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THE LIFE g WORK OF
E. J. PECK
AMONG THE ESKIMOS

ARTHUR LEWIS






/





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



THE LIFE AND WORK OF THE REV.
E.J. PECK AMONG THE ESKIMOS




E . J . PECK.



THE LIFE AND WORK
OF THE REV. E. J. PECK
AMONG THE ESKIMOS *

BY THE REV. ARTHUR LEWIS, M.A. Author
of " A Memoir of G. M. Gordon," etc., formerly a
Missionary of the Church Missionary Society. With
Eighteen Illustrations



SECOND EDITION



HODDER y STOUGHTON

27, PATERNOSTER ROW
LONDON t



Butler &* Tanner The Sclwood Printing Works Frotnc and



To the wives of our missionaries
who, being compelled from various
causes to remain at home, are un
grudgingly giving their husbands to
the work of Christ in far-off lands,
as well as to those who, in weariness
and painfulness, in hunger and thirst,
are constant partners with their
husbands in different climes, this
book is dedicated.



.



PREFACE

subject of Foreign Missions is so prominent
on all sides in the present day that no apology
is needed for the publication of a book dealing with
a remote field, concerning which little is known
beyond the limited circle of those who read Mis
sionary magazines and newspapers. Some apology,
however, may be needed for the author who has
compiled the following pages. Conscious of lack
of power ; ignorant, as far as experience goes, of
all the conditions of Eskimo life ; personally un
acquainted, until a short time ago, with any of the
missionaries engaged in evangelistic work among
the Arctic people ; the book was taken in hand at
the request of the Rev. E. J. Peck, whose sole desire
was to quicken interest in missionary work and to
deepen the sense of responsibility in the Church of
Christ concerning the great commission with which
it has been entrusted.



M317304



viii PREFACE

A large amount of matter had previously been
collected by one of Mr. Peck s friends, who wishes
to remain anonymous. To this gentleman the
thanks of the author are due not only for numerous
selections from Mr. Peck s diaries, but also for
many original passages which have been incorpo
rated in the narrative, especially in the earlier
chapters.

That there are many blemishes in the following
pages the author himself is conscious, but he hopes
that the reader will be lenient when he remembers
that there was no possibility of consulting those
who alone could have given help, had they been
at hand the missionaries. Working, as they are,
among the Eskimos, they are hopelessly cut off
from the outer world. How complete is their
isolation may be well illustrated by what is passing
in the author s mind as he writes this preface. In
July, 1903, Mr. Peck sailed from Peterhead on the
return voyage to Blacklead Island. About three
or four weeks later, on August 13, his little
daughter died at Boscombe. He has not yet



PREFACE ix

(August 3, 1904) received any news of his
terrible loss. The annual ship has sailed once
more, but still some weeks must elapse before he
hears that Jesus has called the little child unto
Himself, for " of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Among other things, this isolation has made it
necessary for the author to assume responsibility
in certain matters which certainly would otherwise
have been submitted for approval to those most
concerned. One of them in particular is the title
of the book. Mr. Peck s earnest wish was that his
name should be kept as far as possible in the back
ground. His one desire was that all glory should
be given to God, and the human instrument remain
unhonoured. He had hoped that this volume
would have gone forth under another title.

But reasons which appeared to be irresistible
were brought forward for overruling these wishes,
and it was decided accordingly to make use of Mr.
Peck s name. When, however, he discovers this,
more than a year hence, it will probably* be another
cross added to his life, which, it is hoped, he will



x PREFACE

cheerfully bear for the Master s sake. And so,
such as it is, this biographical sketch is sent forth
to the public, with the earnest prayer that though
mistakes of authorship and errors of judgment in
editorship may be detected and condemned, God s
Name may be glorified, interest in the extension of
Christ s kingdom may be deepened, and the power
of the Holy Ghost in convicting of sin and imparting
newness of life may be recognised.

It should be stated that a portion of the first
chapter, illustrating the life of a seaman on a
British man-of-war more than thirty years ago,
has been reproduced, by kind permission, from
Life s Look-out by Sydney Watson.

LITTLE BREDY, DORSET.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK ... I

CHAPTER II
THE ESKIMOS : THEIR ORIGIN, GOVERNMENT^ AND

RELIGION 22

CHAPTER III
THE ESKIMOS AT HOME AND AT WORK . . 46

CHAPTER IV
HUDSON S BAY 68

CHAPTER V

PROGRESS ORDINATION 87



xii CONTENTS

CHAPTER VI

PAGE

CONSOLIDATION OF WORK 108

CHAPTER VII

ITINERATIONS AND RESULTS .... 123

CHAPTER VIII

GATHERING FRUIT UNGAVA .... 140

CHAPTER IX

MARRIAGE FORT GEORGE . . . .162

CHAPTER X

CHANGED PLANS HOME !!

CHAPTER XI

A NEW VENTURE 201

CHAPTER XII

DAYBREAK IN CUMBERLAND SOUND . . . 218

CHAPTER XIII
PLOUGHING AND SOWING 236



CONTENTS xiii

CHAPTER XIV

PAGE

A CORN OF WHEAT 2 ^g

CHAPTER XV

BEARING BURDENS 272

CHAPTER XVI

BEHIND THE SCENES 288

CHAPTER XVII

SUNSHINE AND RAIN 302

CHAPTER XVIII

GATHERING UP FRAGMENTS . -321



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

To face page

Map of the Diocese of Moosonee ... 20

An Eskimo Iglo or Snow House ... 47

Eskimo Women with Dead Seal ... 50

Eskimo Women and Children 54

In a Snow Shelter, Watching a Seal-Hole . 62

Little Whale River in Summer ... 90

Eskimo Huts on Little Whale River . . 94

Eskimo Children outside Tent . . . 178

The " Alert " in Sailing Ice ... 206

%

The Settlement on Blacklead Island, Cumberland

Sound ....... 210

Cutting up a Whale 220

Building Blacklead Island .... 226

A Group of Eskimo Children outside Mission . 244



xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

To face page

A Snow-House with Tunnel-Porch Banked up . 250

The Missionaries Home, Blacklead Island . 274

The Rev. E. J. Peck and First Converts, Black-
lead Island 310

An Eskimo Building his House . . . 322



CHAPTER I

THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK.

" Whom shall I send, and who will go for us ? Then
said I, Here am I ; send me."

IN Caesarea, Cornelius and his household were
seeking the truth. In Joppa, God was pre
paring Peter to impart the truth. Saul, on the
road to Damascus, was in great need of sympathy.
Inside Damascus, God was taking away the fears
and doubts of Ananias, so that he might give the
sympathy needed.

Far away in Northern lands the Eskimos were
waiting for the Gospel, silently yet eloquently
making their claim on the Church of Christ. Thou
sands of miles away God was preparing the mes
senger who was to go to them carrying the tidings
of salvation.

Edmund James Peck was the chosen instrument.

He was not by any means the first missionary
from Christendom to the Eskimo race, for the
Moravians have laboured long with great devotion

1 1



2 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

among the inhabitants of the Greenland and
Labrador coasts.

He was not even the first representative of the
Church Missionary Society to come in contact with
the Arctic wanderers. Bishop Bompas, Bishop
Horden and others had visited them at various
points, but no one had hitherto devoted his life
to them.

A brief sketch of his life previous to his call to
a most arduous and self-sacrificing work will be
instructive, as showing what means God chooses
for the preparation of a Peter or an Ananias in
these days.

Edmund James Peck was born on April 15, 1850.
His parents at this time lived at Rusholme, near
Manchester. His father was an energetic, con
scientious, straightforward man, occupied in a
linen factory. His mother was a sweet, happy
Christian woman, whose influence was largely
exercised upon her son. Edmund was the eldest
of the family. There were three other children,
a boy and two girls, making up, to borrow Mr.
Peck s joke, a bushel of them. When the eldest
child was seven years of age the family moved to
Dublin. About three years after their arrival at
the Irish capital the mother died. Her death,
as is the death of every good mother, was an irre
parable loss to the family, but she lived again in
at least one of her children.



THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 3

Soon after this, young as he was, Edmund Peck
manifested a spirit of fearlessness and a desire for
truth in matters of religion. He was surrounded
by many Roman Catholics, and noticing among
other things their great neglect of the observance
of the Sabbath, though only eleven years of age,
he would speak to some of them about it, and express
a decided opinion that a religion which did not
bring forth the fruits of holiness must be worthless
in God s sight. In other ways also, especially in
conversation with his father, the same kind of
attitude was evident. And though this zeal for
God was lost for some years afterwards in a careless
life, it is interesting as pointing to the real bent of
his character, and proving the truth of the old adage
that " the child is father to the man."

When he was thirteen years old another sore trial
befell the boy the death of his father. Speaking
of that time, he says : " The most vivid and sorrow
ful picture of my life was when I stood by the open
grave of my father, with the tears rolling down my
cheeks, as I remembered that I was now left utterly
orphaned in a lone, lone world." Perhaps this was
a foreshadowing of his future loneliness in a world
of ice.

But help was at hand. Edmund Peck had at
tended the church of St. Matthias ; he had also been
a member of the Sunday School of that church.
The clergyman was the Rev. Maurice Day, after-



4 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

wards Bishop of Cashel, and he interested himself
so that the lad was enabled to enter the navy. The
kindly action of this clergyman made a deep im
pression on the boy s mind. Many years later,
he had the great pleasure of meeting him again.
The Bishop was the chairman of a meeting in
Dublin for the Church Missionary Society, at which
his former Sunday School scholar was one of the
speakers. Their joy was great and mutual.

After having been received on board the guard-
ship, H.M.S. Ajax, lying at Kingstown, Edmund Peck
was very soon drafted to the training ship, Impreg
nable, stationed at Plymouth. Here he arrived on
January 12, 1865, and remained until May 12, 1866.
Then he joined H.M.S. Caledonia, which was under
orders for the Mediterranean. It was in the Great
Sea of the Old Testament, amid the historic sur
roundings of the ancient world, that the spiritual
life of the future missionary was awakened and
fostered.

At the end of about two years he was laid low
with Mediterranean fever, and was brought very
near to the gate of death. In the weeks of prostra
tion that followed, one of the ship s officers used to
come and see him frequently ; and though we do not
hear of these visits causing the patient more than
passing pleasure, we can hardly doubt that they
had a permanent effect.

As he returned to a slow convalescence, the young



THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 5

sailor began to read a Bible which his sister had
given him when they parted. Illness had awakened
him to his need of spiritual and eternal things, and,
in his own words, he " made great efforts to secure
peace to his soul." These efforts, however, were in
vain, for they were made in his own strength only,
and " in the energy of the flesh." Mr. Peck con
cludes the review of this portion of his life with the
expressive sentence, " While weakness lasted, I
went on in what I may term the trying-to-be-a-
Christian state."

As his health did not improve, he was invalided
home to England in the autumn of 1868. After
some time on furlough he was sent to Nelson s old
flag-ship, the Victory. Speaking of this time.
Mr. Peck says : " Many strange thoughts stirred
within me as I looked upon that spot upon the
Victory s quarterdeck where England s noblest
naval hero fell fighting the battle which freed Eng
land from her foes. But little did I think at that
time that the Lord would call me to a conflict
mightier than that of earthly battles, because
eternal destinies hang upon the triumphs of the
host of God."

When drafted from the Victory he joined his old
vessel, the Caledonia, though with a new crew. At
this time there seems to have been some retrogression
in the struggle for spiritual life. With returning
health, as often happens, good resolutions grew



6 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

weaker, so that we find him writing : " For a time,
at least, I gave up private prayer and the study of
the Scriptures." But the wanderer was not allowed
to wander unwarned. " In the midst of life we are
in death," and this is especially true in the case of a
sailor. Dangers and accidents are always eloquent,
even when we cannot hear the voice of ordinary
passing events. One day he was ordered aloft with
one of his shipmates. The latter got into the rigging
a moment before him and a race upwards ensued.
Suddenly a ratline gave way under the foot of his
shipmate, who was dashed upon the deck a maimed,
crushed mass of humanity. This roused thought
in the one who was spared : " Why was it that I
was spared ? Why was I led to the opposite side
of the rigging to that which my poor shipmate had
taken ? Why ? Because God had a life-task for
me to perform."

On another day, when a heavy sea was running,
he was sent to the large wheel, which had three tiers
of spokes. A mighty sea caught the rudder and
wrenched the wheel from the grasp of all the men
who held it, dashing upwards, against the deck
above, one poor fellow who was on the weather side.
We who were on the lee-side were saved from hurt.
The injured man died soon afterwards as a result of
the accident.

Whatever effect these and similar accidents had
upon the young sailor at the time, they were brought



THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 7

to his remembrance later and used by the Holy
Spirit for the guidance and moulding of his life. If
it be true

That not a worm is cloven in vain,
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivel d in a fruitless fire,

Or but subserves another s gain,

how much more the sudden death of one with whom
we are closely associated ! God s voice is always
to be heard by those who have ears to hear.

It was, as a matter of fact, some time after this,
on board his next ship, the Excellent, that the pearl
of great price was found. Mr. Peck says, " One
evening, when reading i John v. 9-13, this glorious
passage was made the means of bringing peace,
perfect peace, to my troubled conscience. With
what power and force did these words of God speak
to my poor longing, trembling heart ! What a mine
of comfort they held for me, and still hold, not only
for myself, but for all those who will accept them ! "

Truly, the spirit breatheth where He listeth. We
understand readily enough that the whispered
breath may be wafted to the weary soul in the hush
of the sanctuary; in the stillness of the prayer-
chamber ; in the solemn hours of the night. We
understand the louder message of God being heard
in the inspired voice from the Church pulpit or the
pleading tones of the Mission Room. We can under
stand the awful call of God to repentance coming



8 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

from the earthquake or the thunder as on Sinai.
There is a certain agreement and harmony between
them.

But we should be inclined to say that the confused
discords of Babel were no surroundings for the
Spirit of Pentecost. And yet it was a veritable
Babel on board ship between thirty and forty years
ago, in which the Holy Breath came into the life of
young Peck and took possession of him.

There was no nook for quiet meditation where a
seaman could be alone. Every place was public,
every place was noisy. Here is a group playing a
forbidden game of cards under cover of a barrier
formed of piled-up " ditty boxes" a mess kettle, and
other unshorelike obstacles. There is a man play
ing his banjo with his eternal tumma-tumma-tum-
tum. In another part is a concertina in full swing
playing " Jack s the Lad," while a score or more of
step-dancers execute wonderful performances with
their bare feet on the deck, their rough [soles sound
ing like the rasp of a knife being cleaned on a brick-
dust board. In another part are seen two young
fellows, locked in each other s arms in orthodox
ballroom fashion, whirling gracefully round in the
dreamy mazes of a valse, the music being hummed
by the pair in turn.

Yet again a sombre-minded sailor chants dole
fully that dreariest of all ditties, " Babara Allan,"
beloved of Jack years ago. Close by him, another



THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 9

tar with a hammer is whack, whacking a leather
sole before clumping it, as well as any shoemaker, on
to the waiting boot, and thus proving that " a sailor
can do anything." A little knot of men is in hot
and fiery argument over the Tichborne Case ; another
over the merits of a new gun. Here is a man writing
to his sweetheart ; another is making a twine cabbage-
net for the mess ; a third is mangling his washed
clothes with the bottom of an enamelled basin or
rolling-pin. The gangway is blocked here and there
by men with fathoms of spun yarn and canvas-
wrapped leaf-tobacco, " heaving " it into those
huge cigar-shaped rolls much appreciated by sailors,
envied and coveted by shore smokers a hundred or
two of men laughing, talking, skylarking ; this is the
scene into which the Gracious Spirit enters, and seek
ing out amid the din of that deck the young sailor
who, defying all opposition, sits reading his Bible,
whispers to him the word of peace and assurance.

On January 7, 1874, he was transferred from the
Excellent to H.M.S. Hector, the guardship in South
ampton Water, and here he formed a friendship
with John Martin, sailmaker, Sydney Watson,
carpenter s yeoman, and Tom Yeadle, seaman.
These four eventually came to be like-minded in
spiritual things, and so were also inseparable, meet
ing together night after night for prayer and praise.
But they could not remain satisfied with mutual
edification. They must offer their good things to



io THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

others also. Referring to these days, Mr. Peck
writes : " A little band of the Lord s people, being
thus brought together, we were almost immediately
led to try and do something for our unconverted
shipmates. Very soon we had interested one or
two more seamen to join us, men for whose con
version we never ceased to pray. Then as the days
went on, and our little nightly gathering grew more
and more precious, we divided the hour spent, mak
ing the definite study of the Bible a part of the
exercises ; for each felt the need of feeding in the
green pastures.

But they were not allowed much peace outwardly.
They were hunted about constantly from place to
place by many in authority who seemed to take a
pleasure in persecuting them. Among their bitterest
enemies was a ship s corporal, who, though he drove
them like partridges, was forced to give an unwilling
testimony to the effect of their meetings. The
corporals mess was cleaned and cared for by a smart
but ungodly lad, who held the rating in the ship of
first-class boy. This lad came down on one occa
sion to a meeting which was being held in the seclu
sion of the carpenter s store room. He was decidedly
impressed, and this proved to be only the first of
many gatherings that he afterwards joined. For
he came again and again. Whether he was truly
converted or not was not manifest, but certainly
his whole life was changed. One night, as three



THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK n

of the band of men were emerging from the store
room, their old enemy the corporal saw them, and
beckoned them to him. As they ranged up close
to his table, he said : " What in the name of fortune
do you do down there with the fellows ? They go
down devils and come up saints." The words
speak for themselves, and prove that God was mani
fested in these humble but happy gatherings.

The petty persecutions directed against these
men, who had banded themselves together for devo
tion and spiritual edification, after a time became
so constant that they could find no cave of Adullam
as a permanent refuge. Accordingly they sum
moned up courage enough to make an official appli
cation for a spot where they might meet, " none
daring to make us afraid," and in response to their
appeal they were granted the use of one of the bath
rooms. What precious times they spent there ;
how sweet their memory still ! One of these even
ings stands out vividly to this day. The iron room
is about twelve feet by nine ; along three sides are
massive iron baths, surmounted by huge pipes, and
great glittering brass cocks. The deck under foot
is covered with three-inch wooden gratings, sodden
with water which, swayed with every motion of the
vessel, rushes up over the men s bare feet. There is a
general sense of cold, chill damp pervading the place,
but it does not damp or chill the ardour of the little
band of ten or a dozen sailors gathered there. The



12 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

little company are pitched (the Americanism " fixed-
up " would be perhaps an appropriate word) in all
sorts of odd positions ; some are seated on their
low ditty boxes (ten inches long, eight wide, seven
deep, their size) placed on the wet deck gratings ;
some perch upon the cold, damp iron edge of the
long baths ; some stand leaning against the rough
iron plates of the walls of the room. The gathered
drops on the iron plates overhead and on the plates
which form the sides of the room, make the whole
place a kind of " nautical dripping well." All the
men have Bibles in their hands, and there is a look
of eager interestedness upon the faces. The subject
of the Bible Reading is " Heart Religion," the place
of reading the latter part of Deuteronomy v., and
the early part of the next chapter.

" Listen to these words again, chums," says the
old sailmaker as he repeats his reading. I have
heard the voice of the words of this people, which
they have spoken . . . they have well said all that
they have spoken. O, that there was such an heart
in them, that they would fear ME, and keep MY
commandments always."

" Ah, chums," he goes on, " it makes all the
difference whether a man has a head or a heart reli
gion. Head religion is like moonlight ; that is pretty
and cold, and romantic like, good for courting
couples and for pictures, for poets and book- writing
fellows when they want to make a pretty scene,



THE EARLY LIFE OF E. J. PECK 13

but it has no notion of melting ice or warming the
earth. And it is just like that with head religion
there s no warmth, no life in it. There ain t ne er
a one of us here as would be so green as to hold our
hands out to the moon to warm them ; but there are
folks foolish enough to try and heal broken hearts, and
to warm their cold souls with head religion. Then
when they find it is all a failure, they blame God and
the Bible. They say there s nothing in any religion,
it s all a farce, and they ll have nothing to do with it.
Poor things ! They re moon-blmd, or they would
see the truth as God tries to teach it all through the
Bible, that it is with the heart man believeth unto
righteousness. "

Here the good old man tucked his book under his
arm, rubbed his hands together with an almost
boyish glee, as he continued : " Hallelujah ! for the
sunshine God s sunshine the joy of theLord ! Why,
look here. The other night when that little chap
was singing his ditty on the upper deck, I love the
merry sunshine, you remember how everybody
clapped him, and encored. I could not help wishing
that a few of them would learn to love God s heart-
sunshine. Thank God, He has made it so easy to
have heart religion ! Everyone has the power to
trust, to believe."

A few more words from John Martin, and on
they read : " And thou shalt bind them for a sign
upon thine hand."



14 THE LIFE OF E. J. PECK

" What does that mean ? " asked a young sailor.
" How can we carry religion on our hands ? "

" Well, the idea comes to me like this," replied
another : " If a gent has a regular tip-top ring, a
diamond, or something like that, he s not only not
ashamed of it, but he takes good care that everyone


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