Page images

The original plan was intended to embrace the most prominent events in the annals of ancient and modern Greenland ;-incidental descriptions of whatever is sublime or picturesque in the seasons and scenery, or peculiar in the superstitions, manners, and character of the natives; — with a rapid retrospect of that moral revolution, which the gospel has wrought among these people, by reclaiming them, almost universally, from idolatry and


Of that part of the projected Poem which is here exhibited, the first three Cantos contain a sketch of the history of the ancient Moravian Church, the origin of the missions by that people to Greenland, and the voyage of the

first three brethren who went thither in 1733.

The fourth Canto refers principally to traditions concerning the Norwegian colonies, which are

said to have existed on both shores of Green

land, from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries.

In the fifth Canto the Author has attempted, in a series of episodes, to sum up and exemplify the chief causes of the extinction of those colo

nies, and the abandonment of Greenland, for several centuries, by European voyagers. Although this Canto is entirely a work of imagination, the fiction has not been adopted merely as a substitute for lost facts, but as a vehicle for illustrating many of the most splendid and striking phenomena of the climate, for which a more appropriate place might not have been found, even if the Poem had been carried on to a successful conclusion.

But having proceeded thus far, personal circumstances, and considerations which it would be impertinent to particularize here, compelled the Author to relinquish his enterprize.

Whether he may ever have courage or opportunity to resume it, must depend on contingencies utterly beyond his power.

The principal subjects introduced in the

course of the Poem, will be found in Crantz's

Histories of the Brethren and of Greenland, or

in Risler's Select Narratives, extracted from the

records of the ancient Unitas Fratrum, or

United Brethren. To the accounts of Iceland,

by various travellers, the Author is also much


Among the minor pieces that complete the present volume, a few will be found of a more

religious character than compositions, which aim at the honours of poetry, generally assume. Though these may not be acceptable to all readers, no apology can be necessary for their insertion; and the writer ventures to cast them, with their companions, upon the liberality of that Public, whose final judgement will be unerring and irreversible.

Sheffield, March 27, 1819.

« PreviousContinue »