The History Of Greenland: Containing a Description of The Country And Its Inhabitants: And Particularly a Relation of the Mission Carried on for above These Thirty Years by the Unitas Fratrum, at New Herrnhuth and Lichtenfels, in that Country.

First Edition of the English Translation. An authoritative description and history of Greenland and chronicle of the establishment and progress of the Moravian missionary settlements at New Herrnhuth and Lichtenfels. Cranz’s work contains extensive discussion of natural history, whaling, sealing and fishing, the manners and customs of the native Greenlanders, their moral character, diseases, health and medicine, language, &c., and an account of early Norse exploration. Dr. Johnson declared that very few books had ever affected him so deeply as Cranz’s. The continuation, covering the period 1763 to 1768, includes the narrative of Matthaeus Stach’s travels in the south of Greenland, and further observations on the country and its inhabitants.

This is partly a polemical Moravian (United Brethren: Unitas Fratrum) treatise about the mission to the Greenlanders, preceded by a description of the land and inhabitants, based on an overwintering in 1761.

Volume I:

p. v-vi, describes the books he took with him. The titles are translated into English so it is difficult to know what editions he had with him: all that I could get together was Anderson’s Relation of Iceland and Greenland [Copenhagen, 1748, or a similar edition]; the late BishopEgede’s “natural History of Greenland;a Relation of Journal of his Labour, and the Continuation of these Relations, published in the Danish language by his two sons, the Rev. Paul Egede, and Captain Nicolas Egede.” Possible editions include: and Hans Paulson Egede’s “natural History of Greenland: a Relation of Journal of his Labour, and the Continuation of these Relations, published in the Danish language by his two sons, the Rev. Paul Egede, and Captain Nicolas Egede. [These may have been:

Anderson, Johann. Efterretninger om Jsland, Gronland og Strat Davis… (Copenhagen: Rothe, 1748).

Egede, Poul Hansen. (Copenhagen: Johann Christoph Groth, 1741).] With this scanty store I went on board, May the 17th.

p. xi: Among the Greenlanders we are not to look for a numerous and rapid propagation of the Christian religion, attended with many surprising and extraordinary incidents. This nation itself is not at all populous: and whoever reads the third book with attention, will find their stupidity so great, and their way of living so savage, that he will readily own it to be a wonder of God, that, however, so many are made obedient to the Gospel, remain faithful, and grow and increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

p. 290, Egede takes in two children hoping to: instruct them in the Christian religion, and also in reading and counting: As to their learning it went briskly at first, because they had a fish-hook or some such thing given them for every letter they learnt. But they were soon glutted with this business, and said, they knew not what end it answered to sit all day long looking upon a piece of paper, and crying a, b, c, &c., that he and the factor were worthless people, because they did nothing but look in a book, or scrawl upon paper with a feather.

p. 326, The congregation at Heernhuth [The Lord’sWatch]had a custom since the year 1729, before the commencement of the year, to compile a little annual book containing a text of holy Scripture for every day in the same, and each illustrated or applied by a verse out of the hymn-book. This text was called the word of the day; it was meditated upon in secret by every one, and spoken upon by the teacher in the publick meeting.

p. 331-32. where Cranz quotes liberally from the “Relation of New-Heernhuth, 1733,’ a settlement made up of Silesians and Lusatians: Mr. Egede was kind enough to offer them his help, as much as possible, in learning the Greenland language; he gave them his written remarks to copy, and ordered his children to explain it. But let any one only imagine, what incredible difficulties must beset these unlearned men; first, they had to learn the Danish language, before they could understand their instructors; next, these, who had never seen a Grammar, must form a clear idea of the meaning of the grammatical terms of art, as nouns, cases, verbs, indicative aand conjunctive mood, persons, &c. [et cetera]

p. 346, Bible-hours in 1735: “beside the hour for prayer and singing, appointed an hour every day for reading the holy Scripture and meditating thereon, in which they began at this time with the epistle to the Romans.

p. 390, on a school for catechism: Although this school gave them a good deal of trouble in the beginning, because the Greenland children are not easily to be kept to one thing, nora re they accustomed to any kind of education, and the parents themselves could not see the use of reading and writing; yet, after much trouble and taking, they brought it so far that some began to read.

Illustrations opposite pages listed: Map (1); Man and woman (136); House (139); Hunting weapons (146); Umiak (148); Kiack (150); Vol. II: New Heernkuth (397); Lichtenfels (399).

Volume II:

p. 20, continuing quotation from the “Relation of New-Heernhuth, 1733: The Kangek people always think, that all must be read out of a book, and when we come, they ask directly where our books are. Sarah told them, the Holy Ghost was the best school-master; if he rules in the heart, and makes the word of God to become truth in one’s soul, then a person can also speak without book.

p. 45: A reading-school was kept with the children, and a singing-school with the grown Greenland-women. The men who had no time for it, learnt the hymns and the tunes from the rest in their houses. The brethren had now translated several old and new hymns and single verses; but if a verse was not to be turned into right Greenlandish, they rather omitted it than let the natives sing it without understanding it, or possibly with a mistaken idea.

p. 261, speaks of native Greenlanders’ use of a manual of “moral instruction”: An essay to a little book of moral principles for the congregation, divided according to our usual method, into short lessons for every day, and calculated to be used as found proper,1756.