Letters From the Last American Master of the Friendship, She Was Captured by the English in the War of 1812.
Before this comes to hand you will. know of my present situation, the loss of Property and Liberty I feel like other Men. But the loss of precious time is what grieves me much, The Commn'd of a good Letter a Mark, or shall I say a Privateer to my liking. Oh! God, how my Soul swells at the thought of a Fortune a wooden leg- or perhaps a head, Indeed the accumulation of property, or this worlds goods, oft' depends on accidents, the lest expected, and these are the Days that points to Glorie- I think I may venture to say, it is your side of the water that will give peace or War. there has nothing as yet taken place here, there is about 15 sail of Americans here. We are held in charge of the Marchal as Droights of Admiralty- I was chased of the North Cape by a Danish Gun Brig. But we steered boldly up to him, when he gave way Likewise on the 10 of Sept this Vessel I took to be an English Frigate, they got within 2 miles of us when it came on dark we Rigged out the steering sail booms as if intending to put before the wind, but here he got mistaken, for as soon as we lost sight of him we Tackt and wished him good Night. If the Rosamond had made us at any other point, but dead to leeward, he would not have got us-But what avails all this, any boy will tell a much better story. My situation at present is very disagreeable, if I should abandon, (which by the by I have no thoughts of doing,) I well know it would not please my worthy employers, who I hope in God never to offend. On this point I feel very unhappy, the continual expenses, for you well know that in this part of the World a Man cannot live on the Air-God (Page Break) knows that my disposition to extravigancies I think never was great, but here everything must be paid for.Oh! If I was but in Salem, happy Salem, I would freely give all I possess (Aye Embargo in to the bargain-,) Here Sir you may plainly see my situation, I feel chagrin'd at my dayly expenses, whilst I freely sacrifice the comforts of myself, and those of my family, together with our further expectations for- that character that may be blasted, Some of the American Masters here have quited and gone home, but [that I should] never think of doing, untill I receive orders to from those who have placed me in such a respon[sible] situation- I injoy good health, indeed Misfortune, I think never will kill me, I feel the sting for a time most bitterly but then 'tis like the winter blast, that leaves the husband Man in full possession of his facultys to repair the great damages sustaind - Pray give my best wishes to all your loving family- I am truly sorry that I shall have to be absent from there pleasing company this winter. Capt Edward Allen has just arrived here, he was captured on his passage from Ft.Micles, b0und to Cadiz. he looks about the same, he made inquiries after all his old friends with a countenance truly depress'd with sorrow, believe me
. . .
Friendship's capture letters- page 2
Sir when I say that my heart was so full when first I saw him that I could hardly spake to him - for at that moment the thoughts of his loving family rushed on my mind, that for a time forgot my own distructed seperation, Oh! God what a lesson is this, to Man, down, down, Ambition never more aspire-if you should have any opportunity I wish you to write me-for indeed I want advice- at present there is chances for me to get (home somehow??) but if the English declair War- god only knows (page break) of the Ship Marquis and that Mr.John Gardner & Capt has arrived at Salem it appears that he thought it not worth his while to stop by the Ship and she is more valuable than the Friendship- this rather staggers my resolution. Truely I am at a loss how to manage or act for the best If I had but one bare line at this Moment- it would be the greatest favor I could receive- Wishing your health and happiness,
I remain your Well Wisher,
Capt'n Joseph Waters, Salem.
[From Plymouth, England 1812- the Peabody Essex labels looks like 1818-which would be a mistake.]
London Dec 9, 1812
At length this bisi'ss is come to a close. The Friendship was Condemmed today. I expect to return to' the united States (by) Brig Latonia of Bostn pray what can be the reason that my wor[thy] imployer, has not wrote me, I suppose the think it is hardly worth while to have any more to do with poor me, but indeed it shall not discomfort me much, for now the word is a Wooden Leg or gould Chain I suppose I shall imbark in the course of Eight or Ten days- a winters cost, so goes life- Aideu with respect & love.
[Can't tell whose spelling and punctuation we are looking at, copied it all verbatim- primary letters are in the possession of Lawrence W.Jenkins of Salem (as of 1904-per the handwritten note on the bottom .of the page)]
Peabody Essex Museum, James Duncan Philips Library (microfilm series 91, reel 9, 1811F at the end-typewritten letters). They have a few more letters also.