JULY 16th. After two or three hours sleep in our cabin, we went on shore. The Esquimaux, who had here a temporary station, about fifty in number, received us with every mark of attention. Loud shouts of joy resounded from all quarters, and muskets were fired in every direction. They could scarcely wait with patience for our landing, and when we pitched our tent, were all eager to assist; thus we were soon at home among them. Seven tents were standing on the strand, and we found the people here differing much in their manners from the people at Saeglek. Their behaviour was modest and rather bashful, nor were we assailed by beggars /28/ and importunate intruders, as at the latter place, where beggary seemed quite the fashion, and proved very troublesome to us. But we had no instance of stealing. Thieves are considered by the Esquimaux in general with abhorrence, and with a thief no one is willing to trade. We have discovered, however, that that propensity is not altogether wanting in the northern Esquimaux, who, now and then, if they think that they can do it without detection, will make a little free with their neighbour's property.

The Esquimaux not only gave us a most hearty welcome, but attended our morning and evening prayers with great silence and apparent devotion. Indeed, to our great surprise, they behaved altogether with uncommon decorum and regularity during our stay.

17th. Being detained with drift-ice at the mouth of the bay, we pitched our tent on shore. We examined the bay more minutely. It extends to the West to a considerable depth, and is not protected by any islands, except a few rocks, at some distance in the sea. The surrounding mountains are very high, steep, and barren, and verdure is found only in the vallies. Here the ARNICA MONTANA, which the Missionaries have found of great use among the Esquimaux, grows in great abundance. Salmon-trout are caught in every creek and inlet.

Like the salmon, they remain in the rivers and fresh-water lakes during the winter, and return to the sea in spring. The Esquimaux about Okkak and Saeglek, catch them in winter under the ice by spearing. For this purpose, they make two holes in the ice, about eight inches in diameter, and six feet asunder, in a direction from north to south. The northern hole they screen from the sun, by a bank of snow about four feet in height, raised in a semicircle round its southern edge, and form another similar bank on the north-side of the southern hole, sloped in such a manner as to reflect the rays of the sun into it. The Esquimaux then lies /29/ down, with his face close to the northern aperture, beneath which the water is strongly illuminated by the sunbeams entering at the southern. In his left hand he holds a red string, with which he plays in the water, to allure the fish, and in his right a spear, ready to strike them as they approach. In this manner they soon take as many as they want.

The salmon-trout on this coast are from twelve to eighteen inches long, and in August and September so fat, that the Esquimaux collect from them a sufficient quantity of oil for their lamps. The immense abundance of these fish on all parts of the coast, would almost at any time save the Esquimaux from starving with hunger; but as seals furnish them both with food and clothing, it is of most consequence to them to attend to this branch of supply. At Hopedale and Nain, however, salmon-trout are caught only in the summer.

We were much pleased with the behaviour of our own Esquimaux, during their stay at Nachvak. In every respect they conducted themselves, in word and deed, as true Christian people. Their conversation with their heathen countrymen, was free and unreserved, and "to the use of edifying." Jonathan and Jonas in particular gave us great satisfaction.

The people having assembled in Jonathan's tent, those who had no room in it, standing without and listening with great order and stillness, Brother Kohlmeister addressed them, explaining the aim of our voyage; that we were going, out of love to their nation, to the northern Esquimaux, and to those of Ungava Bay, to make known to them the love of God our Saviour; and, by the gospel, to point out to them the way to obtain life everlasting. We knew that they were heathen, who, being ignorant of the way to God, were in bondage to the devil, and would be lost for ever, unless God had mercy upon them and sent them his word, to lead them to Jesus Christ their only Saviour, who shed His blood, and died on the cross to redeem their souls.

/30/ They received the discourses and exhortations of the Missionary with reverential attention, but those of their own countrymen, with still greater eagerness, and we hope not without benefit. Jonas once addressed them thus: "We were but lately as ignorant as you are now: we were long unable to understand the comfortable words of the gospel: we had neither ears to hear, nor hearts to receive them, till Jesus, by his power, opened our hearts and ears. Now we know what Jesus has done for us, and how great the happiness of those souls is, who come unto Him, love Him as their Saviour, and know, that they shall not be lost, when this life is past. Without this we live in constant fear of death. You will enjoy the same happiness, if you turn to and believe in Jesus. We are not surprised that you do not yet understand us. We were once like you, but now thank Jesus our Redeemer, with tears of joy, that He has revealed Himself unto us." Thus, with cheerful countenances and great energy, did these Christian Esquimaux praise and glorify the name of Christ our Saviour, and declare, what he had done for their souls, exhorting the heathen likewise to believe.

The above address seemed to make a deep impression on the minds of all present. One of their leaders, or captains, exclaimed with great eagerness, in presence of them all: "I am determined to be converted to Jesus." His name is ONALIK. He afterwards called upon Brother Kohlmeister, and inquired, whether it was the same, to which of the three settlements he removed, as it was his firm determination to become a true believer. Brother Kohlmeister answered: "That it was indifferent where he lived, if he were only converted and became a child of God, and an heir of life eternal." Another, named TULLUGAKSOAK, made the same declaration, and added: "That he would no longer live among the heathen."

Though the very fickle disposition of the heathen Esquimaux /31/ might cause some doubts to arise in our minds, as to their putting these good resolutions into practice, yet we hope, that the seed of the word of God, sown in this place, may not have altogether fallen upon barren ground.

In the evening, our people met in Jonathan's tent, and sang hymns. Almost all the inhabitants were present. They afterwards spent a long time in pleasant and edifying conversation. It may here be observed, that the Esquimaux delight in singing and music. As to national songs, they have nothing deserving of that name; and the various collectors of these precious morsels in our day, would find their labour lost in endeavouring to harmonize the incantations of their sorcerers and witches, which more resemble the howlings of wolves and growlings of bears, than any thing human. But though the hymn and psalm-tunes of the Brethren's Church are mostly of ancient construction, and, though rich in harmony, have no airy melodies to make them easily understood by unmusical ears, yet the Esquimaux soon learn to sing them correctly; and the voices of the women are remarkably sweet and well-tuned. Brother Kohlmeister having given one of the children a toy-flute, Paul took it, and immediately picked out the proper stops in playing several psalm-tunes upon it, as well as the imperfect state of the instrument would admit. Brother Kmoch having taken a violin with him, the same Esquimaux likewise took it up, and it was not long before he found out the manner of producing the different notes.

18th. At 8 A.M. Brother Kohlmeister having delivered a farewell-discourse to the Esquimaux, (during which they were much affected), we took leave of those goodnatured people, and set sail with a fair and strong West-wind, but met with much drift-ice at the entrance of the bay. It made less way than our boat, and the wind becoming more violent, we found ourselves in an unpleasant situation. After tacking all day, and a great part of the night, the ice preventing /32/ our proceeding, and the wind, our returning to our former station, we were obliged to make for the Eastern point of the bay, where we at length succeeded in gaining a small cove, and cast anchor.

Our situation was singular; the rocks rose in a semicircle around us, towering perpendicularly to an amazing height, like an immense wall.

After a few hours stay, two Nachvak Esquimaux joined us, and prevailed on Jonathan to return to the tents, but we had scarcely reached the centre of the bay, before the violence of the wind drove us out to sea, and we were compelled to push for the northern promontory, from which all the ice had now retreated. Under the mountains we found shelter from the wind, which had by this time risen to a storm. It was late, and as it appeared dangerous to remain here, we rowed towards the point, but there beheld, with terror, the raging of the sea and dashing of the waves against the rocks, the spray flying like clouds into the air, and returned into smooth water, where, however, we were long in finding a place to anchor in. The night was spent quietly under shelter of the high rocks. They form the base of mountains higher than the KIGLAPEYD, rise perpendicularly, in some places impending, with fragments, apparently loose, hanging over their edge, and forming all kinds of grotesque figures.

19th. At sun-rise we still saw and heard the storm which threatened us with destruction, if we ventured to double the cape.

At nine the wind abated, and we set sail, got safe round the point, and glided, with a gentle wind, into a broad, shallow bay, called Sangmiyok, full both of hidden and visible rocks, in which we cast anchor about five P.M. While Brother Kmoch superintended the concerns of the kitchen, Brother Kohlmeister and Jonathan went on shore, and to the highest mountain on the promontory. From the top of /33/ this mountain they could plainly discern the four principal headlands between Cape Mugford and Cape Chudleigh. The former situated in latitude 58 degrees North, the latter in 61 degrees. Between these are four promontories, in a line from S.E. to N.W. The first is UIVAK, at the entrance into Saeglek Bay, outside of which a small island lies, in form of a pyramid or sugar-loaf. Next follow the two forming Nachvak Bay, another UIVAK to the south of NENNOKTOK, upon which we stood. The fourth is KAKKEVIAK, not far from Killinek, or Cape Chudleigh, in form of a tent, called in the charts BLACKHEAD. NENNOKTOK is called FALSE BLACKHEAD.

Back to Journal of a Voyage...