Chappell was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy who published two books on his Newfoundland, Labrador, and Hudson’s Bay voyages. He was one of the first English explorers to spend time with the indigenous peoples, both Indian and Esquimaux. He was rather viciously attacked by William Gifford’s Quarterly Review; his own scathing response is included at the end of some copies of both of his books.
p. 14-15: Few on board our ship had ever seen an ice-berg:we gazed upon it, therefore, with mingled feelings of astonishment and awe. That which made it the more singular, was its perfect resemblance to the principal Pyramid of Djiza, near Cairo in Egypt, as we had seen that surprising monument of antiquity represented in some old books of travels. Shortly after this, however, we began to lose the pleasure that was at first experienced in comparing these sublime works of Nature with corresponding specimens of Art; such as, pyramids, pillars, obelisks, temples, and tumuli: for the certainty of their being extremely dangerous neighbours, during dark and stormy nights, entirely destroyed the gratification we might otherwise have felt, in viewing them.
p. 23, July 4th, 1814: Perhaps it is deserving notice, that since our departure from Orkney, we never had a night so dark as not to be able to read and write.
p. 43ff: meets with a German missionary from Labrador who succeeded in establishing an intimacy with the Eskimo sufficient to instruct them in God’s ways and against their polygamous practices as an offence against the Great Spirit.
p. 44: The Missionary shewed me a Testament, Creed, and Lord’s Prayer, in the Esquimaux tongue: but it will be easily imagined that many deficiencies must have arisen in the first instance; consequently, whenever the Esquimaux were at a loss for words to express any new idea, or the name of any article that they had not before seen, the Missionary supplied them with a corresponding Germanexpression; as the German language, of all others, is most easily pronounced by an Esquimaux.
p. 45, when an English frigate visited the missionary in Labrador: Nothing…could equal the astonishment of the officers, on landing; when, instead of a wild race of savages, prepared to oppose them, they found a small village, inhabited by an inoffensive people, peaceably employed in their daily duties; and the little children going quietly to school, with books under their arms. [Note refers to George Henry Laskiel’s “History of the Mission of the United Brethren,” 1794.]
p. 82-90, gives long extract from the work of Abbe Raynal on the History of the East and West Indies, suggesting Chappell may have had the book on the voyage; he certainly goes on to some severe criticism of the work and Raynal’s views of the Esquimaux.
p. 174-76, on the secrecy of the HBC and its ships about the fur trade: In the first place, it is proper to state, that this illiberal concealment has its origin in the Company themselves, who (as I am told by their own officers) have issued the strictest and most peremptory commands to the people in their employment, “that they take especial care to conceal all papers, and every other document, which may tend to throw light upon the Company’s fur trade.” —It is probable that the Company had no other motive in issuing these directions, than to keep themselves and their gains shrowded in a profound silence, as it appears that, above all other things, they wish their trading concerns not to become a topic of general conversation in their mother-country. Actuated by such principles, the officers of the Hudson’s-Bay ships conceive it to be their duty to conceal likewise all those remarks which their experience has taught them to make upon the navigation of the Northern Seas: consequently, nothing can be more incorrect than the Chart supplied by the Admiralty for the guidance of a man-of-war in Hudson’s Straits: it absolutely bears no resemblance to the channel of which it is intended to be an exact delineation. During the time we continued in Hudson’s Straits, theRosamondwas entirely piloted by a chart belonging to the chief mate of the Prince of Wales, and one of his own making; yet; he was so jealous of his performance, that he was highly offended at our Master’s having endeavoured to take a copy of it; and from thenceforward kept his charts carefully locked up.
p. 244: There is a public Reading-room in St.John’s, to which any subscriber may introduce the non-resident officers of the army or navy, who from thenceforth are considered honorary members of the Society. The whole of the English Daily Paper, the St. John’s Gazette, and most of the British Monthly Publications, are here to be met with.
[Some copies have two final unnumbered pages containing an ascerbic response by Chappell to a scathing review in the Quarterly Review. Worthwhile reading. This voyage ended in November of that same year and thus lacks any wintering over paragraphs. Most of the book is about the indigenous population.]