(From: PERIODICAL ACCOUNTS, Vol. 21, 75-83,120-33)
The Divine protection vouchsafed to the ship, which, for eighty-four years, has been the medium of annual communication between the settlements on the coast of Labrador and the Church at home, may justly be regarded as one of the most remarkable features in the history of the Brethren's Missions. So marvellous has it been, that it has arrested the attention of candid and observant men of the world, as well as of children of God in various ranks of society, and of various Christian denominations, -- especially of such as were experienced in maritime affairs. While the former have paid a willing, and, in some instances, a practical homage to a truth, the nature and value of which they were able but imperfectly to appreciate, the latter have been led to ponder with admiring gratitude the gracious dealings of Jehovah with His servants and messengers, and to acknowledge the striking proof hereby afforded, that "whatsoever the Lord pleaseth, that doth He in heaven and in earth, in the sea, and all deep places." (Ps. cxxxv. 6).
/75/ A wish having been often expressed that a somewhat detailed account should be published relative to the vessel employed in the service of the Labrador Mission, and the deliverances from imminent danger which she has from time to time experienced, it has been thought that the present would be a suitable occasion for the attempt to gratify it. In preparing the following statements, the Editor has only to regret, that the imperfection of the materials to which he has had access, including the documents in the archives of the "Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel," and the narrow limits within which it is obviously necessary that he should confine himself, have not allowed him to render it as complete as he could have desired. It will be readily understood, that the facts and circumstances related are but a selection from those which might be adduced, and which, to a considerable extent, have already been recorded in the pages of the Periodical Accounts. To this journal the reader is referred for particulars of occurrences since the year 1790.
It was at the general Synod of the Brethren's Church, held at Marienborn in the year 1769, that the resolution was definitely taken to attempt the establishment of a Mission on the coast of Labrador. The carrying out of this resolution was entrusted principally to the "Brethren's Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel," whose members had already shewed the lively interest which they felt in the conversion of the Esquimaux, by the assistance they had rendered to Erhardt in 1752, and to Haven and Drachart in 1764 and 1765, in their endeavours to plant the standard of the Cross among those rude and barbarous heathen. Though these several attempts had been attended with no immediate success, and the first had proved fatal to the leader of the enterprise, the experience acquired by means of them was, in many respects, of the highest value. It served to place in the clearest light, the manifold difficulties and inconvenience, inseparable from any effort to communicate with Labrador by way of Newfoundland, and the consequent necessity of providing a vessel for the maintenance of a direct and regular intercourses with that coast, in the event of a Mission being established upon it. A visit of a preliminary and exploratory character having been determined on in the early part of the year 1770, it became, therefore, one of the first objects of the Society, to procure such a vessel, and to engage the services of a trustworthy and experienced captain for the conduct of the expedition. After a good deal of inquiry in London and in other ports, a small sloop of eighty tons burden, called the JERSEY PACKET, was purchased and fitted out /76/ by the Society, or rather, by "the ship's company," and the command of her given to Captain Francis Mugford. She is described, in a MS. letter of Br. Benj. La Trobe to the Directing Board of the Unity, as not only "a tight and sound ship, but also a prime sailer, readily obedient to the helm, and out-sailing all the vessels in the river on the passage down to Gravesend." From the same letter, it appears, that the Brethren, who were connected with this expedition in one or other capacity, were ten in number, of whom Jens Haven, Lawrence Drachart, and Stephen Jensen, were considered the leaders. The vessel, after calling at Lymington, Hants, for a supply of sails, and at Exmouth, in Devonshire, for a quantity of fishing tackle, the gift of Mr. S. Parminter, himself an honourary member of the Society, proceeded /77/ on her voyage to Labrador, where, under the protecting care of God, she arrived in safety on the 24th of July. The result of this expedition was the establishment of the most friendly relations with the Esquimaux population, and the selection, with their full concurrence, of a suitable locality for a Missionary settlement. After accomplishing these important objects, the whole party returned to England in the autumn of the same year.
In the course of the following winter, the final arrangements were made for the establishment of the long proposed Mission. The Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel, having deliberately and cheerfully renewed its engagement to care for the temporal support of the Mission, a vessel of somewhat larger dimensions, called THE AMITY, was purchased by the ship's company, and, having been furnished by the Society with stores of every kind, requisite for the commencement of the intended station, was dispatched to the coast of Labrador, under the orders of Captain Mugford. Among the company on board, consisting of fourteen persons, were the Brn. Haven, Brasen, and Schneider, with their wives, and the veteran Greenland Missionary, Lawrence Drachart. Having been solemnly commended to the grace /78/ and protecting care of God, in a meeting of the Congregation, held on the 5th of May, in the Brethren's Chapel in Fetter-lane, they sailed from the Thames on the 8th of the same month. After a tedious voyage of thirteen weeks, by way of St. John's, Newfoundland, they reached the place of their destination, Nunengoak or Unity's Bay, on the 9th of August. During the latter portion of the voyage, they encountered many perils, being often obliged by storms to run into bays, between numberless islands and sunken rocks, and being surrounded at times by vast mountains of ice and icefields, threatening momentary destruction to the vessel. Here they were received with great joy by the Esquimaux, and in a short time proceeded to the settlement of Nain, the oldest Missionary station of the four now existing in Labrador, and ordinarily the residence of the superintendent of the Mission. The AMITY returned to London in safety on the 26th of September.
The details of the expedition to the northward, undertaken in August, 1774, by the Brn. Brasen, Lehman, Haven, and Lister, for the purpose of fixing on a suitable place for a second settlement, do not fall within the scope of this article. It is well known to the readers of our Missionary history, that the small sloop in which they performed it was totally wrecked on their return near the rocky promontory of Kiglapeit, and that the Brn. Brasen and Lehman lost their lives in the attempt to reach the shore. The establishment of Okkak, in the course of the following year (1775), of Hopedale, in the year 1782, near the spot where Erhardt first landed in 1752, and near which he lost his life, and at Hebron, in the Bay of Kangertluksoak, in 1831, however interesting in themselves, are events connected with the history of the Mission rather than with that of the Ship, which is the proper object of this paper. We therefore return to the AMITY, which we left at anchor in the Thames, on her safe arrival from her first visit to Labrador.
On her second voyage in 1772, she proceeded first to the banks of Newfoundland for the purpose of fishing, the hope being entertained, that, by the profit derived from the fishery, a portion of the very large expense attendant on the new undertaking might be defrayed. Owing to this arrangement, the AMITY did not reach Nain till the end of October, the little Missionary colony at that place having meanwhile nearly given up all hope of her arrival, and consequently of obtaining any additional supply of provisions. They had but two pieces of butcher's meat left, and very little food of any kind. They had therefore sought and gathered all the black and red berries growing upon the neighbouring hills, dried them, and laid them carefully by. Thus circumstanced, their distress was turned into the greater joy, when the ship at length appeared in Unity's harbour on the 28th of October. "Had you seen the joy that reigned among us," writes one of the Missionaries, "when we heard that the ship was really arrived, you would never forget it, for we had given her up, and had resigned ourselves to the extremest poverty. I cannot say that a dejected spirit prevailed among us; but we were resolved to submit to whatever might happen, /79/ hoping and believing, that He who had sent us hither, who had numbered our very hairs, and without whose permission not one of them could fall to the ground, would mercifully preserve us." In another letter, it is remarked, "The ship's staying away so long had two effects -- first, it convinced us that nothing is too hard for the Lord, and that He can command the seas to remain open even to this late period of the year, so as to allow the approach of the vessel sent for our relief. In the second place it made us all the more thankful for the provision sent us." It was late in December before the ship returned to her moorings in the Thames.
Of the voyages performed by the Amity in the years 1773 to 1776, inclusive, nothing of interest appears to be on record. In 1777, a sloop of seventy tons, called THE GOOD INTENT, took her place in the service of the Society, and retained it till the year 1780. It was on the return of this vessel from her second voyage, in the autumn of 1778, that she had the misfortune to be captured by a French privateer. In this instance, however, as in so many others, the Lord was pleased mercifully to interpose for the prevention alike of serious loss to the Society, and of material inconvenience to the Mission in Labrador. The vessel was re- captured by a British cruiser before she could reach a French port; and, though the captain and crew were carried into Dunkirk, together with the letters and journals of the Missionaries, the latter were immediately given up to the Society, (for the most part unopened) on the application of its President Br. James Hutton to the French Minister of Marine; and the former were exchanged, in the course of the ensuing spring, by means of the "cartel" which was at the time in course of negotiation. In one important particular, the occurrence just referred to proved a positive benefit to the Society. It was the occasion of a safe-conduct being granted to the vessel by the King of France, and by the American Minister at the Court of Versailles, the celebrated Dr. Benjamin Franklin, empowering her to pass unmolested by the cruisers of both nations, on her voyage to and from the coast of Labrador.
/80/ Between the years 1780 and 1786 inclusive, the AMITY was again employed in the service of the Labrador Mission; the command of the vessel being, however, resigned in 1782 by Captain Mugford in favour of Br. James Fraser, who had acted as mate during several voyages. In April, 1787, the first HARMONY was launched at Bursledon, near Southampton, having been built there under the friendly superintendence of Mr. Thomas Mitchell, one of the deputy surveyors of the Navy, and an honourary member of the Society. She was a brig of 133 tons, and proved an excellent ship throughout the whole of her service of fifteen years.
The first six voyages performed by the HARMONY appear to have been attended with no circumstances deserving particular notice; but the seventh, in the year 1793, is remarkable, as having been the longest recorded in the annals of the Society. This is in part attributable to her detention of above two months at Okkak, while an attempt was being made by the people on board to catch whales in the neighbourhood of that settlement, but in part also, to the perils of the seas, which she encountered on her passage thence to the Orkneys. The following is the report of the voyage home, contained in the eleventh number of the Periodical Accounts: --
"The HARMONY left Okkak on the 22nd of November, with the Missionaries David Kriegelstein and William Turner, and their wives, on board. Their passage to the Orkneys was remarkably boisterous, and for several days and nights it blew so hard, and the sea ran so high, that the captain and seamen were under great apprehensions for the safety of the ship. However, through the /81/ kind providence of God, they arrived safe, on the 25th of December, at Stromness, from whence we received the first account of the ship's return on the 13th of January. The Society had suffered some uneasiness, on account of the unusual delay of her return, which led to various conjectures. As we naturally supposed, that, by going with the Hudson's Bay convoy in May, she must arrive rather too early on the coast to find an easy entrance into any of our harbours, on account of the great quantity of drift-ice at that time of the year, some feared that a misfortune might have befallen her among the ice; or, supposing her safely arrived on the coast, that she was blocked up by the ice entering the bay of Okkak in autumn, which had been nearly the case last year; or that she had met with some accident in returning home at so late a season, in the late severe storms. Though we did not lose that confidence in God, with which we are justly inspired, when we consider that He has graciously averted all harm from the ship and company, now above twenty years, yet we must own that the prospect sometimes appeared rather gloomy; and we frequently joined in prayer, that He would bring the ship and our Brethren safe to us. He answered our prayers, and our fears were put to shame.
From Yarmouth Roads, we received, on the 18th, the painful account, that Br. Kriegelstein had departed this life on the passage thither, by occasion of an inflammatory disorder in his lungs. He had been on shore at Stromness, where the company went to church. Both at church and in returning on board, after walking a good deal for exercise, he appears to have caught a violent cold, which at length brought on an inflammation, and hastened his dissolution. He expected it himself, and expressed his resignation to the will of the Lord, to whom he had devoted himself in life and death. The letter, which brought the account of his departure, mentioned, at the same time, that the rest of the passengers, and almost the whole crew, were ailing; upon which, two of the members of the Society went down the river to meet them, and to administer some comfort and assistance, especially to the widow of our late Brother. They met the ship in Long Reach, and arrived with the passengers in London, on the 20th of January. The corpse of our late Br. Kriegelstein was also safely brought on shore, and interred, on the 22nd, in our burial ground at Chelsea.
In 1797, the HARMONY was mercifully preserved from capture on her passage home. Having sailed from Hopedale on the 22nd of September, she reached Stromness, in the Orkneys, on the 10th of October. Here she found the Apollo frigate, Captain Manley, destined to convoy the Hudson's Bay ships home. Two of the latter arrived on the 11th at Stromness, but the third being still missing, and not arriving up to the 25th, the Apollo proceeded in quest of her; and, after some days, fell in with a French frigate, cruising for the Hudson's Bay ships, which she attacked and compelled to strike. This frigate had been discovered by the HARMONY, in a moonlight night, some days previous to her arrival at Stromness, a few miles to the south; and it is to be /82/ considered as a merciful interposition of God's providence, that she was not perceived by the enemy and captured. During the Apollo's absence, the third ship arrived; and, on the 23rd of November, the whole convoy left Stromness, and reached the Thames in safety. Captain Manley, of the Apollo, honoured the Missionaries with a visit, and showed them every kind attention.
At Stromness, they were very cordially received by a gentleman belonging to the Edinburgh Missionary Society, who took every opportunity of conversing with them and introducing them to his friends. He also presented them with a copy of the numbers of the Missionary Magazine, published by the Rev. Mr. Ewing, by the perusal of which they were much pleased and edified during the voyage home.
The most striking deliverance of the vessel from hostile attacks was, however, that which marked the year 1803, and which cannot be better described than in the language of the Periodical Accounts. The following notice of the voyage was appended, by the editor, to the letters received from the Missionaries in Labrador, in the autumn of that year: --
"The RESOLUTION left London on the 7th of June, and proceeded (as usual in times of war) with the Hudson's Bay convoy to the Orkneys, from whence she made the best of her way to Labrador, but was three weeks detained by the ice on the coast, before she could reach Okkak. After transacting the usual business at the three settlements, Captain Fraser hastened back to the Orkneys, to meet the convoy taking the Hudson's Bay ships home, which, during the whole of the last war, he never failed to effect. But, this year, it pleased God to put our faith and patience to some trial; for the convoy arriving in the river without him, and no tidings whatever reaching us till the 23rd of December, we began to entertain great apprehensions for the safety of the ship; more especially as there had been, about the usual time of her arrival at Stromness, some very violent storms in the northern seas, which proved the total destruction of many vessels. At length a letter from Captain Fraser, dated at Stromness, December 5th, relieved us from our fears, and created within us the most lively sense of gratitude to God for the merciful preservation granted to him on his passage. He left Hopedale on the 10th of October, and in sixteen days was within about three days' sail from the Orkneys, when strong easterly gales drove him back, and kept him three weeks longer at sea. But the very storms we dreaded, proved, by God's great mercy, the means of his deliverance from the enemy. On the 18th of November he was chased by a French frigate, brought to, and forced to keep her company. But the sea ran so high, that it was impossible for the frigate to get out a boat to board the RESOLUTION, and continued so during the night and the following day. The second night proving extremely dark and boisterous, the captain, setting as much sail as /83/ the ship would carry, ventured to attempt his escape, and in the morning saw no more of the frigate. But two days after, he had the mortification to meet her again, and to be chassed and brought to a second time. Again the Lord interposed in his and our behalf. The wind was so violent, that the frigate could not put out a boat, and during the following night, the captain, crowding all sail, escaped again, and saw no more of the enemy. On December 2nd he reached Stromness. During the tremendous storms in December he lay there in safety, and arrived in the river on the 15th of January, 1804."
/120/ In the year 1808 the RESOLUTION was exchanged for the HECTOR; and this vessel, before two months had elapsed, gave place to the JEMIMA, a much better ship, which performed the voyage to Labrador in the summer of the following year. It may be safely asserted, that no vessel employed by the Society, during a period of fourscore years, has encountered such dangers, been so roughly handled, or experienced protection and deliverance so marvellous as this little brig of 180 tons, which, having been purchased, and not built, like the three "HARMONYS," expressly for Arctic service, was less fitted to encounter its peculiar perils.
On her third voyage in 1811, she sailed from the Thames on the 7th of June, but was unable to leave Yarmouth Roads till nearly a month after that date, owing to some circumstance connected with the convoy. Her passage across the Atlantic was unusually boisterous, and it was the 8th of September before she arrived at Hopedale, six weeks later than in the year preceding. In this very delay, the providential care of God was however plainly manifested, as there was not only an unusual quantity, but also a long continuance of drift-ice upon the coast. Even had she reached it earlier, she could not have attempted, without the greatest risk, to force a passage through it. On her subsequent voyage from Nain to Okkak, the weather was severe in the extreme, and the mercy of God in her preservation was thankfully acknowledged by all on board. The cold was so intense, though it was only September, that the running rigging could not work through the blocks, and the sails once set, could not have been handed, had it been needful. Indeed, the sails themselves were rendered so stiff by the frost as to be quite unmanageable. But it pleased the Lord to grant wind and weather so favourable, that nothing further was required than to steer the vessel. On reaching Okkak on the 29th of September, the sailors were obliged to go aloft, and strike off the ice, before they could furl the sails. Another circumstance attending this tedious and perilous voyage is deserving of notice, viz. that her late arrival at Okkak afforded time for the return of the Brn. Kohlmeister and Kmoch to that settlement, from their adventurous voyage to Ungava-bay, and for the consequent transmission to London of their interesting journals.
The year 1816, as is well known, was marked by a calamity, similar to that which has recently befallen the Mission to Labrador, though happily affecting only one out of the three stations then existing, viz. Hopedale, the most southern. What cause of thankfulness to /121/ is not afforded by the fact, that the failures referred to, are the only ones on record during a period of eighty-three years!
The report of the voyage of 1816, contained in the Periodical Accounts, is prefaced with the remark, that the elements seemed to have undergone some revolution in Labrador as in Europe, during the summer of that year. On reaching the drift-ice on the 16th of July, Capt. Fraser found it to extend to a distance of full 200 miles from the coast, and after attempting in vain to find a passage through it, first to Hopedale, then to Nain, and lastly to Okkak, he found himself by degrees completely inclosed by the ice. For six days and nights the vessel was in the most imminent danger of being crushed to pieces; nor was it without great and continuous exertions, that she was at length brought to the outer edge. This conflict with the frozen element lasted forty-nine days, at the close of which the JEMIMA reached Okkak in safety, to the astonishment of the Esquimaux as well as of the Missionaries. The very next day, August 30th, the whole coast, as far as the eye could discover, was entirely choked up by ice, which presented such obstacles to navigation, that Capt. Fraser was twice driven back by it, on his passage from Okkak to Nain. On the 3rd of October, he attempted to proceed to Hopedale; but, though the weather was fine, he had himself but little expectation of reaching that settlement. This feeling of his, which he mentioned to the Missionaries at Nain, did not however prevent Br. and Sr. Kmoch and the Brn. Christensen and Korner, from going on board the ship, in pursuance of the appointment to Hopedale which they had received. On the very evening of their departure from Nain, it began to blow exceedingly hard, with an immense fall of snow, and very thick weather. Being unable to see a ship's length, and being within half a mile of a dangerous reef, the captain was obliged to carry some sail to clear it, which he did but just accomplish. The gale subsequently increasing, and the wind being right on shore, he could not venture to carry sail any longer, and was obliged to lay the ship to, although the sea broke continually over it. After contending for two successive days with the furious elements, he was at length compelled, on the 5th of October, to abandon the attempt to reach Hopedale, and to bear away for England. On the homeward passage a gale resembling a hurricane was encountered on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of October, which in the night, between the two latter days, was so violent, that the captain expected the ship would have foundered. At one time she was struck by a sea that twisted her in such a manner, that the very seams on her larboard side opened, and the water gushed into the cabin and the mate's berth, as from a pump. The Lord was, however, pleased to protect both ship and company from serious injury, and to bring them in safety to the Thames, on the 28th of October.
After spending the winter in England, Br. and Sr. Kmoch returned to Labrador the following year, accompanied by the Brn. Korner and Beck. They were, however, destined to encounter perils on their passage out, exceeding in number and in magnitude even those which /122/ had rendered the voyage of 1816 so memorable. As a lively and correct account of the dangers, which are more or less attendant on Arctic navigation, even in latitudes much lower than those which have recently witnessed the achievements and endurances of our gallant countrymen, and as a record of the wonderful help and protection vouchsafed by the Lord to His feeble servants, the following extracts from the Journal of Br. Kmoch cannot fail to be acceptable to our readers. Graphic in themselves, and exhibiting considerable power of observation and description, they afford a pleasing insight into the character of the writer, who, as the patriarch of the Labrador Mission, is still enjoying, at the age of more than fourscore years, the earthly rest which his faithful services have so well earned.
After describing the voyage of the JEMIMA to Stromness, whence she sailed on the 14th of June, and the favourable passage across the Atlantic, up to the close of the month, Br. Kmoch proceeds: --
"Between the 4th and 5th of July, we heard and saw many icebirds. This bird is about the size of a starling, black, with white and yellow spots, and is met with about 200 English miles from the Labrador coast. When the sailors hear it, they know that they are not far from the ice. It flies about a ship chiefly in the night, and is known by its singular voice, which resembles a loud laugh.
"7th. The morning was cold and rainy. In all directions, drift-ice was to be seen. In the afternoon it cleared up a little, and we entered an opening in the ice, looking like a bay. The continual rustling and roaring of the ice reminded us of the noise made by the carriages in the streets of London, when one is standing in the golden gallery of St. Paul's cathedral. The mountains and large flakes of ice take all manner of singular forms, some resembling castles, others churches, waggons, and even creatures of various descriptions. As we or they changed positions, the same objects acquired a quite different appearance; and what had before appeared like a church, looked like a huge floating monster. Sitting on deck, and contemplating these wonderful works of God, I almost lost myself in endeavouring to solve the question, -- `for what purpose these exhibitions are made, when so few can behold them, as they so soon vanish, by returning to their former fluid and undefined state.' But surely everything is done with design, though short-sighted man cannot comprehend it. Having in vain exerted ourselves to penetrate through the ice, we returned at night into the open sea.
"14th. Land was discovered ahead. It was the coast of Labrador, sixty or eighty miles south of Hopedale. We were close to the ice, and as a small opening presented itself, the captain ventured to push in, hoping, if he could penetrate, to find open water between the ice and the coast. For some time we got nearer to the land, but were obliged at night to fasten the ship with two grapnels to a large field. This was elevated between five or six feet above the water's edge, and between fifty and sixty feet in thickness below it. It might be 300 feet in diameter, flat at the top, and as smooth as a meadow covered /123/ with snow. The wind has but little power over such huge masses, and they move very slowly with the current. There are small streams and pools of fresh water found in all those large pieces. Our situation now defended us against the smaller flakes, which rushed by and were turned off by the large field, without reaching the ship. We were all well pleased with our place of refuge, and lay here three whole days, with the brightest weather, and as safe as in the most commodious haven; but I cannot say that I felt easy, though I hid my anxiety from the party. I feared that a gale of wind might overtake us in this situation, and carry fields larger than that in which we lay, when the most dreadful consequences might ensue; and the sequel proved, that I was not much mistaken.
"On the 17th, the wind came round to the south, and we conceived fresh hopes of the way being rendered open for us.
"18th. The weather was clear, and the wind in our favour; we therefore took up our grapnel, got clear of our floating haven, and again endeavoured to penetrate through some small openings. Both we and the ship's company were peculiarly impressed with gratitude for the protection and rest we had enjoyed, and the warmth of a summer's sun felt very comfortable among these masses of ice. The clearness of the atmosphere today caused them to appear singularly picturesque. It seemed as if we were surrounded by immense white walls and towers. In the afternoon, we had penetrated to the open water, between the ice and the land, but we durst not venture nearer, as the sea is here full of sunken rocks, and the captain knew of no harbour on this part of the coast. Having found another large piece of ice convenient for the purpose, we fastened the ship to it. In the evening, a thick fog overspread us from the north- east, and we were again quite surrounded by ice, which, however, was soon after dispersed by a strong north-west wind.
"In the night, between the 19th and 20th, we were driven back by a strong current to nearly the same situation we had left on the 17th, only somewhat nearer to the coast. On the 20th, the morning was fine, and we vainly endeavoured to get clear, but towards evening the sky lowered, and it grew very dark. The air also felt so oppressive, that we all went to bed, and every one of us was troubled with uneasy dreams. At midnight we heard a great noise on deck. We hastened thither to know the cause, and found the ship driving fast towards a huge ice mountain, on which we expected every moment to suffer shipwreck. The sailors exerted themselves to the utmost, but it was by God's merciful providence alone that we were saved. The night was excessively cold with rain, and the poor people suffered much. We were now driven to and fro at the mercy of the ice, till one in the morning, when we succeeded in fastening the ship again to a large field. But all this was only the prelude to greater terrors. Deliverance from danger is so gratifying, that it raises one's spirits above the common level. We made a hearty breakfast, and retired again into our cabins. At one, the cook, in his usual boisterous way, aroused us by announcing dinner, and putting a large piece of pork and a huge pudding upon the table, of which /124/ we partook with a good appetite, but in silence, every one seemingly buried in thought, or only half awake. Shortly after, the wind changed to north-east and north, increasing gradually, till it turned into a furious storm. Top-masts were lowered, and everything done to ease the ship. We now saw an immense ice-mountain at a distance, towards which we were driving, without the power of turning aside. Between six and seven, we were again roused by a great outcry on deck. We ran up, and saw our ship, with the field to which we were fast, with great swiftness approaching towards the mountain; nor did there appear the smallest hope of escaping being crushed to atoms between it and the field. However, by veering out as much cable as we could, the ship got to such a distance, that the mountain passed through between us and the field. We all cried fervently to the Lord for speedy help in this most perilous situation; for if we had but touched the mountain, we must have been instantly destroyed. One of our cables was broken, and we lost a grapnel. The ship also sustained some damage. But we were now left to the mercy of the storm and current, both of which were violent; and exposed likewise to the large fields of ice, which floated all around us, being from ten to twenty feet in thickness. The following night was dreadfully dark, the heavens covered with the blackest clouds driven by a furious wind, the roaring and the howling of the ice as it moved along, the fields shoving and dashing against each other, were truly terrible. A fender was made of a large beam, suspended by ropes to the ship's sides, to secure her in some measure from the ice; but the ropes were soon cut by its sharp edges, and we lost the fender. Repeated attempts were now made to make the ship again fast to some large field; and the second mate, a clever young man, full of spirit and willingness, swung himself several times off, and upon such fields as approached us, endeavouring to fix a grapnel to them, but in vain, and we even lost another grapnel on this occasion. The storm indeed dispersed the ice, and made openings in several places; but our situation was thereby rendered only still more alarming, for when the ship got into open water, her motion became more rapid by the power of the wind, and consequently the blows she received from the ice more violent. Whenever therefore we perceived a field of ice through the gloom, towards which we were hurried, nothing appeared more probable, than that the violence of the shock would determine our fate, and be attended with immediate destruction to the vessel. Such shocks were repeated every five or ten minutes, and sometimes oftener, and the longer she remained exposed to the wind, the more violently she ran against the sharp edges and spits of the ice, not having any power to avoid them. After every stroke, we tried the pumps, to find whether we had sprung a leak; but the Lord kept His hand over us, and preserved us in a manner almost miraculous. In this awful situation, we offered up fervent prayers to Him, who alone is able to save, and besought Him, that, if it were His divine will, that we should end our lives among the ice, He would, for the sake of his precious merits, soon take us home to Himself, nor /125/ let us die a miserable death from cold and hunger, floating about in this boisterous ocean.
"It is impossible to describe all the horrors of this eventful night, in which we expected every approaching ice-field to be fraught with death. We were full ten hours in this dreadful situation, till about six in the morning, when we were driven into open water, not far from the coast. We could hardly believe, that we had got clear of the ice; all seemed as a dream. We now ventured to carry some sail, with a view to bear up against the wind. The ship had become leaky, and we were obliged to keep the pump a-going, with only about ten minutes rest at a time. Both the sailors and we were thereby so much exhausted, that whenever any one sat down, he immediately fell asleep.
"During the afternoon, the wind abated, and towards evening it fell calm. A thick mist ensued, which, however, soon dispersed, when we found ourselves near a high rock, towards which the current was fast carrying us. We were now in great danger of suffering shipwreck among the rocks, but by God's mercy, the good management of our captain succeeded in steering clear of them; and after sunset, the heavens were free from clouds. A magnificent northern light illumined the horizon, and as we were again among floating pieces of ice, its brightness enabled us to avoid them. I retired to rest, but, after midnight, was roused by the cracking noise made by the ice against the sides of the vessel. In an instant, I was on deck, and found that we were forcing our way through a quantity of floating ice, out of which we soon got again into open water. The wind also turned in our favour, and carried us swiftly forward towards the Hopedale shore. Every one on board was again in full expectation of soon reaching the end of our voyage, and ready to forget all former troubles. But alas, arriving at the same spot, from which we had been driven yesterday, we found our way anew blocked up with a vast quantity of ice. The wind also drove us irresistibly towards it. We were now in a great dilemma. If we went between the islands, where the sea is full of sunken rocks, we were in danger of striking upon one of them, and being instantly lost; again, if we ventured into the ice, it was doubtful, whether the ship would bear many more such shocks as she had received. At length, the former measure was determined on, as, in case of any mishap, there might be some possibility of escaping to shore."
After encountering a succession of further perils and disappointments for three additional weeks, the HARMONY was brought safely into Hopedale harbour on the 9th of August.
To the foregoing narrative the foregoing remarks are appended by the Editor of the Per. Accts.: -- "The captain and mate report, that though, for these three years past, they have met with an unusual quantity of ice on the coast of Labrador, yet, in no year, since the beginning of the Mission, has it appeared so dreadfully on the increase. The colour likewise of this year's ice was different from that usually seen, and the size of the ice-mountains and thickness of the fields immense, with sand-stones imbedded in them. As a great part of the coast of Greenland, which for centuries has been choked up with ice, apparently immoveable, has, by some revolution, been cleared, this may perhaps account for the great quantity alluded to."
In the year 1818, another vessel, a brig of 176 tons, was built for the service of the Mission in Labrador, to which the name of "THE HARMONY" was again given. She proved an excellent ship, and continued in the employment of the Society for a period of thirteen years. The first voyage in 1819, proved difficult and hazardous, and she did not reach Okkak, the station first visited, till the 20th of August. The Missionaries wrote: "The coast was everywhere choked up with ice, and the wind, blowing continually from the sea, and forcing it directly into every bay and inlet, it seemed impossible for the ship to approach the coast. Yet the Lord of heaven and earth commanded, and provided a passage for her through every obstacle, and we had the inexpressible joy to see her arrive without any damage."
The year 1821, memorable for the celebration of the fifty years' jubilee of Nain, the first Missionary settlement formed in Labrador, was rendered additionally so by the visit of the CLINKER sloop-of-war, commanded by Capt. W. Martin. This officer, having been commissioned by Sir Charles Hamilton, Governor of Newfoundland, to make a survey of the coast, and afford the Missionaries of the Brethren residing upon it any assistance which their circumstances might call for, arrived at Okkak in the middle of August, and thence proceeded to Nain, which he reached on the 21st of the same month, and where he gave a feast, consisting of boiled peas and biscuit, to the Esquimaux congregation, as an after-celebration of the jubilee. The entertainment was opened by the singing of the hymn, "Now, let us praise the Lord," and concluded with "Praise God for ever;" and was conducted throughout with great decorum -- several short but appropriate addresses being delivered before its close. The CLINKER was meanwhile decorated with fifty flags of different nations. From Nain to Hopedale she had the benefit of being accompanied and piloted by the HARMONY, the navigation being in the highest degree intricate and dangerous. This unlooked-for visit afforded great pleasure to the Missionaries and to their Esquimaux flocks. The demeanour of Capt. Martin, in his intercourse with both, was such as became a Christian officer; and nothing occurred to disturb the peaceful and orderly course of the several congregations. The report which he made to the Governor on his return, was highly favourable to the character of the Mission, and of all engaged in it, and may therefore be considered to have done a real service to the cause.
/127/ The voyages of the HARMONY in 1826 and 1829 were rendered very difficult and dangerous by the quantity of ice which beset the coast of Labrador; in the former year, to a distance of nearly 400 miles from the land. In 1829, Capt. Fraser ventured, in passing from Hopedale to Nain, to try a new channel between the islands and the coast; and, though the attempt was a somewhat hazardous one, it succeeded completely, through the blessing of God, on the skill and care of the Esquimaux pilots. The passage outside the islands would probably have occupied several weeks, owing to the accumulation of ice on their eastern shores. It had been intended, that the ship should proceed as far as the Bay of Kangertluksoak (where Hebron is now situated), but the lateness of her arrival at Okkak frustrated this design.
In 1830, the HARMONY was accompanied by the OLIVER, a vessel chartered by the Society for the purpose of assisting in the transport of stores to the Bay of Kangertluksoak, where it had been determined to establish a fourth settlement. The voyage proved a successful one, both ships entering the bay, and delivering their cargoes without accident, though the access was by no means easy, and the navigation previously unknown. Her last voyage in 1831, with the VENUS for her consort, was attended with somewhat greater hazard, but, through the mercy of God, with no serious injury to either vessel.
It being considered necessary, in prospect of the establishment of a fourth station, to provide a ship of larger dimensions for the use of the Mission, the present HARMONY, the third of the name, was built at Yarmouth during the autumn and winter of 1831 and 1832, at an expense of about 3500 pounds. Br. Taylor superintended the building, as in the case of her predecessor. She is a brig, or rather a snow, of about 230 tons burden, and has proved herself well adapted to the performance of the service to which she is destined. Her first voyage, performed in the year 1832, a year remarkable as being the centenary of the Brethren's Missions, was marked by conflicts with the ice, more continuous and more alarming than had been experienced since the year 1817. The following extract of a letter from Capt. Taylor to the Treasurer of the Society, describing the peculiar hazards encountered by the HARMONY on her outward passage, will prove an interesting supplement to the particulars of Arctic adventure, already given: --
"On the 6th of July (about five weeks after leaving the Thames) we first fell in with the ice, but, the weather being very hazy, we stood off and on, till the 11th, when it cleared up a little, and the land appeared in sight. We now steered for the shore; but, the light failing us, we made the ship fast to a field of ice. We supposed that we were at this time not more than twenty-five or thirty miles distant from Hopedale. The next morning the fog returned, and was so thick, that we could not see any object two ships' length from us. Meanwhile the ice closed about us in such dense masses, that /128/ there was not water enough to dip a bucket into on either side of the ship. We remained in this state till the 13th, about noon; when the fog partially clearing away again, we beheld, to our no small alarm, an immense iceberg aground right in our way, our course being at this time in a direction to the S.S.E. It was not till about 3 P.M. that we could at all succeed in our attempts to move the vessel; and even then our utmost exertions, continued without interruption during the space of six hours, only brought her forward about three times her own length. Our object at this time was to get round the point of the ice-field to which we were moored, and thus place it between us and the iceberg, which was towering above us to the height of nearly twice the mainmast. Our position was indeed a fearful one; and I believe most on board were ready to give up all hope of saving either the ship or their own lives. The Lord, however, was better to us than our fears; He heard and answered the supplications we offered up to Him, and sent us deliverance in a way we least expected. May we never lose the remembrance of His great mercy! As soon as the field of ice to which we were attached came in contact with the berg, it veered round, and dragged us after it without the least injury, the distance between the ship and the latter being scarcely greater than a foot. Had we not succeeded in getting round the point in the way we did, we should probably have been crushed to pieces in an instant. We continued exposed to the same kind of perils till the 22nd instant, and, during the greater part of this time, the frost was so intense, that our ropes were almost immoveable. Even the small ropes were coated with ice to the thickness of four or five inches; so that we were obliged every morning to send up some of our people to the mast-head, to strike off the ice with sticks, that the ropes might pass through the blocks. On the 23rd we succeeded, by dint of great exertion, and under press of sail, in getting clear of the ice and reaching the open water, and on the 24th, arrived at Hopedale in safety."
It may here be observed, that, up to this date, embracing a period of more than sixty years, the ship had always proceeded to Labrador by way of Stromness, though, in returning home, she had generally taken her passage through the Channel. The reasons for the northward course having been so long preferred, were various. In the first place, as the latitude of the Orkneys very nearly corresponds with that of northern Labrador, the portion of the Atlantic to be traversed was somewhat smaller by this than by the southern passage, especially in the alternate years, when Okkak had to be first visited. Again, the danger from hostile cruisers was less imminent by taking this course, a convoy being ordinarily provided for the Hudson's Bay and Davis' Straits ships. This was a consideration of some importance in time of war, and led to its being generally preferred, also on the passage home, up to the year 1815; and lastly, it has so happened, that nearly all the successive commanders of the vessel have been natives of the Orkney Islands, and the greater number of the crew /129/ likewise. It was natural, therefore, that they should prefer a course which brought them, at least twice a year, into personal contact with such of their relatives and friends, as were still residing in those islands, not to mention that the annual visit of the ship tended to excite and keep alive a very warm interest in the Labrador Mission, in the minds of not a few of the Christian people of Stromness and the neighbouring islands, and to call forth their active and sympathizing benevolence.
On the establishment of a fourth Missionary settlement on the coast of Labrador, an alteration took place in the Society's practice in this particular. It being found necessary to send the ship to Hopedale first, as the most southern, and consequently, under ordinary circumstances, the most accessible of the four stations, the Channel passage was henceforward preferred in going out as well as in returning. The voyage of the HARMONY in 1832, was the first in which this course was taken, and it has been followed ever since.
According to the testimony of the captain, the weather, that year, was more severe, and the hardships experienced by himself and his crew greater, than he had ever before known, in the twenty- eight voyages he had made in the service of the Society.
The year following, the ship was exposed to imminent danger, from a violent storm which she encountered while lying off Hebron. For some hours, the captain, who with two boys happened to be the only persons on board, the remaining hands being variously occupied on shore, expected almost every moment, that the ship would part from her cable and be driven upon the rocks; but, by God's mercy, she rode out the gale, without sustaining any serious injury.
In 1836, the HARMONY fell in with the ice, as early as the 24th of June, after a speedy and prosperous voyage to within 200 miles of the coast of Labrador. "According to the statement of the captain, it was not merely the immense quantity of ice, that rendered the navigation difficult and dangerous, nor yet the number of icebergs that crowded the narrow channels, and of which he, on one occasion, counted no fewer than seventy; but more especially the character of the frozen masses, consisting chiefly of what seamen call bottom-ice, and the violent swells by which they were frequently agitated. The undulations hereby produced, exceeded, on one occasion, 100 feet in perpendicular height; a spectacle which, however sublime, could not be contemplated without the most lively sensations of alarm; for /130/ though the HARMONY was at the time beyond the reach of the most violent agitation, the striking of the ice against the ship's sides was sufficiently severe, to cause the utmost apprehensions for her safety. It was, in fact, only by the constant use of fenders of tow, or cable junk, let down beneath the surface of the water, and interposed between the vessel and the advancing masses, that the sailors were enabled, with the Divine help, to prevent her receiving serious, and perhaps, irreparable injury from their sharp and rugged edges. For eight days subsequent to this anxious period, the vessel remained completely entrenched in the ice, not a drop of water being visible on any side of her, as far as the eye could reach. At length, however, the Lord sent deliverance from these accumulated perils, and opened for her a safe, though toilsome passage, through the ice to the coast of Labrador. On entering Hopedale harbour, on the 4th of August, the captain learned, that it had become clear of ice only two days before; a circumstance, which led him to consider, as peculiarly providential, the many obstacles which had hitherto opposed his progress, having every reason to believe, that, had the ship been obliged to contend with similar ones, in the narrow and rocky channels between Hopedale and the islands, the destruction of the vessel would, humanly speaking, have been inevitable."
It was on returning from this voyage that Captain Taylor had the privilege is rescuing from a watery grave the nine survivors of the crew of the SUPERIOR, Captain Dunn, bound from Miramichi to Cardiff, which had been thrown on her beam ends, during a furious gale, on the 28th of September, and had become a total wreck. Eight of these poor mariners, including the captain, were brought in safety to England.
In 1837, the vessel encountered dangers of another kind. In the attempt, justified apparently by the state of the wind and weather, to enter the bay of Hopedale by a new channel, she struck three times on a sunken rock, which, however, she eventually cleared without sustaining any material damage. A similar accident befell her in 1840, on leaving the same harbour, though, in this instance, the channel was one with which the captain and mate thought themselves perfectly familiar. As she was going at the rate of six miles an hour, and the shocks were anything but slight, it was matter of thankful surprise to all on board, that no leak appeared to have been sprung, nor any serious injury done to the hull of the vessel.
The year 1841, the centenary of the Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel, was marked by a state of the weather on the coast of Labrador, not very dissimilar to that which has rendered the past year so memorable. Being prevented by the storms which prevailed, from visiting Hopedale first, the captain steered for Okkak, which he was enabled to reach on the 18th of August. Thence he proceeded successively to Hebron and Nain, where he delivered a portion of the /131/ stores destined for Hopedale, feeling very doubtful as to the practicability of reaching that settlement, owing to the lateness of the season and the continued prevalence of adverse winds. After a trying and difficult passage, the HARMONY reached Hopedale on the 20th of September, and, while lying in the harbour of that settlement, rode out a furious tempest, which at one time threatened to tear her from her moorings and drive her upon the rocks. Her return to Horselydown was on the 23rd of October.
The year 1845 was again a year of icebergs and ice-fields, by which the progress of the ship was greatly impeded, both on her approach to the coast and on her passage from one station to the other. That Captain Sutherland was compelled by the quantity of ice which he encountered on leaving Hopedale for Nain, and, by the prevailing dense fogs, to put back to the former settlement, he had afterwards reason to consider a very providential circumstance, as it would have been scarcely possible for the ship to have weathered the storm which shortly after ensued, in a channel encumbered with ice and abounding with sunken rocks. Before the HARMONY took her departure from Hebron, on the 8th of September, the weather was so severe, that the snow lay 18 inches deep on her decks, and the mountains encircling the bay, raised their white summits high above the surrounding vapours. The sea outside the bay, was studded with icebergs, some of them of the largest dimensions.
In 1849, the HARMONY was favoured to be the means of restoring to their families and friends the eight survivors of the crew of the barque GRAHAM, Captain Froud, who, after enduring extreme hardships and sufferings, had found their way to Okkak, from the entrance of Hudson's Straits, where the vessel had been wrecked, by coming into contact with a field of ice. The circumstances attending the rescue of the poor sufferers were such as to do great credit to the humane and generous feelings of the Christian Esquimaux, who were the instruments of effecting it, and to afford a striking testimony to the value of the instruction they had received, and the influence of the Gospel upon their hearts and lives.
Of occurrences of a more recent nature, it is scarcely necessary to speak particularly. It will probably be in the remembrance of the readers of this journal, that, in August, 1851, the HARMONY was, for the third time, preserved from the serious injury which might have been the result of her violent collision with a sunken rock, as she was entering the Bay of Hopedale; also, that the Divine protection was not less manifestly vouchsafed on her approach to Hebron in September of the following year. The occurrences of the last voyage, the failure of her attempt to reach any of the four stations excepting Hopedale, the disappointment and distress of the captain and crew, and the probable privations and endurances of the Missionaries at the settlements unvisited, will doubtless be fresh in the recollection of all who read these lines. While, therefore, they will join us in recording /132/ thankfully the marvellous acts of the Lord, and the goodness and protecting care displayed towards His servants, and the work in which they are engaged, during the long period of eighty-four years, they will not fail to make the ship, the officer who has charge of her, with all concerned in her navigation, and the Mission among the Esquimaux race, to whose service she is dedicated, the subject of their fervent intercession at the throne of grace. And this intercession will be specially offered up, in the prospect of the renewed attempt to communicate with our distant fellow-servants, and to replenish their exhausted stores, which is about to be made in the course of the ensuing month. On the success of this enterprise, the very existence of the Mission may be said, humanly speaking, to depend. Its importance, it is therefore scarcely possible to over- estimate, nor yet the value of the supplications for a blessing upon it, which, it is believed, many of the Lord's people are even now sending up to the throne of Divine grace.
With reference to one other subject of great interest and importance, the editor would avail himself of the language of the "Retrospect," which continues, he is thankful to say, to be as applicable to the present time as it was to the year of centenary celebration: -- "The Society cannot forbear a grateful acknowledgement of the goodness of God, in providing a succession of faithful, experienced, and able seamen to take the superior and subordinate charge of the vessels, in whose safety their Missionary Brethren, and many dear Christian friends, as well as themselves, are so deeply interested. In Captains Mugford, James Fraser, Thomas Fraser (no relation of his predecessor), William Taylor, and James Sutherland, and in the present mate John White, who has had the temporary command for three voyages, owing to the illness of Captain Sutherland, a degree of confidence has been placed, which could only have been inspired by the belief, that they considered themselves the servants of the cause rather than of the Society, -- that they acknowledged their entire and continual dependence on that Lord whom winds and waves obey, and were disposed at all times, and especially in seasons of difficulty and peril, to seek his counsel, help, and blessing."
While, then, in resuming his important charge, after an interval of three years, the worthy captain of the HARMONY will, it is hoped, be more than ever prepared to admit, in practice as well as theory, that it is "under God" that "he is master for this present voyage," and that it is "by the grace of God that he is bound to the coast of Labrador," the friends of the Mission on that coast, and of the Society to whom he is more immediately responsible, will not fail to support him by their fervent prayers, and to unite in the utterance of the heartfelt wish -- "And so God send the good ship to her desired port in safety." /133/ The following stanzas, by the skilful hand of the greatest master of English sacred song whom this generation has known, and whose peaceful translation to the heavenly rest is among the solemn occurrences of the last few days, will, it is hoped, be considered to form no inappropriate sequel to the foregoing narrative. They form part of a beautiful hymn, composed in 1841, for the centenary of the Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel, of which the writer was an esteemed and faithful member: --
Today, one world-neglected race,
We fervently commend
To Thee, and to thy word of grace;
Lord, visit and befriend
A people scatter'd, peel'd, and rude,
By land and ocean-solitude
Cut off from every kinder shore,
In DREARY Labrador.
Thither, while to and fro she steers,
Still guide our annual bark,
By night and day, through hopes and fears,
While, lonely as the Ark,
Along her single track, she braves
Gulphs, whirlpools, ice-fields, winds, and waves,
To waft glad tidings to the shore
Of LONGING Labrador.
How welcome to the watcher's eye,
From morn till even fix'd,
The first faint speck that shews her nigh,
Where surge and sky and mix'd!
Till, looming large, and larger yet,
With bounding prow, and sails full set,
She speeds to anchor on the shore
Of JOYFUL Labrador.
Then hearts with hearts, and souls with souls,
In thrilling transport meet,
Though broad and dark the Atlantic rolls
Between their parted feet;
For letters thus, with boundless range,
Thoughts, feelings, prayers can interchange,
And once a year, join Britain's shore
To KINDRED Labrador.
Then, at the Vessel's glad return,
The absent meet again;
At home, our hearts within us burn,
To trace the cunning pen,
Whose strokes, like rays from star to star,
Bring happy messages from far,
And once a year, to Britain's shore
Join CHRISTIAN Labrador.
(E-text furnished by Dr. Hans Rollmann; typed by Ms. Heather Russell)