Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/265

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evident advantage of a harpoon propelled by the powerful influence of powder, over that projected from the hand. I have repeatedly asked, whether it was ever known that a whale had been instantly killed by the stroke of a hand harpoon? The answer has been invariably, No. But when I have demanded, whether such a case had ever occurred with the gun harpoon, the reply has been, That such instances were frequent; and some of my informants were the very persons who had inflicted the deadly wound. This clearly proves the want of sufficient projectile power in the hand, to reach the viscera of the fish; and is very satisfactory on the decided advantage of the weapon propelled from a gun. This important conclusion is confirmed by Captain Scoresby; he says "A hundred superficial wounds received by harpoons, could not have the effect of a single lance penetrating the vitals."

From these circumstances, I was naturally induced to suspect that the minds of those concerned in the use of the gun must be disposed to resist every attempt at improvement, with an obstinate adherence to old customs, or must be swayed by those hostile impression congenial to hearts, where self-interest is the ruling passion. Reflections warned me to be circumspect into whose hands my instruments should be placed for trial, least some mismanagement might annihilate its intention; I well knew that many an useful invention has been thrown into discredit, from an unfavourable opinion being formed of its utility, by those deputed to apply it, and that after the failure of one experiment, it is difficult, if not impossible, to produce conviction by the success of future operations. To remove this apprehension, and to establish the confidence which I had formed of the utility of my invention, could, it appeared, be effected only by personal superintendence. I, therefore, at once determined manfully to encounter every inconvenience, by a voyage to Greenland,