The Townsends Tale
I believe I have not previously mentioned the Vessell (sic) which left England in Company with us called THE BROTHERS arrived here 2 days after us all well with the loss of 4 Sheep we have lost 3 - some of our Passengers have gone aboard THE BROTHERS today and others have gone on Shore. The Captain, Mr. DAWSON, his Clerk, Mr HALL and the Doctor spend most of their time on Shore and generally return to the Sip in the evening pretty merry.
There appears to be a great many Negroes here - in fact most of the boats here are worked by them. Canoes are also in general use amongst them. Thur/ 3 or 4 English / 74 Guns / Men of War here as also several Gun Brigs belonging to the English and a small number of English Merchant Vessells (sic) outward or homeward bound also a similar number of French Hurricane Vessells (sic). There are a great many vessells (sic) of war belonging to the Government some day hundreds of them, but we are not far enough in the Harbour to have a view of them. The Meat is not good for much here nor is the Bread which is made from Indian Corn but they have Plaintain here in abundance - Sugar is also very plentiful as is a very strong spirit called Casash which is more than three to four shillings a gallon English Money. Wine something of a pretty good port, wine at about 1/- a bottle English Money. The Rate of Exchange is here very high, you get for 1 shilling 8 Vintons each of which are about the weight and size of an English Halfpenny consequently all articles when purchased in the Coin of the country are very cheap. I understand all articles of Travelling are remarkably reasonable and of exquisite workmanship. I mean those trinkets manufactured of gold which is plentiful in some parts of this country - if my pocket stood high I should purchase some little articles of the description and send them to you but as it is you must take the Will for the deed.
We have 2 soldiers always on hand and a Customs Officer who examines seriously every thing that comes on board the Ship and leaves it and if any thing contraband should appear they would undoubtedly seize it.
We had nothing but quarrelling and fighting the whole of this evening. The sailors drunk and fighting amongst themselves one swearing he will murder another for Stealing and the Captain his adversary had stolen some cheese after a great disturbance between the Carpenter and the Steward with some heavy blows passing between them. The Steward using gross language and blackguarding the Captain Carpenter and whole Ship's Company. The Sailors coming foreward and laying heavy charges of Roguery against the Steward and the Captain intends to have him before the British Consul about it tomorrow.
Tuesday 30th. August / I must now bring my letter to a close as I must entrust it to Mr. ALLEN who leaves the Ship this day - he goes on board THE SISTERS a brig bound direct for England and will it is supposed sail tomorrow. I have the Captain's leave to go on Shore I went on Shore yesterday afternoon I was then 2 or 3 Hours and had some slight opportunity of noticing a little of the Portuguese who are the natives and Inhabitants of this place. Upon landing I was informed I was in the Palace Square and of all the dirty holes I ever saw I do not remember seeing its equal. I think the noted WEBB SQUARE in the vicinity of SHOREDITCH is about such another place the Palace standing on the left side as you enter is a building not half so good or grand as the Poor House School situated in the Back Road at ISLINGTON. There is also a large building opposite you as you land I do not know what it is called but there is a large Copper Bell in the centre of it painted green. I am told their Churches are grand and as I shall most likely be on Shore tomorrow I shall endeavour to get a sight of one. The Streets like the Square are miserable dirty places but so much alike that if you ever got in amongst them you will hardly find your way back again. They are swarming with slaves both Male and Female most of them employed fetching Water from a fountain in thew Palace Square you will also see 10 or 12 Slaves every here and there chained together carrying large buckets of water on their heads and guarded by a soldier. These men have committed crimes and are working this instead of transportation. The Portuguese Women dress without Stockings but have large folds of Black Cloth over their Head and Shoulders you will also see those of higher rank in kind of grand sedan or palanguean dressed in white. They seem fond of Jewellery and wear plenty of it. The Slaves wear neither shoes nor stockings and many of them are in a state of nudity and almost in fact some are quite so. There appears to be a great many soldiers about but their accoutrements are not very splendid - Officers excepted - but our Naval Captains, Lieutenants and Officers seem to make a grand appearance amongst them - it seems LORD COCHRAN has turned tail upon them for a short time ago he left with a large sum of their money in his possession and we understand he has arrived in England but they swear vengeance against him if he should fall into their hands but yet they acknowledge he has done much for them and had it not been for him they would not have gained their independence because as they did not pay him properly for his services he has taken the liberty of paying himself. I expect we shall not leave RIO this Week or 9 days as we have not taken in any Water yet and besides as there seems so much dissatisfaction among the Crew it would not be safe to sail with such a Set and we shall most likely have a new Ship's Company or partly so - Some have left already and others about going - The Boatswain will I think leave us and you may be sure I shall not be sorry for that as he messes with us and is a low drunken filthy Man and quite a disgrace to an Englishman. This place is very dangerous for an Englishman for as soon as it is dark and the Portuguese can do it conveniently they glory in whipping a knife into a Christian and if they do not choose to do it themselves - a Slave will do it for them for the value of 2 or 3 Vintons or 6d - Repeated instances of this continually occur and it is a Mercy our Boatswain did not get murdered.
I have not time to read and correct this long letter as Mr. ALLEN has just told me to be quick,
Your affectionate Son
Henry Shepherd Townsend
I fear you will never be able to decipher the following-
Boatswain has left us and entered as volunteer on board THE BLANCH Man of War - The Steward is about to leave in consequence of charges of roguery brought against him - Another of the Men had left for fear of being murdered by his messmates for stating their (sic) having stolen cheese and other things. Mr. Allen is going on to NEW SOUTH WALES therefore this letter will reach you by post - Dissatisfaction still reigns on board but I hope all will be settled before we leave the place.
Copy of a Letter sent to Captain MONCRIEFF
August 21 1825
I beg leave to trouble you upon a subject which I supposed the "brutal treatment" I received upon crossing the line would have entirely set at rest. I mean the threats held out against me by the Sailors. These menaces have been renewed, and the cause is it seems, they have taken up the mistaken idea, that I am here in the room of another Sailor I ought consequently to work as they do.
I believe I need not state to you that Mr. MOATES did not put me on board his vessel as a "Sailor before the Mast" on the contrary he never hinted in the slightest degree, either to myself or friends, that I was to give the least assistance in way of working Ship - nor is it at all likely, that I should leave a home where I enjoyed the comforts of life and an improving mercantile situation to enter as a Sailor on board the YORK.
It is true hitherto I have given some assistance in working the vessell (sic), but it has been voluntary and not from a supposition that it was my duty.
I must now beg leave to decline giving any assistance in future in working Ship - My real capacity being that of Captain's Clerk, I am ready and willing to act up to it as far as I am able, but as to manual labour it is quite out of the question except for self preservation should the vessell (sic) be in danger.
I do not request any favour, but am desirous of remaining unmolested by the Crew - I therefore most respectfully beg you will desire them not to interfere with me in any way - I cannot conclude without mentioning another subject - I am extremely sorry to find I have from some unknown cause incurred your displeasure, your pointed silence to me upon all occasions and several combined circumstances make it apparent to others as well as myself - Several persons have said your displeasure is created by my associating with Mr. ALLEN - this I cannot credit, because I made a point of speaking to you about it in a conversation I had with you some time ago, when you told me you could have no objection to my associating with him whatever.
My intercourse with |Mr. ALLEN has been very limited and principly (sic) extends to playing a Game of Chess. I have always avoided as much as possible entering into any argument with him about his disagreement between Mr DAWSON and yourself, and though, I could not at times avoid hearing what he had to say upon the subject, yet I have been tenacious in not giving any opinion upon it.
I cannot help lamenting having given you cause for displeasure, but yet, I am at a loss to know what the real cause is.
I am aware I have no friend in Mr DAWSON, yet, I am sure you cannot be prejudiced by him against me, particularly, as I am not in any way concerned with him, but wholly under your protection.
The peculiar manner in which I am now situated has emboldened me to speak plainly but I fully rely upon your giving consideration to the above
and am Dr Sir
Yours Most Respectfully
H. S. Townsend
To Captain JOHN MONCRIEFF, delivered 22nd. August 1825
REF: email to GENANZ@rootsweb by Dione Dover, Kent, England on 26 November 1998