Hawaiian Missionary’s Letter & Cover 1852 – SOLD

Missionary’s sea voyage and fabulous description of Hawaii.


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Manuscript letter from Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands dated April 29th, 1852, to Mr. William C.Spencer.

The letter was written by Gibson after his long sea voyage of 130 days to Hawaii, having left Boston, Mass on the ship Ester May with 22 other passengers, “17 of them being missionaries or their families.”  Gibson was sick for some time after they left Boston, unable to get out of his bed, was soon able to join other passengers on deck.  The captain was a young man of 23 years of age (Capt. Hawes), and the crew were far more well mannered than he expected of seamen.

Gibson gives a detailed description of the voyage, storms, Gulf Stream, whales, porpoises, flying fish, and other varieties as they approached the Cape Horn, etc. One storm was so violent that the 2 of the crew at the wheel had to be lashed there.  He goes into describing various birds, their sizes; even an account of capturing one and tying a ribbon about its neck and releasing it.

Finally they arrive off Honolulu near Diamond Point as he calls it, and describes the mountains and the trees all around the city as the ship approaches. While waiting for the harbor pilot to come aboard, some of the passengers became impatient and took the native canoes to shore.  It being the “Lord’s Day” Gibson decided to stay on ship and have religious services there since he had no friend on shore waiting for him. The next morning he is picked up by a missionary (Mrs. Cook and a Mr. Andrews),  Later after coming ashore, Gibson goes to see a Dr. about his lingering sickness, and goes for treatment.  He now writes about his illness that he has had for some time that caused him to leave New England in the first place, away from family and friend, but he believes it is God’s leading. He apparently is involved in missions work and teaching himself, and see a great need for himself and others to come to Hawaii for the good influence of the natives.

Gibson gets into island life and all the fruit and plant food, then describes an island house with floors covered in matting, no beds, Books are to be found on the island and at least one member of every household can read, and he credits the work of missionaries for that.  The women are very beautiful and the children are particularly pretty. Gibson is impatient to learn the language as he wants to communicate with them badly.  He feels now that he must give up his life to the Master, as he is feeling wonderfully overwhelmed through his description of how he is really taken with his new life on Hawaii.

He recounts a story off the Chilean coast and the narrow escape from the pirates there. It at first appears the the three masted schooner they were on, was putting out destress signals, but when the captain determined the danger, only the swiftness of their vessel saved them from being taken.  He closes his letter with the fondness of wanting to be remembered to friends, and hoping to hear from those he had expected to.

There is so much detail I have left out, wanting to allow you the joy of reading all this yourself.  A great story about this missionary and all that his Heavenly Father did for him on this voyage.  Great stuff!

This comes with a most nearly complete transcript.

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