Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/251

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Remarks upon the Failure which has for some Years attended the Whale-Fishery; with Considerations for removing the Obstacles which have occasioned the same.

Of the importance of the Greenland Fishery, in its direct objects of procuring an article of great profit to the nation; and, collaterally, as a nursery of seamen for our navy, there can be no doubt. But the fishery is now carried on by individuals at very extraordinary and increased expense, while the late frequent failures, the losses of ships crushed among the ice, and, above all, the vast reduction in the price of oil, owing to the substitution of coal gas to light this metropolis[1], have considerably dispirited enterprise. It is evident, that a continuance of such failures alone, without other casualties to which the speculation is liable, may quite extinguish adventure, and, finally, deprive the nation of the advantages of the northern whale fishery.

The failures of late seasons have principally arisen

  1. The advantage of gas produced from oil, compared with that obtained from coal, is so great that it is astonishing that oil gas is not in general use. The gas from oil has no bad nor disagreeable quality, it gives a far more brilliant light than the other, "one cubic foot of gas from oil, going as far as twice that quantity of coal gas," and it is moreover much cheaper. That from coal on the contrary, is extremely offensive to the smell, dangerous to the health on being inhaled; and injurious to furniture, books, plate, pictures, &c.