A Hurricane - Great Distress - Kills a Dog - Dog divided - Cooked and eat - Rats eat in Prison - Voluntary Surrender - Good News - Cartel arrived - Pardon - Great Joy - A small Donation - Spanish Fleet - Another Pardon - A Wonder - Number of Prisoners left - Wait impatiently - Another Hole in hand - Eleven Frenchmen escape - Good News from Bilboa - Happy Event - Twenty-six months a Prisoner - Incendiary - Penitent sick Prisoners - King's Pardon.
JANUARY 8. It is two years, to-day, since we arrived in this Sound. One of those that were brought back yesterday, brought a paper in with him, in which is an account of an hurricane that happened about ten days ago, at London, in which a great number of houses were blown down; and by the same tornado, a great many vessels were cast away, at Margate Roads, and a number of lives lost. Among the rest was an East Indiaman. By the paper, we also learn, that a great part of Greenwich Hospital was consumed by a fire that took place there.
This is a much worse time to be on short allowance than any time since we have been in prison. As there are so many on half allowance, those who are on full allowance, and are willing to help us, are unable, for their own allowance is not sufficient to support nature; and the half of that is intolerable. There are numbers in prison on half allowance who have not a penny to help themselves with. New shoes have been sold for a shilling, and new shirts for the same price, by persons who, perhaps, had no others to wear; in short, there are a great many long faces in prison, for nothing but hunger rages throughout. To such a degree is this the case, that we killed a dog this afternoon, in order to let him cool by to-morrow, and his insides were scarcely out, before his liver was on coals broiling.
9. This morning we divided the dog into quarters, and he was dressed so neat, and being so fat withall, that if I had seen him in a butcher's shop I should have thought it to be a young lamb, and good meat. We had a bag of potatoes given us, to eat with our venison. Some stewed theirs; others roasted it; and I must confess, I made a tolerable meal out of some of this roasted dog, with potatoes dipped in its drippings. Rats have been eat in this prison often before. To-day the agent told us that he had received an answer to our petition, and that at we are to be allowed peas instead of greens, which is much better. He had received an order, that if we would deliver up those who were most active in digging the hole, the rest should be restored to full allowance. But the majority in prison were inclined to give them no satisfaction. This afternoon, however, two young men, of their own accord, went and delivered themselves up, and were sent to the Black-hole, thinking to live well, I suppose, while there, as doubtless they will.
10. To-day we were all restored to full allowance, and received peas. We had, also, white bread sent in by our friends. Thus, it is either a feast or a famine with us. I have been only eleven days on half allowance. To-day, about twelve o'clock, Mr. Heath sent a man to inform us that a cartel had arrived in Plymouth, for us. Soon after, Mr. Sorrey came with a letter which he had received from the committee in London, and read it to us, which informed us that one of the committee had waited on Lord Savage, the head lord of the Admiralty, to know the truth concerning this cartel, and he informed him that the Milford transport was engaged for that purpose, as a flag ship, and that we should be exchanged, one hundred at a time, and the first draft is to be from this prison, as we were committed first; so we shall embark and proceed to Nantz, where they will take an equal number, and so go on till all the American prisoners in England are exchanged, if there be enough English prisoners in France that were taken by the Americans. There were only about forty or fifty committed before me, but as there have been upwards of one hundred who have lately attempted to escape from here, and most of them brought back, myself among the number; and as it is customary in time of war for such to forfeit their turn, I began to despair of going in the first draft. In the mean time, all hands were called to hear a letter read, which the agent had received from the Lords of the Admiralty, who desired him to inform us that we were to be exchanged for the English prisoners in France, taken by the Americans; and that, notwithstanding a number of us had attempted our escape, and by this means had forfeited our turn, yet, in this instance we should be forgiven upon condition that we discovered through what corruption, or negligence, we effected our escape. This being read, he ordered the Black-hole doors to be opened. This is joyful news to us. Joy is to be seen on every man's countenance. This is a blessed day!
11. This afternoon Mr. Heath came to congratulate us on our prospect of deliverance, and brought a letter with him, which informed us that the cartel is now in Plymouth, waiting only for a man to come from France to take charge of us.
12. To-day Mr. Sorrey came, and brought every man a sixpence, which is part of twenty pounds that has lately been sent down from London, and which was left of the old stock; but we hear that they are about opening a new subscription.
13. We learn, from the papers, that the Spaniards have now seventy sail of the line, besides frigates and sloops, in different parts of Spain, mounting in all, seven thousand and three cannons, of different bores.
14. The sick, in the hospital, are most of them on the recovering order now, except three that moved down yesterday; and to-night I am to go down and watch with them, as of late, since there has been so many sick, we have been allowed, two of a night, to go down and watch with them.
15. This afternoon a pardon came down from the King, for fifteen men in this prison, that petitioned last to go on board the men-of-war; three of the number are already on board. They went out at the last hole, for that purpose. After the officers came to receive them, out of the twelve that remained in prison only four went, which makes forty-nine, in all, that have gone on board the men-of-war from this prison; besides numbers who have broke out and gone. It is astonishing to me, that men who have been used by the English as we have been, with all the severity that they have been masters of, should afterwards voluntarily enter their service.
16. Nothing remarkable.
17. Sunday. Nothing remarkable.
18. This forenoon, some officers from the ships came for some Frenchmen in the other yard, to carry them on board the men-of-war, and five out of the eight who would not go last Friday, altered their minds, and went, which makes fifty-four that have gone out of this yard, on board the men-of-war.
There are exactly two hundred and fifty American prisoners left here. This being the Queen's birth-day, the garrison and fort, and each ship in the harbor, in commission, fired twenty-one guns, as a royal salute.
19. We wait very impatiently for the man which we hear is to come from France to take charge of us. Though I am sensible he will make no unnecessary delays, yet he seems a long time coming; so long, that some in prison begin to be doubtful whether he will come at all.
20. Some in prison, so far despair of a cartel, that they have begun another hole. There was brought again, to-day, sixpence apiece for each man in prison.
21. Last night eleven Frenchmen made their escape from a separate prison, in another yard, and five soldiers are confined on the same account.
22. This forenoon Mr. Sorrey came again, and brought a couple of letters which he received from Bilboa, one of which was from Mr. Emery, of Bilboa, to Captain Lee's crew, which informed them that Captain Lee had arrived in Bilboa, and that his whole crew, if they would write, might be supplied with fifty shillings a share, and Captain Bradbury, in this prison, with six guineas.
This afternoon, all hands were called, and the agent called over the names of the hundred that were to go in the first draft, and desired that we should hold ourselves in readiness to be exchanged. Never was I so rejoiced to hear my name called, upon any occasion, as upon this. I am about the fortieth upon the agent's list. It appears that we are not to be exchanged as we were captured, but according to the date of our commitment, so that all our crew will not be included in the first draft. Out of one hundred and twenty which arrived in England, belonging to the Dolton, only eighty-six are left in prison to be exchanged.
23. We are so well assured of a cartel, now, that we lay aside all schemes for effecting our escape, and look out daily for orders to embark. An officer that belonged to the Mermaid frigate, that was chased ashore in America, who has been a prisoner in Philadelphia about a month, and has since been exchanged, and now arrived home, came to see us this afternoon, and talked with us. He gave us a very sad account of the price of provisions in America.
24. It is twenty-five months this night, that I have been a prisoner. We have been informed that last night, some men were discovered, in attempting to set fire to the King's dock-yard, in this port.
25. There are seven or eight now in the hospital, sick with fevers, but most of them are upon the recovering order, except those who were lately taken sick, two of which number labor under great concern of mind, relating to their future state, and to-day we obtained liberty of Mr. Condry, to send for a minister.
26. It is two years and two months, to-day, since I sailed from Portsmouth, in the brig Dolton.
27. Nothing remarkable.
28. As to-morrow is port day, we put great dependence on it, expecting an order from London concerning our exchange.
29. This morning Mr. Sorrey brought each of us another sixpence, which balances the twenty pounds before mentioned; and two of our officers, as usual, went up into the agent's office, to receive the money. The agent showed them a letter which he had received from London, with a pardon from the King for the first hundred that is to be exchanged.
30. Nothing remarkable.
31. Sunday. This is port day again, and there is no news for us to-day. It was a week last Friday since we were told to hold ourselves in readiness to be exchanged, and no signs of a cartel appears. If Job himself was here, his patience would be worn out.