Hearne, Samuel

, an enterprising English navigator, was born in 1745; he was the son of Mr. Hearne, secretary to the water-works, London-bridge, a very sensible man, and of a respectable family in Somersetshire; he died of a fever in his fortieth year, and left Mrs. Hearne with this son, then but three years of age, and a daughter two years older. Mrs. H. finding her income too small to admit her living in town as she had been accustomed, retired to Bimmister, in Dorsetshire (her native place), where she lived as a gentlewoman, and was much respected. It was her wish to give her children as good an education as the place afforded, and accordingly she sent her son to school at a very early period: but his dislike to reading and writing was so great, that he made very little progress in either. His | masters, indeed, spared neither threats nor persuasion to induce him to learn, but their arguments were thrown away on one who seemed predetermined never to become a learned man; he had, however, a very quick apprehension, and in his childish sports shewed unusual activity and ingenuity; he was particularly fond of drawing; and though he never had the least instruction in the art, copied with great delicacy and correctness even from nature. Mrs. Hearne’s friends, finding her son had no taste for study, advised tier fixing on some business, and proposed such as they judged most suitable for him; but he declared himself utterly averse to trade, and begged he might be sent to sea. His mother very reluctantly complied with his request, took him to Portsmouth, and remained with him till he sailed. His captain (now lord Hood) promised to take care of him, and gave him every indulgence his youth required. He was then but eleven years of age. They had a warm engagement soon after he entered, and took several prizes: the captain told him he should have his share; but he begged, in a very affectionate manner, it might be given to his mother, and she would know best what to do with it. He was a midshipman several years under the same commander; but on the conclusion of the war, having no hopes of preferment, he left the navy, and entered into the service of the Hudson’s Bay company, as mate of one of their sloops. He was, however, soon distinguished from his associates by his ingenuity, industry, and a wish to undertake some hazardous enterprize by which mankind might be benefited. This was represented to the company, and they immediately applied to him as a proper person to be sent on an expedition they had long had in view, viz. to find out the north-west passage: he gladly accepted the proposal, and how far he succeeded is shewn to the public in his Journal. On his return he was advanced to a more lucrative post, and in a few years was made commander in chief, in which situation he remained till 1782, when the French unexpectedly landed at Prince of Wales’ s Fort, took possession of it, and after having given the governor leave to secure his own property, seized the stock of furs, &c. &c. and blew up the fort. At the company’s request Mr. H. went out the year following, saw it rebuilt, and the new governor settled in his habitation (which they took care to fortify a little better than formerly), and returned to England in 1787. He had | saved a few thousands, the fruits of many years’ industry, and might, had he been blessed with prudence, have enjoyed many years of ease and plenty; but he had lived so long where money was of no use, that he seemed insensible of its value here, and lent it with little or no security to those he was scarcely acquainted with by name; sincere and undesigning himself, he was by no means a match for the duplicity of others. His disposition, as may be judged by his writing, was naturally humane; what he wanted in learning and polite accomplishments, he made up in native simplicity; and was so strictly scrupulous with regard to the property of others, that he was heard to say, a few davs before his death, “he could lay his hand on his heart and say, he had never wronged any man of sixpence.

Such are the outlines of Mr. Hearne’s character; who, if he had some failings, had many virtues to counterbalance them, of which charity was not the least. He died of the dropsy, November 1792, aged forty-seven. In 1797 appeared his “Journey from the Prince of Wales’s Fort, in Hudson’s Bay, to the Northern Ocean; undertaken by order of the Hudson’s Bay Company, for the discovery of Copper-mines, a North-west passage, &c. in the years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772,” a volume which forms a very valuable addition to the discoveries of our enterprizing countrymen. 1


European Mag. 1797.