Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/264

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the fish often secured, by the use of my proposed harpoon from a gun, or shells, if skilfully applied.

The inefficacy of the hand-harpoon is sufficiently evinced both by the complaints of those engaged in the fishery, and by the great excitements held out in the shape of remuneration by the Society of Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures, to those who invented gun-harpoons; and those who were most successful in the use of them.

Some of the gun-harpoons, already in use, though they have by no means performed what was desired, have, amongst many instances of failure, enabled those who used them to strike fish, which could not have been reached by the hand. The instances of failure have been in some cases attributable to the inadequacy of the instruments to their purpose; but more frequently to want of skill in those who had the direction of them. Between these two causes, they have fallen into total neglect.—Captain Scoresby writes thus on this subject:—

"The loss of many fish, from unskilful hands using the gun-harpoon, has thrown it into disuse."

In another part of his most excellent work, he says—"By some, the gun-harpoon is held in prejudiced aversion."

With regard to the first of these observations, I would remark, that the well-known inefficacy of the present gun-harpoon, in many, is very likely to have bred the distrust of it which exists in all, cases. It is the natural consequence of such a distrust to check that exertion, which is required for the attainment of skill in its management. Men will make no efforts, where success is impossible; and they will be proportionably inert, when it is improbable.

The prejudice of which Captain Scoresby speaks against the gun-harpoon, at present known, I regret to say, was admitted by all conversant in the concerns of the fishery, of whom I made inquiries; a circumstance, that excited no small degree of astonishment in my mind, from the self-