John Foster, Elias Vickey, and Asa Witham died - Mr. Deal's Escape - Effect of long Imprisonment - New Subscription - Milford Transport - Joyful News - Hole Discovered - Keppel Acquitted - Bonfires - Escape - No Coals in Plymouth - Excitement about the Dog - Love to Friends - James Valentine died - Bills of Exchange from Bilboa - Cartel Arrives - Lieutenant Knox Arrives - Leaves the Prison - Kind Usage on Cartel - Bonner Darling died
FEBRUARY 1. This morning about three o'clock, Mr. John Foster died in the prison hospital, of a nervous fever. Some of Mr. Foster's townsmen were of a mind that he should be buried in a white linen shirt, but they received for an answer, that no person in this country was allowed to be buried in any thing but sheep's clothing. The American prisoners, who died in the royal hospitals, were buried in black, but very rough coffins; but those who die in prison are buried in a rough white coffin. This Mr. Foster is the eighth man that has died since I came to prison - the seventh man of our crew that has died since we have been taken, and the seventeenth American prisoner that has died in prison and in the royal hospital, since we were captured.
2. To-day a gentleman came here, whom we are informed is but fourteen days from Dunkirk, but last from London, and he brought a letter from the Board, which ordered the agent to let him inspect every thing which he had a mind to. He looked at our meat, weighed our bread, and tasted our beef, and we are told that he has been in every prison in France.
3. This morning about five o'clock, Elias Vickery died. He was a Marblehead man. He was taken in one of the Freedom's prizes; and about six o'clock, Asa Witham died. He belongs to New Gloucester, and was taken in the Dolton. They have both been sick upwards of twelve months. - They make ten in number that have died since I have been in prison, and eight of our crew since we have been taken, and nineteen in all that have died of different crews since we have been taken. Last evening Mr. Deal made his escape from the officers' prison.
4. Three men have died this week, and there are sixteen or eighteen now sick. Of late, every day more or less are taken sick, and most of them with fever. Yesterday a French frigate, of twenty-six guns, was brought in here, which was taken by an English frigate.
5. This is another port day, and no news for us, concerning a cartel. It is unaccountable to me that it is so long coming. It is twenty months to-day, since I entered this prison.
6. It is so long since we heard of a cartel that the greater part in prison begin to despair of its coming. Many of those in prison are like so many children; as long as a rattle is ringing in their ears, they are quiet and easy, but as soon as the rattle stops, they are faithless and impatient.
We have another hole in hand, which will take us nearly a month to complete; so that if this news proves abortive, we may have recourse to another way.
Last evening a man made his escape over the wall, but before any one could get out, it was discovered.
7. This is another port day, and no news for us.
8. Nothing remarkable.
9. This afternoon Mr. Sorrey sent us sixpence apiece to each man in prison, which we are informed, is part of a new subscription which is opened.
10. Yesterday was port day, and this morning the agent informed us that His Majesty had been graciously pleased to pardon one hundred of us, in order for an exchange; and that he had received an order from the Board of Commissioners of sick and wounded seamen, to deliver one hundred of us to Lieutenant Knox, whenever he should call for us. This Lieutenant Knox is to command the Milford transport, which is the cartel.
The joy that doth this joy excell;
Long as we live we should adore
The goodness God lays up in store.
11. We have been informed that the cartel is in Portsmouth, and never heard to the contrary, until to-day, when the agent informed us that she is in Dartmouth, waiting only for a fair wind to come down the channel.
12. Nothing remarkable.
13. Nothing transpired worthy of notice.
11. Through some dirt that was laid about the prison, and discovered by the turnkeys, which gave them cause to suspect we had another hole in hand, the guard came in, and after a long search, found it.
15. It is two years and three months since I sailed in the brig Dolton, from Newbury.
16. Nothing remarkable.
17. Last night two men made their escape from the officers prison, but were taken up and brought back to-day. Last night, Plymouth was illuminated on account of Admiral Keppel being acquitted with honor.
18. The wind is to the eastward to-day, but no signs of a cartel appears.
19. Upon a large hill, a little distance from the prison, we see a couple of flag-staffs erected, but we know not the occasion of it.
20. Upon the same hill where the flag-staffs were erected yesterday, there were two large bonfires last night, and the houses all around illuminated, which, we are told, was on account of the plot being discovered against the King's dock-yard, and last night was the time it was to be put into execution.
21. Nothing remarkable.
24. Last night a man made his escape out of this prison, by getting over the wall. This morning Mr. Sorrey came, and brought each of us another sixpence. For a few days past, we have had no coals to burn. Mr. Sorrey informed us that a bushel of coal is not to be purchased in Plymouth, at any price. He also informed us that fourteen sail of vessels, laden with coal, had lately been taken, bound from Newcastle. This afternoon, also, Mr. Heath came to see us; he has lately returned from London. He read a letter to us, which informed us that the cartel is in the Downs, detained only by contrary winds: also, that there has been a great talk in London, concerning our eating a dog, and that it had been published in the papers, and he desired that we would let him know the truth of it, whether we eat it from actual necessity or not. Mr. Heath sent us some soap and tobacco.
25. This forenoon, a gentleman came to see us, who is lately from London. He told us that when he sailed, the cartel absolutely lay in the Downs. By this time I hope we have got the truth of it.
26. Yesterday three gentlemen, who are our friends, came with Mr. Heath to see us. We have been so long confined, that when a friend comes into the yard to see us, we flock around him like children, and love the ground he treads upon. Also, to-day, we wrote them out the facts relating to the dog, agreeably to their request.
27. Nothing of interest.
28. Sunday. The wind hauls round to the northward and eastward, which gives us now to hope that our cartel will be here in a few days.
March 1. Nothing remarkable.
2. Nothing worthy of notice.
3. We understand that there is a fleet bound to the East Indies, and another to the West Indies, that lay wind-bound, up channel, as well as our cartel.
4. This morning, James Valentine died with a fever. He was a Marblehead man, and belonged to Captain Lee's crew. He is the twentieth man that has died since I have been taken, and the eleventh since I have been in prison. This has been a fast day with us; for the beef that came in this morning was so bad, and so far from being according to contract, that we sent it back again. - The second that came, was worse than the first, and we refused it, also. Our peas are also bad so that we could not eat them, and by applying to the officer of the guard, who spoke in our behalf, we received cheese instead of beef, but not until evening.
5. This morning we received the joyful tidings that our cartel had arrived. Some of the Marblehead men received letters from home, by way of a vessel that was taken. The bills of exchange for one hundred and nine pounds sterling, have arrived from Bilboa, for Captain Lee's crew, and are sent to London to be answered.
6. Notwithstanding our cartel has arrived, we understand that she is to wait for orders from London, before she can embark us.
7. Nothing remarkable.
8. This forenoon the outward bound East India fleet, with their convoys, passed by this port.
9. Nothing of interest.
10. This morning Lieutenant Knox, who is to transact the business of our exchange, came to see us, and informed us that he expects to embark us the beginning of next week. The cartel has come up to Stonehouse creek, where we can see her from the prison.
11. Nothing remarkable.
12. The wind has now veered round to the southward, and blows up rain, which I fear will delay our going.
13. This afternoon the agent, Mr. Coudry, informed us that on Monday, at ten o'clock, we are to embark.
14. Sunday. We are so impatient to be gone, that every moment of this day seems an hour long.
15. It is two years and four months to-day, since I left Newbury. This forenoon, about eleven o'clock, ninety-seven of us in number, were guarded down, and embarked on board the cartel - two of our number having died since we received the King's pardon, and one being dangerously ill.
16. We are now on board the cartel, and waiting only for a fair wind to sail. We are allowed the liberty of the deck, by day and night, and we have tolerable good accommodations. We lodge in cabins; most of us have beds of our own, and those who have not, have King's bedding. There are three or four sick amongst us, and they have single cabins by themselves. To-day we had salt beef and pudding, which is a great rarity.
17. The wind is still against us, but I feel much easier here than I should be in prison. Here we have a change of diet, though it is no more than prisoners' allowance, and both officers and men behave very civil to us.
18. To-day Mr. Heath came on board, and another of our friends, and brought some wine, tea, and sugar, and other necessaries, for those who are sick.
19. To-day the prison doctor came on board, and informed us that Bonner Darling is dead - a negro man that belonged to Marblehead, and one of our crew. He makes twenty-one that have died since I have been taken; and nine of the number were of the Dolton's company.