Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER II. Exertions of the Danes to discover Greenland-Mr. Hans Egede

makes a proposal for establishing a Colony and Mission in Greenland— Various difficulties which he encountered-His voyage and arrival in Greenland-His reception by the natives-- State of the trade-Distress of the Colony-Arrival of a ship-Fruitless attempts to instruct the natives - Arrival of another Missionary-Mr. Egede much hindered in his Missionary work by secular employments-Other evils of bis connexion with the Colony, Objections of the Heathen to the doctrines of Christianity- The Colony agaiu threatened with famine-Hypocrisy of the Greenlanders--Arrival of a military force-Painful situation of Mr. Egede-Royal order for the return of the Colonists - Perseverance of Mr. Egede.

THE Danes were very assiduous, during several reigns, to search out Greenland, which was formerly numbered among the possessions of their ancestors. However, the attainment of a firm footing in this country was reserved for the reign of Frederick IV. King of Denmark, early in the last century. The person whom God selected, and qualified in a remarkable manner for this purpose, was Mr. Hans Egede, a clergyman belonging to the congregation at Vogen, in the north part of Norway.

In the year 1708, little more than a year after this excellent man had undertaken the stated charge of a congregation as parochial minister, he recollected to have read, that Greenland bad formerly been inhabited by some Norwegian Christians, of whom all knowledge was lost. Mere curiosity, as he then supposed, led Mr. Egede to inquire of a friend who had often been engaged in the Whale Fishery, concerning the present state of Greenland. The answers to these inquiries awakened in him a cordial sympathy for the poor abandoned Norwegians, who, he supposed, had fallen back into Heathenism, for want of religious instruction. Such feelings gave birth to a desire, that he might be the means of conveying to them the glad tidings of DELAYS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS. 27 the gospel. But still he doubted whether he could lawfully engage in this work himself, because he had already become the pastor of a flock, and had a wife and family depending upon him for support.

At length, however, after considerable anxiety of mind, Mr. Egede determined to consult some judicious friends. He drew up accordingly, in the year 1710, a memorial, a copy of which he laid before the Bishop of Bergen, from which place the Greenland trade was carrried on; another copy was laid before his Diocesan, the Bishop of Drontheim. In this memorial he earnestly intreated these bishops to urge the Government to send Missionaries to the Greenlanders. This they promised to do, representing to him, at the same time, the difficulties to which such an undertaking must be exposed.

This correspondence of Mr. Egede with the bishops gave notoriety to his plans, and his friends immediately commenced a vehement opposition to them. In this opposition Mrs. Egede took an active part, and her intreaties and tears produced such an effect, that her husband tried to banish from his mind all further thoughts concerning an enterprise which his friends unanimously pronounced to be wild and visionary. But the words of his heavenly Master“ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me”-renewed the conflict in his mind, so that he had no rest, day or night, nor could he be comforted.

Whilst Mr. Egede's mind was thus exercised by contending feelings, it pleased God, by some providential dispensations, to incline his wife to listen to his proposals with candour and patience. Committing herself to the guidance of her heavenly Father in prayer, she at length became convinced that it was her duty to be directed by the will of her husband.

Mr. Egede now felt as if all his difficulties were overcome; and immediately he drew up a second memorial, which he addressed to the Danish Mission College. Delays and opposition, however, year after year, almost tired him out. At length, in the year 1718, with the knowledge and consent of his bishop, he gave up his pastoral charge. When, however, the time arrived, in which he was ta take leave of a congregation that he loved, and of many dear friends and relations, his mind was exceedingly cast down: and now, strange as it may appear, Mrs. Egede, instead of sinking under the tender feelings of nature, animated her husband to unyielding perseverance.

A report was at this time spread, that a vessel belonging to Bergen had been shipwrecked on the coast of Greenland, and the crew murdered and eaten by the savages. Neither was this frightful tale altogether false ; yet it could not deter Mr. Egede from prosecuting his purpose, nor shake the steadfast heroism of his wife, who had already made arrangements for moving, with her husbahd and four little children, to Bergen, preparatory to their sailing for a country which was the scene of such barbarous cruelties.

At Bergen Mr. Egede was looked upon, by the generality of people, as a fanatic, led by dreams and fancied revelations to desert his proper calling, and to wander up and down through the world. Some men, however, influenced by the wisdom of this world, thought his plan likely to promote the interests of commerce, Unmoved by these conflicting opinions, this devoted servant of Christ watched every providential opening which seemed to favour the accomplishment of his wishes. Just then the death of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, gave hopes of the speedy restoration of peace. Mr. Egede embraced this favourable moment, repaired to Copenhagen, laid a memorial before the Mission College, and received the joyful answer, that the king would consider of some means to accomplish this sacred work; his Majesty even honoured him with a private interview, and an attentive hearing of his proposals.

But the faith and patience of this excellent man, were still to be subjected to new trials. In November, 1719, a royal order was sent to Bergen, to collect thę, opinions of the merchants concerning the Greenland trade, and the settling of a colony there. All concurred in describing the voyage as so dangerous, and the land so disagreeable, that Mr. Egede and his schemes became the subject of ridicule and contempt. : Mr. Egede now tried what could be done privately MR. EGEDE SAILS FOR GREENLAND. 29 by his own exertions, among individual merchants. After much persuasion on his part, some of them were at length prevailed upon to furnish a small capital, and one of the principal merchants in Hamburgh, offered to aid the association with a considerable sum. But as the latter soon repented of bis kindness, and the requested privileges were not approved of by the king, no one would hear a word about Greenland any more, and this worthy man saw his assiduity rewarded by nothing but unkind and unfeeling derision.

Thus another year more passed away in fruitless labour. Meanwhile Mr. Egede's courage seemed only heightened by difficulties and opposition. He continued to importune the throne with his humble petitions, repeated his representations to the College of Missions, and his exhortations to the merchants in favour of his undertaking. By these exertions, Mr. Egede at length gained his object so far, as to induce some individuals who were much affected by his indefatigable zeal, to make up, by subscriptions, of £40. each, a capital of about £2,000. A ship called the Hope was purchased, to carry him and his family to Greenland, and to remain during the winter ; a second ship was freighted for the whale fishery; and a third, to bring back an account of the New Colony; the King approved the undertaking ; and appointed Mr. Egede Pastor of the Colony, and Missionary to the Heathen, with a salary of £60. · Thus this unwearied servant of God at last obtained, to his great joy, that for which, amidst numberless obstacles, he had been zealously labouring during ten years, namely, the laborious and perilous office of a Missionary among these savage Heathen : far from aiming at opulence or honours, he relinquished an excellent situation, designing to offer up his life, if required, in the service of his divine Master.

On the 2d day of May, 1721, Mr. Egede embarked with his wife, and four small children, on board the Hope, and was presented to the ship's company, consisting of forty persons, as the principal of the colony. After a dangerous voyage of two months, through mountains of ice, they were happily landed, on the 3d of July, at Ball's River. They presently built a tem

porary house, which they entered on the 31st of August, after a thanksgiving sermon upon the 117th Psalm.

The Greenlanders, at first shewed a very pacifie disposition towards their new guests, and expressed great surprise that women and children should accompany them. When, however, preparations for building convinced them, that the strangers did not merely intend a short visit, but a constant residence among them, they left the coast in alarm, and fled into the interior of the country. By kind treatment and presents, the Greenlanders were at length induced to regard the Europeans more favourably, till gradually emboldened by custom, they ventured to receive them into their houses, and even sometimes to return their visits.

Mr. Egede availed himself of every opportunity to learn the language of the Greenlanders. The word “ Kina,” which means “ What is this?" afforded him a key to the names of sensible objects, and every word which he learned in this way he carefully committed to paper.

Notwithstanding all Mr. Egede’s exertions to conciliate the good wishes of the savages, they continued for a considerable time to regard him with much suspicion, and many an Angekok exhausted his spells upon him, and his people, to injure them, or cause them to withdraw. But when their sorceries were found to be ineffectual, the Angekoks reported that the Minister was himself a great, but a good Angekok, who would do them no harm. This declaration caused the savages to entertain a more favourable opinion of Mr. Egede, and very much facilitated his access to them.

The trade had a poor appearance. The Greenlanders had but little to dispose of; and this they did not choose to barter with the Danes, because they had been accustomed for many years to dispose of it to the Dutch, who knew the commodities which were in demand in Greenland, and could afford the natives better bargains. In the spring of 1722, a fleet of Dutch ships sailed by the new colony; when the settlers had the mortification of seeing one vessel run into the harbour, and buy more in half an hour, than they had been able to do the whole winter.

Mr. Egede now began to experience something of

« VorigeDoorgaan »