Excerpts from The Log of Captain Parry

April 6, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

I’ve been reading through a proof of the Gazette again and came across the following excerpts from the Captain’s Log that just blow my mind…For those of you who are unfamiliar. The Gazette is a newspaper c. 1821 written, published and read by a 2 English ships that spent 8 months in the Arctic, trapped in the ice. I’ll post a few other short passages over the course of the day-

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Under circumstances of leisure and inactivity, such as we were now placed in, and with every prospect of its continuance for a very large portion of a year, I was desirious of finding some amusement for the men during this long and tedious interval. I proposed, therefore, to the officers to get up a Play occasionally on board the Hecla, as the readiest means of preserving among our crews that cheerfulness and good-humour which had hitherto subsisted. In this proposal I was readily seconded by the officers of both ships; and Lieutenant Beechey having been duly elected as a stage-manager, our first performance was fixed for the 5th of November, to the great delight of the ship’s companies. In these amusements I gladly undertook a part of myself, considering that an example of cheerfulness, by giving a direct countenance to every thing that could contribute to it, was not the least essential part of my duty, under the peculiar circumstances in which we were placed.

In order still further to promote good-humour among ourselves, as well as to furnish amusing occupation, during the hours of constant darkness, we set on foot a weekly newspaper, which was to be called the North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle, and of which Captain Sabine undertook to be the editor, under the promise that it was to be supported by original contributions from the officers of the two ships; and, though some objection may, perhaps, be raised against a paper of this kind being generally resorted to in ships of war, I was too well acquainted with the discretion, as well as the excellent dispositions of my officers, to apprehend any unpleasant consequences from a measure of this kind; instead of which I can safely say, that the weekly contributions had the happy effect of employing the leisure hours of those who furnished them, and of diverting the mind from the gloomy prospect which would sometimes obtrude itself in the stoutest heart.

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