Home -> A. M. Robertson -> Notes by the Way in a Sailor's Life -> A Brazilian Slaver

Previous Page Home Up One Level Next Page

A Brazilian Slaver.

In the year 1851 I was on a voyage to Melbourne, Australia, on the sailing ship "Severn." This was shortly after the opening of the gold mines. We left Southampton with about one hundred passengers, and had a very fine run with fair weather. There was no incident to mar the enjoyment of the trip until we neared the coast of Brazil, when one morning we saw a smart-looking brig hove to, waiting for us to come up, and when we came near our passengers became very much excited, as we could see there was an unusual number of men on her deck; the idea was that it was a pirate vessel.

When we came very near to her, a boat was put off from her, and an officer brought a letter from her captain asking for provisions and water, saying that the vessel was bound for the port of Santos, and had been blown off the coast in a pampero. Neither the officer nor the boat's crew could or would speak English. They could only ask in Spanish for "tabac." Some of our sailors protested that they were either British or - Americans. Well, they were supplied with salt beef and pork, canned meats, water, etc. Several trips were made by the boat, and when all was finished, and the boat was at some distance from us, these marauders stood up and gave us three rousing cheers in good plain English, and called out "Good-bye boys, and good luck to you for feeding the blackbirds." The brig was full of slaves.

This "slave" business was then near its end in Brazil, and, probably this vessel had been chased off the coast by a British war-vessel, as every possible effort was being made by the British Government to suppress the slave trade.

Mary Ann Gander.

On this voyage we had a Mr. and Mrs. Gander and their eight children. Poor Mrs. Gander used to suffer terribly from seasickness, and was totally unfitted to do anything but scold, whilst poor unfortunate Gander used to promenade the deck with a child on each arm and a couple of others tagging on to his coat-tails. He was a wonderfully good-natured fellow, was Gander; otherwise I do believe he would have jumped overboard, for whenever he came near to where Mrs. Gander was, she used to call to him to go to the captain and tell him to put her on shore immediately; she would not go any further in that ship, - no, that she wouldn't. "Now, Mary Ann, what's the use your talking that way; you know that we are a thousand miles from any land and the captain cannot put you on shore." "Now, Gander, don't you talk to me. How dare you? You just go to the captain at once. Oh! you catch me going to sea again. No, that you won't. When I go home I'll go overland, if I have to walk every step of the way." Poor Gander! Mary Ann and the children all survived the trials of the voyage and arrived safe in Melbourne, where Gander was very fortunate, and in three years made sufficient money to enable him to retire, and as the English Mail Steamer Company, or the P. & O. Company had put on a line from Ceylon to Australia in 1852, the Gander family were enabled to go home by the overland route, as Mrs. Gander had wished to go.

Previous Page
Home Up One Level
Next Page