The letter is mostly complete, consisting of both sides of one 8 x 10 inch sheet and two large pieces of a second sheet. Mrs. Bingham writes (in part):
“Here upon heathen ground, seated in my straw thatched cottage, the waters of 18,000 miles rolling between us, I take up for a reperusal your affectionate, your precious farewell to me, received just at the eve of my departure from my much beloved country. I seem to hear the kind voice, and almost feel the affectionate grasp which, to me, so many times, said, you have a place within my doors and within my heart....By the Ship Mary, Capt. Smith, Boston, spoken on our passage Dec. 15th we made communications home. Since then we have made none, except by the whale ship, L’iagle, Capt. Starbuck, London, which has not yet left these seas. By the Mary, I sent several letters, but could not but regret that I had none prepared for you, and some others, to whom I felt in haste to write. There was no time for any thing after seeing her. She passed by at full sail, just giving her name and whither she was bound, and had there not been much dispatch on the part of our Capt. in setting off a boat, we should have grieved many days with letters on our hands. You can hardly think what animation that little occurrence excited.”
After describing the voyage as “pleasant & rapid” before experiencing severe gales, mountainous waves and her own failing health, they reach the Islands: “Our Divine Supporter carried us through, and on the morning of the 30th March, allowed the joyful sound, ‘land ho,’ ‘Owhyhee: bold mountains in sight,’ to cheer our hearts, and the sight to gladden our eyes. yes, cheered & gladdened we were. But, O, -- my friend, the conflicting emotions which struggled in our bosoms – who can tell! Was it our beloved country? Did the spires of the temples of our God rise to view? Could anticipation glide over a few hours & bring to our arms the friends of our hearts, with their pleasant homes, their restoring cordials for sinking nature, their tender sympathies, kind caresses & cheering voices? Ah, no! Weak & exhausted with a long voyage, far from beloved country, far from the temples of our GOD, we gazed upon the dark land over which hung Sable clouds, fit emblems of its moral darkness, -- we thought of its rude inhabitants, with no pleasant homes, no christian sympathies, no tender charities to bestow at their unusual vistants. -- We thought too of the hour when, perhaps, solitary and alone, without condoling friends, one must commit the dear remains of a soothing wife, another of an affectionate husband, to this pagan dust, or from heathen barbarity be denied the last sad comfort... We approached the Island on the Northeast side, passed round to the west & anchored, the 4th of April, in Kirooah bay. It presented a varied appearance. In some parts, fertile plains, between the high mountain and the shore, running streams, groves of coconuts, bananas, &c were pleasant to the eyes. When again, ragged rocks, huge cliffs projecting into the sea or terminating in beds of lava which, in former times, had run down from their lofty summits, changed the scene, and almost struck terror in the beholder.” (etc.)
THIS LETTER-- CARRIED ON THE LEVANT AND POSTMARKED AT BOSTON ON MARCH 22, 1821 — REACHED THE UNITED STATES EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE EARLIER LETTERS FROM AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN HAWAII. THEREFORE, IT WAS AMONG THE FIRST HAWAIIAN MISSIONARY MAIL TO BE READ BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS BACK HOME.
The first letters written by the Pioneer Company of missionaries in Hawaii were sent on the British whaling ship L’Aigle, which experienced delays leaving Honolulu and sailed first to England, not the United States. The earliest letters from this mail are dated May 13 and 14, 1820, but they did not reach New York until November 21, 1821, eight months after the arrival of the letters carried by the Levant. A notice in the Missionary Herald (quoted in Gregory book, page 50) states that the Levant sailed from Honolulu on August 7, 1820, carrying a box of correspondence. The notice also states that the vessel sailed to Canton, China, on its journey to New York. Captain Charles S. Cary was the ship’s master.
Ex Baker, Ishikawa and Honolulu Advertiser. Illustrated in Meyer-Harris (page 6) and Gregory (page 49)
VERY FINE. GREGORY RECORDS ONLY FIVE COVERS FROM HAWAII WITH THE “FRANCO EN/VERACRUZ” TWO-LINE HANDSTAMP.
The letter reads (in part): “We are fed & clothed & have nought to think of but our precious children & the souls by whom we are surrounded. Alas! that we feel & do so little for them! Our interesting scholars share the largest in our sympathy & efforts & prayers. But none of them are yet converted. They can converse intelligibly in English -- read -- write -- cypher -- parse -- spell -- study Geography -- sing -- drawing (linear) -- 2 boys play flute & two girls play on a piano forte... but all this avails us nothing comparatively, while we see them exposed to the damnation of hell...”
Rev. Cooke also describes the visit of a French man-of-war, the takeover of the Society Islands by France, a trip around Oahu, and some observations on the recognition of the independence of the Islands: “Alas that that mission [Society Islands] should be exposed to the tender mercies of Catholics. It had nearly been so with our mission, had not God interfered & sent an embassy to England, France & U.S. to secure the independence of this Hawaiian nation. God’s dealings with this mission & nation have ever been almost miraculous... We are daily looking for intelligence from that embassy by way of Mexico & also for an English Consular general in the person of Genl. Miller, a gentleman who visited the islands some 15 years since. The Year 1843 will ever be a memorable one in the annals of this nation & not much less the present year when the Ambassadors shall return, & changes be made, upon a more sure foundation in the Laws & Legislation thereof of this more than ever interesting group. And, not many years will elapse before those now composing our family will be exerting a great influence for good, or for evil, upon the sophisticated dwellers in these islands of the Pacific.”
He also mentions the arrival of Admiral Richard Thomas: “His sympathy is with the Missionaries. His report, when he reaches home, will set things in their true light. Heretofore, England has heard only one side. I refer particularly to the letters & representation of her former consul, Mr. Charlton, who was a sworn enemy to the mission & all they did for the good of the people. The grand secret of all foreigners’ opposition to missionaries is that they teach the people the seventh commandment - I need add no more.” When Consul Miller arrived, he brought with him a convention which was a substitute for the “articles” signed by Kamehameha III and Lord Edward Russell in 1836. Although signed on February 12, 1844, this was a near copy of the French convention forced on Kamehameha III by Captain Laplace in 1839 and containing the same objectionable articles which placed limitations upon the sovereignty of the king.
Ex Honolulu Advertiser. Gregory Census Eastbound No. 46.
VERY FINE. THE EARLIEST RECORDED EXAMPLE OF A HANDSTAMPED MARKING APPLIED BY G. B. POST & COMPANY, THE SAN FRANCISCO MAIL OPERATOR.
The earliest cover recorded by Gregory that shows handling by Gabriel B. Post passed through San Francisco in May 1850 and has a manuscript endorsement. The cover offered here is the earliest recorded example of a G. B. Post handstamped marking, the rare oval. Post put the letter bag on board the Hawaiian brig Baltimore, and it was carried to Honolulu outside the mails, thus avoiding the San Francisco and Honolulu postal charges. Gregory records only two other covers with the oval handstamp, dated months after this January 1852 cover.
Ex Krug, Baker, Rust, “Edwards” and Pietsch. With 1958 P.F. certificate