Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/103

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73
VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

to find that, from its immense weight, the body of the fish sunk so much below the surface of the water, as totally to prevent an inspection. It was impossible to look upon this immense animal, and to think of the scene which I had just witnessed, without remembering a passage from Crabbe's Tales of the Hall, descriptive of the same circumstances.

I sought the men returned from regions cold,
The frozen straits where icy mountains roll’d,
Some I could win, to tell me serious tales
Of boats uplifted by enormous whales:
Or, when harpooned, how swiftly through the sea.
The wounded monsters with the cordage flee;
Yet some uneasy thought assailed me then,
The monsters warred not with, nor wounded, men:
The smaller fry we take with scales and fins,
Who gasp and die, this adds not to our sins:
But so much blood, warm life, and frames so large,
To strike, to murder—seemed a heavy charge.


May 26. 
Several unicorns were playing not far from the ship; I went in pursuit, but the extreme brightness of the day, prevented my getting near them: I, however, shot upwards of twenty of the Procellaria glacialis, (Linn.,) or Fulmar's Peteril. These birds were met with soon after we had left England, and in the arctic circle they abound: they keep chiefly in the high seas, feeding on dead whales, or any other fleshy substance, that floats on the surface; they will also pick the fat from the backs of the living whales, especially of the wounded, following the bloody track, by hundreds, to watch their rising. The bill of these birds is very strong,