Unlike the narrative, the spare entries in John's original journal give us a sense of how, despite dramatic moments, John's overall time in captivity was not only miserable, it was tedious and boring. Of course, John's entries of necessity, had to be brief. After all, it was quite a feat even to find the opportunity to write, since it had to be done in secret and in adverse conditions. Yet however unintentional, the brief entries with their abrupt changes in topic often verge on the comical. Here's a random selection representing typical entries beginning with his May 21, 1804 entry on the occasion of his 21st birthday. When you think about what a celebration the 21st birthday is for most of us, it really makes you realize just how young and alone John was. This particular entry is unusually long probably because he was feeling contemplative and dejected. It is followed by his poignant and spare 1805 entry on the occasion of his 22nd birthday What he didn't know then, was that just two months later he and Thompson would be rescued.
- This day I am 21 years of age.
I now begin to give up all hopes of ever seeing a Christian country or a Christian face, for season being so far advanced and not hearing of the arrival of any ship on the coast, we feel ourselves very unhappy... We are very much cast down at the thought of spending the remainder of our days amongst these savages.
And one year later....
- This day I am 22 years of age.
Employed at making fish hooks.
Invited to eat whale's blubber.
And here are the typical entries on any given day...
- Natives fishing, &c. Employed cutting fire wood. Invited to eat cockles.
- Employed at slavery.
- Natives fishing. This being Sunday, went to prayers for our release.*
- This day our chief told me I must go a shooting.
- Natives fishing. I was out for shooting seals; returned, no success.
- Arrived a canoe from Ai-tiz-arts with four seals for our chief.
- This day our chief had a large feast of seal's blubber.
- Natives fishing &c.
- Employed attending strangers. Invited to eat blubber.
- Natives fishing; the strangers went away.
- Rainy weather.** Natives fishing. Employed at slavery.
P.M. returned; invited to eat raw herring spawn and cold water.
- Employed making a dagger for one of our chiefs, went to prayers for our release.
- Natives fishing &c. Employed at slavery.
* This entry appeard virtually every Sunday,
**According to Hilary Stewart, nearly fifty journal entries begin with "Rainy weather."
Nuu-chah-nulth man hunts sea otter with bow and arrow.
And at the Christmas season...
- Frosty weather. Christmas time in my native country, but a sorrowful time for me. Employed cutting fire wood.
- Fine and clear weather, with snow on the mountains. Invited to eat salmon spawn.
Went to prayers as usual.
- This day the natives caught a large number of herring. Employed smoking them.
- Natives fishing. I was employed making fish hooks. Invited to eat herrings.
- Natives fishing &c.
- Frosty weather. Natives fishing. Employed making copper rings for our chief's wife. She gave me some fresh salmon to eat.
- Fine and clear weather. Natives fishing. employed making fish hooks. Invited to eat whale's blubber.*
* John and Thompson were constantly faced with the choice between starvation and eating unappetizing foods such as whale's blubber which despite his use of the word "invite," they actually had to beg for.
Interior of a Northwest Coast Indian long house
Links to Related Sites
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Rod Collins - Lincolnshire Thro' History, Life, Lens and Words
The Old Palace Lincoln - Elegant Bed and Breakfast
National Portrait Gallery - London
College of Arms
The Jewett Family of America
History and Geneaology of the Jewitts of America
Marvinas Bay Lodge
First Peoples of Canada