This letter was written by Capt. William Brooks Drew (1806-18xx), the son of Capt. Reuben Drew (1766 1850) and Temperance Brooks (1778-1838). William wrote the letter to his brother, George Drew (1812-18xx), who was also a mariner. William was married to Mary Winslow Bassett in January 1836. George Drew was married to Caroline P. Reed in January 1842.
Capt. W. B. Drew was master of Train Line’s packet ship Champion (1024 tons) which sailed between Boston and Liverpool, England in 1853. Col. Enoch Train ran many packets between Boston and Liverpool for about a dozen years beginning in 1844.
Addressed to Capt. George Drew, Ship Aldebaran, Charleston, South Carolina, per B. Loring
New York [City, New York]
7th February 1841
Your short letter per Bailey Loring was received and as I expect him here in a day or two on his return to Charleston, I write a few lines to be in readiness on his return. I am extremely sorry to learn that business is so dull in Charleston and know that you must feel very impatient to have some employ. I once lay 3 months in Charleston in the Rambler and I fear you may have the same seige but as there are not many ships there, I hope you may obtain a freight soon. How happened “Bailey” in the Old Superior to get 1 c 1/8 & 1/4 &c for home. I am glad Joseph has something however small. I suppose he is now in Baltimore. I thought yesterday I might see him as I had intended to go to Richmond to see Messrs. Rutherford about a flour freight which they had a few days before offered me to run — a 1/8 & 5 percent per barrel — but as I then was in treaty about a flour freight from here at about same rate, I deferred it. After doing which the fort here failed but I am happy to say that I have since closed with Forbes of Valentine, Forbes & Co. of Rio to load here for Rio putting in 700 barrels. He the balance and the same with proceeds in Rio and fill up with freight.
A house here wanted me to go to Canton but I did not like the voyage so well as this as Mary will go with me. I wrote and really wished Edward to take my place but he declines on account his feelings, but talks of going as passenger &c. &c. I have only been home one day and that an unpleasant one, of course. Cannot tell you, as father says, any small news. Wish I could think of anything to interest you or cheer you up although you are admitted by all to be always in good humor and temper. Still it is hard to lie idle when we have a good disposition to make even for small gains.
I made a fair business last trip being so short — 81 days — but it takes the best part of it to pay the copper bill. It costs almost as much to keep a small vessel going in order as they earn. The last sales of flour at Rio sold for $19,000 net — about 9 dollars per barrel clearing 3 dollars freight. Should I net 1 dollar over freight of my flour & coffee, shall make over $7,000 freight which I hope to do, But you know me — always calculate largely. Should it pay same rate freight as the cargo subtract $1200 from 7200 will leave about the probable result. I am in hopes to be back in 4 months.
Give my love to Alfred & Joseph when you see him and my respects to any of my Charleston friends who know me — Messrs. Leland, Trout & family, Black, & the ship Chandler (I forget his name), Capt. Weston, Wadsworth, &c., &c. Mr. B. B. Forbes is in Boston. He saw Father the other day. He said he wanted much to see you and enquired particularly about your ship. I think if she was here he would get up a voyage to China for you but it may be all talk. He seemed, however, desirous to do something for your benefit for “Auld Lang Syne.”
The news respecting the final settlement of the English and China Question is not believed by him or many others. While others again do tea, you know ___ ___ ___ in London in one day which gives some color to the belief. There has been much money lost and won here and in Boston & Salem on tea, We hope if tea keeps up that it may also cause coffee to bear a corresponding price.
The Bridgewater [Massachusetts] folks are all well at present. Miss Caroline — Old Mr. Artemus Hale’s daughter ¹ — died a few days since after a short illness. I only spent one day there and did not see many persons. Mr. Doggett ² is so unwell that he has just given up preaching & it is doubtful if he is ever able to resume his duties. I was very much pleased with your selection of a pew & am glad we have one of our own, but wish it be so ordered that we might have the pleasure of occupying it oftener. Only think I have not been at homeover 2 weeks in 14 months and now off again without having the pleasure of sitting in my own pew. What a home, is it not? We have been to church today and shall; attend again this evening. I made some little alterations in the pew such as making the seat a little [paper torn], put up hook rack in front &c., &c. All improvements.
I suppose Baily [Loring] is in with his dear wife today. He told me when he went on he did not know as he should go to Hougham at all as though he would be within 15 miles of his wife after being absent 2 voyages & not visit her. He may probably go out by water from Boston. Should he do so, I will send this by mail. I expect to be off in 10 days the weather being unsettled and wharves very muddy. It will take some time to load flour as it is very necessary to keep the barrels clean you know. Miss Gel___ & Doct. Wilde are ere long to be one bone and one flesh. A Capt. Brewster says hook them little toes together but I suppose Mary has written all the small news, as Father said in a letter to me the other day. He says give my love to Mary but have not much news for her in her way. Adieu, — W. B. Drew
14th. I believe Bailey has gone from Boston by water.
¹ Caroline Augusta Hale (1818-1841), the daughter of Artemus Hale (1783-1882) and Deborah Lincoln (1783-1852) died on 31 January 1841 in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
² “Rev. Theophilus Pipon Doggett graduated from Brown University, 1829. He was the fifth minister of the First Church in Bridgewater, and was ordained November 13, 1833, as successor of Rev. Mr. Hodges. Mr. Doggett continued the pastor for eleven years, when by reason of bronchial disease he was disqualified for the duties of the pulpit, and resigned his pastorate. In 1844 he was appointed preceptor of Bridgewater Academy, which office he held until 1846. He subsequently was settled as minister in Ashby, in 1847, continuing there for six years, and then removed to Barnstable, where he preached for seven years. He then preached at Pembroke, Mass., for thirteen years, from 1861 to 1874.” [History of the Doggett/Daggett Family]