Autograph Letter Signed from 'William Kay', on board 'H.M.S. Tauranga at Sea', to someone (male) to whom he is very affectionate, Louie ("son"??), describing a journey to Australia, with 'a lot of young Blue Jacket Boys on board'.

William Kay [HMS Tauranga, Auxiliary Squadron of the Australia Station; Lou Blane; bluejackets]
Publication details: 
'H.M.S. Tauranga at Sea' [undated, but presumably on HMS Tauranga's maiden voyage to Australia, 1890].
SKU: 12112

13pp., 12mo. On three bifoliums and a last single leaf. On aged and worn paper. A semi-literate, but spirited epistle. Little is to be discovered concerning the identity of the writer. Addressed to 'My Darling Son' and signed 'good bye, be good, ever yours and yours alone William Kay', but with a few hints that the letter may not in fact be from a father to his son. Kay begins by stating that he is going to fulfil his promise and write 'a long letter'. Of the journey he writes: 'its not particularly rough, but its the speed we are going that makes her roll, we are now steaming past Deal at the rate of 19.8. so you can judge the rate we are going [...] we are ripping, as the sailors call it. She's a very good sea boat so far. Shes alright down below, but on deck oh my, she simply washes down fore and half, so we stay down below as much as we can. We had it rough last night off lands end, but she behaved very well, you would laugh if you were here, we were standing on the forecastle last night watching her capers and a big fat wave came and washed us out of it, she doesnt attempt to jump over them, but she simply plunges right through it | You ought to of seen us we was like a lot of drownded rats, and then their was a yell, how do you like Her.' He reports that 'we have a lot of young Blue Jacket [sailor] Boys on board we are going to take them out to Australia and I pittied them last night, they were all sick, and one of our little drumer [sic] Boys was that bad we had to take him to the Doctor, in fact we thought he was going to roll up but he's alright now, of course it doesnt effect us old seadogs'. He reports that the ship is going to Grimsby and Hull, and then Torquay. He declares 'I shant kiss anybody else, Annie Glenister ask me for one when I was at home but I wouldnt giver her one, she said it was to bad of me, she said if it was Lou Blane you wouldnt say no, Not I. why should I, you had better answer that, one day when I was in No. 9 Union terrace the two annies got me down, in the dressmaking shop and both of them kissed me, what cheek, but didnt I pay them out for it, I got annie J. Down and capsized all her dressmaking gear all over her'. Docketed 'Very last letter. From on board ship.' HMS Tauranga was an Pearl-class Royal Navy cruiser, built by J. & G. Thomson, Glasgow, and originally named HMS Phoenix. She was launched on 28 October 1889, and was renamed Tauranga as part of the Auxiliary Squadron of the Australia Station on 2 April 1890, arriving in Sydney with the squadron on 5 September 1891. She saw service during the Samoan civil war in 1899, and spent between 1901 and 1903 in reserve at Sydney, before being assigned to the New Zealand division of the Australia Station. She left the Australia Station on 14 December 1904, and was sold for scrap in July 1906.