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New England whalers and sealers at the Malvinas / Falkland Islands (Summer 1834)
Fishery operations, glimpsed through the journal of Rev. Titus Coan

Sunday, February 23rd, 1834 through Saturday, March 1st, 1834

Sabbath 23d. The Captain intends going to sea early tomorrow morning, and all hands are engaged at work as on other days. In the afternoon the vessel was got under way and taken down to New Island near the "Hamilton", on board of which Brother Arms and myself are to remain. No religious worship has been attended on board today - A total disregard of the Sabbath prevails, and I am pained at what my eyes behold. The Captain informed us that we should probably have to remove our effects on board the ship today, but as he did not arrive until evening we are saved the interruption and wait until morning.

Monday 24th. My companion and myself bade farewell to the "Antarctic" today and took up our residence on board the "Hamilton". To be left here with little prospect of an opportunity to return to my native land within 6 or 8 months is rather painful, when viewed through the dark medium of an earthly vision; but the assurance that this, like every other event, is under the control of an all wise God, and will be overruled to some good end, not only reconciles me to my situation, but even makes me joyful in it.

A thick fog and a head wind have prevented the Antarctic from sailing today, and she waits for fair weather. Left a bundle of letters on board for dear friends in America.

Feb. 25. The atmosphere still thick, so that the Antarctic has not left the bay. Find my situation as it regards temporal favours very comfortable, but there appears to be little of the fear of God in this ship. Spent the day in reading, writing, conversation etc.

Received a visit from Captain Nash. He generously refuses to receive any compensation for our passage to this place.

Schooner Hancox [sic], Ship Harbour. Feb. 26th. The Antarctic sailed this morning with fair weather and a fine breeze. Two boats were early manned from the ship on a whaling excursion, but in consequence of too much sea they returned before noon. One whale was seen and the harpoon thrown into him, but in order to save the boat and men the line was cut and the monster moved off with the barbed iron in his flesh.

Captain Davison of the "Hancox" came on board and invited one or both of us to spend our time in his vessel until the arrival of the "Talma" from the Shetland Islands [The South Shetland Islands, close to Antarctica. Ed.]. The Talma is in company with the Hancox in the seal fishery, and is every day expected here on her way to the States.

A hope to obtain a passage in her and a desire to use every precaution not to fail of seeing her on her arrival induced me to leave the Ship and take up my abode with Captain Davison for a season. He appears to be a very fine man and assures us that he will do all in his power to obtain a passage for us.

After I went on board the Schooner she was got under way and with a fresh wind we soon ran down to West Point harbour, a distance of thirty miles. Here we came to anchor for the purpose of catching some fish, fowl etc., but in consequence of high winds and rain the Captain did not go on shore.

[February 27th -- no entry]

Feb. 28th. Spent the two past days chiefly in reading, now and then taking a ramble on shore. There is little variety in the scenery of these Islands: barren rocks, "heath clad hills", swales [low-lying areas, Ed.] of coarse, rank grass, with here and there an Island of peat and Tussock are the principal objects of an inanimate kind which meet the eye, while the ear is constantly saluted with the harsh croaking of innumerable sea fowls, and the "eternal roar" of the surges, as they clash among the craggy cliffs of an iron bound shore.

March 1st. Took a ramble on shore this morning, and, in the lovely solitude which reigns here I discovered a little graveyard, where the remains of seven sailors are deposited. While musing on the lot of seamen a shade of melancholy sympathy stole across my mind. Cradled in the storm and tossed upon the mountain billow, he knows little of repose and the calm and hallowed scenes of rural and domestic joy, or of the better consolations of religion. Driven through life upon a restless element, he often lies down in death, not among kind and sympathizing kindred beneath the paternal roof, but in some distant, perhaps barbarous land, on some desolate Island, or among the corals of the deep, while the dark waves form his winding sheet and the moaning winds sing his funeral dirge. There is scarcely an island or a shore so distant, so obscure or so dreary, but that it shows the footsteps of some shipwrecked or wandering tar, or affords a resting place for his ashes. How many thought I, how many widows and mothers and sisters shed the bitter tear for husbands and sons and brothers who have made their graves on some distant continent, or island, or who lie deep beneath the cold waves of the ocean; and whose history and fate, in many instances, will not be revealed till the sea shall give up the dead who are in it. It is high time that the attention of philanthropists and Christians be more generally turned towards this numerous and suffering class of men, and that more vigorous efforts be made to ameliorate their condition and to elevate them in the scale of intellectual and moral worth. Until recently they have been thought almost beyond the reach of moral culture, and few and feeble have been the efforts made to redeem them from destruction; and where their bodies have been dashed and broken upon wild and dreary rocks, there also their immortal spirits have felt the shock of a final and fearful wreck.