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THE LIFE AND WORK OF THE REV.
E.J. PECK AMONG THE ESKIMOS
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E . J . PECK
THE LIFE AND WORK
OF THEREV. E.J. PECK
AMONG THE ESKIMOS ^
By the rev. ARTHUR LEWIS, m.a. Author
of "A Memoir of G. M. Gordon," etc., formerly a
Missionary of the Church Missionary Society. With
NEW YORK :
A. C. ARMSTRONG ^sf SON
3 & 5 West Eighteenth Street
Bchool of Ehsclogy Liijrar?
ButUr and Tanner, The Selwood Printing IVorks, Frame, and London
To the wives of our missionaries
who, being compelled from various
causes to remain at home, are un-
grudgingly giving their husbands to
the work of Christ in far-off lands,
as well as to those who, in weariness
and painfulness, in hunger and thirst,
are constant partners with their
husbands in different cHmes, this
book is dedicated.
nPHE subject of Foreign Missions is so prominent
on all sides in the present day that no apology
is needed for the publication of a book dealing with
a remote field, concerning which little is known
beyond the limited circle of those who read Mis-
sionary magazines and newspapers. Some apology,
however, may be needed for the author who has
compiled the following pages. Conscious of lack
of power ; ignorant, as far as experience goes, of
all the conditions of Eskimo life; personally un-
acquainted, untn a short time ago, with any of the
missionaries engaged in evangelistic work among
the Arctic people ; the book was taken in hand at
the request of the Rev. E. J. Peck, whose sole desire
was to quicken interest in missionary work and to
deepen the sense of responsibility in the Church of
Christ concerning the great commission with which
it has been entrusted.
A large amount of matter had previously been
collected by one of Mr. Peck's friends, who wishes
to remain anonymous. To this gentleman the
thanks of the author are due not only for numerous
selections from Mr. Peck's diaries, but also for
many original passages which have been incorpo-
rated in the narrative, especially in the earlier
That there are many blemishes in the following
pages the author himself is conscious, but he hopes
that the reader will be lenient when he remembers
that there was no possibility of consulting those
who alone could have given help, had they been
at hand — the missionaries. Working, as they are,
among the Eskimos, they are hopelessly cut off
from the outer world. How complete is their
isolation may be well illustrated by what is passing
in the author's mind as he writes this preface. In
July, 1903, Mr. Peck sailed from Peterhead on the
return voyage to Blacklead Island. About three
or four weeks later, on August 13, his little
daughter died at Boscombe. He has not yet
(August 3, 1904) received any news of his
terrible loss. The annual ship has sailed once
more, but still some weeks must elapse before he
hears that Jesus has called the little child unto
Himself, for " of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Among other things, this isolation has made it
necessary for the author to assrmie responsibility
in certain matters which certainly would otherwise
have been submitted for approval to those most
concerned. One of them in particular is the title
of the book. Mr. Peck's earnest wish was that his
name should be kept as far as possible in the back-
ground. His one desire was that all glory should
be given to God, and the human instrument remain
unhonoured. He had hoped that this volume
would have gone forth under another title.
But reasons which appeared to be irresistible
were brought forward for overruling these wishes,
and it was decided accordingly to make use of Mr.
Peck's name. When, however, he discovers this,
more than a year hence, it will probably be another
cross added to his life, which, it is hoped, he will
cheerfully bear for the Master's sake. And so,
such as it is, this biographical sketch is sent forth
to the public, with the earnest prayer that though
mistakes of authorship and errors of judgment in
editorship may be detected and condemned, God's
Name may be glorified, interest in the extension of
Christ's kingdom may be deepened, and the power
of the Holy Ghost in convicting of sin and imparting
newness of life may be recognised.
Little Bredy, Dorset.
PS. — It should be stated that a portion of the
first chapter, illustrating the life of a seaman
on a British man-of-war more than thirty years
ago, has been printed, by kind permission, from
Life's Look-out by Sydney Watson.
The Early Life of E. J. Peck . . . i
The Eskimos : Their Origin, Government, and
The Eskimos at Home and at Work . . 46
Hudson's Bay 68
Progress — Ordination 87
Consolidation of Work loS
Itinerations and Results .... 123
Gathering Fruit — Ungava .... 140
Marriage — Fort George .... 162
Changed Plans — Home 181
A New Venture 201
Daybreak in Cumberland Sound . . . 218
Ploughing and Sowing 236
A Corn of Wheat 258
Bearing Burdens 272
Behind the Scenes . . . . . . 288
Sunshine and Rain 302
Gathering up Fragments . . • . 321
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
To face page
Map of the Diocese of Moosonee ... 20
An Eskimo Iglo or Snow House
Eskimo Women with Dead Seal
Eskimo Women and Children
In a Snow Shelter, Watching a Seal-Hole
Little Whale River in Summer
Eskimo Huts on Little Whale River
Eskimo Children outside Tent
The " Alert " in Sailing Ice . . .
The Settlement on Blacklead Island, Cumberland
Cutting up a Whale ....
Building Blacklead Island
A Group of Eskimo Children outside Mission
xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
To face page
A Snow-House with Tunnel-Porch Banked up . 250
The Missionaries' Home, Blacklead Island . 274
The Rev. E. J. Peck and First Converts, Black-
lead Island ...... 310
An Eskimo Building his House . . . 322
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK.
*' Whom shall I send, and who will go for us ? Then
said I, Here am I ; send me,"
IN Caesarea, Cornelius and his household were
seeking the truth. In Joppa, God was pre-
paring Peter to impart the truth. Saul, on the
road to Damascus, was in great need of sympathy.
Inside Damascus, God was taking away the fears
and doubts of Ananias, so that he might give the
Far away in Northern lands the Eskimos were
waiting for the Gospel, silently yet eloquently
making their claim on the Church of Christ. Thou-
sands of miles away God was preparing the mes-
senger who was to go to them carrying the tidings
Edmund James Peck was the chosen instrument.
He was not by any means the first missionary
from Christendom to the Eskimo race, for the
Moravians have laboured long with great devotion
2 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
among the inhabitants of the Greenland and
He was not even the first representative of the
Church Missionary Society to come in contact with
the Arctic wanderers. Bishop Bompas, Bishop
Horden and others had visited them at various
points, but no one had hitherto devoted his life
A brief sketch of his life previous to his call to
a most arduous and self-sacrificing work will be
instructive, as showing what means God chooses
for the preparation of a Peter or an Ananias in
Edmund James Peck was born on April 15, 1850.
His parents at this time lived at Rusholme, near
Manchester. His father was an energetic, con-
scientious, straightforward man, occupied in a
linen factory. His mother was a sweet, happy
Christian woman, whose influence was largely
exercised upon her son. Edmund was the eldest
of the family. There were three other children,
a boy and two girls, making up, to borrow Mr.
Peck's joke, a bushel of them. When the eldest
child was seven years of age the family moved to
Dublin. About three years after their arrival at
the Irish capital the mother died. Her death,
as is the death of every good mother, was an irre-
parable loss to the family, but she lived again in
at least one of her children.
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 3
Soon after this, young as he was, Edmund Peck
manifested a spirit of fearlessness and a desire for
truth in matters of rehgion. He was surrounded
by many Roman CathoUcs, and noticing among
other things their great neglect of the observance
of the Sabbath, though only eleven years of age,
he would speak to some of them about it, and express
a decided opmion that a religion which did not
bring forth the fruits of holiness must be worthless
in God's sight. In other ways also, especially in
conversation with his father, the same kind of
attitude was evident. And though this zeal for
God was lost for some years afterwards in a careless
life, it is interesting as pointing to the real bent of
his character, and proving the truth of the old adage
that " the child is father to the man."
When he was thirteen years old another sore trial
befell the boy — the death of his father. Speaking
of that time, he says : " The most vivid and sorrow-
ful picture of my life was when I stood by the open
grave of my father, with the tears rolling down my
cheeks, as I remembered that I was now left utterly
orphaned in a lone, lone world." Perhaps this was
a foreshadowing of his future loneliness in a world
But help was at hand. Edmund Peck had at-
tended the church of St. Matthias ; he had also been
a member of the Sunday School of that church.
The clergyman was the Rev. Maurice Day, after-
4 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
wards Bishop of Cashel, and he interested himself
so that the lad was enabled to enter the navy. The
kindly action of this clergyman made a deep im-
pression on the boy's mind. Many years later,
he had the great pleasure of meeting him again.
The Bishop was the chairman of a meeting in
Dublin for the Church Missionary Society, at which
his former Sunday School scholar was one of the
speakers. Their joy was great and mutual.
After having been received on board the guard-
ship, H.M.S. A] ax, lying at Kingstown, Edmund Peck
was very soon drafted to the training ship, Impreg-
nable, stationed at Plymouth. Here he arrived on
January 12, 1865, and remained until May 12, 1866.
Then he joined H.M.S. Caledonia, which was under
orders for the Mediterranean. It was in the Great
Sea of the Old Testament, amid the historic sur-
roundings of the ancient world, that the spiritual
life of the future missionary was awakened and
At the end of about two years he was laid low
with Mediterranean fever, and was brought very
near to the gate of death. In the weeks of prostra-
tion that followed, one of the ship's officers used to
come and see him frequently ; and though we do not
hear of these visits causing the patient more than
passing pleasure, we can hardly doubt that they
had a permanent effect.
As he returned to a slow convalescence, the young
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 5
sailor began to read a Bible which his sister had
given him when they parted. Illness had awakened
him to his need of spiritual and eternal things, and,
in his own words, he " made great efforts to secure
peace to his soul." These efforts, however, were in
vain, for they were made in his own strength only,
and " in the energy of the flesh." Mr. Peck con-
cludes the review of this portion of his life with the
expressive sentence, " While weakness lasted, I
went on in what I may term the trying-to-be-a-
As his health did not improve, he was invalided
home to England in the autumn of 1868. After
some time on furlough he was sent to Nelson's old
flag-ship, the Victory. Speaking of this time,
Mr. Peck says : " Many strange thoughts stirred
within me as I looked upon that spot upon the
Vktory^s quarterdeck where England's noblest
naval hero fell fighting the battle which freed Eng-
land from her foes. But little did I think at that
time that the Lord would call me to a conflict
mightier than that of earthly battles, because
eternal destinies hang upon the triumphs of the
host of God."
When drafted from the Victory he joined his old
vessel, the Caledonia, though with a new crew. At
this time there seems to have been some retrogression
in the struggle for spiritual life. With returning
health, as often happens, good resolutions grew
6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
weaker, so that we find him writing : " For a time,
at least, I gave up private prayer and the study of
the Scriptures." But the wanderer was not allowed
to wander unwarned. " In the midst of life we are
in death," and this is especially true in the case of a
sailor. Dangers and accidents are always eloquent,
even when we cannot hear the voice of ordinary
passing events. One day he was ordered aloft with
one of his shipmates. The latter got into the rigging
a moment before him and a race upwards ensued.
Suddenly a ratline gave way under the foot of his
shipmate, who was dashed upon the deck a maimed,
crushed mass of humanity. This roused thought
in the one who was spared : " Why was it that I
was spared ? Why was I led to the opposite side
of the rigging to that which my poor shipmate had
taken ? Why ? Because God had a life-task for
me to perform."
On another day, when a heavy sea was running,
he was sent to the large wheel, which had three tiers
of spokes. A mighty sea caught the rudder and
wrenched the wheel from the grasp of all the men
who held it, dashing upwards, against the deck
above, one poor fellow who was on the weather side.
We who were on the lee-side were saved from hurt.
The injured man died soon afterwards as a result of
Whatever effect these and similar accidents had
upon the young sailor at the time, they were brought
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 7
to his remembrance later and used by the Holy
Spirit for the guidance and moulding of his life. If
it be true
That not a worm is cloven in vain,
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivel'd in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another's gain,
how much more the sudden death of one with whom
we are closely associated ! God's voice is always
to be heard by those who have ears to hear.
It was, as a matter of fact, some time after this,
on board his next ship, the Excellent^ that the pearl
of great price was found. Mr. Peck says, *' One
evening, when reading i John v. 9-13, this glorious
passage was made the means of bringing peace,
perfect peace, to my troubled conscience. With
what power and force did these words of God speak
to my poor longing, trembHng heart ! What a mine
of comfort they held for me, and still hold, not only
for myself, but for all those who will accept them ! '*
Truly, the spirit breatheth where He Hsteth. We
understand readily enough that the whispered
breath may be wafted to the weary soul in the hush
of the sanctuary 5 in the stillness of the prayer-
chamber; in the solemn hours of the night. We
understand the louder message of God being heard
in the inspired voice from the Church pulpit or the
pleading tones of the Mission Room. We can under-
stand the awful call of God to repentance coming
8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
from the earthquake or the thunder as on Sinai.
There is a certain agreement and harmony between
But we should be indined to say that the confused
discords of Babel were no surroundings for the
Spirit of Pentecost. And yet it was a veritable
Babel on board ship between thirty and forty years
ago, in which the Holy Breath came into the life of
young Peck and took possession of him.
There was no nook for quiet meditation where a
seaman could be alone. Every place was public,
every place was noisy. Here is a group playing a
forbidden game of cards under cover of a barrier
formed of piled-up " ditty hoxes^'' a mess kettle, and
other unshoreUke obstacles. There is a man play-
ing his banjo with his eternal tumma-tumma-tum-
tum. In another part is a concertina in full swing
playing " Jack's the Lad," while a score or more of
step-dancers execute wonderful performances with
their bare feet on the deck, their rough [soles sound-
ing like the rasp of a knife being cleaned on a brick-
dust board. In another part are seen two young
fellows, locked in each other's arms in orthodox
ballroom fashion, whirling gracefully round in the
dreamy mazes of a valse, the music being hummed
by the pair in turn.
Yet again a sombre-minded sailor chants dole-
fully that dreariest of all ditties, " Babara Allan,'*
beloved of Jack years ago. Close by him, another
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 9
tar with a hammer is whack, whacking a leather
sole before clumping it, as well as any shoemaker, on
to the waiting boot, and thus proving that " a sailor
can do anything." A little knot of men is in hot
and fiery argument over the Tichborne Case ; another
over the merits of a new gun. Here is a man writing
to his sweetheart ; another is making a twine cabbage-
net for the mess ; a third is mangling his washed
clothes with the bottom of an enamelled basin or
rolling-pin. The gangway is blocked here and there
by men with fathoms of spun yarn and canvas-
wrapped leaf-tobacco, " heaving " it into those
huge cigar-shaped rolls much appreciated by sailors,
envied and coveted by shore smokers — a hundred or
two of men laughing, talking, skylarking ; this is the
scene into which the Gracious Spirit enters, and seek-
ing out amid the din of that deck the young sailor
who, defying all opposition, sits reading his Bible,
whispers to him the word of peace and assurance.
On January 7, 1874, he was transferred from the
Excellent to H.M.S. Hector, the guardship in South-
ampton Water, and here he formed a friendship
with John Martin, sailmaker, Sydney Watson,
carpenter's yeoman, and Tom Yeadle, seaman.
These four eventually came to be like-minded in
spiritual things, and so were also inseparable, meet-
ing together night after night for prayer and praise.
But they could not remain satisfied with mutual
edification. They must offer their good things to
10 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
others also. Referring to these days, Mr. Feck
writes : " A little band of the Lord's people, being
thus brought together, we were almost immediately
led to try and do something for our unconverted
shipmates. Very soon we had interested one or
two more seamen to join us, men for whose con-
version we never ceased to pray. Then as the days
went on, and our Httle nightly gathering grew more
and more precious, we divided the hour spent, mak-
ing the definite study of the Bible a part of the
exercises ; for each felt the need of feeding in the
green pastures.' "
But they were not allowed much peace outwardly.
They were himted about constantly from place to
place by many in authority who seemed to take a
pleasure in persecuting them. Among their bitterest
enemies was a ship's corporal, who, though he drove
them like partridges, was forced to give an unwilling
testimony to the effect of their meetings. The
corporals' mess was cleaned and cared for by a smart
but ungodly lad, who held the rating in the ship of
first-class boy. This lad came down on one occa-
sion to a meeting which was being held in the seclu-
sion of the carpenter's store room. He was decidedly
impressed, and this proved to be only the first of
many gatherings that he afterwards joined. For
he came again and again. Whether he was truly
converted or not was not manifest, but certainly
his whole life was changed. One night, as three
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK ii
of the band of men were emerging from the store-
room, their old enemy the corporal saw them, and
beckoned them to him. As they ranged up close
to his table, he said : " What in the name of fortune
do you do down there with the fellows ? They go
down devils and come up saints." The words
speak for themselves, and prove that God was mani-
fested in these humble but happy gatherings.
The petty persecutions directed against these
men, who had banded themselves together for devo-
tion and spiritual edification, after a time became
so constant that they could find no cave of Adullam
as a permanent refuge. Accordingly they sum-
moned up courage enough to make an official appli-
cation for a spot where they might meet, " none
daring to make us afraid," and in response to their
appeal they were granted the use of one of the bath-
rooms. What precious times they spent there ;
how sweet their memory still ! One of these even-
ings stands out vividly to this day. The iron room
is about twelve feet by nine ; along three sides are
massive iron baths, surmounted by huge pipes, and
great glittering brass cocks. The deck under foot
is covered with three-inch wooden gratings, sodden
with water which, swayed with every motion of the
vessel, rushes up over the men's bare feet. There is a
general sense of cold, chill damp pervading the place,
but it does not damp or chill the ardour of the little
band of ten or a dozen sailors gathered there. The
12 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
little company are pitched (the Americanism " fixed-
up " would be perhaps an appropriate word) in all
sorts of odd positions ; some are seated on their
low ditty boxes (ten inches long, eight wide, seven
deep, their size) placed on the wet deck gratings ;
some perch upon the cold, damp iron edge of the
long baths ; some stand leaning against the rough
iron plates of the walls of the room. The gathered
drops on the iron plates overhead and on the plates
which form the sides of the room, make the whole
place a kind of " nautical dripping well." All the
men have Bibles in their hands, and there is a look
of eager interestedness upon the faces. The subject
of the Bible Reading is " Heart Religion," the place
of reading the latter part of Deuteronomy v., and
the early part of the next chapter.
" Listen to these words again, chums," says the
old sailmaker as he repeats his reading. ' I have
heard the voice of the words of this people, which
they have spoken . . . they have well said all that
they have spoken. O, that there was such an heart
in them, that they would fear Me, and keep My
" Ah, chums," he goes on, " it makes all the
difference whether a man has a head or a heart reli-
gion. Head religion is like moonlight ; that is pretty
and cold, and romantic like, good for courting
couples and for pictures, for poets and book-writing
fellows when they want to make a pretty scene,
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 13
but it has no notion of melting ice or warming the
earth. And it is just like that with head religion —
there's no warmth, no life in it. There ain't ne'er
a one of us here as would be so green as to hold our
hands out to the moon to warm them j but there are
folks foolish enough to try and heal broken hearts, and
to warm their cold souls with head religion. Then
when they find it is all a failure, they blame God and
the Bible. They say there's nothing in any religion,
it's all a farce, and they'll have nothing to do with it.
Poor things ! They're moon-blind, or they would
see the truth as God tries to teach it all through the
Bible, that ' it is with the heart man beheveth unto
Here the good old man tucked his book under his
arm, rubbed his hands together with an almost
boyish glee, as he continued : " Hallelujah ! for the
sunshine — God's sunshine — the joy of theLord ! Why,
look here. The other night when that little chap
was singing his ditty on the upper deck, ' I love the
merry sunshine,' you remember how everybody
clapped him, and encored. I could not help wishing
that a few of them would learn to love God's heart-
sunshine. Thank God, He has made it so easy to
have heart religion ! Everyone has the power to
trust, to believe."
A few more words from John Martin, and on
they read : " And thou shalt bind them for a sign
upon thine hand,"
14 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" What does that mean ? " asked a young sailor.
" How can we carry rehgion on our hands ? "
" Well, the idea comes to me Hke this," rephed
another : "If a gent has a regular tip- top ring, a
diamond, or something like that, he's not only not
ashamed of it, but he takes good care that everyone
shall see it. You'll see, he'll stick out his finger
when he lifts up his glass of wine to his lips ; an' if
he's twistin' his moustache, somehow you don't
see the twist of the hair, but you do the twirl of that
diamond. And it strikes me that God means to
say to us, if our religion is worth anything people
will see it as readily as though it was a diamond
ring bound upon our finger."
Then, with a smile at the young sailor who had
made the inquiry, the expounder continued : " Don't
you remember, chum, when you an' me was ship-
mates in the C , and we went ashore together
at Madras, how we saw the different sects of Hindoos
with their castemarks in their foreheads, and how
proud they were of them, and how plainly the marks
showed up to everyone ? "
*' Right yer are, I remember ! But what's that
got to do with religion on the hand ? " said the
" Nothing to do with the hand," replied the
other. " But that same verse has something about
the foreheads, too," and, Hfting his Bible, the sea-
man expositor read, by the light of the lantern
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 15
which swung from the ceiling, " And they shall be
as frontlets between thine eyes." " That is plainer
still, chums ; a fellow might lose his hands or hide
them in his pockets, but with God stamped on his
brow, I suppose everyone will know he is born
It will be seen from this faithful description of
this meeting, which is but a sample of many Hke it,
that though the men who were gathered together
may not have had much critical knowledge of the
Book of the Old Testament which they read, they
had nevertheless grasped the simple truth of God's
love, and reaHzing this they could give back love
and praise to Him who had made them new creatures
in Christ Jesus.
Besides the sustaining of spiritual life there was
another result in the case of Edmund Peck and one
other member of this little society of godly men.
These two determined to improve themselves from
the educational point of view. Morning after
morning they were up and dressed and at their
studies by four o'clock. The first half hour or so
was spent in private devotion and Bible reading.
After that they would read and'write for the cultiva-
tion of the mind and intellect. But just as the
meetings of the original four men for spiritual edifi-
cation found a wider expansion when they began to
invite their shipmates to join them, so there was a
similar result in this more secular 'matter. The two
i6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
friends found so great a delight in their books that
it became their increasing desire to share their privi-
leges with others. So they began to cast about
in their minds for some plan of action. After much
thought and prayer as to what they should do for
their shipmates, they decided to send a few pounds
to London to their friend, Mr. Wm. Cheshire,
Engraver, of Holborn Viaduct, and of Stirling Villa,
Sutton, Surrey, asking him to lay the money out in
suitable books for lending to the crew.
There was a ship's library, of course, on board
the vessel, but it was a very small affair, and very
dry, and very, very stale, so that scarcely any one
thought of asking for a book. (Things in the Navy,
in this respect, have somewhat improved, but
in those days, a ship's Hbrary was an Ezekiel's
Valley, " full of dry bones.'')
On receipt of the letter and postal orders for two
or three pounds, Mr. Cheshire was so dehghted with
their notion that he started off to see Mr. Samuel
Partridge, of the well-known Paternoster Row firm.
Showing that good man the letter, he asked : "If
two man-of-war's men can do this much out of love
for the souls of their shipmates, I feel that some of
us who are Christians and in the book trade ought
to help them a little. What will you do, Mr. Part-
ridge ? "
*' Do ! " said that gentleman. " I'll do this : For
every pound's worth of books you can get in the
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 17
Row gratis, I'll add a pound's worth at the same
Mr. Cheshire called upon other publishers, and two
others specially helped him, Messrs. Shaw, of 48, Pater-
noster Row, and Mr. Haughton, author of Heaven,
and How to Get There, and other kindred books.
The price of books thirty years ago bears no com-
parison with that of to-day. They had supposed
that a parcel in size about two feet by one would
have been about the kind of thing they should
receive ; their surprise when the parcel actually
came was beyond all expression. The vessel was
lying off Cowes at the time, in attendance upon her
Majesty, who was at Osborne. The case was ad-
dressed to Sydney Watson, carpenter's yeoman, and
he was summoned on to the quarterdeck one after-
noon, and was asked what that huge case contained
which was alongside, and addressed to him, and
who gave him permission to order goods to that
amount, since he was not entitled by rank to have
any box on board other than his tool chest ?
He repHed that he had not yet seen the parcel,
but that he and a chum certainly had sent for a few
pounds' worth of books, to distribute on loan, to
their shipmates in their messes.
The officer fumed, and said that the Government
found all stores needed for the men, and that the
owner could order the case to be sent ashore again,
as it certainly should not come on board.
i8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
The carpenter's yeoman, dismissed from the
presence of the irate officer, went to the gangway
to see the parcel. It measured quite three feet each
way — a stout, wooden case, iron-banded.
Passing down into the lighter on which it lay, he
explained the difficulty to the man in charge, gave
him a tip for his trouble, and asked him to request
his manager at Cowes to let the case stay in his
warehouse until he could get ashore, which would
probably be the next day.
It was the commander who had refused permission
for the case to come on board, and shortly after, when
on shore, he was taken seriously ill with gout. This
was the opportunity. Formal appHcation was
made to the next in command, and he readily allowed
the box to be brought on the ship. They had to
put a stout whip on the mainyard end to hoist the
box (all nautical readers will understand this allu-
sion), and after some considerable excitement the
thing was housed in the store-room, though it only
just passed down through the square of the hatch.
The unpacking and sorting of that box was a won-
drous time, for the contents were altogether beyond
their conception of book wealth ; and when, two
days later, on the Sunday afternoon, immediately
after dinner, the two chimis carried a number of
books, on loan, to each mess, their shipmates were
as delighted as they were amazed. Only one thing
was needed to complete the joy of that first distribu-
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 19
tion of loan literature, namely, the presence of
Messrs. Cheshire, Partridge, Shaw and Haughton,
that they might have seen how the sailors appre-
ciated their kindness and generosity. That case
of books proved an untold blessing to the ship's
Interesting as are the scenes on this side of naval
life, and tempting as they are to linger over, the
narrative must hasten on to that which was in parti-
cular one issue of them. We glance at Mr. Peck's
notes, and he takes up the story which links the
Eskimos and their spiritual destinies with a British
man-of-war : —
" About this time Tom Yeadle, the seaman gunner,
informed me that he had heard from a clergyman,
the Rev. T. Romaine Govett, Vicar of Newmarket,
asking him to leave the Service and go, if possible,
to Newmarket, as Scripture Reader. Tom Yeadle,
for certain family and personal reasons, finding it
impossible to comply with his friend's request,
referred the clergyman to me (E. J. Peck), saying
that he thought I might be able to go. After prayer-
ful consideration and some correspondence with
Mr. Govett, I was able — through the permission of
the naval authorities, of course — to purchase my
discharge, and I finally left the Navy on May 7,
1875, and went to Mr. Govett a few days after.
" The Rev. T. Romaine Govett was, in many
respects, a remarkable man of God, and I could
20 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
never, if I tried, tell all that I owe, under God, to
his wonderful influence upon my life and thought.
" My time at Newmarket was chiefly spent in
study, visiting from house to house and reading
God's word to the people, holding cottage meetings,
and doing what I could for the racing men and
others engaged in the ' horsey fever,' and all of
whom Seemed to live only for pleasure and gain.
" I had conceived a desire to be a missionary, and
the desire grew stronger every day, while Mr. Govett
rejoiced to foster it, offering to help me forward in
my project in any way possible to him. One morn-
ing he called me up into his study and informed me
that he had thought deeply over my missionary
wishes, so much so, that on the previous night he
could hardly sleep, and spent much of the night in
prayer and deep thought upon the matter. He also
informed me that he had decided to write to the
Church Missionary Society, Salisbury Square, and
invite them to take me into their training institute.
With feelings which I cannot describe I went up to
London to see members of the committee, and after
a very searching examination I was accepted for
training, and entered the Society's preparatory insti-
tute at Reading in the latter part of 1875.
*' I had been studying some months, when one
morning I was startled by receiving a call to pro-
ceed to the Society's offices in London (SaHsbury
Square). On my arrival I was ushered into the
MAP OF THE DIOCESE OF MOOSONEE,
[The map of the United Kingdom, on the same scale, has been inserted to show how vast are
the distances to be traversed.]
THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 21
presence of the Rev. H. Wright, and pointing to
the shores of Hudson's Bay, he told me that Bishop
Horden needed a man to go forward to preach the
Gospel to the Eskimos. With the holy enthusiasm
of the true missionary he reminded me that it might
be the Lord's will to gather, through my instru-
mentality, a people from these inhospitable wilds
to be sons and daughters of God.
" ' Will you go ? ' he asked.
" Moved, doubtless, by the Holy Ghost, I imme-
diately replied that I was wiUing to go. A short
time was placed at my disposal to bid farewell to
my loved ones, and to prepare for the voyage — a
voyage, be it remembered, which can only be made
once a year, at one special season. Mr. Wright
and his family showed me not a little kindness, and
it was from their never-to-be-forgotten home that I
finally started for my port of embarkation in the
beginning of June, 1876."
THE ESKIMOS — THEIR ORIGIN, GOVERNMENT AND
*' I am debtor both to the Greeks and to
" Come over into Macedonia and help us."
NOW that we have seen the man whom God
had prepared for His call and work, let us
visit the people for whom he was prepared, and
learn something of their needs.
Shall we try to imagine a scene which may have
taken place some 300 years ago or thereabouts ?
The French had begun to colonise Canada. The
city of Quebec was about to be founded. One
day a French settler had penetrated perhaps further
north than usual. He met a strange-looking man.
He was broad-faced, flat-featured, smiling, good-
tempered, sallow complexioned, rather short, quite
unlike the Indians by whom the Frenchman was
accompanied, and with whom he had been quite
familiar. He asked his companions :
" Who is this ? "
With a contemptuous curl of the lip the Indians
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR ORIGIN 23
" leschimou," which being interpreted is, " He
is a raw-flesh eater."
As the French became more and more familiar
with the people from the North, the word in a
somewhat altered form passed into their language,
and they became known henceforward to all
Europeans as Esquimaux, or, as the word is now
generally spelt, Eskimos.
It will then be readily seen, if this be the correct
derivation of the name, that a term of contempt,
such as it is, would not be likely to be in use among
the Eskimos. It is a mere nickname bestowed
upon them by the outside world. They are quite
satisfied about their own superiority over the rest
of mankind, as were the Jews and Greeks of
old. At least, we should be inclined to say so if
we may judge from the name which they apply
to themselves. This is Innuet, which may be
translated by The People, though the root mean-
ing seems to be owner. We are told in the old
Hebrew record of the Creation that God saw every-
thing that He had created, and it was very good.
" No," say the Eskimo, " that is not true," if we
may credit a tradition that is said to come from the
region of the Mackenzie River : " God first made
different tribes of Indians and different nations of
White men, and He was not at all pleased. At last
He made the Eskimos, and then rested from His
labours perfectly satisfied." So they are the People,
24 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
But after we know the origin of both names —
the one by which they are known to the outside
world, and that by which they speak of themselves
— ^we wish to know more. Who are the Eskimos ?
Where do they live ? Whence did they come ?
It is easy to ask questions, as every parent of a
three-year-old child knows. But it is not always
easy to give satisfactory answers. And the first
and last of the above questions in particular re-
ceive by no means one and the same definite answer
from different authorities. It is, of course, im-
possible to deal exhaustively with the origin of the
Eskimos here. It is altogether beyond the range
of this book.
A few facts, however, may be stated, and a few
opinions, worthy of respect, may be quoted, which
will, perhaps, be suggestive of a correct view to the
mind of the reader who is interested in the subject.
The extent of the surface of the earth which
they inhabit is very wide. Professor W. Boyd
Dawkins, F.R.S., says : " The Eskimos occupy
the coldest parts of the earth in"America and Asia,
and their civilization is of a rude and primitive
type. To the south of the Eskimos in America is a
debatable land belonging neither to them nor to
the Red Indians, between which races a feud
exists." A stretch of about 3,200 miles of con-
tinent from East to West is occupied by these
people, who claim to be the aristocracy of God's
creation. But though their territory is so vast, the
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR ORIGIN 25
number of the occupants — as, perhaps, is natural,
seeing that perfection can be attained by few — is
very small. Various calculations make the total
of all the Eskimos range from 20,000 to 40,000.
Some authorities make five divisions of the
Eskimos, according to the distributions of their
tribes, extending from Greenland on the East to
Alaska on the West, and going as far south as the
Eastern and Western shores of Hudson's Bay.
But there is not enough certainty about these
divisions to make it worth while to discuss themi
It is sufficient to say that those to whom the reader
will be introduced are almost exclusively those of
the central division on the Eastern shores of the
Hudson's Bay and Cumberland Sound.
Before the advent of the white man there was
more movement of the tribes-men than now for
purposes of barter and exchange. The peculiar
stone used for making kettles, driftwood, ivory,
and kindred articles were all objects of value and
caused intercourse for purposes of trade. But
now, owing to the establishment of whaHng and
other stations, the geographical areas of the tribes
are more circumscribed and confined, as each sta-
tion is a centre of trade where most of the neces-
saries of life can be obtained.
As to their origin, it is extremely doubtful
whether they came from Asia or America. There are
different authorities of, perhaps, almost equal weight
who support each theory.
26 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
They are found on the east of the American Con-
tinent at an early date. In the eleventh century
Eskimos were met with there, according to the Saga
of Eric the Red. The Norsemen of those days
sailed forth from their Greenland colonies on voy-
ages of discovery. After striking a fresh coast and
saiHng southwards they arrived, we are told, at the
mouth of a large river, which they entered at high
tide. There are wonderful tales of their finding
self-sown wheat fields and of vines growing on the
hillsides. The voyagers remained where they landed
for some time and fed on the fat of the land, until one
morning a great number of natives paddling skin
canoes made their appearance. These new-comers and
the Norsemen exchanged 'signals of peace, which re-
sulted in a friendly intercourse extending over some
length of time. The description of these natives cor-
responds with that of the modern Eskimos. They
were evidently the tawny broad-featured Mon-
golian type of men with whom we have become
After a time, however, strife succeeded peace, and
although the Norsemen defeated the^Eskimos, they
resolved to evacuate the new country rather than
live in continual conflict with the inhabitants.
Accordingly they returned to their own land.
At what time the Eskimos made their way to
Greenland it is impossible to say. The colonists
from Scandinavia do not seem to have come into
THE ESKIMOS: THEIR ORIGIN 27
collision with them for 400 years after they had
effected their settlement, and, if an argument may
be drawn from silence, they did not even meet any
inhabitants. They did, however, find ruined dwell-
ings and stone implements which had belonged to
some previous occupants. On them they bestowed
the name Skroellings, or Weaklings, for they thought
that the people who had such possessions as these
must have been but a feeble folk.
It is probable that the Eskimos had their settle-
ments further north, and that these ruined huts
represented temporary sojourns only in the more
southern districts of Greenland.
Perhaps it may be safe to conclude that the
Skroellings were established in the higher latitudes
of Greenland by the eighth or ninth century.
It is, however, in the fourteenth and the early part
of the fifteenth centuries that they come forcibly
into history. The Scandinavian colonies were then
annihilated. This annihilation is said to have been
due to the attacks of the Skroellings, though there
were probably other causes at work as well, such as
famine and plague. But whatever happened,
Greenland became from that time forward an un-
known land until it was opened up once more by the
Mission of Hans Egede in the year 1721. The
Arctic Wanderers, too, remained in obscurity until
they were re-introduced to the larger world under
the French name of Esquimaux.
28 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
But this, of course, proves nothing as to their
place of origin. Those who hold the view that the
American continent was the first home of the Eski-
mos believe that they must have been a tribe of
fishing Indians who formerly lived on the banks
of the rivers which flow into the Arctic Ocean, and
that they were gradually driven northwards by the
pressure of the Southern tribes.
It is also said that their language bears some
affinity to the Indian languages on the ground that
it, like them, is agglutinative in character. But
this, as Professor Boyd Dawkins says, is not suffi-
cient proof to establish relationship. And the
Rev. E. J. Peck writes : "I have had unusual
facilities for comparing the language of the Eski-
mos with those of various Indian tribes — at least,
with those of the Indians living on the shores of
Hudson's Bay and Ungava Bay — and there is no
possibility of believing that these were originally
an Indian tribe, who might have been driven north
by war or other causes."
Dr. Rink, who is a high authority, believes that
many Eskimo weapons and implements are of
American origin, and that this fact can form the
foundation of a weighty argument. But we are
hardly on firm ground here.
There is one weapon, indeed, which is very re-
markable, and if any argument for relationship
might be based upon the possession of it, would
THE ESKIMOS: THEIR ORIGIN 29
go to prove the existence of cousinship between the
Eskimos and some people who live in parts of the
earth very widely separated from them. This
is the throwing-stick, which, although most useful
and ingenious, seems to be known only in two
other countries. It is practically identical with the
womera of the aborigines of Australia, and it is
also said to be known to some tribes on the banks
of the Amazon. It is probably safer, then, to
assume that the mere possession of a weapon really
proves nothing. This throwing-stick is a device
for hurling a dart with far greater force than could
be brought into play by the unaided arm. In
fact, it practically lengthens a man's arm, and so
gives him a vast amount of artificial leverage. It is
eighteen or twenty inches in length, fitted with a
pivot or loose hinge at one end upon which the
detachable dart can work freely. It has a thumb-
hole and finger-grooves so that it can be firmly
grasped in the right hand. It is used both for
harpoons and bird darts.
On the whole, the weight of argument seems to
be against an American origin for the Eskimos, and
in favour of an Asiatic one. They are closely allied
with the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands, and so
perhaps Keith Johnson is right when he believes
that they crossed from their own continent to
America by the "natural bridge, or rather stepping-
stones," which these islands form.
30 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
The word " Kayak," which is the skin-covered
canoe of the Eskimo, may perhaps point to their
origin. Dr. Isaac Taylor derived it from a primi-
tive word common to the Yakut and Seljuk races
in Asia. According to him the original meaning
would be a birch-covered canoe, but in lands where
skin has of necessity to take the place of other
material, the name has been retained though the
fabric does not exist. There may, to say the least,
be some history contained in this very small nut-
Again, it seems Hkely that the perpetual feud
existing between the various Indian tribes on the
one hand, and the Eskimos on the other, as well as
the debatable land which separates them, points
to a difference of race. We should also bear in
mind the tone of contempt which the former adopt
in speaking of the latter — a fact of which use was
made in opening this chapter.
Perhaps argument from physical characteristics
may not be worth much, for these may be influenced
largely by cHmatic and other conditions. But
whether worth much or little, the features of the
Eskimos are in marked contrast with those of the
Indians, and would seem to speak of Japanese and
Chinamen being near of kin.
Dr. Rink believes in an Alaskan origin, but after
weighing the pros and cons carefully, Dr. Boas sums
up : "I believe that an Alaskan origin of the Eskimo
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR GOVERNMENT 31
is not very probable. If pure type and culture
may be considered as significant, I should say that
the Eskimos west and north of Hudson's Bay have
retained their ancient characteristics more than
any others. If their original home was in Alaska,
we must add the hypothesis that their dispersion
began before contact with the Indians. If their
home was east of the Mackenzie, the gradual dis-
persion and seeming contact with other tribes
would account for all the observed phenomena. A
final solution of this interesting question might
be obtained by means of archaeological research on
the coast of Bering Sea."
And there, as far as these pages are concerned,
the problem must be left*
As to government among the Eskimos, there is
almost nothing to be said, except that outside the
family it is practically non-existent. There are no
chiefs over tribes, no rulers and no laws. It is
true that sometimes a man will be recognized as a
sort of leader, but this is due to his own personal
character, his skill as a hunter, or some other
almost accidental circumstance rather than to any
Warfare, though perhaps not uncommon in former
generations, is now really unknown, and disputes
between tribes do not occur. Custom is the only
ruler, and is the one unwritten law which is held
up to be obeyed. ^Should a man make himself
32 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
persistently objectionable by constant violation
of what is regarded as right in this way, he is
generally punished by a sort of ostracism ; but
this is rarely resorted to. In extreme cases offend-
ers have been known to be put out of the way
by a sort of judicial murder.
The love of peace characterises not only the
tribes in their relations with one another, but also
the individual members of each community. " I
have known," says Mr. Peck, " cases where, rather
than quarrel, the offended party has refrained from
retaliation in the slightest degree, and, with some
simple conciliatory remark, has walked away."
It may be pointed out in passing that if the
accounts of the extermination of the Scandinavian
colonies on the Greenland coast in the fifteenth
century, to which aUusion has already been made,
be at all accurate, that chapter of history, as well
as the records of tribal wars among themselves,
would indicate that the temper of the modem
Eskimo is vastly different from that of his Skroelling
Perhaps the most important inquiry we can make
about any people is concerning their religion.
And here a great deal might be said, for many
facts are known, but we must content ourselves
with a brief summary.
There is no system of worship, and the religious
ideas of the Eskimos are connected with the nega-
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR RELIGION 33
live position of propitiation rather than with any
positive reverence or love for God or gods. The
cause of this is perhaps that the world is regarded
as governed by supernatural powers, each of which
is the owner of some particular object, or animal,
or passion. The unseen owner is the innua. We
have had this word before as applied to the Eskimos
by themselves. Now the innua seems to have a
very intimate connection with its object, just as
the soul with the body, and, supernatural though
it is, it seems very ready to take offence if all its
prejudices are not strictly regarded. And so the
religion of these people consists chiefly in the
observance of a vast number of taboos, wearing
of charms, and other superstitious practices in
order to avert misfortune.
A very long list of the taboos might be written,
but let a few, enumerated by Dr. Boas, suffice : —
" No work on seal-skins must be done during
the caribou hunting season. Seal-meat and caribou
meat must not be eaten on the same day."
" Hair of caribou-skins must not be cut during
the musk-ox hunting season."
" The tusks of walrus caught during the winter
must not be taken out of the skulls until the latter
part of April."
"A person who has recently lost a relative by
death must not pluck ducks, else the birds will keep
awayfrom the hunters."
34 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
*' No work must be done for three days after
a bear or a ground seal has been killed. The
women must not comb their hair."
" The bedding must not be disturbed until late on
the day when a ground seal has been caught," and so
on ad infinitum. The origin of these taboos is impos-
sible to find, though in some cases there are stories
concerning them. For instance, walrus and caribou
must not come in contact any more than seal and
caribou, as in the first taboo mentioned above. This
is accounted for by the dislike of these animals for
each other as indicated in the following tradi-
tion : "A woman created both these animals
from parts of her clothing. She gave the walrus
antlers and the caribou tusks. When man began
to hunt them the walrus upset the boats with his
antlers and the caribou killed the hunter with his
tusks. Therefore the woman called both animals
back and took the tusks from the caribou and gave
them to the walrus. She kicked the caribou's
forehead flat and put the antlers on it. Ever since
that time it is said that the walrus and caribou
avoid each other, and the people must not bring
the meat of these animals into contact."
In further explanation why portions of the
dead animals must not be brought into proximity,
it is said that the soul or innua of some sea animals
stays with the body that has been kiUed for three
days. Then it goes back to the chief goddess
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR RELIGION 35
from whom it originally proceeded, Sedna. If
during these three days any transgression of a
taboo has taken place, the transgression becomes
attached to the animal's soul and causes it pain.
And, moreover, it is compelled to take this trans-
gression back to the abode of Sedna.
There are terrible accounts of starvation follow-
ing as a punishment upon the violation of th^se
taboos. No seals or whales or caribou or game
of any kind can be bagged by the hunter.
In their extremity the people call in the services
of the angakok, who is the magician, sorcerer, or
medicine man. This man is able to see the souls
of people and animals, and he does so through the
help of guardian or familiar spirits (tomak). These
familiar spirits are themselves ruled by one supreme
In the case of sickness, which has perhaps resulted
from some unconscious transgression, the angakok
seats himself in the snow-house or tent with a
screen between himself and the people present.
The lamp is almost extinguished. He takes off
his outer fur coat, and begins to sway his body
backwards and forwards in the most violent manner,
at the same time making the most unearthly yells.
Having worked himself up to a state of great
excitement, he announces the arrival of his familiar
spirit. The angakok then questions this spirit as
to the cause of the present sickness and trouble.
36 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
In return the spirit gives directions for the wearing
of certain charms, abstinence from particular food,
and other matters. Of these charms there is a
considerable variety, bones and teeth of animals,
pieces of deer skin in which are stitched up bits of
deer flesh and sundry articles equally efficacious.
It is worthy of note that in cases where the wilful
transgression of a taboo has taken place, confession
on the part of the offender invariably removes the
calamity that resulted as a punishment. In the
case of a famine, for instance, the guilty person is
sought. If he confesses, the seals will allow them-
selves to be caught. If he obstinately maintains
his innocence, his death alone can appease the
Mention was made of Sedna as one of the chief
deities. She has special dominion over the sea, the
weather, and certain sea-animals the creation of
which is attributed to her. There are variations
in her story in different localities, but the main
features are generally the same everywhere.
*' Sedna lived with her father in the Eskimo
country. She was a beautiful girl, and was wooed
by many of the Eskimo youths. But to none of
her lovers would she give her heart. At last, a
fulmer, a kind of sea-gull, wooed and won her
affections. The bird promised her a lovely tent,
plenty of food, and everything that would gladden
the heart of a fair Eskimo lady. Trusting his
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR RELIGION 37
promises, Sedna travelled far away with her fulmer
lover, and at last came to its home. But she was
grievously disappointed, for there was no suitable
dwelling provided for her, and the food, which with
great difficulty she obtained, was of the very
coarsest, poorest kind.
" Sadly she bewailed her lot, and regretted having
rejected her many lovers in the far-off land of her
"At last her father, in the following year, and
when the weather was fine, went to pay her a
visit, and thus became aware of the bitter decep-
tion practised upon his daughter by her worthless
husband. Filled with rage the father killed the
fulmer, and taking Sedna into his boat, he pro-
ceeded over the sea to the place from whence he
'*' The other fulmers on returning to their home
beheld with sorrow and rage the body of their dead
companion, and started in pursuit of Sedna and her
" Flying with swift and vengeful wing across the
seas they speedily overtook the two fugitives, and
intent upon their revenge they caused a mighty
storm to blow. Giant waves rose and threatened
to engulf Sedna and her father. The father,
thinking only of his own safety, cast the unfortu-
nate girl overboard, but she clung desperately to
the gunwale of the boat with both hands.
38 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
"The inhuman father then took up a hatchet and
chopped off the tips of his daughter's fingers up to the
first joints. These finger ends dropped into the sea
and turned into seals.
" Again the girl gripped the gunwale of the boat,
and again her father brought down the hatchet
upon her fingers and severed the second joints.
These mutilated fragments also dropped into
the sea and became bearded seals.
" Once more, in despair, the wretched Sedna seized
the boat, and for the third time the unnatural
father let his weapon fall and cut through the last
joints. The stumps of the fingers in a similar manner
were turned into whales.
" The fulmers, supposing that Sedna was now
drowned and settled with, caused the wind to cease ;
and when the storm was thus suddenly stilled the
father took his maimed child back into the boat.
" But Sedna' s soul was now filled with hate of
her father, and she nursed her purpose of revenge
for all his diabolic cruelty. After they returned
to their own land, she took an opportunity, when
her father was asleep, to set a pack of hungry dogs
upon him, who devoured the soles of his feet.
" In a fierce wrath the father cursed Sedna, him-
self, and the dogs, whereupon the earth opened and
swallowed up Sedna, her father, and the dogs, and
ever since they have lived in the lower parts of the
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR RELIGION 39
The Eskimos thus not only attribute to Sedna
the creation of the sea animals named, but they also
believe that she is the cause of the storms which so
often sweep over their icy land and prevent them
from successfully pursuing their hunting expeditions.
An annual festival known as the Sedna Ceremony
is celebrated in the autumn. The object of this is,
as the people say, " to order and command that
there shall be no more wind, and that the weather
shaU be only such as shall go to the making of a
successful hunting season."
There seem to be two parts of the festival, one
for the maiming or driving away of Sedna, the other
consisting of rejoicing in the accomplishment of this
In this ceremony the angakoet play an important
Proceedings commence in a tent by a line being
coiled upon the floor in such a manner that the
upper part of the coil forms a small circular hole*
Over this hole two angakoet stand, one holding a
harpoon, and the other the line which is attached
to the harpoon.
Another angakok, seated in another part of
the tent, sings an enticing song with the object
of alluring Sedna from the under world. Her
arrival is known by a blowing noise, and the anga-
kok then drives the harpoon into his victim, who,
though grievously wounded, manages to escape, and
40 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
to descend to her dreary abode in the nether re-
gions. She is, however, supposed for a time to
have power to hurt the Eskimos, so they don
charms, which they wear upon their heads to
counteract her sorceries.
Sedna having been thus placed hors de combat,
the event is celebrated next day by the perform-
ance of the following ceremonies : —
A circuit is made of the settlement by the people,
those who were born in the winter wearing partridge
feathers in their head-dresses, and those who were
bom in the summer the feathers of the eider duck.
Imitating the caUs of the birds which they severally
represent, the people pass round from tent to
The keeper of the tents (a woman in every case)
is expected to give them some presents, which
she throws among the noisy crew, who scramble for
the scattered gifts, and then pass on to the next
The next performance is the " Tug of War." A
seal-skin line is used, and those having partridge
feathers in their head-dress take one end of the
line, and the eider ducks the other.
The hauling and struggling begin, when, if the
partridges win the day, fine weather for the winter
wiU be the result.
Next comes the ceremony of water sprinkling, and
telling of the name and place of birth. Each person
THE ESKIMOS: THEIR RELIGION 41
holds his or her drinking cup ; the oldest man
then steps forward, takes up some water, sprinkles
a few drops on the ground, turns his face in the
direction of the land where he was born, and
speaks his name and the place of his birth. This
is next done by a woman, and so on with the
sexes alternately, until the whole of the community
has performed this extraordinary rite.
After this foUows the last part of the ceremony,
of which the details are too revolting, by reason of
their immorality, to place before the readers of these
pages. Suffice it to say that they form an illustra-
tion of St. Paul's indictment of the Gentile world
in the opening chapters of his epistle to the Romans.
In connection with this story of Sedna and
religious doctrine generally, it is worthy of note that
the Eskimo's conception of the Spirit of Evil is
unlike that of any other nation. The devil is
feminine instead of masculine. It may be sug-
gested that possibly this is a distorted idea derived
from the Biblical narrative in which Eve is the
channel by which sin is introduced into the world.
Notions of heaven and a future state seem to
be somewhat hazy. There is a certain conviction
that this life, with its limited sphere of action, does
not represent the final end of existence. There is,
probably, in the mind of every Eskimo some con-
ception of a material heaven with abundance of
seals and the absence of blizzards, and to this he
42 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
may some day attain. For the good go to this
place, viz., those who have been kind to their
neighbours, those who have been drowned, those
who have been killed while hunting ; also women
who have died in child-birth.
On the other hand, murderers, and those who
have been angry with, and generally unkind to,
their neighbours go to the land which is below. In
this region storms rage ; the cold is intense, and
animal life is scarce.
Stories told by the people themselves illustrate
their hopes of a better world more graphically
than any words of explanation. An old Eskimo,
who in his time had been a mighty hunter, told Mr^
Peck one day that many years ago he had seen a
very wonderful seal. Its fat was so thick and it
made the creature so buoyant that it could not
dive when pursued by the hunters. This aged
Nimrod explained matters by assuring his visitor
that such seals fall down from heaven, and that the
bliss of the future state consists in the number of
fat seals, reindeer, and other coveted animals that
will be found above.
Another day an Eskimo woman narrated with
evident sincerity how she had been away inland
with a number of people who were hunting rein-
deer. Suddenly they heard a wonderful noise close
at hand, and, looking in the direction of the sound,
they saw the carcase of a fat reindeer which, she
THE ESKIMOS: THEIR RELIGION 43
said, had fallen down from heaven. We use the
phrase " it is raining cats and dogs." Is there
any connection between this and Eskimo ideas ?
Possibly some, though probably not many, among
us hope to find heaven very thickly populated with
our domestic pets.
These fat animals, however, are special foretastes
of what is coming. They are samples of the heavenly
seals and reindeer. The ordinary sea monsters which
the Eskimos hunt day by day have a lower, an earthly
or watery origin, as we have already seen.
Another interesting feature in the creed of the
Eskimo is a shadow of the doctrine of propitiation
by means of sacrifice.
On the north-eastern shores of Hudson's Bay,
parts of an animal killed in the chase are cut off,
and the Eskimos speak of this slain one's akkinga
[i.e. its pay or ransom], and it is considered to be
a means of appeasing the creature for the life taken.
This has doubtless a reference to the spirit or in-
nua of the animal
Again, in Hudson's Bay, in cases of sickness, the
angakok questions the sick man as to his past life
and deeds, and, after receiving the confession,
he will order one of the sick man's dogs to be slain,
in the evident belief that the life of the dog makes an
atonement for the man's evil deeds, and that atone-
ment having been made, the sick man will recover.
*' I have known," writes Mr. Peck in this con-
44 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
nection, " a sick man who was scarce able to crawl,
and who had no angakok at hand, managed to load
his gun and with great difficulty shoot his dog,
hoping to recover by merit of his sacrifice, though
the sequel to his act was not a cure, for he died
of the malady of which he was suffering."
Again, the Eskimo has a tradition of the flood.
According to Dr. Boas, in his work on The Central
Eskimos, the following account is given of their
tradition of the Deluge : —
" A long time ago the ocean suddenly began to
rise until it covered the whole land. When the
flood had subsided the ice stranded, and ever since
has formed a cap upon the mountain summits.
Many shellfish, fish, seals and whales were left
high and dry, and their shells and bones may be
seen to this day. A great number of Eskimos died
during this period, but many others who, when the
waters rose, had taken to their kayaks were
There is also a remarkable story of the creation
of the first woman, which may be some hazy relic
of the Biblical record. Though worthy of insertion,
it must be stated that it seems to be a somewhat
local tradition, and possibly it is not accepted by all
" The man (no tradition is given of how man was
created), feeling very lonely, went out one day when
the sun was shining, and when the earth was in
THE ESKIMOS: THEIR RELIGION 45
some measure thawed. Taking some clay, he made
an image Hke unto himself. He was not, however,
satisfied with his workmanship, and blew upon
the mass of clay with the object of blowing it down.
But as he blew upon the clay image it suddenly
became endowed with life and beauty, and he thus
obtained a wife and companion."
Enough has been said, perhaps, to give the reader
some general idea, at any rate, of the religion of the
Eskimos. It is impossible to be exhaustive, for
volumes might be written upon this subject. The
few incidents, stories, and practices here narrated
tell us this much, that there is in the northern and
desolate regions of the earth a man of Macedon
raising his cry to the great Christian Church, " Come
over and help us."
THE ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK.
"Is not the life more than meat and the
body than raiment ? *'
** Work ... for the meat which abideth
unto eternal hfe ? "
" Give ye them to eat."
IF we wish to make friends with people we must
know them in the home circle and family life.
Now we wish to become the friends of the Eskimos.
Then we must enter their homes and live with them.
We shall have to go down low on our hands and
knees to crawl through the doorway, not much more
than a hole, which is the entrance to the Eskimo's
iglo or snow-house — ^his winter dwelling-place.
Frozen snow is easy to work, and therefore very
adaptable for building purposes. So this is the
Eskimo substitute for bricks and mortar. When
a man wishes to build his iglo he describes a rough
circle and places his blocks of snow round in order.
Then tier upon tier of blocks rises in circle after
circle, each layer of smaller diameter than the one
below, until at last one block fills up the empty
AN ESKIMO IGLO OR SNOW HOUSE.
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 47
space and the dome is complete. Interstices be-
tween the blocks are filled up by the women and
children, while the men build the walls. It is
amazing how quickly a family will get under cover.
A house capable of accommodating a family of six
can be finished in two hours, while one to accom-
modate one or two hunters when travelling, which
is needed only for a long night's shelter, wiU rise,
like a mushroom, in an hour.
The sleeping place in such structures is formed
by leaving a portion of the snow-drift out of which
the blocks for the walls were cut. This original
bank serves as a couch. On it is spread a mat
made from a kind of willow. Two or three layers
of thick reindeer skin are placed on top of the mat,
and the blankets, made of softer reindeer skin, are
wrapped round the sleeper.
Speaking of snow-houses, Mr. Peck says :
" I may say that they are fairly comfortable pro-
vided the weather is calm, and when one is well
provided with plenty of good reindeer-skin, socks,
etc. But in stormy weather one's position in a
snow-house is not to be envied. In any case, it
stands to reason that, should the temperature with-
in the house rise above freezing-point, the inmate
has then the comfort of feeling drops of water cool-
ing his head and face, and in cases of a pronounced
thaw outside, I have known the whole roof to col-
lapse. How delightful ! "
48 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Such is the chief kind of winter dweUing of the
Eskimos on the coasts of Hudson's Bay, Cumber-
land Sound, and many other parts. Elsewhere
different modes of building are met with.
Into one of these houses let us enter and form
part of the family circle. The head of the house,
like every Eskimo, is a hunter. As the days are
short, the hours must be economized. Long before
the dim light makes itself evident the hunter is up.
His wife puts a fresh supply of blubber into the
lamp and trims the wick, and the sledge is made
ready. Should the household larder contain any
meat, the hunter takes a morning meal ; but if, as
is often the case, the larder is of the Mother Hub-
bard type, then the poor Eskimo has none.
Fastening his dogs to his sledge he then drives
over the frozen waste till he arrives at a favourable
spot for sealing.
During the time that the hunters are away the
women employ themselves in making or repairing
the clothing or footgear of their husbands and
children. When we remember that every article
of wearing apparel is made of the skins of the cap-
tured animals, and that before they are fit to be
sewn they have to be prepared at a great cost of
time and labour by the women, it is easy to under-
stand that, as in civilized England so in the land of
snow-houses and skin clothes, " a woman's work is
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 49
The women have other duties, however, besides
making and mending clothes. There are the lamps
to be thought of, and these make no small demand
on their time.
In many regions the Eskimo lamp is still made of
stone ; the wick is generally prepared from moss,
and is kept at a proper height by means of a stick,
so that the lamp will not smoke. A vast amount
of practice is needed before this object can be
attained with any degree of certainty.
Blubber supplies the oil that is needed. It is
prepared by beating it with a large bone with a
heavy end, and when beaten almost to a pulp, it
is either placed in the lamp in this form or hung
on a cross-piece of wood some little distance above
the flame of the lamp. The heat of the flame then
melts the blubber and causes it to drip into the
It must not be supposed that cooking is con-
sidered to be a necessary accompaniment of food.
An Eskimo can thoroughly enjoy a good meal of
raw seal's flesh and blubber, as we inferred from
the meaning of the name mentioned in the last
chapter. But nevertheless the food, or a portion
of it, is sometimes cooked, and if there is meat in
the house, the wife often is engaged in preparing
it against her lord's return. Kettles, like the lamp,
made of stone, are kept for this purpose.
The children spend most of their time in play.
50 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Out of doors they make miniature snow-houses,
sHde down small inclines upon sledges, or engage
in their favourite game of football. This last, how-
ever, should more strictly be called hand-hall, for
the seal bladder, which takes the place of the ball,
is thrown from hand to hand.
If the weather should be bad, and in consequence
they should be confined to the hut, they have various
games corresponding to our cup and ball, cat's-cradle,
and others which will keep them amused for hours.
The parents of smaller children make toy sledges,
bows and arrows, garments (made of wood) for the
dolls, and such like to keep the little ones happy.
But amid all their play, whether it be out of
doors or in, the return of their father from the hunt
is scented long before he reaches the snow-house,
when, if he should have proved successful, a very
lively scene ensues. With shrieks of delight the
children yell : " Netsu^kpok, netsukpok I " (He has
caught a seal, he has caught a seal !)
The wives turn out and help their husbands
unharness the dogs. The harness is coiled up in-
side the house, while the sledge is often put upon
the top. The spoil also is hauled inside out of the
way of the dogs.
The seal is then skinned and cut up, quite a
number of people sometimes congregating in the
successful hunter's house, and partaking with very
evident gusto of pieces of the gory meat.
ESKIMO WOMEN WITH DEAD SEAL.
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 51
After supper the men generally have a chat about
the day's hunting and their successes, and if they
do not draw the long bow quite as strongly as the
proverbial fishermen who, at the riverside inn,
dilate upon their piscatorial successes, they at least
prove that, when it comes to sporting talk, the
Eskimo sportsman is very near akin to his civilized
Over these chats the friendly pipe is smoked with
evident relish, both women and men indulging in
" the immortal weed."
The Eskimos, like sailors, will endure any hard-
ship, forego almost any necessary of life, if only by
such means he can secure his much-loved tobacco.
At these smoking concerts the people will sit up
quite late, especially if there be plenty of meat in
When the last lingering visitor has taken his
departure, a block of snow is fitted into the tiny
door in the base of the house. This is done to keep
the place warm ; a small hole, however, is made in
the roof by way of a ventilator.
These preparations for the night having been
completed, the people strip off all their garments,
then wrap themselves in fur blankets, and sleep as
sound all through the night as a twelve-year-old
boy at get-up time.
In dealing with the home life it must not be for-
gotten that the Eskimo is distinguished for hospi-
52 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
tality. Most travellers agree that he will suffer
almost any personal inconvenience rather than fail
in this respect.
Custom allows a man to make free with his neigh-
bour's house. If he enter an iglo and there hap-
pens to be seal's meat or blubber at hand, he will
take his knife, cut off a huge piece, and eat away
with perfect sang froid, and this, too, at times with-
out the introductory remark of, " because I am
hungry, therefore shall I eat.^^
Such are our friends in winter, and most of their
year is winter. In summer they live in tents, and
their outdoor life necessitates variations from the
above descriptions. Searching for shellfish, netting
salmon and trout, hunting reindeer, are all familiar
occupations in different localities which fill the
Let us next enter the outfitting department of
the Eskimos and look round. With God's wondrous
harmony of Providence, food and clothing singu-
larly allied are found to hand, and of the most, nay,
the only, suitable character for the climate. The
most closely-woven woollen garments of the thickest
and of the very warmest, choicest quality are at times
utterly inadequate to keep out the piercing winds of
those awful Arctic wastes, and this even if garment
should be piled upon garment until the human
form be almost mummified in its wrappings.
But clothed in God's special provision, the skins
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 53
of reindeer, seal, eider duck, an Eskimo can brave
the fiercest winds or the most piercing cold.
Two suits of clothing are used, the inside suit
being made so that the fur is turned inwards
next the skin. The outer garments are made
in the opposite manner, viz., with the fur turned
outwards. It is necessary for warmth to have these
two fur suits ; and not only so, no fastenings or
openings are made in either the front or back, other-
wise the penetrating cold would effect an entrance.
The coat is slipped over the head in a sack-like
fashion. Fur socks protect the feet, and over these
are worn long boots made of sealskin.
The only practical difference between the dress
of the women and that of the men consists in a kind
of tail, a flap-like appendage to the coats of the former,
and in the addition of a large hood, which is fitted to
the coUar, in which their babies are carried. This is
the quaintest of infant perambulators. The little
round, flat face, and the beady dark eyes of the baby
peep upon the wintry wilds outside from the snug
depths of the great fur hood of the mother. The
latter shuffles along with a peculiar motion of the
shoulders, humming all the time one of those lul-
labies which only mothers know how to sing and
babies to understand. If these efforts are not suc-
cessful in pacifying the little one, a piece of raw
seal's meat or blubber takes the place of the
teething ring or the " lollipop" with us. The gory
54 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
or oily morsel generally produces a magical effect.
Skins of the eider duck, which are also made up
into clothing, are reserved almost exclusively for
The Eskimo displays a great accuracy of eye,
as was experienced by Mr. Peck. He was in
want of a new fur suit, and accordingly the
tailor was called in. He took no measurement ;
he simply turned Mr. Peck round and studied his
figure, went away, and in due time brought the
clothes, which proved to be an admirable fit.
No picture of the home life perhaps ought to be
regarded as complete without some few remarks
concerning that which produces it — marriage.
Children are usually betrothed by their relatives at
a very early age ; but these engagements are some-
times broken off later on. When the children
reach maturity the girl learns the duties of a house-
wife. As soon as the boy is able to provide for a
family and the girl can do her necessary work, the
couple are allowed to marry. In cases where no
betrothal has taken place in childhood, men look
out for wives as soon as they arrive at the age of
maturity. Sometimes the services of a mediator or
matchmaker are secured. After the marriage has
taken place the young people generally begin life
with the parents of the bride : and if the husband
and his wife belong to different tribes the former
must join that of the latter. It is not until after
ESKIMO WOMAN AND CHILDREN.
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 55
the death of his parents-in-law that the man is com-
pletely his own master.
The list of things necessary for starting house-
keeping is an extremely limited one. The lady
needs her sewing materials — a circular knife for
cutting out skin garments, a stone kettle, and a
lamp. The gentleman's outfit consists of his
dogs' sledge and hunting weapons. He joins no
building society ; purchases no building site ; knows
no landlord, no tax-gatherer, no rate-collector ;
leases and agreements are farther removed from
him than the myths of the Greeks ; he knows
only one system of dwelling upon the earth,
namely, that of God's freehold, and he builds his
snow-house or pitches his tent, according to the
season, where he will ; and when game is fairly
abundant he appears to lead a very happy life.
Polygamy is not common among the Eskimos ;
it is not, however, regarded as improper. It is
probably the difficulty of providing for more
than one wife and family which keeps the prac-
tice within bounds. Divorce is quite common,
and wives are put away at times for the most frivo-
lous causes. It may be readily understood that the
sanctity of the marriage bond cannot be held in
very high estimation when religion itself or friend-
ship can not only sanction, but demand, a temporary
exchange of wives.
Widows are generally cared for by their relatives.
56 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Orphans are often adopted by the relatives of the
deceased. It is also by no means uncommon to
find orphan boys adopted by those who have no
male children of their own. The prospect of the
boys being able to keep them in their old age is an
incentive to this action. The treatment of children
is generally very mild. They are not scolded,
whipped, or subjected to any corporal punishment.
Infanticide has been practised, but probably only
female children or children of widows and widowers
have been murdered in this way. The reason for
it is the difficulty of provision only.
We next turn to the outdoor life of the Eskimo,
and examine it in some of its details. Let us look
first at his means of locomotion.
The sledge is his carriage ; dogs are his motor
Speaking of the West Coast of Hudson's Bay, Dr.
Boas says that in old time, when wood was scarce,
sledges were sometimes made of walrus hide, cut
lengthwise, rolled up tightly and then frozen. Now
they are frequently made of w^ood where it can be
obtained. They vary in size according to the
material available. The authority just quoted tells
us that they are about i6 feet long, and the runners
are placed from i8 to 22 inches apart. These are
sometimes made of steel, which is obtained from
traders ; sometimes they are of bone.
In extremely cold weather these runners are often
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 57
cased with clay, and over the clay water is poured.
When the watered clay has been carefully smoothed
with a knife, a glass-like surface is secured, which
makes the travelling peculiarly easy.
The runners are kept upright and in position by
cross-bars of wood, which are lashed to them. The
fore-part of the runner curves upwards about three
feet from the front to prevent its sticking in the
hummacks of snow or ice.
It is almost needless to point out that sledging
often makes the greatest demand upon one's powers
of endurance, but the imperturbable cheeriness of
the Eskimo is always equal to ft. Through blinding
drifts and blasts of cruel cutting wind the traveller
has to press on to his goal.
Once a party of Eskimos started over the frozen
sea for Little Whale River from an island fifty
miles away. A terrific gale arose after their
departure, and so blinding was the drift that they
could not possibly see the route they should pursue.
Knowing, however, the direction of the wind, they
steered a rough course landwards.
The first night they built themselves a rough
shelter of snow, and made another start next morn-
ing. The wind and drift were again against them,
but still they pressed on, and finally succeeded in
reaching a point some two miles to the north of
Little Whale River.
They were disappointed to find that thev had
58 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
just missed the actual entrance to the river.
Two miles out, of course, after so perilous and
difficult fa journey, was a very trifling matter;
yet, though very few, even natives would have per-
sisted in facing the drift as they had done, their
chagrin at missing the actual mark was great, and
they were not spared the mirth of their chaffing
countrjonen whom they found at the post, and to
whom they frankly confessed their blunder.
The dogs are a very important feature in the life
and occupation of an Eskimo. They vary in num-
ber, according to the wealth of the owner and his
abiUty to keep them from starving. Each dog has
a separate harness. This is generally made of seal-
skin. One part is fitted over the dog's head : two
other pieces go over the chest and under the fore-
legs, and are joined together at the back of the dog.
At the point of junction is attached the peto, which
is a very strong line or trace, fastened to the sledge.
These traces are not all the same length, but they
are tied so that the leading dog is well in advance of
the one coming after.
" Dog driving," says Mr. Peck, " is certainly
enough to try the patience of any man. The long
seal lines by which the dogs are attached to the
sledge often become a perfect tangle, caused by
the habit of the animals of wildly rushing about
from one side to the other, especially when they
imagine the long whip, which the Eskimo driver
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 59
uses with such skill, is on its way through the air
for their particular benefit. If the hauling lines are
not cleared in time, a hopeless muddle ensues. One
or more of the tails of the dogs wiU become entangled
in the lines, another will get his foot tied up, and so
on, until the howling and yapping becomes some-
thing fearful, and the sledge is stopped, the dogs are
liberated from their several plights, the lines are
cleared once more, and all is fair sailing.
The difiiculty a European experiences in driving
a sledge and Eskimo team of dogs is well described
by Kane in his book on Arctic exploration.
" I have been practising till my arms ache. To
drive such an equipage a certain proficiency with
the whip is indispensable ; which, like all profi-
ciency, must be worked for. In fact, the weapon
has an exercise of its own, quite peculiar, and as
hard to learn as single-stick or broadsword.
" The whip is six yards long, and the handle but
16 inches — a short lever, of course, to throw out
such a length of seal hide. Learn to do it, however,
with a masterly sweep, or else make up your mind
to forego driving sledge ; for the dogs are guided
solely by the lash, and you must be able to hit not
only one particular dog, one of a team of twelve, but
to accompany the feat also with a resounding crack.
After this you will find that to get your lash back
involves another difiiculty ; for it is apt to entangle
itself among the dogs and lines, or to fasten itself
6o THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
cunningly round bits of ice, so as to drag you head-
over-heels into the snow.
" The secret by which this complicated set of
requirements is fulfilled consists in properly describ-
ing an arc from the shoulder with a stiff elbow,
giving the jerk to the whip-handle from the hand
and wrist alone. The lash trails behind you as you
travel, and when thrown forward is allowed to ex-
tend itself without an effort to bring it back. You
wait patiently after giving the projectile impulse
until it unwinds its slow length, reaches the end
of its tether, and cracks to tell you that it is at its
journey's end. Such a crack on the ear or fore-
foot of an unfortunate dog is signified by a howl
quite unmistakable in its import."
The average day's journey in the winter time is
thirty miles, but in the spring, when the days are
longer, and when the ice is in good condition,
distances of sixty miles in a day have been
Eskimo dogs are of a most pugnacious character,
and if they think they can take liberties with
the driver they will stop and engage in a kind of
free fight among themselves — a sort of canine
Kilkenny. This is particularly liable to occur should
there be any strange dogs in the team.
The dog is also remarkable for sagacity and
powers of endurance. When travellers have thought
themselves lost in blinding snow-drifts, they have
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 6i
been saved again and again simply by allowing the
dogs to have their heads. With unerring scent
they bring them safely to some encampment.
And how cunning they are. One day, after he
had been living among the people some time, Mr.
Peck describes how he was travelling over the
frozen waste. One Eskimo companion was with
him. They had been spinning along at a capital
rate, but then, he says : " As our feet became chilled
we both (this was exceedingly unwise, I confess)
got off the sledge at the same time. The leading
dog, a knowing old fellow, realizing what the sudden
diminishing of weight meant, looked back, and see-
ing both of us running by the side of the sledge,
suddenly set off at a flying pace, and in spite of all
our cries to stop the runaway team and the use of
all our racing powers, we were soon left far behind.
" Our position was not to be envied. Everything
we possessed was on that sledge ; we were far, far
away from all human habitations or settlements,
and the wind cut like a knife. Fortunately the
weather was clear, and we could see the track of the
sledge across the snow ; so, panting and blown, we
followed the fugitives, hoping, praying that the
sledge would get stuck up somewhere amid the
hummocky ice, which, to our joy, as we pressed on,
we saw piled up ahead in the immediate track of
the runaways. We knew that our deserters could
never draw the sledge unaided through that rugged
63 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
ice mass that loomed in the distance, and sure
enough, presently, the sledge got jammed under a
"The dogs tugged and howled, but at last gave up
the job in despair, and when we finally arrived on
the scene they looked up at us in the drollest man-
ner, as much as to say, ' You've got us, it's true,
but it is not our fault.' "
Then, too, how rapacious is the Eskimo dog. " I
have known," writes Mr. Peck, " one of them die
from the effects of eating a dishcloth. Another, on a
certain occasion, actually made a good meal of a
dress belonging to Mrs. Peck's servant, a girl we
had at our first station, Fort George. The dress had
been hung out to dry."
We now glance at the hunter. He has to search
for his chief game, the seal, over the frozen sea.
The neighbourhood of his prey is indicated by a
hole in the ice. While the ice is still thin the seal
makes holes for breathing, and he keeps them open
by repeated visits during the winter.
Having discovered a hole (and each seal has
several) the hunter builds a wall of snow to shelter
himself from the piercing wind, and patiently sits
watching, hour after hour, with his harpoon ready
for use, until a peculiar, unmistakable blowing
sound announces the arrival of the seal.
Silently, stealthily he rises, poises his harpoon
over the breathiner hole — which in the winter
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 63
time is not larger than a crown piece — and drives
his deadly weapon down through the hole.
If he is fortunate enough to have struck the seal
(and they really make comparatively few misses),
he clears away the ice round the tiny orifice with his
tok (ice chisel) until the hole is large enough to haul
the seal through on to the surface of the frozen
If the hunter possesses a sledge and has it with
him, he loads his game upon it, and with the Eskimo
equivalent for '' Now then, away with you ! " to
his dogs, he is soon tearing homewards with a ten-
pound-weigh t-of -seal-meat appetite. If he has no
sledge with him, he secures his harpoon line to the
game, and with the line over his shoulder he hauls
home his catch.
It is not at all an uncommon thing for an Eskimo,
sheltered only by his waU of snow, to wait a whole
day, and even through the night, at a seal-hole
while the temperature is ranging from 30 to 40
degrees below zero.
Cases are not wanting where, sleep having over-
taken the hunter, he has become partially or wholly
lamed for hfe from frost-bite in his feet.
After all his watching, should he not succeed in
capturing his game he will even then return to his
snow-house, bright, cheerful, philosophical, making
some common, free-and-easy remark in reference
to his non-success, and then proceed to repair or
64 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
arrange his hunting-gear, or prepare his dog-harness
for another journey.
In some locahties, on account of the strength of the
sea current and the winds, the ice floe does not ex-
tend far from the land, and as the seals prefer to
blow in open water, the Eskimos repair to the edge
of the floe and shoot the seals that may happen to
come within range.
Besides hunting seals, the Eskimo lays himself
out for the capture of reindeer, Polar bears, wolves,
and in fact anything that he can by any means
entrap. Bravery and daring characterize him in
all his pursuits. If he does not possess a gun, he
will lash a knife to the end of a stout staff and attack
a bear with this rude weapon of offence. It almost
reminds us of the stripling going to fight the giant
with the sling and pebble from the brook.
A man named Augeak, a native of Hudson's Bay,
was walking along the coast one day in the vicinity
of Little Whale River. He carried with him a single-
barrelled gun, which fortunately happened to be
loaded. Quite suddenly he noticed a large pack of
wolves racing down the rock-bound coast direct for
Perfectly cool he watched them, and saw that the
leader of the pack was a very old beast, with a ragged
and far from beautiful coat, and therefore anything
but suitable game for purposes of the fur trade. Coolly
noting all this, the Eskimo deliberately singled out
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 65
another wolf with a beautiful coat, and fired. The
shot took effect, and the beast fell dead, when fortu-
nately for Nimrod the whole pack of wolves, as though
seized with panic, fled by the way they had come.
Whatever our ideas of the ferocity of the wolf and
Polar bear may be, the Eskimo evidently shares
none of our fear or dread, as is instanced by the way
he will sometimes lure wolves, which he sees in the
distance, towards him, that he may have a shot at
them. Lying down upon his back on the ice he will
kick and move his legs about in a peculiar manner,
imitating certain movements of the reindeer's antlers
when the deer is browsing. The wolves, beguiled by
the deception, come warily down, the hunter gets
his shot, bags his game, and the scared and discom-
fited survivors of the pack make off to ruminate
upon the extraordinary power possessed by some
In summer the kayak is a necessary part of an
Eskimo's equipment both for travel and the hunt.
It is a roomy canoe, which is made by stretching seal-
skin over a framework. Before the advent of the
white man, this framework used to be made of
whalebone. But as the natives learned the value
of the bone in trade, a very inferior substitute took
its place, and the skeleton was made of wood. The
diminishing yearly catch of whales also helped to
bring about this resrdt. Long and perilous journeys
are often undertaken in these frail craft.
66 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Dr. Nansen, in his book on Eskimo Life, gives a
most spirited account of what can be done and is
done every day in the use of the kayak in Green-
land waters. The hunter attacks successfully from
it the monsters and treasures of the deep. Some-
times he will come home in triumph towing as many
as four seals behind him — a good bag for a day's
sport. Sometimes he will have had a battle with a
walrus, or even a grampus. It needs a very cool
head and no Httle daring to hold the weapon ready
to seize the favourable moment for hurling it
from the hand while a i6-foot ferocious monster,
with formidable tusks, is coming upon him apace. All
the time, too, there is the knowledge that others
may rise up out of the deep at any moment, and
the huntsman in his frail canoe may be surrounded
by enemies on all sides. His method of catching
seals is ingenious and exciting. A long line is
attached to his harpoon. To the end of this line,
remote from the harpoon, is secured an inflated
bladder or sealskin. With this apparatus he paddles
cautiously over the water towards the game he has
sighted. With a well-directed aim he presently
hurls his harpoon at the seal. If struck the animal
dives, but the inflated sealskin soon brings the
wounded, exhausted thing to the surface, when it
is finaUy despatched with a kind of lance.
Cheap firearms have found their way among the
natives in many localities, and then they will
ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK 67
often hunt their seals with shot instead of har-
The Eskimo can brave any sea and any weather
in his kayak. Should he capsize he can right him-
self again with a stroke or so of his paddle, or even
without his paddle, with his open hand, and some-
times even with his closed fist. Indeed, his dex-
terity is so great and his confidence so complete,
that not infrequently, when he sees a heavy sea
coming, he will deliberately capsize so that he may
receive the force of the breaking water on the bottom
of his vessel, and then right himself when the crisis
" I was in prison and ye came unto Me."
ABOUT half a century has elapsed since
a Church Missionary Society's mission-
ary first had the opportunity of presenting the
Gospel of Christ to the Eskimos. On April 29,
1853? 3- party of them visited Fort George, on the
eastern side of Hudson's Bay, where the Rev. E. A.
Watkins had lately arrived. That post, however,
remote and solitary as it was, was too far south to
be much frequented by them ; and subsequently
Mr. (afterwards Bishop) Horden more than once
travelled northwards to Little Whale River, the
furthest point to which the trading agents of the
Hudson's Bay Company have advanced, and was
privileged to admit three or four into the Church.
Three native teachers in succession were sent by
him to work among them ; but all three died, and
for several years nothing could be done.
Here, then, we must return to Mr. Peck, whom we
left in the first chapter responding to the call,
" Who will go for us ? " The Eskimos had been
waiting long, but at last a missionary was to be sent
HUDSON'S BAY 69
to them. The new messenger left the Thames in
the Hudson's Bay Company's ship Prince of Wales,
on July II, 1876, with the object of making the
Evangelisation of the Eskimos his life's work.
Speaking of the voj^ge, Mr. Peck gives some
interesting glimpses. The crew was of a decidedly
cosmopolitan character, though nearly all could
understand the English tongue.
" Every one in the ship treated me with the
greatest kindness, and I was permitted to hold
meetings in the forecastle almost every evening.
Some of the crew, as a result of these meetings, I
believe, experienced spiritual blessings, and the
voyage, in spite of the special dangers of naviga-
tion encountered that year, was one of spiritual
profit and blessing to others beside myself.
" Before leaving England I was able to obtain
from the Moravian Brethrens' office in London a
copy of the New Testament which had been trans-
lated by the Brethren labouring on the coast of
Labrador. This, to me, great treasure I studied
when on the trackless deep, and by carefully com-
paring it with our English translation I was able —
especially where there was a repetition of the same
words, as in St. John, chap, i — finally to hit upon
" The words which I felt I had thus acquired I
marked, and though on arriving at my station at
Little Whale River I found some differences of a
70 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
dialectical nature, still I never once regretted the
time spent in that study of the Moravian trans-
" To return to that voyage. It was on entering
Hudson's Straits that I saw icebergs for the first
time, mountains of glacier ice that floated down,
majestic to the eye, but dangerous for the ship,
upon the Arctic current into the Gulf Stream that
flows out by Belle Isle. Passing through the ice-
berg region we came upon some fields of drift ice.
Drift ice is ice which has become loosened, by the
coming of the brief Arctic summer, from the frozen
coast line, and has floated out from the more
northern bays and inlets. Driven by the winds
and currents, until miles upon miles of sea are
covered with almost impassable areas of the frozen
blocks, the drift ice becomes pack-ice, and forms
a fearful danger to the vessel caught in its icy
talons. For every ship is not a ' Fram,' fitted
to crush her way through this hideous Arctic
" But God was with us on that voyage, and
though we had difficulties, we came safely through
these seas of ice.
" Our course was now shaped southerly, and we
sailed right down Hudson's Bay. Navigation be-
came very critical here, and oftentimes dangerous,
on account of the number of shallows and shoals.
The lead had to be kept going for soundings day
HUDSON'S BAY 71
and night, but finally, on September 7, 1876, we
reached Moose Factory."
The new missionary was warmly received by
the Bishop and Mrs. Horden, but as winter would
soon be coming on, and he had yet in front of him
the most trying and difficult, not to say dangerous,
part of his journey, he felt it impossible to remain
long under their hospitable roof. After one
week of refreshment, therefore, he set his face
stedfastly to reach his Ultima Thule, Little
This last portion of the journey had to be accom-
plished in a small sailing boat. It made what way
it could during the day, but at night it was run
ashore when the travellers pitched their tent on
land until the morning light enabled them to re-
sume their journey.
The party consisted of Mr. Peck, an Indian crew
and a Christian Eskimo, a native of Labrador,
Adam Lucy by name, as interpreter.
As in imagination we follow in the wake of the
travellers, we realize that the modern apostle can
apply to himself the words of St. Paul. For he
too is "in journey ings often, in perils of waters . . .
in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often,
in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
This coasting voyage was not to be accomplished
without serious mishap. On October 9 they had
72 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
rounded Cape Jones, and were drawing near to a
smaller cape when the wind shifted. On this
account they could not make much progress, and
as it was getting late they determined to make
for the shore, which was reached by pulling. By
the time they landed it was dark. Mr. Peck there-
fore had to leave all arrangements to the Indians,
who knew the coast, and would, he thought, take the
boat to a place of safety. She was at last anchored
in what seemed to be a sheltered bay or creek. The
party then went to their tent in the woods, taking
a few necessaries with them from the boat.
It must not be supposed that a tent in this part
of the world is similar to the beautiful and pictur-
esque canvas structure we see at home. The tra-
vellers light upon some old poles that have been
used by previous parties of Indians. They then
proceed to clear away the snow, or to beat it down
with their feet. The tent poles are set up, and a
rough shelter formed with deer skins, canvas bags,
and sundry other articles all kept in place by ropes.
A small hole is left at the top for a chimney, while
at the southern and lower part is a space for a door.
The door itself is another old bag, which can be
lifted so that the men of the party can crawl in or
out at pleasure. In the centre of the tent is placed
a circle of stones for the fire-place.
In such a place as this Mr. Peck and his party
retired weary and cold. Realizing that they had
HUDSON'S BAY 73
no continuing city, but that they were pilgrims
journeying to the mansions prepared for them, the
evening service of prayer must have come home to
them with special comfort, and they laid themselves
down in peace and slept.
But in the night sounds were heard of a sighing
and moaning wind rising. But they were not
sufficient to warrant the rousing of that tired band,
but only just enough to cause the sleep of the sailor
missionary to be broken by fitful dreams and slight
misgivings. He woke up early, and with the morn-
ing light went down to the place of anchorage. Alas !
a strange sight met his eye, for strewed along the
rocks were portions of his goods ; the boat was also
driven up high and dry on the beach. He saw the
cause of the disaster. The place, in which the In*
dians had anchored the boat, was exposed to the
northward and westward ; the wind sprang up
from this quarter during the night, which caused
a heavy sea ; the boat grounded at low water, and
then the sea had made a clean breach over her,
sweeping the things out of her or else breaking
them in her. Sad to say, the boat was much in-
jured, her keel being driven out of its place, several
of the planks being also started. Mr. Peck called
his Indians and sent them to collect what they
could. The contents of some boxes were considera-
bly damaged, although most of his clothes were
saved ; this was a great mercy.
74 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
The next consideration was to repair the boat.
Knowing that there was resin to be had from the
small shrubs which grew here, the missionary sent
the Indians to gather some ; they know how to
gather and prepare it, as they use much for their
canoes, and it does not make a bad substitute for
pitch. Having got some nails by breaking up one
of the boxes, and having a little spare canvas,
he purposed mending the boat with these ma-
It was a trial of faith, and many a man of less
persevering energy and trust in God might have
given way under it. But knowing that the life of
every one of the party might depend upon that
boat, and that by obstacles to be overcome God
intends the character of his servants to be devel-
oped, Mr. Peck, nothing daunted, set himself to
accomplish what may seem to us a hopeless task.
The first day was spent in preparing the materials
necessary, and it closed as before with prayer that
faith might be deepened and patience given, and in
confidence that God, who was the keeper of Israel,
would supply all their needs out of His riches in
On the next da}^ October ii, the actual repairs
were taken in hand. A fire was lighted and the
resin melted. The boat was turned bottom up-
wards, and the damaged parts scraped. A coat of
resin was put on, and canvas was placed on top of
HUDSON'S BAY 75
this and nailed to the boat. Again another coat of
resin was laid over the whole, and it seemed to the
sailor eye of the missionary to be a very fair bit of
work. The next day they could not put to sea as
the wind was contrary, and this caused a little
anxiety, for provisions were running short. The
flour had been most of it destroyed when the boat
was swamped. Mr. Peck and Adam had saved
only a very small quantity. Biscuits, though they
had been soaked with sea water, had been saved.
The flour was economised by being mixed with
broken biscuits and made into cakes. The result
was eatable, though not wholly palatable. In
the afternoon of October 13, the wind changed to
light and fair. So the boat was launched, and all
made ready for the start. But to the grief and
dismay of the party she leaked considerably, and
was unseaworthy. So once more it was a case of
unloading and going through a second course of
repairs. Finally, on October 14, they really got
away. There was heavy weather to face, especially
for such a cranky, patched-up craft as this. But
trust in God was not misplaced ; the winds and the
sea were braved, and at last they were brought to
Little Whale River in safety.
This, as has been mentioned, was the extreme
northern station of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Consequently it was at that time the best base
for operations upon the Eskimos. For they came
76 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
in considerable numbers to this place for purposes
of trade, exchange and barter.
The officials of the company were most kind in
their welcome to the newly arrived missionary.
They hospitably received him into their own houses
until his hut could be built. This, too, was
built for him by the company. Trade, when it is
thus the handmaid of Christ, is an unmitigated
blessing. It is a pleasing duty to give a tribute of
praise to men who bring the Gospel into the busi-
ness life as in this case. If all the boundless trade
of England went hand in hand with the spiritual
welfare of the world, the mountains would soon be
made low and the valleys,*exalted, and the highway
for the Empire of Christ prepared.
The logs of which Mr. Peck's hut was built had
been brought from an immense distance. They
were placed in a framework of other logs ; the
spaces between them were packed with oakum.
The whole of the hut was encased in weather board-
ing. Inside, the place was warmed and cheered
with a little stove, and as the hut had to be
kitchen and drawing-room in one, all the cooking
must needs be done at that stove.
" Mine was a real bachelor's life," writes Mr.
Peck, referring to this period, " and I had to learn
to do all my own cooking, presently even mastering
the mysteries of bread-making, though it is right
to confess (and ladies will appreciate the confession)
HUDSON'S BAY '^^
that the first two or three batches were Hke stones."
A few articles of food, such as sugar, oatmeal,
preserved meat, etc., could be obtained from the
company's store at Moose, but nothing on the spot.
Preserved milk could also be got, so that some-
times he indulged in a rice pudding. The most
venturesome and highest flight of ambition was
a plum pudding.
The first great work of every missionary is to
acquire the language of the people as well as gain
their confidence. With regard to the latter, Mr.
Peck at once reaped some fruit from the seed sown
in former years by the Rev. E. Watkins and Bishop
Horden. For owing to the visits that had been
paid to the Eskimos by them, he found the people
most friendly and willing to receive him. One
old man whom Bishop Horden had had the pleasure
of baptizing, John Molucto by name, became a tower
of strength both to the missionary and the mission.
He would gather the people together in his iglo to
be instructed by the missionary. As to the lan-
guage, we have already seen Mr. Peck studying his
Moravian Testament during the voyage. He used
it with such effect, both on the journey from Eng-
land to Moose Factory and thence in the sailing
boat to Little Whale River, that he was able to set
to work among the people without delay. Re-
joicing in this, he says, " How soon God finds in-
struments ! I Httle thought this Testament would
78 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
be of such service as I studied its pages on the
trackless deep or even when Adam assisted me to
The Testament, as has been stated already, was
written in the Labrador dialect, and Adam, the
interpreter, was also a native of Labrador. Conse-
quently there were grave doubts as to how far it
would be intelligible among the Eskimos of Hud-
son's Bay. But it was found that the chief differ-
ence lay in the pronunciation of certain letters
rather than in words or idioms. And thus one
difficulty which might have been a mountain was
removed by the faith which caused Christ's servant
to study the Testament though written for the
Labrador Eskimos. But a great deal is necessary
for the missionary beyond reading. An intimate
knowledge of language is everything. It is pro-
bable that a man can never be regarded as pro-
ficient in a language until he is conscious of not
translating his thoughts from his native tongue
into the foreign one — or, in other words, until he
thinks in the language of the people among whom
he is living. For this result to be obtained daily
practice in speaking, side by side with reading, is
This, by the arrangement of his domestic estab-
lishment, Mr. Peck secured. For after a time he
was so much oppressed by the utter loneliness of
his life at which we have glanced, that he invited
HUDSON'S BAY 79
a little Eskimo boy about ten years old to come and
live with him. This step, in his own words, proved
an " incalculable blessing " to himself in the ac-
quisition of the language, and the sequel shows
that it was no less fraught with blessing to the boy.
It is not difficult in imagination to paint a pic-
ture of some scenes that must have taken place in
that lonely hut. We see the wonder of the boy
overcoming his shyness as he gazes upon each
object of furniture or ornament new and strange to
his native eyes. We see the missionary and the
boy beginning to school each other by the only
means in their power. Mr. Peck points to some
article familiar to the lad and speaks its English
name ; the boy, with a nod of his head and a smile
upon his broad Mongolian face, repeats the English
after him, and then in turn tells the Eskimo word
for the same thing. We seem to hear the merry
peal of laughter that breaks forth as the mutual
teacher and scholar discover that they have been
playing at cross questions and crooked answers —
laughter bringing a ray of sunshine into the dark,
lone, icy dwelling. But best of all we seem to see
a holier light breaking in upon the dark, hopeless
soul of the lad as he hears, and at last is able to
understand, that he is the heir to a great inheritance,
that there is an abiding city in which is prepared
a mansion for him where there is no need of the sun,
neither of the moon, to shine in it : for the glory of
8o THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the hght thereof.
The name of this Eskimo lad was Anoat, which
means clothing. This seems appropriate in the
light of his subsequent history. For the result of
this life in close association with the Servant of
Christ was that after many years in 1900 he put on
the Lord Jesus Christ and was clothed with Him.
The Rev. W. G. Walton speaks, in a recent report,
of his power and influence. Though his name is
Anoat, for some inscrutable reason he was known
among the traders as Nero. Happily there is no
likeness in character to justify this.
The Eskimo language is by no means easy of
acquisition. The chief peculiarity in it is its
agglutinativeness, and this also causes the great diffi-
culty which is not so much the learning to express
one's own thoughts as understanding what others
are saying. All manner of parts of speech may
become joined to the verbal root, and then this
compound may be conjugated in all moods and
tenses like a simple verb. So great is the length
to which words may grow under this treatment,
that Mr. Peck has often exhibited to English
audiences a canvas two and a half yards long which
contains one word only — a good object lesson of
some of the linguistic trials that missionaries have
Here we may anticipate a little, while speaking
of the language, and say that whatever difficulties
HUDSON'S BAY 8i
had to be faced, the patient industry of the mission-
ary overcame them all. About a month after his
arrival, November 6, 1876, he wrote : " My plan is
to write down over night some simple words and
sentences. I then get the corresponding Eskimo
words from Adam Lucy or Molucto ; the Indian
words are gathered from one of the Company's
men, David Loutett. I find all very willing to
help me, for which I am indeed thankful. My
daily collection averages from eighty to a hundred
words. These are learned the following day and
brought into actual use as soon as possible, thus
impressing the same on my memory, as well as
making me familiar with the peculiar sound. I have
now got some thousands of words, mostly Eskimo,
which I gathered by study of the Testament and
from my different friends." At first it was mere
gathering, massing little by little a great quantity
of material. Then came both conscious and un-
conscious sorting of the heap, nouns separated
from adjectives, verbs from adverbs ; gender from
gender, tense from tense ; until at last, after seven
years of six hard, studious hours every day, not
only is he master of the situation, but is able to
produce a grammar of 200 pages, thus making
the rough smooth and the crooked straight for
those who come after and enter into his labours.
But the missionary cannot rest satisfied with
merely mastering for preaching purposes and con-
82 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
versation the language of the people among whom
he lives. He must always remain sensible of de-
ficiency until he has placed the Bible in their hands
in such a form that they can read it for themselves.
With this object in view, as soon as the first winter
was over Mr. Peck determined on transcribing
portions of the Moravian Eskimo Testament into
what is known as the Syllabic character.
This system was the invention of the Rev. James
Evans, a minister of the Canadian Methodist Church
and a missionary to the Indians at Norway House.
Without such a method as this it is difficult to con-
ceive how the roving tribes of Eskimos could ever
have learned to read. By this means, however, an
ordinarily intelligent native can be taught to read
in eight or nine weeks. This would be quite im-
possible with the Roman characters, especially con-
sidering that many of the people come into the
trading ports for a few days only at a time. In such
high esteem is this system held, and so great a debt
of gratitude is due to Mr. Evans for his work, that
a few words in connection with its history will not
be out of place. The Rev. Egerton R. Young, in
his book, By Canoe and Dog Train, gives a full
account. He says : " The great work of Mr. Evans'
life, and that with which his name will ever be
associated, was undoubtedly the invention and
perfecting of what is now so widely known as the
HUDSON'S BAY 83
" What first led him to think of this invention
was the difficulty he and others had in teaching
the Indians to read in the ordinary way. They
are hunters, and so are very much on the move,
like the animals they seek. To-day their tents are
pitched where there is good fishing, and perhaps
in two weeks they are far away in the deep forests
where roam the reindeer, or on the banks of streams
where the beavers build their wonderful dams and
curious homes. The constant thought in the
master missionary's mind was, ' Can I possibly
devise a plan by which these wandering people can
learn to read more easily ? '
" The principle of the characters which he adopted
is phonetic. There are no silent letters. Each
character represents a syllable ; hence no spelling
is required. As soon as the alphabet is mastered
and a few additional secondary signs, some of which
represent consonants and some aspirates, and
some partially change the sound of the main charac-
ter, the Indian scholar, be he man or woman of
eighty or a child of six years, can commence at the
first chapter of Genesis, and read on — slowly, of
course, at first, but in a few days with surprising
ease and accuracy.
" Many were Mr. Evans' difficulties in perfecting
this invention and putting it into practical use,
even after he had got the scheme clear and distinct
in his own mind.
84 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
"He was hundreds of miles away from civilization ;
very little indeed had he with which to work. Yet,
with him, there was no such word as failure.
Obtaining, as a great favour, the thin sheets of lead
that were around the tea-chests of the fur-traders,
he melted these down into little bars, and from
them cut out his first types. His ink was made out
of the soot of the chimneys, and his first paper was
"After a great deal of effort and the exercise
of much ingenuity, he made a press, and then
the work began.
" Great indeed was the amazement and delight
of the Indians. The fact that the bark * could
talk,' was to them most wonderful. Portions
of the Gospels were first printed, and then some
of the beautiful hymns.
" The story of this invention reached the Wes-
leyan Home Society. Generous help was afforded.
A good supply of these types was cast in London,
and, with a good press and all the essential requi-
sites, including a large quantity of paper, was sent
out to that mission, and for years it was the great
centre from which considerable portions of the Word
of God were scattered among the wandering tribes,
conferring unnumbered blessings upon them."
In later years, the noble British and Foreign
Bible Society has taken charge of the work ; and
now, thanks to their generosity, the Indians have
HUDSON'S BAY 85
the blessed Word scattered among them, and thou-
sands can read its glorious truths.
Perhaps a little more may be culled from the
same source showing how greatly impressed Lord
Dufferin was by this character. When he was
Governor-General of Canada he had an interview
with Mr. Young and Mr. Crosby, a missionary from
British Columbia. The former says : " I showed
him my Cree Indian Testament printed in Evans'
syllabic characters, and explained the invention to
him. At once his curiosity was excited, and jump-
ing up he hurried off for pen and ink, and got me
to write out the whole alphabet for him ; and then,
with that glee and vivacity for which his lordship
was so noted, he constituted me his teacher, and
commenced at once to master the characters.
" As their simplicity and yet wonderful adapta-
tion for their designed work became evident to
him — for in a short time he was able to read a
portion of the Lord's Prayer — Lord Dufferin was
much excited, and getting up from his chair and
holding up the Testament in his hand, exclaimed,
' Why, Mr. Young, what a blessing to humanity
the man was who invented that alphabet ! ' Then
he added, ' I profess to be a kind of literary man
myself, and try to keep posted up in my reading
of what is going on, but I never heard of this before.
The fact is, the nation has given many a man a
title, and a pension, and then a resting-place and a
86 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
monument in Westminster Abbey who never did
half so much for his fellow-creatures.' Then
again he asked, ' Who did you say was the author
or inventor of these characters ? '
" ' The Rev. James Evans,' I replied.
" * Well, why is it that I never heard of him
before, I wonder ? '
" My reply was, ' My lord, perhaps the reason
you never heard of him before was because he was a
humble, modest Methodist preacher.'
"With a laugh he replied, 'That may have
been it.' "
The adaptation and use, then, of this method for
transcribing the Scriptures was an early work for
the missionary. So soon as April 9, 1877, Mr.
Peck is able to write : —
"I have succeeded in teaching several of the
Eskimos to read in the Syllabic characters ; they are
very eager to learn. One of them said that he was
' mad to learn.' Let us hope that this unusual
complaint may prove infectious. There are twelve
Eskimos who can now read the 3rd chapter of St.
John's Gospel in their own tongue." Molucto and
his son were at this time able to read as much as
five chapters, some parts quite fluently.
Having experimented successfully in this way,
Mr. Peck resolved as soon as possible — ^i.e., as soon
as ever he should feel quite certain of the sounds
himself — to transcribe the whole Testament.
PROGRESS — ORDINATION
" Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the
work whereunto I have called them."
WRITING under date, April 9, 1877, Mr. Peck
stated that the Eskimos who had up to
then heard the Gospel message numbered about
It may be said that this is very small. Perhaps
so, if we compare Eskimo work with that among
the teeming millions of India or China or some other
mission field. But it is a large proportion of the
sparse population of seal hunters. And to be con-
tinually teaching one hundred persons here and
there, besides learning their language and doing
literary work, is no mean record for the winter.
And soon more were expected to come to the
trading post. Before the break up of the ice at
least as many again would arrive, and these from
the distant shores on the north side of Hudson's
Strait. And thus we see that the number of those
88 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
who hear the Gospel can never be measured by the
number of those who come into direct contact with
the missionary. By reason of the migratory and
trading habits of the people, his influence spreads
far and wide beyond the limits of the sea-girt
portion of the continent in which he lives. Far
over the frozen waters the traveller drives his
sledge, so that from Little Whale River or any part
of Labrador the tidings of salvation may sound forth
to Baffin Land, and thence to Melville Peninsula,
and so on down the west side of Hudson's Bay or
elsewhere. The Word of God is not bound, and
there is no limit to its free course. In northern
regions we might put a new word into the mouth
of the old prophet, and say. '' The knowledge of the
Lord shall cover the earth as the ice covers the sea."
Each man who has heard and valued the message
for himself passes it on. Thus, as the widening
ripples on the surface of the smooth waters show
that there must have been a stone cast into the lake,
so conversely the missionary finds evidence that,
though hidden from vast numbers of those living
in the regions beyond, the smooth surface of their
careless lives has been disturbed by the vibrations
of his teaching.
Mr. Peck has found this in his own life. He has
had the satisfaction and joy of discovering Eskimos,
whom he has never met before, able to read as a
result of his own teaching. He has instructed some
one at Little Whale River. The man who has
learned has then wandered away in pursuit of game
or for trade, and has imparted to his friends that
which he has received.
The teacher should himself always be learning
the lesson not to despise small numbers. Had the
greatest of all teachers not appreciated this, the
world would never have been evangelized. For it
was not when Jesus Christ had the multitudes
hanging on His words ; not when He was feeding
the thousands in the wilderness ; not when He was
entering in triumph into Jerusalem, that He was
making a marked and permanent effect upon man-
kind. But it was rather when weary and footsore
by the roadside ; when storm-tossed on the sea ;
when presiding over the last sad supper in the upper
chamber, pouring His teaching into twelve ignorant
fishermen who misunderstood Him, and saturating
them with it, that He was fashioning the weapons
to break down the opposition of sin and win the
world for God. Let this be the comfort of the lonely
worker, and a sufficient answer to the caviller con-
cerning inadequate results to expenditure of energy
The experience of the first few months among
them was distinctly favourable as regards the recep-
tive temperament of the people. Mr. Peck is able
to say, " I find nearly all the Eskimos eager to
hear the things of God." This was, of course, largely
90 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
due to favourable impressions that had been made
upon the minds of the natives by the visits of former
missionaries and Bishop Horden, as well as to the
example and influence of some of the European
traders. In this respect Mr. Peck's work began under
very favourable auspices when compared with that
of Hans Egede and the Moravians of the eighteenth
century among the Eskimos of Greenland.
But the sojourn of a new white man at the trading
settlement called forth much comment from among
the Eskimos, and especially among those who were
constantly coming in for barter. They knew the
Company's agents as men who had goods for
exchange. But here was another most extraordinary
agent who had no merchandise for traffic, but merely
a wondrous message from which self-interest seemed
to be entirely absent. " Ho ! come, buy without
money and without price ! "
Many were the surmises made by these heathen
as to the origin of so strange a being. Where had he
come from ? Why had he come ? etc.
" Once, when speaking to a party of these people,"
Mr. Peck says, " I overheard a few of the newest-
comers asking some of those who had first arrived
where I came from.
" One of the questioned, in the most sincere and
simple manner, replied ; ' He fell down from heaven
to save the Eskimos.'
" Man}^ of them, when I entered their dwellings,
would say to me : ' Thou art good to come to such
loathsome creatures as we are ! ' referring to their
peculiarly dirty dwellings and surroundings. '
" Others again would say : ' This is our father ; he
has come to save us ! '
" Their inquiries about my country and my condi-
tion were also sometimes very amusing. Some of
the ladies were most desirous of knowing whether
I was a married man or not.
" I remember the blank amaze depicted upon the
face of an Eskimo when I told him that in my
country the sea was not frozen over, and that we
had but little snow.
" Their manifested surprise when they entered
my little house, and beheld the many articles their
eyes had never looked upon before, was very great.
A looking-glass was a source of intense interest as
well as amusement.
" I remember one unusually grimy party of this
far from cleanly race entering my little habitation.
It is no exaggeration to say that somie of them
were coated with dirt and grease — wore hides of it.
" Taking them to the looking-glass I invited them
to take a good look at themselves. Then, having
set out a large tub with a plentiful supply of water,
soap, etc., I further invited them to indulge in a
" With much fun and pleasant badinage one with
the other, they managed, after much scrubbing,
92 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
to get some, at least, of the filth from their greasy
"Another peep in the glass, and their surprise
was unbounded as they began to realize the trans-
forming power of soap and water. (Note.— What
a picture here for PEARS ! An Eskimo, say, before
and after a bath with PEARS' SOAP ! What a
striking advertisement it would make !)
" The people also manifested much desire to know
how various articles, uncommon to them and to
their own rude fashionings, were made. Earthen-
ware jugs, tea-pots, etc, greatly excited their
curiosity, and when I explained that such articles
were made of a particular kind of clay baked in
great heat, they would gaze at me with something
of awe in their manner, as though they regarded
the white man as the embodiment of all wonders.
"Such an article as a watch, they could scarcely
conceive as being made, but supposed it to be a
living, sentient thing. Wlien it ticked they said
it was alive ; when it ceased its ticking, they spoke
of it as dead."
But however receptive of teaching the people
might be, or however curious about the stranger, it
must be remembered that the first object they had
in view was, of course, not learning from the mis-
sionary, but trade. Consequently, their time was
taken up with business pursuits during the day.
There is a brief reference to this in Mr. Peck's
notes. " I have accordingly to work much at
night. God's workers must not give comfort the
first place : Christ alone must have that." Simple
as these words are they speak volumes to many
at home who value the quiet rest of their evening
fireside, and are reluctant to sacrifice it upon the
altar of their service, even though they are sur-
rounded b}^ thousands of luxuries, which they may
consider necessaries, unknown to the dweller in
frozen lands. Yet it is only Christianity with a
Cross, and that Cross evident in the life of each
professor that can make the world believe in Christ.
It is no use now, any more than it was in
Apostolic days, to preach the Gospel of love
while we shut ourselves up in comfortable selfish-
ness. Were it otherwise, we might evangelize the
world by distributing tracts.
And so a self-sacrificing love is rewarded, and in
a letter written in July we read again : " God has
helped and blessed me much in my work. I have
already ministered to about 300 of the Eskimos.
Most of these received the Word with gladness ;
they always gave me a hearty welcome when I
visited them in their snow-houses."
The last words in this extract should not be over-
looked. " In their snow-houses " is the locale of
the evening work. We have spoken of the English
fireside above. If that is sacrificed it may be for
a well-warmed ventilated church or mission-room,
94 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
or even for a clean cottage where a meeting is to be
held. Mr. Peck forsakes his own room night after
night through the long winter to go forth into the
piercing cold, to crawl on hands and knees through
the low tunnel or porch of snow that leads to the
circular and domed dwelling chamber. Inside the
atmosphere is hot, the stench is intolerable, for there
is no ventilation, and the European visitor almost
feels that he must turn back or be suffocated or
be sick. The place is dirty and gory, and raw
seals' blubber is lying about, the remnants of the
family's dinner, or that which is to be to-morrow's
meal. The scene is not appetising. But the
missionary, constrained by the love of Christ, forgets
these surroundings as he describes a gathering in
one of these iglos :
" Books in hand we bend low, and by the light
of the Eskimo lamp sing praises to God, read portions
of His Word, and commend ourselves with loved
ones, far away, to the care of our God. Times of
spiritual joy and blessing, of real refreshing from
the Lord have we experienced on the icy waste."
After the brief summer of 1877, we find Mr. Peck
once more at Moose for the winter. There were two
or three important matters on account of which
his presence was required there.
The foremost of these was the desire of the
Bishop to ordain him. He had already learned to
appreciate him, and to understand that he was just
the man that the Holy Spirit had set apart for the
Eskimos, for whose spiritual welfare he had long
felt a deep concern. In the beginning of September
it is pleasing to find Bishop Horden, as he takes a
retrospect, writing to the C.M.S. : "A load of anxiety
was removed from my mind by the occupation of
Little Whale River as a mission station. I knew the
needs of the poor Eskimos ; I knew their longing for
the Word of Life ; and I knew too how very in-
adequately I could fulfil towards them the duties
of a spiritual father. So correspondingly great was
my joy when I saw the long-expected messenger
arrive, and knew that he was destined for the regions
of the north. I thank the Committee for a man ;
I thank them doubly for the man ; a better selection
could not have been made. One would require to
look and wait long before he could find another so
weU fitted for the work. Patient, humble, prudent,
loving, he wins the hearts of all with whom he
comes in contact, while his diligence is patent to all
b}^ the progress he has made in the difficult languages
with which he has to deal. He is now with me,
and will study divinity until February, "when I hope
to ordain him ; after which he will proceed again to
Little Whale River, to meet the Eskimos when they
come in to barter their furs."
And so a quiet time of preparation for the solemn
dedication of himself to God was the first object of
the winter's sojourn at Moose Factory.
96 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Then, again, almost immediately after Mr. Peck's
arrival at Little Whale River, Bishop Horden had
written an urgent letter to the Church Missionary
Society in England asking that an iron church might
be sent out to him.
" It is," said the Bishop, " quite indispensable.
No wood grows near there at all fit for buildings,
and he cannot preach to or teach his people in the
open air with the thermometer at 40 degrees below
zero. It should be large enough to accommodate
Through the kindness of private friends, among
whom were the Rev. Henry Wright and Miss Wright
(now Mrs. Moule), a pretty little iron building of
the size required had been purchased, costing alto-
gether £300, and had been sent out in pieces in the
Hudson's Bay Company's annual ship to Moose
We can readily understand, after the preaching
and teaching in snow-houses, how anxious Mr. Peck
was to convey this iron building to Little Whale
River. Writing on September 5, he says he hopes
to take it back to his Eskimo station when the winter
is over. But in this hope he was for a time dis-
The winter passed in learning, reading with the
Bishop, translating and transcribing. " While
here," he writes, " I finished transcribing into the
Syllabic character portions of the New Testament.
Besides those chapters of St. John previously men-
tioned, these portions included passages from St.
Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and various texts
which were specially arranged in triplicate forms.
The object of this arrangement was to give the
people a definite and clear idea of the Gospel before
they had advanced very far in their powers of read-
ing. They learned by heart three texts which con-
tained consecutive thoughts or facts in the scheme
of salvation. Thus, " All have sinned "; " God
so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son," etc. ; " We love Him because He first loved
us," are three in proper sequence giving an intel-
ligible reason for conversion and amendment of
Many portions similarly arranged were, with the
Bishop's hearty approval, sent home to be printed.
The S.P.C.K., to the missionary's great joy, under-
took the work, and sent them out the following year
printed and ready for use.
On February 3, 1878, came the ordination at
Twice in the year the Station, usually so
quiet, becomes somewhat animated — in August,
when the annual ship arrives from England, and
again in February, when the long silence is broken
by the arrival of our overland post.
At the latter season teams of dogs may be seen
coming in from the neighbouring stations, bringing
98 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
the Hudson's Bay Company's officers, who come here
to await their letters. It was in order that these
might have an opportunity of being present that
Bishop Horden fixed Sunday, February 3, as the
day for the ordination. The service began at
eleven. The church, which seats a goodly number,
was quite full ; indeed, only about two persons were
absent without good cause. As soon as the voluntary
had ended, the looth Psalm was given out, and sung
with great spirit. Miss Horden leading at the har-
monium. Then the Bishop went at once to the pulpit,
and preached an excellent sermon on 2 Tim. iv. 2,
" Preach the Word." After calling attention to the
character in which St. Paul would have Timothy
to go forth, viz., as a *' herald," he dwelt at some
length on the signification of ^* the Word," and the
manner in which it should be ministered. Then,
addressing himself more directly to the candidate,
he remarked on the peculiar features of the work
before him ;
" Your home is to be in one of the world's bye-
places, where, except the priceless souls to be gathered
in, there is nothing to attract you. Of ice and snow,
of storm and tempest, of wild bleak hills, and an
utterly unproductive soil, you will have enough
and more than enough ; and amid those you will
have, perhaps, to endure much hardness. Yet I
think you are to be envied. For the missionary
should not look so much to his surroundings as
to his prospects in his ministerial work. And yours
are glorious ! I think there is no mission in the
whole country in which God has more people to
be gathered in than in the Mission at Whale River.
Long has the cry been raised, * Come over and help
us ' ; but it met with a faint response ; an occa-
sional visit was all that could be given. . . . But
I longed for a shepherd, and at last the noble C.M.S.
sent me you to be the Eskimos' missionary. . . .
No people I have ever seen or heard of seem more
ready to receive the Gospel than they, more ready
to honour the bearer of Glad Tidings, or to lend him
all possible assistance, so as to render his life among
them as free from care as circumstances will permit.
With the language you are partially acquainted ;
make yourself a thorough master thereof. Be to
them a father. Feed them with the milk of the
Word ; and I trust that, by-and-by, you may be
enabled to present one of your spiritual children
as one fitted for, and anxious to become, a teacher
of others also. A numerous body of Indians, and
a few Europeans and half-castes, are likewise
entrusted to your care. The soul of each one is
equally precious in the sight of Christ, and must
be so in yours. Neglect no opportunity of speaking
a word for Christ. Think it no less important to
speak to one than to five hundred. The deep
spiritual sermons in John iii. and iv. were preached
in each case to but one person. Preach the word to
100 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
hundreds when you have opportunity. Preach to
the single individual as occasion arises. In the
house, in the iglo, in the tent, in the church, preach
After the hymn, " The Church's one Foundation,"
the Bishop took his seat in front of the Communion
table, and the candidate was presented in the usual
way. After the laying on of hands, Mr. Peck read
The winter was not over, and the newly-ordained
missionary would not return to his station until
the summer. The departure of winter was eagerly
awaited for more than one reason. The old Greek
proverb says, " One swallow does not make
spring." In Hudson's Bay, however, the goose of
prose might be substituted for the bird of poetry.
Bishop Horden, writing soon after the ordination,
" But spring was coming, even though it came
tardily, and by-and-by great excitement was caused
by the announcement that a goose had been seen ;
and now " goose " was the great subject of conversa-
tion. When would the first goose be killed ? Who
would be the lucky individual to kill it ? Goose
stands were made at intervals of about half a mile
all down the river. Decoy geese were in abundance,
but the wild geese were very shy. They rewarded
the hunter's patience and skill but moderately ; but,
in the poor times we were experiencing, every single
goose was a prize, and often a hunter sat in his stand
two or three days without securing one. This year
the birds could find no feeding in consequence of the
great depth of snow, and on certain spots hundreds
were found frozen, starved to death. I do not
remember having heard of a similar occurrence."
It was not until July, 1878, that the Rev. E. J.
Peck returned to Little Whale River. En route he
visited some of the trading posts of the Hudson's
Bay Company. One of the places was Seal River.
Speaking of this place, he says :
" Here I met some twenty Indians ; these being
Christians, they desired me to baptize their children.
For this purpose they cleared one comer of their
tent for my use, and made other preparations. Such
acts showed their kindness and good wishes. What
a curious sight, this Indian tent, with moss for a
carpet, and dried fish over my head, together with
the motley group who surrounded me ! But there
was this sweet truth which gave beauty to all, viz.,
Jesus was near to bless us in our humble abode,
just as much, I believe, as if we had the spire of some
noble building over our heads."
The next place visited was Great Whale River.
" Here," Mr. Peck writes, " I met about fifty Indians ;
they were eager to hear about Jesus. I told them
the simple story of the Saviour's love, and exhorted
them to have Jesus for their Friend and Guide.
I have no doubt but God wiU, bless such feeble
102 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
efforts. I am sure He loves the Indians as much as
any one else ; so I expect Him to save and bless them."
On his arrival at Little Whale River he had a
pleasant experience. If there is one thing that a
missionary feels more anxiety about than another,
it is the steadfastness of the faith of young converts
and the permanent effect of his teaching during his
absence. It may be said that the faithful servant
of Christ should have more trust in his Master, and
in the upholding power of the Holy Spirit. Be this
as it may, St. Paul's feelings were very similar to
those of a modern worker. Both alike may find no
rest while they wait for the coming of a Titus.
Both alike may exclaim, " Wherefore we could no
longer forbear . . . and sent Timotheus our
brother ... to establish you and comfort you con-
cerning your faith." In the present case there was
no Titus or Timothy to be the means of communica-
tion between the teacher and the taught, and
Marconigrams were as yet unthought of. And so,
if a few anxious thoughts had entered his mind
during the many months of his enforced absence,
it was excusable. But on his arrival he says :
" What has become of the poor Eskimos during
their teacher's absence ? I have a pleasant answer
to give, which is this : the same God who was
pleased to bless them while I was with them, has
done the same during my absence. This has been
done through the medium of my helper, Molucto,
and others : meetings were held by them which
were well attended, and the Eskimos were very
anxious to learn.
** On my arrival at Little Whale River the
people gave me a very hearty welcome, and some
of them appeared quite delighted to see me.
" It gives me great joy and encouragement to
minister to these people, seeing they are so willing
to learn, and so anxious to know the truth. I trust
God will spare me to live with them for many years.
Jesus is known to many : and the Spirit's sanctifying
influence is felt, I trust, in some hearts. Let us
press on in faith, nothing doubting, and God will
give a stiU greater blessing. Let us pray and work,
for life is brief and the souls of men are precious."
The willingness and desire to teach and help
others on the upward and heavenly path is surely
the most Christ-like spirit that can be displayed,
and the one most coveted for His people by those
who themselves endeavour to act on the great com-
mand, " Let your light so shine before men that
they may see your goods works, and glorify your
Father which is in heaven." This spirit had
manifested itself among the Eskimos.
Here might be mentioned the first incident of real
encouragement as far as actual conversion is con-
cerned. It was the case of a heathen woman who
came to the trading station at Little Whale River
with a party of her people. She listened most
104 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
attentively to the great and wonderful truths which
were brought to her notice, and Mr. Peck was glad-
dened to see how earnestly she desired instruction.
After a time she had to leave the station, moving
out on the frozen sea. While living in a snow-
house on that barren, icy waste, she was laid low
by sickness. Her heathen neighbours tried to per-
suade her in every possible way to listen to the
conjurors. But the woman was firm, and did not
heed their appeals. The heathen themselves brought
in tidings to the station some time after that she
had died trusting in her new found faith.
" What a comfort this was to me ! " exclaims
the solitary worker for Christ. " How it strengthened
my faith, and enabled me to press on in the work
of the Lord ! "
And so we pass on through another winter.
Trials do not become less, but they are cast more
on Him who is ever ready to bear them. En-
couragement becomes greater and gives increased
energy and power of endurance to the missionary.
For in March, 1879, he is once more able to speak
of the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. " I
have already met several strange Eskimos this
year to whom I have ministered according to my
ability. A number of the people were with me for
some time. I had them with me about five hours
each day, so that I was able to give them a good
supply of spiritual food. One family, consisting of
some twelve members, gave me their charms or
idols, desiring to have Jesus only as their Saviour
and Defender. Many of the Eskimos seem to have
lost all faith in their conjurors, although they are
not yet willing to part with their charms. I have
told them plainly they cannot have Jesus and their
idols also, so that they must leave them if they wish
to be saved, I do not wish any one to imagine
that these favourable results have been brought
about solely by my agency, for if human agency is
considered, I must say that my helper, Molucto,
has done, and continues to do, a great work. He
seems to have a deep love for the souls of his fellow-
" I intend to baptize four of the Eskimos who have
been under instruction, and w^ho have forsaken
their heathenism. In this matter I have earnestly
asked God to guide and direct me. I shall be in
no hurry to baptize inquirers, but I shall give them
time to count the cost of their religion. It is right
to build the Eskimo Church on a good foundation ;
for if the people imagine that Christianity consists
in being baptized, and having certain outward forms
and ceremonies, while they cling to their sins and
follow some of their heathen practices, I am afraid
the blessing of God will not be manifest."
Shall we look at the story of one who was baptized ?
It is that of Neppingerok, and shows most
strikingly some of the dangers of Eskimo life on
io6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
the one hand, and the mighty power of God's grace
on the other.
" Neppingerok was an Eskimo of much intelli-
gence, and always showed considerable desire for
instruction, though until he was laid low with
sickness and affliction, he had never evinced any
special spiritual desires.
" One day in the autumn, when the sea began to
freeze over, he ventured out upon the ice (which
was not very thick yet), bent upon the capture of
seals for food for his wife and little ones.
*' When some distance from the land a gale of
wind arose, and the ice was shattered by the fury
of the storm, and Neppingerok was carried away
on a floating island of ice.
*' Every moment he expected the frozen piece
upon which he stood would break. But God
kept him from this awful fate.
" The wind suddenly abated, then began again
to blow, but this time in an opposite direction,
urging the floe on which he stood towards the land.
Tossed to and fro for twenty hours upon that floe,
he succeeded at last in reaching the shore. But
this fearful voyaging had been too much for him,
hardy as he was by nature, and rapid consumption
" I could see," says Mr. Peck, " that he had not
long to live, and patiently, prayerfully tried to lay
before him the Gospel scheme.
" He listened very eagerly, very attentively to the
Glad Tidings of a Saviour's love, and applied himself
most assiduously to learn to read the little book
containing portions of God's Holy Word.
" His anxiety to know the Lord soon deepened
into a real, living trust in the crucified One, and a
full confession of his faith. I had the joy of baptizing
him. He took the name of John.
*' Some little time after the poor fellow died.
I was not with him when he passed away, but the
last thing he did was to read the Word of God,
especially St. John's Gospel, chapter xiv., which
speaks of the Father's house with the many mansions
for the disciples of Christ."
CONSOLIDATION OF WORK
" Now, my God, let, I beseech Thee, Thine
eyes be open, and let Thine ears be attent unto
the prayer that is made in this place."
WHEN the summer of 1879 was advanced, the
Rev. E. J. Peck was able to thank God and
take courage both on account of S5mipathetic co-
operation which he received in his work and for the
consohdation, so to speak, of his teaching.
The co-operation came from the newly-awakened
earnestness in one of the officers of the Hudson's
Bay Company. He not only dedicated himself to
the service of God, but exercised all the influence
which he possessed in the same direction, both among
Eskimos and Indians. What an example of this
kind means to the missionary none but the mis-
sionary can tell. It is always one of the sorest
trials to find the heathen pointing the finger of
scorn at the un-Christlike lives of our fellow-country-
men, and telling the preacher to convert them first.
The logic of facts is always the most powerful, and
one profligate life may keep out many waverers on
the threshold of the Kingdom. And conversely, one
earnest, consistent layman may be the means of
drawing numbers through the Beautiful Gate.
Besides this helper, who was in a position inde-
pendent of the Mission, Bishop Horden sent an
assistant to share the work with Mr. Peck. This
was Mr. Edward Richards, a la5niian, who was,
however, subsequently ordained, and is still labour-
ing in the Diocese of Moosonee. He was not in the
same station with Mr. Peck, but was set to the
oversight of some distant parts of his wide " parish."
Consolidation of work there also was. On Aug. 6
we read :
" The books sent last year have proved a great
boon, and I have good reason for believing that
God's Spirit has taken the written Word as the
means of enlightening the souls of some of my poor
people. I am happy to say that several can now
read their books quite fluently.
*' I have made it a practice during the time I have
been at Little Whale River to instruct all the Eski-
mos who live at this post daily, so that they can all,
with few exceptions, read their books ; and I believe
any of them would give satisfactory answers if ques-
tioned upon mcst of the leading truths of Chris-
But there was further joy also. For better means
no THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
of teaching the people were at hand. In the last
chapter it was pointed out that though the much-
needed iron church had arrived at Moose in 1877,
it had not been possible for Mr. Peck to take it back
with him on his return to Little Whale River in 1878.
Towards the end of August, 1879, it was reported as
being at the trading station. The erection of the
building was completed under difficulties, but by the
latter part of October all obstacles had been over-
com.e. A letter of December 20, written to the
Rev. Henry Wright, gives a full account :
" You will be delighted to hear that God has
enabled me to erect the iron church. It is a nice,
neat little building, measuring (exclusive of chancel)
forty feet long by twenty wide. I was about eight
weeks erecting it, the Eskimos being employed by
the Hudson's Bay Company ; I was, therefore, only
able to have their help for eight days, so that the
lion's share of the task came to my lot. I had also
plenty of puzzling work, as the ground plan could
not be found ; but with experiments, perseverance,
and hard work, we managed finally to get every-
thing in its place.
" The building was opened on Sunday, October 26.
I preached in Eskimo, Indian, and English to my
small flock. I spent a most happy day ; and I
think our poor Eskimos, Indians, and others were
very thankful for the gift which has been sent them.
For my own part, I feel deeply thankful to God,
and God*s people, who have given me such a help
in my work. You know how necessary it is to
have a proper place wherein to worship God ; I
shall now be able to speak to the people with some
comfort, whereas formerly I was forced to pack
them in my little house, or go into the open air, or
have them in the Hudson's Bay Company's quarters.
I have no doubt the Eskimos who arrive in the spring
will be glad to assemble within the building ; they
will see for themselves the gift which has been sent
them, so that I hope their hearts may be inclined
to receive Him who is willing and waiting to give
them a still greater gift — even life eternal. As the
church will be visible to aU, it wiU be a silent wit-
ness for God. The Eskimos will also understand
our desires for their welfare far better than if mere
words were used,
" I am happy to say that God is still helping and
blessing me in this work. The Eskimos continue
desirous to learn, and some of them show signs of
spiritual life, for which blessings I am indeed thank-
ful. I have a firm persuasion that God has a great
blessing in store for the Indians and Eskimos. I
have been led to plead much for them of late, and if
the Holy Spirit has incited me to more earnestness
in prayer, it is (according to my mind) that He may
use and fit the weak instrument for a means of bless-
ing to others. God, as you know, generally works
upon our own souls when He intends to use us.
112 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Oh ! may He often work within us, inciting us to
more earnestness and devotion in His blessed work !
" May I ask you to make the month of May a
particular time of prayer for the Eskimos ? It is
then that the greatest number are near me ; then I
am in the midst of the fearful battle against Satan,
sin, and indifference, and I need particular grace.
You know there are special seasons when we need
to have our hands upheld by special prayer and
" The news of the iron church being erected
will no doubt be a matter of much joy to Miss Agnes,
yourself, and other friends who thought of the poor
isolated Eskimos, and sent them such a token of
love and sympathy. Gratefully yours in that
blessed hope, " E. J. Peck."
The surprise of the Eskimos who travelled to the
post was unbounded.
" The poor people walked around the outside of
the building and tapped the corrugated iron with
their fingers, wondering of what peculiar material
such a building could be made. Others, again,
wondered how we possibly managed to erect the
steeple, which, after all, is a very tiny affair.
" But when these simple folk saw the inside of the
church, so nicely lined and varnished, their surprise
knew no bounds, and they cried out ;
" What a wonderful house ! "
" Oh, how high ! "
" What wonderful seats ! " etc., etc.
Again, writing to Miss Tolley of St. Leonards-on-
Sea, Mr. Peck describes the iron building, and adds,
" the Eskimos are delighted with it, and seem to
think themselves the richest people in the world "
on account of this great possession.
How easy would it be for the wealth of Christian
England to give joy to the world. If only we really
believed that Christ spoke the truth when He said,
"It is more blessed to give than to receive," and
acted accordingly, there would soon be peace upon
earth among those in whom God is well pleased.
But, unhappily, the sayings of Christ are regarded
as containing beautiful sentiments, albeit unsuitable
for a practical and business-like age.
It was not long before the new church was brought
into full use and consecrated to the glory of God by
the truest service. In the same letter, dated Feb-
ruary 17, 1880, just quoted, we read, " I have been
privileged to admit some of my people into the
visible Church of Christ within its walls, and I hope
to baptize more in the spring of this year."
We have heard several times of John Molucto,
and the help he was rendering to the missionary.
We might here enlarge on what has been said before,
and give Mr. Peck's account of his zeal and method
under great difficulty in work. At the date above
mentioned, we read; " He is about sixty years old,
and almost a cripple. But still he does a great deal
114 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
of work for the Saviour. When the Eskimos are
here at Little Whale River he speaks to them about
their souls, and exhorts them to turn to Jesus.
Sometimes, when he is not able to walk about on
the ice, he manages to get other Eskimos to, haul
him about on a sleigh, so that he may see them and
speak to them. I have often found him with a band
of his fellow-countrymen round him, teaching them
to read and telling of the Saviour's love. Molucto
has also proved a great help to me in the study of
the Eskimo tongue. Although he can speak scarcely
a word of English, he has a way peculiar to himself
of making one understand what he means, so that
I have found, and do find, him a great help when
difficulties stand in my way. Another remarkable
trait in his character is his perseverance in acquiring
knowledge. In this respect I know not one to equal
him. For hours he will study his book, and he has
now as much fluency in reading as many of my young
people who are hale and hearty. He is also very
grateful to those who show him any little kindness,
and I think he loves those who tell him of Jesus."
Surely the people, of whom the man so described
is a representative, are worth helping ? He may be
called a representative, for perseverance in acquiring
knowledge is quite an Eskimo characteristic. For
instance, a young woman, named Agnes Anoat, is
one who learned to read quite fluently, almost
ntirely by her own exert ions, for she was away from
the Little Whale River while Mr. Peck was there,
and therefore was independent of his help. Here
is another case taken from Mr. Peck's diary : —
" Some Eskimos arrived in the evening . . . One
young fellow, whom I had never seen before, had
almost learned to read, and had some knowledge of
Christianity. It appeared that he had met another
Eskimo who had done his best to instruct him.
Other cases might be quoted, but there is no need
to do so, in the light of the statement, which has
already been made, that practically all the Eskimos
at Little Whale River could now read."
Isolation is always one of the great trials of a
missionary's life. St. Paul felt it when he wrote :
" Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him
with thee." And from Apostolic days down to
the present experience is the same. The spiritually-
minded man needs the fellowship of the Spirit in
others. But generally in these days of railways,
telegraphs and telephones, though the missionary
may be cut off from the sympathy and fellowship
of personal contact, he has aids to realize communion
in his regular mail service. The worker in
Arctic scenes, however, has not this comfort. His
isolation is complete, and if he has not learned to
lean wholly upon his God for support, his lot is
indeed a sad and hard one.
We can understand this to some extent when we
read Mr. Peck's words to Miss ToUey, a warm sup-
ii6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
porter of the Mission : " Your kind letter of May 6
did not reach me until the 6th of December."
Nearly eight months for a letter to reach its destina-
tion ! In these days of the rapid movement of
events dynasties might be overturned, his friends
might be dead and buried, and the sojourner in
Arctic regions be in the most profound ignorance of
aU. And when the letter does at last reach its
destination, then two months more have to go by
wearily before there is any opportunity of sending
an answer. No wonder, then, that the ambassador
for Christ feels a hunger for the prayers of the faith-
ful at home, knowing that these will help him to say
with Christ, " I am not alone because the Father is
with me." Speaking from the depth of the Arctic
winter, Mr. Peck exclaims : " It is indeed a lonely
and barren spot where God has called me to labour
and live. But I must not fear nor be discouraged.
God will, no doubt, give me grace to toil on, if I
make Him my refuge and strength."
Miss ToUey interested herself in getting together
and sending out for distribution among the people
many warm woollen garments and other useful
things. The necessary delay in the delivery of these
things well illustrates the isolation of the Little
Whale River trading station. It is not until
December 20, 1880, that the goods sent off in the
early summer of 1879 are acknowledged as received.
Then Mr. Peck writes, under this date, concerning
these things : " I am now able to speak of them.
You could not have sent a nicer supply. The knitted
vests were almost enough to make one warm to look
at them. Some of the articles were almost too
nice to give to the poor Eskimos and Indians, who
spend much of their time in not very clean tents and
houses. One poor woman seemed quite delighted
to receive one of the vests. She looked and looked
as if such a nice thing could never be intended for
her." Some of the things thus sent were given
as prizes either for teaching or learning, with a view
to the encouragement of general industry and im-
A peep behind the scenes is always of interest.
And lest the reader should imagine that the life of
a Servant of God in these icy climates is one of deadly
monotony and idleness, we can draw aside the veil
for a moment and see how Mr. Peck describes his
daily life at this time:
" I suppose you sometimes wonder how I manage
to live here, and how I spend the long winter months.
I am very comfortable considering all the circum-
stances, and I do not feel the cold so much as one
might imagine. Having a snug house made of logs
to live in, I am able to keep myself tolerably warm
with the help of a stove. When I go outside I wear
a good thick fur coat, which keeps out the cold
wonderfully well. If I am away with the Eskimos
and have to sleep in their snow houses, then I use
ii8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
a large fur blanket in which I can sleep with comfort.
"It is true the air is very cold, but it is so clear
and bracing, and tends so much to invigorate one,
that it is not nearly so trying as might be supposed.
It is doubtless owing to this cause that we are so
free from complaints to which people in England
are subject. Again, we are not nearly so badly off
for food as some are apt to think. When the rein-
deer are numerous we receive a good supply of
venison from the Eskimos; and besides the deer,
we are able to obtain partridges and hares, so we are
not in much danger of starving, although we have
no shops as in old England.
" You may wonder how I spend my time, and
what I do to keep my mind occupied. For one
thing, I can always find plenty to do in the way of
study, and for another I always have Eskimos near
me whom I teach. And besides these things, I have
to do cooking, etc., so that you can fully understand
me when I say that I do not find time hang heavy
on my hands.
" The daily routine is somewhat as follows : —
I rise at 6 a.m. Two hours until 8 a.m. are occu-
pied with devotions and study. Then comes break-
fast. At 9 a.m. I gather the children together for
school. After school I study the languages. At
I p.m. I have my dinner. Exercise takes up the
afternoon till 4 or 5 p.m. Tea is the next event.
After the tea the adult Eskimos are called for Service
and instruction. Then once more comes my own
study and devotion, and bed at 10 p.m."
All this represents a full life, but monotonous when
lived day by day, week by week, year by year the
same. But the monotony is relieved by the truest
pleasure, viz., seeing the dawning faith, the growing
trust, the brighter lives of those for whom the life
is lived. Soul after soul is saved ; one after another
is set as a jewel in the crown of Christ — that crown
which He will wear as soon as it shines with the
varied hues of all the lustre of the world ; not of
Jerusalem or of Samaria alone, but of the uttermost
parts of the world — the ice-bound shores of the
It is probable, also, that the law of compensation
operates in the life of every one who is willing to
come under its influence. Monotony and isolation
tend to their own rehef for the cheery disposition
and the willing servant of God. The missionary
who has constant opportunities of associating with
his fdlow-countrymen, or whose life may be relieved
by ordinary pleasures, as in the case of one resident
in an [ndian station, has a certain amount of tempta-
tion vhich may lead him to look upon association
with latives of the country as irksome. But in
such a position as Little Whale River, the English-
man, cut off from his natural environment altogether,
will dscover all the attractive qualities and char-
acteristics he can in those by whom he is surroimded
120 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
and form friendships among them. And so Mr. Peck
is able to look on the bright side, and find plenty to
admire in the Eskimos. There is certainly no tone
of depression in such a description as he gives. " As
regards the people themselves, they are far from
being the stunted race they are generally repre-
sented to be. It is true they are not tall, but they
are stout and strongly built. Besides this, they are
a remarkably happy, good-natured people. It
would do you good, I am sure, to see a group of
them after they arrive at Little Whale River. They
look very hearty and contented. The women
present a strange appearance, with their children in
their hoods and the little ones peeping out in such
an artful manner. I sometimes wonder how it is
their children are not frozen, but, strange tc say,
they seem to feel the cold less than their pai*ents.
When the little ones are able to walk they are dressed
in warm fur clothes. Some of them are so fat, and
are altogether so bulky in their winter cos:umes,
that one could almost roll them about like baljs with
little fear of hurting them." !
Then, again, not only is the exterior pleasi:ig and
interesting, but the Eskimos are such kind, teachable
people that one seldom does anything for them
without being cheered in soul. |
Perhaps this chapter cannot be more appropriately
brought to a close than by giving the story of one
whose conversion belongs to this period. It is a
story which tells of character, opposition, gratitude
and salvation. Charlotte Ooyaraluk was, during
the early portion of the missionary's residence at
Little Whale River, much opposed to the Gospel.
Her opposition was, curiously enough, largely based
upon what she considered to be an indignity offered
to woman. It seemed to her a most monstrous and
absurd thing that in the story of the Fall a woman
should play the leading part, and be the first to fall
into transgression. And for a long time she seemed
to have no desire for spiritual things.
" As far as I can remember," writes Mr. Peck,
" her heart seemed to be first really moved when
one of her children fell dangerously ill and was
brought very near to the gate of death. I visited
her, and did what I could to help and comfort her.
" The little one recovered, and now the mother
began to listen with great attention to the glad
tidings of salvation. She joined our reading class,
and showed a remarkable and dogged perseverance in
acquiring the art of reading. Her little book was
constantly in her hands, and she grew quickly in
the knowledge of God.
" Shortly after this she was admitted by baptism
into Christ's visible Church, and she lived a remark-
ably consistent life on the whole."
She did not live long, for a year or two later, during
the missionary's absence, she was attacked by a
fatal disease. The officer in charge of the Hudson's
122 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Bay Company's Station kindly visited her, and
reported that she had persevered to the end, and
had met death calmly and joyfully, realizing, like
St. Paul, that " to depart and be with Christ is
far better " than the weary pilgrimage and warfare
of this world.
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS
" Many shall come from the East and West,
and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."
IN the beginning of 1881, Mr. Peck heard that
there was some probabiUty of a large number
of Eskimos having come into the trading post at
Great Whale River. This was about sixty miles
south of his own station. He determined, therefore,
to make the journey, which would take two days,
travelling with sledge and dogs.
We picture to ourselves, perhaps, the delight of
such a trip. The merry bells tinkle in our ears ; the
ruddy faces of the travellers glowing with health
and happiness appear before us ; the smooth,
swift, exhilarating motion of the sledge seems to
impart itself to our own bodies ; as in fancy we com-
pare it with the animated scenes that we have
witnessed among those who seek their pleasure in
this fashion on the sometimes frozen snow of our
own well-laid, even roads.
124 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
But we must not allow fancy to lead us astray by
making us think that Arctic journeys are pleasant
picnics. There are other things to be taken into
account, and these also must be placed in the
picture as objects to form a very dark background.
•Endurance has been spoken of in an earlier chapter
as necessary. We understand this, for the road
is not smooth ; the ice is piled in great heaps and
hummocks ; the jolting is so great as to make it diffi-
cult to sit on the sledge ; occasionally the oscillation
is too much for the centre of gravity, and the occu-
pant is pitched out without ceremony. Then, again,
the dogs are not always amenable to discipline, as we
have seen; they think it right at a critical point of
the journey to settle some argument among them-
selves ; they fight, and become hopelessly entangled
in their harness ; one or two break away and can-
not be caught again until the march for the day has
been brought to an end slowly and underdogged. Or,
once more, there is the keen, biting wind, often laden
with snow drift. It penetrates the thickest fur.
Nothing can keep the traveller warm, and when he
arrives at his destination, no fire, no prepared food,
no loving faces welcome him, but only bare snow
walls. No ; Arctic life is not aU picnic.
Well, on February 17, 1881, Mr. Peck left his log
home at Little Whale River and started for G.W.R.,
as he calls it in his diary, but we must be careful
not to interpret the initials as meaning the Great
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 125
Western Railway. Enterprising as our companies
may be, they have not found trade amongst the
Eskimos encouraging enough to induce them to
penetrate their country with iron roads. The mis-
sionary had one traveUing companion, an Eskimo.
They accompHshed only some twenty-two miles the
first day, and encamped for the night. At least,
this is what Mr. Peck describes himself as doing ;
but it may be allowable to object to his description,
seeing that the travellers are up again soon after
midnight to resume their journey. They reached
Great Whale River the next day in spite of a heavy
head wind, which made it almost impossible to keep
warm. But on arrival a disappointment awaited
Mr. Peck, for it was found that only a small number
of people were encamped there instead of the many
he had expected. He consoled himself, however,
in a very characteristic way, for he says he was glad
as a consequence to be able to minister to them
with so much the more individual care.
The sojourn was a short one — only five days.
On February 23 the missionary started again on a
tour of discovery, to seek and save those who were
ready to perish from spiritual cold and starvation.
The dogs were fresh and the snow quite hard, so,
getting away at 6 a.m., a good day's work was done
before night. Then the two encamped, cooked
their supper, had prayers, and tried to make them-
selves snug and comfortable. They lay down to
126 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
sleep, but it was only a trying to sleep after all.
The cold was so intense, that to become insensible
to it in the land of slumber was out of the question.
Consequently, they w^ere glad to make an early start
again the next morning. The course was now
diverted seawards, to some islands some three or
four miles from the coast. There some snow-houses
were found, and happily they were not empty. The
inhabitants gave IMr. Peck and his companion a
welcome. One of the women soon put oil in the
lamp in order to heat water for tea. It was rather
a tardy process, but the warm drink was most
welcome when it was ready at last. Next the
children were gathered together and taught.
" Then," we read in the missionary's diary, " I
went out to the other igloet and spoke to the people
inside. One of the men was just on the point of
going out to hunt seals, so I determined to accom-
pany him. After walking over the ice for some
time, we came to a place where there was a seal hole.
At the upper end it was small, about the size of a
crown piece, but the lower portion was larger. The
hunter looked into the hole to see if it were frozen
over. If it is not he knows that the seal has been
blowing there quite recently. Being satisfied that
there was some prospect of harpooning a prize, he
next arranged his weapons and sat down near the
hole to wait for his prey.
" It was not long in this case before a seal came to
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 127
the hole, and the hunter struck it with his harpoon.
The hole was immediately made larger with the
chisel which is always attached to the shaft of the
harpoon. The seal was soon after brought up on
the ice and hauled into the iglo, where Mr. Peck had
taken up his abode for the time being. Here it was
at once cut up, and pieces were handed round to the
Eskimos. One little fellow was given a piece of the
gory blubber and meat, which he seemed to enjoy
This kind of diet is said to be very heating to the
system, and after eating a good meal of raw seal's
flesh the natives are able to endure the cold much
better than would be the case with other kinds of food.
" In the evening," resumes Mr. Peck, " we sang
hymns, read God's Word, and I addressed them,
speaking of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead,
and pointing out the power of the Saviour in Whom
we are invited to believe. I am sure it would have
been an interesting and attractive sight to any of
God's people could they only have had a peep at us
in our snow-bound dwelling and listened to our
praises. For my part I felt most happy, and the
little privation I endured seemed nothing compared
with the joy of doing even a little for these Arctic
"Before we retired to rest one of the men blocked
up the opening which served for a doorway with a
large piece of snow, and made a small hole in the
128 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
upper part of the iglo, which acted as a sort of
ventilator or air escape. Having wrapped myself
up in a deer-skin robe I soon went to sleep, my
quarters being far warmer than one would imagine.
This is accounted for by the number packed together
in the small space of one tiny house, and the way
in which we were encased with the snow, which,
however cold and windy the weather may be, acts
as a capital screen from the piercing blast.
" The next morning we left our friends at about
6 a.m. The wind was extremely cold and piercing,
but I managed to keep myself warm by running and
helping to guide the sledge through the rough ice.
In some places there were pretty large cracks in the
ice, but we managed to get across them with but
" After going in close to the coast we made our way
to a river, where we hoped to see some more Eskimos.
We were not disappointed, as we soon had the
pleasure of seeing an iglo, and of making the ac-
quaintance of some more of our hardy friends.
" After I had settled down I gathered the people
together and spent some time in teaching them
the Syllabic characters and in ministering to their
spiritual wants. One of these Eskimos (a woman)
has of late shown a great desire for instruction, and
she seems to be ashamed of her ignorance."
Early in March Mr. Peck returned again to Great
Whale River. " During my absence," he writes,
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 129
" two Eskimos had arrived, and they had succeeded
in kilHng three white bears on their way in. These
they had attacked with knives, as they had no guns
with them. They seem to have Httle fear in attack-
ing any animal they may meet with, providing there
is some chance of kilHng the game."
And so through the month of March, 1881, Mr.
Peck continued to make Great Whale River his
headquarters, itinerating from there among the
encampments and snow villages of the wandering
Eskimos. We find him always hopeful, always
cheery, always encouraged by the attitude of the
people to whom he is ministering. At one time, we
read : " They take as much interest as ever in the
truths which are laid before them, and there is a
marked spirit of devotion in our little meetings.
How cheering and soul-refreshing this is ! Who
would murmur at solitude or trial after this ? "
At another time, as he is making a night journey
in his sledge, the Aurora, the brilUant northern
lights, made the heavens a wonder to behold. Waves
of light of every conceivable colour flitted across
the clear blue sky, while the moon, God's great
night-light, shone brightly upon the white expanse
of snow beneath. *' Often have I gazed with wonder
upon an Arctic night, and while looking up have
thought of the Psalmist's words, ' The heavens
declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth
His handiwork.' At such times my soul seems held
130 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
in silent contemplation of the wonderful works of
God." And so, whether by faithful work and its
results or by the glories of nature, each a revelation
of the presence of God, the solitary messenger is
cheered, and finds a very bright side indeed to his
In April the missionary is again back at Little
Whale River, settled down in his summer work.
In a former chapter we saw something of the
anxious thoughts that come into a missionary's
mind concerning his converts from whom he has
been separated some time.
In this connection an extract from Mr. Peck's
diary is of interest. It shows the value of being
able to read : " Experience teaches me that those
who have no help while away from the means of
teaching generally fall back into their former state
of ignorance. With those Eskimos who can read
God's Word for themselves I find a great difference.
These are nearly always the most encouraging and
the most desirous of knowing more about Jesus."
There is one case of a man who was met on May 9
that is worthy of mention. For it speaks of the
growth of the leaven of the Kingdom, imperceptible
in the process, but perceived in the result. He was
present at a meeting where " the people listened with
attention, and he showed a marked desire for
instruction. He had met a Christian Eskimo who
was a convert from one of the Moravian Mission
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 131
stations on the Labrador coast. From him he had
learned a simple prayer. He had been in the habit
ever since of using that prayer daily, and he had
still some knowledge of Christianity, although he
had been for years without an instructor." Surely
here we find a man feeling after God, if haply he
may find Him.
At this time Mr. Peck was accompanied in his
journeys and helped in his work by a Christian
Eskimo named Thomas Fleming. This man owed
his conversion to Mrs. McLaren, the wife of one of
the ofiicers of the Hudson's Bay Company. She
had lived for a time at Little Whale River, and her
influence through her life and words had made a
deep impression upon several of the Eskimos. In
former years she had lived at various Moravian
stations on the Labrador coast, where she gained
her knowledge of spiritual things through the in-
struction of the Brethren there. vShe spoke the
language fluently, and after she had learned she
was ready to impart to the heathen by whom she
was surrounded. Thomas Fleming, one of these,
was baptized by the Rev. T. Fleming, who was for
some years a colleague of Bishop Horden's, and from
him he received his name. The baptism took place
at Little Whale River, which the missionary visited
one winter long before the arrival of Mr. Peck.
The latter writes concerning this convert :
" After my arrival T. Fleming soon learned to
132 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
read. His knowledge of spiritual things increased,
and he became in many respects a most helpful
man. Several times he addressed the Eskimos in
the church, and when I was away he often carried
on the services during my absence.
" One day the poor fellow went out on the ice to
catch seals. He waited long and patiently at a
seal hole — waited too long, in fact, for he caught a
severe chill. Inflammation of the lungs set in, and
he finally succumbed to this terrible malady, and
soon he passed away to be, we trust, for ever with
In May, 1881, Mr. Peck had to journey south to
Fort George, in order to visit the Cree Indians.
At Great Whale River Mr. Edward Richards
joined him, and the two started on their itinera-
tion together, having Fort George as their ultimate
goal, on May 18 : " The weather was fine, and the
ice in tolerably good condition, so we made good
progress. We saw several seals on the ice basking
in the sun. This is a favourable time for seal hunt-
ing with the Eskimos, and great numbers are cap-
tured by the wary men, who creep up to them as
they lie on the ice and then shoot or harpoon them.
But this is no easy matter, as the seals are remark-
ably acute in hearing, and when alarmed soon dis-
appear through their holes, by the side of which they
" In crawling to a seal the hunter must use the
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 133
greatest caution. An Eskimo generally crawls along
the ice and watches the seal as closely as possible.
Should the seal raise its head, then the hunter re-
mains still ; but when the seal indulges in another
nap, then the hunter crawls a little nearer until
the seal again lifts its head, and so on, until
the hunter is near enough, and the unfortunate
animal is shot. Many of the seals which we saw
slipped down through their holes as soon as they
heard the noise of the sledge ; others were some-
what bolder, and waited until we were almost
within gun-shot of them.
" A drive of about forty miles brought us to an
Eskimo encampment. In the evening a meeting
was held in the largest tent, after which one man,
in the course of conversation, told the missionary
how his wife during her illness in the summer had
found the greatest possible comfort in her know-
ledge of the Saviour, and in repeating the few hymns
she knew, and that she had died trusting in Him."
The missionary, as well as the angels in hea\'en,
rejoices over one sinner that repents, and takes new
courage for persistent preaching of the Gospel.
And so the journey continued, with ministering
to the wanderers here and there, until May 30.
Then the travellers decided that they must be
making their way as quickly as possible to Fort
George, as their provisions were beginning to run
short. The officer in charge of the station had
134 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
kindly promised to send up some provisions from
the south to meet them. And they were anxious
to fall in with these supplies. But the days that
followed were not altogether pleasant. We read
extracts like this : " We had quite an excitement,
for about midnight our tent was blown down, and
as the snow was falling we were in a predica-
ment. I could not help indulging in a good laugh
in spite of the cold. Edward Richards managed
somehow to dress and crawl out from underneath
his stiff, frozen casement, and we succeeded in getting
our frail tabernacle up again."
? Or, again, after his companion had gone out to
look for the expected Indians who were to bring
their supplies from Fort George, we read the not
encouraging words : " Edward Richards returned
to-day. The news he brought is not at all cheer-
ing. There were no Indians, and the coast is blocked
with ice. I have no doubt we shall find something
to eat. We must rest in God and not be afraid."
Three days later Mr. Richards succeeded in killing
a duck, "so we are provided for at least another
meal. I have a few provisions left, but I wish to
keep them until the last extremity."
At last, on June 7, the long looked for Indians
arrived. They had been delayed, as the ice had
prevented them bringing in their canoes. On that
day we find the note : " We shall (D.V.) start to-
morrow and go some distance inland, and then
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 135
journey to the south, making the best of our way
over the lakes and land until we arrive at some place
where we can again go down to the coast, which, we
hope, will be clear of ice by the time we arrive."
Perhaps one of the greatest trials to dwellers in
Arctic scenes is the bare expanse of land or ice, with
no sign of trees or verdure. We can sjnnpathize
to some extent when we read of the joy of the
travellers coming to some lakes which were free
of ice and were surrounded with trees. *' There
was no great beauty about them, but to my eyes
the scenery was charming, for barren rocks and ice
had formed our landscape for months." It was
not until June 13 that the coast was again reached.
" We were surprised to find large quantities of ice
blocking our way, but we determined to try and
push through. It was rather exciting work, as at
times the passage was very narrow, and large boulders
of ice rose up on each side, which would soon have
crushed our frail craft had we come into collision
On June 16 Fort George was at length reached.
Mr. Peck made a sojourn here of more than a month.
A site for a church was cleared with the help of the
Indians. Two adults were baptized. " One of
these had for a considerable time followed Satan in
conjuring and other evils. He at last began to try
and learn, and to give heed to the things of God.
When questioned, his answers were very satisfactory,
136 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
and he has for some time been in the habit of pray-
ing to God. These are the first adult Indians I have
been privileged to baptize. May they continue to
cleave to Jesus, even to the end."
Other causes for satisfaction and encouragement
there were. Inquirers came forward from among
the Indians, giving hope of increase in the future.
And there was a prospect of the continuance of the
work after the missionaries should have left.
Mr. Peck writes : " The gentleman in charge will
continue to do what he can for the English-speaking
people. There are also three helpers as regards the
Indians, all of them being good speakers in the
Indian tongue and able to read the Indian books ;
and more than this, they all, I believe, know Jesus
and try to serve Him."
The second chapter of this book told of the con-
tempt of the Indian for the Eskimo. The Jew
despises the Gentile ; the Greek the barbarian ;
the Brahmin the Chuhra. But in Christ the waUs
of separation are broken down. We realize this
when Mr. Peck again tells us, on July 22 : " Before
I left I got aU the Indians and Eskimos together.
Each party sang a hymn. I then asked them to
kneel down, and prayed for them all.
" What a sight was this ! Some years ago these
people were the most deadly enemies — now they can
praise God together. After leaving them we paddled
a long distance, and then encamped for the night."
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 137
After this, the only entry in the diary for this
period is : " The journey to Whale River was ac-
complished quickly and safely."
We might go on dwelling upon details of work
and itineration, but it is better here, probably, to
endeavour to have a complete picture before us of
the result of the labours into which we have had
some insight. There is an interesting summary
from Mr. Peck's own hand, dated July 31, 1882,
which will probably give us what we require, and
show clearly the establishment of the living Church
" As nearly all the Eskimos came to trade at
Little Whale River, instead of going to both Great
Whale River and Little Whale River as in previous
years, I was able to minister to them far more
efficiently than before. The meetings in the iron
church have been well attended, and the people are
now becoming somewhat used to a regular place of
worship, although with some of the wild heathen
Eskimos one has to use some tact to keep them
quiet and orderly.
"They seem to think the building so wonderful,
and the meeting of so many of their fellow-country-
men appears to them so novel, that they often give
vent to their feelings in quite a demonstrative man-
ner. I find all our pupils, as usual, very ready to
listen to a friendly word when visited in their snow-
houses. It is true an Eskimo iglo is not a very
138 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
inviting place. What with seal's flesh, blubber,
the awful smell, and the continual uproar of dogs
and children, one's quarters are certainly not to be
envied. On the other hand, the kindly spirit of
the people, their desire for instruction, and the
prospect of leading them to life eternal, these
things surely ought to make amends for all. The
classes for children and adults have been very well
attended. Several of the children can now read
their books, and can give very fair answers when
atechized on the leading truths of Christianity.
As regards the adults, some of the younger members
have learned to read very well, but several of the
elderly people do not seem to make much head-
way. They often deplore their ignorance, and some
tell me, in their own simple style of speech, that
because their heads are thicker than the young
people's therefore they cannot learn like them, etc.,
etc. The number of baptisms during the year is
another bright, cheery point which contrasts favour-
ably with last year. There have been nineteen
adult and some ten infant baptisms since sending
last year's report. The number of adult Eskimos
now baptized is sixty-four, and that of the children
forty, to which may be added the forty candidates
for baptism, making the total of Eskimo Christian
adherents 144. This doubtless is but " a little
flock " ; let us pray the Lord to increase it. Let
us ask Him to add many living members to the
ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS 139
Church amongst the Eskimos. Such members we
want, and for such we must toil and pray.
"As regards Hterary work, I have spent a goodly
portion of my time in the composition of an Eskimo
grammar. This will take time yet to finish ; but
when completed we hope it may prove useful, and
be found simple.
" I am glad to say that the native teachers con-
tinue to do good work, and we have been able to
add one to the number since last year. One of
the heathen Eskimos has also done much to spread
the Gospel amongst his fellow-countrymen. This
man (who is named Titikgak) heard the Gospel
some three years ago ; he then returned to his
hunting-grounds, which are about eight hundred
miles from Little Whale River, and through his
instrumentality many of the heathen Eskimos are
leaving their pagan customs and are desirous of
instruction. This fact, I need hardly say, is a
source of much joy and comfort to one's soul."
This review then goes on to speak of another visit
paid to Fort George and of the conditions of the
GATHERING FRUIT — UNGAVA
" My sheep hear My voice."
THE last chapter closed with Mr. Peck's sum-
mary of a portion of his work. We were told
that there were sixty-four baptized adult Eskimos.
We wish to know more about these. What kind
of Christians were they ? Were they true followers
of Christ ? or were they what the scoffer some-
times calls " bread-and-butter " Christians ?
Well, some have already been brought incidentally
into the narrative that has gone before. The lives
of two or three more may serve as examples to prove
that now, as 1,900 years ago, the Gospel is the power
of God unto salvation.
"Apakutsuk was a man who came to the station
an utterly ignorant heathen. He was suffering
from some complaint which was gradually dragging
him down to the grave. He was naturally an
intelligent man, and soon learned to read, and very
readily grasped the meaning of Scripture truth.
" The disease with which he was afflicted increased,
GATHERING FRUIT 141
and presently focussed itself in his hip ; he became
lame, and was obhged to use a rudely-fashioned
crutch to move about at all.
" Poor Apakutsuk ! His sufferings abounded, but
so also did God's grace ; and with much joy I
was able to formally receive him into Christ's
" He was baptized, and was in such wonderful
earnestness for the faith in his Saviour, that he
began to preach Him to his own people who came
to the station.
" On every hand he was listened to with the deepest
attention, and some of those who heard his earnest
appeals were much impressed.
" The ravages of disease at last wore him to a
shadow. I helped him as far as lay in my power,
giving him such nourishments from our limited
stock of provisions as he could take. But the
Lord needed His ransomed one, and the call came,
' Come Home ! '
" One morning I crept into his little house. His
wife was weeping, and as I entered she pointed to
the form of her husband, cold in death. The Spirit
had returned to Him who gave it.
" We tried to give this dear saint in God Christian
burial. We made a coffin out of some rough boxes,
and a grave was dug.
" How did we dig it, since the sandy soil was
frozen for many feet down ? The Eskimos, with
142 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
some bars of iron and one or two rough spades,
literally chiselled out a space for the dead.
" We then lowered the body into its icy tomb,
and so bitter and piercing was the wind, that all
I could do was to ask the sorrowing relatives to
kneel down while I offered up the Lord's Prayer,
and afterwards spoke to them of Him who by His
death and resurrection has plucked out the sting
" As I looked upon the gloomy waste around, and
that icy tomb, with the little band of sorrowing
ones near me, I thought of the joy of the ransomed
soul which had escaped the chill horrors of the body.
We had sown the silent form, in corruption, to be
presently raised in incorruption. It was sown in
weakness, to be raised in power.
" Oh what mighty, far-reaching issues depend upon
preaching the full Gospel of the grace of God !
" How earnest we ought to be in giving to the
nations that wonderful message which can alone
lead men's souls to God, and bring life and immortal-
ity to light through the story of a Saviour's love 1 "
We have previously had some account of a lad
who lived in Mr. Peck's hut, and who as a result
was brought to be a disciple of Christ. The history
of another might also here be given as being both
interesting in itself and typical of the vicissitudes
of Arctic life.
" Joseph Ratynrok was one of the lads," the
GATHERING FRUIT 143
journals tell us, " whom I had the pleasure of keeping
in my little house and instructing in the Word of
God. His parents were both very respectable and
intelligent. His mother died during the early years
of my sojourn in Little Whale River.
" His father married again, and Joseph, with his
father, step-mother, and brothers, left the station.
" Their after experiences were terrible. Wandering
over the frozen sea, never meeting with any who
could help them, and finding no game of any kind,
hunger pressed them hard.
" Weak and faint and despairing, delirious
doubtless with starvation, the poor mother at last
sank down by the side of a rock, and taking her
infant child from the hood (in which Eskimo
women always carry their babes) she strangled it,
and then laid herself down to die.
" The father, with the three remaining children,
when all was over, pressed on. Thinking, in their
desperate state, that by crossing over a bight in
the coast they might meet with some of their
fellow-countrymen, they ventured out upon what
proved to be unsafe ice.
" One by one they broke through the icy sheet
and perished. Joseph alone remained.
" Retracing his steps with a dogged persever-
ance, he travelled on by the longer route. He fell
in at last with a wandering band of Eskimos, but
only just in time, for he was ill and spent.
144 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" He was tenderly cared for, and was at last
brought by his succourers into Little Whale River.
It was then that I took the poor boy, now so abso-
lutely orphaned, and kept him with me.
" Being a lad of much natural intelligence he
soon learned to read, and in a clear and decided
way grasped the great truths of the Christian faith.
He was also of much use to me in preparing my
addresses, etc., and some of his sayings still help
me greatly in speaking to the people.
" The poor lad suffered from a disease of the knee
joint, and hoping that he might receive permanent
benefit from being under proper medical treatment,
he was sent to Moose.
" Here, however, the terrible disease developed.
Then rapid consumption set in, and it was evident
that poor Joseph was dying. My friend, the Rev.
H. Nevitt, was then at Moose, and as Joseph knew
something of the English language he was able to
understand some at least of the comforting truths
spoken to him.
" From the tesitmony of Mr. Nevitt, it is evident
that the lad died fully trusting in the Saviour."
John Angatansage was an instance of the power
of Christ to save the very vilest of sinners and to
cast out devils. "When a heathen he had been a
murderer of the deepest type. He had not only
killed an enemy of his, whom he had hunted about
for years, but when he had speared his wretched
GATHERING FRUIT 145
victim he turned upon the wife and children, and
although the poor wife pleaded most pitifully
for mercy for herself and her dear little ones, he
would not listen, but murdered them all.
" This incarnate fiend was dreaded and loathed
for years by his own countrymen, and was, as he
justly deserved to be, morally excommunicated by
the whole community.
" After my arrival at Little Whale River, and
when the Eskimos came together to hear the Word
of God, he inquired what these things meant, and
was told in reply that a white man had come
to tell them of one named Jesus, who died for
" Fearing to come near me, he inquired through
my old friend and helper, John Molucto, if such a
wretch as he would be allowed to listen to the
" I sent him word that if he was really sorry for
his awful deeds, and wished to hear the glad tidings
of Jesus, he might certainly come.
" Come he did, time after time, and began to
inquire most earnestly regarding heavenly things.
His hard heart was softened, and he confessed,
with the most abject sorrow, his awful sin, and
declared solemnly — and oh, how truly ! — that before
he had seen the Gospel light, while he was in heathen
darkness, he had been moved by Satan to kill and
146 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" Believing this man to be truly penitent, I
baptized him, after a long probation.
" His life and conversation ever after exhibited
the mighty change which God's pardoning grace had
wrought in his heart."
Another case will tell of the power of Christ to
enable a man to meet pain and physical trial in his
Henry Oochungwak was a mighty hunter, and a
man of much force of character and intelligence.
He was looked up to by the other Eskimos, and was
generally recognized as a chief among them.
" My old friend and helper, John Molucto,*'
writes Mr. Peck, " being on the most friendly terms
with Oochungwak, often spoke to him regarding the
wonderful tidings of a Saviour's love. The result
was that he, while at the station, began to
attend our meetings, and his inquiries showed
that the Holy Spirit was moving him con-
" Poor fellow ! How fiercely was his faith to be
tried ! Satan desired to sift him like wheat. While
out upon the frozen seas an old and painful com-
plaint began again to develop itself in him, and his
suffering became most intense.
"It is the custom of the Eskimos, when they
suppose that they are suffering from an incurable
complaint, either to commit suicide or get a neigh-
bour to kill them.
GATHERING FRUIT 147
" Suffering as this poor fellow was, he asked a
man named Akpahataluk to strangle him, but the
man refused to do it. News of this was brought
into the station, and the gentleman in charge of the
Hudson's Bay Post (D. Gillies, Esq.) and I went
off on the frozen sea to visit the sufferer.
" When the awfulness of the deed which he had
contemplated was explained to him, his sorrow was
most acute. Great scalding tears rolled down his
pain-worn face as I reasoned with him, and re-
minded him of the strength and grace of Jesus to
meet his deepest need.
" Through the kindness of Mr. Gillies he was taken
to the station and cared for. So I had constant
opportunities of speaking to him of divine things.
" John Molucto also spoke tc him most lovingly,
and through his few remaining days, before he
finally succumbed to the fell disease that killed
him, his soul was cheered and solaced, I believe,
by the comforting, sustaining presence of Jesus."
These few short narratives of personal life help
the reader to generalize and to picture with con-
siderable truth not only the success of the Gospel
when faithfully preached and lived, but also the
character of the Eskimos, the hardships they have
to endure and the dangers to brave. Others might
have been given, varying slightly according to the
characters of the individuals who are brought into
the great drag-net of Christianity and the circum-
148 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
stances of their lives. Sometimes they are converts
from heathenism ; sometimes the children of converts,
baptized in infancy, and growing up in the calm atmo-
sphere of the Spirit of God. We read in one place of
a little girl : "I spoke to her many times of the
Saviour's love, and I was constantly encouraged by
the beauty and consistency of her Christian life
when once she had yielded herself to Jesus."
In another case we find a bright, intelligent man,
born Christian, who not only learns to read the little
books printed in the Syllabic character, but actually
masters the Moravian New Testament in Roman
type. We must not suppose that perfection is
attained all at once, that the missionary never has
to lament a fall on the part of one who has given
himself to God, or a yielding to old temptations
amid the surroundings of the new life. English
Christians after many hundreds of years of the
Gospel can still find flaws in their own morals.
Then it is hardly to be wondered at if the Eskimo
Christian of yesterday causes his teacher sometimes
moments of anxiety and hours of prayer. But
enough has been said to show that thus far work
among the Eskimos was full of joy and encourage-
ment, and spoke of the truth of the promise, ' I
will not leave you comfortless ; I will come unto
you." *' I am with you always, even unto the end
of the world."
And now, having given these individual introduc-
tions, the first seven years of Mr. Peck's missionary
life must be drawn to a close.
In December, 1882, he was contemplating a visit
to England in the following summer.
After so many years he had undoubtedly earned
his rest and a return to civilization for a season.
But nevertheless he was willing to forego his own
pleasure and refreshment for the sake of those to
whom he had been sent. Rather more than a year
later, on January 3, 1884, he again wrote to Miss
ToUey : " You will doubtless have heard by the time
you receive this the reason of my not having gone
to England as I intended. We were anxious to see
some heathen Eskimos living at Ungava Bay, and
not being able to push north on account of the
very severe weather, we were obliged to give up
the journey. Thinking then that there might be
a more favourable opportunity the following year,
I determined to remain and make another trial."
It is easy to sit at one's writing-table and make
extracts of this kind from Mr. Peck's letters and
diaries ; it is easier for the reader to sit in his
easy chair and read them. It needs, however, some
effort on the part of both writer and reader to
appreciate, or in any degree realize, the missionary's
position and work. Here he was voluntarily
giving up his hard-earned leave. And none but
the exile knows what home-hunger is. He was
also contemplating a most difficult and adventurous
150 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
journey to Ungava, over a country rarely, if ever,
traversed by an Englishman before. The unknown
only lay before him in this deserted, icy road of
some 700 or 800 miles. And as the apostolic party
of old " assayed to go into Bithynia ; but the
Spirit suffered them not." So it might also have
been written of him. No less than three times did
Mr. Peck fail to accomplish this journey. Three
times, from some cause or another, he was driven
back. His first attempt has already been mentioned
as having taken place in the summer of 1882. " In
the following summer," he writes, " we started
again, but could not force our way along the coast
on account of the vast piles of ice which lay in our
track, and we were again with reluctance obliged
to postpone our arduous undertaking.
" In the winter of the same year we tried once more
with sledge and dogs, thinking to cross the Labrador
Peninsula by this means. We were not, of course,
able to carry a large supply of provisions, as the
load would have been too heavy ; but we expected
to meet with reindeer and other animals which
sometimes frequent those parts. In this, however,
we were disappointed. For eleven days we struggled
on over the frozen waste, but not a vestige of
animal life could be seen. We were, therefore,
obliged with heavy heart to retrace our steps or
perish by starvation. The next attempt, through
God's help and guidance, proved successful, and
great was our joy when at last Ungava was reached,
and our trials and disappointments were at an end."
The start was made on July 17, 1884. The party
consisted of Mr. Peck himself and four Indians with
a canoe. It was about 8 a.m. when they commenced
their journey. At first they took the coast line
of the open sea from Little Whale River to Rich-
mond Gulf on the north. They entered the latter
about I p.m. Here they found themselves off a
dangerous, rocky shore. Fish are plentiful in this
region, especially in the summer and autumn. So
the travellers were able to some extent to husband
their provisions — an important matter with a long
journey ahead, and the possibility of carrying
nothing but light loads. When in the Gulf the wind
freshened and a sea sprang up, and as the shore
was inhospitable and impossible of effecting a
landing in heavy breakers, they determined on
camping for the night while the opportunity offered
The next day the wind was fair, and they made
an early start. The sea was running high, and was
almost too much for the frail craft ; but the Indians,
as usual, handled her admirably, and they were able
to accomplish the whole distance, 30 miles, across
the southern portion of the Gulf without any
mishap. About 2 p.m. they entered a small river,
but close to its mouth an obstacle faced them in
the shape of a large rapid which they were unable
152 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
to surmount. So there was nothing for it but to pack
up bag and baggage, shoulder the loads, and carry
them for more than a mile. After this a halt was
called, and the travellers encamped for the night.
They could hardly say, however, with the Psalmist,
*' I will lay me down in peace and take my rest,"
for the mosquitoes and other insects of torture were
How glad one is on the morrow of a bad night in
camp to say farewell to the camping ground — a
dirty-smelling camp, a noisy camp, an insect-
pestered camp, a low-lying damp camp. These are
the lot of the pilgrim who travels through strange
lands. He tosses and turns in his not too
luxurious bed and waits for the day, thankful
when it comes to make a new start, hoping for better
things when next he pitches his tent a day's march
nearer home. Such, doubtless, were the feelings of
this little party when we read that in the morning,
" We passed from the river into a small chain of
lakes lying about east by north. We had a hard
day's work carrying our loads from lake to lake,
or in other words, making portages. The country
was hilly, and in some places even mountainous.
Partridges were numerous near the shores of the
lakes, and we saw several deer tracks during the
Each day closed with prayer and Bible reading,
with a simple exposition of the passage read. On
Sunday we find the note, " We rested according to
Those who are marching day after day appreciate
the rest of the seventh day more, perhaps, than any
one else. They understand what is beyond the
comprehension of the present-day pleasure- seeker —
that the dull old Sabbath is a God-given institution.
Probably the best way to give an adequate
impression of this journey will be to transcribe
some of Mr. Peck's notes, merely inserting a few
words to make the sentences complete for publica-
tion : —
" Monday, July 21. — We had another heavy day's
work carrying our canoe and baggage from lake
'* Tuesday, July 22. — We passed through another
chain of lakes lying about east by north, then we
camped for the night. We shot several partridges
during the day, and caught some fine white fish and
trout in the lake. The country was hilly, and
" Wednesday, July 23. — We made our long portage,
and then passed into Clear Water Lake. This is a
fine, deep lake, about forty miles in breadth and
fifty long. True to its name, the water is surprisingly
fresh and clear. As the wind was fair we pushed
out into the lake, and had made some thirty miles
when a heavy storm came on. We then made the
best of our way to a large island which was for-
154 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
tunately close at hand, and camped for the night.
We saw some reindeer on the island, but did not
succeed in shooting any. The wood growing on the
island is rather large, but not fit for building purposes.
The storm continued the next day, making
it impossible for the travellers to venture in their
canoe ; but on ** Friday, July 25, the wind mode
rated, though it is still heavy. We ventured,
however, to cross from the island to the northern
shore of the lake. Our little craft rode the sea
admirably under the skilful guidance of our steers-
man. We reached the shore, thank God, safely,
and then passed into a small river. We made a
few portages, and then camped. The country about
here is much lower than that hitherto seen. We
have been more or less troubled with mosquitoes
ever since leaving Little Whale River. They some-
times attack us in great force, and sting in a most
" Saturday, July 26. — Made a few portages, and
then passed into Seal Lake. This is about seventy
miles long, but varies much in breadth. In the
middle it is quite narrow, but in other places it
measures perhaps from thirty to fifty miles in
width. It is quite studded with islands which are
the favourite haunts of reindeer, especially in the
winter months. The wind was fair and strong,
so we made a good run and then camped. We saw
a seal, some gulls, and a few ducks during the day.
" Sunday, July 27. — We rested during the day and
had a pleasant reading and conversation. There is
something appaUing and solemn in passing through
these desolate regions. Day after day one looks
upon the same little band and hears the same few
voices. How well to look upward to Jesus who sits
upon the throne, and to remember that one is never
really alone if we are His and He is ours.
" Monday, July 28. — We reached the south-eastern
boundary of the lake, and then made portage into
a small river.
" Tuesday, July 29. — We passed from the river
into a rather large lake, the river from which con-
tinues its course to Fort Chimo. The country is
very mountainous. Trees and willows grow by the
banks of the rivers and lakes. Partridges are very
numerous. We frequently saw deer tracks from two
to three feet wide.
^' Wednesday, July 2^0. — We continued our journey
on a small river which runs from the lake. It was
very shallow. We had to lighten our canoe by
carrying portions of our goods. This is terrible
work, especially when clouds of mosquitoes attack
one from every quarter. The country is still
mountainous. Fish are plentiful in the river.
*' Friday, August i. — The current was strong, but
the river shallow. We had to be very cautious, as
our canoe has been broken three times since starting.
We had a narrow escape once. We struck a large
156 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
stone in passing down a rapid, but we were for-
tunately carried into shallow water before the canoe
filled. We were able to patch up our shattered craft
and proceed on our way."
Enough has been written in the transcription of
these notes to convey some impressions to the mind
of the reader. The appalling solitude, the merciless
swarms of insects, the danger, the toil continuing
for three and a half weeks, must rouse a certain
amount of sympathy in even the most apathetic.
That it was a journey worthy of consideration from
other than the missionar^^ point of view is attested
by the fact that it was noticed by the Royal Geo-
graphical Society, and Mr. Peck's notes were repub-
lished in its journals.
At last, on August ii, the travellers found the
tide flowing with such force in the afternoon that
they were unable to make headway against it.
This was a clear indication that they were nearing
their goal, as the coast could not be very far distant.
It turned out they were twenty miles from the mouth
of the river, and as the rise and fall of the water
at Ungava Bay is about sixty feet, it can be readily
understood that to stem its adverse torrent was
out of the question. So they waited for the turn
of the tide, and then went down the river at a
swinging pace. Towards evening Fort Chimo was
reached. A hearty welcome was given them by the
officer of the Hudson's Bay Company in charge of
the station, and so they " were glad because they
were quiet, for He had brought them into their
desired haven." Three weeks were spent at this
port, during which the Eskimos were instructed
and the few Europeans ministered to. And what
was the result ? Mr Peck had written, " Our
object in taking the journey was to reach the Eskimos
living in those parts, and to lay before them the
glad tidings of salvation."
Did they receive the Gospel ? is the all-important
question from the missionary's point of view. To
this we have the answer given :
*' Several of these people heard with amazement
of that Saviour who came to save and bless. Many
of them showed a great desire to learn, and some
of them crowded in my little tent and asked over
and over again various questions bearing on the
things of eternity. Not a few of them, I trust, have
received into their hearts seeds of saving truth
which will, under the influence of God's Holy Spirit,
draw them to Jesus for pardon and peace. Surely
this fact ought to speak in no silent tone to the
Church of God. Where is our faith and self-denial
if a people so eager to learn are left without a teacher
to point them to Jesus, the Fountain of Life ? "
There are, however, no particular details given
of this sojourn and the work accomplished, and it
was not for years afterwards that anything more
was heard of it. In 1899, after Mr. Peck had been
158 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
at work for some years in Cumberland Sound, he
received a letter from Bishop La Trobe, of the
Moravian Church. It is so important, and so full
of encouragement for the lonely worker for God,
that it is given here in extenso as a completion to the
sojourn at Ungava Bay.
" Moravian Mission Board.
November 13, 1899.
Rev. E. J. Feck,
My dear Friend, — I have a story to tell which
is of special interest to you who have sown the Seed
of Life in Ungava Bay. It seems as if God wiU now
give a reaping time. Having heard of " a great
awakening " at Kangiva and Ungava,our missionary,
Stecker, at Ramah, went thither last April by invita-
tion of Mr. Guy, the Hudson's Bay Company's
agent at Kangiva. He was accompanied by Ludwig,
a Christian Eskimo, and joined at Nachwak by
Mr. Ford, the H.B.C. trader at that post, and an
Eskimo, who is still heathen.
I will not linger on their journey across the lofty
ridge of that northern point of Labrador, but only
say that its experiences were of daily perils and daily
preservation and mercies. A southerly wind brought
UNGAVA • 159
a sudden thaw, and part of the journey was through
melting snow and flowing water, instead of over the
frozen surface of land and river and sea. The men
and dogs and sledge often sank deep into the soft
snow, and some of the streams they came to were
Arrived at length at Kangiva, Mr. Stecker found
that there was a real awakening, and that it is to
be traced to the Divine blessing on your own work
at Ungava. From thence it has spread northward
to Kangiva, the Island of Akpatok, and even to the
other side of Hudson's Straits. It was soon plain
to him — and he says it would be plain to every one —
that the work is of God. No doubt some of the
Eskimos are going on with the stream, but its flow
is towards Christianity. The Eskimos have fully
broken with heathen practices and sorcery, and their
countenances showed the cheerful character of the
change. They were quite candid and open with
Mr. Stecker. They are eager to observe the Sabbath,
counting the days week by week to the seventh day,
when they rest from work. All the Eskimos, even
the old people, are learning to read and write in the
Syllabic character, and your extracts from the Bible
and the Catechism are highly prized. It is astonish-
ing what progress the Kangiva people have made in
one year, since they began to learn from those of
Ungava. They are diligently instructing their
children to the best of their ability. They are hungry
i6o THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
for instruction in the things of God, and could not
hear enough from Mr. Stecker. They repeatedly-
said : " O, if we only had a missionary ! " Again
and again they begged him to come again next year,
and he plans to do so in March, 1900, when he will
visit Ungava as well as Kangiva. At the latter
there are some 70 Eskimos, at the former more, and
also some Indians living separate from, and some also
among, the Indians from the interior, and Eskimos
from Akpatok also come thither to trade. Mr.
Stecker says there is really an open door. He thinks
Ungava the best centre for a station. Kangiva can
be reached from thence in two or three days.
The agents of the Company bear witness that the
Eskimos are quite different to what they used to be,
and really in earnest to live anew life. The traders
at both posts would welcome and assist a missionary,
and think there would be no difficulty in his getting
provisions by the Company's ships. It remains to
be seen how the H.B.C. authorities in Canada and
London will view the matter.
The Eskimo dialect used in Ungava Bay differs
in accent and in some words from that used along
the Atlantic coast, but not so much that one of our
missionaries would find any difficulty. If he were
already firm in the language his ear would soon be
accustomed to the new sounds.
And now, dear Brother, whose is the privilege
and duty to take up the work thus begun in the
UNGAVA . i6i
Divine leading of Providence ? Personally, I feel
that it is laid on our Church as an extension of her
existing work among the Eskimos, and I believe
that you and the C.M.S. Committee will acquiesce
in this. Being in London in 1897, I called on Mr.
Baring-Gould at Salisbury Square, and spoke with
him especially about Ungava. He expressed the
hope that the way might be made clear for our
Church to enter on work there. May God show
us His will for Ungava. I do hope you are blessed
and cheered in your work at Cumberland Inlet.
I wonder if you ever come across any trace of our
Missionary Warmow's visit there in 1858.
In sincere Christian regards,
I am, dear friend,
Yours most truly,
B. La Trobe.
The allusion in the end of the above letter is to a
Moravian missionary named Warmow, who wintered
on the northern shore of Cumberland Sound in a
whaling ship in 1858. He was sent out to see what
openings existed for missionary work.
MARRIAGE — FORT GEORGE
" Thy people shall be my people."
MR. PECK'S sojourn at Ungava Bay lasted
until the arrival of the Hudson's Bay Com-
pany's steamer. Then he embarked on the vessel
which sailed to a port on the Labrador coast. After
various changes he reached St. John's, Newfound-
land. Thence taking passage in a ship sailing for
England he arrived in Liverpool on the 15th of
October, 1884, to enjoy a sojourn in the old country.
This English sojourn has no place in an account
of work among the Eskimos save for one fact which
influenced that work considerably. This was
Mr. Peck's marriage. He had known the Rev. W.
Coleman, the present vicar of Moreton Morrell, in
Warwickshire, before he went to Little Whale River,
and when on a visit to him after his return home,
he found his friend's sister. Miss Coleman, ready
to share his life of privation and danger for the sake
of Christ. They were married in St. Paul's Church,
Greenwich, where Mr. Coleman was curate at that
time. Nothing need be said except that she was
worthy in every way to be the partner of the servant
of God, and to cheer his solitude. A braver and
more devoted help-meet was never given to a man.
" Fear did not enter into her calculations where
the Lord's work and His glory were the object."
"Is it His will that we should prosecute this
work ? " would be the only question, and when
the answer was affirmative : Then let us go for-
ward " Strong in the strength which God supplies
through His eternal Son."
We are reminded as we read this of the patient
persevering faith of the first woman who had any-
thing to do with Eskimo missionary work. When
Hans Egede embarked at Vaagen for Bergen
before proceeding to Greenland nearly two hundred
years ago, his friends who had been estranged from
him for some time owing to his madness, as they
deemed it, in leaving home for unknown perils and
hardship, found their love for him revive. They
flocked in crowds to see the ship sail and to wish
him God-speed. This sympathy and demonstration
of affection proved almost too much for his stead-
fastness of purpose. Then it was that his wife stood
by his side bidding him be brave, play the man and
not look back after having laid his hand to the
plough. And so it is that not only on the day of
Calvary but all through the history of Christianity,
women stand closest to the Cross of the Saviour.
i64 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
In May, 1885, almost immediately after their wed-
ding, the newly-married pair left Liverpool for
Hudson's Bay. They travelled by way of Quebec,
Montreal, through Lake Huron, and a portion of
Lake Superior as far as Michipicoten, and from the
last-named place, about 500 miles to Moose, in a
frail birch bark canoe.
Novel were the experiences for the young bride
almost before the days of the honeymoon were over t
lakes and rivers abounded in rapids which had to be
"shot." The sensations of many in these positions of
excitement, not to mention danger, would have
been such as those experience " who go down to the
sea in ships and occupy themselves in great waters."
The Psalmist describes them in the expressive words :
" Their soul melteth away."
The Indian guide who accompanied them, and
who could speak a quaint, broken English, hoping
to amuse and interest the travellers, gave detailed
accounts of all the thrilling events which had
occurred in the past, when voyagers had essayed
to shoot these rapids.
One place he called " De Frenchman's rapid,"
and in response to the question, " How did it acquire
that name ? " he replied, for the special comfort
and edification of the two travellers, that three
Frenchmen had recently been drowned there, while
attempting to shoot that particular rapid.
*' But shooting these rapids," writes Mr. Peck,
" though attended with danger, has its pecuhar
excitements, and quite ecstatic experiences, and
often we almost yelled with excited delight, when
after a few minutes of breathless suspense, we
suddenly found ourselves rushing safely through
the white, foaming waters at the foot of the roaring
After six weeks of travel the journey came to an
end on July 4, 1885, by the arrival of the travellers
Almost immediately after reaching the last-
mentioned place, Mr. Peck found a small vessel of
the Hudson's Bay Company sailing for Little Whale
River. He accordingly embraced the opportunity
of paying a somewhat flying visit to his Eskimos.
Mrs. Peck had met with an accident and was unable
to accompany her husband. Concerning this visit he
writes : " They gave me a most hearty welcome, and
seemed so glad to see me back again safe and sound."
*' As regards the work, I am glad to say that two
of the native teachers have done what they could
to instruct their fellow-countrymen during my
absence, and on the whole we saw reason to be
thankful that so much had been done."
This journey occupied a very short time, and
Mr. Peck's intention was to return to Moose only
to take his wife away. But this proved to be im-
possible. The doctor decided that she must remain
where she was through the winter.
i66 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Happily the effects of the accident soon passed
off. On February 8, 1886, Mrs. Peck writes to
Miss Tolley : " I am so very glad to be able to tell
you that through the blessing of God, I am quite
recovered. The fine bracing weather we have had
has done me much good, and I am looking forward
with great pleasure to the summer when we hope
(D.V.) to go on together to our Eskimos, who have
been so long without their minister. I am very
happy out in this lonely land. The days pass
quickly and pleasantly with a little study of the
language, a walk and work of some kind. I have
experienced for the first time the intense pleasure of
receiving letters after a long silence. The whole of
the day on the receipt of our letters was spent in
reading them and thinking of the home friends . . .
On the arrival of the annual ship, we had much
pleasure in looking at the bale of things sent out by
so many kind friends. Our pleasure was a little
spoiled because we knew we should not distribute
them ourselves. I hope next year to know all the
people a Httle, and more as years pass on, should
it please God to spare me to work with my husband
amongst his people. I am longing to get to the
work and shall try to learn both Indian and Eskimo.
The latter seems the most difficult ; it is hard to get
the right pronunciation."
Nine days later, i.e., February 17, 1886, Mr. Peck
writes ; " As Mrs. Peck is now so well, I shall (D.V.)
leave for Little Whale River in a few days. I shall
have to walk about two hundred and fifty miles ;
the remaining three hundred and fifty will have
to be done with sledge and dogs." In this same
letter we hear for the first time of the prospect of
easier joumeyings in the near future on account of
a useful gift to the Mission : "My little steamer
will, I trust, be put together in the coming summer.
I shall (D.V.) return to Moose in the beginning of
July, and shall, perhaps, use the steam launch in
taking my wife on to our own little home."
The postscript to this letter is : " The dogs have
just arrived, and I start to-morrow morning early
on my long journey."
It needs no words from an editorial pen to enable
us to read between the lines, of the patient self-
denial of both man and wife, who in the first year
of wedded happiness give up one another for long
periods of separation and of the faith that trusts
God with all that is dearest in privation and
The stay at Little Whale River lasted from
March 18 to May 5. No details of this visit are
forthcoming, but the general summary is ;
" I was kept busy teaching the Eskimos. I was
glad to see that many of them had taken care of
their little books, and had continued to read them
during my absence in England. Others, again, were
as anxious as ever to hear the message of salvation,
i68 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
while some, I am sorry to say, have gone back to
their heathen ways, and their hearts seem closed
against the truth. But to counteract this last
saddening fact God has given us a mighty token of
His power in the happy, yea, triumphant, death
of one of Christ's little flock.
" Having remained at Little Whale River as
long as possible, I took an Eskimo, with sledge and
dogs, and travelled on to Fort George. One remark-
able incident ought to be mentioned here in connec-
tion with this journey. When we approached the
Fort George River, the ice, which was very weak,
began to break up ; but fortunately the portion on
which we were standing held together until the
people at the post came and took us away in a
canoe. The rush of water and ice near us was
really alarming, and nothing, humanly speaking,
could have saved us had the whole force of the
current borne down upon us ; but, thank God, it
was carried in an opposite direction, and we were
able to keep afloat until succour arrived.
" Had I known the real state of the ice I should
not, of course, have gone near it ; but neither my
Eskimo companion nor I had any conception of its
weakness, and we thus unconsciously ran into
danger. May this remarkable preservation be
written upon my inmost soul ! May gratitude to
God for His goodness incline me to real devotion in
His service ! "
FORT GEORGE 169
Mr. Peck reached Moose again somewhat earher
than he had at first contemplated, on June 23.
Here he found all well and the steam launch within
a few weeks of completion. So it was determined
that the start should be made almost at once for
their own station.
It should be mentioned that on his return from
England Mr. Peck received instructions to make
Fort George his base instead of Little Whale River.
They started, then, for this station,which is about two
hundred miles south of his old quarters. Mrs. Peck
travelled in company with a medical gentleman,
Dr. Dobbs, who was most kind and helpful.
" I went on," says Mr. Peck, " with our supplies,
which were shipped in a boat, the gift of kind friends
in England, which had been sent out in the annual
ship the previous year.
" In due time, after my arrival, Mrs. Peck also
arrived, and shortly after gave birth to our first-
bom, a fine boy, who I trust will himself become, in
God's good time, a messenger of peace to the heathen.
" Our home at Fort George was a log-house,
thirty-four feet long by sixteen feet broad. This
area was divided into three rooms, one being our
dining, the other a sitting-room, and the third my
study. Our bedroom was on the second floor, but
in cold and stormy weather, we found it practically
impossible to use this upper room, and were glad
to make any shift in the lower rooms.
170 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" The house was warmed by means of two large
stoves, one being for use downstairs, the other up.
Wood was burnt in these and a goodly supply was
needed to last us through the long, long winter.
" This fuel was obtained from the woods bordering
the bank of the river, and was mostly cut in the
summer time, made up into rafts, and floated down
the river, to a point not a great way from our house.
From the river's bank it was carried up conveniently
near to the house and stacked in piles for the winter
" All food, such as flour, oatmeal, tea, sugar
and every other kind of grocery and kindred sup-
plies, had to be obtained from England, and this
only once a year, by the annual vessel. At Fort
George, however, we never saw this vessel, for our
supplies reached us by a smaller craft.
" Now it is a remarkable fact, and one for which
I would never cease to give praise to our covenant-
keeping God, that during the whole of our experi-
ence at this isolated station, the vessel never failed
to reach its destination.
" At Fort George, in certain more favourable
years, we were able to grow a few stunted, diminutive
vegetables : we have even grown a few potatoes,
though it is not possible to say much about either
their size or quality.
" Turnips, as being more hardy, were our stand-
ing crop. Our little daughter, who was born at
FORT GEORGE 171
Fort George (and no medical man was near us), when
she was big enough to toddle about, used to make
her way to the garden and pull up a turnip, and
devour it with the keenest relish.
" An amusing incident in connection with this
child and her love of raw turnips, occurred in 1892,
seven years after, on my return to England. We
had just landed, my wife and children and myself,
under circumstances that will find their own place
later on in this narrative. While waiting at the
railway station, previous to the starting of the
train, and having seen some apples at a fruiterers
near by as we entered the terminus, I thought
they would be a treat to my children, who had never,
of course, seen an apple.
" Returning to the carriage where I had left them,
I dropped some of the apples into the lap of my
little girl, waiting curiously to hear what remark
she would make concerning the (to her,) strange
" With wonder in every line of her sweet little
face, she looked up into her mother's, and with
beautiful, childlike simplicity, cried ; ' Oh, mother !
what big turnips these are.'
" To return to Fort George. Besides the food
supplied from England, we could, in most years
obtain a fair supply of fish, rabbits, partridges, and
sometimes a little venison. But there were years
when these things could not be got, then the anxiety
172 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
and strain to provide for one's loved ones was very
great and sore.
" Mrs. Peck did wonders in the way of making
our log-hut bright and cheerful. Our little sitting-
room was most tastefully arranged, and our meal-
times were ordered with as much regularity as if
we had been living in England.
" We had Indian girls from time to time, as ser-
vants, and one of these especially became very
useful and helpful.
" Mrs. Peck's daily life was somewhat as follows.
After the Indian maid had lighted the fires so that
the rooms were fairly warmed, the little ones were
washed and dressed.
" Breakfast followed this, consisting often of
fried fish, porridge, etc. Then came the morning
family devotions, reading and prayers.
" After prayers, various domestic matters were
attended to, dinner prepared, children's clothing
looked over and mended or newly made. Then at
I p.m. came dinner.
" After dinner, our little ones were amused and
taught, and during my absences from the station,
Mrs. Peck held school for the children belonging
to the Hudson's Bay Company's employes.
" Tea came at 5 p.m., after which our little ones
were read to, and put into bed."
After the little ones were tucked into bed, in
that icy northern home of the Pecks, a few other
FORT GEORGE 173
matters employed husband and wife until 9 p.m.,
then came prayers, and retiring.
" My time," writes Mr. Peck, " was taken up
with teaching bands of Indians and Eskimos who
came into the station to trade, and who made visits
of various lengths. School was also held for the
children of the Hudson's Bay Company's people,
while tuition was also given to one or two Eskimo
boys whom we kept at our house. These were not
only instructed, but Mrs. Peck did everything
possible for them as regarded food and clothing.
" In the winter, we made a high, thick, wall-like
bank of snow (three to four feet wide) against the
walls of our house, which proved a great help in
keeping it warm, shutting out the piercing wind,
and enabling us to keep it snug.
" Our little ones were clad in warm English gar-
ments, and in wintry weather were, of necessity,
kept indoors. Toys and picture-books, which kind
and thoughtful friends sent out from home, with
others which we ordered ourselves, helped to amuse
them, and make their little lives bright.
" When we were all in good health our lives passed
very happily, but when sickness invaded our little
home — with the nearest doctor three hundred and fifty
miles away — our only real hope was in the loving
mercy of the Great Physician, the sympathising
Jesus, and in the use of the limited medical know-
ledge we possessed.
174 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" The greatest strain which Mrs. Peck felt during
these years at Fort George, was during my absences
when visiting the distant Eskimos. As these people
visited Whale River in the months of March, April,
and May, I travelled from Fort George early in the
month of March, and sometimes in February, to
Great Whale River, and did not return until the
beginning of May.
" It was at these times that Mrs. Peck found her
missionary life most trying. She was not abso-
lutely alone at Fort George, as Mr. Miles Spencer
was in charge of the station. Both he and his wife
were in many ways real friends and helpers. Still,
for all that, the general monotony of life at the
station, when alone in our little house, far from her
English home, and friends, and associations, needed
a brave heart to face brightly the inseparable trials
of such a position.
This chapter cannot have a better finish than a
few extracts from diaries and letters which will
enable the reader to picture to himself the lives of
Mr. and Mrs. Peck during the next year or two,
whether they are together or in their enforced
On January i8, 1887, Mr. Peck writes : " I start
(D.V.) for our more northern station, Little Whale
River, on Thursday, the 20th. There I hope to
see many bands of Eskimos in the three or four
months during which I shall probably remain there.
FORT GEORGE 175
In^my absence my brave wife is determined with
God's help to do what she can for the people here.
May our gracious Saviour be near to cheer and
comfort her in her loneliness."
On the same day Mrs. Peck writes : " And now my
husband is again preparing for his visit to Little
Whale River. This is a very quiet spot, but I shall
not be quite alone. Our little son is getting a very
good companion. He has a great deal to say some-
times, and is very amusing."
Thus we see the sympathy of the one and the
cheerful patience of the other making the best of a
trying position — a true picture of union in and for
Again, a year later, we have a glimpse into the
snug log home which is very charming. It is in a
letter to Miss Tolley from Mrs. Peck, in which the
annual bale of goods is acknowledged. " Please
accept our most hearty thanks for all the presents.
The davenport is very nice and so useful. My
husband is quite delighted with it. And the book-
shelves too make a nice httle addition to our room,
and so suitable, as all our things are small. The
room is tiny but quite English looking, with carpet
and papered walls. The wall paper sometimes gives
a very loud report, caused by the frost bursting it
at the seams in the boards. But in summer we
shall mend it again, as we did last year, and it will
scarcely show. I like our little home so very much
176 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
that I would not change it. And then we have our
work out here. It is true I cannot do much outside
work — I mean, I cannot help a great deal with
teaching the people, but I try to keep the home
bright . . . Our Christmas and New Year were
spent very happily. We had about sixty Indians
come to see us and twenty Eskimos. We gave them
all coffee or tea and cakes. With that they were
very much pleased. They all like to shake hands
with us and kiss the boy. They say that he will be
their minister by and by, so that they will always
have some one to teach them. We should very
much like him to be, if it is God's will. The Indian
for little minister is ' lyumehowooche-mashish,'
that is what they generally call him. My husband
is called ' lyumehowooche-mow,' and I am called
' lyumehowoochemashwow.' "
All this sounds cheery enough, and we can under-
stand the need of cheeriness and brightness within
that cabin home when we read at the same time in
Mr. Peck's letter : " Our winter here is passing very
pleasantly, and we feel quite snug in our little log-
house. True the vast expanse of snow outside
looks cold, and at times, perhaps, makes one feel a
little gloomy. Still we feel that we are spending
our lives here for some purpose, and this, after all, is,
I think, the great fact to bear in mind. Life spent
in the Saviour's service is life well spent."
I In the summer of 1888, Mr. Peck started on a
FORT GEORGE 177
journey to Moose, and intended to be away from
home at least six or eight weeks. His wife was
surprised, however, to find him returning very soon
after his departure. What had happened ? Was
he ill ? Had he changed his mind ? No, it was
simply that a serious accident had happened, but
happily unattended by any loss of life. " I had,"
he says, " rather a serious mishap when going from
Fort George to Moose in my boat. We had got
some eighty miles on our way when we were obliged
through stress of weather to anchor the vessel
on the lee side of an island. We then thought it
wise to camp on shore. Shortly after a fearful
storm came on and drove the boat from her anchor-
age. She finally foundered amidst the heavy seas.
We had a small canoe with us on the island, and so
when the weather moderated we were able to go to
the spot where the boat had sunk. With much
difficulty we managed to get her afloat again. Un-
fortunately my box was on board containing nearly
all my clothes and several of my books. This was
shattered by the violence of the waves, and many
of the things were lost. Some few, however, were
eventually found packed amongst the seaweed and
sand. What a mercy that matters were no worse !
How thankful one ought to be that I and all that
were with me should have been on shore when the
storm came on. Had we been in the boat, not one
of us, humanly speaking, could have been saved."
178 1 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
There is a bright side to every gloomy position,
and it is pleasant to see the missionary take cheer-
fully the spoiling of his goods.
We do not often hear of Mrs. Peck accompanying
her husband on his journeys. But sometimes she
was able to do so. In 1889, on March 17, a little
daughter was born, and in the summer following,
when the baby was only two or three months old,
she and the two children went with Mr. Peck to
Great Whale River. Here she remained while he
went on to Little Whale River. A few graphic
touches come from her pen : " Baby was fastened
up in a bag called in Indian, ' waspasuian.^ It is a
strange-looking thing, laced up in the front. I
always think babies packed in that way look like
small bolsters. It is, however, the best method
of taking them, for the weather, even during the
summer, is very changeable. The coast to the
south of Cape Jones is very pleasant. There are
many islands on which one can go ashore to camp
or for meals. To the north of the Cape the coast
is open and when the wind was strong we had to lay
the canoe up close to the shore for fear of being blown
out to sea in our frail craft. This was in some places
rather dangerous on account of the shoals. When
we left the point of Cape Jones we had to travel in
this way. We went about eighteen miles in two
hours, and then were very thankful to put ashore
on a barren point of the Cape where some Eskimos
ESKIMO CHILDREN OUTSIDE TENT.
FORT GEORGE 179
and Indians were staying. These were very pleased
to see us, and came down to the beach to help carry
our things to a suitable camping place. We had
only a tiny tent made as there were no long poles.
The wood and water we used had to be brought in a
kayak, and, of course, was not plentiful. It was
rather awkward with a young baby. The evening
we arrived was pleasant, and our boy enjoyed a
game with the Eskimo children.
" The following day, Sunday, my husband was
busy reading and speaking to the people. We were
kept in the tent on account of the rain which fell
almost continuously the whole day. Monday also
was very wet and we could not think of going on,
so we had to make the best of our surroundings. A
poor little Eskimo child died on Sunday night, and
was buried on Monday morning. A grave had to
be made with large stones.
" The Eskimos are such cheerful people. Al-
though it was such dull weather, they seemed to be
happy and contented.
" The following morning was very foggy, but we
thought it weU to try and get on our way. The
poor people were sorry to part with us, and watched
until we were hidden by the mist which hung so
heavily over the sea. On our tenth day we reached
our destination, after travelling about sixty-eight
miles in nine hours. Sometimes the waves looked
as though they would cover us, but God watched
i8o THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
over us. The Indian we had as guide was very
skilful in his management of the canoe and never
seemed the least daunted by wind or waves. It
was to me very comforting to see him so brave.
We stayed at Great Whale River two weeks. We
were only four days returning to Fort George."
CHANGED PLANS — HOME
" I will call them my people which were
not my people, and her beloved which was
THE period to which we have very briefly
alluded in the latter portion of the last chapter
was one of distinct progress and hopefulness. About
the close of it Mr. Peck mentions the baptism of
two adult Eskimos, one of whom had learned to
read with almost no help in the way of teaching.
He also speaks of the triumphant death of another
convert. In the hour of supreme trial he turned
to his sorrowing relations and told them not to
weep as he was going to live with Jesus.
There were, however, two matters which caused
some temporary check to the work and necessitated
a certain re-adjustment of the Mission machinery.
The first was that the Eskimos had been suffering
great losses through their dogs dying. As a con-
sequence they were unable to travel south to the
i82 THE LIFE OF E, J. PECK
trading post. The second was the decision of the
Hudson's Bay Company to abandon the trading
station at Little Whale River and concentrate on
Great Whale River. Although this was only sixty
miles further south, there was no probability that
the Eskimos, for some time at least, would journey
there in the same numbers that had congregated
at the more northern station, " Under the cir-
cumstances," writes Mr. Peck " I have, after prayer-
ful consideration, made up my mind what to do.
With God's blessing and help, I shall go to the
Eskimos if they cannot come to me. With a
Christian Eskimo as companion, and sledge and
dogs, I shall doubtless find many on the vast fields
of ice, and God, I am sure, will be with me, and He
will bless me."
But perhaps the most encouraging feature in the
work at this time was the fact that there was a
prospect of self-help among the Eskimos themselves.
Youths there were coming forward ready to work
for Christ, and fit also to be trained as leaders in the
evangelization of their heathen fellow-countrymen
and instructors in the Christian church. Of them
Mr. Peck writes : — " I am glad to say that I am now
able to do a little in the matter of preparing Eskimo
lads as teachers (D.V.) for their fellow-countrymen.
One, a very promising youth indeed, was appointed
teacher by our Bishop, and I believe, with God's
blessing, he will become a real help in the work.
CHANGED PLANS 183
I have another with me now who is able to read and
understand a goodly portion of St. Luke's Gospel.
I shall (D.V.) go on teaching him, and trust that
God will fit him for His own work."
It should be borne in mind that at the same
time all this work was being done Mr. Peck was
also not forgetting the Indian Church, and as re-
gards literary work he says, " I have been busy en-
larging our Eskimo grammar. This work wiU, I
trust, prove useful to others who may come in
contact with the Eskimos."
Shall we now accompany our missionary in one
of those " joumeyings often " which became more
frequent for the reasons given above ? We shall
find ourselves the very first night in rather cold
quarters — no soft feather beds, though it is true
there is a fire in the bed-room. It is on March 13,
1891, that we have to make our start. We are
off by 7 a.m. It is dreadful at the very start. It
has been snowing heavily during the night and the
drifts are so deep that it is with the greatest diffi-
culty we can get our sledge along. However, we
resolve to push on with stout hearts for we are
buoyed up by the hope of reaching a tent in which
we took refuge a year ago. Mile after mile goes by
slowly enough. It is all we can do to keep up our
" At last ! there it is ! " we exclaim as a dark ob-
ject comes into view. " No, I am afraid there is
i84 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
something wrong," says Mr. Peck. " There is no
When we approach we find to our dismay that
the tent has been practically destroyed. There
are only a few remains, altogether insufficient, con-
trive as we will, to make a shelter for the night.
"Well" continues Mr. Peck "this is not cheerful,
but we must make the best of it. We will make a
" And what do you mean by that " we ask shiver-
ing and inwardly lamenting that we have left our
own snug home for such a journey as this.
" Oh, we will dig a hole in the snow about twenty
feet in circumference and then just make a little
shelter with some tentcloth on the weather side.
And then, for I promised you a fire in your bed-
room, we will try to find a little wood to light a
And so we did. When we had completed our
barricade it was dark. We went in search of wood.
It was difficult enough to find. But in time we
managed to collect enough to make a fire, and then
we had the pleasure of drinking a cup of tea. Oh,
the pleasure of that cup of tea. It may not have
been over strong ; it may have had a little flavour
of wood smoke. But it was hot tea. Nothing
ever tasted half so well.
An American writer who tried the experiment
of cutting himself off from his luxurious home and
CHANGED PLANS 185
private means and earning his living by manual
labour declares that the ordinary man or woman
in the environment of modem artificial civilization
cannot possibly know the keen pleasure that can
be got out of eating and drinking. We eat when
we are not hungry, we drink when we are not thirsty,
merely because our meal time is come round. But
if we throw off conventionality, live on sixpenny-
worth of bread and cheese a day, and earn it by
our physical labour, we shall gain a perfectly new
Probably our experience was similar that night.
After prayers we managed to coil ourselves up
near the fire in our warm rabbit-skin blankets and
were soon fast asleep.
We fancy by this time the imaginary companions
have had enough of this trip, and so we will allow
Mr. Peck and his faithful friend to pursue their
The next morning in spite of a strong wind and
heavy drift they determined to face the road and
try to reach some Indians who were about ten miles
" After about three hours' battling with the
blinding drift," Mr. Peck writes, " we were more
than glad to meet an Indian who kindly guided us
to the people we were in search of."
On March 17, Cape Jones was passed, and again
we might find our sympathies awakened as we read :
i86 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
*' The country about here is dreary in the ex-
treme — not a tree or Hving thing to be seen, noth-
ing but one vast expanse of ice and snow as far as
the eye can reach. But it is well to be here amidst
these lonely wastes to spread the knowledge of a
Saviour's love. Surroundings are nothing com-
paratively. The use we make of our life is the
Little Whale River was the intended limit of
this itineration. The record of the last day's
journey northwards is, " March 25, we reached
the Eskimos we were in search of in good time.
We found four snow houses, each inhabited by one
family. We visited them, after which they all
gathered together in the largest house where I
**After staying some time we passed on to Little
Whale River. We got on nicely until within seven
miles of the post, when our way was almost blocked
up with vast boulders of ice. We knew, however,
it was no good sitting still and looking at each
other, the only way to get through before dark
was to press on ; so urging our dogs over the frozen
masses we worked away with a will to keep the
sledge moving as the dogs wended their way through
the rugged road. After some three hours' hard
work we arrived at Little Whale River, where we
found some Eskimos living in an old shanty. We
put up with them, and made ourselves as comfort-
CHANGED PLANS 187
able as possible. We had short service for our
friends, when I laid before them, as usual, the
Gospel of the grace of God.
One object which Mr. Peck had in view in visiting
the northern station at this time, was not a cheer-
ful one. It was to pull down and remove the iron
church, which had been erected there with much
joy and which had proved to be of very great ser-
vice. Owing to the change of plan of the trading
company previously mentioned, there was no use in
allowing it to remain at Little Whale River.
On March 26, he is busy with this work and
"It was with feelings of sorrow that we took
down the house of God in which so many of the
Eskimos have heard from time to time the message
of salvation, but we hope before long to get it
shifted to Great Whale River, where I have no
doubt it will be found most useful. It was my
intention to ask the Eskimos to haul it over the
ice to Great Whale River, but the rough state
of the ice, which was piled up in great heaps in
the vicinity of Little Whale River, together with
the scarcity of dogs, made this plan entirely
So the actual removal had to be postponed for a
Good Friday and Easter Day were spent at this
place (Easter fell on March 29) ministering to the
i88 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
few people who were there. We cannot do better
than take one day as a sample and follow the lead
of the missionary himself and creep into some of
the snow houses with him. We must get down
low on our hands and knees in order to do so.
" March 31, We rose early and went in search
of some Eskimos. These we had the pleasure of
meeting in good time, and hearing that there were
some more of the people living out to seaward, I
started to see them, intending to return in the
" After a brisk-drive, we saw our Eskimo friends,
whose snow houses were built in close proximity
to some vast boulders of ice. Such a desolate-
looking scene, these vast piles of ice with the mound-
like dwellings which look like large balls of snow
scattered amongst the frozen mass.
" After a glance at the surrounding scene I crawled
into the first snow house. I found three inmates,
one of whom I discovered had fallen away from
Christ. I spoke to him faithfully but affection-
ately, and then prayed with him. May God in
His mercy turn him from the path of death ere it
be too late !
" Entered next iglo ; here I found a man and
his wife whom I had not met for years. They
told me they had been far out to sea somewhere,
and had not been able to come near the white
people. Although they had been away so long.
CHANGED PLANS 189
I was most pleased to find how well they had kept
up their knowledge, and how glad they were to
hear more of Jesus. After prayer with them I
passed on to the next iglo. Here I found some
people whom I can hardly call encouraging ; true,
they say they believe, but I am afraid their hearts
are far from God. Exhorted them to really turn
to Jesus ; we then knelt down together and I prayed
" In the next iglo I found occupants who are on
the whole encouraging ; one man has given me
much sorrow, but I trust he is now desirous of
turning again to the Saviour who loves him still.
In the last snow house I found some candidates
for baptism. These received me in a very hearty
manner, and listened with much attention when
I spoke to them. After shaking hands with the
people I returned to the Eskimos whom I had left
in the morning.
" On entering the iglo where I lodged for the
night, the first thing that met my gaze was a large
seal stretched along the floor. This had just been
harpooned by one of the Christian Eskimos, who
very kindly offered me a portion to feed our dogs.
I gathered all the people together before retiring
to rest, and had a very pleasant little meeting with
And in this way the itineration was continued,
the lost and wandering sheep were sought out, until
190 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
after an absence of two months Mr. Peck found
himself back once more at Fort George. In a
private letter about this time he says : "I found
some who wished to follow the Saviour and who
showed me every kindness during my stay with
them. One would boil my kettle over his oil lamp
so as to make tea to warm me : some would help to
feed and otherwise attend to our dogs, while others
would try and stop up aU the crevices of our snow
house so as to make it as snug as possible."
Reviewing in general terms his plan of living
with the people and going from iglo to iglo in order
to teach them, Mr. Peck says : " The children I gener-
ally gathered together in the largest snow house I
could find. They were then taught to read, in-
structed in the simpler truths of the Christian Faith,
and afterwards catechised to test their knowledge
of the truths they had heard. In the evening, after
the men returned from hunting, general meetings
were held, when, by the light of an oil-lamp, we
sang h5mins, read alternately, had prayer, and I
then gave them a simple Gospel address. Friends
may, perhaps, think that such work is extremely
trying and depressing. True, the cold is very
intense, but then one should be willing to " endure
hardships " for the Master's sake ; besides which,
strange as it may appear, the Eskimos are the heart-
iest and happiest of people, so it is quite my own
fault if I feel dull amongst them.'*
CHANGED PLANS igt
By August 1891 Mr. Peck is able to report that
the work has not suffered so much as he had feared
it would by the abandonment of Little Whale
River. The people began to come to the more
southern station in far greater numbers than he
had expected them to do, though there were many
who would not or could not move so far. Some
owing to the loss of their dogs, mentioned in the
last chapter, were obhged to leave their families on
the ice. The men would then band together and
haul their trading goods to the place. The more
fortunate, i.e., those who had a few dogs, would
arrive with what my Eskimo friends call "loaded
sledges " — a very suggestive and appropriate name
indeed, especially when one remembers that an
Eskimo not only piles on his sledge his bedding,
clothing, and trading goods, but the younger mem-
bers of the family may often be found lashed on top.
Altogether it was an encouraging retrospect
which the missionary was able to take from this
point of time. " There have been " he says " four
adult baptisms during the present year. All of
these were in earnest about their souls, and each
one was closely questioned regarding his know*
ledge, faith, and life before being admitted into
the visible Church by baptism. We tried, with
God's help, to give them a clear knowledge of the
Saviour's work, and to teach them the depravity
of their fallen nature, and their lost, sinful state
192 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
before God. I am more than ever convinced
as the years roll on, that this is what they need to
know. We should not, of course, neglect to teach
them to read, and to do all we can in other ways
to pour light into their dark minds, but after all
the fact remains that salvation is alone to be found
in Christ. If we can only draw our poor people
to Jesus, we know they will be safe both now and
And besides these baptisms there was great en-
couragement in the fact that he was able to report
two young Eskimos newly installed as teachers to their
own people and engaged in active work. It is the
greatest possible satisfaction to the missionary to
find a spiritual effective native ministry rising into
being. For it matters not how able a man he may
be himself, how learned in their language, he is
always conscious of being a foreigner and of speak-
ing more or less with stammering lips and a stutter-
ing tongue. And just as the heart of St.
Paul must have rejoiced when the time had come
to bid Titus ordain a native ministry in Crete,
or as Hannington, Parker and Tucker were en-
couraged when they found the Uganda Church
naturally expanding by the birth of a native minis-
try, so Peck was able now to thank God and take
courage because the new wine was fermenting in
and expanding the new wine-skins of the Eskimo
CHANGED PLANS 193
But whatever causes of rejoicing there were,
faith does not go untried. Sunshine and rain are
for ever alternating in this life. And so we read :
*' One of our students, who, I hoped, would in time
be useful in God's work, died at Moose last year.
I sent him to this post for medical advice and
treatment, but, sad to say, the disease from which
he was suffering developed into consumption, from
the effects of which he soon passed away. Al-
though this member of our small community had
given me much sorrow by having fallen into sin,
yet I am thankful to say he showed signs of real
repentance, and it gave me comfort to know that
he passed away with a simple trust in the merits
of Jesus. In connection with this sad event I may
say that the fearful mortality amongst our poor
people retards our efforts to raise up suitable teach-
ers from among them. No less than three of our
helpers have died during the last ten years, and
their places can scarcely be filled before others
are cut down. We can only look up to Him who
holds the keys of death in His hands. He can
help us in our seasons of difficulty."
About this time the shadow of a great trial
was beginning to move over the waste towards the
mission. It was, however, altogether unseen as yet
by Mr. and Mrs. Peck, as wiU be understood by
his words in which he is contemplating fresh efforts
in the service of God and his adopted people. " I
194 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
have asked," he says, " our Bishop to allow me to
go to Ungava Bay this next summer, and to this
request he has readily assented. You will be sorry
to hear that the Roman Catholics in Canada are
trying to get a footing there, and it behoves us
to do all that lies in our power to spread the pure
Gospel of God's grace and love in that region at
" I only wish we had a man stationed there. All
the Eskimos living on the southern shores of Hud-
son's Straits assemble in the winter months at
Fort Chimo (the Hudson's Bay Company's post
at Ungava). There are also some five hundred
Indians connected with the post, together with a
large party of English-speaking residents. Noth-
ing, I am sure, would give our Bishop greater joy
than to see this station occupied, and we might
then look forward to the time when the whole
Labrador peninsula would be won for Christ. We
have not as yet an Eskimo fitted to commence work
there alone. To start the work we need a man
from home, and, with God's blessing, native help
And the shadow fell in this way. In August
1891, a third child was bom. Mrs. Peck contin-
ued in fairly good health until the following Christ-
mas. Then the great strain of exceptionally trying
circumstances broke her down. A dreary winter
came on. It was unusually severe and the food
CHANGED PLANS 195
supply failed. Mr. Peck writes : " No fish, no par-
tridges, no other native fresh food could be got,
and my dear one's illness assumed an alarming
aspect which came to a crisis in the month of Febru-
ary. I tried every possible means to restore her
strength, but without avail.
" Shut in as we were with ice and snow, we had
to wait until the month of June before we could
think of attempting the journey to Moose, where
only we could secure medical advice and help.
" But when June at last arrived, through the
unfailing kindness of Mr. Miles Spencer a boat was
prepared for the voyage. We made a kind of tent
in the central part of the boat, in which we arranged
some bedding as best we could in the narrow
cramped quarters, and on this we laid Mrs. Peck
and the children.
" The journey south was an awful one for an
invalid. We travelled as far as possible each day,
then made close in for the shore, and pitched our
tent on the land.
" At some points we found the driven ice packed
so close into the shore, that we had to hack a way
in for the boat with axes.
" We made a short stay at Rupert House, one
of the posts of the Hudson's Bay Company, and
at last arrived at Moose. We had traversed 350
miles in the way described, and then it was found
to be absolutely necessary, on account of Mrs.
196 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Peck's health, that we should proceed to England
Here then was the hand of God closing the door
for a time. The missionary had his plans of work,
these had to be abandoned ; he had again essayed
to go to Ungava Bay, but the Spirit suffered him
And as events turned out it was very possible
for Mr. and Mrs. Peck to see that it was God who
was guiding them home. They could rest in Him.
It has been mentioned that Mr. Peck was most
anxious that a European missionary should be
sent out to commence and organize work among
the Eskimos living at Ungava Bay. He had writ-
ten home to this effect, and now a young man, the
Rev. W. G. Walton was on his voyage out in re-
sponse to this request. But in the meantime the
Hudson's Bay Company had expressed its unwil-
lingness to allow a mission to be started in that region.
So it happened that the travellers from Fort George
arrived in Moose in time to greet Mr. Walton on
landing. We are not then surprised to find Mr.
Peck writing :
" How wondrous are God's ways of provision
for His work. The same vessel on which we em-
barked for home had brought out a young man
(Mr. W. G. Walton) who, it was intended, should
accompany me to Ungava, and commence work
in that region.
HOME ^ 197
" As I, however, had to go home, and as the way
to Ungava was closed, Mr. Walton became God's
real provision for our old stations, arriving just at
the moment of my compulsory departure.
" He has since shown a wonderful energy and the
true missionary genius, and his efforts at our old
stations have been crowned with blessing.
" But to return to ourselves, that voyage home
was one of exceptional danger and delay. For
eight weeks we were tossing about on the mighty
ocean, the sport of gale after gale, when the strong
and terrible ocean seemed ever to mock us, crying :
' I threw my fleecy blanket up over my shoulders bare,
I raised my head in triumph, and tossed my grizzled hair ;
For I knew that some time — some time —
White-robed ships would venture from out the placid bay.
Forth to my heaving bosom, my lawful pride and prey ; '
" But He who of old time spoke the words, * Peace,
be still ! ' bade the Atlantic gales cease. When
finally the winds moderated, we found ourselves
275 miles further from England than when the
gales assailed us.
" During that awful time another danger threat-
ened us, for our ballast shifted ; and once we
were all but run down by a passing steamer. But
at last we were brought home in safety, and our
feet stood once more on our native soil."
Every returned missionary of the Church Mis-
198 THE LIFE OF E. J. FECK
sionary Society reports himself to, and is inter-
viewed by, the Committee in SaUsbury Square.
The work and prospects in the missionary's parti-
cular sphere naturally come under discussion.
In the present case we have an interesting sum-
mary published by the Society.
" The Committee had the pleasure of an inter-
view with the Rev. E. J. Peck, recently returned
from Fort George. Mr. Peck regretted having
been compelled by family circumstances to come
home earlier than he had expected. He had
searched out the Eskimos to the utmost of his power ;
140 adults were now under instruction, of whom
eighty are baptized. He had trained five Eskimo
teachers, of whom three have died, and two are
now at work. He had translated many portions
of the New Testament into the local Eskimo dia-
lect. The Indians had been nearly all baptized
before he went there. He urged on the Committee
the spiritual needs of the Eskimos north of Hud-
son's Bay ; and expressed his willingness to go
amongst them in whaling vessels, if a younger man
would take his present work."
In the light of subsequent events we can see that
his steps were directed to England for God's pur-
pose to be fulfilled. He was, as a matter of fact,
being led like Abram, who was to go forth to a
land that God would show him, or like Paul who
was to be sent " far hence to the Gentiles." He
was to be taken at his word. For some time pre-
vious to his home coming he had written :
" In my last letter I alluded to the need of more
active measures being taken by the Church of God
at large for the evangelization of the whole Eskimo
race. The most I can do is to grapple with the
people living on this coast, the extent of which is
six hundred miles. It is true the Eskimos do
travel great distances, but there are certain geo-
graphical features of their country, or, I should
rather say, countries, which confine them, as it
were, to particular localities, and which make
further intercourse impossible. Thus we have
the Eskimos of many regions out of reach of our
influence, viz., those living on the northern shores
of Hudson's Strait, Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, the
lands visited by Franklin, McClintock, Parry,
Kane, and others, together with Alaska and por-
tions of the northern shores of Russia. But, it
may be asked, how are these isolated, scattered
people to be reached ? The answer is plain. The
Church of God must show as much zeal and perse-
verance in seeking these lost souls as others do for
purposes of trade and objects of discovery. It is
a fact that nearly all the places named are visited
by whaling-vessels, some of which (I have been
told) winter in the countries they visit. Various
Arctic explorers have come in contact with the
people from time to time, and much might have
200 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
been done by this agency, had God's people in
England and other countries been really in earnest.
Again, surely it is not too much to expect that in
God's good time we may see an Arctic expedition
fitted out expressly for the object of seeking out
these poor lost Eskimos ! Various criticisms have
been made regarding the practical utility of a
North-West Passage, even if discovered by the
brave men who from time to time have pressed
into these frozen regions ; but there is something
tangible and real in following the example of Him
who * humbled Himself, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the Cross,' to seek
and to save that which was lost."
A NEW VENTURE
" Launch out into the deep "
T was clearly stated in the last chapter that
Mr. Peck held strong views about the duty of the
Christian Church to obey the simple command
of Christ and to seek and save the lost whether in
Arctic wilds or arid desert. But when a man
holds strong views and is himself perfectly earnest,
it is but a step from advocacy to practice, and so
we are scarcely surprised, although we admire,
when we are told that Mr. Peck himself began to
contemplate going further north among Eskimos
who had never been reached before by any Christian
The possibility of doing this was presented to
him by the impossibility for some years to come
of his wife being able to return with him to mis-
sionary '^work. Thus he argued that he might
leave the old field for other workers and explore
new regions where as yet no lady could go.
Under these circumstances Mr. Peck opened up
202 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
his mind to the Rev. David Fenn, one of the Secre-
taries of the Church Missionary Society. The latter
entered with much S3niipathy into the proposal, and
advised him to write to the Rev. Sholto Douglas,
incumbent of St. Silas, Glasgow, as being likely
to put him in touch with merchants and others
who had dealings with the more distant Eskimos.
The result of this was that Mr. Douglas gave the
missionary an introduction to a member of his
congregation, who was intimately connected with
the shipping interest, and ultimately he became
acquainted with Mr. C. Noble.
It so happened in the providence of God that
this gentleman about a week before had completed
the purchase of a whaling station, Blacklead Island,
in Cumberland Sound, and now he was pleased
to offer a passage free of charge for the missionary
and his goods to this spot, and to allow him to take
up his residence there.
And so with this opening before him Mr. Peck once
more went back to Salisbury Square, and there the
Committee sanctioned this new departure on con-
dition that a colleague could be found to join him
in this newest venture of faith.
If the work be of men, it will come to nought.
We may say this with Gamaliel. And God showed
that it was not of men, for He had simultaneously
with the happening of these events been preparing
the necessary colleague.
A NEW VENTURE 203
The anniversary meetings of the Church Mis-
sionary Society in Exeter Hall came on. Mr.
Peck was one of the appointed speakers. No
wonder with all his fire of love for the Arctic wan-
derers, he put forth a fervent appeal for young
men. There was in the audience listening to his
words a former student of the Society's Institution
at Clapham, Mr. J. C. Parker, who had received
a medical training. He had felt constrained to
abandon his intention of being a missionary on
account of the state of his father's health. He
had concluded that his duty was at home. But
now things had changed. Since he had left Clap-
ham his younger brother had grown up and was
able to take his place. So when he heard the
appeal, " Who will go for us ? " his heart responded
with a complete surrender. " Here am I, send me."
And so the last link in the chain was forged. The
project was acknowledged of God, and the Holy
Spirit who centuries ago had said, " Separate me
Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have
called them," said the same thing in eq.ually clear
terms now in the case of Peck and Parker.
It was said that the last link in the chain was
forged. But it must not be forgotten that the
chain would have been useless without another
worker who must not be forgotten. This was Mrs.
Peck. She worked and suffered as truly as
those whom the Church was about to send forth.
204 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
It was no small thing for her in her weak con-
dition, and with her little children round her,
heroically to face the prospect of separation
and her husband's utter isolation from the
world. But she did face it, and argued that God
who was calling her husband forth would not only
go with him but would also remain with her and
her family. Mr. Peck writes concerning this
time, " I may truly say that I never could have
gone forward to prosecute this new work but for
the prayers, the hearty sympathy, and the cordial
consent of my dear wife."
On May 8, 1894, the two brethren were com-
mended to God by the Committee in Salisbury
Square, and on May 11 Mr. Peck writes to their
" As many friends have expressed a wish to foUow
us definitely in prayer when we (D.V.) go forward
to our new work at Cumberland Sound, may I
mention the following particulars ?
" The vessel will leave Scotland on the 20th of
June, and the voyage out will probably take about
" After landing cargo the vessel returns to Scot-
land in the autumn of this year, and there is a
probability of our not hearing from the outer
world untH the vessel returns to Cumberland Sound
in the summer of 1896, viz., in two years' time.
A NEW VENTURE 205
" In going forward into the very Arctic regions
to seek out the scattered sheep in the wilderness,
we feel we shall have in a very special manner the
prayers and sympathy of many of God's dear people.
Great has been the kindness and great the sympathy
shown to me as I have gone to many a bright
Christian home in England, and it will be a tower
of strength when far away to remember that one
is compassed about with a host of praying friends.
And then, best of all. ' God is with us.' His pro-
mise shall never fail : ' Behold, I am with thee,
and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest,
and will bring thee again into this land ; for I will
not leave thee until I have done that which I have
spoken to thee of."
The ship was, however, somewhat delayed, and
it was not until June 27 that Mr. Peck finally
separated from his loved ones.
About the start, he writes :
" At Euston Station, near the time of departure
(8 p.m.), we had quite a company present to bid us
God-speed, for not only were my dear wife and
her brother, the Rev. W. Coleman, and Mr. Parker's
dear ones there, but, to our great astonishment, a
large band of the brethren from Islington College
had gathered to speed our going and to wish us every
joy and blessing in the work.
" As the train left the station, these dear brethren
ran along the side of the train and cheered us most
2o6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
lustily. I do not, of course, know what a certain
titled man, who had a stately saloon and a large
retinue of servants, all to himself, thought of these
strange proceedings, but certainly we felt greatly
cheered and comforted by knowing that so many of
the servants of our God and King had forgotten
neither us nor our work — our work which is His.
" Once clear of the station the mighty express
swept on at terrific speed on its long journey north.
All that we loved and held dear were now left be-
hind, and one's heart grew full, and there were
moments which were overwhelming.
" Then one took up the parable against oneself
and cried : ' But why art thou disquieted within
me, O my soul ? For whose sake art thou leaving
all ? Hope thou in God. Remember the ex-
ceeding love of Him who died for thee upon the
Cross of shame and for His sake cheerfully bear
the Cross.' "
The travellers arrived at Aberdeen about 8 a.m.
the following morning, but they were doomed still
to some days of waiting. The time of sailing of
a vessel for a whaling station is not characterized
by the precision of the P. and O. or a great Atlantic
line. It must have been somewhat trying to the
missionaries to reflect that they might have spent
these days with the loved ones from whom they
had parted in London. But there is no sound of
a far-off murmur or sign of irritation. They went
- -' **miaSm^
THE "ALERT" IN SAILING ICE.
A NEW VENTURE 207
on to Peterhead, and there made use of their time
in making preparations, in prayer, in gaining in-
formation and also in open air preaching. Of
the last Mr. Peck says, *' The attention was very
marked, and we have reason to believe that God
blessed the Word to some souls."
During these days of waiting Mr. Peck was
interviewed by a representative of the Sentinel
newspaper. The report of this interview occupied
a whole page and contained a vast amount of
interesting matter, but as it was taken up almost
entirely with a retrospect of work on the shores
of Hudson's Bay, it is not necessary to reproduce
it here. It is mentioned here only as additional
evidence bearing upon the fact which has become
abundantly evident of late years, viz., that the
work of foreign missions has more and more
assumed a position of importance in the eyes of
the general public.
It was not until Monday, July 9, that the two
missionaries signed articles at the Customs House
and so became members of the ship's company.
The vessel, which was called the Alert, a whaling
brig, registered to carry 129 tons, was only
ninety feet in length and twenty-one in breadth.
The crew numbered eight men, exclusive, we presume,
of the chaplain and surgeon. vShe was not chartered
to carry passengers and so Mr. Peck signed for
the voyage as chaplain and Mr. Parker as surgeon.
2o8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" On Tuesday, July lo," Mr. Peck writes, " every-
thing being ready we went down to the vessel.
We met several friends who wished us every bless-
ing on our voyage and work. As the mouth of
the harbour is very narrow we had to employ a
tug, which had not towed us very far before she
broke down, one of her boiler plates having given
way. This necessitated our return to as near
our old berth as we could get. God is doubtless
overruling aU for His glory and our good."
At last on Friday, July 13, a fortnight after
the arrival of the two missionaries at Peterhead, the
Alert finally cleared the port. Numbers of people
gathered to see them off, who sped them on their
way with three resounding British cheers. Nothing
further could be heard of or from the travellers
until the return ship brought letters in the autumn.
Mr. Parker's letter, which was written on Sep-
tember 14, 1894, is interesting as giving the freshness
of impressions made on one who had never sailed
in Arctic seas before .
" We made a good passage, a possible average
of five knots an hour. August 6 gave us an intro-
duction to the ice in the shape of some immense
bergs. A just description of them is beyond me.
They fill one with admiration by day, but at night
their presence creates fear. We met a pack of
ice in Davis Strait. When in latitude 65° N. we
came to an immense field of it. A skilful navigator
A NEW VENTURE 209
is required in these high latitudes, for the ice is
very uncertain and treacherous in the summer
season. To me saihng among the ice is very ex-
citing, and adds that feehng of dignity which arises
from a sense of danger. How shall I describe
to you the loud report of the ice when breaking up ?
I call it that of Arctic artillery. The snow-clad
heights of the distant land, when bathed in the
light of an evening simset, were a sight most lovely,
and in their ever-var}dng shades of colour defy
" On Saturday, August 18, we sighted and wel-
comed the gigantic old rocks of Cape Mercy. As
seen from off the sea the land here is high, bold and
rugged, with much of the iron-rust look about
it, while the total absence of trees, so essential to
our English eyes, strikes one painfully. Still these
have a beauty all their own at daydawn and sunset,
besides the glory of their primaeval ruggedness.
" We dropped anchor off Blacklead Island on
August 21. Eskimo boats were soon alongside,
and we had an early introduction to the Arctic
aristocracy. The island, as its name indicates,
contains the mineral blacklead. It is a small,
high, barren rock. It is a two hours' walk round
it on the frozen sea. Its vegetation is very meagre.
I can find no shrub six inches high ; there is a little
grass, moss, lichens, and the berry-bearing heath
210 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Mr. Peck also writes about his first impressions
of his new home. After talking of the voyage
generally, and of his ministrations to the crew of
eight hands, he goes on ; " Speaking of the nature
of the country near Cumberland Sound, it has a
decidedly forbidding and desolate aspect, and the
rugged mountain tops rise hundreds of feet above
the level of the sea and are still in many
places covered with a white mantle of snow. On
landing we had the pleasure of finding in the shel-
tered spots some signs of vegetable life. These,
however, were chiefly of the nature of grasses ;
not a tree or a shrub could be found."
First impressions were confirmed by after ex-
perience, for a little later on Mr. Peck wrote :
" In very truth this island is a gloomy-looking
spot, almost absolutely nothing to be seen but
rocks, and the bones of whales which strew the
place everywhere. Sometimes in a particularly
sheltered spot, one may come across a tuft of
coarse, stunted grass."
After landing the missionaries and their property,
the Alert sailed on Monday, August 27, for Kikker-
ton, another whaling station belonging to Mr. Noble,
on the opposite side of Cumberland Sound. To
avoid delay, however, and possibly to retain her
ballast, she did not discharge the coal belonging
to Mr. Peck, amounting to fifteen tons. The
arrangement was that she should return to Black-
■ e- . A^^^'H^M^i¥M?^:i>»^V^^,pif^^M:^^0^^M/j^^^
THE SETTLEMENT ON BLACKLEAD ISLAND, CUMBERLAND SOUND.
A NEW VENTURE 211
lead Island a little later, deliver the coal and pick
up her own stores and cargo for the return voyage.
She came back in three weeks' time on September
20, but in a sorry condition. During a heavy gale
she had struck a huge piece of ice, and it was only
with the greatest difficulty that she was kept
afloat long enough to reach Blacklead Island.
The first thing now to be done was to lighten
the vessel in every possible way, and Friday, the 21st,
was a busy day with everyone, Eskimos, missionaries,
and vessel's crew unloading the Alert of all that
could be taken out of her. The fifteen tons of coal,
among other things, were safely landed and stored,
and with a burst of very natural gratitude, Mr.
Peck writes in his diary, under that date :
" To God be the praise for His exceeding kind-
ness to usward in this matter ! What a mercy that we
were not left without fuel in this miserable region ! "
On September 22 they were able to get the Alert
round to a place on the mainland, caUed Niatalik.
In a few days she returned fitted as far as was
possible for the voyage to Scotland. In this in-
terval Mr. Peck writes : " We have now to spend
some time writing our home letters,as it is more than
probable that we shall have no other opportimity
for two years, so we must make the most of this."
St. Paul spoke of loneliness among the trials that
he had to undergo. What words can describe
the solitude and isolation of Blacklead Island ?
212 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
On September 29 we find the entry, " Alert sailed
to-day. We went on board, and bade farewell to
everyone. May God bless them and give every
one His presence and a safe passage. What thoughts
crowded into one's mind as this one last connecting
link with the homeland and dear ones was severed !
But God is near. He is true and faithful."
And so when the Alert had brought those home
letters to their destination, the receivers imagined
that the curtain had fallen upon that little comer
of the great vineyard, and that it would not be
lifted to reveal the fruit of the labour or any details
of the lives of the solitary workers until two years
should have rolled by.
But on October 10 the unexpected happened.
Two whaling vessels called at the station, and the
missionaries were enabled to send later letters by
them. By these, as well as by those sent on the
earlier date, we have a good insight given us into
the commencement of the work.
It has been remarked in an earlier chapter that
the language of the Eskimos all over their wide
range of territory, from Behring Straits to Greenland,
is the same with only slight dialectic differences.
Happily, on going among the people on Blacklead
Island, Mr. Peck found the truth of this. He writes
in his diary : " The people seemed perfectly amazed
to find that I could speak their language, for I found
practically no difference in the speech of these
A NEW VENTURE 213
people and that of those to whom I had ministered
in Whale River and Fort George.
" I shook hands with many of them (for they
do not rub noses now as they did when first the
white man discovered them). I explained why
we had come, not as traders, but as tellers of God's
" This was too wonderful for them to compre-
hend, but the time was soon to come when they
would understand our meaning."
On the arrival of the two missionaries a hut
belonging to Mr. Noble was lent them. It con-
sisted of two rooms, each about ten feet square.
One was used as kitchen and schoolroom, the other
as bed, sitting-room, and study combined. Mr.
Parker wrote that their first work was the repairing,
fitting up and arrangement of this abode. " Our
aim," he adds, " has been to make it throughout
as bright and home-like as possible. The newly-
fallen snow lies on all the surrounding hills — sweet
emblem of purity and of the sin-cleansed soul
through the blood of the Lamb. vSo now we are
looking for God's blessing to rest on us as we begin
this real Arctic Mission to these ''other sheep " who
belong to Jesus in this cold, lone land. Brethren,
pray for us, that our faith fail not."
The list of stores needed to start their house-
keeping is at first sight somewhat appalling. It
THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Coal . . . . .
Sugar . . . . .
Preserved meat, with desiccated
and preserved vegetables
Oatmeal . . . . ,
Ship's Biscuit . . . .
Paraffin Oil ... .
tides of barter, such as knives, pipes,
Some items in this list may seem to be excessive,
but several things have to be borne in mind. Firstly,
everything, even down to the sticks for burning,
had to be imported from home. Then there was
the probability that they would be cut off from
home for two years, as it was not thought likely
that there would be enough produce from the
whale fishery to justify the vessel coming from
Scotland to fetch it oftener than every other year.
So they must be provisioned for that time at least.
Lastly, there was always the possibility of their
Eskimo friends being actually in distress from time
to time from scarcity of food. In such cases the
missionaries must have the means of succouring them.
As soon as they had taken possession of their
hut, the two brethren settled down into a systema-
tic life. The usual routine, Mr. Peck tells us, was as
follows : Rise 6.45 a.m., light fires, prepare break-
A NEW VENTURE 215
fast ; breakfast 8 a.m., prayers 8.30 a.m. ; study of
Eskimo language with Mr. Parker from 9 a.m.
to 10 a.m. ; visiting and preparing Eskimo addresses
from 10 a.m. to noon. Then came the preparation
of dinner. Dinner i p.m., private reading and study
from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., school for children from
3 p.m. to 4.15 p.m., visiting and exercise from
4.15 p.m. to 5.30 p.m., tea 5.30 p.m. ; after tea,
prepare for evening meeting, which is at 7.30 p.m. ;
after the meeting, study of the language with
Eskimos ; family prayer at 10 p.m. ; then private
reading and devotion tiU 10.45 p.m. This ended
the day and bed had been earned.
" God blesses the days," Mr. Peck continues,
" as they roll on, and one feels time too short to
do all that ought to be done."
School for the children, it will be noticed, occu-
pies a recognized place in the day's routine. This
was one of the first things taken in hand. As
early as September 9 this entry is found in Mr.
Peck's diary : " Visited several of the tents, and
asked the parents if we might have the children to
teach them. To this proposal they readily assented,
and to our dismay the little ones came in such
numbers that we could hardly find room to stow
them all away." They proved to be very intelligent
and eager to learn, and the missionaries were much
encouraged. Frequently notes are found to the
effect that the children were very attentive, learning
2i6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
their hymns, repeating verses of Scripture, or en^
deavouring to master the syllabic character.
At an early date after their arrival the mis-
sionaries took a census of the population of Black-
lead Island. They found there were forty tents,
and the people inhabiting them numbered 171.
Perhaps the reader will exclaim, What a handful
of persons to caU forth two men from home
comforts to the drear}^ surroundings of an Arctic
whaling station. Surely there is waste of energy
and time and money here !
Well, the fewer and more degraded the people,
the more is our admiration compelled for those
who will go forth to care for them. For they are
far removed from any hope of honour or distinction
in this world. Anyhow, we should bear in mind that
Jesus Christ before He came to earth was not moved
by specious arguments about waste. He left count-
less realms of glory to come to our poor, dark,
fallen comer of God's great universe. Mr. Peck,
too, did not view his position as wanting in im-
portance. His exclamation about the 171 persons
is, " Quite a number of precious souls for which to
give an account to the Master ! May He fill me
with a burning zeal for their salvation ! "
One thing the new mission stood in need of, and
that was a place of meeting where the people could
assemble for worship and instruction and the
children could come together for school. This
A NEW VENTURE 217
want was supplied by the Eskimos themselves.
As early as October 3, Mr. Peck writes in his diary :
" Two Eskimos are busy making the frame of a tent,
which we hope to have ready by Sunday " ; and two
days later we hear of its progress, and of the great
interest which the men are taking in its construc-
tion. This true tabernacle of witness to the presence
of God in Cumberland Sound was ready in time, and
when Sunday, October 7, was over, we read that it
had been " a very happy but wearing day. We visited
the people from tent to tent, and invited them to
come to our opening meeting. Many came, and
they joined heartily in the few hymns they knew.
On the whole we have much cause to thank God.
The tent is about twenty feet long and ten feet
broad. Two long seats are placed along the sides
on which the people sit. The women, quite by
choice, like to sit together on one side.
" It is an encouraging fact that the tent was made
and the greater part of the material provided by
the Eskimos themselves."
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND
"There shall be no night there"
HEN the two whalers, that called unexpectedly
at Blacklead Island on October lo, sailed
away to more genial climes, the weather began to
wax more severe ; the nights became longer, the
days shorter ; the ice formed and came closer and
closer round the island, and silence, as far as the
outer world was concerned, fell upon the little
station. " Quis separabit '* may be a good motto
for the largest shipping company of the world, but
the question will hardly bear a satisfactory answer
as regards the navigation of Arctic seas in the winter.
The long dreary winter, the darkness that over-
shadows an Arctic station, and the complete isola-
tion in which it is cut off, might almost be taken as
symbolic of the degradation of life of the inhabi-
tants, of the spiritual darkness of the kingdom of
Satan, and of the power of sin to separate from the
joys of the Sun of Righteousness.
And as the two messengers of Light settled down
to their work in this condition of things, we can
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 219
readily suppose that the words of Christ after His
Resurrection, " As my Father hath sent Me, even
so send I you," must have been comforting to them.
Whether or not they recognized the hkeness between
Him, Who left His home on high for a world of dark-
ness, and themselves, it is possible for the onlooker
or the reader to do so.
In Mr. Peck's diary we find entries concerning
the weather from time to time, which certainly
would not encourage the pleasure-seeker to shape
his course for Cumberland Sound. In the begin-
ning of November we read of six degrees below zero,
then of twenty. Again, by November 23, twenty-
eight degrees below zero are registered, and then is
the significant note : " I am told that over fifty
degrees below zero is not uncommon here." A few
days later the sea was frozen over near " our island
home, and we can now walk on the ice. This is a
great treat, as the walking on our rocky island is
really most trying."
The darkness and the cold ran a race together.
It is a constant thing to read of lamps being required
nearly the whole day. In the latitude of Blacklead
Island the sun is not wholly obscured for the whole
of any one day in the winter ; or perhaps it would
be more correct to say that on the shortest day he
does just rise above the horizon, for he may be
obscured by bad weather. On December 19 : " The
days are very short now ; the sun was first seen at
220 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
11.25 a.m., and set again at 12.30 p.m." And once
more, early in the following month, it is : ''No sun
to-day. We do miss his genial rays. But Jesus,
the Sun of Righteousness, does not leave us without
His soul-reviving presence."
Mr. Peck's notes on December 21, when the
weather happened to be bright and clear, were ;
*' On this the shortest day I was able to watch the
course of the sun and take observations. At no
time of day did we see the full orb of the sun. The
upper portion could be seen altogether for about
one hour and ten minutes ; the half orb was visible
about fifteen minutes, and threequarters for about
ten minutes." The weather was very cold ; the
thermometer stood about 25° below zero, and there
was a strong wind. During the night the sky was
ablaze with the Aurora and countless brilliant stars.
But cold and ice and darkness were not the only
trials of life in that little Arctic community. Want
of provisions, owing to the failure of the fishing,
had brought the Eskimos and their dogs to a con-
dition of starvation. There is, however, a joyful
entry on November 3 : " A whale has been caught
to-day. Thank God for it. This monster of the
deep will more than supply the needs of all."
The total length of this huge creature was about
50 feet, the height was fully 15, and the breadth of
the tail was 12 feet. The thickness of blubber in
some places measured 12 inches.
CUTTING UP A WHALE.
BUILDING AT BLACKLEAD ISLAND.
The Rev. E. J. Peck is in the foreground.
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 221
Soon the dogs and people were feasting away to
their heart's content, and the latter were quite
elated at the prospect of having many a good meal.
Whale-skin, which is called muktak, is considered
to be a dainty dish, and when the whale was caught
the missionaries looked forward with pleasure to
their first meal of this delicacy as likely to give them
an agreeable change of diet. But the result was
not apparently so pleasurable as had been antici-
pated. The only remark Mr. Peck makes about it
is : " Mr. Parker and I had our first meal of muktak.
It is about an inch thick and of a dark colour. When
boiled, it is fairly palatable."
A little later, in the middle of November, several
seals were caught. The Eskimos seemed to be
always ready to share their good things with their
European friends. On November 16 the diary says :
" They very kindly brought us several pieces of
seal's meat. We cut this up in steaks and then fry
it. As it is considered a capital preventive of scurvy
we think it wise to use it freely, and when well cooked
it is certainly more digestible than canned meats."
But though the wants of the Eskimos were thus pro-
vided for a time, the food supply seemed to be pre-
carious. Bad weather did its work continually in
bringing the people to the verge of starvation.
It has been mentioned that early in the year 1895
the sun failed them altogether. The date of that
entry in the diary is January 8. Well, for days and
223 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
weeks after that there are gloomy reports of the
weather. " Blowing and drifting again. I could
not go far in the driving snow, but managed to
crawl into four Eskimo dwellings which were close
to our house, and speak a few words for the Saviour."
Again, on January 19, it is " a wild day. So
heavy was the storm that we could not gather the
people together, so we spent the day in study and
communion with God."
Not only was this continuously stormy weather
a hindrance to the teaching of the people, but time
after time it prevented the fishing, and caused much
anxiety to the missionaries and great suffering from
hunger to the Eskimos. It is perhaps difficult for
us who dwell in the lands of regular sowing and
reaping to realize that we live in dependence upon
the promise of God that seed-time and harvest
should not cease. But if our lot were cast in the
icy lands above the latitude of 65°, we should pro-
bably put our hearts into the petition : " Give us
this day, and day by day, our daily bread."
Who is proof, under the pressure of continued
gloom, against despondency ? Elijah was not ;
John the Baptist was not ; Timothy was not. Thus
we need not be surprised, but all our sympathy
should be awakened when we read : " From Sunday
the 20th to Saturday the 26th was a season of much
trial and deep spiritual conflict. We have had such
a number of wild days lately that our poor people
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 223
(some 170 being now on the island) were not able
to catch seals, and consequently were in great need.
Some of them, wishing to propitiate their evil
spirits, commenced their conjuring practices, think-
ing their incantations would have the desired effect
of changing the weather. I spoke to them at our
meeting of the power and love of God, and exhorted
them to repent and turn to Jesus if they desired His
great salvation. Thank God, some gave heed to
the word spoken ; hut no one (I imagine) except
ourselves can fully understand our position. We
are here in the depth of a trying winter, in the midst
of a starving and heathen people, without human
sympathy or support. No wonder the Prince of
Darkness tries to shake our faith. No wonder at
times anxious thoughts rush into our minds."
Again, towards the end of January, the people
were reduced to straits from hunger. The mis-
sionaries brought the needs of the people before
God in prayer, and asked Him, who brought the
fishes to the net of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee,
to give the people of Blacklead Island success in
hunting. " We had," Mr. Peck writes, in conse-
quence, " the joy of seeing five seals brought home."
But the joy was balanced by anxiety of a fresh kind.
" To our great sorrow and dismay we were told that
some of the people had been driven out to sea on a
field of ice. We are praying earnestly to God for
them." But a trial of this kind was but the leading
224 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
of God for those who were in danger. They re-
mained on their ice-floe all night, and one of them
at least, as a result, was thus led to pray to the God
of whom the messengers of the Gospel had spoken.
His prayer was repeated : " O God, save me, for
I am in great danger." In the morning they noticed,
to their great joy, that new ice had formed between
them and Blacklead Island, and although it actually
bent under their weight, they succeeded in escaping
from their perilous position.
During this time of privation the missionaries
adopted the plan of inviting one family to tea every
day. This alone must have made some consider-
able inroad upon their stores, and shows the need
of a plentiful supply such as was to some extent men-
tioned in detail in the last chapter. " After tea,'* Mr.
Peck writes, " I take our large English Bible and
explain to them that this is the Book which God has
given to teach men the way to heaven. A suitable
portion is then translated and explained. Before we
part they kneel down, and we have prayer together.
Poor people ! they do seem so grateful, and we may
well believe that their hearts are being drawn to Jesus."
The Eskimos were not the only living creatures
that suffered from hunger. Their dogs as well were
brought near to starvation. This the missionaries
found to their cost. The dogs had not been invited
to tea with their masters, so they thought it well to
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 225
On January 23 "we were startled," writes Mr.
Peck, " at about 3 a.m. by a pack of hungry dogs.
These creatures had managed to chmb up on the
roof of our skin church, and to our dismay were
tearing the edifice to pieces. Hastily slipping on
our fur coats, Mr. Parker and I rushed out in the
bitter cold. Here in the dim light we could make
out our position. We were literally besieged by
dogs, and they must in all have numbered over a
hundred. Most of them were on the roof, some
had fallen through, others were devouring pieces of
sealskin, and altogether such a confused mass of
dogs — young, old, bruised and wounded — it would
be hard to find an3Avhere else. After a sharp battle
we managed to put these unwelcome visitors to
flight, and then we had the pleasure of contempla-
ting the mischief the starving brutes had done."
We have heard fairly often of churches being
destroyed by fire or tempest, or even by earth-
quake, but probably this instance is unique when
one was devoured by dogs. Some years after, when
the incident was told to a class of girls in Scotland,
one lassie remarked " Now that we have heard of
a kirk being eaten by dogs, it is not hard to believe
that a whale could have swallowed Jonah."
Happily the damage was speedily repaired, and
the church was, at least, rendered sufficiently
proof against wind and cold for services to be held
there on the next Sunday.
226 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Though the darkest days of the year were days of
trial, there was much cause for thankfulness. The
people had learned to regard the missionaries as
friends ; they had taken in a great deal of instruc-
tion, and some at least had, as far as the eye of man
could see, been drawn nearer to God in Christ.
Of a party of Eskimos who left Blacklead Island
on February 25, Mr. Peck mentions one, a woman
named Padlo, who had been a regular attendant at
the services, and could read in her own tongue
portions of God's Holy Word. In her case he ex-
presses the earnest hope that she may become a
missionary among her own people wherever her
journeyings may take her.
A little later, too, we are told of the progress of
the children ; how several can read and answer
correctly when questioned about the leading truths
of Christianity. And so, as days lengthened, hope
was strong that the true spiritual light that light-
eth every man that cometh into the world was
really shining. Even though the nights were long,
yet Arctic darkness had its special hope, as on
March 10, a glorious night, when an eclipse took
place. After that phenomenon *' the stars shone
with a wondrous lustre, and the northern lights
(Aurora Borealis), which were of every conceivable
tint of the most exquisite colours, flitted across the
heavens." Such a scene as this seems to speak
promises of the time when there shall be no night
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 227
over the frozen wastes of the Eskimos, when the
people who sit in darkness and the shadow of death
shall see a great light, when those who are blinded
by sin shall have their eyes opened to behold Him
who said, " I am the Bright and Morning Star " ?
By the end of April Mr. Peck felt that Mr. Parker
had made such progress with the language and in
knowledge of the people that he could be left alone.
Accordingly, he made preparations for a journey to
Kikkerton, Mr. Noble's second whaling station.
Forethought was very necessary, for many things
were wanted to make a prolonged absence possible.
The list is given by Mr. Peck : —
" Preparing for journey. As I shall have to live
in the open-air for some considerable time, I have
to provide various requisites : (i) A tent. This we
are having made of canvas, and will be about 8 feet
long, 6 high, and 6 broad. (2) Provisions. (3)
Cooking appliances. As there is no firewood to be
found in these parts I am taking a small lamp and
some methylated spirit. (4) Clothing and bedding.
These consist of a complete suit of fur and a sleep-
ing-bag, the inside of the latter being made of rein-
deer skin, and the outside of sealskin. (5) Sledge
and dogs, together with supplies for my Eskimo
The start was made on May 4, although there
was a strong wind blowing from the north to impede
progress. However, after a hard day's travel a
228 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
group of snow-houses between some rugged rocks
was reached in safety. Mr. Peck took up his quarters
with an old man and his wife. Their iglo was hospi-
table, but not pleasant for a fastidious taste. The
house was in a most filthy state, blood, blubber,
and pieces of seal's meat being thrown about in all
directions. " I made, however," the missionary
says, " the best of my not over-comfortable abode,
and tried to make the portion of the house allotted
to me as clean as possible."
Experiences among the Eskimos, as was seen
when we looked into their homes in Hudson's Bay,
were not always pleasant ; and at a later date
during this Kikkerton journey, Mr. Peck again
remarks : —
" I witness strange sights in these Eskimo dwell-
ings — an Eskimo feast, for instance, being by no
means uncommon. Imagine a seal, fresh from the
sea, laid on the floor of a hut, surrounded by a num-
ber of hungry people all armed with knives ready
for the fray. The seal is cut open down the middle,
the skin taken off, and the carcase roughly cut up ;
pieces of the gory flesh and blubber are then de-
voured with the greatest avidity, and soon the mass
of meat vanishes away."
Sunday, May 5, was spent in working among the
people of this village. There were six houses in all,
and we are given some description of the inhabitants
of each of them ;
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 229
" Spent the day in work for my Saviour. Six
snow-houses formed our Eskimo village. The in-
mates of the house in which I lived showed little
desire for instruction, but I tried to lay before them
God's message of love and mercy. In the next
house a conjuror with his wife and family resided.
Spoke to them about God's love and goodness. They
listened with some attention to our message. The
next dwelling contained four inhabitants ; one, a
young woman, was very encouraging. The mother
of this young person also spoke very nicely, and I
felt really thankful to God for inclining their hearts
to listen to the Gospel. In the next house I found
a poor man with his wife. The former is suffering
from a painful and incurable disease. I tried to
point him to Jesus, the Fountain of life, blessing,
and comfort. In the next habitation I found
another conjuror with his wife and family, and
spoke to them of the Saviour's love. I passed into
the next dwelling, where I found a man with his wife
who were very favourably disposed, and who listened
to our words with evident interest. I gathered
the children together during the day, and found
them bright, intelligent, and most eager to learn."
On May 6 Kikkerton was reached about 7 p.m.,
and Mr. Mutch, who was stationed here, kindly
received Mr. Peck. He had, however, no sleeping
accommodation to offer him, so it was a case of
living in his tent during his stay.
230 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
The visit to this station was distinctly encou-
raging and interesting. The people came together
in large numbers to hear the Word of God and for
instruction. And there was unlimited room in the
church for all to gather together who would. It
certainly was Catholic in the sense that none need
be shut out. We have looked into the iron church
at Whale River, and we have seen the skin and
whalebone church of Blacklead Island, and we have
read the fate that overtook it. But at Kikkerton
we see one which was more commodious than either
of these, cheaper to erect, and proof against attacks
of dogs, or fire or earthquake. We will hear Mr.
Peck describe his own edifice : " Having no house
in which the people could assemble, I requested
some Eskimos to build a large circular wall of snow,
about 6 feet high, to keep out the piercing wind.
The seats — if such I may call them — were made of
square blocks of snow, which were placed close to
the snow wall. This was our Arctic church. Our
service consisted of hymns and prayer, and I then
told them some simple Scriptural truths. What a
strange sight these walls of snow, with nothing
between us in an upward direction but the blue
heavens ! Truly the angels of God might look
down upon such a gathering with wonder and joy.'*
Here then the people met on Sunday. " Many
came, and we had a grand time. Services gene-
rally lasted about an hour. Some friends might
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 231
perhaps be disposed to blame me for remaining so
long in the open-air with only a wall of snow for
protection ; but there is no alternative. There is
not a fragment of wood or anything else here to
make a more suitable meeting-place ; but God has
not failed to strengthen me wonderfully to bear
But it must be admitted thai : church of this
kind even has some disadvantage, for on May 27
it was snowing all day.
" I could not, therefore, hold meetings in the open-
air, and so visited from house to house. In one
dwelling I had the pleasure of meeting one of the
Eskimos who had heard the Gospel at Blacklead
Island during the winter. When I spoke to the
people he warmly seconded my remarks, and spoke
very kindly of our work." This is not a solitary
instance of the effect of work previously done.
For on another day, " I was cheered by meeting
two of the people who had heard much of Jesus
from one of the Blacklead Island Eskimos." . . .
" There are wonderful signs from time to time of
God's blessing and ready help, and one would be
faint-hearted indeed to doubt the power and pre-
sence of our God."
The missionary had been taking his meals with
Mr. Noble's agent. But after some days Mr. Peck
writes : " Mr. Mutch left to-day, so I am, in a
measure, thrown on my own resources. Had tea
232 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
in tent this evening. Bread was frozen .quite hard,
so I had to chop off pieces, and altogether I made
but a poor meal."
But the next day " I had a more satisfactory
meal than that of previous day, experience having
taught me a lesson. The frozen bread I wrapped in
a towel and took to bed with me the previous night,
and through the heat generated in my fur hag it was
quite thawed by the morning. Snow was melted by
one of the Eskimo and brought to me ; this was
finally, by means of my methylated-spirit lamp,
brought to the boiling point, and I soon had the
pleasure of drinking a cup of hot cocoa, which
beverage, by-the-bye, is most acceptable in these
cold regions. It is certainly preferable to either
tea or coffee, on account of its sustaining properties."
Towards the end of May : " The weather is now, I
am thankful to say, getting warmer, and I slept
quite comfortably last night in my tent. The bread
in my box is also beginning to thaw, so there is much
to be thankful for.'*''
It is indeed well for the dwellers in Arctic regions
that the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink.
So the nights became shorter, or practically did
not exist, for on May 28 the sun was actually shining
about eighteen hours out of the twenty-four, and
the remaining six hours were bright twilight, scarcely
distinguishable from day. But this meant weak-
ness of ice, and consequently the near impossibility
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 233
of travelling across the sea. So on June 6 Mr. Peck
had to make a start on his return journey to Black-
His account of the journey is as follows : " We
made our way over the vast ice-field which stretches
right across the Sound. We followed in many places
the track of sledges which had passed over the same
ice. But at last, to our dismay, we saw that the ice
had been carried away, and that the open water ex-
tended in a more northerly direction. We were
therefore obliged to alter our course, and after a
hard day's travelling we succeeded in reaching the
edge of the ice floe on the opposite side. Here we
found two boats, the crews of which were engaged
in the whale fishery. The boats were secured to
the edge of the ice, and we were almost inclined to
go and sleep in them for the night. After prayerful
consideration, however, we thought it wiser to go
to some Eskimos who were encamped close to the
land. These people received us very kindly, and,
with the help of our methylated-spirit lamp, a cup
of tea was soon ready, and we attacked our evening
meal with an appetite which only an Arctic traveller,
perhaps, can understand."
On the next day " there was a strong wind blow-
ing from the north. We looked for the boats we
had seen the previous day, but the ice, to which
they had been fastened, had all disappeared. What
a mercy we did not carry out our intention of stay-
234 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
ing in the boats ! For, although we should probably
have been safe enough, what would have become of
our sledge and dogs ? As the wind was strong we
rigged up a sail, and drove along before the gale at a
brisk rate. After going some distance, however,
we had to haul close to the wind and keep in near
to the land, as we found the ice weak in many places.
We almost caught a seal which was basking in the
sun. The creature was asleep, and allowed us to get
nearly within gunshot before it awoke. When it
raised its head my Eskimo companion began yelling
in a most unearthly manner, and the seal, quite sur-
prised with the noise, and looking about to see what
was the matter, almost forgot his own means of
safety. However, he slipped into his hole in the
ice just as the dogs were on top of him.
" We did not reach Blacklead Island before two
a.m. on Saturday morning. I was surprised to see
many people out and about, and they gave me a
warm welcome. Right glad I was to meet my
friend and brother, Mr. Parker, and to hear good
accounts of his welfare and work."
And so this tour and sojourn of a month's dura-
tion came to an end, and there is a pleasing retro-
spect : " I think of my stay at Kikkerton with
feelings of gratitude to God. Many have heard the
Gospel, a few can read, and several have reading
sheets in hand which they have promised to learn
during my absence." The great difficulty in deal-
DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND 235
ing with Eskimos, as with all people, is to overcome
the first obstacle, and convince the people that they
are sinners who stand in need of a Saviour.
" Often when I speak of man's lost, fallen state
to the Eskimos they make remarks which show that
they — if any people under heaven — ought not to
be placed in the list of sinners. Some remark, when
I mention the various sins to which they are addicted,
* But I do not steal,' ' I do not commit adultery,'
etc., etc. Others, again — not, I must confess, with-
out just cause — refer to the sins of white men who
have visited them from time to time, and they
naturally reason that if they are specimens of the
religion we have come to teach the Eskimos might
just as well remain as they are."
Happy it is for the missionary to reflect that all
things are possible with God, and that it is not his
work to convince of sin, but the work of the Holy
Ghost whom Christ sends into the world through
the medium of His willing messengers.
PLOUGHING AND SOWING
** Most gladly therefore will I rather
. glory in my infirmities that the power of
Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take
pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in
necessities, in persecutions, in distresses,
for Christ's sake."
AX the end of June, 1895, it was decided that
Mr. Parker should start with some Eskimos
who were going to visit a whaHng station near Fro-
bisher Bay, and on July 2, Mr. Peck accompanied
him to the boat to say farewell. We are reminded
of a sea-shore scene painted in the Acts of the
Apostles when we read : " We had prayer together
by the beach. I feel lonely here now, with not one
soul to speak to in my own tongue. But Jesus is
near, and why should I repine while His promises
are true and faithful."
Mr. Parker did not return until August 27.
One result of this journey was to show that the
movements of Eskimos seemed to bring many dis-
tant places near to one another, and Mr. Peck was
brought almost into touch with his former districts.
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 237
For the traveller had met Eskimos who had jour-
neyed from the northern and western shores of
Hudson's Straits, and "we may well believe that the
Gospel of God's grace and love will soon spread
over these Arctic wastes, and that God's name will
be glorified amongst the Eskimos."
There is something pathetic in words which record
some of the smaller trials of life in Cumberland
Sound, and as we read them we have to remember
that after all life is made up generally of apparently
petty details of daily routine. " The weather is
now (in the middle of July) very warm, and the
scanty vegetation is beginning to look green. I
have planted some mustard and cress, together
with other vegetable seeds, in two boxes. I man-
aged with difficulty to get some soil, which I worked
up as fine as possible. I hope these efforts may be
successful, one does miss a few fresh vegetables."
In due time a small harvest was reaped, for on
August II : "I had the pleasure of eating some
mustard and cress ; the other seeds I planted are
coming on, but slowly."
On August 20, there was great excitement. "While
having dinner, some of the people rushed into our
little house, and cried out, ' Oomeakjuak ! oomeak-
juak ! ' (' A ship ! a ship ! '). / could hardly credit
the news for joy. Went out, and saw a vessel bear-
ing up for our island home. She had evidently
been driven to leeward of the island during the
238 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
stormy weather we have had lately, and was now
(as sailors say) beating to windward. But, alas !
when she was almost close to us a thick fog settled
over everything, and the wind began to blow with
great fury. We knew the vessel could not make
the land, so we returned to our solitary dwelling
and committed the ship and her crew to God's care,
and then felt quite at rest."
The next two days the weather continued very
foggy and stormy and nothing could be seen of the
ship. However, on the 23rd the fog cleared away
and " we had the joy of seeing her again, but some
considerable distance to leeward of the island.
" The vessel, which on approaching we found to
be Mr. Noble's brig, the Alert, succeeded in reaching
her anchorage in the evening, I immediately went
on board, and, of course, our first inquiries were con-
cerning loved ones far away. My heart overflowed
with thankfulness to God when I read their letters.
How great His mercy in having kept my dear wife,
and our four little children, in health and strength,
for it is now over thirteen months since I heard a
word about them. Truly our God is a covenant-
keeping God, who will fully keep that which we
commit to His trust. Other letters, both from the
Society and dear friends, are full of comfort, and
one feels more than repaid by such tokens of love
and sympathy for leaving all to come to this desolate
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 239
Beyond the joy of receiving letters from home,
the missionaries had the pleasure of unpacking their
annual supplies. Among them were a large number
of towels and a quantity of soap. Alluding to
these, Mr. Peck remarks : " Won't our Eskimos be
clean by and by." And in a private letter he
writes : " I am trjdng to teach the children to be
clean. At first they came to me with hair a literal
mat of filth and grease, so that it was difficult to
tell which was hair and which was dirty grease.
Their skins were thickly coated with cakes of dirt.
With the towels and soap now sent us, and which I
have served out to the children, we are giving an
incentive to cleanliness by offering thirteen prizes,
at the next Christmas festival, for the uniformly
Towards the end of September the Alert left again
for Scotland and winter once more began to encircle
Blacklead Island. A time of spiritual warfare
followed, concerning which some interesting details
are given. Perhaps it may have struck some
readers that, as far as teaching by the missionaries
and the reception of their teaching by the Eskimos
were concerned, there had, up to this time, been a
remarkable absence of conflict. Well, we must
expect that this state of things cannot go on for
ever. Even in earthly things innovations, however
good, inevitably stir up opposition. How much
more must the messenger of Christ expect to
240 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
be opposed when he seeks to carry Christ right into
the enemy's stronghold. Indeed, probably no
missionary ought to be satisfied with his work until
he sees Satan fighting for his own.
And so we are not surprised that the course of
the Gospel did not run altogether smoothly among
the Eskimos when the conjurors began to find out,
like the silversmiths of Ephesus in former days, that
their craft was in danger.
In the early days of October, Mr. Parker had been
attending a sick man, but he did not improve so
rapidly as he had hoped he would. This then was
an opportunity for those who had been ousted.
The ignorant sick man is seldom satisfied with any-
thing short of a miracle ; he cannot bear to wait
for the slow development of medical science. So
one of the conjurors was allowed to come in and
practise his art through one night. These practices
have been more or less described elsewhere, so noth-
ing need here be said in detail. Mr. Peck deter-
mined to speak to the people about this matter
when they should come together for instruction.
At the evening meeting, however, but few were
present when the instruction commenced. " I
was, therefore," he said, - " half inclined to leave
the matter for what I thought would be a more
favourable opportunity. But I was moved by a
strong inward impulse to speak from the First Com-
mandment, and just as I commenced, who should
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 241
enter our meeting but the very conjuror who had prac-
tised his demoniac art. After I had gone on some
time he interrupted me by sa5ang that we were both
conjurors, or, in other words, that there was no
difference between my preaching the Gospel and
his heathen incantations. I was led, therefore,
to speak to him very plainly and to point out, in no
unkind spirit, I hope, the real difference between
our objects. All the people present listened with
the greatest attention, and I felt sure that God by
His Holy Spirit was speaking to them."
Again, later in the same month, the weather was
very stormy, and hunting was consequently a failure.
The heathen Eskimos, then, headed by their con-
jurors, organized a series of heathen abominations
in connection with their worship of Sedna (or Senna,
as the name seems to be pronounced in Cumberland
Sound). These ceremonies were to propitiate the
goddess so that expeditions for game might become
possible and successful. As has been mentioned in
a former chapter, some of their practices in this
worship are of a terribly immoral nature. So the
missionaries set their faces against them and opposed
them all in their power. This incensed many of
the people very greatly, and, as Mr. Peck expresses
it, " thinned out our stony-ground hearers." Many
stood firm under this trial, " but in others I was
sadly deceived. I cannot, however, but rejoice in
God. Satan is evidently stirring up his agents, and
242 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
this is in itself a sign of life. Again we see the real
state of people's hearts and shall be able to deal
with them, I trust, with more wisdom. Last, but
not least, the people are realizing that to follow
Christ means more than a mere assent to the truths
they hear." And yet once more, a few days later,
concerning the same matter we are told : " Some
of the heathen appear utterly ashamed of their vile
ways, and will not, therefore, come to our meetings.
Indeed we have had quite a thinning out of late.
I am waiting patiently and asking God for special
There was yet another instrument which Satan
used during this season, one which is alwaj^s power-
ful, especially with barbarous peoples, i.e., drink.
One of the Europeans was greatly to blame for
having supplied it to the Eskimos. He, however,
promised Mr. Peck to be more careful in the future.
The winter set in with unusual severity. The
journals speak continually of *' storms raging," of
" a week of stormy weather," of gales, of heavy
snow and such like.
From Sunday, November lo, to Sunday the 17th,
it was " a fearful week, wind blowing and snow
drifting. The people are in want, and spiritually,
there have been some discouraging events. On
November 19, we had our house banked up with
snow. A wall of some five feet thick and ten feet
high was built all round. This was the work of
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 243
some twenty Eskimos who cut out and hauled
several large sledge loads of frozen blocks of snow."
And this protection was arranged not before it was
wanted, for the next day a very heavy gale was
blowing, indeed the heaviest " we have experienced
since landing here. One of our fires could not be
kept alight as we were nearly suffocated with sulphur
and smoke. So we spent a miserable day. How
we should have fared I hardly know if we had not
been led most providentially to encircle our house
with what proved to be a real shelter. A snow
wall, five feet thick, keeps out not a little wind."
Christmas approached, but it did not come upon
the Missionary Station without preparation. Work-
ing parties of one sort or another are the correct
thing in every weU-ordered parish. It is true they
are generally set on foot and managed by ladies.
But the fact that no ladies were present at Black-
lead Island was not going to deter so orthodox and
energetic a pastor as Mr. Peck. He had organized
his working party some time before. It was really
a knitting class. He found some Eskimo women
who had been taught to knit years ago by a whaler's
wife. These were appointed as instructors. Wool
and needles had been sent out by kind friends in
England. The class had been regularly attended
by thirteen women and thirteen girls. The result
was a very respectable out-turn of articles, number-
ing 42 woollen caps, 113 pairs of mittens, and 35
244 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
pairs of gloves, and all these things were to be used
as Christmas presents for the Eskimos.
So Christmas Day came, the day of all the year
for rejoicings tempered by some sad and solemn
recollections. " The dear ones at home were very
much in our thoughts, on our hearts and in our
prayers. How near, and yet how far they seem to
us at this hallowed season.
'* A large number of Eskimo friends gathered to-
gether to-day. Several brought presents of things
which they had knitted and desired me to take
them for my own use, and thus be able to show
them to the kind friends who had sent the wool.
" I was very pleased to see such a kind, thoughtful
spirit among them, and the presents were an utter
surprise, as I had no idea they had been making
these special articles for our use.
" After friendly greetings we entertained the
donors of the gifts with coffee and cake, and I
pointed out to them the true reason why we should
rejoice on this day. Poor souls ! one does so long
to see them take a firm hold of Jesus, as a living,
** Thursday, 26th. — Decided to give the married
people a treat to-day. Each family was supplied
with flour and grease, which they cooked in their
own dwellings over their lamps in pans, or in other
" In the evening we had a magic lantern lecture
A GROUP OF ESKIMO CHILDREN OUTSIDE MISSION.
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 245
for adults in our little church. The place was
crammed to suffocation, and the malodours arising
from the greasy clothing, and the filthy persons of
such a congregation, baffles all description. How-
ever, we got along very nicely. Mr. Parker is a
splendid manipulator of the lantern, and I gave a
few words explanatory of the passing slides, which
depicted scenes in our Lord's life on earth ; and, as
ever when the magic lantern is shown, the people
went away full of a deep delight."
" Friday, 2jth. — Children's day. Tried to make
the little ones happy. Gave them a feast at 3
p.m. This consisted of plum pudding, cake, tea
and coffee. Oh ! how those little dears did eat !
Oh ! what capacious stomachs these Eskimos have !
But, at last they had to ' cease firing,' and then I
advised them to carry off the fragments that re-
mained for their mothers and fathers ; a hint, by
the way, which they were not slow to take advan-
" At 7 p.m. came the great event of the
season — distribution of the prizes and a display of a
Christmas tree. This latter, made by Mr. Parker,
was a great success. With the hoops of a flour
barrel, tastefully decorated with coloured paper,
etc., and arranged ingeniously on a pole, which was
lashed top and bottom, he contrived a very pretty
affair. The gifts were in nice little bags (the bags
dso the work of Mr. Parker's ingenious fingers) and
246 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
hung on the hoops, around which Hghted candles
were distributed in the most orthodox Christmas
fashion, and with the further aid of various httle
ornaments, our tree, when lit up, looked quite a
" Mr. Hall (Mr. Noble's agent here) took the
chair at 7 p.m., the place being crowded, for
every one was anxious to see so novel a sight.
" After singing and prayer, the distribution of
prizes took place. These were, f^rst, for some of the
most regular attendants and best behaved at school,
and second, for the most cleanly.
" Fourteen prizes were given to the most regular
attendants ; one girl named Roopenwak, had not
missed a day ; another named Ropvidliak, had only
missed one day ; while a third named Rillukvuk, had
only missed two. Fourteen also won prizes for
cleanliness, and I had a singular pleasure in handing
these to the recipients, as one does appreciate cleanli-
ness among a people of this naturally filthy type.
" After the prizes had been distributed, the tree
was stripped and each member of our tiny flock was
presented with some nice article.
" After a closing hymn had been sung, and prayer
offered, we separated, thanking God for the happy
time He had given us ; and for the materials
supplied, which are also His gifts, and placed at
our disposal for His glory."
There is very much for encouragement in this
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 247
account of the great festal season of the Christian
year, and even allowing for some being attracted to
the Mission from false motives, there is a solid
foundation of Christianity and an indication of
progress. It is then very saddening to find a note
of the worst kind of discouragement soon after,
discouragement such as has been experienced too
often, and with which every missionary is pro-
bably more or less familiar.
" I felt constrained to speak to a white man
who is here as to the immorality of his life. He
listened, but got no further. How much one longs
to see him, and others here, on the Lord's side. It
seems almost a hopeless task to do any real good
amongst this people while our fellow whites exhibit
such a terrible example, and thus wield so awful an
influence on the side of Satan.
" However, we are not here to fight God's battles
in our own strength, neither shall we prevail by any
so-called wisdom or might of our own. The Lord
Himself is fighting for us, and we know that He
will be victor in the end. So we go on patiently,
and, I trust, cheerfully with our work."
We seem able to read between the lines of Mr.
Peck's notes. We picture a man who comes
to these inhospitable regions for money making, for
his own aggrandisement and ultimate ease. In-
fluenced by no high motive, but purely selfish in his
aims, he makes the native Eskimos minister to his
248 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
every vice. Circling lower and lower in the indul-
gence of his passions, he becomes a centre from
which radiate hellish forces. He lends himself to
the devil as a satanic agent.
What a contrast to this is presented in the picture
of the Christlike life of patient endurance of the
messengers of the Gospel. Like the Master they
came not to be ministered unto but to minister,
and to live not only among but for the people to
whom they are sent. Soon after the occurrence
above mentioned, both Mr. Peck and Mr. Parker
undertook a tour on the ice in the neighbourhood
of Kikkerton, to work among the Eskimos of that
station and any others they might find. It is im-
possible for us at home fully to grasp what these
missionary trips mean. The cold registered was
often from 30° to 40° below zero. When night
came no hut of any kind would be found to welcome
them. The frozen sea was their flooring. They
would pile up blocks of frozen snow and spread their
canvas over the open top and thus shut out the
elements as best they could. '* When the shelter was
completed our spirit-lamp was lit, our kettle
fiUed with snow, and patiently we waited till the
water boiled. Parker made some cocoa, and in the
midst of a vapour, which froze as soon as it reached
our canvas roof, we drank with avidity the warm
and refreshing beverage.
" After shutting up the tiny hole, which we had
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 349
used for a door, with a block of snow, we managed
by the light of a candle to wriggle into our sleeping
bags and thus to secure a considerable number
of shivery little dozes through the night, in spite
of the excessive cold."
But when we read details of this kind we should
have suggested to us not merely a contrast between
the messenger of the Gospel and the godless trader.
We should also in relation to our own lives consider
the meaning of such sacrifice as this. If we are
true in the contemplation of our own lives, we shall
discover that the vast majority of those things
which we have been accustomed to regard as neces-
sary to us were at first mere luxuries, and by degrees
they have insidiously wormed themselves into our
lives so as to seem indispensable. Every thing will
acquire a new aspect and will begin to cry, " How
much owest thou unto thy Lord ? "
Our tables loaded with a variety of costly foods,
of delicacies to tempt a pampered taste, of choice
wines, will cry out against us, " How much owest
thou ? "
Our curtained walls, our easy chairs, our deep
carpeted floors, will take up the cry and echo back
the words, " How much owest thou ? "
Our soft warm beds and downy pillows, so different
from an Arctic couch of frozen snow and ice, will
cause our dream palaces to resound with the cry,
" How much owest thou ? "
250 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
To return to that Kikkerton journey. After
some time it was decided that Mr. Parker should
return to Blacklead Island, while Mr. Peck remained
to minister to the Eskimos around him. He then
took up his temporary abode in an Eskimo village.
His own pen gives a description which is worth
recording as giving a vivid picture of his surround-
ings and his life.
" A sketch of my present surroundings, etc., may
be of interest, especially as, by geographical com-
putation, I am now situated almost on the Arctic
" Item one is the Eskimo village. This consists
of fourteen snow-houses. These are built amongst
huge boulders of ice, and look like large bee-hive
shaped piles of snow. This peculiar little * town,'
the inhabitants of which number in all fifty-five
souls, is situated on the frozen sea, some four miles
from the mainland.
" The coast here is rugged in the extreme, and
the mountain peaks rise covered with a deep white
mantle of snow, sharply silhouetted against the
clear blue sky.
" The whole picture is one of utter desolation,
though not devoid of a certain bold and rugged
grandeur, which fills the soul with a solemn and
wondrous sense of awe, as one remembers that all
this is ' the work of His hands.'
" My snow-hotel is inhabited by three persons
't'' f '^, '^,- '^ . ^-^'""<*i
A SNOW-HOUSE WITH TUNNEL-PORCH BANKED UP.
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 251
besides myself. My host, who is, or rather has been,
a noted conjuror ; his wife, a young person remark-
ably cleanly in her person for an Eskimo ; and the
third person is a little foster son, about six years of
age, a nice, hearty little fellow.
" They are all very kind to me, and as I do not
notice their not over-inviting habits, we get on
" Thursday, April 2. — Very busy teaching and
visiting all day. A striking illustration of God's
power to answer prayer was given to-day. The
Eskimo in whose house I am living asked me quite
spontaneously to pray with him, and to ask God to
give him success in his hunting. For some time
past he had not caught a seal, and was therefore
short of oil for his lamps. God answered the prayer,
for the man brought back with him with great joy in
the evening two seals — just the number we ashed for^
" Friday, ^rd. — Prayed again with our friend ;
and he returned this time with three seals."
Mr. Peck continued his ministrations at this
time under great difficulty for he says : " My old
throat trouble is very bad. But the Lord stands
by me, and strengthens me. giving me to realize
that my seasons of weakness are His times of power
Some simple extracts from the journal will best
close the chapter.
" Saturday, 11th. — Started this morning to visit
252 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
another band of Eskimos living somewhere on the
ice floe. After a drive of some hours over very
hummocky ice, I found our friends. They received
me with much joy, put my kettle over their oil
stove, filled it with snow-water, which they had
previously made for their own use, and indeed they
were altogether most kind and hospitable.
" Having made a kettle of coffee, I invited them
to have a cup with me, and a right jolly party we
were as we eagerly devoured some hard biscuit and
warmed our chilly frames with the coffee.
" Towards evening it came on to blow and drift
furiously. One of the men who has been gone since
early morning to catch seals has not returned, and
with this gale abroad the people are somewhat
anxious regarding him.
" During the night the storm increased, and our
little dwelling seemed almost to rock with the vio-
lence of the wind. Fortunately the snow-house is
situated on the lee side of a large boulder of ice
some eight or ten feet high, and this acts as a break
to the wind. What would become of us should
the ice — the frozen sea on which we are encamped —
break up, I hardly know. For the season is advanc-
ing, and there can hardly be more than three feet of
ice between us and the sea beneath, a thought which
does not add to one's comfort when trying to sleep
in the snow-house, four miles from the land and with
a gale of wind raging without."
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 253
" Sunday, 12th. — Storm moderated, and the
missing man arrived about ten a.m. Both dogs,
sledge and driver were Hterally covered with driven
snow. He told us that he had quite lost himself in
the storm, and was obliged to remain in the snow-
drift during the whole of that bitter night.
" Had a profitable day with the people. Taught
them several times, and sought the Lord's presence
for my own comfort and support.
" Tuesday, 14th. — Desirous to taste a new phase
of Eskimo life, and to be one with the people whom I
seek to win, I started with one of the Eskimos who
was going young seal catching.
" Our conveyance was a small sledge, drawn by
"After reaching the actual hunting ground, the
dogs were continually driven in a windward direc-
tion. If they scented a seal-hole, they raced away
for it at full speed, for they know as well as their
owners — sometimes even better — ^how to find the
" When the dogs arrive at a seal-house, which is a
cavity made in the snow on top of the ice, the driver
leaps off the sledge, and then, as swiftly as possible,
breaks through the crust of snow which forms the
roof of the young seal's residence. Shoiild the
young seal be inside, he is soon hauled out with a
hook attached to the end of a stout stick and is
254 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
" But these little creatures are very wary, and are
by no means easily caught. Even on the day of
their birth they are able, if alarmed — and their hear-
ing is remarkably acute — to slip down into the sea
below ; this acuteness of hearing makes it exceed-
ingly difficult to get near their dwellings without
" The mother seal, also, uses every precaution
for the safety of her baby ; and should she hear any
noise on the top of the snow, as she will probably be
in the vicinity of the little dwelling, if not actually
inside suckling her little one, will take hold of her
baby with her teeth, as a cat will carry her kitten,
and plunge down through the escape hole into the
sea. She then swims to another hole, for she has
several others in the neighbourhood, constructed
as means of retreat in times of danger.
" Young seals that are captured are generally
those which the mother has left for a short time
while she is diving in search of food ; or again, others
may be captured when the crust of snow becomes
soft by mild weather or the mid-day rays of the
sun, and the hunter is able then to remove the snow
roof of the house noiselessly and quickly.
" The Eskimos use the skins of the young seals
for their inside coats and trousers, and the flesh is
considered a delicacy.
" As regards the trip on which I went, nothing
came of it; we were quite unsuccessful. Several
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 255
seal-houses were broken open, but the cry of my
companion was invariably the same — ' Akkangmut !
akkangmut ! i.e. ' He (the seal) has gone down, he
" Thursday, 23rd. — A fearful day I Heavy storm.
Could not have the people together, but managed
to crawl into several of their abodes and spoke to
the inmates concerning their souls.
" But this visiting in bad weather is no joke. To
enter the snow-house one has to struggle through
a mass of growling, snarling dogs, who generally
congregate in the outer passage or porch which
leads into the main building. On getting inside I
am generally covered with snow, which the Eskimos
kindly hut vigorously try to knock off with fiat kind
of sticks which they keep for this purpose. After
a good ' lambasting,' and many efforts on my own
part to shake off the mass of sticky snow, I shake
hands with them, and have a friendly chat for a
minute, before plunging into the matter of the
" As the knowledge and intelligence of the people
varies very much, one has to be careful to use the
right matter for their various needs, never, of course,
forgetting to put Jesus Christ before them as the
Saviour of sinners, the One who can in the fullest
sense of the word save them from the guilt and power
" I generally stay about twenty minutes in each
256 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
house, and then, after a hearty shake hands all
round, I commence my exit, once more crawling
on hands and knees, and am heartily glad when I
have again safely passed through the growling dogs
and have reached the outer world."
On Monday, May 4, Mr. Peck left the Kikkerton
neighbourhood. vSeveral of the people brought him
a parting gift of young seal skins before he started.
" Then as the sledge moved over the frozen waste,"
he writes. " I heard some of the little band I had
left behind singing hymns. What a joyful sound
to hear in this frozen land !
" Our dogs, numbering fourteen in all, pulled
away with a will, and we speedily lost sight of the
station and its inhabitants. Two men accompanied
me on this occasion, which is unusual, seeing that I
usually help with the sledge on all my journeys
thus saving the use of a second man."
There is a touch of drollery about this affair that
makes it worth recording. All the able-bodied
men were at this time in the boats employed in the
whale fishing by Mr. Mutch, Mr. Noble's agent,
consequently there had been a difficulty in finding
a wholly sound man to drive and guide the sledge.
The man who owned the larger number of the dogs
was almost blind, he therefore needed another man
with good sight to point out the way. The only
other man available at the station was lame in one
leg, it was necessary therefore for the two men to
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 257
accompany the sledge, for the lame man could not
drive, and the blind man could not guide, but be-
tween them both they managed to do the work of
one sound man.
After travelling about thirty-five miles, they met
a party of Eskimos living near some islands, and
Mr. Peck essayed a visit to the " chief residence."
" But," he writes, " the smell inside was so awful
that I was compelled to beat a hasty retreat, and
fixing my little canvas tent, was glad to make the
best of out-door quarters rather than attempt to
pass a night in such an inferno as that which I had
begun to enter."
Tuesday the journey was continued, and again
on Wednesday, in spite of the fact that it was snow-
ing heavily throughout the greater part of the day.
"Arrived at Blacklead Island about ten p.m.,"
writes Mr. Peck, " and was most warmly received
by the people, and was thankful to meet again my
fellow-labourer and loved friend, Mr. Parker, who,
I was delighted to find, was well and hearty. Thank
God for His upholding and sustaining grace shown
so freelv to us both."
A CORN OF WHEAT
"In deaths oft"
NOT a great deal has been said about Mr. Parker
in these pages. The reason, of course, is that
a young missionary cannot, in the nature of things,
at first figure in the active work of the Mission so
prominently as his elder colleague who has had
many years of experience. His time is necessarily
taken up with learning the language, the habits,
and ways of the people to whom he is sent.
Mr. Parker, however, had made very rapid ad-
vance. On Mr. Peck's return from Kikkerton he
tells us that his companion is fairly proficient in the
language, and is able to take the meetings and
instruct the people.
He had previously won his way to the hearts of
the Eskimos through his medical skill and sympa-
thetic manner. They called him " Lukta," which
was their corruption of our word Doctor. But
more than this, as he was somewhat short in stature,
they had bestowed upon him a diminutive of affec-
tion, " Luktakuluk," which is " the kind little
doctor." The native children had also become very
much attached to him.
Altogether, he seemed to be becoming now daily
A CORN OF WHEAT 259
more useful to his colleague and more necessary to
the Mission. But God sees differently from man,
and His ways are not our ways. It was quite
impossible to foresee the blow that was about to fall.
Everything was looking bright, the dark and cold
of winter were things of the past. " We spend as
much time as possible in the open air and enjoy the
sun's genial rays. Grasses and other small plants
in sheltered nooks are looking beautiful in their
summer garb. How I do admire them, and thank
God for giving us these tokens of His bounty and
goodness." The night was as bright as the day,
and sometimes even the heat would be excessive.
The longest day came and went ; every day was
busy. Mr. Parker was working especiall}^ hard
upon an Eskimo dictionary. In the beginning of
August an opportunity for a holiday and recreation
was offered him. Mr. Hall, Mr. Noble's chief
agent, made arrangements to go to a river some
twenty miles away in order to catch salmon. It
was proposed that Mr. Parker should join the
fishing party and really enjoy a holiday expedition.
Mr. Peck cordially endorsed the proposal. " As
my dear brother really needs a change and rest, I
quite agree with him that the trip will be (D.V.)
beneficial, and I gladly offer to remain and hold the
post while he is away."
On Sunday evening, August 9, Mr. Parker addressed
a very attentive gathering, and the following day
26o THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
was chiefly occupied with preparation for the
journey. But here we will allow Mr. Peck to tell
the story of what happened almost in his own words,
as the entries are made in his diary.
" On Tuesday, August ii, we rose early, and after
breakfast had our usual reading and prayer to-
gether. The portion of God's word for the morning
was Luke xiii., from verse 31 to the end of the
chapter." The last verse is the solemn one which
here seems to have a peculiar adaptation, " Behold,
your house is left unto you desolate : and verily I
say imto you. Ye shall not see me until the time
come when ye shall say. Blessed is he that cometh
in the name of the Lord."
The boat was ready, and " I went out to see Mr.
Parker start. There was a fresh breeze blowing,
but nothing to cause anxiety. After a hearty shake
of the hand, and watching the boat out of sight of
the island, I returned to our little house. The
passage of Scripture which came that day in my
ordinary consecutive study happened to be the
20th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which
speaks so touchingly of Paul's farewell to the Elders
of the Ephesian Church. While reading this portion
I was almost overcome with a strange, overpowering
emotion which I cannot describe, but which par-
took of the nature of a hallowed but awfully solemn
and tender sense of love to the Lord Jesus, and of
strangely drawn-out affection for Mr. Parker."
A CORN OF WHEAT 261
On Wednesday the weather became cold and
windy, but on Thursday it calmed down again, and
" I went to see Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Noble's agent,
who remained at the post. He had intended to
go with the others on the salmon-fishing expedition,
but he changed his mind at the last moment, as
he was feeling unwell. There were consequently
seven men in the boat instead of eight, viz., Captain
Clisby, Mr. Parker, Mr. Hall, and four Eskimos.
The object of my visit to Mr. Sheridan was to arrange
for a trip to-morrow to a place called Noujakhalik,
some three miles from here.
" The people were anxious to get some shell fish
which are found in the sand at low water at Nou-
jakhalik, and I was feeling the need of one day's
" On Friday, August 14, the weather was very
fine, and we got together a crew of Eskimos and
made a start. We reached our destination, and
had been ashore about three hours when an Eskimo,
who had been to the north in his kayak hunting,
came to us with the awful news of his having found
a boat with a dead body inside ; he also stated most
positively that the boat was the very one in which
our friends had sailed on the Tuesday.
" I was utterly overcome with the horror of the
news, and could only kneel down and try to cast the
awful burden upon the Lord.
" Gathering the people together, we pulled some
262 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
miles in a northerly direction, and there we found
the ill-fated boat, not bottom up as we expected to
find her, but quite upright and almost full of water,
with a dead body, face downwards, across the
thwarts. The body was that of Captain Clisby.
" As the weather was calm, and the boat did not
appear much damaged, I got one or two of the men
to help me bale her out. After some time spent
in hard baling we got the water under, and managed
to plug up some of the holes in her with oakum.
Then taking her in tow, we succeeded in reaching
Blacklead Island late in the evening.
" Our arrival caused, as may well be imagined,
great consternation and grief. The relatives of some
of the men were on the island, and then all the
people knew what a friend they had lost in Mr.
" Captain Sheridan, a Captain Marshall, and
myself carried the body of Captain Clisby up to
Mr. Noble's store.
" Here, on examining the body, and from the
marks and wounds discovered, together with the
position in which we found the deceased, we are
led to infer that after the boat left Blacklead Island
(the wind was quite fair when she started) the boat's
boom-end, through the motion of the craft, was
rolled under the water, and while the boat was
thus held down the sea rushed into her.
" In this emergency Captain Clisby, knowing
A CORN OF WHEAT 263
that the only way of saving his companions was to
get the boat upright, bravely rushed for'ard, cut
the halyards of the sail and the rigging on one side
of the mast. He then evidently managed to get
to the other side of the boat, and was engaged in
clearing away the remaining stays which held the
mast when the boat must have suddenly righted
herself, the mast toppled over, tore away the socket
in which its heel was held, caught Captain Clisby
(on what would then be the lee side of the boat),
and there the brave, devoted fellow must have been
held, pinned down as in a vice by the weight and
pressure of the mast, etc., and so perished, partly,
we think, by the injuries he had received, and partly
by the cold seas which must have washed continually
" The others, as we surmise, must have held on
to the boat as long as possible, but were finally
overcome with the cold and washed off.
" Oh, the utter sadness of the awful catastrophe !
What can one do in this trying hour ? Our refuge
is in God ! We know His love never fails ! What
He doeth we know not now, but we shall know
On August 15 " I consulted Captain Sheridan,
and it was decided that he should take the few
men now on the island, and look for any further
signs of wreckage. We also thought (although the
chances are slight indeed) that some of the party
264 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
might possibly have reached one of the islands
" As Captain Sheridan knows all the land there-
about, it was arranged that he should take the
search party, and that I, with the help of an Eskimo,
should make a coffin for the remains of our friend,
" Captain Sheridan returned in the evening with
the sad intelligence that not a vestige of anything
or any one had been seen."
" Sunday, i6th. — the remains of Captain Clisby
were laid to rest. Nearly all the people attended
the funeral. Two boats were manned, and the
coffin being placed in the stem-sheets of one, we
then proceeded to an island some four or five miles
from here. This island has been used as a burial
place for many years for men who have died in the
country. I counted some twenty-five graves,
several of which contained the remains of men who
had died on board the whaling ships.
" Some of the graves had boards erected over
them, giving the name, age, etc., of the deceased.
One I particularly noticed gave the names of three
poor fellows who had died of scurvy. Another
board gave the mournful record of two men who
had perished in a snow-storm. Altogether it was
a sad and touching sight to see all these tokens of
loving remembrance in this barren and lonely spot.
It was a scene which thrilled one's soul with a
A CORN OF WHEAT 265
solemn sense of the nearness of God and of the great
" After the Eskimos had cleared away sufficient
sand and some large stones, the body was lowered
into the grave. I then called them together, and,
standing close about the open grave, we all sang,
'Safe in the arms of Jesus.'
" The Burial Service was read in English (Captain
Sheridan being present). I then read a portion of
the same service in Eskimo, and afterwards spoke
to the people of the need of our being ever ready —
through faith in Jesus — to meet our God.
" Poor people ! They seemed deeply touched.
May the Lord speak to them and to us all through
this pressing sorrow !
" After returning to Blacklead Island a boat's
crew of Eskimos arrived. They had picked up a
few articles belonging to the boat, but nothing had
been seen of any of the bodies.
" Captain Sheridan is sending off another search
party as soon as possible, though we all feel that there
is little hope of finding either of our friends alive,
for the current where we believe the boat was
swamped is so rapid, and the water so cold, owing
to the immense quantities of loose ice about, which
has remained with us this summer, that no one could
possibly have survived."
" Monday, lyth. — Wind too strong to despatch
the search boat, as intended. I feel the loss of my
266 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
brother Parker intensely. He was so strong and
reliant a companion, so useful with the people, so
ever willing to do anything. How lonely the little
dwelling looks and feels now ! How everything I
look upon and touch reminds me of him who is now
at rest with his Lord. I flee unto Jesus in this
trying, lonely hour ! Thou loving Lord Jesus, how
steadfast Thou art ! To whom should I, to whom
could I, go but to Thee ! "
" Tuesday, the iSth. — Climbed the rocks that I
might be alone with God. Had a season of very
special prayer for support and guidance. Lord,
let Thy will be made clear. Yea, Thou wilt make
it clear. Thou has never failed me yet, and why
should I doubt Thee now ?
" Search party started to-day. They are to go
along the coast and islands, and return in a week's
" Saturday, 22nd. — The Alert arrived to-day.
All on board were much distressed to hear of the
death of our friends. The arrival of Mr. Sampson,
whom the Society has sent to re-inforce, and make
it possible for me to go home and see the translated
Gospels through the press, greatly cheered my heart
and strengthened my faith in God, and gave me the
assurance that God wished this work prosecuted.
He has heard the petitions of our many praying
friends, and has guided the committee to their
A CORN OF WHEAT 267
" I gave Mr. Sampson a hearty welcome, and the
first thing we did on reaching our little house was
to commend ourselves, the work, and the people to
our covenant-keeping God. Surely He will keep
that which we commit to His tnist.
" Letters from loved ones and friends were all
encouraging, so there is much to thank God for. I
am naturally much exercised in mind, now that
dear Parker has been summoned home to his Lord,
to know what the will of God is regarding myself at
this critical time.
" One fact the Lord seems clearly to have im-
pressed on my mind, viz., that He does not will my
going further North in whaling vessels next year,
which I had hoped to do.
" If I go home this year, I have a strong desire to
return to Mr. Sampson next season. But before
deciding anything I must know more of my dear
brother, and ascertain if arrangements can be made
with Mr. Noble's agent here, that, if necessary, Mr.
Sampson can live with him, before even I can con-
template leaving him even for the winter.
" Of course, I dare not forget the great responsi-
bility connected with my dear wife's health, and
what might result from a further heavy mental
strain, especially considering the terrible nature of
the complaint from which she previously suffered.
Our God will surely guide me ! I ask Him for an
absolutely single eye for His glory. I ask for wis-
268 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
dom, and we have the promise that if we commit
our works (ways) to the Lord, our thoughts shall he
established. ' In all thy ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct thy paths.' "
For the next three or four weeks our missionary
was often alone in prayer for the very special guid-
ance he needed, while at the same time he had long
consultations over the position with his new col-
league, Mr. Sampson.
The people had taken to Mr. Sampson, and his
medical knowledge gave him a ready access among
them. Then, too, he showed a marked linguistic
capability, and began to study the language with
Mr. Sheridan readily agreed to board and lodge
the new young missionary if necessary, and to help
him in every way possible, if Mr. Peck finally de-
cided to go home.
The Alert, which would be the only known
means of return to England, was, however, much
hindered by successive gales, and it was evident
that she would be unsually late in starting on her
Then, while still waiting upon God for guidance,
the Divine hand was shown to our Missionary in a
About 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 17, there
were sounds of excitement outside the little house,
and news was brought that a steamer was close to
A CORN OF WHEAT 269
the island, and that already some of her people had
The steamer proved to be the Hope, with
Lieutenant Peary and his Arctic exploring party on
board. When the leader of the expedition learned
the position of affairs, he very kindly offered Mr. Peck
a passage in the ^o/>5, which was bound for Sydney
Harbour, Nova Scotia.
From thence the traveller would be able easily
to get to Halifax or some other large port, and from
there could ship by liner for home.
After renewed prayer, careful consideration, and
a final consultation with Mr. Sampson, Mr. Peck
decided to take Lieutenant Peary's offer and
return home, three special considerations weighing
with him in all his deliberations over the matter :
First, the absolute and pressing need for the Gospels
to be seen through the press, that the people might
have the Word of God in their hands ; second, the
condition of Mrs. Peck's health ; and, third, the
critical condition of his own throat, which, if not
treated, threatened to stop all his work by actually
rendering him unable to live in the land.
It was on Thursday that the Hope arrived off
Blacklead Island, and on the same afternoon she
steamed into Nanyaktalik harbour.
On the Friday, Mr. Peck, having now decided to go
home, went to Nanyaktalik to see Lieutenant Peary
and the commander of the Hope, Captain Bartlett.
270 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
The Hope was just starting for Blacklead Island,
and Mr. Peck returned in her, landing at 6 p.m.
From that moment until midnight he was busy
packing and entertaining the numerous callers.
After a few hours' rest, rising again at 4 a.m., he
had to go on board the Hope, as she was to start
early that morning. The two recently united col-
leagues commended each other to God and started
for the ship.
A touching and interesting farewell then took place.
The sorrowing Eskimos, fearing that they would
see the face of their beloved teacher no more,
crowded on board for a sad good-bye. Some of the
old women produced knives, and requested Mr.
Peck to cut their flesh deeply, so that they might
always have a scar to look at and remind them of
him. It is only fair, however, to say that they did
not mean or expect their friend to take them at their
word. It was merely a form of expressing their
love and sorrow, and an indication of the wound
that the separation would cause in their hearts.
^ It is needless to say that Mr. Peck was deeply
touched by these tokens of affection, and full of
sadness as well as bright hope, he watched his island
disappear as the steamer forged ahead.
We do not know that Mr. Peck ever had any real
intention of sa5dng a final farewell at this time to
his Eskimo friends at Blacklead Island. We do
not think he seriously contemplated such a step,
A CORN OF WHEAT 271
though perhaps a sentence in his diary might lead
to such a supposition. But whether he did so or
not, the death of his colleague put it quite out of
the question. He recognizes this when, in speaking
of his future return, he remarks, " the path of duty
is the path of safety." He saw his path of duty
plainly marked out for him ; he heard the voice of
God telling him that his sojourn in England woiild
be brief, no matter how the ties of relationship and
earthly affection might seem to bind him to the
" We lose what on ourselves we spend,
We have as treasure without end
Whatever, Lord, to Thee we lend,
Who givest all."
WE need not follow Mr. Peck in his work during
the months he was permitted to spend in
England. The chief thing that concerns this record
of his missionary efforts is that he had brought
home in manuscript the four gospels in the Eskimo
language. These were printed by the Bible Society,
and when he returned to Blacklead Island in the
summer of 1897 he was able to place these invaluable
aids to his work in the hands of the people and teach
them to read them for themselves.
The Alert sailed once more early in July. The
voyage was a particularly bad one. Even an old
sailor like Mr. Peck was troubled with sea-sickness
for days together, and the reader of his journals is
inclined to think that there was a considerable
amount of danger^for the brave little ship that faced
the Arctic seas. At last, however, on Sunday,
August 22, Blacklead Island was sighted, and the
next day Mr. Peck was able to land. A very warm
BEARING BURDENS 273
greeting and welcome awaited him from Mr. C. G.
Sampson, whose coming, as recorded in the last
chapter, had enabled the senior missionary to go
home the year before.
The report Mr. Sampson was able to give of the
work of the past year was most encouraging, and
he himself had made such progress in the language
that he had been able to conduct meetings and teach
the people regularly.
When Mr. Peck and Mr. Parker first went to
Blacklead Island, a two-roomed hut, as was men-
tioned in a previous chapter, had been assigned
them as a dweUing-place. Now a more commodious
dwelling had been brought out, and the first work
was to find a site for it and fit it together. To
find a site among the rough rocks was no easy task,
and the erection of the building in the absence of
aU skilled labour occupied the two missionaries
many days, aided as they were by Eskimos only.
They were at this time working daily, in various
ways, seventeen hours out of twenty-four — a fairly
But when their nice new building was ready it
was devoted to another purpose. It had been
Mr. Peck's intention to move into the new abode
and then adapt the old house for Church purposes.
But there were so many Eskimos at this time on
the island that " we have decided to use the building
which was intended for our dwelling-house for a
274 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
church, and later on, when we can get the house in
which we are now Hving enlarged and properly
fitted up, we shall be able (D.V.) to go to our more
comfortable and capacious quarters. Certainly I
cannot say that I look forward (speaking of one's
own bodily comfort) with any feelings of pleasure
to spending another season in a bedroom (for two)
not ten feet square. There is neither room for
privacy nor common decency in such a place.
But these facts must not weigh against the spiritual
good and comfort of the Eskimos. And Mr.
Sampson and I will, through God's grace, be able
to live at least for one winter in our limited quarters."
When we read an extract of this kind in any
man's diary, perhaps we understand why the house
occupies so prominent a position in the prohibition
of the Tenth Commandment.
The opening services in this building thus freely
given up were most encouraging. Mr. Noble's
agent and the crew of the Alert were invited. In
the morning more than a hundred Eskimos were
present. In the evening about the same number
gathered together and all the white men as well.
" It was indeed a happy time, made so by the pre-
sence and blessing of God, and by the fact that severa 1
of the Eskimos held in their hands and read with me
a portion of our Saviour's precious words from the
gospels which had been printed by the Bible Society."
And so in settling down to their winter work
BEARING BURDENS 275
there seemed to be a bright prospect before the
But once more the devil showed them that he
did not intend them to have things all their own
way, and by his opposition he gave them the satis-
faction of knowing that he considered their work a
serious invasion of his own dominions.
Difficulties arose, chiefly from an unusually
stormy season setting in and the consequent scarcity
of provisions. Time after time we read of a " tr5dng
week," and that the people on the island were
" almost starving " because they were unable to
catch any seals ; or again it is " no whales seen,
and the outlook is anything but pleasant."
The effect of this continued bad state of things
was two-fold. First, numbers of the Eskimos
" moved by the powers of darkness, commenced
their heathen practices again." The conjurors
met together and started their incantations on
behalf of fine weather.
This was on a Saturday, and they kept up their
ceremonies during the following Sunday, making
the island " more like a pandemonium than a place
where Christ's Gospel had been preached." But
even this was a crisis not without its encouraging
side. For the missionaries, determined that Satan
should not have it all his own way, summoned the
people to morning and evening services, and their
hearts were rejoiced to^find that many who had held
276 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
aloof from their heathen neighbours, and had not
bowed the knee to Baal, responded to the call.
Then again a second result was that the men had
to be away so much of their time, Sundays included,
seeking for their bare means of subsistence, hunting
seals, that they had but few opportunities of meeting
together for instruction. If they did return at
night they were too weary and tired for anything
but to take such food as was available and turn in
for a night's rest. We find frequent laments in
Mr. Peck's diaries that Sunday was not better
observed by those who had attached themselves
to Christian teaching, but in the face of dire necessity
he found it quite impossible to forbid the men
going. It certainly was a case of endeavouring to
pull the ox or the ass out of the pit on the Sabbath
day, and the action of the hunters would come under
the sanction of our Lord : " To do good on the Sabbath
day is lawful."
But there is at least one note of thankfulness
in this connection. On one occasion " the weather
was nice and bright, and some of the men refrained
from hunting so as to join us at our meetings.
Thank God for this token of His help and blessing.'*
Great perils had at times to be faced in hunting,
as we have seen in previous chapters, and generally
it might be said that the greater the scarcity, the
greater the danger. For naturally the men in their
need would go further afield and brave all kinds
BEARING BURDENS 277
of difficult positions for the sake of supplying the
wants of themselves and their families.
One account is given of a party of Eskimos who
arrived at Blacklead Island in a most famished
condition. Their sufferings had been very great.
They had travelled inland, before winter had set
in, for nearly a month and succeeded in reaching a
lake called Augmakruk. Here they found a con-
siderable number of reindeer. After a time they
retraced their steps to a place some little distance
from the coast where they had left their boat.
On the return journey they saw no reindeer, and
only succeeded in keeping themselves ahve by the
greatest economy in using the limited supply of
deer's meat they had on hand. On reaching the
coast they found the ice had formed there, but
it was not strong enough to bear the weight of
the boat, so that they were unable to convey it at
once to the open sea. It took them ten days to
overcome the innumerable difficulties and launch
their boat. During this time they were compelled
to eat their dogs. At last, in a sorry phght, they
managed to reach Blacklead Island.
At another time Mr. Peck records, " I saw two
men on a piece of ice which they used as a kind of
boat, and on which they made their way to a large
body of ice near the island. It is by no means
unusual for them — in the event of a seal being shot
in the open water — to break off with their harpoons
278 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
a large fiat piece of ice from the main fioe, and on
this they make their way to the seal, often using
the butt ends of their guns for paddles. As might
be expected terrible accidents sometimes occur
through these dangerous exploits. Several men
have been carried out to sea by the force of the
wind and have thus been lost."
The day following this last entry in the diary
there occurs another : "A few Eskimos arrived
to-day from the north. They brought sad news.
No less than four of the band who left here to go
to the reindeer country have been starved or frozen
Hunger was not the only suffering that followed
the failure of seals. Cold also was a result. " A
fine day, but only one seal caught. Some of the
people keep in bed all day, as they have no oil to
warm their snow dwellings."
One's sympathy is called forth by these records,
and one feels a great sorrow for those who eke out
such a precarious existence as that of these ice-dwellers.
At the same time, however, it is possible that the
inhabitants have brought on themselves to some
extent the trials which they have to suffer. For
in a time of plenty Mr. Peck mentions in his diary
that " the people seem to have got what we might
almost call the seal fever. Morning, noon and night
they seem to delight in slaying these creatures,
and although in some cases the meat is actually
BEARING BURDENS 279
rotting in their tents they go on destroying anything
they can lay their hands on. I spoke to some of
them pretty plainly, and pointed out their ingratitude
to the Giver of every good gift."
Perhaps after this we are not very much surprised
to read in a later note, " Here we find that the seals
are pretty nearly exterminated."
So probably the spirit of kill, kill, kill is ingrained
in man wherever he lives, south or north, west or
east. Laws for the protection of the lower creation
over which he is tyrant are needed universally.
It is not to be supposed that the missionaries
sat all this time in their hut with their stores around
them unconcerned at the sufferings of the Eskimos.
We have, in the course of these pages, learned to
know Mr. Peck and his colleagues better than that.
If a brother or a sister were naked and destitute of
daily food, they did not say, " Depart in peace,
be ye warmed and filled," without giving them those
things that were needful for the body. They both
preached and acted the Gospel.
There was plenty of use for the seeming abundance
of stores that we saw in a former chapter had been
laid in at the Mission station. " We made a large
kettle of porridge and gave the very needy ones a
good meal," is a note that seems just to introduce
a coming time of distress. It becomes more serious
when " a deep and soft coat of snow makes travelling
about almost impossible. We did what we could
28o THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
by making large kettles of soup, and feeding in this
manner about twenty families a day. I think the
people, in some cases at least, appreciated our
kindness. In any case we must do what we can
for Christ. Too often we expect to be, as it were,
propped up by the good wishes and gratitude of our
fellow creatures. But it is wiser to look to Jesus
and to do what we do for Him. He certainly never
Times of real anxiety were not unknown to the
missionaries lest their own stock of provisions should
fail. This was not at all impossible, humanly
speaking. For it must always be borne in mind
that their food supplies depended upon the
arrival of one small sailing vessel, which had to
accomplish a perilous voyage. If by any chance
she failed in her mission, the season would be too
far advanced with ice for any other to make the
attempt. So the diary says : " We have a heavy
drain on our limited stock of provisions, and alto-
gether our surroundings are far from pleasant.
However, we seek to stay our minds upon God,
and to take our cares to Him."
In 1899 the danger just spoken of seemed really
to threaten. In May, "the people on the island
were very much in need of food. We can do little
for them as we have given away nearly all our stock.
The weather has been most changeable of late, and
the distress is great. May the Lord in answer to
BEARING BURDENS 281
prayer soon stay the winds and storms. I am, at
this season, reminded often of the green fields at
home. Here we see nothing but rocks and snow,
and we seem to Hve in an everlasting winter."
August at length came, and when it was well
advanced, " we are now beginning to look out for
the Alert. May God keep the little vessel and
bring her safely here with our supplies."
From Sunday, August 20 to August 27, almost
every day " we climbed the rocks and gazed at the
horizon anxiously expecting the Alert with our
supplies, and news from loved ones. The poor
people on the island are in a sad state. Most of
them are living on the shell fish which they dig
out of the sand. We can do nothing for them ;
our stock of provisions is exhausted." But still
day after day went by so that they were almost
fearing the worst. At last, however, on September 7
the joyful news was passed round that a vessel had
been sighted in the distance. " We can just make
out her masts. God be praised. The Lord is
gracious and kind to us ! " is the entry in the diary.
Two days later, on September 9, the Alert was
safely anchored off the island, and discharging her
We have seen enough to understand that alto-
gether the second sojourn of Mr. Peck at Cumberland
Sound was a time of great trial and one that called
for a great amount of faith, as far as the things of
282 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
this world were concerned. But we know that
trials in things temporal are intended to teach us
to look more away from them to the eternal. So
we ask what was the progress in things spiritual
during this period.
That the people were united to the missionaries
by ties of affection there could be no doubt. We
have seen the farewell that they took of Mr. Peck
when he was leaving for England and the love that
was shown him then. We know something of the
warm welcome that was invariably shown him when
he visited the people in their homes and was enter-
tained by them when on tour for days together.
We know that these cords of personal attachment
must have been drawn tighter when he ungrudgingly
gave out his stores of provisions for their relief in
time of need. But we also know that in these
closer bonds of affection and association he was
always finding more and more opportimities of
pressing the claims of Christ upon them.
That there was response we can see. A straw
will show which way the wind blows, and so when
we read of men abstaining from hunting, although
the weather was favourable, in order that they
might attend meetings for Christian instruction,
we can infer a great deal.
Besides this, a man named Kukkak, who had been
instructed first some two years previously, began in
the spring of 1898 to show signs of spiritual life.
BEARING BURDENS 283
He was overcome by a sense of his sin in the past,
and had a desire to know more of the Saviour.
Mr. Peck met him at this time during a journey to
Again, at the end of April many of the men left
Blacklead Island to go to the edge of the ice floe,
about 18 miles distant. They were to be away
some time, as the object of the expedition was to
catch whales. A few words in the diary seem
to bring the scene before us. " The whaling boats
which were to be taken to the open sea were placed
on large sledges, which were hauled along by all
the dogs on the island, numbering, I should think,
over one hundred. The men remain at the floe
edge some two months, and should any whales be
seen, they start in pursuit from the edge of the main
body of ice."
But what concerns us here is that this seemed
to be a point for marking progress in spiritual things.
The night before the men started the meeting was
very full, and the note in the diary tells us that they
were most attentive, and seemed much impressed
as Mr. Peck spoke to them of the power of the Lord
to keep us anywhere and everywhere, and exhorted
them to place their trust in Him.
Towards the end of 1898 a blow fell upon the
Mission, but at the same time it was one of encourage-
ment. For it spoke of a soul saved and trusting in
Christ. Mary Ikherah was a woman who, when Mr.
284 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Peck landed in Cumberland Sound, was sunk in a
most degraded life. Gradually, however, but surely
she became interested in the Gospel teaching, and
the Holy Spirit led her at last to the true Light.
She was then always ready to help the missionaries
in any way she could. But God saw fit that she should
glorify Him by her death rather than by her life.
Consumption set in, and she was on her death-bed.
" Never shall I forget the day," writes Mr. Peck,
" when Mr. Sampson and I drew near to her dying
couch. Weak as she was, she tried to raise herself,
and looking up in our faces, and thinking of the
message of God's love which we had brought, said,
* I love you, I love you ! ' Yes, it is love that wins.
Jesus, the greatest conqueror the world has ever
known, has won all along the line by the power of
His love. Has His wonderful love conquered your
hearts yet ? If not, why not ? "
And what a picture of desolation is that which
the funeral presented when the body was committed,
not to the grave, but to the rocks ; for there was
nothing but these and big stones to be found, no
soil anwhere. A rough coffin, made from old boxes
and boards, had been put together by the loving
hands of the missionaries, and the corpse was placed
on an empty sledge. This was hauled over the
snow by many of the men who had come together
to the spot selected for the last resting-place.
" During the morning a snowstorm had been threat-
BEARING BURDENS 285
ening, and shortly after we started it burst out in full
fury, and in the midst of the blinding drift we hurried
on. The people joined me in saying the Lord's
Prayer, and we then returned battling again with
the furious wind and driving snow. Such a picture
of gloom and desolation it is quite beyond my
powers to describe. But one thought that seemed
uppermost in my mind was this, Christ the King who
rules over death is as real and loving and gracious
here as anywhere else. It is not for the servant
to question the Master's will regarding the particular
post which is allotted to him. Enough for him to
know that Christ is near and all must be well ! "
All the people felt keenly the loss of this one
who was practically the first-fruit of Cumberland
Sound. It was fitting that as the first-fruit she
should be given to the Lord. Mr. Peck sums
up all by saying, " She being dead, yet speaketh.'*
By March 16, 1899, we read the encouraging note
of audiences being very attentive. " I am much
cheered by the improvement in some of the people
who attend our meetings. God, by His Holy Spirit,
is touching some hearts." A month later there is
more hope. " The Word seems to lay hold of some
of their hearts. Now surely the time is not far
away when some will come out boldly for Christ."
But still the season of sowing the seed had to
be prolonged ; the time of harvest was not yet
come. Mr. Peck's second sojourn at Cumberland
286 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Sound was to terminate by his starting for England
on October 9., 1899, and it was not till his third
sojourn was in progress that many sheaves were
gathered in. His last note on this subject was
written some weeks before embarking. " Many
of the people," he writes, " left the station to-day.
Tjiey nearly all came to see us before they left.
Some seemed evidently sorry that I should be
going home this year. They remarked that the
words they had heard were good and true, and that
they were very glad to have heard them. Certainly
our work among women and children gives much
The time of refreshing was certain to come,
and the missionaries could wait in faith. When
it did come, taking a retrospect of the period
now under review, Mr. Peck could sum upt hus :
*' When I went home in 1896 I took with me the
four gospels in Eskimo. These were printed by the
Bible Society. When I returned to Blacklead Island
in the following year several of the people learned
to read these precious pages. Following our usual
plan of work, services were held night after night
in our little church, and each gospel was expounded
from beginning to end. Now the people began to
realize the wonderful character of Jesus the Son
of God. A picture of moral power, love and mercy
stood out before them. Nothing in their old tradi-
tions or religious ideas could equal the words of
BEARING BURDENS 287
truth and life which flowed from the Saviour's
heart. On every hand they told me that the words
they heard were good and true." But thus far the
picture had only shown them the evil in their lives
and excited a desire for something better. They
needed some greater power than their own to enable
them to cast in their lot with the crucified One.
BEHIND THE SCENES
** I will come in to him, and will sup with
him, and he with Me.**
WE have seen a great deal of the outward cir-
cumstances surrounding the hves of the
missionaries in Cumberland Sound ; we have also
seen something of their work and influence upon
the Eskimos. Shall we in this present chapter look
a little more closely at their own lives, penetrating
into their houses, and, more than that, into the
thoughts of their hearts ?
On August 28, 1898, the two workers, Messrs.
Peck and Sampson, were reinforced by the arrival
of Mr. Julian William Bilby. " Great was our
joy. Truly we have not been forgotten, nor has our
work in these desert wastes. How delightful to
clasp the hand of a brother in Christ and to feel
that another of God's light-bearers has come to
illuminate the darkness."
There is a note struck in this simple extract from
a diary which ought to awaken a responsive chord
in every reader. " Truly we have not been for-
BEHIND THE SCENES 289
gotten." Is there a danger of this ? Perhaps so
on the part of too many people. At any rate the
solitary worker is apt to think so, as John the Bap-
tist did when he was in prison ; especially if he is
in a veritable icy prison which is penetrated only
once a year by rays from the outer world, and he
may be excused in having his moments of despond-
ency which call to the Christian Church for the
support of prayer.
On the other hand we can look into the heart
of the messenger of the Gospel and see how, in his
moments of confidence, he is upheld by the know-
ledge of prayerful sympathy. One summer, on the
departure of the annual ship, Mr. Peck wrote : " The
Alert left to-day. I have written altogether about
120 letters and have also sent quite a number of
circular letters. Thank God for the number of
praying friends in the home land. Isolated we
truly are here, but from a spiritual point of view
we are compassed about with a host of helpers.
Cut off we are indeed from loved ones, with no pos-
sible opportunity of hearing from them for over
eleven months. United, however, we are to a
never d5dng Friend, whose presence more than fills
up the gap and void left in our hearts by the loss
of dear ones."
At other times frequent notes are found con-
cerning the 24th day of each month and the com-
fort which it brings. " To-day is the day of days.
290 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Thousands are praying for us. . . . Many are mind-
ful of my brethren, myself and the work." This
thought comes to him again and again whether
he is on the trackless deep or the voyage to or from
Cumberland Sound, or in the loneliness of toil and
danger endured for Christ in the Mission. And
the reason is that that is the day appointed in the
Church Missionary Society's cycle of prayer for
petitions to be offered for the vast cold and dark
regions which extend within the Arctic circle, and
for the missionaries among the Red Indians and
Eskimos that they may be supported in their great
hardships and loneliness. So on that day in each
month Mr. Peck and his colleagues were comforted
because they were sure that some friends, at any
rate, were holding up their hands for the fight. It
would be an untold blessing to the Church of Christ
and the world, if many more were found to use
that cycle and make it a basis also for acquiring
information and taking a systematic interest in the
evangelization of the nations.
The Alert which brought Mr. Bilby also brought
a quantity of timber. This was sent through Mr.
Malaher and the Missionary Leaves Association. It
was most acceptable, as it helped the missionaries
to arrange their dwelling satisfactorily for the
coming winter. They were able to enlarge the
old building in which they had been living and
to make it fit for the meetings of the Eskimos, and
BEHIND THE SCENES 291
the new building, which they had in a spirit of self-
denial given up for that purpose, they were now to
take possession of and make themselves a little
more comfortable than they had been.
We have in former chapters peeped behind the
scenes and looked at the daily routine of the mis-
sionary's life. It is consequently now unnecessary to
do so again, but it may be mentioned that Mr. Peck's
time was to some extent occupied by instructing
the newly arrived colleague in the Eskimo language.
Each of the three brethren was more or less
proficient in the art of cooking, and they took it in
turn, week and week about, to be responsible for the
culinary department. Sometimes there was not
much in the way of meat at any rate on which the
chef could display his talents. This was rather
trying. " What would friends at home do I won-
der," writes Mr. Peck, " if they had no butchers'
shops to go to for their Christmas dinner." With
this festive season in the near prospect he and Mr.
Sampson had been searching for game some five
miles out, but alas ! the sight of only a few tracks
was all that rewarded their effort. However, failure
this time made them more wary another Christmas.
Time was indeed taken by the forelock. " What
did we have for dinner ? asks the cunning missionary
in triumph. " Why, jugged hare and plum pud-
ding — quite a royal repast. The plum pudding
was a gift sent out by a kind friend in England.
292 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
And the hare ? Well some weeks ago we got it,
and being in a frozen condition we saved it care-
fully for Christmas. Two days ago I hung it up
near the stove to thaw. Before this it was frozen
as hard as a stone." As fortune would have it,
however, they did not after all depend upon this
particular hare, for on Christmas Eve an Eskimo
had brought them in another. This incident of the
frozen hare reminds us of another dish which was
Mr. Peck's own speciality. We can fancy him say-
ing : " Now I have to be starting early to-morrow
morning to look up those Eskimos on the ice. So
I must make a good supply of Arctic balls."
" What do you mean by Arctic balls ? " we can
imagine the new arrival asking.
" Oh, they are a splendid dish for a journey.
You make them of preserved meat, bread-crumbs,
cooked preserved potatoes, and a little flour. All
these ingredients you must mix up into a mash and
then divide them up into balls of convenient size.
Let them freeze (n.b., there is no difficulty in this)
and they will keep indefinitely. On arrival at
snow houses all you have to do is to put them into
a frying-pan with a little grease or water to prevent
them sticking, and in a few minutes with the aid of
your methylated spirit lamp you thaw them. Then
proceed to make on excellent meal."
This recipe might be recommended to English
housekeepers, but they have not always got a freez-
ing house at hand.
BEHIND THE SCENES 293
Sometimes the office of cook was anything but
a sinecure. This was especially the case when
missionaries were keeping open house for their
Eskimo friends, either at such a season as
Christmas when large gatherings came together
or during times of scarcity. Again culling from
Mr. Peck's diary we read : " This being my week
as cook and general housekeeper I spent a very
busy time, especially as we tried to help these
poor starving people. Large kettles of pea soup
were made three daj^s in the week, which helped
in some measure." And we have seen in the last
chapter that sometimes in this way their relief
work amounted to feeding twenty families daily.
In missionary fields it is more possible than at
home to realize that the word minister means ser-
There is one note concerning the day's routine
which should not be forgotten. It is that after
the I o'clock dinner there was always a time allotted
for recreative reading. The ship brought out an-
nually a supply of newspapers and periodicals.
These were carefully arranged in chronological
order, the oldest being on the top and the newest
at the bottom of the pile. This was the order in
which they were to be read. So in November 1898
Mr. Peck writes: "We are reading now the numbers
for November 1897, and somehow we seem to enjoy
them as much as if they were this year's issues in-
294 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
stead of being a year old." After all, the mission-
aries had only to put their birthdays back one
year in imagination and then they had their daily
paper as regularly as the frequenter of a London
club. Surely this was not a very strong flight of
imagination ! At an}^ rate it would not have been if
they had been of the gentler sex. But it was not
only newspapers and magazines that were treated
in this way. Friends of the missionaries at home
kept them supplied with a monthly mail. How is
that possible ? We listen to Mr. Peck as he says :
" I read (on November i) two letters which are full
of comfort. Kind friends sent me several packets.
The month in which they are to be read is marked
on the outside of the envelopes. I have therefore
a monthly mail so to speak, which will take me to
next July. How full of prayerful thought these
letters are. They bring one very close to the love
and sympathy of God's loved ones in the home-
land." Again speaking of these letters at another
time he says : " I look forward to the time ap-
pointed for opening letters with many longings of
heart, and I must confess that at times I feel like
the greedy boy who wishes to eat the whole of the
cake at one sitting."
And yet once more it is impossible to refrain
from dwelling upon this very simple, yet very
helpful comfort given to God's servants. It is
the record in the diary of a new year's eve. " We
BEHIND THE SCENES 295
passed from the old into the new year in a right
happy manner. Friends — and thoughtful ones
they are — sent me some letters for the new year.
I, however, took the liberty of opening half of these
before 12 p.m. and the remainder after. How
cheered, comforted and strengthened I felt by the
perusal of these loving messages my pen fails to
tell." Similarly Christmas Day was brightened.
How is it spent ? In various ways. " First the
dear ones at home are carried in prayer to God,
and then with feverish expectation I opened some
parcels which were marked : ' not to be opened till
Christmas Day.' Friends can have no concep-
tion how much their thoughtful kindness cheered
and comforted our souls." At another time we
read : " We tried to enliven ourselves with the musical
box. This, the gift of a kind friend, has helped to
cheer us up not a little and is a source of great
pleasure to the Eskimos."
But we must leave these interesting pictures,
merely exhorting the reader to do something to
cheer and strengthen those who are endeavouring
themselves to bring gladness into the solitary
place. We never hear any complaint come from
the lips or pen of Mr. Peck concerning his separa-
tion from his family at home. We have to read
between the lines when he describes his eagerness
for the arrival of the Alert ; when we see him medi-
tating in his lonely walks upon the ice ; or when
296 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
he tells us that he has been drawn to think much
of his little daughter. But it is not very difficult
to interpret one passage from his diary and to
understand something of what this separation
meant to him. On one of his journeys in March
1899 he writes : " Four hours' travel brought ns
to a band of Arctic wanderers whose snow houses
were situated near a barren and rugged island.
Some of the little children who had noticed our
sledges coming in the distance came out to meet
me. These little ones we had taught from time to
time of the Saviour's love, and it is one of the
brightest spots in our life here to know that we are
planting the seed of immortal truth in their hearts
and that many of them seem to be drawn to the
loving Saviour. Perhaps I have a tender place in
my heart for these little Eskimos, seeing that the
bright faces of my own treasures are ever standing
out as a living picture before my mind's eye."
There is something pathetic in thinking of the
demonstration of love which would be lavished
upon his own children, and which the barrier of
distance diverts to the heathen children. It
is a lesson for us all. God's intention in
permitting trial of any kind to come upon us is
not that we should dry up and shrivel and become
unfruitful, but rather expand in softened sympathy
to all around.
But sometimes there is no need to read be-
tween the lines of what is written. After leaving
BEHIND THE SCENES 297
Peterhead on one of his return journeys to
Blacklead Island when he had been a day or
two in the brave Httle Alert, Mr. Peck's heart is full
of the thoughts of those who are left behind ; it
has been lacerated, as it were, by the separation.
But so far from any sort of grumble or complaint,
he says. "A need of heavenly support and comfort
creates and keeps up a praying spirit. Thank God
for this. We give up only to receive ; there is a loss
which is a gain.'*
And now even at the risk of possibly repeat-
ing something that has been said before it will
not be out of place to give a description of the
missionaries' surroundings written by Mr. Peck
himself. " Our island home may be truly called
a picture of complete desolation. It consists of
barren rocks swept by fierce gales. The snow
is packed many feet deep in the holes and
guUies. Ice along the shore is piled up in some
places twelve feet high. This remarkable effect
is caused by the action of winds and tides. No
tree or plant gladdens the eye or heart. Eskimo
dwellings, like mounds of snow, are scattered about
in every direction. Ravenous dogs are ever on
the lookout for a morsel. Eskimos — some at least
look more like wild beasts than human beings in their
filthy and bulky garments. Such is the scene upon
which the eye rests day after day and week after week.
*' How can we stand the rigour of such a climate
298 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
and keep up a healthy mental tone in such
surroundings ? We must have for one thing a
proper dwelling. This we have been able through
the kindness of friends to obtain, and the room in
which I write this is, even in spite of the intense
cold, comfortable. Our house, which is divided
into three compartments, viz., two dwelling rooms
and a kitchen (or general reception room), all on
the ground floor, is made as follows : First the
frame of the house itself, next a coating of tarred
felt outside the frame. Boards cover the felt, and
canvas, well-painted, covers the boards. Outside
the canvas again is a wall of snow four feet thick
which breaks the fury of the wind in a surprising
" Coming now to the inside of the frame we
have a packing of moss which we were able to
gather in the simimer. Inside the moss is the
inner lining of boards which are tongued and grooved.
Next comes a lining of calico and then a nice bright
waU paper is pasted on this. Thus we have from
inside to outside, first, wall paper ; second, calico ;
third, boards ; fourth, moss ; fifth, tarred felting ;
sixth, outer boards ; seventh, painted canvas ;
eighth, a wall of snow. The windows of the house
are double, with a sliding arrangement for ventila-
tion on the outside window. The inner window is
fitted with hinges so that they can be opened or shut
BEHIND THE SCENES 299
" A slow-combustion stove, fitted near the parti-
tion which divides our dwelling-rooms, is used for
heating both places, although we have an oil stove
to augment the heat when necessary. In the
kitchen we use an ' Eagle ' range with a heat indicator
fitted on the oven. This we have found a great
boon as we need not open the oven and so let in a
body of cold air. As every bit of coal and coke,
and every drop of paraffin oil must come out from
home, it is, of course, a matter of great importance
to obtain as much heat as possible with a moderate
consumption of fuel. We think we have gained
this desirable object in the stoves mentioned, as our
yearly consumption of coal for these does not
exceed seven tons."
" We make our surroundings as bright and cheer-
ful as possible. Pictures, artificial flowers, bright
texts, photos of loved ones, adorn the walls of our
dwelling rooms, and it is indeed a striking and most
pleasant contrast to the desert waste outside."
We need not follow this description in the details
of daily routine and of food. For we already know
much about these matters. But it will be well for
us to think about Mr. Peck*s words of caution con-
cerning the life which he has been depicting. " Want
of change, the sense of isolation, the hungering for
just a word of loved ones, continual contact with a
people whose lot is often one of extreme privation,
the possibility of magnifying little differences or
300 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
seeming grievances with a colleague, which in
other circumstances or surroundings would soon
be lost sight of — these are factors, and sometimes
weighty ones too, which try what manner of men we
are. On the other hand we have a good school
for faith, prayer, and patience. There are times
when one is brought, so to speak, in contact with
the heavenly powers ; God becomes a reality, faith
is strengthened, and hope is brightened."
It is impossible, however, to exhaust in one de-
scription the different kinds of trials that beset any
life. For instance, we might think that the home
which we have had vividly brought into our view
would be proof against the variations of weather
and thermometer that even Cumberland Sound
could produce. But it is not so. Even in January
we read of a most wonderful and by no means
agreeable change of weather which took place:
** A warm wave of air has been wafted along here
by the heavy southerly gale, and the consequence
is that we are in a most uncomfortable state. A
kind of rime forms on the inside of our roof, chiefly
on account of the steam issuing from the kettles,
etc. This is thawing and dropping down in every
direction. The snow porches which we have had
built outside our doors are falling down and alto-
gether we are in a lively condition."
Probably we have seen sufficient now of the
inner thoughts and outward life of the missionaries
BEHIND THE SCENES 301
at Blacklead Island to sympathize with them to
some extent and to feel thankful that our lot is cast
in a pleasanter land. But let us see that our sym-
pathy is of a practical kind. If it is not, we shall
forget. If it is practical and influences our lives
by causing us to pray, to work and give gifts, it
will go on deepening and widening imtil it takes
in not merely the missionaries, but their Eskimos ;
not the Eskimos only, but barbarian and Scythian,
bond and free. We shall recognize more and more
that Mr. Peck's work is our work, that he is our
representative, that we are responsible.
SUNSHINE AND RAIN
** Behold I have set before thee an open
door, and no jmm can shut it."
AFTER having looked at the inner thoughts
and Hfe of the missionary, we now proceed
to take up the history of the Mission in the latest
sojourn of Mr. Peck of which it is possible to have
any record. This period extends from August,
1900, to September, 1902.
We have, it must be admitted, already dipped
into diaries of this period in order to present the
reader with a complete picture such as was given
in the last chapter. But that will not affect the
narrative which will be unfolded in this.
On August 20, 1900, the Alert came to anchor
off Blacklead Island. Mr. Peck's note concerning
this is : " Mr. Bilby gave me a hearty welcome.
His news is good. The work has prospered. Praise
God for this. Eskimo friends clambered over the
side ; they seemed so pleased to see me. There is
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 303
joy and comfort in knowing that our life and work
are not lost. To have a place in people's affection
is no small gain. I had a nice meal with Mr. Bilby
in our own house. What a treat too after six
weeks life on board. We carried the Mission (in
prayer) to God, and our brother Sampson, now away
at Signia, was not forgotten."
Soon after this Mr. Sampson went home to
England when the Alert sailed on her return voyage.
And what, we ask, were the signs of progress
that Mr. Bilby had been able to report and with
which he had encouraged Mr. Peck on meeting
him ? First of aU the congregations were large
and attentive, but at the same time there was some
disappointment about the small proportion of men.
who attended the meetings. But this was not
without its encouraging side, for it was to a great
extent to be attributed to the influence of the
conjurors. As we have seen before, there is always
satisfaction in the opposition of the enemy.
Now, however, there was a difference. It was
not as in former years, when the men were led
by the conjurors and unhappily reverted to their
heathen ways. They did not yield to practising
their superstitious arts and immoralities. But
the conjurors seemed to retain enough influence
to prevent the men coming to Christian gatherings.
Whatever encouragement there may be in this,
it is probably in another direction that Mr. Peck
304 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
found especial cause for thankfulness. The future
of a people depends on the uprising generation.
And the work among the children seemed to show
solid progress. The average attendance at school
we find, soon after Mr. Peck's arrival, was from
sixty-five to seventy children daily. This strikes
us as being a very high number, especially as we are
also told that about the same time the mission-
aries took the census of the people and found there
were just forty dwellings inhabited by Eskimos
in and around the island, and in these 194 people
lived. So the numbers attending school amounted
to one-third of the entire population.
And the knowledge that was acquired was con-
siderable. On December 19 Mr. Peck writes :
** I commenced the examination of our elder scholars^
The subject was the Ten Commandments with a
brief summary of each commandment. The
scholars were not asked to say them (straight off)
by rote, but each was expected to be able to repeat
the commandment corresponding to the number
2, 5, 9, etc. This was no small tax on the memory,
but I am happy to say that out of a class of eighteen,
eleven passed through the ordeal without making
a single mistake."
" The next day the examination was continued.
The second class was then taken. Many of these
repeated from memory twenty-two Scripture texts
without making any mistake,"
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 305
With regard to secular teaching in the school
there is an interesting note: "We have also in-
structed the children in some of our English figures.
Their own method of counting really extends only
to the fingers and toes. Some of them now know
our figiures up to 150. Altogether we have had
much encouragement in our work amongst the
children, and we heartily thank God for His blessing
But there were better things than these soon to
come. All that has been mentioned might be
nothing more than, as it were, the first portion of
Ezekiel's vision : " The sinews and the flesh came
up upon them and the skin covered them above :
but there was no breath in them." The outward
life of the Eskimos was something to be thankful
for in the abandonment of superstition, in im-
proved knowledge, in cleanliness and other ways.
But where was the spirit of Life ?
In December, igoo, a marked change seemed
to have begun. *' Some of the men came to both
morning and evening services. The evening service
was very hearty and the people listened with
evident attention. We certainly do realize some
remarkable times, and the Holy Spirit in answer
to prayer is moving some hearts. Oh, that one
might believe more in the power of God the Holy
Ghost ! "
A little later on, January 8, 1901, a " cheering
306 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
and soul-refreshing incident happened. One of
the women came of her own accord to see me.
She stated that her heart has been moved by the
Word of God. I have noticed her for a long time,
and believe that God by His Spirit is leading her
on in the way of life."
But this woman was only the forerunner, so to
speak, of others. She was the one bolder spirit
who was enabled under God to give courage to
others. The breach had been effected in the walls
of Satan's stronghold, and then others were willing
to enter through the way that had been made
January 13 was a day of much blessing. Mr.
Peck says, " I was led to speak at our evening
meeting regarding the subject of baptism. I
pointed out to the people the necessity of confessing
their faith in Christ, and invited those who wished
to be baptized to come to me to-morrow."
Two wonderful days followed. " No less than
two men and twenty-four women came to me wishing
to be enrolled as candidates for baptism. I had
private conversation and prayer with each one,
and I was indeed thankful to notice in not a few
cases a real desire to cast in their lot with Christ's
people. I told them that it would be necessary
for them to be fully instructed in some points,
especially the absolute need of the Holy Ghost
to teach them and sanctify their lives, I propose
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 307
holding classes for them in addition to our ordinary
evening meetings. My heart rejoices, and I feel
sure the hearts of many of God's praying ones will
rejoice to hear such news from our Arctic home."
This large number of candidates for baptism
now rendered necessary some change in the arrange-
ment of the meetings for instruction. Mr. Peck
rightly felt that these required something rather
special in the way of teaching. So on January 18
a separation took place. Mr. Bilby took the
ordinary congregation in the church and Mr. Peck
simultaneously held the class for the catechumens in
the Mission House or " the Manse " as he facetiously
calls it elsewhere.
" I took," he says " the opening passage of our
baptismal service for adults and explained it. I
pointed out the force of our Lord's words, ' Except
a man be bom again,' etc., and told them how
needful it is for each one of them to call upon God
earnestly for the gift of the Holy Ghost. A little
prayer is being written out for them. It reads as
follows : ' O God, give me Thy Holy Spirit, that I
may truly repent of my sins, believe in Jesus Christ,
and be made a new creature for Jesus' sake. Amen.' "
And there was some satisfaction in teaching
people like these, for a few days later, when Mr.
Peck was explaining a portion of the third chapter
of St. John's Gospel, he invited inquiry, and at the
same time asked them if they quite understood
3o8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
our Lord's words. " Yes," was their ready reply,
" and if we do not, we will ask you."
When at last the first ripe fruit was gathered in
Baptism, it was to be in a very real sense waved
before the altar and presented to God.
On April 8 Mr. Peck visited a sick girl named
Attemgonyak. She seemed to be wasting away.
She had learned a great deal about the Gospel and
the love of God, and she listened with much atten-
tion to the words of the missionary as he exhorted
her to trust wholly in the Saviour. A few days
later, on May 4, the sick girl expressed a wish to
be baptized. " I see," says Mr. Peck in his notes
concerning this, " no reason why the rite should be
withheld from her. We claim this poor creature
for Christ. I have been and am much helped in
prayer concerning her."
The next day was Sunday, and the patient had
a violent attack of illness. For her to go out of
her house was out of the question, and so she was
baptized privately. This, however, did not satisfy
her fully. She wished to show publicly her love
for, and faith in, her new found Saviour, and she
asked Mr. Peck of her own accord, if she gained
any strength, that she might be received openly
before all the people into the Church of Christ.
The diary goes on to say, " I spoke to some of
the candidates for baptism regarding her, and I
was so delighted to find that one woman went to
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 309
see her and prayed with her. And so the Word
of God is doing its mighty work. It does not, it
shall not, return void. In due time ye shall reap
if ye faint not."
On May 7, when the weather was a little brighter
and the patient somewhat stronger, she desired to
be publicly admitted. She was too weak to go to
church, so behind a wall of snow at the entrance of
her dwelling the Eskimos were gathered together.
With praise and prayer she was received into the
flock of Christ's Church, and marked with the
seal of service to the Saviour. " Just six years
since it was decided to start this Mission — six years
of toil and prayer and suffering — and now the Lord
has, I trust, gathered in the first-fruits of a mighty
harvest of souls from the northern wilds. ' Praise
the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me
praise His Holy Name.' "
This girl was a corn of wheat falling into the
ground and perishing in order, as we doubt not, to
bring forth much fruit. On June 2 she was wasting
away rapidly. Mr. Peck was visiting her two or
three times every day. " She likes to hear hymns
sung, and always longs to have one of us near."
At last, on Jime 13, she fell asleep. " I was with
her " is the note in the diary, " when she passed
away. She was quite conscious, but a calm and
peaceful look spread over her face as the Spirit
returned to Him who gave it."
310 THE LIFE OF E. fj. PECK
And what a contrast that service which followed
was to all that the Eskimos had known before !
" We desired in every way to show the people
how a Christian ought to be buried. I told all that
could come to attend a service in church. Many
brought their books. These contain a translation
of our Burial Service. The first part was read in
our little church. After this we all went to the
place of burial selected by the relatives. I do
not mean that a grave was dug. This we cannot
do. There is no soil here deep enough, and what
little there is, is as yet thawed only a few inches
below the surface. Our burial places must there-
fore be on the rocks. Big stones were placed on
top of the coffin (which had been made by Mr.
Bilby) to prevent its being blown over at any time
by the wind. Around this we gathered together. I
then concluded the service and spoke a few solemn
words to those assembled, and then we parted.
What a change, thank God ! What a contrast
to the awful way in which some of the dead have
been buried — no covering but the snow and the
carcase torn in pieces by the dogs as soon as they
could reach it."
But before this girl was laid to rest in the first
native Christian grave of Cumberland Sound, more
ripe fruit had been gathered. On May 19 Mr.
Peck says : " The people do show much more
attention now. God is gradually but surely work-
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 311
ing upon this people," and the next day after
much prayer for guidance he resolved on baptizing
three of the candidates on Whit Sunday. When
it came (May 26) it was a day of days. The three
candidates mentioned were baptized. We had a
large and most attentive congregation. It was
indeed a solemn and soul-stirring time, and the
power of God the Holy Ghost was with us." There
was not any doubt as to the earnestness of these
three. For a long time they had shown a great
desire for instruction, and they had a good report
amongst the Eskimos themselves.
And so the year progressed through the summer,
on the whole in a satisfactory manner. But a
severe trial came in the beginning of September.
On the second of the month there was no little
excitement because a ship had been seen in the
distance. Later in the day it was evident that she
was not the Alert because she carried steam power.
She was a whaler from Dundee, and brought the
news of the death of Queen Victoria. But the trial
came to the missionary from the immoral conduct
of the crew and from the fact that this snare of the
devil proved too subtle and strong for some of the
candidates for baptism. " I have more than
once," writes Mr. Peck, " at a terrible cost to my
own ease of mind, pointed out to these wretched
people the sure and certain goal to which they are
travelling. The extermination of the whole of the
312 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Eskimo population in Cumberland Sound and else-
where is only a matter of time, if some check is
not put to these awful practices. I see no reason
why officers of whaling ships should not exercise
proper discipline on board their own vessels. I
spoke to the captain about this matter."
The next day he writes, concerning the candi-
dates for baptism who had yielded to sin, *' I
spoke to these individually and warned them of
their danger and told them that Christ had died
for them and that newness of life was the real
sign of true behef, and that I could not think of
baptizing them if they placed themselves in such a
There were six in this case and of them " five
promised amendment and seemed sorry. May they
be led to trae repentance. The sorrows and anguish
of soul which one experiences here at times are
something almost unbearable. My heart would
sink within me if I did not know the loving kindness,
power and sympathy of my Saviour and my God."
The Alert was at last sighted on September i8,
and new strength to the Mission was brought in the
person of Mr. (now Rev.) E. W. Greenshield. This
enabled Mr. Bilby to return to England in the
steam whaler mentioned above.
The news, however, which was brought by the
sailing vessel was not very encouraging. Mr.
Sampson had left the work and gone on a trading
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 313
expedition ; the health of Mr. Peck's Httle daughter
was in a critical condition. On reading this the
diary records : " My feelings cannot be fathomed
by others." Then there was a letter from the
Committee of the Church Missionary Society,
asking the missionary to consider the advisability
— principally on account of the uncertainty of
means of communication — of abandoning this
Mission next year.
It might be supposed that in spite of fruit having
been gathered in, the agony of separation from
his loved ones, and the disappointment concerning
the fall of some of the candidates for baptism, Mr.
Peck might readily have persuaded himself that this
was the voice of God. This thought too might
have gained additional force from the consideration
of his own health. His throat was a constant
source of trouble and pain to him, from time to
time even laying him aside altogether. He was
not, however, one to allow the wish to be father to
the thought. We discover this when we are allowed
to read his meditation on this proposal of the
Committee. " God does close as well as open
doors. But after due consideration and prayer
what conviction comes home to our soul ? We
ought not to abandon this work. Means of com-
munication better than the present can be formed.
If we give up our position here, we practically
give up the key of Christ's outpost. The utter-
314 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
most parts of the earth are his, and the Eskimos
who live therein. The salvation of these people
is dear to Him, and there is not the shadow of a
doubt that He wills us to hold on here and spread
the knowledge of His saving name in these Arctic
wastes. So great is this conviction that God
has put into my heart the desire to formulate a
scheme, the outlines of which have long been in
my mind. This scheme touches the difficult prob-
lem of Eskimo evangelization in the Polar regions.
This work we have hardly commenced yet. Now
the Lord in these latter days wills us, no doubt,
to push it on."
And what, the reader asks, was the scheme
that Mr. Peck had formulated ? It was to have
a mission vessel with which to reach the distant
Eskimos and to be independent of whaling ships
altogether. With God's help an out-and-out Chris-
tian crew would be got together for this mission
vessel, so that each member should be a living
witness for Christ wherever he touched port and
came into contact with native races.
The gift and maintenance of such a ship as this
is not much for which to ask the Church of England.
Arctic exploration seems always to claim Christian
sympathy and support as well as that of the general
public. The very heart of the nation becomes
stirred with the exploits of Franklin, or McClintock,
or Nansen. But these things, noble as they
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 315
are in opening up unexplored lands, adding to our
scientific knowledge, or testing human nature in
its pluck and endurance, leave out of sight the
greatest of all human projects, the evangelization
of the heathen.
The possession of a properly constructed vessel
is still the object nearest to Mr. Peck's heart, but
failing this he looks forward to missionaries living
on board the whaling vessels and thus ensuring
the Gospel going as far as our trade.
But surely if England, the richest country
perhaps in the world, can find men willing to take
up the life, she will not withhold the paltry few
hundreds of pounds, or even thousands, to enable
them to prosecute their plans with the greatest
possible efficiency ?
But we must return to the immediate work which
we are contemplating.
The month of February saw more baptisms.
Extracts from Mr. Peck's diary speak for them-
" Sunday^ Feb. 2. — A great day. Nongoarluk,
a poor woman who has long been a great sufferer,
desired to be baptized. She has learnt to read,
and is, I hope, moved by the Holy Spirit to take
this important step. She was, therefore, in the
presence of some of her friends, admitted into the
visible Church by baptism. Nothing, truly, in
her surroundings to call forth joy or gladness ;
3i6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
her small snow-house, her wasted frame, her years
of suffering, all these things, she might well say,
are against her ; yet the tears — tears, I hope, of
contrition and holy joy — flowed from her eyes when
we sang some hynms, hymns composed by the
good Moravian Brethren, which pointed out the
boundless love of God and the fullness of Christ's
" Wednesday, Feb. 5. — Questioned another candi-
date for baptism concerning her spiritual state. There
is every reason to believe that God is teaching her,
and leading her to a saving knowledge of the truth.**
" Saturday, Feb. 8. — Have decided after very
careful preparation to baptize some more converts
to-morrow. Had them with me in the evening,
prayed with them, exhorted them to cleave to
Christ with full purpose of heart, and then pointed
out the particular order of service, etc."
" Sunday, Feb. 9. — Another wonderful day. Seven
(two men and five women) were added to Christ's
flock here in the wilderness. Many came to the
church, great attention was shown, and a spiritual
power seemed to rest upon us. Those baptized
showed a very earnest spirit, and evidently realized
the important step they were taking. It was
certainly no light ordeal to stand up before their
own people and acknowledge their faith in Jesus.
We thank Him for this blessing. Let Him be
praised for evermore.**
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 317
" Monday, Feb. 10. — ' They shall come from the
North.' Another Arctic wanderer baptized to-day.
His wife, Eve Nooeyout, who was one of the first
Eskimos baptized last year, has, I believe, used
her influence for Christ and has thus led her husband
to make a public confession of his faith. I have
been led to pray much of late for the still unevan-
gelized Eskimos. There can be no possible doubt
that the souls found in these Arctic wastes belong
to our Master. 'AU souls are Mine.' Facts like
these ought to speak to Christ's people with no
uncertain sound, and I boldly ask them in Christ's
name to do their duty, to stand, so to speak, shoul-
der to shoulder with us, to take up Christ's Arctic
enterprise with whole-hearted zeal, and never rest
till aU these lonely wastes are won for their Lord."
" Saturday, Feb. 22. — A young man named Rounak
came to me for a copy of the gospels. I gave him
one, and pointed out to him the nature of the
treasure he now possessed. As friends may like to
hear his history, I give it here in full. Some time
ago Rounak was a candidate for the office of con-
juror. He tried to learn the conjurations, etc.,
but was almost driven mad in the attempt, and for
some time was in such a state that he did nothing
as regards seal catching. Now as seal-skins are one
of the articles of barter here, and as Rounak was
in a measure supported by Mr. Noble's agent, he
naturally got into troubled waters with this gentle-
3i8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
man ; so finding matters so tangled and unpleasant
he gave up the idea of being a conjuror altogether.
His next move, which has certainly proved the
most satisfactory — as it has for untold numbers
before him — was to enter the matrimonial arena
and win the heart of a young Eskimo lady. This
young person I am glad to say is a Christian, and
she has had a marked influence over him for good.
In this connection she told me lately (using an
Eskimo expression) that ' his mind is being put
in order," and that he wishes to follow her and be-
lieve in Jesus. This is good news. Here we see
the drawing influence of Divine and human love."
A fortnight later this young man was baptized.
But perhaps there was almost more encourage-
ment than these baptisms indicate in a more general
movement among the Eskimos.
In March Mr. Peck, with his colleague Mr.
Greenshield, made an expedition to Kikkerton.
This was very largely in consequence of what
they had heard about complications that had
arisen through some vigorous heathen teaching.
A man named Angmalik professed to have received
a new revelation from the goddess Sedna. As he
seemed to be causing a considerable commotion,
and to be gaining some influence, it was necessary
to deal with it.
The conclusion of the matter came a month
later. The new revelation had been made known
SUNSHINE AND RAIN 319
far and wide. On Sunday, April 17, Mr. Peck
writes : "A wonderful day. The church was
packed morning and evening. Hardly any of the
men had gone away hunting, and the attention
and reverent behaviour of the people was quite
remarkable. I naturaUy inquired what these things
meant. This is the answer which I received — an
answer which gave me much joy, and will give
joy to many hearts. They told me that having
considered the new doctrine propounded by Ang-
malik, and having also considered the words they
had heard and read, viz., the words of Jesus, they
had come to the conclusion that His words were in
every way preferable, and therefore they had
determined to cast away their heathen customs
and come to the place of prayer. . . . We pray that
this movement may lead to the salvation of many
souls, and that we may have grace and wisdom
given to us so that we may be able to lay before
this people the Gospel of the grace of God, which
alone can meet the needs of their souls."
There is just one note of interest which belongs
to February — a sequel to the baptisms — with which
this chapter must conclude :
" Sunday, Feb. 23. — Another day to be long
remembered. Six of those recently baptized were
joined together in Holy Matrimony. Quite a num-
ber, chiefly women, came to our little church, and
great was their surprise to see how Christians are
320 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
married, and to hear the holy and searching words
of our Marriage Servdce. This object lesson will
not, I feel sure, be lost upon the heathen. How
different to their loose and sensual ideas."
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS
" I know thy works and tribulation and
poverty (but thou art rich)."
WE have now seen the progress of the Mission
and something of its prospects up to the
summer of 1902. We now propose to take a few
extracts from Mr. Peck's diaries which will serve
to bring some scenes in his journeys as pictures
before the reader's eyes.
In March, 1901, he started on a journey to
Kikkerton ; Mr. Esslemont (Mr. Noble's agent)
was his companion. " On the i8th we passed on
over the barren plains of ice. We drove in a
northerly direction, and then proceeded to cross
Cumberland Sound. This, however, proved most
difficult. The ice in some places was piled up in
great rugged masses, and our Eskimo guide had to
climb large hummocks of ice so that he might see
the best road to take. To make matters worse
Mr. Esslemont's sledge-runner broke. This we
lashed up with seal line and pressed on our way.
322 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
Towards evening we saw a vast extent of rough ice,
so we determined to camp for the night, and wait for
the morning Hght. Our Eskimo guide soon cut
out a number of snow blocks, and with these we
made a snow house, but by the time we had boiled
our kettle and were able to partake of our meal it
was 10 p.m. Then, after committing ourselves to
God's care, we crept into our fur bags and slept
through the night."
*' Tuesday, March 19. — We drove on for some
distance and then came to a complete standstill.
Masses of ice of various sizes and shapes blocked
our way. Furious gales had smashed and welded
together these ice blocks in a surprising manner.
There was nothing to be done but make a road.
Armed with an ice chisel our Eskimo broke up or
loosened the blocks which Mr Esslemont threw on
one side. I remained behind in order to keep the
dogs in order, and watch their movements — a very
necessary task indeed, as our canine friends are
apt to eat their seal line traces when left to their
own sweet devices. One of our dogs actually
managed to eat the greater part of one of our whips,
and it is hard to say what they would leave intact,
if not continually watched. After about an hour's
work we were able to move on cautiously, and after
a time we came to an expanse of fairly good ice.
But another barrier came before long. While
struggling through this, sad to say, Mr. Esslemont's
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 323
sledge became a complete wreck. We were still
some distance from the opposite shore, so we packed
the necessary articles on our sledge, left the broken
sledge and the heavier articles behind, and pressed
on our way."
Arrived at Kikkerton, Captain Sheridan kindly
lent Mr. Peck a house in which he could hold services*
On Sunday, March 24, he writes concerning the
morning service : " Our experiences were, I think,
somewhat interesting. The house in which we were
assembled, not having been used for some time,
was coated in all parts with a crust of ice. This,
with the combined heat of the stove and our bodies,
formed about the middle of our service a kind of
shower bath which sprinkled freely our heads,
books and garments."
" April 4. — When calling the people together for
meetings, one old woman crept out of her snowhouse
and followed me saying, ' Will you give me some
tobacco if I go to the meeting ? ' The answer was,
of course, a refusal. I, however, had the pleasure
of seeing her come along, and I think she heard some
words which, with God's blessing, will do her good.
The sordid, carnal view that some of these people
have is surprising. Truly the days of the loaves
and fishes are not passed."
A year later, on March 24, 1902, Mr. Peck and
Mr. Greenshield were on the same journey. '* We
travelled in company with an Eskimo, who kindly
324 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
offered to take some of our load on his sledge ; I
also remained with his conveyance. While passing
between some islands we met with what might have
been a most serious accident. All at once Mr.
Greenshield's sledge, which was some fifty yards
behind us, broke through the ice. Mr. G. himself
narrowly escaped a ducking, which under such condi-
tions might have meant at least some frozen limb
or limbs. With great difficulty we managed to haul
the sledge up on top of the ice again, but nothing,
I am thankful to say, was lost. The accident was
doubtless due to the thin state of ice which had been
eaten away by a strong under current. Shortly after
this strange experience we saw some snow-houses
which had evidently been only recently abandoned.
We took possession of the largest and cleanest, a
line of action quite lawful amongst this free and
sociable people ; here we made ourselves at home,
boiled our kettle, warmed our meat balls with a
methylated spirit lamp, and then fiercely attacked
our evening repast. Our special man for the trip
is a Christian, and the man who has kindly helped us
is a candidate for baptism, so altogether we were
quite a happy band, and right heartily we sang
hymns together before retiring to rest for the night.
Rest would have been impossible, for some of us at
least, had all the articles on Mr. G.'s sledge got wet.
Fortunately, however, the very articles we most
needed were on top of the load, and these we were
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 325
able to haul off the sledge in time. Surely we had,
and have, reason to thank God for this mercy."
" Tuesday, March 25. — Moved on again over the icy
waste. Pressed on for some eight hours. All at once
I noticed our helpful companion (Toolsahpiah) pull
out his telescope, sweep the vast desert waste, and
then we heard the jojrful cry, ' Innuet ! Innuet !
Eskimos ! Eskimos ! ' We soon drove on to the
place indicated, and there we found two Arctic
inns inhabited by some ten inhabitants. Here we
were received kindly, and were invited to take up
our quarters in the dwelling of a man named
Kanaka, who, I may remark, is a mighty conjuror
and has much influence amongst his own people.
Here in the midst of such novel surroundings we
spent a pleasant time, and were able to hold a
meeting in the evening. How strange to hear the
praises of our King in these cold dwellings built on
the frozen sea, eight miles from the nearest land."
" Easter Day, March 30. — We read together of
Christ's conquest over death, and I then pointed
out to them the nature of that marvellous Friend
in whom we are all invited to confide. The people
assent freely to the great truths brought before
them, but when we come to the practical points
which naturally flow from the great foundation
truths of the Gospel, and when they know that their
sins and heathen superstitions must be let go if they
are to be saved, then the ' tug of war ' commences
326 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
— men love * darkness rather than Hght, because
their deeds are evil.' "
" Monday, March '^i. — A poor sick woman, whom
Greenshield and I had previously visited, sent
word to us that she did not wish to see strangers, evi-
dently meaning white men. All one could therefore do
was to speak a few words of comfort to this poor dying
creature through the window of her snow-house.
This being made of seals' intestines, which are very
thin and almost transparent, the sound of one's
voice and one's presence outside were evidently
known to the sufferer, for she tried to answer from
her couch of pain. What darkness and misery
surround these poor heathen ! If the Lord Jesus
was or had been living, as ought to have been the
case in the hearts and beings of His people, Arctic
explorers for Christ — or better still Arctic soul-
winners — would have pierced these polar wastes
long ago. These people have seen so many samples
of ungodly white men in the past that we can hardly
wonder if they view us with suspicion now, and think
we are a curse instead of, what we try to be, a
blessing to them."
" April 4. — Blowing strongly from N.W. during the
forenoon ; weather, however, cleared somewhat
about noon. A man arrived from the north. He came
from a party of Eskimos who are living on the ice
some twenty miles from here. I determined with
God's help to accompany this man. Mr. Green-
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 327
shield will remain here till a later date while I
minister to these scattered sheep on the icy wastes.
Ilak, the Eskimo who arrived, wished to return at
once. He told me that he knew his way quite well
and that his friends expected him to return with
tobacco and biscuit which they were " longing for."
Tied dogs to sledge — some ten in all— and pressed
on our way, wind being still strong and snow falling
pretty freely. As we journeyed on, wind and snow
increased. This was driven by the violence of the
wind on one's face, where coming in contact with
my beard and skin it formed a kind of ice plaster
which could only be removed by the naked hand,
the removal of which from one's fur gloves resulted
in the inside of glove itself being freely dusted with
particles of driving snow ; these again melted with
the warmth of hand when returned to its necessary
cover. The sensations thus produced both in the
face and hands by this experience might almost be
described as unmitigated torture, to say nothing
of the sensations produced in the whole body by
the continual fury of wind and jolting of sledge.
Wind still increased, but Ilak kept the dogs well
in hand, and for a time he was able to keep the track
which had been made by other Eskimos who had
travelled to Kikkerton. Night, however, drew on
apace, wind and snow increased, and at last we could
see nothing. My companion kept on yeUing at the
dogs. On they went in spite of heavy wind, which
328 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
was almost dead ahead. What sagacious creatures
they are ! Ilak trusted them fully. He knew that
could he only keep them in the right direction their
keen sense of smell and evident instinct would do
the rest. And so it proved. I was beginning to
feel that I could not stand this terrible exposure
much longer, and earnestly lifted up my heart to
God in prayer that we might be led to the friendly
shelter of a snow dwellings when I happened to
look through the drift, and there, quite close at
hand, I saw two or three dim lights shining from
the oil lamps inside these Arctic hotels. It did not
take long to wake up some of our friends. I was
kindly received and housed by a conjuror named
Okittok. My garments, which were literally coated
with snow, were beaten with a stick, and I was soon
in my fur bag. I did not, however, sleep much
during the remainder of the night. Some eight
hours' tossing about had chiUed me through and
" April 12. — As we were near some Eskimos we
gladly entered their snow-house, and soon had
something warm to drink. As I had not had the
pleasure of washing for three days I felt that I must
by some means have an ablution. Nothing in the
shape of washing utensils, however, could be found
amongst these primitive people, so I took my
frying pan, and in this managed to have a kind
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 329
Every birthday in Mr. Peck's diary contains
some special note. We will take April 15, 1902,
as a sample : —
" Tuesday, April 15. — My birthday. (Fifty-two to-
day.) And this is how I spent it. Blacklead Island
was now seventeen miles away,our stock of provisions
very low, so it was necessary to get to our journey's
end as quickly as possible. The weather, however, was
far from favourable. The wind was right ahead, and
snow was driving heavily. My Eskimo friends were,
however, confident that they could find their way.
So we started. But to start was one thing, to get
on was quite another. Our dogs were weak, the
storm increased, and nothing at times could be seen
On we went for some five hours. A lull in the storm
then brought to our view an island. This island was
about eight miles from Blacklead Island. We had
travelled some nine miles in five hours — certainly not
express speed. Tired and hungry, we made a kind
of shelter with large blocks of snow. These we
placed on the windward side of our sledge. My hearty
companions hauled out a large piece of seal's meat.
This they chopped up with an axe, and attacked
with evident relish and delight. Got under the lee
of one of the men, and in the midst of driving snow
munched away at some biscuit which I had close
at hand. On we went again. Had not gone far
when a dog belonging to Tooloakjuak's sledge
dropped down dead. He, poor fellow, has only
330 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
three dogs left out of seven. This mysterious com-
plaint is thinning the dogs out on every hand. We
started with ten ; one died, another ran away,
and the remainder are hardly able to move along.
My man consequently goes ahead to lead the weary
creatures through the drift. I, on the other hand,
stop by the sledge. I shout, and shove, and pull,
and help the dogs as much as I can, and so we
manage to get along. Sometimes, however, we
come to a complete standstill. Sledge and dogs get
fast in a bank of snow. Now I have to beat down
the snow in front of sledge, and with some mighty
shoves, which strain every muscle in one's body,
and with a number of regular war cries, which startle
— if they do nothing else — the tired dogs, we are
again on the move. About 2 p.m. we fortunately
saw some old sledge tracks. Our poor dogs
brightened up wonderfully. Sledge tracks are to
them what one may call Arctic roads — roads which
lead them sooner or later to a place of rest. Arrived
at Blacklead Island about 4 p.m. Mr. J. Mutch
(Mr. Noble's chief agent) received me most kindly,
and a welcome repast, which he had most thought-
fully provided, seemed to put new life and vigour
into my weary frame. I was also greatly cheered
to notice the kindly spirit of the poor Eskimos.
Several of the men, I ought to mention, came down
on the ice to help our dogs up the rugged shore ice
to the level space beyond. I spent the remainder
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 331
of mj^ birthday in profitable reading, and in prayer
for the people and my own loved ones in the home-
land. Speaking of the latter, it is not weakness on
my part, I feel sure, to state that their forms stand
out as a living picture before me day by day — five
cords ever pulling at one's heart, five mighty
connecting links with Jesus on the throne."
In June, 1902, the Eskimos of Frobisher Bay were
*' After much prayer for guidance I have deter-
mined to go to the whaling station near Frobisher
Bay. The place has not been visited for two years,
and it is our duty to go, so I am now preparing for
the journey. It is one thing to take a through ticket,
say, from Euston to Aberdeen, it is quite another
to travel along an ice-bound shore in an open boat,
and to make provision for six mouths for some two
months. Here are some of the items needed : —
ist. A good boat. 2nd. A suitable crew. 3rd. A
good Eskimo canoe. This is necessary for hunting
purposes. 4th. Suitable tents, one for myself and
one for my companions. 5th. Necessary provisions —
biscuits, coffee, tea, etc. All these must be stowed
in boxes or waterproof bags. 6th. Guns and am-
munition — necessary items in a region like this.
7th. Suitable clothing, such as sealskin coats,
trousers etc. 8th. All needful cooking appHances,
fuel, etc. We must take wood (which we get from
home) or methylated spirits. No trees or driftwood
332 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
are to be found in these barren wastes. 9th. All
necessary lines, harpoons, material for repairing
boat in case of accident, etc., etc."
" Sunday, June 8. — Very good congregations, and
very hearty services."
" Saturday, June 14. — Saw two beautiful little
flowers to-day. What a reminder of the Creator's
handiwork, goodness and love."
" Tuesday, June 17. — Nearly ready for trip to Fro-
bisher Bay. Spoke to Christ's little flock here in the
wilderness. Reminded them of Christ's love for all
men. Told them that it was meet and right that
I should leave them and preach the Gospel to others
also. Exhorted them to cleave to Christ, and to
help our brother Greenshield in every possible way."
" Wednesday, June 18. — Several of these poor crea-
tures came down to the boat to say farewell. We
prayed together on the ice-bound shore, and I then
stepped on board. We only went a short distance
when a large sheet of ice shut us in on the south end
of the island. Our Arctic friends, however, soon came
to the rescue, and helped us to drag both boat and
baggage over the frozen barrier. Passed into the
open sea, where we pulled away with a will. Camped
at night in a kind of frozen bay, with great high
rocks on our southern hand. There appears to be
much ice on ahead, but we will, with God's help,
" Thursday, June 19. — About 4 a.m. I heard a
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 333
great noise outside my tent. The wind had risen,
and the men were busy securing my canvas tent
and seeing to the safety of our boat. We are on
the edge of a large floe, the inside part of which
may be driven from the land. Should this happen
nothing remains but to pack up, get in our boat
as quickly as possible, and make our way to some
more secure shelter. The wind blew strong all
day, but we remained safe. I had prayers with our
friends morning and evening. This, I need hardly
say, is a great help and comfort to us."
" Monday, June 23. — The wind is driving the ice
from the shore, so we hope to be able to proceed
on the morrow. Three bears were seen on a large
floe. Our Eskimo friends, however, much to their
grief could not reach them, as the wind was too
strong, and the ice was driven along at a great speed."
" Tuesday, June 24. — One of the men shot a seal
on the shore ice — a great treat, as we were getting
short of fresh meat. Found a mast of some ship
wrecked in the past. Cut up some of this for fire-
wood. Wind moderated, and then came on to blow
from seaward. Ice was driving in upon us, so we
packed up and got away about 11 p.m. No night
here now, so we can travel when we see a favourable
" Friday, June 7. — Saw three bears, all, however,
ran away before we could get near them. Tried
in the early pc rt of the day to force our way through
334 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
an opening in the ice, but we were nearly shut in by
large masses moving in different directions. Tried
again in the evening, and after a lot of shoving;
grinding and not a little nerve-shaking experience,
we got safely across to the land we had in view.
We thank God for His preserving care. This
voyaging in a frail boat in the midst of moving
masses of ice ranging from six to twenty feet thick
is enough at times to try the stoutest heart."
" Saturday^ June 8. — Made a number of dashes
through open lanes of water which we found near
the shore. In the evening tried to find a suitable
place on the land where we could spend the Sabbath.
We finally found a spot about forty feet above the
level of the sea,"
" Monday J June 30. Tried to move on. Had to
shove large blocks of ice out of our way. Went
on for about two miles, and then came to a stand-
still, A large expanse of ice which had not been
loosened from the shore stood in our way. Camped
*' Tuesday^ July 1, — Still shut in with ice. How
unlike July ! We are not in want of food, thank
God. One of the men shot a seal to-day ; we have
also shot quite a number of eider ducks ; neither
of these is over palatable, but they make a change
in our diet."
*' Wednesday, July 2. — Could not move. Here we
are fast in the ice, but safe in the hands of our God.
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 335
Men beginning to murmur on account of the tedious-
ness and length of way. We are not half way to
Frobisher Bay yet."
*' Thursday, July 3. — At morning prayer spoke to
our companions of the power and presence of Christ
to keep and guide us. Truly strength is needed from
Christ the fountain Head not only for one's own
inner life, but to enable one to pour strength and
courage into the hearts of others.**
" Friday, July 4. — Made another dash at ice barrier,
Got through safely. Masses of ice were, however,
driven past us at great speed, and we had, to say
the least, some exciting experiences. Beyond this
barrier we had the pleasure of finding an open space
of water running between some islands. We journeyed
on and made a good day*s work. We were all quite
' * Saturday, July 5 . — Pressed on again. About noon
saw a large bear on ice floe right ahead of us. This
monster was going along in a most stealthy manner
to a large seal which was basking in the sun. The
bear's attention being concentrated on what he
hoped would prove a sumptuous repast, he did not
notice the Eskimos (Muneapik and Ameksaktok)
who were following Master Bruin on the ice. All
at once the seal dived ; the bear saw his pursuers ;
* went for them,' coming up through a hole in the
ice close to the men. With gnashing teeth he tried to
get on top of the ice, but was soon shot. The carcase
336 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
(measuring some nine feet) was hauled up on the floe,
cut up, and with a bountiful supply of meat we
proceeded on our way. After dinner — some of the
bear's flesh formed one of the courses — we tried
to get on. But we had not gone far when the ice
closed in upon us, so we had to beat a hasty retreat.
We finally managed to reach a rock island, where
*' Friday, July ii. — Fog cleared up. We moved
on and came to a point of land with a small passage
between it and the ice. We pulled with all our might
to get through. We failed. The ice drove on to
the point with a crushing grinding noise. Pile
after pile of this was heaped on the shore. We
backed out in quick time. It was well we did so.
Our boat would have been crushed like a match-box
had we been in the embrace of that icy mass.
Now we had a lively time. Everything had to be
taken out of the boat and carried to the open water
beyond the point. We all carried what we could.
Then we had a little breathing time. Now for the
boat. With might and will we hauled it up on the
ice. A lot of shouting and shoving and the boat
was on the other side. She was launched and loaded
and away we went again. It was now lo p.m.,
so we managed to get ashore near some high rocks.
Here we had supper. An opening in the ice gave
us new hope and courage. We'determined to go on.
We started towards midnight."
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 337
" Saturday, July 12. — Came to a place where we
could not get through. Camped about i p.m.
on Sunday. Hope to proceed on Monday by another
'^Sunday, July 13. — Spent a very happy day both
bodily and spiritually. God's mercies are very
*' Monday, July 14. — Started to try the outer route.
This means going along the barren shore of David
Strait. Reached the sea, when we saw two bears;
gave chase. They went from the ice into the water.
We followed in boat. After a long pull came up to
them. Both were shot. We took them in tow,
when a heavy head wind sprang up and rain came
down in torrents. We had now to go to the nearest
shelter, which proved to be an awful spot. Big
towering rocks above us, while a shelving piece of
ice some eight feet broad was the only place we could
find to camp on. The wind howled, and the rain
fell. Wet and cold, we managed to make a fire
in a cave in the rocks. We boiled our kettles and
made some tea. I then crept into my fur bag,
which was about the only dry thing I possessed.
Casting myself and companions upon God, I managed
in spite of roaring wind and flapping tent to sleep,
at least, through a portion of that memorable
" Tuesday, July 15. — ^A fearful day. No change for
the better. Remained in my fur bag nearly the
338 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
whole day. I could not keep warm or dry anywhere
" Wednesday, July i6. — Cleared up about noon.
We packed up with all speed. All were glad to
leave this place of horrors. One of the men told
me that he could not sleep. He was in dread, so
he said, of those overhanging cliffs. Eskimos
believe that rocks have their innua, viz., inhabitant.
Strange stories are told in reference to these.
Pressed on as far as we could. Camped in a small
bay on a large sheet of ice. Men climbed high rocks.
They brought back bad news. There is no possibility
of our going on on account of icebergs, and vast
bodies of ice ahead. Certainly this coast is awful,
high rocks, icebergs, desolation, cold, snow and
tempest on every hand."
*' Thursday, July 17. — Tried to return from where
we started from on Monday, but, alas, we could not
get back. A vast sheet of ice had been driven by
the wind right in our way. Made our way to an
island, where we camped. Our guide again full of
complaints. He spoke of returning to Blacklead
Island if possible. I told him we must face our
difficulties in the strength of God like men and go
''Friday, July 18. — During night wind sprang up
from the north, and drove a lot of ice right in upon
us. We could see the open water beyond, but could
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 339
" Saturday, July 19. — A stirring day. Ice opened
out a little. Tried to get away by going along the
south end of island, but were nearly shut in ; tried
north end with the same result ; retreated to the
shore, climbed the rocks, where we keenly watched
the motions of ice. About 4 p.m. saw an opening.
Made a dash for this and escaped. Pressed on ;
puUed with all our might. Found an open space of
water between two vast floes which took us almost
to the land. An exciting time now followed. The
ice closed in rapidly upon us. We all took up the
nearest thing to hand and threw it on the ice. Up
went the boat ; but just in time. On the ice we
waited for a time. Change of tide made a change
in motions of floe. Launched our boat in an open
space, and again we bent to the oars. Passed the
place we had left on Monday about 7 p.m. Found
to our joy the inside passage open. This runs
between large islands — a blank on the map — and
is nicely sheltered. Pulled on and finally camped
on a nice grassy spot. We aU felt utterly tired out,
but thankful to God for His help and goodness.
Our guide seemed quite a new man. He is full of
" Sunday, July 20. — The fifth spent on this journey.
It is well, in spite of our tardy progress, to keep
the Lord's Day. Rest for the body and food for
the soul are real needs."
" Monday, July 21. — Journeyed on again. Found
340 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
a large expanse of open water, of which we made
the best possible use. After dinner, which we had on
some rocks, went on again. We had soon, however,
to come to a dead halt. Large blocks of ice had been
driven in close to a point where we had to pass.
We could not haul our boat over the ice to the open
water beyond, as the floe inside the point was in
places full of holes. The only way was to try and
loosen the ice blocks and force our boat through the
pools of water here and there. We set to work at
one block which seemed to be a kind of key-piece
to the rest. We chiselled and shoved at this for
some hours before it started. The ice now slackened.
We shoved and hauled our boat along with all
our might. We struggled on for some distance and
then camped. We thank God for this day's help
and take courage."
" Tuesday, July 22 . — We made a capital day's
work. We met with but little ice and were able to
sail for about four hours. We are only one full day's
journey from the station (Signia).
" Thursday, July 24. — We struck a point of land
not far from Signia. We hugged this land and were
soon at the station. To our surprise we found
Mr. Sampson's vessel, the Forget-me-Not, lying
at anchor. Both Mr. Jansen, who was in charge of
the station, and the captain of the vessel received
me very kindly. Mr. Sampson himself, however,
was away with some Eskimos walrus hunting, but he
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 341
is expected here to-morrow. I am informed that
Mr. Sampson's station is some twenty-five miles
from this post, but his vessel has come here prior
to her departure for home."
These extracts, however interesting they
are, must be curtailed. After a sojourn and
encouraging work among the Eskimos of Frobisher
Bay, Mr. Peck went back to Blacklead Island in
Mr. Jansen's vessel, as his own men were going to
hunt reindeer on their return journey.
On September 2 the Alert arrived with Mr. Bilby
on board. He brought the happy news that the
C.M.S. had no longer any thought of abandoning
Mr. Peck was now to return home once more.
But before starting he had one more very happy
day on September 14. "Four more of the poor
sheep in these desert wastes were dedicated to
Christ in holy baptism. They have been candidates
for some time, and I believe their faith is real. Again
we thank God for His goodness.
A steamer happened to have called at Blacklead
Island, so the tedium of a voyage in the Aleri was
avoided. Mr. Peck preferred this, although she
was not to return at once but was to touch at various
points for the sake of trade.
" Wednesday, September ly.—Leit Blacklead Island
in ss. Balaena at 8 a.m. The Lord did not send
me away comfortless. Several of the Eskimos
34^ THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
here, who now know the Lord, thank God for this
Mission, and for His kindness and love in sending
to them the Gospel. The very kindly spirit of my
brethren was also a comfort to me, for to leave this
hallowed spot, this place of spiritual conflict and
triumph in the Lord, was a sore wrench. And what
does the Lord will now ? What is the desire which
lives day by day and hour by hour in my soul ?
Simply this. To spread the knowledge of Christ over
these Polar wastes. The time seems to have come
now when a younger brother should finally take
my place at Cumberland Sound, leaving my hands
free to press to the " regions beyond " in the way
the Lord shall through His providential leadings
" Thursday, September i8. — Heavy wind sprang up,
also heavy snow. The funnel and weather shrouds
of ship were coated with a kind of icy covering.
Everything gloomy in the extreme. Continually is
my heart lifted up to God for spiritual power.
Truly it is needed. Went to the forecastle to see the
men. Was most kindly received. There are over
forty hands on board. The vessel is fitted with six
' whale boats.' These are always kept ready for
use, and a sharp look-out is kept in the ' crow's
nest ' for a ' fivSh,' which means, in whaler's
idiom, a whale. This vessel, like other whaling craft,
is most strongly built, and is fitted with masts and
sails, the engines being used more as an auxiliary
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 343
power than the main moving agent. This is particu-
larly the case when the ship is in clear water — i.e.,
water free of ice — and when the wind is fair. It
need hardly be said that dangers from ice, icebergs
and Arctic gales beset these hardy voyagers on
every hand, and many a thrilling tale could be told
by these brave men who face the icy seas."
''Friday, September 26. — Arrived at a place called
by the Eskimo Rivetok, but named by the whalers
' Yahhe Fieord.' On arrival w^as delighted to meet
some Eskimos. They greeted me in a most cordial
manner. I noticed in particular one woman named
Padlo. ^ She had spent one winter at Blacklead Island
seven years ago, and had during her stay there shown
a great desire for instruction. I find that she has
used her influence for Christ. This fact, I need
hardly say, gives me deep joy. So here we find,
some eighty miles within the Arctic circle, this
little flock without a shepherd's care, but none
the less precious are they in the eyes of Jesus. I
had a long chat with our Arctic friends, and they
told me that far away in the distant north there are
other Eskimos who, they said, were ' horrible
creatures,' who thought nothing of killing each other.
One man also, when I told him that I was going home
in the ship, said to me, ' Pray divide yourself in
two, leaving half with us and half with those in the
white man's land.' Several of them also asked me
1 See p, 226.
344 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK
if I coiild not come back next year, but I told them
that I could not order my own movements. God,
I said^ moved His servants from place to place,
besides which I was under orders from the
' believers at home,' and that I would have to go
a long way in a ship, and (using an Eskimo idiom)
' end several moons * before I could hope to see
their faces again. Poor creatures ! Most gladly
will I see them again if the Lord so direct. I set to
work to teach them all I could. The captain kindly
got a place rigged up between decks. Here we
gathered together. I went over some of the founda-
tion facts, such as the being and attributes of God,
the power and goodness of God shown in His works,
manifest to our very senses. I naturally passed on as
soon as possible to man's fallen state, how he fell
from his high estate, and the wonderful means
provided for his recovery and safety through the
all-suf&cient work of Jesus, and the sanctif^dng
power of God the Holy Ghost. All this has to be
taught little by little. These people cannot grasp
or digest much at one time, and their ideas of many
objects familiar to ourselves are a complete blank.
These facts will show the difficulties of this work.
What we need along this coast, even as at Blacklead
Island, is a station. How such a station can be
established is another question. But it can he done
through the power of our God. If some £60,000
has been found to fit out the Discovery, and send
GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS 345
her on her Antarctic expedition, God, I feel sure,
can give the means to carry out His plans. Do
the souls of these Eskimos belong to Him ? Did
Christ die for them ? Ought He to have them for
His own ? Certainly He ought. Well, then, our
line of action is clear. We must use the means,
and go forward in His strength to win them for
At last, on Wednesday, November 5, 1902. —
*' Reached home. Three periods of separation, making
in all a total of almost seven years, have now been
spent for the Saviour. But do we regret this ?
In no wise. Both Mrs. Peck and I have found God's
compensations very real, and there is very joy
and satisfaction in knowing that life is used for a
A FEW words on the language of the Eskimos may
be of interest to some readers. The following
is a short description from Mr. Peck's pen : " The prin-
cipal peculiarity of the language consists in the length
of its words and that feature which grammarians style
" Agglutinative it certainly is, for all the parts of
speech may be joined to the verbal root and then con-
jugated in the various moods and tenses found in this
" We have to consider not only our ordinary moods
but also an interrogative one, which is most striking and
expressive in its use and formation.
" There are three numbers, singular, dual, and plural.
Adverbs, particles, etc., are added to the verbal root."
A few examples will illustrate these remarks : —
INDICATIVE AND INTERROGATIVE
Of the Moods
Pissiikpoonga . . . . I walk.
Pissukpotit Thou walkest,
Pissukpok He walks.
Pissukpogook .... We two walk.
Pissukpotik You two walk
Pissukpook They two walk.
Pissukpogoot .... We walk.
Pissiikpose You walk.
Pissukpoot They walk,
THE INTERROGATIVE MOOD
Pissukpoonga ? . . . . Do I walk ?
Pissukpet ? Dost thou walk ?
Pissukpd ?..... Does he walk ?
Pissukpenook ? . . . . Do we two walk ?
Pissukpetik ? .... Do you two walk ?
Pissukpdk ? , ... Do they two walk ?
Pissukpeta ? . . . . Do we walk ?
Pissukpete ? . ... Do you walk ?
Pissukpdt ? Do they walk ?
The transitive verb Tekkova, " He sees him," with
first, second, and third persons as subject, and with
singular, dual, and plural object : —
Tekkovara / see him.
Tekkovut Thou seest him.
Tekkova . . . . . He sees him.
With Dual Object
Tekkovdka I see those two.
Tekkovatik Thou seest those two.
Tekkovak He sees those two.
With Plural Object
Tekkovuka I see them.
Tekkovatit Thou seest them.
Tekkovdt ' He sees them.
With various adverbial and other particles affixed
to verbal root.
Tekkova He sees him.
With adverbial particle — Kaprea, " Soon."
Tekkokapreakpa , . . He sees him soon.
With time psLVticle—Neak, " Will:'
Tekkokapredneakpa . . He will see him soon.
With auxihary verbal particle — Nashooak, " Tries
Tekkohapreanashooangneak'pa He will try and see
With negative particle — Yange, " Not:'
Tehkokapreanashooangneat- We will not try and see him
" All learners of this strange language find the prin-
cipal difficulty not so much in saying these peculiar
words, as in understanding correctly what the natives
Much has been said in the narrative concerning the
syllabic character. The Syllabarium which Mr. Peck
has adapted for the Eskimos is not without interest.
(For table see next page).
Table of Syllabic Characters
adapted for the eskimo.
e o u
A t> <I
A > < <
n > c "-
P d b ^
r J u i*
r J L »-
cr -o CL °-
/ ? K ^
C- »2> CL, «=-
r- ^ ^
A > < <
Butier and Tanrttr, Tfu Stlwood Printing W«rki, Fr«me, and Londtn
1 I'Pn DlOMfl 0t,35