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The Pirate Slaver A Story of the West African Coast   By: (1851-1922)

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The Pirate Slaver, a Story of the West African Coast, by Harry Collingwood.

This is a very well written book, especially from the nautical point of view. It is written as by a midshipman in a British warship patrolling the west coast of Africa, especially the Congo area, to try to prevent the slave traders, especially the Portuguese, from succeeding in their efforts to get the poor captured Africans over the Atlantic to Cuba in the most miserable conditions.

But it doesn't work out as simply as that! For the hero, Harry Dugdale, is captured in an action, and would have been killed but for the interest taken in him by the slaver captain's son. From this there sprang a deal with the slaver that Harry would assist with navigation and watch keeping, but must go below decks when there is an action in progress.

We won't tell you much more than that but cannot refrain from commenting that the book is at least as good as the best by Kingston, though in this book the action is almost entirely at sea, or at least on board a sea going vessel.

THE PIRATE SLAVER, A STORY OF THE WEST AFRICAN COAST, BY HARRY COLLINGWOOD.

CHAPTER ONE.

THE CONGO RIVER.

"Land ho! broad on the port bow!"

The cry arose from the look out on the forecastle of her Britannic Majesty's 18 gun brig Barracouta , on a certain morning near the middle of the month of November, 1840; the vessel then being situated in about latitude 6 degrees 5 minutes south and about 120 east longitude. She was heading to the eastward, close hauled on the port tack, under every rag that her crew could spread to the light and almost imperceptible draught of warm, damp air that came creeping out from the northward. So light was the breeze that it scarcely wrinkled the glassy smoothness of the long undulations upon which the brig rocked and swayed heavily while her lofty trucks described wide arcs across the paling sky overhead, from which the stars were vanishing one after another before the advance of the pallid dawn. And at every lee roll her canvas flapped with a rattle as of a volley of musketry to the masts, sending down a smart shower from the dew saturated cloths upon the deck, to fill again with the report of a nine pounder and a great slatting of sheets and blocks as the ship recovered herself and rolled to windward.

The brig was just two months out from England, from whence she had been dispatched to the West African coast to form a portion of the slave squadron and to relieve the old Garnet , which, from her phenomenal lack of speed, had proved utterly unsuitable for the service of chasing and capturing the nimble slavers who, despite all our precautions, were still pursuing their cruel and nefarious vocation with unparalleled audacity and success. We had relieved the Garnet , and had looked in at Sierra Leone for the latest news; the result of this visit being that we were now heading in for the mouth of the Congo, which river had been strongly commended to our especial attention by the Governor of the little British colony. Our captain, Commander Henry Stopford, was by no means a communicative man, it being a theory of his that it is a mistake on the part of a chief to confide more to his officers than is absolutely necessary for the efficient and intelligent performance of their duty; hence he had not seen fit to make public the exact particulars of the information thus received. But he had of course made an exception in favour of Mr Young, our popular first luff; and as I Henry Dugdale, senior mid of the Barracouta happened to be something of a favourite with the latter, I learned from him, in the course of conversation, some of the circumstances that were actuating our movements. The intelligence, however, was of a very meagre character, and simply amounted to this: That large numbers of African slaves were being continually landed on the Spanish West Indian islands; that two boats with their crews had mysteriously disappeared in the Congo while engaged upon a search of that river for slavers; and that a small felucca named the Wasp a tender to the British ship sloop Lapwing had also disappeared with all hands, some three months previously, after having been seen in pursuit of a large brig that had come out of the river; these circumstances leading to the inference that the Congo was the haunt of a strong gang of daring slavers whose capture must be effected at any cost... Continue reading book >>




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