Wednesday, February 10

Baptiste's Leeches

Master at Arms
HMS Acasta


I write this at the request of Mr Baptiste, Mr Girard, mate to Doctr. Roberts, who excuses himself saying that he feels his writing in English may be too poor to express the importance of his relation. He wishes it to be known that on last port liberty in Halifax, he, of his own accord, did obtain some two dozen leeches of the type used for bleeding. Bleeding being one of the duties often assigned him by Doctr. Roberts and the leeches of America being unsuitable for this purpose, those he obtained had been imported from Europe and that they came very dear.

He wishes it known that he did this as a kindness for several of the ships boys and some of the younger sailors are very fretful of being bled and that when it be necessary to bleed a man from the back of the throat it can be more easily done by such a worm in a tube. He also relates that officers could be bled while they slept with a leech behind each ear and not interfere with their duties.

These leeches, in a covered jar, he placed among the medicninals in a dark place for them to become accustomed to the motion of the ship, and that when he next looked after them the thought there might have been fewer but that he was not sure, but that over time they have certainly become fewer. That in bringing it to the Doctor's attention the Doctor suggested that perhaps the leeches preyed on one another, but that he says they do not behave as cannibals and are always housed in congress by the apothecaries that sell them.

That in this same time he had taken notice that the mess including Jacob Booke, being often near to his, always had good fresh fish in addition to their ration and that he had heard once heard Booke to say  that to catch fish always "nothing is better bait than worms" and that questioning Booke about this Booke said that he had mistook what he said, it being that "the bait must be warm", but that he was certain Booke had said "worms". 

The Doctor not taking the plight of the leeches with proper seriousness that there were but a few left when he was finally prevailed upon to then lock the survivors away with the laudanum and spirituous medicinals. He feels certain that these valuable specimens have been villainously stolen by Booke and his mess and he wishes the Master at Arms to be made aware of the situation.

Yr obt svt
M'man S. Loomis

N.B. I feel I should also relate that this narrative is to the best of my understanding, as Mr Baptiste became impassioned in his narration and often lapsed into his horrible Creole accented French, making him difficult to understand. 

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