- 
diately furled the after-sails, and so reduced the rest 
of our canvas, that we were in a great measure 
dragged by the John, which continued to carry a 
most prodigious press of sail. The sea being heavy, 
and the water collecting in the lee-bilge, whilst 
the leak was sensibly increased, were circumstances 
not a little alarming. A kind Providence, however, 
seemed to favour us, for appearances only were 
against us ; the gale subsided, the ship righted, and 
the hold was easily cleared of water. 

At 3 A. M. of the following day, we descried land; 
and at 10 a. m. Hangcliff, Shetland, bore W. b. N. 
distant about 15 miles. The wind being for a 
short time southerly, we steered towards the land, 
with the design of putting into Lerwick, and await- 
ing a better opportunity of pursuing our voyage ; 
when, however, we approached within three or four 
miles of the coast, a S. E. breeze sprung up, which 
being favourable, we hauled to the wind on a S. S. 
W. course. Inthe evening, the John having fulfilled 
the articles of agreement, as far as was required, we 
sent the twelve men belonging to her crew on board, 
and after receiving from them a supply of fresh 
water, they left us with three cheers, and the usual 
display of colours. We were now left to sail by 
ourselves; our progress was, in consequence, rather 


On the 24th, we steered S. b. W. i W. with an 
east wind, instead of S. W. h. S., the usual course, 
for fear of getting on a lee-shore, off which, from the 
almost unmanageable state of the ship, it would not 
have been possible to work. On the 25th, the wind 
veered to N. N. W., and our velocity was consider- 
able. The Phoenix accompanied us, and assisted 
us by towing, during the day. 

At 7 A. M. of the following day, we descried the 
British land. At noon, St Abb's Head was at N. 
W. b. N., distant fifteen miles. In the afternoon the 
Phoenix left us and made sail, by the way of carry- 
ing the intelligence of our approach, and was, in a 
short time, far a-head*. In the evening we had a 
south wind, and at night a westerly breeze, under 
which we proceeded with a pressvire of sail along the 
coast. At day-light of the 27th, we were rejoiced 
with a sight of our port- Knowing the flow of water 
to be sufficient for the ship, and there being a pro- 
bability of reaching tlie harbour before the tide was 
too much fallen, we pressed towards it with every 
sail we could set ; and having received a pilot as we 
approached the pier, we immediately entered the 
harbour, and grounded at 51 a. m. in a place of 

Thus, througli tlie peculiar favour of God, by 
whose influence oiu* perseverance was stimulated, and 

The Phoenix, owing to some little accident, arrived in 
tlie harbour a tide later than us. 


by whose blessing our contrivances were rendered 
effectual, happily terminated a voyage at once ha- 
zardous, disastrous, and interesting. 

Intelligence relative to the distressed state of the 
ship, and the hopelessness of her situation, reached 
Whitby the day before us ; and involved, in conse- 
quence of some exaggerations respecting the loss of 
the crew, every interested person in deep distress. 
Throughout the town, and in a great measure, in- 
deed, throughout the neighbourhood, the event was 
considered as a general calamity. Some of the un- 
derwriters on the Esk, I was informed, had offered 
60 per cent., for the re-assurance of the sums for 
which they were liable ; but such was the nature of 
the risk, as ascertained from the inforaiation of some 
ships' crews by "whom we had been assisted, that no 
one would undertake the re-assurance even at this 
extraordinary premium. 

The hearty congratulations I received on landing, 
from every acquaintance, were almost overwhelming ; 
and these, with the enhanced endearments of my 
affectionate and enraptured wife, amply repaid me 
for all the toils and anxieties of mind that I had en- 

On the tide ebbing out, the Esk was left dry ; 
on which, for the first time since the accident, the 
whole of the water was drawn out of the hold by 
the pumps. The next tide, the ship was removed 
above the bridge, to a place of perfect safety, where. 


the pumps being neglected, the water, in the course 
of two tides, rose nearly as high mthin as without. 
After the cargo was discharged, the ship was put in- 
to dock ; and it was found, that excepting the loss 
of 22 feet of keel, left in Greenland, and the removal 
of a piece of the starboard garboard-strake, 9 feet in 
length, with a portion of dead-wood brought home 
upon deck, no other damage of consequence had been 
produced by the ice. The main piece of the rudder, 
indeed, was found to be sprung ; all the rudder works 
under water, excepting the lowest band, broken ; and 
the stem -post shaken loose : but these injuries were 
chiefly sustained when the ship was driven into the 
ice on the 1st of May. The whole expence of re- 
pairs did not, I believe, exceed 200 /. 

Though the sacrificeof nearly one-half of our car- 
go, was a considerable disappointment to the owners, 
who had been apprised of our success in the fishery, 
yet, when compared with the salvage which might 
have been demanded, had no contract been entered 
into for the assistance of the John, the sacrifice ap- 
peared to have been a material benefit, having been 
productive of the saving of perhaps 2000 /. The 
approbation of my conduct by the o^Miers, Messrs 
Fishbui'n and Brodrick, was testified, by their pre- 
senting to me a gratuity of 50 /. ; and the sense en- 
tertained by the Whitby underwriters of the preser- 
vation of the ship, was pleasingly manifested, by a 
present of a handsome piece of plate. 



I may add, in conclusion, that the whole of my 
crew, excepting one individual, returned from this 
adventurous and trying voyage in safety ; and, in 
general, in a good state of health. Several of the 
men, indeed, were affected, more or less, by the ex- 
cessive fatigue, and by the painful exposure to cold 
and damp while resting on the ice ; but all of them 
were, in a great measure, restored, before our arrival 
at home, excepting one man ; he, poor fellow, being 
of a weak constitution, suffered severely from the 
inclement exposure, and died soon after he arrived 
in port. 





( 491 ) 


No. I. 


Ships fitted out for and retui'ning from the northern whale- 
fisheries, are entitled to a certain bounty, on the condition of 
all the requirements of law being fulfilled by the different 
persons connected therewith ; and, under certain conditions 
and restrictions, are at liberty to import into Great Britain, 
&:c. any of the produce of whales, or other creatures caught 
in the Greenland Seas or Davis"" Straits, not actually free of 
duty as formerly, but subject only to a small impost ; but in 
default of compliance with such conditions and restrictions, 
the produce so imported will be chargeable with the duties 
imposed on the blubber, oil, fins, &c. of foreign fishing, Avhich 
are very heavy. 

The substance of the acts of Parliament at present in force 
relative to, and for the government of, the northern whale- 
fisheries, is comprised in the following Abstract. 

By the 26th Geo. III. c. 41. (which may be considered as 
the fundamental act relativetothe Greenland and Davis' Straits 
whale-fisheries), amended, extended, altered, and continued 
by vaiious'subsequent acts of" Parliament until the 25th March 
1820 *, it is enacted. That every British built vessel, owned 

• 55th Geo. III. c. 39. § 1. expected to I c again cxtciKied. 


by British subjects, usually residing in Great Britain, or in 
the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, or Man, which shall, with- 
in the time herein limited, proceed from any port of Great 
Britain, or the islands aforesaid, on the whale-fishery to the 
Greenland Seas or Davis"" Straits, or to the seas adjacent, 
and which shall be manned and navigated with a master, and 
three-fourths of the mariners at least, being British subjects, 
shall, before she proceeds on such voyage, or be entitled to 
the benefits of this act, be visited by the proper officer of the 
Customs belonging to such port, who shall examine such ves- 
sel, and take an account of the tonnage thereof by admeasure- 
ment, and shall certify such his visitation, examination, and ad- 
measurement, to the Commissioners of his Majesty's Customs*; 
and if it appears by the certificate that she hath on board such 
a number of men, provisions, boats, fishing-lines, and instru- 
ments to be used in such fishery, as herein after mentioned ; 
that she is strongly built, and otherwise a proper ship for such 
voyage and fishery, and hath on board, among her crew, a 
sufficient number of harpooners, steersmen, and line-ma- 
nagers, who have before been employed in such voyages, (the 
names of such persons to be contained in such certificate) ; 
and if it further appears, by the oath of one or more owner 
or owners -j*, and of the master or chief officer of such vessel, 
written at the foot of such certificate, and made before the 
principal officers of the Customs of such ports, or any two of 
them, whereof the Collector shall be one, that it is their firm 
purpose and determined resolution that such ship shall, as soon 
as license shall be granted, proceed, so manned and furnished, 
*' on a voyage to the Greenland seas or Davis"* Straits, or the 
seas adjacent, and there, in the then approaching season, to 
use the utmost endeavours of themselves, and their ship"'s 

" For the rules given by the Commissioners of the Customs for the go- 
ivernment of the surveying officer, vide Appendix No. IV. art. 1. 

-f- " Owners, in case of sickness, or unavoidable absence, may lake the 
oaths required before the sailing of the ship, before a Justice of the Peace, 
affidavit of which shall be accepted, and deemed as effectual as if the owner or 
owners had conformed to the said act." — i2d Geo. III. c. 22. § 4. 



company, to take whales or other creatures Hving in the sea, 
and on no other design or view of profit in such voyage, save 
and except any reward or rewards offered by any act of Par- 
liament, for more effectually discovering the longitude at sea, 
or encouraging attempts to find a northern passage between 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and to approach the nor- 
thern pole *, and to import the whale-fins, oil, and blubber 
thereof, into the kingdom of Great Britain,"" (naming the 
port) ; and if the master, after such, certificate had and oath 
made, do also become bound, with two sufficient securities, in 
the penalty of a sum equal to treble the bounty -f*, (which bond 
is to be in force for three years, for the faithful deahngs of 
the said master and ship''s company in regard to the said ship 
and voyage,) then, it shall be lawful for any three or more of 
the Commissioners of the Customs in England and Scotland 
respectively, on receiving such certificates and oaths made, 
and it being certified by the Collector and Comptroller of 
such port that security hath been given, to grant, and they 
are hereby required to grant, to the master and owners of 
such ship, full licence to proceed on her voyage. — 26th 
Geo. III. c. 41. § 1. 

Every ship, which shall be deemed duly fitted, and pro- 
perly qualified for the whale-fishery, if of the burthen of 200 
tons, shall have on board 40 fishing-lines of 120 fathoms each, 
40 harpoons, 4 boats, with 7 men at the least (including an 
harpooner, a steersman, and a line-manager,) to each boat, 
making in the whole 28 men ;];, besides the master and sur- 

• 58th Geo. III. c. 15. § 2. 

-j- For the conditions of this bond, vide Appendix No. IV. art. 3. 

4: Hence the number of the different classes of persons in the crew, and 
quantity of stores in the outfit, as required by this act for ships of different di- 
raensions, are as follow : 

Tonnage of Ships, l 

150 and under 200, 

200 2.50, 

250 300, 

300 and upwards. 







.S 5 

ci g 

(n E 

O s 

< - 

























Total inclu- 

dinj^ Master 
& Surgeon. 

a' 3 




= 1 


















geon, with six months provisions * at the least for such num- 
ber of men ; and every ship of larger burthen, an increase of 
6 men, 1 boat, 10 such lines, and 10 harpoons more, for 
every fifty tons above 200, (as high as 300), together with 
provisions in proportion, [42d Geo. III. c. 41. § 2.] And 
every such ship employed in the said fishery, shall have on 
board apprentices indentured for three years at least, who 
shall not exceed the age of 20 years, nor be under 12 years 
of age, at the time they shall be so indentured, in the propor- 
tion of one apprentice for every fifty tons burthen, [32d 
Geo. III. c. 22. § 3.] ; and one fresh or green man for every 
fifty tons burthen ; which apprentices and green men shall 
be accounted in the number of men required to be on board. 
—26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 2. 

No bounty shall be allowed, unless there be inserted in the 
indenture of each apprentice the name or names of the vessel 
or vessels on board of which he is bound to serve, or to which 
he may have been turned over, [29th Geo. III. c. 53. § 7.] 

In case the time for which any apprentice shall have been 
indentured, shall expire during the voyage, such apprentice 
shall be accounted and considered as an apprentice for the 
w hole voyage, and shall, on his return from the fishery, be mus- 
tered accordingly. But no apprentice shall be deemed a le- 
gal apprentice, unless he be a subject of his Majesty. — 32d 
Geo. III. c. 22. § 7, 8. 

Vessels that are not provided with their complement of 
men at the port whence they clear out, may proceed, for the 
season, to any of the ports in the Frith of Clyde, or in Loch 
llyan, or to Lerwick in the Isles of Shetland, or to Kirkwall 
m tlie Orkneys, and complete their number there, provided 
the number wanted doth not exceed three common men for 
every fifty tons burthen. On their return, those men may be 
set on shore where they were taken on board ; and, upon pro- 
ducing a certificate thereof from the Collector and Comptrol- 
ler of the Customs, and the master and mate making oath 
thereof, such ships shall be deemed to have had their full 

" The (quantity of provisions is left to the discretion of the mustering officer. 


complements from their clearing port, and be entitled to boun- 
ty * — 46th Geo. III. c. 9. ; 55th Geo. III. c. 39. § 2. 

On the return of such ship to the port of Great Britain, 
declared before sailing, the proper officers of the Customs at 
such port, shall immediately repair on board, and view the 
condition of such ship and her lading, and certify the same, 
together with their observations thereon, as also the real ton- 
nage of the said ship ; and also take an account or schedule 
of die names of the master, mate, and other persons on board, 
distinguishing the harpooners and persons more immediately 
employed in the said fishery, and to certify the same ; and 
the master and mate shall make oatli before two of the prin- 
cipal officers of the Customs, whereof the Collector shall 
be one, that they did, in pursuance of the licence, (men- 
tioning the day of their departure), proceed on a voyage di- 
rectly to the places foresaid, and have not since been on 
any other voyage, or pursued any other design or view of 
profit, save and except any reward or rewards offered 
by any act of Parliament, for more effectually discovering 
the longitude at sea, or encouraging attempts to find a nor- 
thern passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and 
to approach the northern pole; and that they did there (men- 
tioning the time of their stay in those seas) use the utmost 
endeavours of themselves and ship's company, to take whales, 
and other creatures hving in those seas; and that all the 
whale-fins, oil and blubber, imported (if any) in such ship, 
were really and bond Jide caUght and taken in the said seas, 
by the crew of such ship or vessel only, or with the assistance 
of the crew of some other British built ship or vessel, licensed 
for that voyage, pursuant to the directions of this act, which 
oath shall be indorsed on, or annexed to, the licence aforesaid; 
and the said schedule, certificate, licence, and oath, shall be 
transmitted by the Collector and Comptroller of such port to 
the respective Commissioners for that part of Great Britain 
where such ship shall arrive ; and such Commissioners being 

" This privilege was limited by the .ict of 46th Geo. III. c. 9. to the time 
of the duration of the war ; but was revived and continued bv the 55th Geo. III. 
o. 39. § 2., until the ?jlh of March 1S20. 


fully satisfied of the faithful dealings of the master and other 
persons employed in such vessel, with resj^ect to such voyage 
and fishery, shall, on demand, cause payment to be made to 
the master or owners, of a bounty or premium of 20s. * per 
ton, according to the admeasurement of every such ship or 
vessel, duly certified as aforesaid. — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 3.; 
32d Geo. III. c. 22. § 2. 

The Commissioners of the Customs in England and Scot- 
land, respectively, shall order the said bounties to be paid out 
of any monies that shall be in the hands of the respective 
Receivers-General, arising from any of the duties and reve- 
nues under their management. — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 6. 

No ship or vessel which shall not, before the 25th of De- 
cember 1786, have been employed in the said fishery, al- 
though such ship or vessel be above i300 tons "I* burthen, shall 
be entitled to a larger bounty than a ship or vessel of 300 
tons would be entitled to, [26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 8.] But 
the owner or owners of any vessel above the burthen of 300 
tons, shall not be obliged to fit out, equip, and man any such 
ship, otherwise than as a ship of 300 tons, in order to entitle 
him or them to the bount}?, — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 9. 

And whereas it hath been found by experience, that ships 
of 150 tons burthen are fit for the said fishery, every owner 
or owners of any ship of 150 tons, therefore, which shall be 
employed in^the said fishery, who have conformed themselves, 
in proportion to their tonnage, to the rules and directions pre- 
scribed to the owners of ships- of greater burthen, shall be en- 
titled to the said bounty, according to the admeasurement of 

• At the time of passing the act 26th Geo. III. the bounty was 30s. per 
ton ; but in 1792, by act 32d Geo. Ill, c. 22. it was reduced to 25s., and, af- 
ter the year 1795, to 20s. by the same act. 

•f Ships employed in the fishery at the time of passing this act, (1786), if 
above 400 tons burthen, were entitled to a bounty of 400 tons; and in case 
such ships were not worn out, they were to enjoy the same until the 25th of 
December 1791, [26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 8.] And such ships were not re- 
quired to be fitted out otherwise than as ships of 4O0 tons, in order to entitle 
them to the bounty Ibid. § 9. 


every such ship, provided such admeasurement be not less 
than 150 tons.— 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 7. 

No person shall be entitled to receive the bounty for any 
sliip which shall proceed upon the said whale-fishery, from any 
port of Great Britain, or the islands of Guernsey, &c. unless 
such ship shall sail from the port where she shall be surveyed 
and cleared, directly on her intended fishery, on or before the 
10th day of April in each year, and shall continue with her 
crew in the Greenland seas, or Davis' Straits, or the adjacent 
seas, diligently endeavouring to catch whales, or other crea^- 
tures living in those seas, and shall not depart from thence 
before the 10th day of August next following *, unless such 
ship, if she be of the burthen of 300 tons, shall be laden with 
SO tons of oil, or blubber in proportion thereto, the blubber 
to be rated, with respect to the oil, as three to two, and one 
ton and a half of whale-fins ; or if she be of greater or less 
burthen, with a quantity of oil or blubber, and whale-fins, in 
like pi'oportion to the tonnage for which every such ship shall 
be entitled to the bounty, being the produce of one or more 
whale or whales, caught by the crew thereof, or with the as- 
sistance of the crew of some other lic&nsed ship, before that 
time, or shall be forced by some unavoidable accident or ne- 
cessity, to depart sooner from those seas ; which accident or 
necessity shall be verified on the oaths of the master and mate 
belonging to such ship, upon her return from the said fishery, 
before the Collector and another principal officer of the Cus- 
toms, at the port where she shall arrive, who shall transmit 
the same, together with the schedule, licence, and other do- 
cuments, to the Commissioners of the Customs for that port 
of Great Britain where such ship shall arrive. — 26th Geo. III. 
c. 41. § 4. 

The owners of any vessel sailing on the whale-fishery of 
Greenland or Davis' Straits from Great Britain, or the islands 
of Guernsey, &c. which shall proceed from the port where 
she was surveyed and cleared out, directly on her intended 

VOL, ir. I i 

• See the next paragraph, where this limit is modified. 


voyage on or before the 10th of April each year, shall be en- 
titled to the bounty, although she have not taken the quantity 
of oil specified in the foregoing act, (namely, 26th Geo. III. 
c. 41.) if it appear by her log-book that she had continued 
in the said seas, diligently endeavouring to catch whales, or 
other creatures living therein, and did not depart from thence 
iHitil the expiration of sixteen weeks from the time of her 
sailing from the port where she was surveyed and cleared out, 
provided she has not touched at any other port in the voyage, 
and have complied with all the other regulations of the said 
act.— jeOth Geo. III. c. 53. § 2. 

In case it shall happen, that any ship or vessel shall not 
sail from the port where she was surveyed and cleared, on or 
before the said 1 Cth day of April, provided it shall be made 
appear, to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of the Cus- 
toms in England and Scotland respectively, that such ship 
was properly qualified and duly fitted out, and surveyed, 
cleared, and ready for sailing before the said 10th of April, 
but was prevented from sailing by some unavoidable impedi- 
ment, but shall actually have sailed on or before the 25th 
day of April, it shall be lawful for the said Conmiissioners, 
or any four or more of them in England, or any three or 
more of them in Scotland, to pay the bounty for such ship, 
in like manner as if the said ship had actually sailed on or 
before the 10th day of April.— 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 5. 

No bountv shall be paid to any person or persons what- 
ever, on account of any ship employed in the said fisheiy, 
■unless a log-book shall have been constantly kept on board, 
in which log-book the various situations and occurrences re- 
specting such ship, during the whole course of the voyage, 
shall be inserted every day, and particularly the times when 
such ship shall have been in sight of land, distinguishing what 
land, a)id the bearings thereof, and the supposed distances 
therefrom, and the soundings ; and also the times when, and 
the latitude in which, any whale, or other creature living in 
the sea, shall have been killed, taken, or caught by the crew 
of such ship ; Avhich lug-book shall be delivered by the mas- 
ter, or other person having the command of such ship, at the 


time of his making a rejxirt, to the Collector of the Customs, 
at the port in Great Britain where such ship shall arrive on 
her return from the said fishery, for his inspection and exa- 
mination ; and the said master, or other person having the 
command of such ship, together with the mate thereof, shall 
jointly and severally verify on oath the contents of such log- 
book before such Collector. — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 10. 

In case any such ship shall fall in with any of his Majesty's 
vessels of war, the master, or other person having the com- 
mand of her, shall produce to the Captain, or other officer 
commanding such vessel of war, the said log-book, and such 
Captain or commanding officer shall make a memorandum in 
such log-book, of the day in which it was so produced to him, 
and shall subscribe his name thei'eto, and also make an 
entry in the log-book of the said vessel of war, of the name 
and description of such ship on board of which the log- 
book so produced to and signed by him was kept ; and 
in case such ship, on board of M^hich a log-book is so re- 
quired to be kept, shall put into any foreign port, where 
there is a British Consul, or other chief British officer, the 
master, or other person having the command of such ship, 
shall produce such log-book to such British Consul, or other 
chief British officer, who shall make a memorandum therein, 
of the day on which it was so produced to him, and shall in 
like manner subscribe the same. — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 11. 
Every ship owned by his Majesty's subjects residing in Ire- 
land, and fitted out from any port in that kingdom, Avhich shall 
have complied with the conditions of this act, to be verified by 
certificates, in such manner, and under like rules, regula- 
tions, and restrictions, as are recjuired by any law in force be- 
fore the passing of this act *, to entitle ships or vessels fitted 
out from Ireland to the bounties then existing for the encou- 

I i2 

" 1.5th Geo. III. c. 31. § 21. contains the regulations for visiting and licen- 
sing, by the revenue-ofEcers in Ireland, vessels fitted out from thence for the 
bounties then existing. The regulations are similar to those practised in Great 
Britain, and the vessels are required to import their whale-fins, oil, and Mub- 
ber, into some port of Great Britain^to be previously named. — Jidding^s Digest 
of the Laws of the Custom*. 

500 ABSTR.\(T OF ACTS OF rARL^AMEXT, [aPP. >4** I. 

ragenicnt of tlie Greenland and Davis' Straits whale-fishery, 
shall be entitled to the same bounties as the like ships or vessels 
fitted out from Great IJritain.— 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 12. 

It shall be lawful for the owner of any ship employed or 
designed to be emj)loyed in the said fishery, to insure the 
bounty which such owner would be entitled to upon the re- 
turn of such ship to her proper port ; and on the performance 
of all other matters directed and appointed to be performed 
for obtaining the said bounty. — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 13. 

Whale-fins, oil, or blubber of whales, seal-oil, or seal-skins, 
or any other produce of seals, or other fisli or creatures taken 
or caught in the said Greenland seas or Davis"" Straits, or in 
the seas adjacent, by British subjects usually residing in Great 
Britain or Ireland, or the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alder- 
ney, Sark, or Man, in British built ships or vessels, owned 
and navigated as befoi-e required, in regard to the bounties, 
shall and may be imported into Great Britain, without pay- 
ing any custom, subsidy, or other duty for the same *, ex- 
cepting only the duties imposed on articles of British fishing, 
by consolidation act of tlie 49th Geo. III. c. 98. Table (A), 
inwards -j*. 

* Thus far the original act of 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 14. continues in force, 
.subject only to the annexed exception. For the oath required by the next sec- 
tion of this act, that the cargo was caught by the crews of such ships, other 
proof is substituted, as stated in act 49th Geo. III. c. 98. § 37. 

-f- Under the regulations of the act 26th Geo. III. c. 41. whale-fins, oil, or 
blubber of whales, seal-oil, or setd-skins, &c. were permitted to be imported free 
of duty ; but in the year 1797, a duty of ICs. lOd. per ton was laid on "train-oil, 
or blubber, lish-oil, or oil of seals, or other creatures living in the seas, not other- 
wise enumerated or described" by the Tonniige-duty act, 38th Geo. III. c. 76. 
Table (A) inwards. And upon oti:er produce of the fisheries, such as whale- 
fins, skins, &c. because not particularly enumerated or described, a duty of 
3 per cent, was imposed by the same act. This act, by which blubber and oil were 
equally charged, though these articles bear a proportion to each other as 3 to 4 
nearly, was amended by 29th and 4()th Geo, III. c. 51. § 1. whereby blubber 
was permitted to be boiled into oil, inider the inspection of the proper officers, 
and such oil admitted to entry, and tlie duty pai.l thereon. An alteration seems 
to have been intended to be made by 42d Geo. III. c. 43. Table (A) inwards; 
fcut the Consolidation Act of the 43d Geo. III. c. QS. being passed so soon after 


Whale-fins, oil, or blubber of whales, seal-oil, or seal-skins, 
or other fish, &c. caught in any part of the ocean by Britisli 
subjects, usually residing in Great Britain or Ireland, or 
islands of Guernsey, &c. in ships built in either of the said 
kingdoms or islands, owned, registered, and navigated accord- 
ing to law, although not fitted out in other respects so as to 
be entitled to tlie bounty, may be imported into Great Bri- 
tain, without paying any duty, (excepting the duties of the 
consohdation act of the 59th Geo. III. c. 52. subsequently 
imposed) ; provided proof be made that the said articles were 
actually caught by the crew of the said vessel importing them, 

it, on which new duties were laid on Greenland produce, the former appears 
not to have been generally enforced. 

By consolidation act of 49th Geo. III. c. 98. Schedule (A) inwards, a " per- 
manent duty" of 5s. 3d. per ton, and a " war duty" of Is. 9d. were laid on 
train-oil of British fishing, imported in British built vessels, owned, registered, 
and navigated according to law. The war duty on Greenland and Davis' Strait 
produce, was continued after the peace until the year 1816, when it was made 
pennanent by act 56th Geo. III. c. 29. § 1. And an addition of one-fourth to 
the original jjermanent custom-duties, was ordered to be levied by act 53d 
Geo. III. c. 33., by which the whole duty on train-oil of British fishing was 
increased to 8s. 3|d. per ton. 

The duties now leviable on the produce of the fisheries of Greenland and 
Davis' Strait, as enumerated in the last Consolidation Act of 59th Geo. III. 
c. 62. Table (A) inwards, are as follow : 

" Blubber, the produce of fish, or creatures living in the sea, taken and caught 
by the crew of a British built ship or vessel, wholly owned by his Majesty's 
subjects, usually residing in Great Britain, Ireland, or the islands of Guern- 
sey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, registered and navigated according to 
law, and imported in any such shipping, the ton, containing 252 
gallons, - - - L. 

" Train-oil, the produce of fish," [as above,] per ton,, 
*' Whale-fins, taken and caught," &c. [as above], per ton of 20 cwt. 
" Blubber, the produce of fish or creatures living in the sea, of fo- 
reign fishing, the ton, containing 252 gallons, 
" Train-oil, of foreign fishing, per ton, 

*' Whale-fins, of foreign fishing, the ton, containing 20 cwt. 
" Bear skins, undressed, imported in a British built vessel, per skin, 
" Seal skins, undressed, imported in a British built vessel, jier skin, 
*' Skins and furs, undressed, not particularly enumerated or described, 

or otherwise charged with duty, per cent, ad vaL - 75 



















by oath of the master, and provided a log-book be kept in 
the usual way.— 32d Geo. III. c. 22. § 4. 

Before any blubber, train-oil, or spermaceti-oil, or liead 
matter, or whale-fins, imported into Great Britain, being 
the produce of fish or creatures hving in the sea, taken by 
the crew of a British built vessel, wholly owned by his Ma- 
jesty's subjects, usually residing in Great Britain or Ireland, 
Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, registered and nas 
vigated according to law, shall be admitted to entry, on paying 
the duties imposed by this act, on such blabber, train-oil, Sse. 
imported in such ship ; the shipmaster, or other person having 
the command, shall make oath before the chief officer of the 
Customs at the port into which the same shall be imported, 
that the same was bona Jide the produce of fish, &c. actually 
caught by the crew of any such vessel : and the importer, 
proprietor, or consignee of such blubber, &c. shall also make 
oath before such officer, at the time of the entry, that, to the 
best of his knowledge and belief, the articles so imported were 
bond Jide the produce of fish, &c. actually taken by the crew 
of a British built vessel, wholly owned by his Majesty's sub- 
jects, usually residing in Great Britain, Ireland, he. register- 
ed and navigated according to law ; on failure whereof, such 
articles shall be deemed and taken to be foreign fishing, and 
charged with the duties imposed on such articles of foreign 
fisliing.— 49th Geo. III. c. 98. § 37. 

If any person or persons shall grant any false certificate for 
any of the purposes required or directed by this act, such per- 
son or persons shall forfeit the sum of L.500; and if any per- 
son or persons shall counterfeit, erase, alter, or falsify any cer- 
tificate required or directed by this act, or shall knowingly 
make use of any false certificate, or of any certificate so coun- 
terfeited, erased, altered, or falsified, such person or persons 
shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of L. 500, and 
every such certificate shall be invalid, and of no effect.— 26thi 
Geo. III. c. 41. § 16. 


• No harpooner, Ime-manager, or boai-steerer, who shall be in 
or belong to any ver^sel in the Greenland fishery trade *, ami 
whose name (distinguishing the capacity in which he is to 
serve) shall be inserted in a list, delivered on oath by the 
owner of the vessel to the Collector of the Customs at the port 
from which she is to proceed on the fishery, shall be hnpress- 
ed from the said service ; and such harpooner, boat-stecrer, or 
line-manager, may, when not employed in the said fishery, 
sail in the coWiery or coastmg\ trade, upon giving security;]: to 
the satisfaction of the Commissioners of the Customs, that he 
or they will proceed in the said vessel to the Greenland seas, 
or Davis' Straits, on the whale-fishery, the next season ; and 
ev€ry seaman or common manner wh(» shall be entered to 
serve on board any vessel intended to proceed on the said 
fishery, whose name shall be inserted in a list, to be delivered 
as aforesaid, and who shall have given security to proceed ac- 
cordingly, shall be exempt from being impressed out of the 
said service from the 1st of Fe])ruary each year, until the 
voyage home from thence shall be fully complete and ended, 
and no longer. (26th G<?o. III. c. 41. § 17.) Provided al- 
ways, that this act shall not extend to protect from the im- 
press any greater number of officers than six harpooners, six 
boat-steerers, and six-line-managers, belonging to each vessel 
of the burthen of {500 tons, and so in proportion of every 
vess^ of smaller burthen ; one hai*pooner, one boat-steerer, 

• By act SM Geo. III. c. 22. § 5. harpooners, boat-steerers, line-managers 
and seamen belonging to vessels not fitted out under the regulations of the acts 
which would entitle them to the bounty, are protected from the impress, on 
the same conditions relative to oaths and securities, as those fitted out under 
the bounty acts, but -wath the proviso, that the act do not extend " to protect 
from the impress more than 6 harpooners, o line-managers, 5 boat-steerers, 
and 18 common mariners, belonging to each such vessel of 400 tons burthen, 
and so on in proportion for any less tonnagy." 

■f In the original act, the word coasting is omitted ; but it was introduced in 
act 31st Geo. III. c. 43. and has since been perpetuated. 

X For the conditions and nature of this security, vide Appentlix No. IV. 
art. 4 


and one line-manager less for every 50 tons smaller burthen*. 
— 42d Geo. III. c. 22. § 2. 

The Greenland Seas and Davis' Straits, and seas adjacent, 
Avithin the intent and meaning of the bounty acts, shall be 
deemed and taken to extend to the latitude of fifty-nine de- 
grees thirty minutes north, and no farther. — 26th Geo. III. 
c. 41. § 18. 

No wliale-boat belonging to any whale-fishing ship employ- 
ed in the above fishery or in the seas to the south thereof, 
shall be liable to seizure on account of her built, dimensions, 
or construction ; but on the return of such ship from the fish- 
ery every season, such boat shall be laid up by the owner or 
owners thereof in such place or places as shall be approved 
of by the principal officer of the Customs of the port at 
which such ship shall arrive, and shall not be employed or 
made use of in any way whatever, but in the said fisheries. 
— 32d Geo. III. c. 22. § 6. 

If the master of any vessel, or any other person, to whom 
any apprentice shall be indentured, pursuant to act 26th 
Geo. III. c. 41. shall suffer him to leave his service (ex- 
cept as herein after provided) before the end of the term for 
which he is bound, such master, or other person, shall forfeit, 
for each offence, fifty pounds, to be recovered by action of 
debt, &c. in any of his Majesty's courts of record. [29th Geo. 
III. c. 53. § 5.] Not to extend to any case where an ap- 
prentice is legally discharged before a INIagistrate, or turned 
over from one person to another concerned in the said fisheries, 
to serve the remainder of his time in the said fisheries, pursu- 
ant to the said act. — 29th Geo. III. c. 53. § 6. 

Spermaceti-oil, head-matter, train-oil, and all other fish-oil, 
blubber, and whale-fins, of British fishing, imported at Lon- 

■ As neither this nor the fundamental act, (26th Geo. III.), limits the number 
of seamen to be protected during the voyage, it has become a practice with the 
Officers of Customs to assume the number of common seamen required by law 
to be on board each ship, (26th Geo. IIF. c. 41 . § 21.), as the amount to be pro- 
tected ; tliat is, 16 men in a ship of 300 tons or upwards, and two men less 
for every fifty tons smaller burthen. 


don • (not by the East India Company, or from the West 
Indies), may be landed and secured in approved warehouses, 
without the duties being first paid. — 43d Geo. III. c. 132. 
§ 4. and 5. Table D. 

The Commissioners of the Customs for England and Scot- 
land respectively shall, at the beginning of every session of 
Parliament, lay before both Houses of Parliament, an ac- 
count, in writing, of what number of vessels have been em- 
ployed in the whale-fishery to Davis' Straits and the Green- 
land , Seas, with their respective names and burthens, from 
■whence they were fitted out, and at what port in Great Bri- 
tain they were discharged ; and also what quantity of oil or 
blubber, or whale-fins, each ship or vessel shall have import- 
ed.— 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 19. 

One moiety of the penalties inflicted by this act shall be to 
the use of his Majesty, and the other moiety to such Officer 
or Officers of the Customs as shall sue for the same. — 26th Geo. 
III. c. 41. § 20. 

If any action shall be commenced against any person or 
persons for any thing done in pursuance of this act, they may 
plead the general issue, and give this act and the special mat- 
ter in evidence that the same was done by authority of this 
act : And if it shall appear so to have been done, then the 
jury shall find for the defendant or defendants ; and if the 
plaintiff" shall be nonsuited. Sic. the defendant or defendants 
shall recover treble costs. — 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 21. 

* This indulgence may, by Order in Council, be extended to any other port. 
-43d Geo. III. c. 132. § 10. 


No. II. 
1. Some remarks on the most advantageous dimensions 


It has been remarked (page 189 of tliis volume), that per- 
haps a roomy ship of 330 or 340 tons burden, possesses more 
advantiiges, in the whale-fishing, Avith fewer disadvantages, 
than a vessel of similar build of any other capacity. It may 
be useful to examine the truth of this proposition, 

In the most favourable and prosperous cases, a ship of 
330 tons burden may receive on board about 150 tons of 
blubber at once ; a ship of 250 tons scarcely 100. Hence, 
being soon crowded with blubber, the smaller sliip is not ca- 
pable of deriving the same advantage from any extraordinary 
" run of fish" as the larger ; the fishing is necessarily suspen- 
ded, until the blubber obtained is packed in casks, an ope- 
ration requiring so much time, that a favourable opportunity, 
such as a run of fish, rarely continues until it is completed, 
nor often recurs in one season. But as the larger vessel 
might, on such an occasion, Iiave obtained 50 tons of blubber 
more than the smaller, before it would be necessary to " make 
off," the advantage in the fishery would, of course, be highly 
in her favour. Besides, with the most successful issue, the 
cargo of a small ship must necessarily be such, that her pro- 
fits, under all circumstances, must be comparatively mode- 

Though the cargoes of a large and small ship, when filled, 
may be in proportion to tlieir tonnage, yet neither thv? profits 
nor advances are in the same proportion. For since a ship 
of 330 tons may, if required, be navigated with the same 
crew, and fitted for the fishery at the same expence of stores 
as one of 250 tons ; the principal point in which the expen- 
ces of the larger will exceed those of the smaller, will be in 
the matter of first cost. Now, the difference in the first cost 


of two new ships of 250 and 330 tons will be about 1600/.; 
the extra interest of capital, insurance, and wear and teai*, on 
which may be stated at 1501. per annum. Therefore reckon- 
ing the average value of oil to the whale-fishers at 27^. per 
ton, (7/. being deducted for paying the premiums of the mas- 
ter and seamen on the oil, with expences of extracting it, &c.) 
the larger ship, to return the same profits to the owners as 
the smaller, will requu*e a cargo of 5 1 tons of oil each voyage 
more than that of the smaller ; but every ton of oil she pro- 
cures above that quantity in excess, will be equal to 27/. ad- 
vantage to the owners. Supposing, then, the two ships to get 
full cargoes, the larger will carry about 340 tons, and the 
smaller about 160, the difference of which is 80 tons ; this, 
reckoned at 27/. per ton, expences in premiums and manu- 
factm-e being deducted, amounts to 2160/., the additional 
profit in favour of the larger vessel. This advantage, how- 
ever, can only be casual ; yet it is so considerable, that when 
connected with the first mentioned advantage of profiting to 
a greater extent on meeting with a " heavy run of fish,'" to- 
gether with the superior comfort and convenience afforded in 
large vessels, it becomes a benefit of much greater moment 
than the excess of expences with which it is obtained ; conse- 
quently these considerations appear to warrant the equipment 
of vessels of 330 or 340 tons, hi preference to any of smaller 
dimensions, on the ground of their superiority in point of 
adaptation, and advantage to the proprietors. 

As a roomy vessel of 330 or 340 tons wiU contain as lai'ge 
a cargo as can generally be obtained, even in the most favour- 
able season, it is probable that a much further increase of ton- 
nage would be almost useless ; and if so, it must be obtained 
at a real expence and disadvantage. How far, however, a 
moderate increase or diminution of tonnage might be made, 
without becoming unprofitable, must be a matter of opinion 
and uncertainty. 


2. Further notices respecting the fortifications of 
a greenland ship. 

[See p. 191.] 
A plan for the internsJ fortifications of a whale-ship, adopt- 
ed by Messrs Hurry and Gibson in the fitting out of the 
Lady Forbes from Liverpool, and, since then, applied to a 
new ship built by Messrs Mottershead and Hays of that 
port, seems to possess some advantages over that described in 
Chap. iv. sect. 1. of this volume, and, it appears to me, ought 
therefore to be noticed. The new ship, which is intended to 
be put under my command, is of a very superior and sub- 
stantial build, and is fortified within the bow in the manner 
following : 

The breast-hooks, five in number, are 12 inches square, 
and about 12 feet in length, and are placed 12 inches asun- 
der. All the breast-hooks are extended by an horizontal tim- 
ber applied to each end, and every space is filled up with four 
similar timbers, (a little slighter), while three horizontal ranges 
of timber of a similar kind are placed beneath the lowest of 
the breast-hooks. These altogether form a solid bed of tim- 
ber, extending from the hold-beams downward to the foot of 
the apron, and occupying the whole interior of the bows to 
the distance of 17 feet on each side of the stem. This part 
of the fortifications intersects, in the direction of its timbers, 
the square-frames and cant-timbers of the bows nearly at 
right angles, and each hook, intermediate timber and pointer, 
is bolted with copper into every frame which it intersects. 
Across this horizontal range of the fortifications are placed 7 
riders, extending from the hold-beams down to the lowest 
pointer ; one rider is in the centre, coiTesponding, in position, 
with the stem, another crosses the ends of all the pointers, 
and two more on each side are placed at equal intervals be- 
tween those in the extremes and in midships. Near about 
the centre of the circle, of which the bows at the height of 
the hold-beams are arcs, is fixed a square perpendicular tim- 
ber called a Mng-posf, of the diameter of 18 or 19 inches 


each side, and extending from one of the hold-beams to the 
kelson. This post is convex on the fore part, present- 
ing an arch towards the stem, and receives the interior ends 
of the shores, twenty-eight in number, fixed against the ri- 
ders. It is supported abaft by two beams, of 12 inches 
square, one 2^ feet, the other 5 feet below the hold-beams, 
which are securely fastened by knees to the timbers in the 
bows. As the king-post occupies a central position with re- 
gai'd to the bows of the sliip, the shores being set in close or- 
der between it and every rider, become radii of the circle of 
which the water-line of the bows forms the circumference. 
Hence, whenever a blow is received on any part of the bow, 
the shock is communicated by the shores directly to the king- 
post, and from thence dispersed throughout every part of the 
fortifications with whic li it is connected. 

No. III. 
[Referred to in p. 199.] 


Wood and Iron Work. 
7 or 8 xchak-hoats, of 5 or 6 oars ; those of five oars are tlie 
most convenient, and are usually 25 or 26 feet in lengtli. 
25 or 30 pairs of pulling oars, 14 to 16 feet in length. 

6 or 8 pairs of steering oars, 18 to 20 feet in length. 
60 harpoons. 

40 lances. 

20 boat-hooks. 

2 or 3 dozen seal clubs, 

7 or 10 spUcing-fids. 
7 or 8 hoai-axes. 

7 or 8 grapnels. 

S or more hoviX-winces. 



7 boat Jacks or Jki^s. 

2 or more boat compasses (wood-bowls). 
7 blowing-Aorrw .? 

7 or 8 tail-hnives. 

8 or 10 blubber-kmves. 
10 to 15 ^^ranc^knives. 

3 or 4 \v\\a\c-bone knives. 

1 blubbler cutting apparatus, or 7 cliojjp'mg knives. 
6 gumming-Vmye?>. 

8 or 10 seal and kreng'mg knives, 

3 or 4 krengmg-hooks. 

6 .s<^(?Z5. 

12 blubber-spades. 

2 (whale) -iowc spades. 
6 or 8 prickers. 

6 or 8 king's J()7'ks. 
10 or 19, pick-7iaaks. 

2 pairs of hand-hooks ; or more. 

7 pairs of spurs. 

3 or 4 pairs of T^s and claws, or sets of bone-geer. 
2 (wliale)-6o«2 liandspikes. 

6 iron clashes. 

2 to 4 ice-jjoles, 24 feet in length. 

1 ice-anchor, 1001b. in weight. 

1 ditto, 75 lb. 

2 ditto, 50 lb. 
2 ditto, 30 lb. 

1 bay-ice anchor, 25 lb. 

2 ice-grapnels. 

6 ice-axes or ice-drills. 

1 ice-saw, 12 or 14 feet in length. 

2 ditto, with moveable backs, 6 and 9 feet. 
1 harpoon-gun, or more. 

1 Jlcnsing wince, or extra capstem. 

1 armourer'' s Jorge. 

2 pairs of cant-hooks. 

1 pair of chain-slings for casks. 


1 lull iron. 

1 spech trough, with supporting screws for the Ud *. 

1 harpooii chest, about 6 feet long, 2| broad, and 9.\ deep. 

4 or 6 hlubher-^umps t. 

1 or 2 grindstones. 

280 to 800 tons of casks, of sizes suitable for stowage. 

A quantity of hGop-iron and rivets. 

A set of cooper'^s tools. 

A set of armourer''s tools, inckiding files. 

Bungs ; spare staves ; stave-ends for buckets and speck- 
tubs, &.C. 

Rickers, poles, or other wood for harpoon and lance-stocks; 
handles of knives, spades, prickers, pick-haaks, seal- 
clubs, ice-axes, ice-poles, boat-hooks, &c. &c. he. and 
wood for tholes, &c. 

Block's and davits. 

Davits or cranes for seven boats. 

18 boat-tackle, threefold blocks. 

12 leading-blocks for the above. 

8 or 10 ^?/7/-blocks or speck-tackle blocks, 15 or 18 inches. 

2 leading-blocks for speck-tackles, iron-bound. 

1 large snatcli-hlock, 3 inch mortice, iron-bound. 

3 Are« ^-blocks, 2 double, 1 single, 24 inches. 
7 boat snatc]i-h\oc\is. 

60 zvhale-lines, 120 fathoms each. 
1 gu7/, 8 to 10 inches, tapered. 
Boats tackle-falls, 500 fathoms; 21 inches. 
Kent tackle-fall, 70 fathoms ; 5 inches. 
Sj)eck tackle-falls, and rope for bone-geer, 200 fathoms ; 
3i inches. 

5 or 6 ice-hazcsers or warps, 80 to 120 fathoms each ; from 

4 to 9 inches in circumference. 

• When a blubber-cutting apparatus is used, the speck-trough, lull-iron, and 
ehopping-knivcs, are scarcely needed. 

■f Figures of most of the above instruments are contained in Plates xviii. 
xix. XX. xxi. and xxii. See the last article of this Appendix. 


No. IV. 


[Referred to p. 199-] 
An Ahfitraci of the Directions approved and transmitted by 
the Coinrn'issioners of Customs, for regulating- the j^rocced- 
ivg-s of Surveying Officers, admeasicring- and examining 
into the State of Ships intended for the Northern Whale- 

Rules for Admeasurement, &c. 

1. The ship being aground, dry, and upright, her length 
is taken, from the aft side of the main stern-post, (and not 
from any false piece attached to it,) " on a straight line along 
tlie rabbit of the keel, to the fore part of the main-stem, by a 
line immediately under the bowsprit, and squared to the line 
of the rabbit of the keel." This is " the length taken." 

2. " The breadth is to be taken in the bi'oadest part, out- 
side and outside, immediately above or below the main-wales, 
deducting doubling, sheathing, or any extraordinary thick 
stuff* worked thereon." This is " the extreme breadth." 

3. From " the length taken" deduct three-fifths of the 
breadth, and the remainder is esteemed " the length of the 
keel for tonnage." 

4. Multiply " the length of the keel for tonnage," by " the 
extreme breadth," and the product by half the extreme 
breadth, and divide the whole by 94, gives the tonnage. 
(This article is followed by some hints for j)erforming the ad- 
measurements with accuracy.) 

5. To ascertain the identity of the crew on the return of 
the ships, the nmstering officers are directed, on mustering out- 
wards, to take down the names of the mariners, the age, 
where born and resident, stature and description of eai'h ac- 
cording to a printed form ; and if, on the return, the descrip- 


tions do not correspond, the differences are to be represented 
to the Collector, &c. and transmitted to the Board. A dupli- 
cate of such list is to be entered " on the back of the certifi- 
cate, of the ship's being properly fitted for the whale-fishery ; 
and the owner and master's oath."" 

The Mode of Mustering Greenland-ships. 

1. When the ship is completely fitted according to law, 
" the master or owner gives notice that she will be ready for 
muster on a certain day ; on which the proper officers go on 
board, when a list of the crew is delivered to them by the ma- 
ster, in which is described their names and stations, and they 
are all ordered on the quarter-deck, close to the tafrail, when 
the muster bemns.'" 

2. Master. — " The master is called and examined very 
strictly, whether he has on board a sufficient quantity of good 
and wholesome provisions, to serve the whole crew for six 
months with full allowance ; an account of which is given in 
writing, and afterwards sworn to before the collector." 

3. Surgeon. — " The person nominated as surgeon is next 
called, and strictly examined as to his abilities and qualifica- 
tions ; if he produces certificates, &c. of his having been regu- 
larly bred to that profession he is passed ; if not, he is re- 
jected, and another proper person is provided before the ship 
is suffered to clear out." 

4. Harpooners. — " The harpooners are called and exa- 
mined separately ; those who have been three voyages in 
that fishery, and in the character of boat-steerers, are passed ; 
those who have not, are rejected." 

5. Boat-steekers. — " Boat-steerers are examined; such 
as have been two voyages in this fishery, in the character of 
line-managers, are admitted, or otherwise rejected." 

6. Line-managers. — " Line-managers are rejected un- 
less they have been one or more voyages in the fishery." 

7. Green-men. — " Green-men are admitted, whether sea^ 
men or landmen, provided they have never before been on 
such a voyage or fishery." 

VOL. II. K k 


8. Appbentices. — " Apprentices must be above twelve 
and under twenty years of age wben bound ; and the inden- 
tures must be for three years at least. If any doubt arise as 
to the proper age, proof must be made by the master, produ- 
cing his parocliial register, or otherwise the boy is rejected. 
Care is taken, by examining the indentures, to see that the 
owners names, and the name of the ship in which they are to 
serve, are inserted therein." 

9. " The number of lines, liarpoons, boats, and other re- 
quisites prescribed by the act, are examined." 

The muster-list is then made out, " certified and dehvered 
to the collector, who thereby clears the ship outwards, and 
the board grants her licence to proceed on her voyage *." 

" On the return, the master gives notice to the mustering 
officers, who go on board, order the crew upon the quarter- 
deck, and proceed by calling them by their names. If any 
have run, as is frequently the case, the person present is 
examined strictly as to his qualifications, and his name is pla- 
ced in the list, noting in whose room he has served. The 
contents of the cargo is inserted in this list." 

Some Account of the Affidavits, Certificates, ^c. required hy 

1. The Certificate of the mustering officer consists of a co- 
py of the " muster-list," with a notification of the number of 
lines, harpoons, and boats on board, and a declaration of the 
sufficiency of the provisions, — of the vessel being strongly 
built, and otherwise a proper ship for such voyage and fishe- 
ry, — and of there being among her crew a sufficient number 
of harpooners, steersmen, and line-managers, who have before 
been employed in such voyages. This, also including the af- 
fidavits of the owner and master, with regard to their faithful 

" As the Licence is a matter of right, when all the papers expressive of the 
conditions of the law having been fulfilled, are regularly prepared, the ship is 
not obliged to wait until the arrival of the licence. 


intentions as to the design of the voyage, is signed by the 
collector and comptroller of the port, and completes the 
"certificate of a ship's being properly fitted for the whale- 

2. Ozcne?-''s and Master's Oath. — The nature of these affi- 
davits is very clearly defined in act 26th Geo. III. c. 41. § 1. 
(See third paragraph of Appendix, N° I.) 

3. Master's Bond. — Every master of a whale-ship, before 
licence can be granted for the ship to proceed on her voyage, 
must be bound, along with two sufficient securities, of whom 
the owner v/ho clears the ship is generally one, in the sum of 
L. 900, or treble the bounty, for the faithful dealings of him- 
self and ship"'s company, in regard to the said ship and voy- 

This bond, after reciting sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, & 
10, of act 26th Geo. III. c. 41, &c. proceeds to the conditions 
of the obligation, which are such, " that if the said ship F, 
now owned, manned, and navigated, and duly qualified for 
the said fishery, in such manner as is, by the said act, direc- 
ted and required, shall so continue during the whole voyage ; 
and if all the whale-fins, oil and blubber, which shall be real- 
ly and truly caught and taken in the said seas, by the crew of 
such ship only, or with the assistance of the crew of any other 
licensed ship, before that time, shall be imported in the said 
ship into some port of Great Britain ; and if the said master, 
and his ship's company, do and shall in all respects whatso- 
ever, conform themselves to the said act, and deal faithfully 
in the execution thereof, then this obligation to be void, or 
else to remain and be in full force, effect, and virtue. 

Sealed and delivered (being (Signed by the master 

first legally stamped) in and each security.) 

the presence of 


4. Protection Bonds. — In time of war, the officers of 
whale-fishing ships are protected, while, on coasting- voyages, 



cluring the intervals of each voyage to the fishery, as well as 
during their servitude in the ships to which they belong ; and 
the seamen of such ships are likewise protected from the 1st 
of February each year, to the end oi" the next ensuing voy- 

Officer's Bond. — The penalty of this bond is the sumof o(?250. 
After llic recr.pilulation ol" section 17. of cict2GthGeo.III.c.41, 
relating to the })rotection of officers of whale-fishing ships, the 
nature of the obligation of this bond, in which the officers are 
jointly and severally liable, is stated to be, that they shall re- 
turn on board their ship "on or before the 10th of March 
following, and shall proceed in the said ship to Greenland or 
Davis' Straits, or either of them, on the said fishery ;'"' then 
this obligation to be void, or else to remain in full force. 

(Signed, in the presence of the Collector and Comptrol- 
ler, by each of the protected officers.) 

Seamciis Bond. Penalty L. 250. This bond is similar 
to the former. Act £Cth Geo. III. § 17. being recited, the 
conditions of the obhgation are stated to be, that if such nam- 
ed men shall remain on board and be eni])loyed in the service 
of the said ship, all and every of them, and shall proceed in the 
said ship to Greenland or Davis' Straits on the said fishery, 
then this obligation to be void, or else to remain in full force ". 

5. Master and Mate's Oath on the Shijis Bcttirn. — In 
this affidavit, the act by which it is ordered (26th Geo. III. 
c. 41. § '3.) is so closely followed that it needs no description. 

6. Affidavit of the Truth of the Log-hook. — This is ano- 
ther oath administered to the master and mate. In the fonn 
of it, section 10. of act 26th Geo. III. c. 41. is closely fol- 

7. Affidavit of the Importer. — This oath is taken before 
the cargo imported can be admitted to entry on the duties 
chargeable on the jjroduce of British fishing, and expresses, 
" that all the whale-fins, oil, and blubber, imported in the 

* It was, in some ports, a prevailing mistake, that the owners of the whale- 
ships were the bondmen of the seamen ; whereas, hy the nature of the bond, it is 
clear tiiat both officers and seamen are alone bound for themselves and for one 


said ship tliis present voyage, v.ere really and bona fide 
caught and taken in the said seas (of Greenland or Davis"* 
Straits), by the crew of the said ship only, or ^vith the assis- 
tance of the crew of some other British built ship or vessel, li- 
censed for this voyage, pursuant" to act of Parliament. 

From the construction of this clause, any ship having re- 
ceived assistance in the capture of a whale from the crew of a 
foreign vessel, or any vessel not duly licensed, whether by ac- 
cident or design, there arises a legal incapacity for claiming 
the bounty, or even for importing the cargo free of the for- 
eign duties ! In such cases, however, where it should be 
made to appear that the law M'as not wilfully broken, an ap- 
plication only to the Treasury would, probably, be necessary 
for restoring to the owners of the vessel their forfeited privi- 
leges. Yet the form is objectionable, from the temptation it 
offers to make false attestation for avoiding the risk of losing; 
the bounty, or the trouble of making the necessary apphca- 
tions for obtaining it, and for getting rid of the heavy duties 
chargeable on the produce of foreign fishing. 

The oaths required to be taken before the officers of Cus- 
toms, while they are extremely painful to conscientious per- 
sons, are, perhaps, productive of no real benefit to the reve- 
nue. From their frequency, they certainly tend to make ap- 
peals to the Almighty too familiar, and reduce the solemnity 
of an oath into a matter of form. They have, indeed, a still 
more dangerous tendency. For it may be observed, that 
many oaths administered at a custom-house, are so worded 
that it is impossible to attest the truth of the whole of the 
points, without applying a construction to the spirit of the 
oath, which does not appear in the letter. Hence, it becomes 
a practice, almost indispensable, not to swear to the simple 
meaning of the words that are read, but to such a construc- 
tion of them as the individual to whom they are presented may 
believe them capable. Thus, all that is aimed at is to avoid 
wilful and corrupt perjury ; whilst the act of swearing to the 
truth of w hat you know nothing of, becomes occasionally ne- 

518 iv.vonrAST action kespecting a avhale. [Arr. n*' v. 

ccssary for tlie transaction of business. When once an oath 
loses its solemnity, pojury becomes a crime of little more 
weiglit, in the mind of a person not over scrupulous in moral 
duties, than the speaking of an untruth. 

No. V. 


Gale versus Wilkinson. 

Mr Solicitor-General said, this was an action of trover, 
to recover the value of a whale, a harpoon, a line, and a boat. 
The question arose out of the whale-fishery. The plaintiff 
■was owner of a Greenland ship called the Neptune ; and the 
defendant was OAvner of the Experiment, another ship in the 
same trade. One morning in the year 1 804, perhaps much such 
another cold morning as this was, the two ships'" boats were 
fishing neai' the North Pole. The Neptune's boat was looking 
out near a vast field of ice, about thirty miles in breadth, when 
the crew perceived a whale. The harpooner of the Neptune 
instantly struck the fish, which plunged, and carried with her 
above 1200 yards of line. The crew were determined not to 
lose her, and therefore kept the line fast to the boat, and suf- 
fered the whale to draw it under the ice. The crew themselves 
got upon the ice, and erected a flag, as a signal to the Nep- 
tune, that they had struck a fish. They knew the whale 
must return in a certain time to get air. The Neptune's 
people obeyed the signal, and sent off five boats to assist. 
They arrived before any of the boats of the Experiment, 
which were fishing at a distance, and which also came to the 
spot, in consequence of a signal from that ship. It happen- 
ed that the whale rose with her head towards the Experi- 

" For this important article I am indebted to James Qale, Es^. of Shad- 
well, London. 


menfs boats, and their harpoons struck her. She was sti'uck 
five or six times, and was at last killed. The captain of the 
Neptune expostulated with the captain of the Experiment, 
observing, that it was impossible the latter should dispute 
his title, as his harpoon, which was first struck, had all along 
remained fixed to the boat. He said, that it was evident he 
had never left the pursuit of the fish ; on the contrary, in- 
stead of cutting the line with a hatchet, to save the lives of 
the crew, he had given the whale the boat, in order that 
when it arose again, it might appear like a buoy crying out, 
" This is the fish of the Neptune."" He added, that the boats 
of the Neptune were at hand to assist ; surely, then, he could 
not pretend to have any right to keep the whale. " Aye, 
marry, do I," replied the other, " and I claim your harpoon, 
line, and boat, too ; and, by God's providence, I will have 
them."" This phrase was not without its meaning ; for the 
people of Greenland, not the most cultivated and polished 
place in the world, had a notion that every thing they found 
afloat, God's providence sent, and so they kept it. The 
captain of the Neptune did not think proper to decide the 
difference by force of arms, but said he should refer it to 
the laws of this country. Upon his return, he was anxious 
to avoid litigation, and applied for his line and boat ; but the 
defendant said, " When you get your fish, you shall have 
your line and boat, but not before." The Learned Counsel 
submitted, that the principle on which this case ought to be 
decided was this : It was not because a particular person 
struck a fish, and his hai-poon remained in her, that she was 
his property ; it must appear that he was in pursuit of her, 
and of that fact some evident sign was required. If a boat's 
crew found that a fish was too strong for them, they had al- 
ways an hatchet ready to cut the line ; and when they pre- 
ferred their own safety to the fish, any one miglit afterwards 
pursue it ; but if they meant to retain the occupancy, they 
kept the line fixed to the boat. The boat's crew of the Nep- 
tune had done the latter ; they had never quitted the line, 
but had, at the peril of their lives, given the whale the boat. 

$20 IM^0KTA^'T action respecting a whale, [app. n° v. 

in order that they might not be said to hiave abandoned their 
right. William Keld, the harpooner, distinctly proved 
llie facts stated by Mr Solicitor-General. He said the whale, 
as soon as he struck her. ran out five lines, amounting to 650 
fathom, or 1300 yards ; the lines were fastened to the boat, 
and they gave the boat for the safety of the fish ; they got 
upon the ice, and made the usual signal ; the boats of both 
ships came up, and in about three quarters of an hour the 
whale rose, and the Experiment's boats struck her. 

On his cross examination, he said, it was not for the crew 
to remain in the boat ; if they had, the whale would have 
given them a journey under the sea. 

Lord Ellenbouough observed, that the question was re- 
duced to the mere title to the boat. As to the whale, the oc- 
cupancy was gone. The crew of the Neptune''s boat had 
ceased to hold the fish ; and they could not be said to hold it 
more, because the boat was attached to the line, than if any 
other weight had been affixed to it. He was of opinion, that 
the harpoon and other things used as instruments of chase, 
might be cast away in the adventure. A man who wounded 
a bird, which another afterwards killed, might as well claim 
the shot. 

Mr Ekskine said, that after what had fallen from his 
Lordship, it Avas not necessary for him to enter fully into the 
subject. He was persuaded his Lordship would not suffer a 
custom to be violated, which had been over and over again 
established, more especially after it had been observed by a 
learned Judge (Buller), that as the subjects of all nations 
were engaged in the fishery of these seas, it would be highly 
inconvenient for the courts of one nation, to alter the general 
custom established by all. The doctrine had even gone the 
length of saying, that after a whale had been killed, brought 
alongside a ship, and the operation of flensing, or cutting out 
the blubber, had commenced, if a sea came and washed her 
away, she became what was called a loose fish, and any ves- 
sel might take her. He referred to the oim. con. cause tried 
ifome years ago, in which he had elucidated the subject in dis- 


cussion, by comparing Mrs E. to a loose fish, whom any one 
had a right to seize. In that case, Mr E. the husband, had 
originally harpooned the lady ; he had her fast ; but when he 
found she ran out too much line, he left her to plunge into 
the sea of folly and dissipation by herself, dragging the weight 
of her raarriag-e vow alonjx with her. But he did not the less 
abandon her because she Avas fastened to his boat. When he 
wished to recover her, or damages for her loss, it was said. 
No, — he had given her vip, — he had left her to her fate, and 
as another had harpooned her, he had a right to retain her. 
He admitted that the Solicitor-General had put the present 
case very fairly, when he said the boat was placed like a 
buoy, to cry out, " This is the fish of the Neptune." If such 
an argument could prevail, it would only be necessary to tie 
a buoy to a line, and it might cry stinking fish long enough 
before any one would be at the trouble of saving the Avhale 
attached to it. He concluded, by expressing his firm convic- 
tion that the law was with the defendant. 

Lord Ellenuorough said, he could not help making a 
distinction as to the boat, which the men quitted in order to 
save themselves. With regard to the harpoon and line, the 
fish, when it made off with them, acquired, if he might use 
the phrase, a kind of property in them, and any body who af- 
terwards took the fish had a right to the harpoon in it. 

The defendant undertook to return the boat, and the Jury 
gave a verdict for the plaintiff. Damages Is. ; costs 40s. 

No. VI. 


The commanding view which is obtained from a ship'^s 
mast-head, enables a person on the look-out in the crow''s 
nest to form a much more correct idea of the movements of a 
whale, and of the position of boats, ice, &c. than it is possible 
for the most experienced person to do I'rom a boat moving on 


the surface of the water. Hence, it is usual for the captain 
of every whale-fishing ship, to adopt a few simple signals, 
whereby he can direct his boats when at a distance beyond the 
reach of his voice. Signals used in the fishery may be class- 
ed under two kinds, General and Particular. 

I, Under the term General Signals, I include such signals 
as are universally used and understood by every person con- 
versant with the fishery. The articles employed for the pur- 
pose of making these signals consist of a " Bucket" or ball, a 
Union-jack or other small square flag, an Ancient, and aWheft 

1. The Bucket. — This consists of a cylinder, or globe of 
canvas, extended by means of iron or wooden hoops, and 
usually coloured black. When the bucket is displayed at 
the mast-head, it recalls the boats to their ship from the pur- 
suit of a fish, or from any other embassy. When it is vio- 
lently drawn up, and alternately let down for many times 
successively, it is an urgent call to the boats to return. When 
hoisted half way up from its usual resting-place to the mast- 
head, it may either signify that one boat is only wanted when 
many are away, or that the officers in the boats may use their 
pleasure in attending to it ; that is, they may remain abroad 
if they conceive they have any prospect of success, if not, they 
are expected to return to their ship. 

2. The Jack. — In the fishery, this flag is used to indicate, 
that the boats belonging to the ship bearing it are engaged 
with a fish. Its intention seems originally to have been ex- 
tremely liberal. Ey it, a ship fishing might be distinguished 
among a number, and others might be directed to the same 
place, where probably more fish Avere to be found. It has, 
however, additional uses in the present day. It serves to in- 
timate that a fish is harpooned, to the other boats belonging to 
the same ship which may happen to be at a distance, and not 
aware of the circumstance : but most usually, it is displayed 
as a precautionary measure, to prevent the interference of any 
other ship with the fish so struck, excepting in the way of an 
auxiliary, in which case it gives a friend an opportunity of an- 



sisting. To prevent disputes with regard to the title to a fish 
that has been struck, it is generally good policy, when other 
ships are near, to keep the jack fl} ing until the fish is killed. 

When a jack is moved violently up and down the mast, it 
proclaims the appearance of the fast fish on the surface of the 
water ; and when it is thus accompanied with the bucket, it 
expresses that the fish is in the line of or near to the ship. 

Before the commencement of the fishing season, a jack or 
ancient is used as a kind of complimentary signal to a friend, 
expressing as much as the usual greeting " How do you do ?''' 
and on sealing stations, the jack is sometimes substituted for 
the bucket in recalling the boats. 

3. 77ie Ancient. — When this flag is hoisted at the mizen 
peak, or mizen top-mast head, in the latter end of the fishing 
season, it indicates that the shiji carrying it is " full," and 
homeward bound. 

Hoisted in the main top-mast rigging, or indeed in any 
other situation union downward, the ancient, or national flag, 
is a universal sea signal of distress. The ancient is also used 
as a complimentary signal, and sometimes as a signal express- 
ing a desire to speak with the captain of the ship to which it 
is addressed. 

4. A Wlieft. — An ancient tied together in such a way as 
to prevent its being extended up and downwise, but which 
does not prevent its horizontal extension under a breeze of 
wind, is called a wheft. It is a signal used in the fishery in 
very urgent cases. When displayed to a ship, it expresses an 
earnest wish to speak with the captain ; and when in the fish- 
ery, addressed to the boats, it is usually meant to recall them 
peremptorily, howsoever they may be engaged ; under which 
they are authorised, when fast to a fish, to cut or break 
the line, or at least they are commanded by this signal to 
make every possible exertion to join their ship. The cases 
wherein this signal is principally requisite, are in storms and 
in closing ice, or when the ship and boats are in danger of 
getting beset in a hazardous situation, or the crews of the 
boats of perishing by delay. 


5. Distant Signals. — IJcsides these signals, the sails of the 
ship are frequently used as distant signals. Thus, tojvgal- 
lant sails loosed but kept cleared up, is a recall for the boats 
when at such a distance that the bucket cannot be seen ; the 
jib half hoisted is a signal for a fish a-head of the ship, &c. 

II, Particular Signals are such as are contrived by the cap- 
tain of any ship for the direction of his harpooners when on 
the fishery, to whom they are addressed ; or such as may be 
agreed upon between any two or more captains, for making 
certain communications to each other when at a distance. 
The former, which are of most general use, consist of xcav'mg 
or pointing in a particular way and manner with a kind of 
screen, hat, or speaking trumpet, whereby a single boat can, 
at a short distance, be very accurately directed. A bugle- 
horn has been adopted for the same purpose, in combination 
Avith other signals ; but signals with balls are of all others the 
most expressive, and at the same time perhaps the most sim- 
ple. This kind of signal has been occasionally adopted, but 
only very partially, and has been generally abandoned on ac- 
count of the mistakes on the part of the seamen to whom they 
were addressed, owing to the want of simplicity in the signals 
themselves. By means of a signal yard, placed across a pole 
erected at the top-gallant-mast head, three distinct positions 
for signals are obtained, the two yard arms and the pole end 
or signal-mast head. Now, by the different arrangement of 
balls in these three positions, not exceeding three in num- 
ber, thirty-one distinct signals may be made. It may, how- 
ever, be observed, that in accomplishing this number, it is al- 
ways necessary that the people in the boats to a\ hom the sig- 
nals are addressed, should be able to distinguish the stai'- 
board from the larboard yard-arm. This will be self-evident 
when they are ahead or astern of the ship, provided they can 
see which way the ship is lying ; and when the boats are a- 
beam of the ship, the starboard yard-arm may always be dis- 
tinguished by bracing it forward. In addition to this, the 
starboard 3'ard-arm might be painted red, and one of the 


balls, to be displayed always on the same side, might be of 
the same colour. By this arrangement, the number of signals 
with three balls would be reduced to twenty-nine ; but this 
would be sufficient for every purpose in the fishery. 

Thus much refers to signals for clear weather ; in a fog, 
however, other signals are requisite. These, from the nature 
of the circumstances, can only be conveyed by means of 
sounds, and are, therefore, extremely confined as to their ex- 
plicitness, as well as their variety. They can be used only 
for directing the boats towards each other, or towards the 
ship. They consist of various sounds, such as shouting, a 
number of men at the same time, the ship's bell, horns, drums, 
muskets, or cannon. By means of a bugle, indeed, some- 
thing more can be done than is usually practised ; but as it 
would be a matter of difficulty to instruct the sailors in the 
meaning of the various notes, and combination of notes, of the 
bugle, and at the same time would require a considerable 
command of the instrument on the part of the person sound- 
ing it, it is not likely that tlais instrument will ever be brought 
into o-eneral use. 

No. VII. 


Gauging is a process, which, though founded on correct 
principles, is of doubtful result, owing to the uncertain thick- 
ness of the staves of casks, and the irregular form of their in- 
terior. The thickness of the staves can only be estimated by 
the appearance of the ends of the cask, and of the bung 
stave ; the latter, which is the principal guide of the ganger, 
if made half an inch thinner than the rest of the staves, 
would produce in a ton cask an error, in favour of the seller, 
of about 14 gallons. Besides, where no such fraudulent con- 


struction is given to the bung-stave, there is always a liability 
to considerable error. I liaAe often seen in the same cask, 
when gauged by two persons equally expert in the art, a dif- 
ference of 10 gallons in its calculated contents ; and even the 
same cask, brought twice within an hour before the same per- 
son, and he a " sworn gauger,"" has been estimated with a dif- 
ference in the second trial of 7 or 8 gallons in its capacity. This 
being the case, the propriety of selling oil by weight has been 
generally acknowledged ; yet the usual allowance of 71 lb. to 
the gallon being found to fall short of the gallon by gauge, all 
buyers prefer gauge to weight. With a view of determining 
the exact equivalent by weight of a gallon of 231 cubic inches, 
the following experiments were made. 

1. A light pear-shaped glass vessel, having a narrow neck 
and grovmd-stopper, weighed, when empty, 583.7 grains ; 
when filled to the stopper with ice- water, temperature 60°, the 
weight was 1596.4 grains ; hence the difference 1012.7 grains, 
was the contents of the vessel in water. 

2. The same vessel filled with refined whale-oil, tempera- 
ture 53°, Aveighed 1523.4 grains; from which deducting 
583.7 the weight of the glass, we have 939.7 for the weight 
of the contained oil. 

Hence, as 1012.7, the contents of the vessel in water, is to 
1.000 the specific gravity of the water, so is 939.7, the contents 
of the vessel in oil, to 0.9279 the specific gravity of the oil. 

Now, a grain of pure water, temperature 60° (according to 
the experiments of Sir G. S. Evelyn, corrected by IVIr Flet- 
cher in the 4th volume of the Philosophical Journal) weighs 
252.506 grains troy. And according to the best experiments, 
the pound avoirdupois is equal to 7004.5 grains troy. So 
tliat 252.506 multiplied by 231, the number of cubic inches 
in a wine gallon, gives 58328.886, the weight of a gallon of 
water temperature 60° in grains troy. This divided by 
7004.5, gives a quotient of 8.32734, or the weight of the 
gallon of water in pounds avoirdupois. 



Therefore; As 1.000, the specific gravity of water, is to 
8.32734, the weight in pounds avoirdupois of a gallon of wa- 
ter, so is 0.9279, the specific gravity of the oil to 7.72694, or 
71b. 11 oz. 10.1 drams the weight of a gallon of refined oil at 
temperature 53\ 

But this oil appeal's to be somewhat heavier than the oil 
of commerce ; for the following results, derived in a similar 
way, were obtained from experiments with the common 

Specific gravity, temperature 32°, = 0.9312 

40, = 0.9289 

44, = 0.9268 

60, = 0.9214 

63, = 0.9204 

The change of specific gravity from temperature 32° to 63° 
is 0.0108, or 0.00035 for every degree of temperature. This 
proportion applied in a regular ratio gives the specific gravity 
of oil at every 5 degrees of temperature, from 30 to 70, as 
follows : 


Specific Gravity. 

Specific gravity 
by experiment. 



















From tliese'specific gra\Tities, the following weights of whale- 
oil, at different temperatures, are derived ; and it may be ob- 
served, that the weights, as calculated from the approximate 
specific gravities, in no instance differ above the tenth of a 
dram (less than 3 grains troy) in a gallon, from the weights 
derived more immediately from experiment. 

Weight of a Gallon 

Weight of a Ton of 


of Whale oil. 

Whale oil. 
(252 gallons.) 

lb. oz. dr. 

lb. oz. dr. 


7 12 2.837 

1955 15 4 


7 11 11.375 

1948 9 2 


7 11 3.914 

1941 3 


7 10 12.452 

1933 12 14 


7 10 4.991 

1926 6 12 

Now, if we compare these results with the usual allowance 
of 7 J lb. of oil to the gallon, or 1890 lb. to the ton, we shall 
find that at temperatui'e 60^ there is a difference of 5f gallons 
in the ton. 

On some future occasion, perhaps, I may publish tables of 
the weight of any number of gallons of oil from 1 to 300, at 
different temperatures, by means of which the contents of 
casks (the neat weight of the oil being known) will be given 
by inspection. 

Were the plan of selling oil by weight, instead of measure, 
adopted, it would greatly facilitate the calculations, by em- 
ploying decimal weights. And were the largest weight made 
use of 100 lb. there would be no danger of confounding it 
with any weights at present in use. All the variety necessary 
would be weights of 100 lb. 50 lb. 30 lb. 20 lb. 10 lb. 5 lb. 
3 lb. 2 lb. 1 lb., and decimals of a pound if required. 


No. VIIX. 


When I first entered on this work, it was my intention to 
incUule in it an account of all the known fisheries for the 
whale ; but some reflection induced me to decide, that it 
would be better to present to the public a work, which, though 
partial, would be particular and original, than one that, if 
more general, would be indebted, to a considerable extent, to 
the information of others. 

While I maintained my first intention, however, I address- 
ed a letter to Captain Day of London, a respectable and suc- 
cessful southern fisher, through William Mellish, Esq. and 
received in reply a communication, possessing so much inte- 
rest, that I should scarcely think it right to suppress it. The 
following queries formed the substance of my letter to Cap- 
tain Day ; the answers are the substance of his reply. 

1. In what latitude and longitude, or near what land do 
3'ou usually find the greatest plenty of righi (mysticete) 
whales ? 

An. The situations resorted to by the right whales, are 
numerous. Among many others, I may mention, that thev 
occur " on the Brazil Bank, from latitude 36* to 48° S. in 
the former pai'allel, in the months of November, December, 
and January, and in the latter in February, March, and 
April."^ In the same months are to be found many of these 
whales in the Derwent River, New Holland ; also about the 
Tristian Islands ; and in June, July, August and September 
they occur in Walwick Bay, and other inlets, on the coast of 
Africa. The same animals are hkewise met with near the 
island of St Catharine, on the coast of Brazil ; they also re- 
sort to some of the bays to the westward of Cape Horn, and 
to the northward of Coquimbo on tlie west coast of South 

VOL. ir, r, 1 

530 ACCOUXT or the S. sea whale-fishery. [aPP. N" VIII. 

America. " The whales resorting to the latter situations are 
females, which go into shoal water for the purpose of deposi- 
ting and rearing their young until nature has given them suf- 
ficient strength and powers to follow the older animals in all 
their meandrings in a deeper element than where they are 
first brought into existence.'*'' 

2. In what situations are the lai'gest quantities of spermace- 
ti-whales usually found '? 

An. On the coasts of Chili, Peru, and California ; about 
the Gallipago Islands and Marquesas; and indeed almost 
throughout the Pacific Ocean, the sperm-wJiales are to be 
found in great abundance. 

3. Is there any particular season of the year for entering 
on the voyage out, and for prosecviting the fishery ? 

An. There is no particular season for the sperm whale ; for 
the right whale, the seasons at Avhich they usually visit cer- 
tain coasts, as mentioned in answer to query 1st, mvist be at- 
tended to. 

4. Do you ever take any other kind of whale besides the 
mysticetus or right whale, and the sperm whale ? 

An. Hunch-backs, finners, and sulphur-bottoms, are occa- 
sionally taken ; the latter is a species of finner, very long, and 
swift in its going. The blubber on each of these kinds is 
seldom more than 6 inches thick, except on the breast ; the 
whale-bone not longer than from 18 to 24 inches. 

5. Yi-^hat is the usual length of time occupied in the passage 
out ; — on the fishing-stations ; — and on the voyage altogether ? 

An. The passage to the fishery beyond Cape Horn is usu- 
ally about 4 months ; on this side the Cape about 3 months. 
The stay on the fishery depends entirely on the success. 
The voyage in the sperm-fishery is seldom less than two 

6. How many officers, men, harpoons, lances, whale-lines, 
and boats, arc required for a ship of 300 tons .'' 

An. There are three mates, who, with the master, are the 
principal liarpooners ; the whole crew consists of about 30 


men and boys; the number of harpoons taken out are 100, 
lances 36, lines 28, boats 5. 

7. Do you make a point of putting into any harbours in the 
course of the voyage ? 

An. Sometimes at the Cape de Verd Islands ; at the Bra- 
zils and Falkland Islands ; at the Gallipagoes, Marquesas, 
and other Islands in the Pacific ; at New Zealand, Botany 
Bay, Lima, Valparisso, Conception, Paita, Quiaquil ; which 
places are visited for procuring hogs, goats, fruit, and other 
refreshments, at an easy expence, 

8. What kind of provisions do you chiefly use ? 

An. Beef, pork, bread, flour, pease, barley, and oatmeal. 

9. Do you carry out a sufliciency of provisions for a whole 
voyage ? or do you depend upon getting a replenish during 
your absence from home ? 

An. A sufficient quantity of provisions and stores for serv- 
ing the whole voyage is always taken out. 

10. Do yo\i practise the same method of capture in your 
attacks on both the right whale and the sperm whale .-' 

An. Invariably the same. 

11. Which of the two do you reckon the most dangerous 
to attack, the spemi whale or the right whale ? 

An. There appears to be little difference : but both species 
of whales, generally speaking, are more active and dangerous 
in the tropical regions than they are in the Arctic seas ; they 
therefore require more address in attacking, and caution in 
killing them, other\vise casualties, sometimes of a serious na- 
ture, would be innumerable. 

12. ^Vhich of the animals that you attack are the swift- 
est ? 

An. The sulphur-bottom, (probably either tlie B. physalis, 
or B. musculiis), appears to be the swiftest of the whale kind. 

13. Is it usual for ships to fit out for both the fishery of 
the sperm and the right whale ? 

An. Ships, when fitted for the sperm-fishery, arc adapted 
for taking any other kind of whale. 



14. llt)w many ships, English and foreign, do you sup- 
pose ai'c at present (January 1818) in the trade ? 

An. Inckiding Americans, at least 200 sail of ships. 

15. Has any increase lately taken place in the number of 
shipping employed in the southern fishery ? 

An. The number is one-half more now than during the 

16. What do you suppose was the magnitude of the largest 
spenn-whale you ever saw taken .? 

An. Extreme length 90 feet, girth about 30 feet (suppos- 
ed), made 12 tons of oil, including 5 tons of head matter. 

17. What might be the size of the largest whale of any 
other kind that you ever met with ? 

An. Length 86 feet, girth uncertain, produce in oil 13 
(or 15 ?) tons. 

18. The captain and crew, it seems, are rewarded for their 
exertions by certain shares of the cargo : of what proportions 
may these shares respectively consist ? 

An. Allowance to captain, officers and crew, something less 
than one-third (?) of the neat amount of sales. (This an- 
swer is not very satisfactory.) 

19. What may be the usual expences of a ship fitted for 
the southern whale-fishery, in a voyage of medium length, 
and with a full or at least a good cargo ? 

An. If completely fitted, not less than 4000?. exclusive of 
the value of the ship. 

20. Are there any instances of a ship returning without a 
sufficient cargo to defray the expences ? 

An. Such a case is very rare : when it does occur, it gene- 
rally arises out of some mismanagement, or is to be atti'ibut- 
ed, sometimes, to fortuitous causes, which human prudence 
can neither foresee nor prevent. 

21 . What was the greatest freight, or most valuable cargo, 
that you ever knew obtained in one voyage .'' 

An. Freight 30,000/. 


22. Can you furnish any anecdotes as to the dangers at- 
tendant on the southern fishery ? 

An. Many ; but as they would appear rather of a marvel- 
lous description, they might be misunderstood, or considered 
as exaggerated, if communicated. 

23. Do you ever procure any ambergrease ? if so, do you 
get it from the rectum of the whale, or is it foundfloating in 
the sea ? 

An. Ambergrease is frequently procured from the rectum 
of the whale, and sometimes found floating on the water. 
This substance appears to be formed in the rectinn, and arises 
out of an extreme costive habit of the body of the animal. 
It is frequently voided during any extraordinary exertion or 
emotion, particularly on the whale being struck ^\ith a har-? 
poon or lance. 

The following additional remarks on this subject, obtained 
from conversations mth various southern fishers, will con- 
clude this article ; 

1. Fishery of the Sjyermaceti Whale. — This fishery is con- 
ducted on the western coast of America, in various parts of 
the Pacific Ocean, or in the Indian or Cliina Seas, pailicular- 
ly about the island Timor. 

The spenn whale is a gregai'ious animal, generally occur- 
ring in herds, sometimes of 200 or upwards. In such cases, 
there may often be seen one, two or three old buIJ-whaleSy 
which constitute the lords of the herd, the rest being princi- 
pally, if not all, females. When other whales approach the 
herd, and attach themselves to any of the females, hard con- 
flicts with the bulls will ensue, in which case they excoriate 
one another in a formidable manner. These whales divide 
themselves into classes, according to their age or sex ; young 
males being found by themselves ; young females under the 
protection of old cozes ; half-grown males by themselves, and 
so on. When the young males obtain sufficient strength, 
they venture into a herd under the protection of some ^ery 
old bulls ; tliis trespass on the seraglio is generally followed 


by a conflict, which estabUshes them in the herd, or drives 
them ofl^", according to the issue. 

When a number of fish are seen, four boats, each furnish- 
ed witli 2 or 3 lines, 2 harpoons, 4 lances, and a crew of 
six men, proceed in pursuit ; and, if practicable, each boat 
" fastens to," or strikes a distinct fish, and each crew kill 
their own. When in distant pursuit, the harpooner generally 
steers the boat, and in such cases the proper boat-steerer 
sometimes strikes the fish, but the harponeer generally kills 
it. 'When a fish belonging to a herd is struck, it generally 
takes the lead, and the whole herd follow it. A " fast-fish"*^ 
seldom goes far under water ; it generally swims oft' with ex- 
treme rapidity when struck, but usually stops after a short 
race, so that the boat can be hauled up by the line, or rowed 
sufficiently near to lance it. The dying struggles of the ani- 
mal are so tremendous, that the water is beat by its fins and 
tail into a foam. The boats at this crisis, which is generally 
known to be approaching by the tall jets of blood discharged 
from the blow-holes, keep aloof, or otherwise they would be 
liable to be dashed to pieces. 

Sometimes 10 or 12 fish are killed " at a fall ;" but though 
many are occasionally wounded by the people in the fast 
boats, yet they rarely capture any that have not been har- 
pooned. When the fish with which the boats are entangled 
are killed, they are towed to the ship ; if more fish are then 
astir, and the Aveathcr fine, part of them, sometimes all, pro- 
ceed again to the attack. 

The flensing or " cutting in" process is somewhat different 
from that employed in the polar fisheries. A strap of blub- 
ber is cut in a spiral direction, and being raised by certain 
purchases, turns the fish round as on an axis, until nearly the 
whole of the blubber is stripped off'. The head-matter, con- 
sisting of spermaceti mixed with oil, which, when warm, is in 
a fluid state, is taken out of large whales in buckets while 
they remain in the water ; but the part of the head contain- 
ing the spermaceti in small whales, is hoisted up in one mass, 
and opened on its arrival upon deck, The head-matter con- 


geals when it is cold ; it is put into casks in its crude state, 
and refined on sliore at the conclusion of the voyage. The 
blubber, however, is reduced mto oil soon after it is taken, 
in " try- works,"" with which every ship is providetl for this 
purpose. The coppers in the try-works are two in number, 
and are placed, side by side, near the fore hatcliway ; these, 
with their furnaces, and casing of brick-work, occupy a space 
of 5 or 6 feet fore and aftways, 8 or 9 feet athwart ships, and 
4 or 5 feet in height. The cavity of the arches of brick- 
work, on which the coppers and furnaces are raised, forms a 
cistern for water ; so that when the fire is on, the deck is de- 
fended from injury by the changing of the water in the cis- 
tern twice or thrice every watch. As the oil is extracted, it 
is put into coolers, from whence, after standing about twenty- 
four hours, it is transferred into casks. The coppers are heat- 
ed, in the first instance, with wood, but subsequently with the 
fritters of the blubber, which, containing a considerable quan- 
tity of oil, produce a fierce fire. A large fish, of the species 
most usually taken, produces about three tons of oil; a small fish 
from one to two tons. Sometimes, the cargo of the ship will 
consist of above 100 whales, the produce of wlpch, in boiled 
spermaceti oil, may be from 150 to 200 tons, besides head- 

2. Fishery of the " right Whahy'' or Mysticetus. — This 
animal is found in soundings, on the western coast of Africa, 
on the eastern coast of South America, &c. It seldom oc- 
curs so large as the kind met with in the seas of Greenland 
and Davis"* Straits, the most usual size being that of 9 feet 
(whale) bone ; perhaps 35 or 40 feet in length. The head 
is frequently covered with a bed of bernicles, consisting of 
several strata, so that its appearance is very different from 
that of the northern mysticetus, being altogether of a white 
colour. "When struck, the southern mysticetus often dives to 
the bottom, the depth being seldom more than 200 fathoms, 
returns to the surface after an interval of a few minutes, and 
occasionally dives a second, a third, or a fourth time. But 
sometimes it takes a horizontal course, and " runs"'"' along 

536 ACCOUNT or Tin-: s. sea whale-fishery, [avv. n" viir. 

shore 20 or 30 miles in a direct line. When it is seen by 
any others of the species, they usually take the alarm, and, 
running off, are followed by the fast fish as long as it is able. 
The first striker endeavours to " fasten^' two harpoons in the 
first attack, both attached to the same line, by which he has a 
double security of the fish. The harpoons are usually thrown 
at the whale when at the distance of six or eight yards ; and 
the lances, which are kept in fine order, are sometimes used 
in the same way. Two boats are considered sufficient to 
kill a right whale ; so that when it can be accomplished, two 
are struck at the same time. The fast-boat is hauled up to 
the fish by the lines, whenever it appears at the surface ; thus 
affording an opportunity to the harponeer to lance it, and 
enabling him sometimes to kill the fish without the assistance 
of any other boat. 

When the right whale is flensed, the crown or upper jaw, 
with all the whalebone attached, is usually hove in altoge- 
ther. The whalebone is then divided into junks, these, at 
the first leisure, are subdivided into single blades, " gum- 
med,'' and stowed away. If a storm happens to arise before 
a fish can be flensed, a hawser is fastened to it, and the ship 
rides by it ; at the conclusion of the gale, it is taken along- 
side and " cut in.""' If, however, an interval of more than 
two or three days occur before the flensing is commenced, the 
whale swells, the blubber becomes impregnated with blood, 
and is not worth taking in. 

The voyage to the Pacific for the sperm-fishery sometimes 
occupies three years, but when the mysticetus is also attacked, 
it may be stated at from twenty months to two years. In the 
course of the voyage, they occasionally put into harbours to 
refit and refresh the crew. Their provisions for general use 
are salt ; the quantity that can be allowed for so long a 
voyage is st)metimes sparing, the quality often indifterent. 
The officers and crew are stimulated to exertion by certain 
shares of the c.irgo obtained. The captain receives, perhaps, 
a twclftli, the surgeon an eightieth, each of the liarpooners a 


fortieth, and every seaman from a one hundred and fortieth 
to a two hundredth part of the neat produce. 

No. IX. 


jim. Communicated to the Royal Society of London by 
the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. G.C. B. P. R. S. 

Read Feb. 4. 1819. 

The anomahes discovered in magnetical observations con- 
ducted on ship-board, were usually attributed to the imper- 
fection of the azimuth compass, until Captain Flinders, in 
his modest and enlightened paper on this subject, pubUsh- 
ed in the Philosophical Transactions, suggested that they 
were probably owing to the magnetic influence of the iron 
made use of in the construction of the ship. The truth of 
this suggestion, and the accuracy of his observations, have 
since met with full confirmation, and some of his practical 
rules founded thereon have received additional support, from 
the " Essay" of Mr Bain, " On the Variation of the Com- 
pass," lately published. 

As I have been materially anticipated by Mr Bain in a 
series of observations on the variation of the compass, which 
I conducted on the coast of Spitzbergen, in the years 1815 
and 1817, it will be unnecessary here to enter into the 
detail of these observations, or enlarge upon the probable 
cause of the anomalies observed ; it may be sufficient to 
give a table of the most accurate of my observations, and 
annex to it the few general inferences which were drawn 
from it, during the voyage in which most of the observa- 
tions were made, (1817,) together with such remarks on each 
inference as seemed to me calculated for its elucidation. I 
shall, however, just premise, that I am not unconscious of the 
great liability to error in observations of this kind, and of 


the variety of causes (arising out of the unccjual distribution 
of iron in different ships, whereby numerous local attractions 
arc formed) wliich contribute to the multiplication of those 
errors : it is, therefore, with deference that I submit these 
deductions, particularly as I conceive it will require observa^ 
tions to be made under a vast variety of circumstances, and 
in many different vessels, before correct and satisfactory con- 
clusions can be drawn. It is onlij then as a step towards fa- 
cilitating such general conclusions, the importance of which 
to our maritime concerns is so obvious, that I am induced to 
offer tlicse observations and remarks. 


TABLE of Magnetical Observations made on hoard of 
view to investigate the laws by which the Anomalies, or 

[To front p. 638. Vol. 11. App. N» IX. 
tlie Ship EsK, in Voyages to the Greenland or Spitzbergen Wfiale Fishery ; with a 
Errors, discovered in the Indications of the Mariner's Compass on Shipboard are 


June 30. 

June 6. 

July 16. 






12M5' E. 

0.15 W. 


[Ck. Chrono- 
[^p. Appa- 


Ap. Noon. 







Ap. 11.38 



Ch. 7.34 


Ch. 6.33 






Sun's Azimuth. 


S. 7°W. 


N. 36 W. 







N. 46 W. 











N. 73°W. 

S. 5.30 E. 



N. 68.11 W. 

N. 79.54 W. 





21° W. 

Errors produced in the observed 

variation by the attraction of the 

ship on the compass needle. 

Error attri- 
buted to the 
position of 
the ship's 
head. [Diff. 

of col. Till. 

and IX. 

14°.0' 1 
17.00 j 




.00 \ ) 

1.00 } 
2.00 1 
0.15 j " 
5.30 ■» 
1.00 ) ■) 


1..49 \ 
1.41 j " 

3.09 j y 

1.24... j 
.51 1 

1.24 i Y 



produced by 
a change in 
the position 
of the ship's 
head. [From 

col. VIII, 



Differences " 
produced by 
a change in 
the position 
of the<;om- 
pass. [From 

col, VIII.] 

Ship's head 
by the bin- 
nacle com- 



26.15 . 
11.45 . 

12.15 . 
28.30 , 


S. by E. 

S. by E. 

(e. JS. 



E.4 E 



r South. 
■ (South. 

( South. 
( South, 


Situation of the compass by which 
the Sun's azimuth [col. vi.] was 

Starboard side of the main deck. 
Larboard ditto. 
Centre of main hatches. 

( On the binnacle amidships of the 
I quarter-deck, 10 ft. from taffrail. 

"k Compass on a stand on the middle 
V of the quarter-deck, 6 feet abaft 
) capstern spindle. 

Starboard side of the main deck. 

Larboard side of the main deck. 

On the binnacle, 10 ft. from taffrail, 



Starboard side of the main deck. 

Larboard ditto. 

Starboard side of the main deck. 

Larboard ditto. 

Centre of main hatches. 

Centre of fore hatches. 

Larboard side of the fore-castle near 

the windlass end. 
Starboard ditto. 

The azimuths contained in the above Table, [col, VI.] were taken, either by the needle of a theodolite, or by a compass fitted up at sea for the purpose, with a card made ex- 
tremely light, and a bar fastened edgewise to it by two brass screws, as represented in Plate II. fig. 4. The compass being small, the card light, and the needle very powerful, owing 
to the thickness of its ends, it performed incomparably better than an expensive azimuth compass of larger dimensions, which, indeed, was so sluggish and erroneous in its indications, 
that I could make no good use of it. I prefer a needle on its edge to one with broad flat ends of the usual form, because it must fix itself more accurately and certainly in the magnetic 
meridian. A broad flat needle, on the other hand, by having its ends iU temiiered, may have the two poles at the two opposite corners, so that the magnetic axis may run diagonally. 
In this case, the middle of the bar may point 2 or 3 degrees or more, to the east or west of its proper position. The directive property of a horizontal magnetical needle being extremely 
small, in very high latitudes, it is of essential importance for the quick traversing of a compass, that the card and needle be as hght as possible ; for, in proportion as the weight of the 
card with its appendages is diminished, the friction on the point on which it traverses must be less. Hence, as the power of a magnet depends, probably, more on the extent of the sur- 
face of its ends than on its weight, I mean to prepare a compass for future observations with a hollow needle. 


From these observations, and from the assistance afforded 
by the Kicid remarks of Captain FlinderSj the inferences 
which follow are deduced *. 

1. In the construction of every ship, a large quantity of 
iron being used, the portions thereof wliich liave a perpen- 
dicular position, such as standard and hanging knees, the 
nails and bolts in the deck, the capstevn spindle, flukes of 
the anchors (when stowed as at sea), chain-plates, iron stan- 
chions and riders; the eye-bolts, joint-bolts, transom-bolts, and 
hind axle-tree bolts of gun-carriages, and possibly the upper 
surfaces of the guns themselves, &c. &c. have a tendency to 
become magnetical, the upper ends being south poles and tho 
lower north poles. In this hemisphere, where the north end of 
the needle dips, but the contrary in the southern hemisphere, 
where the south end of the needle dips. 

(a.) Tliat the attraction of a ship on the compass, depends 
principally on such iron as has an upright position 
there can be little doubt ; though I believe this ex- 
planation of the cause of the anomaly in magnetic 
observations made on ship-board, has not been before 
suggested. This idea admits of a simple illustration. 
Take any magnetic needle suspended on a centre, 
a pocket compass, for Instance, and present to it 
a bit of iron-wire, a nail, or any other piece of soft 
iron of a lengthened form, not being magnetic, 

• The greater part of these inferences were drawn up during my voyage to 
the whale-fishery in 1817; and the whole paper, as now given, excepting a few 
notes that have been added, was sent to Sir Joseph Banks November 3, 1818, 
and was read before the Royal Society on the 4th February 1819. The 
additional notes are distinguished by the numbers prefixed being mclosed in 
parentheses. A paper by Captain Sabine, " On irregularities observed in the 
direction of the Compass needles of H. M. S. Isabella and Alexander, in their 
late voyage of discovery, and caused by the attraction of the iron contained in 
the ships," was also read before the Royal Society on February 18, 1819; and 
another paper, by the same author, containing " Observations on the Dip and 
Variation of the Magnetic needle, and on the Intensity of the Magnetic Force, 
during the late Voyage in search of a North-west passage," was read on the 
25th of the same montli. 3 


and tlie fol lowing effects will be invariably produc- 
ed. If the upper end of the nail, when in an erect 
position, be presented to the north end of the 
needle, it will attract the needle, and draw it aside; 
but if presented to the south pole, the nail will repel 
the needle. If the nail be then reversed, and the con- 
trary end now upwards, (which before the change of 
position would have attracted the south pole of the 
needle, and repelled the north), be presented to the 
compass, it will be found to attract the north end of 
the needle. Hence, it is clear, that the moment the 
soft iron is placed nearly in the position of the dip- 
ping needle, it becomes k magnet, the upper end be- 
ing a south pole, and the lower end a north pole. 
But as it has no power to retain the magnetism that 
it has acquired, its poles are immediately changed, if 
its position be reversed. And if the nail be laid in a 
position almost horizontal, or rather, if it be placed in 
a position at right angles to that of the dipping needle, 
it ceases to be a magnet, and, excepting when very 
near the magnetic needle, evidences no attraction for 
it whatever. For illustrating these properties of bar- 
iron, I have constructed a small apparatus, in which 
a piece of thick iron-wire, 65 inches long, is attached 
to a plane of mahogany that is moveable through 260 
decrees of a vertical circle, so that the end of the bar 
is always at the same distance from a magnetic needle, 
and can bp presented to it at any given angle, by 
means of a vertical graduated circle of brass. On 
performing some experiments with this apparatus, the 
foUowino; results were obtained : — 1. When the bar 
was in the plane of the magnetic meridian, and the 
north pole of the magnetic needle a\ as placed about 
an inch to one side of the end of the bar, no deflection 
whatever was produced, so long as the bar was in the 
direction of tlie magnetic equator ; but an attraction 
of 22" \va^: produced when the upper end of the bar 


was presented in the direction of the dip,— an attrac- 
tion of 3^° when the bar was in an horizontal position, 
— and a repulsion of 44° when the lower end was pre- 
sented in a vertical direction. The great difference of 
the deflective power of the upper and lower ends arises 
thus : When the upper end of the bar was presented 
to the N. end of the needle, it was attracted, and the 
S. end thrown off to a distance of nearly 3 inches, and 
into a position of such obliquity, that the effect of re- 
pulsion on this end was trifling ; but when the lower 
end, or north pole of the bar, was presented, the nortli 
end of the needle being repelled, the south end approach- 
ed the bar to within an inch and a half, and came into a 
right-angular position to the attractive force, by which 
the effect of the bar was doubled, the south pole be- 
ing attracted as much as the north pole was repelled. 
2. A steel bar, hardened at the ends, and very slightly 
magnetised, being substituted for the iron bar, the 
effects produced on the needle were varied. When 
the north end of the steel bar, in the magnetic equa- 
tor, was presented to the north end of the needle, the 
repulsion was about 44° ; in the direction of the mag- 
netic poles, the repulsion, with the south end depres- 
sed, was only 13° ; but, with the south end elevated, 
it was nearly 100°. Hence, magnetised steel is evident- 
ly stronger in its polarity, when in the direction of the 
dip or magnetic poles, than in any other position. 
In these two experiments, it will be observed, the lower 
end of the iron bar, when in a vertical position, and 
the north end of the magnetised steel bar, when in the 
position of the magnetic equator, had exactly the same 
influence over the magnetic needle, each producing a 
deflection from its natural position of 44°. If, there- 
fore, the quantities of deflection of a magnetic needle, 
freely suspended, be measures of the force of the po- 
larities of any magnets presented to it at similar dis- 
tances, and in the same jwsition, as is reasonable to 


suppose, then, it would appear, tliat the iron bar and 
tlie steel bar, when iu certain different positions, pos- 
sessed the same strength of polarity, their deflective 
power over the magnetic needle being equal. But 
though their polarities appeared to be similar, their 
powers of attraction for iron weie different ; each of 
them, indeed, when presented (in the magnetic meri- 
dian, and in the same positions as when tlieh- polari- 
ties were found to be similar,) to a piece of fine iron 
wire, freed from magnetism, floating on a surface of 
water, attracted it forward ; but the steel bar was ca- 
pable of lifting the wu*e when it was sunk in the wa- 
ter, while the iron bar could not so much as move the 
smallest fragment of the same. Hence, it would ap- 
pear, that that property of magnets by which polarity 
is produced, is not the same as that by which they at- 
tract iron. In making the above experiments, the 
iron bar was heated red hot, and allowed to cool gra- 
dually in the position of the magnetic equator, imme- 
diately before it was used, by which it was entb'ely 
freed from a sensible degree of magnetism that it had 
accidentally acquired. 

2. The combined influence of the iron distributed through 
all parts of the ship, seems to be concentrated into a kind of 
magneticyocM,!? of attraction, the principal south pole of which 
being upward in the northern hemisphere, is probably situa- 
ted, in general, near the middle of the upper deck, but 
nearer to the stem than the stern. 

a. Wrought iron having a much greater atti'action for the 
magnetic needle than cast-iron, the anchors, which 
usually lie about the bows, possess much more in- 
fluence over the compass than guns ; hence the focus 
of attraction lies nearer to the bows than to the stern. 

3. This focus of attraction so influences the compass 
needle, that it is subject to an anomaly or vai'iation from 


the true meridian, different from what is observed by a com- 
pass on shore ; the north point of the compass being con- 
stantly drawn towards the focus of attraction, which appears 
to be a south pole in north dip; and the south point being at- 
tracted in south dip, where the focus of attraction becomes a 
north pole. 

a. The phenomenon of a ship appearing to lie nearer the 
wind v.'hen beating to the northward, with the wind at 
north, than tt^hen beating to the southward, with a 
southerly wind, was obser^''ed by my father at least 
20 years ago, which phenomenon he attributed to the 
*' attraction of t3ie ship upon the compass ;" and ever 
since the jesx 1805, I have been in the habit of al- 
lowing only ^ to 2| points variation on the passage 
outward to Xa-reenland, -with a northerly or north-eas- 
terly course, but generally three points variation on 
the homeward passage w^ien the course steered was 
S. VV . or S. W. b. W. Without this difference of al- 
lowance, a Greenland ship outward bound will be ge- 
nerally found to be several leagues to the eastwai*d of 
the reckoning, and liomeward bound will be as much 
as 4 or 5 decrees to the ea^ward of it. 


4. This anomjiy in tlie variation of the compass, occasioned 
by the attraction of the iron in the ship, is liable to change 
with every alteration in the dip of the needle, in the position 
of the compass, or in the direction of the ship''s head. 

a. If the intensity of the terrestrial magnetism be not equaj 
in all parts of the globe, then the anomaly in the va- 
riation of the compass will be also liable to change with 
every alteration in the magnetic influence of the earth. 
This is a point of such importance, I conceive, in the 
science of magnetism, that I was very anxious to pro- 
cure a dipping needle on my last voyage to Green- 
land, (in 1818), to ascertain, by its oscillations, wiic- 
ther the magnetism of the earth, by which the dipping 


needle is influenced, be not greater near the magnetic 
pole than it is in England. If it be equal, the oscil- 
lations of the same dipping needle would be perform- 
ed, circumstances as to temperature and local attrac- 
tion being the same, in equal spaces of time in both 
places ; but if the magnetic power in either place be 
greater, the oscillations of the needle would there be 

b. The immber of vibrations of a horizontal needle, per- 
formed in a certain space of time in Greenland, is to 
the number performed in an equal space of time in 
England as 5 to 6, each longer vibration in England 
being performed in five seconds, and in Greenland in 
six. No alteration was observed as to the time re- 
quired for each vibration, whether the temperature 
was high or low, but I think in a low temperature the 
vibrations performed by the needle before it stopped 
were fewer.. 

(c.) The time of oscillation of the same dipping needle, un- 
der different degrees of magnetic force, appears to me 
to be reciprocally proportional to the square root of 
the magnetic force ; or the square of the number of 
oscillations performed in a certain interval of time, will 
be directly proportional to the magnetic intensity. 
.Now, from the observations of Captain Sabine " On 
the intensity of the Magnetic Force,'' (Phil. Trans. 
1819, p. 132.), it appears, that the times in which 
100 vibrations of a dipping needle were made in dif- 
ferent situations, during the late voyage of Captain 
Ross, were as follows : 





In the 




Situation of the Dipping 





cular to 








m s 



O 1 


o / 



1 II 


Regent's Park ; London. 
















On ice : Davis' Straits. 








Hare Island. 








On ice ; Baffin's Bay. 








On ice ; Baffin's Bay. 








On ice ; Baffin's Bay. 








On ice ; Baffin's Bay. 








On ice ; Baffin's Bay. 








Regent's Park ; London. 
After the return of the 

So that from this Table it would seem, that in Captain 
Ross's voyage, the intensity of the magnetic force was 
the greatest where the dip was the greatest, and gene- 
rally, though not uniformly, increased as the dip in- 
creased. In London, where the dip is 70°.34'5 12.45 
vibrations of the dipping needle, when in the meridian, 
were performed in a minute ; and in Baffin's Bay, 
where the dip was 86^9', 1'3.8 vibrations were per- 
formed in the same interval. 

Hence the magnetic force in the two positions, appears to be 
as the square of 12.45, or 155, the number of vibrations 
in London, to the square of 13.8 or 190, the number 
performed in Baffin's Bay. These observations would 
have been much more valuable, had they been accom- 
)5anied by a corresponding number of observations per- 
formed in the same situation by a horizontal needle. 

(d.) Captain Ross informs us, in the Appendix to his " Voy- 
age of Discovery," that in his experiments on local at- 
traction, the magnetic anomaly or " deviation appeared 
to be materially affected by heat and cold, as well as 
by atmospheric humidity and density ;" and that the 
direction of the wind seemed to have an irregular effect 

on the deviation. 

VOL. ir. 

"SI m 


5. Tlie anomaly of variation bears a certain proportion to 
the dip of the needle, being greatest where the dip is great- 
est, diminishing as the dip decreases, and disappearing alto- 
gether on the magnetic equator. 

a. Captain Flinders ascertained, that the medium error or 

anomaly for 8 points deviation of the Investigator's 
head, on either side of the magnetic meridian, was 
very nearly ^^^th of the dip, .05 the decimal expression 
of which, he considered to be the common multiplier to 
the dip, for obtaining the radius of error at any si- 
tuation in the southern hemisphere ; and .053 to be the 
common multiplier, from England to the magnetic 

b. This, however, can only be correct wthin certain limits, 

as on the magnetic pole, where the anomaly would 
probably be equal to the dip, or 90°, the decimal 
multiplier would require to be increased to 1.0. Hence 
it was suggested, by an officer in the expedition un- 
der Captain Ross, that in those parts of the globe 
where the dip is 90*, the compass needle would pro- 
bably always stand N. and S., by the attraction of 
the ship. This position clearly follows from the infe- 
rence above, provided the compass be placed near the 
ship's stern in mid-ships ; but if placed as described in 
inference No. 8. the ship's head by the compass on the 
starboard side of the main deck, would always appear 
to be east, and on the larboard side west. 
(c.) This last remark is further established, by the increasing 
power of the local attraction in high latitudes, and 
the diminishing energy of the compass needle. For 
the directive power on a horizontal magnetic needle, 
supposing the magnetic force to be always equal, is 
proportional to the cosines of the dip. Hence, if the 
directive force on the magnetic equator be called 1.0, 
under a dip of 60°, it will be equal to i ; under a dip 
of 70°.32', to 1 ; under a dip of 75°.31', to i ; under 
a dip of 78°.28', to } ; under a dip of 80°.24', to h ; 



under a dip of 81°. 47', to i ; under a dip of 28°.49', 
to I ; under a dip of 83°.37, to I ; under a dip of 
84M5', to ^5 ; under a dip of 8T.8', to ^\ ; under a 
dip of 88°.5' to 5^5 ; and under a dip of 90°, the cosine 
being 0, the directive power of a horizontal needle mil 
also be 0; so that the local attraction must operate al- 
{d.) But as the magnetic force is found to increase as we ap- 
proach the magnetic poles, the directive power on a 
compass needle, with an increase of dip, must diminish 
in a somewhat less ratio than the cosines of the dip. 
Let d be the dip, "v the number of vibrations in a cer- 
tain interval, say a minute, of the dipping needle tra- 
versing in the magnetic meridian, and a; the directive 
power on a horizontal needle ; then 
a: = cos d. v^. 

(e.) The increase of the magnetic anomaly on approaching 
to the magnetic pole, has been cleai'ly shown by Cap- 
tain Ross, (" Voyage to Baffin's Bay," Appendix, 
N*' I.) By observations on the deviation of the com- 
pass made on board of the Isabella in Shetland, where 
the dip is 74°.21 ^', the maximum of error was — 5*^.34' 
on an E. S. E. course, and + 5°. 46' on a W. N. W. 
course, giving 11°. 20' of extreme difference. But in 
Baffin's Bay, latitude 75 — 76*', where the variation of 
the compass was between 86'^ and 96° W. and the dip 
between84i° and 86**, the maximum of error on a course 
E. 17° S. had increased to — 20°.30', and to + 22" 
on a course W. 17" N. ; thus affiarding an extreme dif- 
ference of 42°. 30'. Hence, while the multiplier to 
the dip, on Captain Flinders' principles, was in Shet- 
land only .076, in Baffin's Bay it had increased to 

6. A compass placed near the stern, amidships of the 
quarter-deck, is subject to the greatest anomaly or deflec- 
tion from the magnetical meridian, when the ship's course 

M m 2 


is about west or east ; because the focus of attraction then 
operates at right angles to the position of the compass- 
needle ; but the anomaly generally disappears when the course 
h about north or south, because the focus of attraction is 
then in a line with, or parallel to, the compass-needle, and 
consequently has no power to deflect it from its direct posi- 
tion. (See Observations in the prefixed table, Nos. 4, 5. 10. 
11. and 12.) 

(L This situation for the binnacle is deemed one of the best 
in the ship, and is very properly preferred. Being 
abaft the focus of attraction, the north point of the 
compass, in this magnetic hemisphere, is always at- 
tracted forward, and the errors at equal distances from 
the magnetic meridian, in the same dip, are alike in 
quantity both on easterly and westerly courses, and 
always (excepting in rases where any large mass of 
iron is placed near the compass) towards the north ; 
the correction, when applied to the apparent course, 
must therefore be towards the south, to give the true 
course steered. Thus, the ship's head being west by 
the compass, where there is 10" of local attraction or 
anomaly on each side of the magnetic meridian, the 
true course will be W. 10° S., and her head being 
east per compass, the course corrected will be E. lO*' S. ; 
and hence, in high northern latitudes, where the ano- 
maly is thus great, a ship steering west by the com- 
pass 100 leagues, and then east 100 leagues, Instead 
of coming to the place from whence she started, will 
be 104 miles to the southward of it ! 

(h.) Where the distribution of iron in a ship is unequal, more 
being on one side of the midship line than on the other, 
the course of no anomaly will not be nortli and south, 
but something to the right or left of it, accordingly as 
the greater mass of iron may be on the starboard or 
larboard side. Hence, in the Isabella, when under 
the command of Captain Ross, the line of no deviation 
was found to be 17° from the magnetic meridian; or 
when the course was N. 17° E. and S. 17° W. 



(c.) Although the after-part of the quarter-deck appears to 
be the best situation for the binnacle, yet it is desirable 
to have a compass, for reference, placed as far as pos- 
sible, out of the attraction of the iron in the ship. A 
compass at the jib-boom end, where the travellers and 
hoops are of copper, or at the top-gallant-mast head, 
which is better, is found to be scarcely at all influenced 
by the attraction of the ship. Hence, I have been 
in the habit of carrying a compass, occasionally, in the 
crow's nest, fixed at the mast head, where it was found 
to be free from those anomalies which are so sensible 
in a compass on deck. 

7. The greatest anomaly with the compass in the position 
last described, being ascertained by observation, the error 
on every other point of the compass may be easily calcula- 
ted ; the anomalies produced by the attraction of the iron 
in the ship, being found to be proportionate to the sines of 
the angles between the ship's head and the point of no ano- 
maly, which point is most commonly the magnetic meridian, 
(a.) On the supposition that the point of no anomaly occurs 
when the position of the ship corresponds with the 
magnetic meridian, that is, when her head lies north or 
south. Captain Flinders has given thp following rule : 
— As the sine of eight points (or radius) is to the sine 
of the angle between the ship's head and the magnetic 
meridian, (or sine of the course reckoned from south 
or north), so is the anomaly found at east or west by 
observation, to the anomaly on the course steered ; or, 
the anomaly on any other course being found by ob- 
servation, the error on that position of the ship's head 
** would be to the error at east or west, at the same 
dip, as the sine of the angle between the ship's head 
and the magnetic meridian, to the sine of eight points, 
or radius." 

(6.) As, however, the line of greatest error is not always 
north and south, the above rule has been modified by 


Captain Sabine as follows : —The error produced in 
any direction of the ship's head, will be to the error at 
the point of greatest irregularity , [instead of east and 
west], as the sine of the angle between the ship's head 
and the points of no error, [instead of the magnetic 
meridian], to the sine of eight points or radius, 
(c.) To find the greatest anomaly and the point of change, 
or no anomaly, the following rule appears one of the 
most simple. Take the bearing of the sun, or any 
other distant object whose true bearing from the ship 
is known, with the binnacle compass when the ship's 
head is put upon each rhomb; if they are all the same, 
there is no anomaly ; but their differences from the 
true bearing, after the application of the variation, 
(which should be determined out of the vessel), 
Avill give the anomalies on the respective courses ; 
and the points on which there are no differences, 
^vill be the points of change. When the sun is 
the object observed, it is only necessary to take an al- 
titude, along with two or three of the bearings, and 
the intervals of time, by an easy approximation, will 
give the true bearings for the intermediate observa- 
tions. When the sun is near the meridian, and par- 
ticularly in high latitudes in summer, an allowance of 
a degree of azimuth for 4 minutes of time, will be 
sufficiently accurate for intervals of an hour. "The 
true bearing of a distant fixed object may be found, in 
a perfectly smooth sea, by sending a copper-fastened 
boat in the direction of the object, for, when exactly in 
the required line, the true bearing of the object from 
the boat will give the true bearing from the ship. 
When among ice, or near shore, the same result may 
be obtained more accurately, by sending an observer 
to some distance in the required line, for taking the 
bearing of the object. The transit bearings of two 
objects, of which the position with regard to one an- 
other is known, is preferable perhaps to any thing else. 


8. A compass placed on either side of the ship's deck, 
directly opposite to, or abreast of, the focus of attraction, 
gives a correct indication on an east or west course, but is 
subject to the greatest anomaly when the ship's head is north 
or south ; and being here nearer the focus of attraction, the 
anomaly is much greater than that observed on an east or 
west course with the compass placed in the binnacle near the 
ship's stern. 

a. This inference is founded on Observations No. 1, 2, 3, 
8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16. and 17. of the prefixed table. 
The latter part of the inference, namely, that the 
greatest anomaly occurs here when the ship's head is 
north or south, is fully and uniformly established ; but 
the former part rests only on the authority of Obser- 
vations No. 8. and 9, though it derived additional sup- 
port from several observations which I have exclu- 
ded, because neither the sun, nor any other distant 
object, calculated for proving the accuracy of the ob- 
servations and determining the clear effect of the 
" local attraction," was visible. 

9. A coinpass placed within six or eight feet of a cap- 
stern spindle, or anchor, or other large mass of wrought iron, 
foregoes, in a great measure, the influence of the focus of 
attraction, and submits to that of the nearer body of iron. 

a. The effect of this is various, according to the relative 
position of the compass and the iron. When the com- 
pass is placed directly ahqft the body of ii'on, the in- 
fluence is similar to, but greater than, that of the 
focus of attraction on a compass placed near the stem, 
as described in inference No. 6. (See Table of obser- 
vations prefixed, No. 6, and 7.) When placed di- 
rectly before it, the anomaly is similar in quantity, 
but has its sign reversed ; and when placed on either 
side of the mass of iron, the influence corresponds 
more nearly with that of the focus of attraction on a 
compass placed in the sides of a ship opposite to it, 
as described in inference No. 8. A compass placed 


upon the dmm-licad of the capstern, anywhere out of 
the centre, will have its north point so forcibly attract- 
ed by the upper end or south pole of the spindle, 
that the ship's head may be made to appear to be 
directed to any point whatever, at the pleasure of the 
experimenter. I liave sometimes excited the astonish- 
ment of my officers by taking the binnacle compass, 
and so placing it on the capstern-head, that the ship 
has appeared to be steering a course directly contrary 
to that intended. 

10. When the iron in a ship is pretty equally distributed 
throughout both sides, so that the focus of attraction occurs 
in midships, a compass placed on the midship line of the deck, 
(drawn longitudinally) will be free from any anomaly from 
one end of the ship to the other, when the course is north or 
south ; but on every other course an anomaly will generally 
appear, increasing as the angle between the ship's head and 
the magnetic meridian increases, until the error is at a maxi- 
mum, when the course is east or west. 

a. The unequal distribution of iron in the ship, on board 
of which I made all my experiments, prevented the 
above effect from being realized. A blacksmith's shop 
was situated between decks, on the larboard side of 
the fore-hatchway. It was lined with sheet-iron ; and 
besides the armourer's forge, vice, &c. contained a large 
quantity of other iron. The effect of this, together 
with the anchors, windlass-necks, &c. was very re- 
markable on a compass placed in different parts of 
the deck near the foremast. (See Observations 18, 
19, and 20. of the prefixed Table.) 

11. As a compass placed on the midship line of the deck is 
subject to no anomaly fore and aft, in certain ships, on a north 
or south course (Inference No. 10), and as a compass in either 
side of the ship, opposite to the focus of attraction, shows no 
anomaly on a west or east course (Inference No. 8), the inter- 


section of the line joining the two situations in opposite sides 
of the ship, with the midship hne traced fore and aft, will 
probably point out a situation directly over the top of the focus 
of attraction, where no anomaly on any course whatever will 

a. The Esk, in which I made my magnetical observations, 
had, as above stated, an armourer"'s forge near the lar- 
board bow, which, with the varying position of large 
quantities of iron-work, composing our whale-fishing 
apparatus, contributed to vary this point, where no 
anomaly is supposed to exist, and prevented me from 
ascertaining satisfactorily, at any time, its precise si- 
tuation. I made, indeed, but few observations with 
this view, and these, I find, neither establish nor re- 
fute the inference. 

12. The anomaly of variation is probably the greatest in 
men of war, and in ships which contain large quantities of 
iron ; but it exists in a very considerable degree also in mer- 
chantmen, where iron forms no part of the cargo, especially 
in high latitudes, where the dip of the needle is great. 

(a.) A model of a vessel built of timber and plank, and fas- 
tened with iron, which I have procured for showing 
the nature of the magnetic anomaly, as connected with 
tlie course steered and the position of the compass, is 
capable of illustrating almost the whole of the preceding 
inferences. In this model, as well as in actual prac- 
tice, the vertical iron only is found to be capable of 
affecting the indications of the compass ; the largest 
pieces of iron placed horizontally, unless within an inch 
of the needle, having little or no influence, while 
the same, in a vertical position, produce a sensible 
effect at the distance of almost a foot. 

(6.) While I was copying this paper for the press, a little 
model of a vessel was shown me by Dr Traill, made 
by a Mr Bywater of Liverpool, for exhibiting the 
superior attraction of upright bars of iron over hori- 


zontal bars : it also shows, in one position, the nature 
of the local attraction. It acts entirely on the prin- 
ciple stated in the 1st inference, and illustrates the 

No. X. 


The Roman numerals and Arabic figures after the name of any article," point 
out the volume and page of the Work, where such figure is particularly re- 
ferred to or described. 

Frontispiece. A representation of the ship Esk when 
in distress. The particulars of this misfortune, 
with the successful issue of the voyage, are given 
in chapter vii. of this volume. [See Vol. II. 
p. 457.] 


I. General map of the Polar Regions. This map was 

drawn with great care, partly from the beautiful 
eight sheet map of the world on Mercator's pro- 
jection, by Arrowsmith, and partly from the best 
charts of the sea coast of Europe and N. Ameri- 
ca, including some original surveys, and, through 
the liberality of Captain Ross, the whole of his 
survey of Baffin''s Bay. 

II. Instruments, &c. 

1. Stone lance found in a whale taken near Spitz- 

bergen. I. 11. 

2. Marine diver. I. l86. 

3. Lines of temperature. I. 538. 

4. Improved coiiipass needle, ll. 538. Note, Table. 
ill. Appearances of Spitzbergen and adjacent islands. 

1. View of Cherie Island. I. 153. 

2. The Three Crowns. I. 99. 

3. Middle Hook of the Foreland. I. 97» 

4. Horn Mount. I. 96. 

5. Hakluyt''s Headland and the Norways. 


IV. Survey of Spitzbergen, the west coast original. 
I. 113. 
V. Appearance of Jan Mayen Island. I. 163. 
VI. Survey of Jan Mayen Island, the S. E. coast ori- 
ginal. I. 154. 
VII. Chart of the situation of the ice in the Greenland 
Sea, in the years 1806, 1817, 1818, &c. I. 284. 

IX. ' 

^' J> Figures of snow crystals. I. 427, 431. 

XII. Representations of whales. 

1. Side view of the Balasna Mysticetus or com- 

mon whale. Described in Vol. I. p. 449. 
[Scale j^th of an inch to a foot.] 

2. Cub of the B. Mysticetus. [Same scale.] 

3. Narwal or Unicorn. [Same scale.] 

* XII. Belly view of the Balaena Mysticetus. I. 449- 
XIII. Whale and Dolphin. 

1. Delphinus deductor. I. 496. 

2. Bala?na rostrata. I. 485. 

XIV. Beluga or White Whale. I. 500. 

XV. Narwal and Shark. 

1. Male Narwal. [Scale f ths of an inch to a 

foot.] I. 486. 

2. Belly view of the same. 

3. Squalus Groenlandicus. [Same scale.] I. 53S, 

4. Belly view of ditto. 

5. The eye of the Shark, on a larger scale, show- 

ing the form of a curious appendage that is 
generally found attached to the pupil. 
I. 539. 
XVI. Figures of Medusae and other animals, constituting 
the princijial food of the whale. 
1, 2. [Natural size.] 




3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Medusae, described in 

Vol I. p. 548-550. 
9. An orange-coloured animal, possibly of the 

same genus. I. p. 550. 

10, Clio borealis or C. limacina. I. 544. 

11, 12. Clio helicina. I. 543. 

13. Cancer boreas. I. 542. 

14. Squilla. 

15. Beautiful little animal brought up by the 

marine-diver I. 545. 

16. 17, 18, 19 and 20. Minute medusae and ani- 

malcules. I. 545. 
XVII. Representation of a singular accident that occurred 

in the whale-fishery. II. 368. 
XVIII. Apparatus used in .the Northern Whale-Fishery. 
[ Scale one inch to a foot.] 

1. Gun-harpoon. II. 229- 

2. The harpoon. II. 223. 

3. Gun-harpoon. II. 229. 

4. 5, 6. Lances. II. 227. 

7, 8, 9, 10. Blubber-spades. II. 299- 
11, 12. Prickers. II. 309- 
XIX. Apparatus used in the Northern Whale-Fishery. 

1. Harpoon-gun. [Scale two inches to a foot.] 

II. 229. 

2. Boafs W^ince, or apparatus used in the 

whale-boats for heaving in the line when 
a great quantity has been withdrawn. 
[Scale an inch to a foot.] II. 233. 

3. Hand-hooks. II. 308. 

4. Ice-drill. II. 349. 

5. Another form of a gun-harpoon. 

6. Seal-club. An instrument by which seals 

are usually killed. I. 412. 

7. King's fork. An instrument by which 

pieces of blubber are moved about from 



one place to another. To compensate in 
some degree, perhaps, for the laborious na- 
ture of the office of the person who uses it, 
he is honoured with the title of King. 

XX. Apparatus used in the Northern Whale-Fishery. 
[Scale an inch to a foot.] 

1. Blubber-knife. 11.299. 

2. Chopping-knife. II. 309. 

3. Strand-knife. II. 299- 

4. Tail-knife. II. 233. 

5. Bone-geer. II. 300. 

6. Bone-wedge, II. 300. 

7. Mik or rest for the harpoon. II. 233. 

8. Third-hand. Used in flensing. 

9. Pick-haak. II. 299. 308. 

10. Closh, improved by my father. II. 308. 

11. Grapnel. II. 233. 

12. Ice-grapnel, used in warping. 

13. Krenging-hook. II. 308. 

14. Krenging-knife. II. 308. 

15. Spurs. II. 298. 

16. Axe. II. 233. 

17. Snatch-block. II. 233. 

XXI. Ice and fishing apparatus. [Scale an inch to a foot.] 

1. Ice-axe. II. 349. 

2, 3. Ice-anchors. II. 349- 

4. Bay ice-anchor. The lower part of this an- 

chor, near the crown, has a broad flat sur- 
face, by which it takes hold of a large por- 
tion of ice, and retains its hold, even in very 
thin ice, under a considerable strain. [Ori- 

5. Blubber-pump. A pump used for taking 

the water out of such of the blubber casks 
as are filled for ballast. It is somewhat 
less in diameter than the bung-hole of the 



casks. When this pump ceases to act, on 
the water being nearly withdrawn, what 
little remains is removed by means of a 

6. Bone hand-spike. II. 300. 

7. Ice-saw. The length of this saw, which is used 

for cutting ice, is 14 feet. Being too long 
to be represented wholly in the plate, a 
part of the middle of the instrument is left 
out. When used, two handles passing a- 
cross each other, are put through the rings 
at the top, by which 12 to 16 men can be 
employed in working it at the same time. 
When a great extent of thick ice is to be 
cut, the larger saws are generally worked 
by ropes from the top of a tripod. 

8. Another saw, with a moveable back, used 

for thinner ice. It is furnished with two 
parallel handles. The two parts of the saw 
being extended when in use, the back part 
serves to keep the lower extremity forward, 
and to preserve the saw in a perpendicular 
XXII. Apparatus for cutting blubber. 

1. Appearance of the cutting apparatus when 
fitted up for use. II. 310. 

% Horizontal section of the same. II. 310. 


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[The Figures within parentheses refer to the Appendix in Vol. I.] 

Air, its dissolving power at different 
temperatures, i. 422 

Alca alle, remarks on, i. 528 

arctica, common at Spitzbergen, 

i. 527 

Alderman Jones' Sound discovered by 
Baffin, i. 88 

America or the West Indies discovered 
in the 12th century, i. 67 — British 
colonies in, their whale-fishery, ii. 

Amphibia, account of, i. 538 

Anas bernicla, notice of, i. 527 

mollissima, mention of, i. 527 

Anecdotes, — Courageous exploit of a 
sailor, ii. 263— Of whales, ii. 276— 
Respecting the whale-fishery, 276, 
294, 297, 302, 331— Of accidents 
from ice, ii. 342 — Of accidents aris- 
ing from fogs, ii. 346 

Animalcula in the Polar Seas, account 
of, i. 544 

Apparatus used in the whale-fishery, 
ii. 223— List of, ii. 509 

Arctic gull, account of, i. 534 

Ascaris, mention of, i, 543 

Ascidia, mention of, i. 543 

Asterias, notice of, i. 550 

Atmosphere, tendency to equilibrium 
in, i. 349 — Pressure of, changeable 
in the Arctic Regions, i. 371 — Ap- 
pearance of the atmosphere, i. 377 
— Colour and transparency, ib — 
Density of, 378 — occasional bright- 
ness of, i. 379 — Extreme drj-ness 
of, i. 380— Electricity of, i. 382 — 
Phenomenon in, produced by re- 
fraction, i. 384 — Decrease in the 
temperature of, on ascending, i. (72) 


Atmospherolog)', observations on,|i.|323 
Attraction, magnetic, focus of, in a 

ship. ii. 542 
Auk, Little, remarks on, i. 528 
Aurora borealis, common in high la- 
titudes, i. 416 — State of the weather 
when observed, i. 417 — Appearance 
of, portentous, ib. 

Baffin, an enterprising character and 
able navigator, i. 89 — Discovered 
Baffin's Bay, i. 84— Suggested that 
a profitable whale-fishery might be 
conducted there, ii. 184 

Baffin's Bay discovered, i. 84 

Balaena mysticetus, description of, i. 
449_See Whale. 

Bala;noptera acuto-rostrata, described, 
i. 485 

gibbai-, description of, i. 

478— See Physalis. 

jubartes, description of, i, 


rorqujil, description of, i. 


Banks', Sir Joseph, apparatus for de- 
termining temperature of the sea, 
furnished by, i. 185 

Barclay, Dr, his anatomical examina- 
tion of a beluga, L 500 

Barometer, table of remarkable changes 
in, in high latitudes, i. 371 — These 
changes portentous, i. 373 — Rela- 
tions between the state of the baro- 
meter and the weather, i. 374 — "Va- 
lue of, in predicting the weather, i. 
399, 401 

Barrington's, Hon. D. account of na- 
vigators having reached extraordi- 
nary high latitudes, not to be relied 

K n 



on, i. 42— Evidence of this conclu- 
sion, i. 43, 45 
Basques, early whale-tishers, ii. 16 
Bear, Polar, account of, i. 517 — Affec- 
tion of, for its young, i. 520 — In- 
stances of sagacity in, i. 521 — Fero- 
city of, i. 523 — Seamen killed by, i. 
Bear Island discovered by Barentz, i. 

Behring's Strait, currents in, i. 211 — 

Discovery of, i. (65) 
Beluga, description of, L 500 
Biids, Bay of, discovered by Barentz, 
• i. 80 

Biscayans, expert and early whale- 
fishers, ii. 16 — Pursued the whales 
to Iceland and Newfoundland, ii. 17 
— Assisted other powers in the cap- 
ture of whales, ii. 26 — Fished them- 
selves at Spitzbergen, ii. 161 
Blubber, nature of, i. 460 — Proportion 
of, to oil, i. 461 — Process of redu- 
cing into oil, ii. 400 — Proportion of 
refuse in, ii. 403 
Boats, whale, description of, ii. 221 — 
Manner of equipping for the fishery, 
ii. 232— Sunk by whales, ii. 362— 
Thrown into the air by the whale, 
ii. 365 
Boat-steerers, nature of their office, ii. 

Boatswain, gull, account of, i. 534 
Bones of whales, uses of, ii. 434 
Botany of Spitzbergen, i. (75) 
Bounty for encouraging the whale- 
fishery, offered, ii. 72 — Increased, ii. 
73 — Occasions a revival of the whale- 
fishery, ii. 75 — Being reduced, pro- 
duces a depression in the trade, ii. 
81 — Trade again increases with the 
increase of the bounty, ii. 82 — Boun- 
ty reduced, ii. 83, 87 — Rate at pre- 
sent, ii. 496 

. by the King of Denmark, ii. 


given by the Government of 

Holland, ii. 94 
Brent goose, mention of, i. 527 
British whale-fishery, ii. 98— Very suc- 
cessful in 1814, ii. 121 
Brodrick, Cape, Jan Mayen, i. 166 
Buccinum carinatum, notice of, i, 551 
Burgomaster, (bird) account of, i. 535 

Ca'ing whale, description of, i. 496 
Cancer ampulla, notice of, i. 542 

boreas, mention of, i. 542 

nugax, notice of, i. 542 

^—— pulex, notice of, i. 542 
Canis lagopus, remarks on, i, 517 
Carey Island discovered by Baffin, 1. 88 
Cellepora pumicosa, notice of, i. 551 
Cen-us Tarandus, i. 526 
Cherie Island, description of, i. 152 
Chidley, Cape, discovered, i.. 78 
China, first attempts to reach by sea, 

L 2 
Chiton ruber, notice of, i. 551 
Christianity introduced into Iceland and 

Greenland, i, 66 
Chronometer, valuable instrument in 

high latitudes, i. 380 
Climate of the Arctic Regions, 1. 323 
— Of Jan Mayen in winter, i. (78> 
—Of Spitzbergen, i. 137 
Clio bore;ilis, account of, i. 544 

helicina, remarks on, i. 543 

Clouds of the Polar Regions, i. 419 
Coal, occurs in Spitzbergen, i. 149 — In 

Cherie Island, i. 153 
Coal-fish, notice of, i. 540 
Cockin Sound, i. 89 
Cold, in the Arctic_ Regions, intense, L 
329 — Prevents compasses traversing, 
i. 332 — Remarkable efp2cts of severe 
cold, i. 334— Effects observed by 
James in Hudson's Bay, i. 334 — By 
EUis, ib.— By Middleton, i. 335— 
By Janzen near Spitzbergen, ib — By 
Pelham, i. 336 — By seven Dutch 
seamen, ib. — By Barentz in Nova 
Zembla, i. 337 — By Egede in Green-, 
land, i. 337— Morbid effects of cold, 
i. 338, 340— T-ransition from heat 
to cold, not dangerous, i. 339 — An- 
tiseptlcal property of cold, i. 341 — 
Preserves meat fresh during several 
months, i. 342 
Colymbus glacialis, notice of, i. 533 

grylle, remarks on, i. 53!? 

troile, account of, i. 532 

Compass, its traversing affected by cold, 
i. 332 — Affected by the ironjn ships, 
iL 376 — Deviation of, productive of 
great errors in reckoning, ii. 377 — 
Cause of the anomaly in the varia- 
tion of, investigated, ii. 537 — Devia- 
tion of, increases as the magnetic 
dip increases, ii. 546 — Table of ob- 



servations for determining the ano- 
malies in, ii. 538 — Vibrations in the 
needle of, at Spitzbergen, ii. 544 — 
Magnetic; directive force on, under 
different dips, ii. 54G 

Coronae and parhelia, remarks on, i. 

Crow's nest, described, ii. 203 — Its use 
in the fishery, ii. 237 

Crystallization, remarks on the cause 
of, i. 438 

Cumberland (Island) discovered by Da- 
vis, i. 76 

Cumberland Strait, discovered by Da- 
vis, i. 76 

Currents in the Arctic Seas, i. 4 — Near 
Spitzbergen, i. 147, 204— Difficul- 
ties of determining, i. 205 — Some 
effects of, i. 207— Proofs of, in the 
Greenland Seas, i. 212 — Intimate 
the existence of a communication 
betvpeen the Atlantic and Pacific, 
i. 4. 

Customs, regulations of, on the impor- 
tation of the produce of the whale- 
fishery, ii. 378 — Duties of, on Green- 
land produce, ii. 501 — Mustering of 
Greenland ships by the officers of, 
ii. 513 — Affidavits, certificates, &c. 
by the, required, ii. 514 

Cuttle-fish, food of the narwhal, i. S44 

Cyclopterus liparis, notice of, i. 540 

Davis' Strait discovered, i. 78 — Whale- 
fishery of, commenced by the Dutch, 
ii. 64 — suggested by Baffin, ii. 184 
— Account of the fishery of, ii. 382 
Compared with that of Greenland, 
ii. 390 

Delphinus deductor, description of, 1. 
496 — Numbers stranded in Orkney, 
Faroe, Iceland, &c. i. 499 

Denmark, King of, encourages the 
whale-fishery by a bounty, ii. 83 — 
Account of the whale-fishery from, 
ii. 166 

Deviation of the compass, ii. 537 — Sec 

Dier's Cape discovered by Davis, i. 76 

Discoverj', adventurous spirit in, ma- 
nifested by our early voyagers, i. 22 
— Vessels of 10, 35 and 50 tons em- 
ployed in, i. 23 — Hints for conduct- 
ing in the Polar Seas, i. 24 — Class 
of vessels most suitable for, i, 24, 27 

—Small vessels stronger than large, 
i. 24 — Proofs of this assertion, i. 26 
— Practical knowledge of the polar 
regions, in navigators, necessary for 
making discoveries, i. 28 — Evidences 
of this remark, i. 27 — Advantages 
of wintering in Baffin's Bay to na- 
vigators on discovery, i. 29 — Ves- 
sels might be secured from ice, by 
hauling them on land by means of 
Morton's patent slip, i. 30— Premi- 
ums by act of Parliament for makuig 
discoveries', i. 53 

journeys on land in N. Ame- 
rica, most likely mode of discover- 
ing the seas between Behring's Strait 
and the Greenland seas, i. 33 — Mode 
of travelling on snow, i. ib. — Pro- 
visions used by travellers, i. 35— i 
Suggestions for performing journeys 
of discovery, i. 37 

voyages of, in the Arctic 

Seas, led to the Spitzbergen whale- 
fishery, ii. 19 — Also to the Arch- 
angel trade, ib. 

voyages of, — Alaryon, i. (57) 

— Aubert or Hubert, i. 71, (5G) — 
Baffin, William, i. 84, (61)— Ba- 
rentz, William, i. 79, (59)— Behring, 
Vitus, i. (65)— Bennet, Stephen, i. 
(59)— Billings, .Joseph, i. (69)— 
Biorn, i. dC, (55)— Blefkens, Dith- 
mar, i (57) — Buchan, David, i. (71) 
— Burrough, Stephen, i. 72, 74, (57) 
— Busch, Henry, i. (64) — Button, 
Sir Thomas, i. 83, (61)— Bylot, Ro- 
bert, i. 84, (61)— Cabot, John, i. 69, 
(55)— Cabot, Sebastian, i. 69, (55) 
— Cabrillo, Juan Rodriguez de, i, 
(57)— Camart, i. (56)— Cartier, Jac- 
ques, i. {36) — Chancellor, Richard, i. 
72, (57)-Chaciue, Martin, i. (57)— 
Christopher, i.(67)- Gierke, Charles, 
i. (69)— Columbus, i. 68, {55) — 
Cook, James, i. (68)-Cornelison, 
L 79, (59)— Coronado, i. (57)— Cor- 
tereal, Caspar, i. 69, (56 — Cortere- 
al, John Vaz Costa, i. 69, (55) — Cor- 
tereal, Michael, i. 70, ( jd) — Danell, 
i. (63)- Davis, John, i. 75, (5S) - 
Denis, Jean, i. (56)— Deschnev% Se- 
meon, i. (63)— Duncan, Charles, i. 
(70)— Egcde, i. (69) - Ffenton, Ed- 
ward, i. (58) — Flawes, William, i. 
(64)_Flocke, i. 62, (51) — Fo- 

N 11 2 



thei*y, i. (61)— Fox, Luke, i. (62) 

— Franklin, John, i. (71) — Fro- 
bisher, Martin, i. 74, (57) — Fuc;^ 
Juan de, i. (59) — Gama, Vasquez de, 
i. 68— Gibbons, i.(61)— Gilbert, Sir 
Humphry, i. (58) — Gillam, Zach. i. 
(63) — Gomez, Estevan, i. 71, (56)— 
Gualle, Francisco, i. (58) — Gun- 
biorn, i. 63, (55)— Gwosdew, i. (65) 
— Hall, James, i. 82, (59)— Hawks- 
bridge, i. (62) — Kearn, Samuel, i. 
(67)— Heceta, Bruno, i, (68) — 
Heemskirk, Jacob van, i. 79 — Hein- 
son, Morgen, i. 112 — Hudson, Hen- 
ry, i. 82, (60)— Ignatiew, Isai, i. (62) 
— Ingolf, i. 62, (54)— Jackmaii, 
Charles, i. (58)— James, Thomas, i. 
(62) — Knight, James, i. (64) — 
Knight, John, i. 82, (60)— Kosche- 
lew, i. (66)— Kotzbue, i (70)-Kru- 
pischew, i. (65) — Laptiew, Dmitri, 
i. (66) — Lassenius, i. (65) — Leif, 
i. 62, 64, (54)— Lowenorn, i. (69) 
• — Mackenzie, Alexander, i. (69) — 
Madoc, i. 67, (55) — Malaspina, i. 
(70)_Maldonado, i. (58)- Markoff, 
Alexei, i. (64)— Melguer, i. (63)— 
Middleton, Christopher, i. (66)-Mly- 
agin, i. (66)— Moor, William, i. (66) 
— MoroviefF, i. (65) — Rlunk, Jens, 
i. (62)— Naddodd, i. 62, (54)— Oh- 
there, i. 62, (55) -Ov.zen, i. {G6)— 
Parry, William Edward, i. (71)— 
Pet, Arthur, i. (58)— Phipps, Const. 
John, i. (68)— Pickcrsgill, Richard, 
1. (68)— Poole, Jonas, i. (60)- Pron- 
tschitschefl", i. (65)— Rauda, Eric, i. 
63, (55)— Richard, Lieut, i. (65)— 
Roche, Marquis de la. i, (59) — Ross, 
John, i. (71)— Ryp, Cornells, i. 79 
Schcep, H. C. i. (62)— Scroggs, John, 
i. (65)- Shalauroff, i. (67)— Skura- 
tow, i. (66) — Smith, Francis, i. (67) 

— Swaine, Charles, i. (67) — Thorfin, 
i. 65, (55)— Thorwald, i. 64, (55)— 
Tschirikow, i. (66)— Uhlefcld, Baron 
von, i. (.67) — Ulloa, Francisco, i. (57) 
— Urdanietta, Andrea, i. (57) — Van- 
couver, George, i. (70) — Verazzani, 
Juan, i. (56), — Vizcaino, Sebas- 
tiano, i. (59) — Vriez, M. H. van, 
i. (62) — Wagin, Mercurei, i. (64) — 
Weymouth, George, i. 81, (59) — 
Wilder, i. (68)— WiUoughby, Sir 
Hugh, i. 71, (57)— Wood, John, 
i. (64) — Young, Walter, i. (68)— 

Zcno, Antonio, i. 68, (55)— Zena, 
Nicholas, i. 68, (55) 

Do\'eca, account of, i, 532 

Drift wood, i. 131, 161 — An evidence 
of a northern communication be- 
tween the Atlantic and Pacific, i. 6 

Dunkirk, extensive whale-fishery from, 
ii. 88 

Dutch, sent ships to the Spitzbergen 
fishery, ii. 23 — Were driven away 
by the English, ii. 24 — Were at- 
tacked, and one ship captured, ii. 27 
— Afterwards attacked the English, 
34 — Attempt to establish a colony 
in Spitzbergen, ii. 49 — They found 
the village of Smeerenberg, ii. 52 — 
Procured great success in the fishery, 
ii. 54, 56 — Historical account of 
their whale-fishery, ii. 138 — Profits 
derived by, from the whale-fishery, 
ii. 156 

Duties on Greenland produce, ii. 501 

Edge, Thomas, the first whale-fisher 
at Spitzbergen, ii. 21 

Eider-duck, abundant in Greenland, 
&c. i. 527 

Electricity of the atmosphere, i. 382 

Emberiza nivalis, notice of, i. 537 

English, probably ancient whale-fish- 
ers, ii. 15 — Their first fishery at 
Cape Breton, ii. 18 — Were the ori- 
ginal disco\erers of the Spitzbergen 
fishery, ii. 19 — Their first adventure 
unfortunate, ii. 21 — They drive fo- 
reigners away from the fishery, ii. 
24' — Their fishery prosperous, ii. 31 
— Afterwards suffer heavy losses, ii. 
60, 70 — Their trade revives on the 
offer of a bounty, ii. 75 

. historical account of their 

whale-fishery, ii. 98 — extent of, to 
Greenland and Davis' Strait, ii. 119' 

Esk Mountain, Jan Mayen, discovered, 
i. 166 

Esk, ship, narrative of proceedings on 
board of, ii. 438 — Dangerous situa- 
tion of, ii. 439 — Damage sustained 
by, ii. 447 — Attempt to invert, ii. 
457 — Contracts for assistance, ii. 
465, 468 — Immense influx of wa- 
ter, ii. 447 — Leak diminished, ii. 
473 — Ship unmanageable, ii. 474 — 
Immense quantity of water dis- 
charged from, ii. 481— Arrives safe 
in port, ii. 485 



Exeter Sound, discovered by Davis, i. 

Expences of a whale-ship, ii. 393 — Of 
extracting oil, ii. 396 

Experiments for determining the rela- 
tion between weight and measure in 
whale-oil, ii. 525 

Fall, the alarm of a whale ^eing har- 
pooned, ii. 243 

Fast-fish, what constitutes a, ii. 319 

Fenks, derived from blubber, ii. 402 
— Uses of, ii. 434 

Fields, fishery among, ii. 259. See 

Fin-whale, first attacked by Europeans, 
ii. 16 

Fishburn Cape, Jan Mayen, named, i. 

Fleming, Rev. Dr, his description of 
the narwal, good, i. 495 

Flensing, process of, how conducted, 
ii. 298 

F"lustra pilosa, notice of, i. 551 

Fog, frequent in polar seas, i. 440 — 
Not always wetting, i. 441 — Incon- 
veniences of, i. 442 — Method of ob- 
taining the sun's altitvide during, i. 
443 — Of fishing during, ii. 273— 
Dangers of, to the whalers, ii. 348 

Fog-bow, description of, i. 3-94 

Foreland, description of mountains on, 
i. 97 

Formulje for finding temperature, i. 
353, (53) 

Fortifying of Greenland ships, manner 
of, ii. 191, 508 

Fox, Arctic, remarks on, i. 517 

French, ancient whale-fishers, ii. 11 — 
Historical account of their whale- 
fishery, ii. 163 
Fringilla linaria, remarks on, i. 537 
Frobisher's Strait discovered, i. 75 
Frost-rime, description of, i. 434— 

Cause of, i. 435 
Fulmar, account of, i. 528 

Gadus carbon:irius, notice of, i. 540 

Gale, action by, respecting a whale, ii. 

Gama, Vasquez de, first sailed to In- 
dia, i. 2 

Gammants arcticus, description of, i. 

Gas, from oil casks, nature of, ii. 305 

Gas, from whale-oil, account of, ii. 
421 — Superiority over that obtained 
from coal, ii. 424 — Properties of, ii. 
425 — Economy of, ii. 426 

Gas-lamp, portable one described, ii. 

Germans, whale-fishery by, ii. 166 

Glue, made from whales tail, ii. 434 

God's Mercy, Cape of, discovered by 
Davis, i. 76 

Gold and treasure, the discover}' of, 
was the secret design of some of the 
voyages towards the north-west, i. 

Greenland, discovered by an Iceland 
colonist, i. 63 — Colonized from Ice- 
land, ib — Extensive settlements, i. 
66 — Intercourse between this coun- 
try and the rest of the world inter- 
cepted, i. 262 — Various unsuccess- 
ful attempts made by the Danes for 
the recovery of this country, i. 67 

Greenland, East, or Spitzbergen, i. 93 

Greenland Company established at Lon- 
don, ii. 59 — Lose 82,000/. in the 
whale-fishery, ii. 60 — Cause of their 
failure, ii. 62 

Greenland Company of Bergen esta- 
blished, ii. 65 — Revived, ii. 72 

Greenland fishery. See Whale-fishery. 

Greenland Sea, situation of, i. 1 72. See 

Gulf-stream, course of, i. 206 

Gull Island, produces lead-glance, i. 

Gulls, account of, i. 534 

Hail, uncommon in high latitudes, i. 

Hakluyt's Island discovered, i. 88 

Hamburgh, extensive fishery from, ii, 

Harpoon, description of, ii. 223 — 
Mode of preparing for use, ii. 230 

Harpoon guns, invented, ii. 70 — Re- 
introduced, ii. 79 — History of, ii. 
227 — Description of, ii. 228— Pre- 
miums for shooting whales, ib. 

Harpooners, the Biscayans, engaged as, 
by the English and Dutch, ii. 20, 
26, 39 — Nature of their office, iu 

Heinson's, Morgens, ship said to have 
been stopped by concealed magnetic 



rocks ; explanation of the circum- 
stance, i. 112 

Hoar-frost, description of, i. 436— De- 
posited in beautiful crystals, i. ^37 
— Speculation concerning, i. 438 

Hope Island, description of, i. 151 

Horn Sound, discovered by Baffin, i. 

Hudson's Bay discovered, i. 82 — The 
discoverer lost his life by a mutiny 
among his crew, i. 83 

Hudson's Strait, first discovered by 
Weymouth, i. 81 

Hull, merchants of, early whale-fish- 
ers, ii. 20 — A grant of Jan Mayen 
Island given them for a fishing sta- 
tion, ii. 40 — Present fishery from, ii. 

Hutton, Dr James, iiis theory of rain, 

Ice, Greenland or polar account of, i. 
225 — Various kinds described, i. ib. 
Sea-water ice, i. 230 — Fresh-water 
ice, i, 232, 320— Density of ice, i. 
233 — Experiment in forming ice, i. 
235 — In melting, becomes prisma- 
tical, i. 237 — Formation of sea-ice, 
i. 238— First crystals, i. 239— Bay 
ice, i. 240, 318 -Drift ice, i. 319— 
Description of ice-fields, i. 241 — 
Their formation, i. 244, 320— Ten- 
dency to drift to the south west- 
ward, i. 246, 291 — INIovements, i. 
247 — Destructive efTects on vessels, 
i. 248— Severe concussion, i. 249 — 
Icebergs, their magnitude, 1. 251 — 

Where met with, ib Form, i. 253. 

Colour, L 254 — Icebergs useful to 
the fishers, i. 256 — Sometimes fra- 
gile, i. 257 — How generated on land, 
i. 258, 319 — At a distance from 
land, i. 261, 319 — Situation or out- 
line of the polar ice, i. 262 — Whale- 
fishers' bight, i. 266 — Changes in 
the ice at difterent seasons, i. 270 — 
in the summer astonishing, i. 273 
— Situation in the years 1803 and 4, 
i. 276- In 1805, 6 and 7, i. 277— 
In 1808, 9 and 10, i. 278— In 1811 
and 12, i. 279— In 1813, 14, i. 281 
— In 1815, 16 and 17, i. 282— In 
1818, i. 283 — Ice has a tendency to 

separate during calms, I. 284 — Clo- 
sing and opening uncertain i. 285 — 
F"ields are subject to extraordinary 
movements, i. 286 — Changes in the 
position of the ice often unaccount- 
able, i. 287 — Singular instance, i. 
288 — Besetment of the ship Esk, i. 
291 — Effects of ice on the sea and 

atmospiiere, i. 296 Ice, causes 

a diminution of the wind, i. 296 
Repels storms, i. 297 — Pro- 
duces a deposition of snow, ib. — Oc- 
casions a brightness in the sky, i- 
299 — Equalises temperature, i. 300 
328 — Produces fogs, ib — Ice and 
sea produce a reciprocal action on 
each other, i, 301 — Dangers of a 
swell among ice, to shipping, i. 302 
— Ice streams resist the sea, i. 304 
Increase of ice proportionate to the 
waste, i.305, 321 — Itshinderance to 
approaching the Poles, i. 305 — Suc- 
cessful efforts in penetrating to a 
high latitude, (81 k N.) i. 309 — Ab- 
stract of observations on the polar 
ice, i. 318 — Quantity greater in the 
Southern than in the Northern He- 
misphere, i. 321 — Specific gravity 
of, determmed, i. (81) — Quantity 
destroyed intimates the existence of 
a northern communication between 
the Atlantic and Pacific, i. 5^1ce, 
dreaded by the first whale-fishers, ii. 
100 — Danger of, to the fishers, ii. 
342 — Various accidents by, ib. — 
Accident on the Esk by, ii. 446 

Icebergs, description of, i. 101, 159, 
250— Origin of, i. 101, 107, 258— 
Why rare in the Greenland seas, i. 
103— Fall of one, i. 105— Dangers 
of to shipping, i. 106, 256, 258 

Ice-bliok, described, i. 299 — Advanta- 
ges of, to the fishers, i. 383 

Iceland, discovered by Naddod in 861, 
i. 62 — Visited by some Swedes and 
Norwegians, soon after its discove- 
ry, ib A colony established in it, 

ib, — Tremendous storms occur in it, 
i, 412 

Icelanders, early whale-fishers, ii. 11 
— Pursued the whales to ^Tewfound- 
land, ii. 17 



Impress, seamen of whale-ships pro- 
tected from, ii. 85 

Instruments used in the wliale-fishery, 
list of, ii. 509 — Harpoon, ii. 2231- 
Lance, ii. 227. 

Intestina, notice of, i. 543 

Ireland, whale-fishery from, ii. 132 

Iron, polarity of, ii. 540 — Its polarity 
dependant on position^, ib. 

Jameson Bay, Jan Mayc'h, named, i. 

Jan Mayen Island, account of, i. 15t 
— Named Mauritius' Island and 
Trinity Island, ib Singuhir Moun- 
tain on, i. 158 — Icebergs, i. 159 — 
Examination of a part of the coast, 
i. ICO — Found to be volcanic, i. 161 
Crater, i. 162 — Some seamen at- 
tempting to winter in this island, 
perished, i. 167 — State of the wea- 
ther in, during winter, i. (78) — An 
important whale-fishing station, ii. 
33 — Two voyages made thither in 
one season, ii. 54 

Kittywake, account of, i. 534 

Labrador, whale-fishery on the 

of, ii. 386. 
Lamps, oil, caution in trimming, ii. 

Lance, description of, ii. 227 
Larus crepidatus, habits of, i. 534 
eburneus, account of. 535 

glaucus, remarks on, i. 534 

parasiticus, habits of, i. ib. 

rissa, account of, i. ib. 

Latitude, a desideratum in foggy wea- 
ther, i. 442 — Method of olitaining, 
i. 443 — Latitudes and longitudes in 
Spitzbergen, i. (73) — In Jan Mayen, 
i- (74) 

Laws of the whale-fishery, ii. 313 — 
Among the Dutch, ii. 313 — Among 
all nations, ii. 319 — With regard to 
wrecks, ii. 328 — Circumstance il- 
lustrative of the nature of, ii. 331 

Lead-ore, occurs in Chcrie Island, i. 

Lernsa branchialis, notice of, i. 543 

Leslie, Professor, his researches on 
the cause of rain, i. 421— Illustra- 
tions founded on these, i. 422 

Light, intensity of, among ice, i. 379 
— Contrivance of the Indians for de- 
fending the eyes in such light, i. ib. 

Lightning, seldom seen in the Arctic 
Zone, i. 415 

Lines, whale, quantity carried in a 
boat, ii. 232 — Danger of their get- 
ting entangled, ii. 246, 357 — Im- 
mense quantity withdrawn by a 
whale, ii. 281 

London, mean temperature of, i. (51) 
Whale-fishery from, ii. 124 

l^ondon Coast, Davis' Strait, discover- 
ed by Davis, i. 78 

Longitude, mistakes in, by vessels re- 
turning from Spitzbergen or Arch- 
angel, ii. 375 — Occasioned by the 
attraction of iron on the compasses, 
ii. 376 — Quantity of error in, estima- 
ted, ii. 377 

Loom, account of, i. 533 

Loommg, phenomenon of, i. 384 

Loose fish, free prize of any one, ii. 

Low Island, description of, i. 150 

Lumley's Inlet, named, i. 78 

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, his voyage 
to the Frozen Ocean, i. 37 — Evi. 
dence of his having been at the Fro- 
zen Sea, or in a river falling into it, 

Magnetic force, table of, ii. 545 

Magnetism of iron, ii. 540. See Com- 

Making off, process of, described, ii. 

Mallemuk, account of, i. 528 

Marine diver, description of, i. 186 

MarkolT's, Alexei, journey of 800 
miles over ice, i. 59 

Mayer, formula by, for calculating 
mean temjierature, i. 353 

Medusa, description of various kinds, 
i. 544, 548 

, immense number of, in the 
Greenland seas, i. 179 — Economy 
of, i. 546 — Physiology of their pre- 
servation, ib. 

Meteors, — Winds, i. 395 — Lightning, 

i. 415 — Aurora borcalis, i. 416 

Clouds, i. 419— Kain, i. 420— Hail, 
i. 424 — Snow, i. 425 — Frost-rime, 



i. 434— Hoar-frost, i. 436— Fog, i. 
Meteorological Tables, extensive series 
of, i. (2) — Results of 12 years obser- 
vations in the Spitzbergen Sea, i. 
Meteorology, general remarks on, i. 
345 — As a science, imperfect, i. 
Millepora polymorpha, notice of, i. 

Minerals of Spitzbergen, i. (76) 
MoiFen Island, description of, i. 149 
Monodon monoceros, description of, i. 

486. See Narwal. 
Morton, Mr Thomas, of Leith, inven- 
tion for hauling ships on land, use- 
. ful in discovery vessels, i. 30 
Moscow^, visited by Richard Chancel- 

lor, i. 73 
Mount Raleigh, discovered, i. 76 
Mountains, altitude of, in Spitzbergen, 
i. 96 — Danger of climbing, i. 100— 
Jan Mayen, i. 158 — Elevation, ib. 
Mullus barbatus, notice of, i. 541 
Musculus, Bala3na, description of, i. 
482 — Stranded on the coasts of Bri- 
tain, i. 483 
Mustering whale ships, manner of, ii, 

Mya truncata, notice of, i. 551 
Mysticetus, Balajna, i. 449. See Whale. 
Mytilus rugosus, notice of, i. 551 

Narwal, description of, i. 486 — Size of 
its tooth, i. 489— Use of the tooth, 
i. 491— Skeleton of, i. 493— Dimen- 
sions of a narwal, i. 495. 

Navigation from Spitzbergen to Bri- 
tain, remarks on, ii. 369 — Set out 
from an uncertain point, ib. 

Neill, Mr Patrick, his examination of 
a fin-whale, 484— Of aca'ing-whale, 
i. 496— Of a beluga, i. 500 

Nelson River discovered by Button, i. 

Newfoundland discovered, i. (56) 

Newland, a name given to Spitzbergen, 
i. 93. 

North, account of the progress of dis- 
coveries in, i. 61 

North Cape, named by Stephen Bur- 
rough, i. 72 

North Pole, nearest approaches to, i. 
ll, 306 — Nearest approaches in Baf- 
fin's Bay, Behring Strait, &c. i. 315. 
Erroneous statements concerning 
approaches to, i, 42 — Bias in voy- 
agers to exaggeration, i. 44 — In- 
stances of it, i. 42, 45 — Premiums 
for approaching within one degree, 
&c. i. 50, and within seven,&c. i. 53 
— Acts of r'arliament and Order in 
Council respecting premiums, i. 51, 
53, and 71 — Close approach to in the 
ship Resolution, i. 307 — abstract of 
a journal kept in this voyage, ib. — 
Open sea" at the, chimerical, i. 45— So- 
lar influence not sufficient to dissolve 
the ice around the Pole, i. 47 — Tem- 
perature of the Pole, i. 360. — Only 
way of reaching seems to be by a 
journey over the ice, i. 54— Difficul- 
ties with regard to rough packed ice, 
answered, i. 55 — Evidences of such 
a journey being practicable, i. 57 — 
Instances of extensive journeys over 
snow and ice being performed, i. 58 
North-east passage, remarks on the 
existencQ of, i. 12 — Has been in a 
great measure navigated by the Rus- 
sians, i. 12 — Voyages attempted by 
Europeans, i. 15 
North-west passage, remarks on its 
existen.ce, i. 16. — ^Yet uncertain, i. 
17 — Arguments for its existence, i. 
17 — Its discovery could be of no use 
in voyages to the Pacific, i. 21 — 
Might be of benefit to geography 
and science, i. 22 — Premiums for 
discovery towards the passage, L 53. 
Northern passage between the Atlan- 
tic and Pacific Oceans, remarks on 
the existence of, i. 1 

■ across the North Pole, i. 40 

— First suggested by Robert Thovne, 
i. 2 and 40 — List of voyagers who 
have attempted it, i. 41 — Highest 
latitude reached not exceediiig 81% 
Northern lights, i. 416 
Nova Zembla, discovered by Sir Hugh 
Willoughby, i. 72 — Wintered in by 
Barentz, i. 80 



Oaths, taken at Customhouse, account 
of, ii. 515 and 516 — Immoral ten- 
dency of, ii. 51 7 

Ohthere, whale-fishery known to, in the 
ninth century, ii. 6 

Oil, mode of extracting, from blubber 
by the first fishers, ii. 174 — Extract- 
ed in Spitzbergen, ib Expences of 

extracting, and preni-jjcs of sailors 
on, ii. 398 — Premisses used for ex- 
tracting, ii. 397 — Process of ex- 
tracting, ii. 400 — Uses of, ii. 420 — 
For making gas, ii. 421 — Proper- 
ties of gas from, ii. 425 

description of, ii. 408 — Proportion 

between weight and measure in, ii. 
409. and 525— Price of, in different 
years, ii. 410 — Cause of the smell 
of, ii. 411 — Refined oil, properties 
of, ii. 413 — Processes for refining, ii. 
431 — Specific gravity of, determi- 
ned, ii, 527 

Oniscus ceti, account of, i. 543 

Orosius, the work of, translated by 
Alfred the Great, ii. 7 — Examina- 
tion of a difficult passage in, ii. 9 

Parhelia and coronae, description of, i. 

Parliament, acts of, relating to the 
importation of the produce of the 
whale-fishery, ii. 378 — For the re- 
gulation of the whale-fisherjs ii- 491 
Number of officers and quantity of 
stores for ships of different classes 
required by, ii. 493 — Affidavits and 
certificates requu-ed by, ii. 514 

Phoca', seals, account of, i. 508 

Physalis, balasna, description of, i. 478 
— Magnitude, i. 479 — Difficulty of 
capture, i. 480 

Plants, catalogue of, found in Spitz- 
bergen, i. (75) 

Pole. See North Pole. 

Poole, Jonas, suggested the whale- 
fishery at Spitzbergen, ii. 20 

Pressure of the sea on a whale equal 
to the weight of 60 men of war, ii. 

Procellaria glacialis, account of, i. 528 

Protections from impress, granted to 
officers and seamen of whale ships, 
ii. 503 — Bonds required before ob- 
taining, ii. 515 

Providence, laudable dependence on, 

by our early voyagers, i. 23 
Puffin, common at Spitzbergen, i. 527 

Rain, in Arctic countries, i. 420 — 
Cause of, i. 421 — Illustrations of 
Hutton's Theory of, i. 422 

Razor-back whale, descri^^tion of, i. 

Red-pole, lesser, account of, i. 537 

Refraction, beautiful effect of, i. 385 
— Occasions a division in the sen- 
sible horizon, i. 387 — Shews the ho- 
rison 85 miles more distant than 
usual, i. 389 — Remarks on the cause 
of, i. 391 

Rein-deer, mention of, i. 526. 

Resolution, ship, expences of the 
equipment of, ii. 393 — Profits of, 
li. 395. 

Rostrata, Balaena, described, i. 485 — 
One stranded in Orkney, ib. 

Royal Society, abstract of thermome- 
tric observations, kept at the apart- 
ments of, i. (51) 

Russia Company, first sent ships to the 
Spitzbergen whale-fishery, ii. 22— 
Obtain a Royal Charter for a mo- 
nopoly of the fishery, ii. 25 — Drive 
out all interlopers, ii. 26 — Capture 
a Dutch vessel, ii. 27 — Successful 
fishers, ii. 31 

Russian hunters in Spitzbergen, i. 140 

Sabella frustulosa, notice of, 1. 551 

St John's Island discovered, i. 69 

St Lawrence's River discovered, i. 70 

Sandpiper, notice of, i. 537 

Scoresby, Captain senior, sailed to la- 
titude 8r.30', i. 42— His account of 
a boat soaked with water in conse- 
quence of pressure, i. 191 — His re- 
marks on winds, i. 401 — His contri- 
vance for reducing blubber to oil by 
steam, ii. 403 

Scotland, whale-fishery commenced 
from ii. 116 

Scurvy, dangerous disorder in cold cli- 
mates, i. 340 — Occasioned by the 
use of salt provisions, &c. i. 340 

Sea, Greenland, survey of, i. 170 
— Situation of, i. 172 — Saltness, 
i. 171— Colour, i. 173— Peculiarity 



of its colour accounted for, i. 177— 
Immense number of Medusa dis- 
covered in, i. 179 — Its transparen- 
cy, i. 181 — Specilic gravity, i. 
181 — Saline contents, i. 182 — 
Table of specific gravity, ib — Tem- 
perature of, at great depths, i. ISl 
— Table of temperature, &c. i. 187 
— Depth, i. 188 — Suggestions for 
obtaining soundings in deep seas, i, 
190 — Pressure at great depths, sin- 
gular effects of, i. 191, 203, and ii. 
249 — Experiments on the impreg- 
nation of wood with sea-water by 
pressure, i. 193 — Tables of effects 
produced, i. 195, 200 — Currents in, 
i. 204' — Difficulties of detei-mining, 
i. 20.5— Some effects of, i. 207— 
Illustrations of currents, i. 212 — Its 
waves, 1. 217 — Its colour useful to 
whale-fishers, ii. 336 

Sea-horse, description of, i. 502 — Fish- 
ery for, i. 505 — Practised in the 9th 
century, ii. 7 

Seals, account of, i. 508 — Uses of, i. 
510 — ^Fishery for, i. 512 — Dangers 
of the seal fishery, i. 513 — Dreadful 
catastro^ihe, i. 514 

Seamen belonging whale-ships protect- 
ed from the impress, ii. 85 

Sepia, food of narwals, i. 544 

Serpula, notice of, i. 551 

Shark, Greenland, description of, i. 538 
— Singular appendage to the eye of, 
i. 539 

Shetland, bank to the westward of, dis- 
covered, ii. 372 — Lighthouses to be 
erected on, ii. 373 — Dangerous tides 
near, ii. 374 

Ships, destruction among, in the seal- 
fishery, i. 514 — ^Thirty-three lost in 
a storm near Spitzbergen, ii. 73 

— — Greenland or whale, best size for 
the fishery, ii. 187 and 506 — Man- 
ner of strengthening or fortifying, 
ii. 190 and 508 — Peculiarities of 
equipment, ii. 196, 203 — Crew re- 
quired for, ii. 199 — Proceedings of 
in the outward passage, ii. 1 99, 205 
— Of navigating homewards, ii. 369 
— Expences of equipment, ii. 393— 
Profits of one, ii. 395 — Manner of 
measuring and Mustering, ii. 512 

Shipwrecks, fatal, in Davis' Strait, ii. 
394— Thirty. three in one year, ii. 73 

— Of first whale-ships at Spitzber- 
gen, ii. 21 

Shrimps, account of, i. 541, 542 

Sir Dudley Diggs', Cape, discovered 
by Baffin, i. 87 

Sir James Lancaster's Sound discover- 
ed by Baffin, i. 88 

Sir Thomas Smith's Sound discovered 
by Baffin, ; 'sSS 

SkiEelingers, the aborigines of Winland, 
i. 65 

Smeerenberg, Spitzbergen, founded by 
the Dutch, ii. 52 

Snow, remarks on, i. 425 — ^Variety of 
form, ib, — Red snow, i, 426 — Va- 
rious modifications of snow, i. 4-77 

— Lamellar crystals, ib Nucleus 

with spines, i. 429 — Spiculae, ib. — 
Hexagonal pyramids, i. 430 — Spi- 
culae with lamellar crystals at the 
ends, ib — State of the atmosphere 
when difllerent forms occur, i. 433 

Snow-bird, account of, i. 535 

Snow-bunting, notice of, i. 537 

Society of Arts, premiums given bj', 
for shooting whales, ii. 228 

Soundings, hints for obtaining in deep 
seas, i. 190 — Near Shetland, a guide 
to the navigator, in determining his 
position, ii. 371 

South Pole, closest approximation of, 
i. 317 

South Sea whale-fishery, account of, 
ii. 529 

South Sea Company, whale-fishery 
commenced by, ii. 69 — Suffered great 
loss, ii. 72 — After eight years trial 
abandoned the trade, ii. 71 

Southampton Island discovered, i. 83 

Specific gravity of sea-water, i, 182 
— Of ice, i ^^81) — Of whale-oil, ii. 

Spermaceti whale, fishery of, ii. 533 

Spiritous liquors not useful for resist- 
ing cold, i. 35 

Spitzbergen, discovered by Barentz, i. 
80,93 — Description of, i 92~Mouh- 
tainous country, i. 94 — Mountains, 
i. 94 — Altitude of some, i. 96 — 
Their regularity, i. 98 — Danger of 
climbing them, i. 100 — Deception 
in their apparent distance, i. 1 1 — 
Icebergs, i. 107, 109 — Latitudes and 
longitudes in, i. (73) — Scenery inte- 
resting, i. 109 — Its bays and sounds, 



i. 113— Rocks and banks, i. 114 — 

Anchorages, ib Examination and 

exploration of, t. 118 — At Mitre 
Cape, difficulties in climbing the 
mountains, i. 120 — Air mild at the 
height of 3000 feet, i. 123 — Snow- 
dissolves at the top of the moun- 
tains, i. 1 24<— Be^'utiful prospect from 
the mountain b^Tfimit, i. 128 — 
Dangers of descending, i. 129 — 
Bones, huts, &c. i. 130 — Animals 

met with, i. 131 — Drift wood, ib 

Sea-weed, i. 132 — Dead whale dis- 
covered, ib. — Exploration in King's 
Bay, i. 134 — Climate, i. 135— Pro- 
gress of the seasons, i. ^137 — Ac- 
count of persons wintering in, i, 139 
— Russian hunters, i. 140 — Currents 
and tides, L 147 — Plants of, i. (75) 
— Minerals, i. (76) — Attempt by the 
Dutch to colonize it, ii. 47 — Smce- 
renberg founded in, ii. 52 — Build- 
ings in, erected by the whale-fishers, 
ii. 177 — Whale-fisher}- of, discovered 
by the English, ii. 19. See Whale- 

Squalus borealis, description of, 1. 538 

Star-fish, notice of, i. 550 

Sterna hirundo, remarks on, i. 533 

Stockholm, abstract of fifty years obser- 
vations on the temperature of, i. (52) 

Stockholm, Whale-fishing Company of, 
ii. 80 

Storms, phenomena of sudden, i. 398 
— Examples, i. 399 — Sometimes 
heard before they appeared, i. 402 
— Intermitting storms, instances of, 
ib — Local, examples of, i. 406 — 
Tremendous in autumn, i. 412 — 
Suppressed by CiflTs at Disco, i. 414 
— Catastrophe ' from, in the seal- 
fishery, i. 514 — Storms repelled by 
ice, i. 297 — Thirty-three ships lost 
during one, near Spitzbergen, ii. 73 
— Terrors of, among ice, ii. 439 

Success in the whale-fishery, on what 
it depends, ii. 333 

Swallow, sea, remarks on, i. 533 

Sweden, whale-fishery from, encou- 
raged, ii. 171 

Synoicum turgens, notice of, i. 551 

Table of specific gravity and temjiera- 
ure of the Greenland sea, i. 182 

Table of changes of specific gravity for 
every 5° of temperature, i. 183 

of temperature and sjiecific gra- 
vity of sea-water below the surface, 
i. i87 

of effects produced on wood by 

the impregnation of water, i. 195, 

of remarkable changes of tempe- 
rature, i. 327 

of monthly range and monthly 

extremes of temperature, i. 366 

of winds, average, i. 411 

of the state of the weather when 

the aurora borealis was seen, i. 417 

of the dissolving power of air, i. 


of the state of the atmosphere, 

when diflTerent crystals of snow were 
observed, i. 433 

of the quantity of oil afforded by 

whales of diflTerent sizes, i. 462 

. of the comparative dimensions of 

six different whales, i. 464 

of meteorological observations, 

twelve years, i. (2) 

of meteorological results, twelve 

years observations, i. (48) 

for determining the mean tem- 
perature of latitude 78° and North 
Pole, i. (49) 

for determining do. month of 

April, i. (50) 

for determining do. month of 

July, ib. 

■ of abstract of observations on 

temperature made at London, i. (51) 
of do. at Stockholm, i. (52) 

of mean monthly temperature, 

latitude 78°, i. (54) 

of latitudes and longitudes in 

Spitzbergen and Jan Mayen, i. (73) 

of wind and weather in Jan 

Mayen, i. (78) 

of the extent of the British whale- 
fisheries, ii. 119 

of the comparative success of ves- 
sels from different British ports, ii. 

of the expences and profits of the 

Dutch whale-fishery during 107 
years, ii. 156 

of duties on the produce of the 

whale-fisheries, ii. 501 



of specific gravity of whale-oil, 

ii. 52T 

of weight of certain quantities of 

oU, ii. 528 

of anomalies observed in the 

compass on ship-board, ii. 538 

of the oscillations of a dipping 

needle, and intensity of magnetic 
force, ii. 545 

Taylor, Messrs J. and P. their inven- 
tion of an apparatus for procuring 
gas from oil, iL 422 

Temperature of the Arctic Regions, 
changeable in winter, i. 323 — Uni- 
form in summer, i. 325 — Table of 
remarkable changes, i. 327 — Effects 
of sudden changes, i. 330 — Of very 
low temperatures, i. 332, 334~Tem- 
perature has a tendency to equality, 
i. 349 — Mean annual temperature 
varies little, i. 350 — May be deter- 
mined by a few yeiirs observations 
to witliin a degree, i. 352 — Formula 
for calculating the mean tempera- 
ture of any parallel, i. 353 — Errone- 
ous on approaching ice, i. 354— 
Data for determining mean tempe- 
rature, i. 354 — ^That of the Arctic 
Regions determined, i. 357, (49) — 
Table of temperature of different 
months, i. 358 — Temperature of 
unobserved months determined, i. 
359 — Formula for effecting this, i. 
(53) — Attempt to estimate the tem- 
perature of the North Pole, i. 3G0, 
(49) — Table of monthly range of 
temj^jerature near Spitzbergen, i. 366 
— Inferences regarding mean tem- 
perature, i. 367 — rTemperature of 
April determined, i. (50) — Tem- 
perature of July, i. (50) — Tempera- 
ture of London, i. (51) — Tempe- 
rature of Stockholm, i. (52) — De- 
crease of, in ascending in the at- 
mosphere, i. (72) — Temperature 
of the Sea, i. 184,187 
Tern, great, account of, i. 533 
Thermometer, useful in predicting the 

weather, i. 328, 399 
Thunder, rare in Arctic regions, i. 

Tides, in Hudson's Bay, favour the 
supposition of the existence of a 
North-west Passage, i. 18 — At 
Spitzbergen, i. 11 7 

Totncss Road, discovered by Davis, 
i. 76 

Traill, Dr, Delphhius deductor descri- 
bed and named by, i. 496 

Trial respecting the right to a whale, 
account of, ii. 518 

Trichecus rosmarus, description of, L 

Tringa hypoleucc.% notice of, i. 537 

Turbo helicinus, notice of, i. 551 

Unicorn, description of, i. 486 — Its 
horn or tooth, i, 489. See Narwal. 
Ursus maritimus, account of, 1. 517 

Variation of the compass, anomaly in, 

ii. 537 See Compass. 
Vermes, remaiks on, ii. 543. 
Voyages, Polar. See Discovery. 

Walrus, description of, i. 502 

Walsingbam, (I^ape, discovered by Da- 
vis, i. 76 

Warwick's Foreland discovered by 
Davis, u 78 

Watch, classification of a ship's crew 
into, ii. 235 

Watson, James, Esq. his drawing of a 
beaked whale, i. 485 — Of a Delphi- 
nus deductor, i. 496 — His observa- 
tions on the deductor, i. 497 

Waves, remarks on, i. 217 — Velocity 
of, i. 219 — Effect of atmospheric 
pressure on, i. 221 — Waves dimi» 
nished by rain, i. 222 — Several dis- 
tinct waves may prevail together, ib. 
— Waves resisted by ice, i. 304 

Weather, cloudy, the most favourable 
for the whale-lishery, ii. 220 

Weigatz Island discovered by S. Bur- 
rough, i. 75 

West Indies discovered by Columbus, 
i. 68 

Whale, (Greenland or common), de- 
scription of, i. 449 Bulk has 

been overrated, i. 450 Was ne- 
ver larger than in the present day, 
i. 452 — Magnitude of, i. 454—. 
Whalebone of, i. 457— Blubber of, i. 
4fiO — Proportion of bkibher to oil, 
i. Kil — Bones, porous and full of 
oil, i. 463 — Ciimjiarative dimensions 
of fix diiforent whales, i. 464 — In 
blowing do not eject water, i. 
—Speed of, i. 467— Food of, i. 469 
. — Its maternal ali'cclion, i, 471— r. 



Places it resorts to, i. 473 — Its ene- 
mies, i. 474— Flesh used as food, i. 
475; ii. 14 — Characters of whales 
in general, i. 477 

Whale, instance of one struck by a 
Greenland whaler being killed in the 
sea of Tartary, i. 8 — One stranded 
on Kamtchatka with a European 
harpoon in it, iv 9 — A stone iance 
found in the blubber of one, i. 10 
—And harpoon of bone, ib. 

— -^— one captured by a singular 
exploit, ii. 264 — Others on a novel 
plan, ii. 269 — Surprising vigour if 
one, ii. 276 — One survived forty 
hours after being struck, ii. 289 

■ trial respecting the title to a, 

ii. 518 

Whalebone, largest size of, i. 457 — In- 
equalities in, may be the measure of 
the age of the whale, ib. — Produce 
of the whale estimated by the length 
of, i. 462 — Large importation of, in- 
to London from Holland, ii. 64 — 
More afforded by whales taken near 
Spitzbergen than in Davis' Strait, ii. 
392 — Description of, ii. 415 — Oc- 
casional value of, ii. 41 7 — Method 
of preparing, ii. 418 — Uses of, ii. 
435 — List of patents for its appro- 
priation, ii. 436 

Whale-fishery, chronological history 
of, ii. 1 — Probable origin of, ii. 3— 
Prosecuted in the 9th century, ii. 6 
— At an early period by the Ice- 
landers, ii. 11 — Also by the French, 
ii. 12 — And probably by the Flnglish, 
ii. 15 — But most expertly by the 
Basques and Biscayans, ii. 16 — Fin- 
whale the object of capture, ii. 16 
— Spitzbe:-gei. fishery discovered by 
the English, ii. 19 — Quarrels among 
different nations resorting thither, 
ii. 26, 32, 34 — National importance 
of, ii. 57 — Encouraged by bounties, 
ii. 72, 73 — Revived by the English, 
ii. 75 — Greatest cargo, from the, ii. 
123. — Comparative success, in of ves- 
sels from different ports of Britain, 
ii. 131 — national benefit of, to the 
Dutch, ii. 154, 159 — Profits derived 
by the Dutch from, ii. 156 

comiiarativc view of, 

among different nations, ii. 96 — By 
the British, ii. 98 — Of London, ii. 

124_Hull, ib— Whitby, ii. 126— 
Ireland, ii. 132 — British colonies in 
America, ii. 134 — Dutch, ii. 138 — 
Biscayans, ii. 161 — French, ii. 163 
— Danes, ii. 166 — Germans, ii. 168 
— Prussians, ii. 171 — Swedes, ib. 

where at first conduct- 
ed, ii. 172 — How carried on, ib. — 
Alterations |in the manner of con- 
ducting," ii. 179 — Season for em- 
barking in, i. 273 ; ii. 207— Where 
now conducted, ii. 2^8 — On what 
success depends, ii. 333 — Acts of 
Parliament for the regulation of, ii. 

■ — boats and instruments 

used in, described, ii. 221 — Sche- 
dule of apparatus necessary for, ii. 
509 — Preparations for conducting 
the, ii. 230 — Measures for com- 
mencing the, ii. 236 — Manner of 
conducting the, ii. 240 — How con- 
ducted among packed ice, ii. 257 — 
Among fields, ii. 259 — Among 
crowded ice, ii. 266 — Among bay 
ice, ii. 268— In storms, ii. 272 — 
In foggy weather, ii. 273 — Proceed- 
ings in, before flensing, ii. 292— 
Flensing process in, ii. 298 — Ma- 
king off, process in, ii. 304 — Signals 
used in the, ii. 521 

anecdotes illustrative of 

the nature of, ii. 276, 294, 297, 302, 
331— Laws of, ii. 312— Dangers 
of, ii. 340 — From ice, ii. 342 — From 
fogs, ii, 346 — From storms, ii. 348 
— F"rom cold, ii. 355 — From the 
entanglementof lines, ii. 357 — From 
blows from whales, ii. 358 

produce of, subject to 

legislative regulations on importa- 
tion, ii. 378 

• of Davis' Strait, account 

of, ii. 382— Of Greenland and Davis' 
Strait compared, ii. 390 

Of the Southern Seas, 

account of, ii. 529 — For the com- 
mon whale, ii. 535 

Whale-fi.shing stations, situation of, 
ii. 210 — Proceedings of ships on, ii. 

Whales shelter themselves among ice, L 
268— Sustain immense pressure when 
at great depths in the sea, ii. 249 

— — — used to resort to the Buy of 





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