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Bad Conscience: June 23rd, 1811

June 23, 2011

On Sunday, June 23rd, Scoresby entertained Mr. Kearsly and Mr. Johnstone to breakfast, and dinner. Meanwhile the crew took a large whale, which was flinched. Many other ships were nearby, several of them nearly full, and almost ready to head for home.

Scoresby was raised in a Sabbatarian household, in which working, or entertaining, on the Sabbath, were forbidden. At this point in his career Scoresby was willing to break these rules for the sake of the business of catching whales, but he seems to have felt very bad indeed about “desecrating” the Sabbath. In 1850, by which time he was an ordained Church of England priest, Scoresby published a book called Sabbaths in the Arctic Regions. In that book, as Jackson notes alongside the journal entry for June 23rd, Scoresby mentions this episode as one in which felt he had failed to live up to his ideals. Not only that, but a run of bad luck in the following week was put down his having violated the sanctity of the Sabbath for the sake of the “excitement of social intercourse”.

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