Autograph letter, signed "Chas W. Coffin." To Dr. Dwight Baldwin. Aboard the ship "Narragansett" at sea: 4 December 1844
4to (9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.; 250 x 200 mm.). 7 pages, written in blue ink, address and docketing on final page; a few small marginal stains, 3 worm punctures affecting a few letters.
News of a scandal among the "foreign" community at lahaina
Charles W. Coffin appears in history as the master of the whaling ship Ohio, a log of whose voyage he wrote in 1837-1841 (now at the Old Dartmouth Historical Society of New Bedford Mass.). He may have played the same role in the whaling ship "Narragansett" from which he writes the present letter to the illustrious Dr. Dwight Baldwin (1798-1886) of Lahaina, Maui. Trained in both medicine and theology, Dr. Baldwin was a missionary who moved to Lahaina in 1835, and who preached every Sunday in Hawaiian at the Wainee Church and around Maui. He went on to make a medical reputation treating the smallpox epidemic of 1853.
Coffin regrets not having seen Dr. Baldwin when he visited Lahaina but goes on to discuss in glowing terms his experience with Dr. [Charles Frederick] Winslow and his family who he has known most of his life. [In the year 1844, Dr. Winslow settled in Lahaina, Maui where he opened his practice, administering to many whalers as well as residents of Maui. He left the Islands in 1847 and returned to the United States.] Coffin regrets to learn that the "tongue of slander" besmirches Winslow, "to circulate a report that the Dr. had to flee from Tahiti on account of licentious intercourse with a native woman."
Coffin defends Winslow's character and surgical skills at great length. He then recounts a visit to Mr. [William Paterson?] Alexander from whom he obtained "Burritt's Geography of the Heavens, a work from which I promise myself much satisfaction as I have been studying everything relating to astronomy I could get hold of for the past year. I have no fears that the study of astronomy will lead me to scepticism, for I fully assent to Dr. Young's idea than an 'undevout astronomer is mad.' I believe we are placed here in a state of progressive improvement, that our minds emanate from the Diety and that if we use them aright, we shall go on progressing through time and throught eternity."
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