found there even hundred or eight hundred whale-fynnes, part of the cargo of two great Biskaine ships, that had been wrecked there three years before." Previously to that time, ladies' stays must have been made of split cane, or some tough wood, as Mr. Anderson observes in his Dictionary of Commerce; it being certain that the whale-fishery was pursued for the sake of the oil, long before the use of whale-bone was ascertained. The great resort of these animals was found to be on the inhospitable shores of Spitzbergen; the European ships therefore made that their principal place of ﬁshery, and for a number of years were very successful: the English commenced the business in 1598, and the town of Hull had the honour of first attempting so profitable a branch of trade. At present, it seems to be on the decline, the quantity of fish being greatly reduced by the constant capture during such a vast length of time: some recent accounts inform us that the fishers, from a defect of whales, apply themselves to the seal-fishery, from which animals they extract an oil. This it is to be feared will not be of very long continuance; for these shy and timid creatures will soon be induced to quit those shores, by being perpetually harassed; as, indeed, the walrus has in a great measure already done. We are also told, that the poor natives of Greenland begin even now to suffer from the diminished number of seals in their seas, these fish being their principal subsistence; so that, should they totally desert the coast, the whole nation would be in danger of perishing through
Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/83
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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.