Monday, May 20

A Letter to the Doctor

19 December 1813

Dear Sir,
It will most likely come as surprise to hear from your old loblolly boy, but rest assured Sir I have not forgotten you. Perhaps you may have asked yourself over the years ”I wonder what has ever became of old Silas Craig?”. 

Well Sir, for such a kind and generous soul as yourself, the true story would make you weep. The very next commission after I served with you I had a gun to crush my foot. The surgeon took it off at the ankle, but after a bit the leg Above it become corrupted and he took it off at the knee and they sent me to the hospital in Greenwich, but I survived anyhow. 

I had hoped to get a commission then as a cook, but there was none to be had and they sent me off a poor cripple with just a small pension to try and survive on. What was I to do? Well Sir, you will well remember I was never one to beg charity- and no one was handier than me on a make and mend day. 

I begun to take old discarded clothes and patch and mend them up and sell them again at a fair price. I done good enough at it that folks begun to bring me clothes they no longer needed which I would buy from them and mend and sell. After a bit they begun to bring me broken or old odds and ends that I would patch and mend and polish to sale at a fair price. My father was a tinker so I knew a bit of how to do such things. 

With my pension and my mending and such I was getting by when- who could have known- the constables grab me up! They claim that the things I had been buying was stold! And a bunch of them blackhearts what sold things to me lined up in court to say so. A sorry situation it was. I might have been hanged were it not for Lieutenant Murtry- you will remember him as midshipman Murtry- stepping up and putting in a kind word for me. 

As it was they sent me to Botany Bay. Oh Sir, I well remember how fond you was of seeing the bushes and bugs and fish and such of a new place- but there is nothing to love here! Every bush that does not draw blood with thorns and such will give you a rash. The animals here is all scorpions, spiders and snakes and such so poisonous that a fellow does not go three paces after he is bit. 

And the people from here is all Blackfellas that would just as soon spear a man as look at him. So here I am a poor cripple, innocent of any crime, condemned to labor in such a place. So I survived my time- and a miracle it was, me being a cripple and all- and now I am a gain a free man, if free it can be called to have to live in such a desolate and God forsaken place as this. 

Now I scrape by as a servant for Reverand Elias Penwell, who was an innocent persecuted unjustly on false testimony of villains and sent here like myself. His eyes are going and often times he will have me to read for him. I was reading him an old copy of the Navy list which had made its way here when I come across you as the surgeon of the Acasta.

"Is that the same Doctor Roberts you always peak so highly of?" he asks me. 

"I am sure it is the same " I reply. 

"You should write him of your distress here" he says to me. 

"Oh Sir " say I "I could never bother him with my problems". 

"Why Mister Craig" he says  "I am surprised you would treat the good Doctor Roberts with such disrespect!" 

"Never in this life should I disrespect the Doctor!" says I. 

"Well Sir, you should well know that nothing cheers a Christian heart more than helping those in need and distress! If this Doctor Roberts is half the magnanimous fellow you describe he would be distressed beyond measure to find he could have helped you in your time of need but was deprived of the opportunity through ignorance. To deprive him of this opportunity to practice Christian Charity would be cruel indeed!"

So after the Reverand had explained things with such intelligence the wisdom of his words was undeniable.

So Sir you might send whatever charitable ammount you seen fit to me here at Botany Bay through the Reverand Penwell.  Also good would be - if you have any influence at home- would be to see that I might be allowed to return to my native land and not die here a poor cripple in this desolate place.

Ever your loving and obedient Servant, 
Silas Craig

Friday, May 17

A Letter from Baptiste

Marie, Baptiste's wife, finds an old tar to read her her letter.

16 May 1814

Dearest Marie, 

I miss you so! And the Boys! I suppose that by now they can say hole thoughts not just words. I am writing to you in English. Perhaps Mr Clark will read this for you. I have been trying hard to learn this. My friend Apple the Carpenter, and sometimes the Doctor, tutor me. I find that writing in English is much like talking in English. You no how English is almost the same as French, just pronounced incorectly? Witting is much the same. In English each letter has something to say, none of them seem to be there just to make the word more handsome. Once I became accustomed to this lack of beauty in English words it was not so difficult.

We are back on the Blockade of Baltimore and things are very dull except the times we chase after a prize. We have captured several, and I am entitled to an amount of money for each. It is called prize money. None of our captures have put up what could be called a fight, and do not fear for me in anycase, for when we come close I am safe below decks with the surgeon.

Things are so dull I find I become meloncoly. Most this is from missing you and the boys- but I find I also miss the small creatures of the land- birds in the morning and crickets in the evening. The only creatures here are rats and roaches. I do have some leeches- and they have become my friends! I won at cards them from an apothacary’s assistant when we were in Halifax. They are the good leeches from Europe. A  pressed man named Booke stole many for fishing bait. He and I later become friends and he told me he was sorry for thiefing them. He escaped in Bermuda. He offered for me to go with him, but I was afraid the risk was to great and the chance of success to small. I suppose he succeeded, for I have heard no more of him and I am sure news would have reached us if he were caught. But back to my friends the leeches. Dear old Messer Duvall once told me that their behavior changes with the weather, and I have found this to be true. Each morning I see what they are doing  and  compare it with the weather. They do more than you would thing a worm would do. Sometimes they climb out of the water and hang like grapes on the jar edge, sometimes they swim frantically and sometimes they even lay on the bottom on their backs.  The first time I saw this I thought they were dead, but now I know it is just something they do. I have found sometime I can predict a change in weather coming by what they are doing.

I have had one accident. A big pressed landsman fell down a hatch and knocked off a fellow coming down below him. I just happened to be passing below with a small oil lamp I use for cupping. Both fellows landed on me. I was nocked almost senseless with my face pressed into the oil from the lamp which caught fire! I was able to kill the fire with my cap, but it burned off almost all my side whiskers on the one side.  I shaved them off so the other fellows would not make a jest of me. I no how handsome you think they are- but I promise I will have them grown back buy the time you read these words.

I will close now. This letter will be sent out with others of the Doctor’s. He has made a friend of another natural philosopher in America, so it should not have a problem reaching you. My love to you and the boys.

Always your loving husband, 

Thursday, May 16

A Letter to Mr. Apple

to: Jas. Apple
H.M.S. Acasta
At Sea

March 5, 1814

Dear James,                                                                                          

I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. Everyone here is in good health. You know, poor hand that I am at it, I would never take to write you were it not of some important matter. As you know your father left some time past for Germany, leaving the business in the hands of your mother and I. Thomas has took a clerk position in Shoreditch and they has a fine, healthy baby boy, which keeps most of his time occupied. Which brings me to the problem. 

Your mother, good hearted soul that she is, is to soft hearted in extending credit and insisting on payment. You remember Lord Hathcock's young son Bradford? Well as soon as his old Father passed he ordered a top of the line carriage- and a finer coach we have never put to wheels. Now he spends all of his time running about town playing the rake- even has a livery dressed in silk more colorful than a dancing monkey- but we have yet to see payment beyond that which he put down to begin with. When pressed for payment he comes up with a story about having trouble collecting from his tenants and we will be paid as soon as they are settled. Yet he has the money to dress his livery in silk and be about town all evening? And now two of his young rake friends has put in carriage orders also. 

Now James you have known me since you was small and we are as close to family as people can get without being blood kin. I have tried to speak with your brother about this, but he is occupied with other affairs. I do not want to overstep my position or offend your mother, but she does not take my advice on insisting on payment when payment is due. I am feared we may be in ruin before your father returns. If you could write to her and encourage her to allow me to take charge of debts and payments I am sure I could soon set matters straight. Please do so as soon as you may be able. Hopefully this war will end soon and you can have liberty to come home. 

yr, Obt. Svt,
Wm. Driver

Tuesday, May 14

A letter to Miss Nowack

My dearest Miss Nowack

I don't mean to have you worry about not hearing from me for so long. The Doctor keeps me so busy I hardly get a moment to stop and write. Slave driver, he is. Last month he left his new bride behind to drag myself, one of the midshipmen, Haberfield, and Taylor inland for a covert mission to recover something or other related to the war.

Don't imagine my lovely Miss Nowack that I strayed an inch away from you, even surrounded as I was by some rather lovely ladies all eager to dance with me. I vowed I shant dance with a soul whilst apart from you. I'll be as true to you as I ever was.

I don't suspect I can be too candid in my note to you, you understand, on account it was for the Admiralty, but I can tell you we were successful in our mission and all returned safely. Since we have been back, though, our ship has fallen under a plague of lice, the Doctor, Jean Baptiste and I have set a large quantity of men aboard ship to the razor to remove their hair to help rid us of the pests. But don't worry my sweet, I've managed to stay clean of the vermin and keep my hair.

I will end this letter for now, but not to end my love for you, dear Miss Nowack. Write me soon so I may survive the long days apart from you.

Ever yours,

Friday, May 10

Acastas Read Their Mail

More video of Acastas having gotten their mail and reading through it!