صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

with six lines or upward, that it would need any


Several ships being about us, there was a possibility that some person might attack and make a prize of the whale, when it had so far escaped us, that we no longer retained any hold of it; as such, we set all the sail the ship could safely sustain, and worked through several narrow and intricate channels in the ice, in the direction I observed the fish had retreated. After a little

time, it was descried by the people in the boats, at a considerable distance to the eastward: a general chase immediately commenced, and within the space of an hour three harpoons were struck. We now imagined the fish was secure, but our expectations were premature. The whale resolutely pushed beneath a large floe that had been recently broken to pieces by the swell, and soon drew all the lines out of the second fast-boat; the officer of which, not being able to get any assistance, tied the end of his line to a hummock of ice, and broke it. Soon afterwards the other two boats, still fast, were dragged against the broken floe, when one of the harpoons drew out. The lines of only one boat, therefore, remained fast to the fish, and this, with six or eight lines out, was dragged forward into the shattered floe with astonishing force. Pieces of ice, each of which was sufficiently large to have answered the purpose of a mooring for a ship, were wheeled about by the strength of the whale; and such was the tension and elasticity of the line, that whenever it slipped clear of any mass of ice, after turning it round, into the space between any two adjoining pieces, the boat and its crew flew forward through the crack, with the velocity of an arrow, and never failed to launch several feet upon the first mass of ice that it encountered.

While we scoured the sea around the broken floe with the ship, and while the ice was attempted in vain by the boats, the whale continued to press forward in an easterly direction towards the sea. At length, when 14 lines (about 1680 fathoms) were drawn from the fourth fast-boat, a slight entanglement of the line broke it

at the stem. The fish then again made its escape, taking along with it a boat and 28 lines. The united length of the lines was 6720 yards, or upwards of 3 English miles; value, with the boat, above 1507. sterling.

The obstruction of the sunken boat to the progress of the fish must have been immense; and that of the lines likewise considerable, the weight of lines alone being 35 hundred weight.

So long as the fourth fast-boat, through the medium of its lines, retained its hold of the fish, we searched the adjoining sea with the ship in vain; but, in a short time after the line was divided, we got sight of the object of pursuit, at the distance of near two miles to the eastward of the ice and boats, in the open sea. One boat only with lines, and two empty boats, were reserved by the ship. Having, however, fortunately fine weather, and a fresh breeze of wind, we immediately gave chase under all sails; though, it must be confessed, with the insignificant force by us, the distance of the fish, and the rapidity of its flight considered, we had but very small hopes of success. At length, after pursuing it five or six miles, being at least nine miles from the place where it was struck, we came up with it, and it seemed inclined to rest after its extraordinary exertions. The two dismantled or empty boats having been furnished with two lines each (a very inadequate supply), they, together with the one in a good state of equipment, now made an attack upon the whale. One of the harpooners made a blunder; the fish saw the boat, took the alarm, and again fled. I now supposed it would be seen no more; nevertheless, we chased nearly a mile in the direction I imagined it had taken, and placed the boats, to the best of my judgment, in the most advantageous situations. In this case we were extremely fortunate. The fish rose near one of the boats, and was immediately harpooned. In a few minutes two more harpoons entered its back, and lances were plied against it with vigour and success. Exhausted by its amazing exertions to escape, it yielded

itself at length to its fate, received the piercing wounds of the lances without resistance, and finally died without a struggle. Thus terminated with success an attack upon a whale, which exhibited the most uncommon determination to escape from its pursuers, seconded by the most amazing strength of any individual whose capture I ever witnessed. After all, it may seem surprising that it was not a particularly large individual; the largest lamina of whalebone only measuring 9 feet 6 inches, while those affording 12 feet bone are not uncommon*. The quantity of line withdrawn from the different boats engaged in the capture was singularly great. It amounted, altogether, to 10,440 yards, or nearly six English miles. Of these, 13 new lines were lost, together with the sunken boat; the harpoon connecting them to the fish having dropt out before the whale was killed.

Captain Scoresby.


A GRIHASTHA Bramin should rise in the morning an hour and a half before the sun. On getting up, his first thoughts should be directed to Vishnoo. About an hour before sun-rise, he walks out of the village, intent upon a business of great importance to a man of his cast, that of attending to the calls of nature. The place is chosen with great circumspection, and decency requires of him to put off his clothes and slippers. The demands of nature. being discharged, he washes himself with his left hand, which, on account of the impure use of it, is never employed in eating, nor allowed to touch the food. The number of times they must wash, and what particular parts of the body, with a kind of water

It has been frequently observed, that whales of this size are the most active of the species; and that those of very large growth are, in general, captured with less trouble.

and earth they must use in purifying, and many other ob servances which decency prevents us from enumerating, are detailed in the ritual of the Brahmins. After having attended to this business, the next use of the Grihastha is to wash his mouth. This to him is no trifling matter. The care with which he must select the small bit of wood with which he rubs his teeth; the choice of the tree he must cut it from; the prayer he must address to the deities of the wood for permission, and many other ceremonies prescribed for the occasion, make a part of the education of the Brahmins, and are explained at great length in their books of ceremonies. The scrupulous attention with which they perform this operation every morning, with a piece of wood, always cut fresh from the tree, leads them to make a comparison very unfavourable to Europeans, many of whom altogether neglect the practice; and those who most regularly adopt it add to the horror of the Hindoo, when he sees them rubbing their teeth and gums with brushes made of the hair of animals, after being soiled with the pollution of the mouth and saliva. Happy is he, who, after cleansing his mouth, can wash himself in a running stream. It is more salutary to the soul and the body than any water he could find at home, or in a standing pool. An affair of so much importance is necessarily accompanied with many rites, as frivolous in our eyes as they are indispensable in theirs. One of the most essential is, to think at that moment of the Ganges, the Indus, the Krishna, the Caveree, or any other of those sacred rivers, whose streams possess the virtue of effacing sin; and then to implore the gods that the bath they use may be no less available to their souls than one of those nobler floods would be. While in the water, it is necessary to keep their thoughts stedfastly fixed upon Brahma and Vishnoo; and the bathing ends with the ceremonial of taking up hands full of water three several times, and with their faces towards the sun, pouring it out in libations to that luminary.

When he comes out of the water, the Grihastha Brahmin puts on his clothing, which consists of one

piece of cloth, uncut, of about a yard in width, and three yards in length. It has been already soaked in the water, and thus made pure from all the stains it had contracted. He then completes his dress by rubbing his forehead with a little of the ashes of cow-dung, or with the paste made of sandal-wood. He then drinks a small quantity of the water which he has taken out of the river; and the remainder he sprinkles around three times, in honour of all the gods, mentioning several of them by name, with the addition of the earth, the fire, and the deities which preside over the eight cardinal points; and he concludes the ceremony with a profound reverence to the whole circle of the gods. It would be tedious to describe the variety of gestures and movements which the Brahmin exhibits in such cases; but we may select one particular, the signs of the cross which he distinctly makes as a salutation to his head, his belly, his right and left shoulders: for after saluting all external things, he commences with the particular salutation of himself in detail. Every member has its particular salutation; even his fingers are not forgotten, as he touches them all round with his thumb. All these actions are accompanied with prayers or matras, solemnly appropriated to the oc


It would now seem time for the Brahmin to go home, after his leisure has been so long occupied with ceremonies; but he has still a prayer to offer to the tree Ravi, consecrated to Vishnoo. He implores the tree to grant him remission of his sins; and then walks round it seven, or fourteen, or twenty-one times, always increasing by seven. He orders dinner about mid-day; this is provided by the women, though the ordinary Brahmins value themselves on their skill in cookery. The great object here is absolute cleanliness in the preparation. Many precautions are necessary for this. The clothes of the women employed must be newly washed, and their vessels fresh scoured. The place must be neat and free from dust, and the eyes of strangers must not pervade it. While dinner is pre

« السابقةمتابعة »