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the .protection of the Danish prelate; for when the map of the world is spread before the Scandinavian, he may point with an honest and national pride to the dreary shores of Greenland. Uninfluenced by the slightest prospect of temporal advantage, the Danish missionaries abandon all the comforts of social life, nay, the blessed light of the sun itself; but supported by firm yet temperate zeal, their labours become a calling of gladness, and their task of righteousness fills them, amidst their hardships, with happiness and content. Nor is- the character of the Northman less honoured, though in a distant age and from motives widely differing, when we contemplate the hardihood and fearless spirit which induced the first settlers of these countries, Erick the Red and his companions, to traverse the unknown and dangerous ocean, until at length they discovered another Thule beyond their own.
It appears from an account of Greenland, published not long since at Copenhagen, by the 'Banque Commissair Collin,' who compiled it from the official documents of the Greenland Company, that in the year 1805, the two districts of West Greenland which are under the inspection of the Company, contained six thousand and forty-six native inhabitants. Population is on the increase, but slowly; and Collin supposes that the ignorance of the Greenland midwives is by no means to be left out of view, when we endeavour to ascertain the causes by which it is checked. Almost all the Greenlanders have been baptized, and very few heathens are found, except in Upernavick, the northernmost establishment, and Julianshaab, the southernmost one;—so that their national divinity, Tongarsitk, will shortly be left without a votary. According to the missionaries, the ideas of the natives respecting Tongarsuk were exceedingly vague. Some considered him as a spirit; others as a man. Some held that he was immortal; others, (as the good Saabye says,) ' that a certain noise could kill him.' These contradictory accounts must be ascribed to the misapprehensions of the missionaries. False religions may be absurd and foolish, but they are consistent in inconsistency; their articles of belief are always definite; such as they are, the idolater rests on them, nor does he enfeeble his fallacious hope with doubt or uncertainty.
Mr. Collin speaks rather lightly of the benefits derived from the missions; he doubts whether the converted Greenlanders have improved much in morals, or whether they believe less in witchcraft than their pagan brethren. Such remarks are not made in fairness. The bank-commissioner might have recollected, that a thousand years of Christianity have not been able to obliterate the vestiges of the superstitions of pagan times in his own country: and as to morals, it will be well if the servants of the Greenland Company exhibit even the small degree of improvement which he allows to the natives. In Saabye's time, at least, their agents were far from being patterns of morality in their dealings with the unsuspicious natives. The measure in which they bought the whale blubber from the Greenlanders contained one-third more than it ought, and, not contented with this mode of cheating, the knaves used to knock out the bottom of the tub, and place it over a hole dug in the ground, which of course was first filled with the greasy treasure before the contents rose in the cask. Saabye adds, that if the missionaries, as the protectors of their flocks, dared to expostulate with the servants of the Company, they exposed themselves to the illwill of these important characters; and he himself was vilely calumniated by them on his return, as a reward for his benevolent interference.
The Greenland trade is of some consequence to the Danes. The imports of the colonies amount, on an average, to 85,000 Danish rix-dollars; the staple exports are seal-skins and blubber. Seals are caught by the Greenlanders solely on their own account. The whale, as a royal fish, we suppose, is divided between them and the Company. Till the year 1804, they shared it equally; at present only one-third of the fish belongs to the Company, and the remaining two-thirds reward the captor. Formerly tlie whale-bone afforded considerable gain to the Greenlanders: but now, scarcely any market can be found for it, as the beauties of Europe have divested themselves of the defensive armour which cramped the bodies and destroyed the health of their grandmothers. The sea affords the Greenlander food and merchandize—the land but little of either. Instead of employing themselves usefully on the coast, during the summer, they prefer chasing the rein deer; but his flesh cannot be preserved for winter stores, and his skin can only be employed in making 'fruentimmerbeenkla?der,' which tremendous heptasyllable, as we find, by the help of Wolff's 'Ord-bog,' signifies ' breeches for the ladies.' Where there is woman, there is vanity; and 'fruentimmerbeenkla;der' are as much in request at Kirgartursuk and Omanarsuk as Cashmir shawls at Paris.
The Greenlanders are paid in goods of different kinds, which are delivered to them by the Company accordmg to a fixed tariff. But, in the year 1801, a circulating medium was partially introduced :—' blest paper-credit' has flown even to the huts of Godhaon, where the ' lnspecteur' was first authorized to pay the inhabitants 'in bills of exchange of six and seven Danish sellings each.' This measure has been a real benefit to the Greeulanders; it has taught them prudence and economy; and they are far less improvident and hasty in their bargains than before: the inspecteurs therefore wish to extend this currency to the other settlements.
The Greenlanders are a clear-headed intelligent people; they can all read and write their own language: the chief benefit of civilized society has reached them, while its vices and its wretchedness remain beyond the sea. Saabye kept a school every day, except Sundays, from nine till two. The children flocked to it with delight, and he used to see the parents carrying the little ones to and from the school-house through the deep snow. The scholars could all read the Greenland language currently before they were twelve years of age; Saabye employed them in copying 'Pontoppidan's Explanation of the Catechism, ' and they amused themselves much by writing letters to each other as well as to hirm At the age of thirteen they left the school and were confirmed.
Like many of the .American and polar languages, that of the Greenlanders is distinguished by the complexity of its structure; it has three numbers, and the dual has three persons. The paradigm of their verb, in combination with the various personal pronouns, branches into an infinite variety of forms; and each primitive verb, by means of an affix, gives rise to a host of derivatives, extending through every variety of action; e. g. Narpok, when added to the verb which signifies to wash, causes it to signify, 'he does nothing but wash.' Tarpok, ' he comes for the purpose of washing.' Jekpok, ' he is almost about to wash.' L/arpok, 'he continues washing.' Karpok, ' he is just beginning to wash.' This is continued through every mode and tense and person. It seems an instinct in man to pride himself upon his language, just as singing-birds take a pleasure in their song. The merest savage mocks at the stranger who mispronounces his household words. The Greenlanders are critical observers of the purity of their language. If the preacher sins against its niceties in his sermon, they are sure to correct him when the service is over. The difficulty of learning the language is a great obstacle to the missions, as several years elapse before the missionaries can speak it with fluency enough to be able to communicate freely with their parishioners.
Before the year 1792 there were ten missionaries in Greenland, but then the number was reduced to five. During the last war all communication with Denmark was cut off", and at length one missionary alone remained there. The stipend of these good men is very moderate, which must be attributed to the limited resources, rather than to the parsimony of the Danish government; it ia paid to them partly in money and partly in provisions, but their fare is coarse and scanty, and they suffer great privations, almost approaching to distress. Saabye has given an unaffected yet forcible delineation of the feelings of the missionary and his family during the long and lonely Greenland year. They have one bright epoch; for it is a blithe and happy time to them, when the ice is
vOL. XvIII. NO. XXXvI. H H loosened loosened from the rocky coast, and they can expect the arrival of the vessel, which alone reaches them in their solitude. Often deceived by the floating ice-berg forming itself, in mockery, into the shape of the friendly visitant, at length they see the white sails and the masts, and now she is riding safe at anchor in the bay. By this vessel their wants are supplied. The active and pious housewife, of whom our missionary always speaks with tranquil affection, busies herself in arranging the stores of the ensuing twelvemonth. There are letters, too, from friends and from relations, and books, and newspapers; and banished as they are, they live again in Denmark, in their 'father land.'—These hours of innocent happiness soon glide away; the ship sails; and the missionary and the partner of his toils remain behind, solitary and forsaken. To this season of bitterness succeeds the gloom of the polar night. A few days before the 26th of November, Saabye used to climb the high rocks, from whence, at noon, he could just see the sun dimly shining, with a soft and pallid light, and then the sun sunk, and he bade farewell to the eye of creation with heaviness and grief. A dubious twilight continued till the beginning of December, then darkness ruled. The stream, near which Saabye's house was situated, roared beneath the ice; the sea dashed and foamed over the rocks, bursting in foam against his windows; and the dogs filled the air with long continued moans. His journeys at Christmas time were performed by moon-light, or whilst the merry north light danced and streamed in the sky. About the 12th of January the rays of the rising sun glittered on the rocks. He rose, bright in radiance,
Breaking the lubber bands of sleep that bound him With all his fires and travelling glories round him, and the world started from its torpor. They also felt a new life within them, they looked forward to spring and summer, and the ship from Denmark. 'We even seemed to breathe more freely.' 'Here,' adds Saabye, (i. e. at Udbye,)' we know not how to prize the daily presence of the sun, because we never know his absence. When others complain of the short December days, I think on Greenland, and thank God for the light which he gives us here in December.' At Saabye's settlement the polar day begins on the 24th of May, but it was not till the beginning of July that the soil of his little garden was sufficiently thawed to enable him to sow it. Great labour had been bestowed in making the around. The thin ayer of earth which covered the rock adjoining his house was not deep enough for the spade, therefore our pastor and his wife brought good mould every now and then, which they carried in a tub, till they found it was sufficient to allow of vegetation. The details of their horticulture are curious. Cabbages flourished remarkably well, turnips grew to the size of a tea-cup and lost their bitter taste, and acquired an agreeable sweetness; but Saabye's carrots were never larger than the stalk of a tobacco pipe. Celery and broad "beans would not grow at all; peas ran iirto bloom, but it did not set; the barley was killed by the frost. Vegetation was uncommonly rapid. So much for exotics. Disco island abounds with angelica, whose roots afford a pleasant and salubrious food; this plant is not found at all on the shores of the bay, though it is common in the more southern latitudes of Greenland. The Greenlanders believe that a certain Angekok or conjuror came to settle at Disco, and not finding a supply of his favourite comfit, he towed the island from the south into its present situation. At the summer solstice, the sun at midnight seemed to be of the same altitude as he is at noon in Denmark in the month of December. And it is a glorious spectacle to follow him in his unwearied course, circling again and again around the heavens. The night sun sheds a mild warmth, and yet he shines with a broad unnatural glare: the sky is clear and the air calm. On the contrary when he is at his greatest altitude, fogs envelop the land, the air is sultry, swarming with tormentors of the insect tribes. On the 20th of July the sun begins to dip below the horizon; at first his setting is scarcely perceptible, but the night frosts soon increase, and remind the missionary of the approach of the evening of the year.
Little is known respecting the mineralogy of Greenland. Collin states that in 1806 an experienced mineralogist, the Berg-raad Giseke, undertook a voyage thither for the purpose of supplying this hiatus. He drew up a report of his discoveries in south Greenland, which he intended to transmit to Denmark, but the vessel by which it was sent was captured, and, as M. Collin is pleased to think, by an English cruiser. Greenland has been supposed to contain precious ores. The early navigators listened greedily to tales of gold and silver. There is not a greater proof of the increase of sound knowledge than our comparative inattention to these metals. Lund says that the widow of Captain David Danells told him that her husband shewed a specimen of gold ore to the Greenlanders whom he brought to Denmark, and they affirmed that the same was to be found in the fissures of the mountains. This is just such a story as we should have expected to receive from a captain's widow. Rich specimens of copper ore, however, have been sent from Greenland to Denmark; and it has been ascertained that beds of pit-coal are found there. The author of the Speculum Regale praises the costly marble of Greenland. It was of various colours, red and blue and green. These variegated rocks are probably situated on the eastern coast. We believe that only white marble or alabaster has been found on the west coast.
H H 2 Saabye