Journal Volume 5 2006

Log for 1860 (continued/5)

Two of Henry’s Letters


12 August 1860

HMS Brisk

Dear Father & Mother

It is with great pleasure I write these few lines to you hoping this will find you in good health as it leaves me at the present time thank God.

We had a very nice passage so far. The first place we called at was East London on the East coast of Africa. The next place we called at was Delgoa Bay, next was Turtle Island, next was Mozambique. We stopped there a few days. There is a great fort there. Then we sailed for Joahanna. It is 3 days sail from Mozambique to Joahanna. We arrived at the Comoro Islands that are a short distance from Joahanna, when the man on the lookout sighted a sail and of course anywhere about this channel you may expect them to be nothing only slavers, so we chased them. There was a tidy breeze and we put on full power of steam and after her. She was tacking about in different ways which was suspicious. After about 4 hours we got up to her and asked her why she hoisted no flag. She said she was a Yankee Whaler. Then we asked her why she did not stop. She said all were sick on board, we fired a blank shot and if she would not stop we would have fired a shot into her. Two of our boats went off to her with a midshipman.

The first thing they seen was the slaves peeping out through the grating, when they searched her there was 850 slaves on board of her. A beautiful vessel, the best prize that has been taken this long time.

We heaved too to let the crew come on board of us and then we both sailed for Joahanna, we got there the next morning. They sent a prize crew on board of her with plenty of everything. The Captain and first and second mate were sent on board of us, they all looked very determined men. As far as we could learn from the crew, they had brought the slaves from the island of Obo, they were three days into their voyage to Savannah when we caught them.

I must conclude for the present.

Your affectionate Son

Henry Kearns



First part of the following letter is missing:

… hospital to be distributed as follows. The ¾ of the proceeds to the English hospital, the remaining ¼ to the Spanish hospital. I think it would be useful for you to expend about £6 in coming to meet me -don’t you. I have no doubt you would like to be on the beach waiting for me, but £6 is a large amount to gratify your own pleasures momentarily, whereas I would be at home in less than forty eight hours, which is not long compared with 4 ½ years. You need not be afraid for me while I am away. Let me know if you have received that prize ticket. You need not answer this letter for it is hard to say whether I will receive an answer to it.

I have bought a Mattee Pot, Bombeza and Yerba which is a favourite drink out here. I will give you a description of it. The ’Mattee’ is a pot made by cutting a round hole in a poppy, in which the Yerba is placed, then it is defused by pouring hot water on it. Then by mixing a little sugar with it, it is fit for use. The ‘Bombeza’, is a tin tube about 10 inches long with a bulb like piece of tin at the bottom, pierced with holes, which is put into the infusion and drank. It resembles our tea very much, and it is a great insult to refuse to drink it if it is offered to you.

I have got a pair of ‘Emu’ eggs which resemble ostrich eggs, but not so oval. I will write Mary a letter, but I scarcely think I should for being so ungrateful in not answering my last letter. So I must conclude, with my kind love to all. Accept the same yourself.

I remain your affectionate son.

Henry Kearns


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