Ancient Mariner: The Arctic Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor who Inspired Coleridge’s Masterpiece.

A rather jaunty (i.e. unscholarly) account of Hearne’s adventures, with very little on Coleridge other than their meeting.

p. 85 on winter recreations: He [Hearne] regarded drinking as a waste of time. Nor did he care much for gambling, another popular pastime—although he was interested to discover that Bay men had taught the Homeguard Indians to play cards, dice, checkers, and dominoes. These games had become so popular that in a rudimentary Cree-English dictionary compiled by James Isham, Hearne found Algonquian words for king, queen, knave, and ace and for the four suits, clubs, hearts, diamonds, and spaces.

Some of the Bay men did a lot of reading. The library [at Prince of Wales Fort] included Pilgrim’s Progress and the Epistles of Pliny the Younger, along with miscellaneous works of philosophy, language. And medicine, collections of poetry, and comic plays. Hearne had brought favourite books by Defoe and Voltaire.

p. 173, December 1771, camped at Great Slave Lake: What was Hearne reading? He does not say. But subsequent third-person testimony, as well as the scientific and humanist attitudes he reveals throughout his career, suggest a likely candidate: Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, originally published seven years before.

p. 183, attacks on Hearne: … began with David Thompson, that prudish and judgmental cartographer who, while traveling, would insist on reading an English translation of the Bible to French-speaking voyageurs after a long day of paddling….

p. 184: Turning to other matters, Thompson noted that a Sunday sermon would customarily be read to the HBC men in the governor’s quarters, the only comfortable room at Churchill Fort: ‘One Sunday after the service, Mr. Jefferson, the reader, and myself staid a few minutes on orders; he [Hearne] then took Voltaire’s Dictionary and said to us, here is my belief and I have no other.’

p. 219-20, a beautiful passage from Hearne on the beaver as the best pet.

p. 289, a comparison between Cook’sThird Voyage[professionally edited] and Hearne’sVoyage to the Northern Ocean [the product of a singular idiosyncratic mind].

p. 293, on Coleridge and William Wales, math professor at Christ’s Hospital (cf. Leigh Hunt).