August 23, 1823
Their amazement at seeing one of the seamen shoot a seal was quite unbounded. They heard for the first time the report of a musket, and turning round in the direction in which the animal was killed, and floating on the water, one of them was desired to go in his canoe and fetch it. Before landing it he turned it round and round, till he observed where the ball had penetrated, and, putting his finger into the hole, set up a most extraordinary shout of astonishment, dancing and capering in the most absurd manner.
Journal of a Voyage to Spitzbergen and the East Coast of Greenland, in his Majesty's Ship Griper. By
Douglas CHARLES CLAVERING, Esq. F.R.S., Commander. Communicated by JAMES SMITH, Esq. of
Jordanhill, F. R. S. E. With a Chart of the Discoveries of Captains CLAVERING and SCORESBY,
August 21.- We now pushed for the Fiord or opening to the south, which I expected would lead us again to the coast. After pulling a distance of sixteen miles, we encamped a tour sixth station. The inlet was from a quarter of a mile to a mile and a half in breadth, but of a sufficient depth of water for a vessel drawing 14 feet; the sides were more level than the shores we had hitherto passed the mountains not rising so abruptly from the sea, and the face of the country presenting a less barren and heath-like appearance. We shot some swans, which we found excellent eating.
August 22.- Proceeded up the inlet, the head of which we soon reached : it terminated in low marshy land, about eighteen miles from its entrarice from the bay; named it Loch Fine. Up to this period, with the exception of the gale on the night of the 17th, we had had a constant calm, accompanied with the most beautiful and serene weather, so that the whole distance we had hitherto come, we had always occasion to make use of our oars. After refreshing ourselves at our seventh station, we started on our return, with a fine breeze from the southward, and made such progress, that we were enabled to reach our Esquimaux friends the same evening, although it had again fallen calm, and we were obliged to ply our oars for the last seven miles.
August 23. and 24.
These two days were spent with the natives, whom we found to consist of twelve in number, including women and children. We were well received by them, but our attempts at making ourselves understood were very unsuccessful. They are evidently the same race as the Esquimaux in the other parts of Greenland and the northern parts of America. Our intercourse was of too short duration to acquire any of their language ; but the descriptions given by Captains Parry and Lyons of the natives at Igluleik, in many particulars resembled those of our friends. I observed particularly the same superstitious ceremony of sprinkling water over a seal or walrus before they commence skinning it.
Their amazement at seeing one of the seamen shoot a seal was quite unbounded. They heard for the first time the report of a musket, and turning round in the direction in which the animal was killed, and floating on the water, one of them was desired to go in his canoe and fetch it. Before landing it he turned it round and round, till he observed where the ball had penetrated, and, putting his finger into the hole, set up a most extraordinary shout of astonishment, dancing and capering in the most absurd manner. He was afterwards desired to skin it, which he did expeditiously and well. Wishing to give them farther proofs of our skill in shooting, several muskets were fired at a mark, but without permitting them to see us load. A pistol was afterwards put into their hands,and one of them fired into the water; the recoil startled him so much, that he immediately slunk away into his tent.
The following morning we found they had all left us, leaving their tents and every thing behind, which I have no doubt was occasioned by their alarm at the firing.