Ice and Esquimaux

A series of articles on his 1864 voyage to Labrador on the Benjamin S. Wright with artist William Bradford. Passengers included a Colonel: A Greenland voyager, and better read than any man I have met in the literature of Northern travel.

p. 41: Bradford…quickly got out his photographic sickle to read this unexpected harvest.

p. 43: Here was a mother…. who had instructed her children. One of them…owned and read a volume of Plato, and had sent to LAnse du Loup, twenty-four miles, to borrow a copy of Wordsworth. This was her delight.

p. 46, re Noble’s book on icebergs: Finding a copy of his book on board, I read it with pleasure…–and refer to him any reader who may have appetite for more after concluding this chapter. [The book is Louis L. Noble’s After Icebergs with a Painter (1861).]

p. 205, “Boy’s Play in Labrador” has to do with hunting birds both for sport and specimens. Refers to a book called “Out-Door Papers” which I infer was aboard.

Chapter IV. Authchthones, on Esquimaux whom he meets at Hopedale on the Labrador coast, along with the local missionaries (Moravian).

p. 442-43: I confess to some spleen that day against the missionaries. When I expressed it, Captain French, the pilot, an old, prudent, pious man, “broke out.”

“Them are traders,” said he. “I don’t call ‘em missionaries; I call ‘em traders. They live in luxury; the natives work for ‘em, and get for pay just what they choose to give ‘em. They fleece the Esquimaux; they take off of ‘em all but the skin. They are just traders.”

Wasson calls the natives pre-Adamite, honest, a part of physical nature rather than human history, and change easily though unchangeable.

p. 564-72 “Terra Incognita” is a lyrical burst in praise of Labrador, but the last section “Life on Board” describes the heavy sense of ennui that the voyage takes on, what we would call “channel fever.”