The “first mate” has been with me inquiring after my health. He rather suspects me, I believe, of malingering. This old fellow is very voluble in his talk, believes himself to possess great conversational power, and is ready to give his opinion (being a Londoner) upon every subject. Gives it as his decided opinion that the thing which ails me must be “something internal.” Asked me earnestly how I thought I had contracted this illness, I told him if it was not by skating against the wind in Flanders, I could not think what else it wasn’t. “And a very likely way too,” said the first mate.
Dec. 8th. — I have been wasting my time sadly for three months — doing, learning, thinking, stark nothing. There is surely no necessity on me to live this worthless life, even in a hulk. By idleness I am helping the sickness that saps my strength. The chafing spirit devours the flesh; the blade rusts, and consumes its scabbard. This very possibility of getting shortly removed hence has restrained me from writing to Ireland for the books I want; and books and writing are the only occupation I can think of in my solitude. In truth, I did deem myself stronger than I find myself to be — stronger in body and mind; thought I could live wisely, calmly, and be sufficient unto myself in my own strength of quiet endurance, into whatsoever profoundest depths of penal horror the enemy might plunge me. To do and to be all this, I apprehend, needs more training than I have yet undergone. To attain the maximum strength, whether of mind or body, you require exercise, ασκήσις, education of every muscle and limb, of every faculty and sense. Sometimes I strive to guess what Goethe that great artist in living well, would recommend, by way of institutio vitae to a man in a hulk, ridden by the asthma fiend; but that sage relied too much, perhaps, on physical agencies, and the ennobling influences that come to us from objects of sense and taste, and the creations of highest art — to be of much use in cases like these. The pleasant country set apart for learning how to live in Wilhelm Meister’s Wanderjahr, with its stately repose and its elegant instrumentalities, material and spiritual, for making human life godlike, is as far out of my reach here as Utopia. Goethe, I think, never tried the galleys. One could wish he had — that so hulked men might have the spiritual use and meaning of the hulking world developed in transcendental wise, to help their solitary researches in all their convict generations. But, indeed, he made it one of the rules of his own life to shun all violent shocks, rude impressions, harsh noises, and the like; a temper that his nervous mother gave him, they say: at any rate, he nursed and petted himself in that refined sensitiveness; and thereby surely excluded himself from at least one-half the experiences of this world, so harsh and rude. If he had been bolted in fetters of iron, and whirled away to the galleys with a loaded pistol at his ear, he might have found the impression rather strong: but who can tell what he might have learned, to teach other men? Who can measure our loss herein?
I venture to dogmatise further — that by reason of this very system of his, living the easy half only of life, this Goethe fails of being the prophet, preacher, and priest, that a certain apostle of his in these days affirms he is.
That other Prophet, who preceded both Goethe and Mohammed, did not shun disagreeable impressions: He fasted forty days, and then fought and vanquished the devil and his angels — the sweat of His passion was as drops of blood — He was spitefully entreated — struck with the palms of ruffian hands — scourged like a convict as He was. He sounded the bass string of human misery and shame — insomuch that it is possible — I do not peremptorily dogmatise here — it is possible, that by intense contemplation of the character, passion, and death of that Prophet, more perfectly than by any other spiritual training, man may serenely conquer the flesh and the sense, defy the devil, and triumph gloriously over pain and death.
Dec. 18th. — I learn that a ship is to arrive at Bermuda early next year, carrying a cargo of convicts from London, with orders to deposit them here, and then proceed to the Cape of Good Hope with another similar cargo, made up of “recommended” prisoners from Bermuda, to be selected from amongst those who have gone through most of their terms of sentence. When these arrive at the Cape they are to be set at liberty by what is termed “ticket-of-leave.” How will the Cape colony relish this consignment of miscreants — to be let loose in their fine country? I suppose they have no voice in the matter. The man in Downing Street is their divine Providence; and they must submit to the inscrutable dispensations of the clerks in that office.
Seeing this shipload is actually to be sent, however, it may possibly occur to my keepers in England, that as I am not likely to die here without remark, they had better send me to the Cape. I should like it well: that colony has a noble climate: I should be in some sort of liberty; and if likely to be kept there many years, I could bring out all my household; and actually live through my captivity instead of suffering a daily and nightly death-in-life, as I do here.
Scarce half I seem to live — dead more than half
And buried —
Myself my sepulchre — a moving grave.
Fresh air, free motion, books, solitude without bars and gratings employment on my own ground, as a vine-dresser and a husband-man, and in teaching my boys — and the sweet society of all that are dearest to me. I will speak to Dr. Hall about it: he may suggest the thing to the governor, who may suggest it to the Colonial Secretary. If I must be a prisoner — or while I must — there could be no more tolerable imprisonment than this.
O’Doherty of the Irish Tribune, I see, has also been sentenced to ten years’ transportation — and what then can have become of his colleague, Williams? There is not one word about him in the paper, I have seen. Perhaps he has died in the prison. The jury in O’Doherty’s case was also closely packed.
Some Catholic clergymen have drawn up and presented to Lord Clarendon a respectful address, humbly deprecating the packing of juries in all these cases, and suggesting that Catholic householders should be allowed to stand for “good and lawful men.” Lord Clarendon replies boldly that he did pack the juries; and that under the circumstances he did right to pack them. Here is an honest ruffian!
About the time of my trial I remember some newspapers (and even Mr. Henn in his speech) said I had no right to complain of the exclusion of Catholic jurors — not being a Catholic myself — and now as O’Doherty is a Catholic himself, they say he cannot surely expect to be tried by his co-religionists; they would be partial to him. So in all cases good true-blue Protestants must do the Queen’s business. All this talk about the religion of the jurors is of course exasperating religious animosities in Ireland; and the English newspapers attribute this to us, because we complained about the packing. I wonder now if there is anybody in Ireland daring enough to hint that the religious distinction was made by the Crown, not by us — that we never asked to be tried by Catholics or Repealers, but that the government took care we should be tried by Protestants, and Castle Protestants only — that we demanded to have our conduct pronounced upon by our countrymen legally represented in the jury-list, not by one sect of our countrymen, still less by one section of one sect, least of all by twelve men skilfully chosen (by those who knew how to choose out of that section of that sect. But I suppose nobody dares to say this — Lord Clarendon would soon lay up the audacious traitor in Newgate as a suspected person.
23rd. — Saw Dr. Hall to-day. He tells me that my letter was referred to him by the governor for his official opinion — that he gave it distinctly to the effect that I am a dying man, unless I be removed from Bermuda; and the governor has transmitted this to London. In process of time, therefore, I may probably be removed, unless I die in the meantime.
Mentioned to him what I had heard about the Cape; and asked him why I might not be sent to that place. He looked surprised: and asked me if I really wished to sail in a transport ship, to the Cape of Good Hope, with convicts. I answered, “Most certainly — I wish to go to any country where there is air I can breathe.” He said the ship would be crowded with convicts. Told him I did not care — I wanted to fly for my life, and would not be choice either in my conveyance, or my company. He then said he would certainly mention to the governor the conversation he had with me; and as there would still be time to communicate with England before the ship would sail for the Cape, he had little doubt that I might be put on board of her, if I chose.
In short, I believe the pirates will send me to the Cape. And what care I for the convict ship’s-company? No doubt they will give me a separate place on board, for my own accommodation, as usual, out of no love for me, but lest I should raise a mutiny; for they have a wholesome terror of my propensities and talents in that way. At worst it will be but a two or three months’ voyage; and one can endure anything for two or three months.
Christmas Day. — They have had service on deck to-day. The men have had a holiday. The weather is bright and warm; and the whole of this wooden building is reeking with plum-pudding. I hear a distant sound of loud applause and stamping of feet, reminding me of Conciliation Hall. The man who attends me says it is a company of amateur convicts enacting a tragedy on the lower deck; the guards and officers are among the spectators, and there is a general gala — something as near to a saturnalian revel as would be safe among such a crew of miscreants. I wish them all a merry Christmas, and many happy returns of the same; but I doubt if it ever will return to me; I am sitting all day, shrunk together in my cell, dismally ill, and wrapped up in coats, like a man on a box-seat of a coach. Read “Antony and Cleopatra.”
Exit the year 1848.
1849 — Jan. 15th. — Bravo, Forty-Nine! Great news of the French Republic. Prince Louis Bonaparte (the same who was transported in Louis Philippe’s time) is elected President, and that against General Cavaignac! The English newspapers, which, to my horror, are my sole channels of intelligence, are in high delight, or pretend to be. For this, they say, is a distinct renunciation and abandonment of the Republic. If it were the Republic France cared for, she had chosen Cavaignac, an able man, and staunch democrat; but behold! they neglect Cavaigriac, and all France runs wild after the imperial name of Bonaparte. But these villainous newspapers see in the transaction just what they wish to see, and nothing else; or rather, put on it the interpretation which they wish their poor stupid readers to receive; and let them receive, and swallow, and digest it for the present. Oh! let there be no premature alarm in the moneyed circles. Let Credit stand on its wooden legs as long as it may.
But the French worship not the imperial, but the heroic name of Bonaparte. Republican formula, or monarchical, is not the thing they care for; but the glory of France is their god. I also see in this thing what I wish to see — and I see in it an expression of the great national want of France — that thirst, yearning, burning, passionate, in the soul of every Frenchman, to be quits with Europe for Waterloo and the occupation of France; and to tear into small shreds the Treaty of Vienna. On my white rock here, hard by the Tropic of Cancer, comes to my ear in melody the first growl of that gathering storm which is destined to shake the pillars of the globe: St. Helene! Waterloo! Vengeance! Now, ye credit-funders, look to it — Prenez garde! ameliorators of Celtic Ireland! Ca ira.
Poor sick, Celtic Ireland, in the meantime is miserably quiet, nobody daring to utter one honest word about public affairs, for fear of the Castle-vigour. O’Brien, Meagher, and the other Clonmel convicts have had their case argued before the twelve judges, on a writ of error. Decision against them of course. And O’Brien and MacManus go to the English House of Lords. Meagher, it is said, has decidedly refused to do this. He will never seek for justice out of Ireland. Right, brave Meagher!
O’Donoghue follows Meagher’s example; but still I can learn nothing about Williams. Since his arrest I have not once met with his name. He was very delicate in health; I fear their dungeons have killed him.
I have been very ill for the last month; but do not yield to it an inch. Must live, if I can, for some years to come. It may be this Napoleon has sought the Presidency, not with Republican, but with dynastic views. If so, he is an idiot as well as a traitor, and his empty head will fall. He seems, for so far, to mean fairly. And, heaven! what a destiny is within his grasp; but has he brains? And a heart?
February 1st. — There is a sort of “commission” sitting here, my servant tells me, consisting of Mr. Hire, Dr. Hall, and several other hulk authorities, to determine on the prisoners who are to he fecomm6nded for the Cape of Good Hope. Several men, it seems, to whom this recommendation was offered, have refused to leave Bermuda. This servant himself has been placed on the list and intends to go. He tells me he does not like Bermuda.
“It’s a rum country, sir, is this ‘ere — one of the rummest countries as is.”
I asked him if he had heard of any objections being made by the people of the Cape against receiving them.
“No, sir,” said he — “not as I knows on — I s’pose Government will take care of all them there things.”
Get on but slowly with my translation of the Politeia: and nearly repent that I began it; for I lack energy to go through with it. On some days I have hardly strength to mend my pen, or strength of will to do so much as determine upon that important measure. Dawdling over Keightley’s history of the war in Greece, compiled out of all the newspapers and all the memoirs. Full enough of incident certainly; for the author seems to give different versions of the same event as so many different transactions, and he ruthlessly kills more Greeks in the course of this war than there have been in all Greece at one time since the days of Philopcemen not to speak of incredible multitudes of Turks, whom he generally slays at least thrice. Then I have been turning lazily over the pages of a certain “magazine,” called the “Saturday Magazine,” which the worthy chaplain has lent me. There are six double volumes of this astounding rubbish; or more properly six strata — a huge, deposit of pudding-stone, rubble, detritus and scoriae in six thick stratifications; containing great veins of fossil balderdash, and whole regions of what the Germans call loss and trass; amongst which, however, sometimes glances up a fragment of pure ore that has no business there, or a gleaming splinter of diamond illuminating the foul opacity. After an hour’s digging and shovelling, I meet perhaps with an authentic piece of noster Thomas himself — there are two of those in the whole six beds — and once I turned up what made my heart leap — “The Forging of the Anchor” — which I straightway rolled forth till the teak timbers rang. There are a great many not intolerable wood engravings in the volumes, and some readable topographical description: but on the whole the thing is of very base material — “Amusements in Science” — “Recreations in Religion” — no, but “Easy Lessons on Christian Evidences” — much apocryphol anecdotage of history, but, above all, abundant illustrations of British generosity, valour, humanity — British wealth, commerce, and civilisation: statistics of cotton fabric — how many million yards of it are made by the year, and how many times this would go round the globe, marry, I believe the earth’s orbit — statistics of steel pens — how many tons of iron are snipped up into pens, — and yet how the quill trade (delightful to know) is not one feather the worse. What “literature” — what commerce there must be here! What correspondence — what scrip! How many indictments, parliamentary reports, and bills in chancery! What book-keeping! What book-making! — Surely there is no end to the energy, traffic, wisdom, property, virtue, and glory of this immortal British nation! — This is the character of all popular British “literature” which is got up in these late years “for the million” (poor million!) — Its look is wholly introverted: it can see or tell of nothing in the world but the British empire and colonies. The true British spirit is now-a-days well content with itself — looks no longer above or without itself, but keeps gazing with stupid delight intently at its own navel. The symptom may be called omphaloblepsy, and is diagnostic of a very fatal national disease — a thorough break-up, I trust, of the Constitution.
And how happens it that I can sit for hours turning over (with many a pooh! and psha!) leaf after leaf of this same stratified debris? If I despise it so sovereignly, cannot I shut it up and lay it on the shelf? — nobody has set me a task in it. Yet to me intently revolving this matter, it is apparent that the value of any book is not in the mere thoughts it presents to you, expressed in black-on-white, but rather in those it suggests, occasions, begets in you, far outside the intentions and conceptions of the writer, and even outside the subject of his writing. If some dull rogue writes you an essay, on what he does not understand, you are not bound to follow his chain of reasoning (as perhaps he calls it) — the first link of his chain may fit itself to other links of your own forging, and so you may have whole trains, whole worlds of thought, which need not run upon the dull rogue’s line, nor stop at his terminus. One must not disdain to draw matter of reverie from “even a sot, a pot, a truckle for a pulley, an oil bottle, or a cane chair.” But what talk I of essays and writings? Some poor wood-cut turning up suddenly in this paltry magazine, by the fancied likeness of one feature in it — a church tower, a tree, a human eye, or lip — to somewhat you have seen far away and long ago, may carry you, as on a sunbeam, into distant valleys of vision, and bless your eyes with gleams of a wonderful light, whose fountain who shall tell ? — yes, and place by your side companions old and dear, whose discourse you hear and answer, and whose fare — so real is the presence — you would hold it but just to pay to any ferryman on the crossing of a river — a piece of honest dealing inculcated by Uhland —
“Boatman, take this coin, I pray thee;
Thrice thy fare I cheerfully pay thee —
For though thou seest them not, there stand
Anear me, Two from the Phantom Land.”
The genesis of our thoughts is a mysterious operation — not yet fully explained by Dr. Thomas Brown, with his Law of Association; but thus much seems clear, that in order to think at all, one has need of some kind of mechanical helps — in utter solitude, darkness, and silence, your intellect would soon be extinguished, drowned in that “stagnant sea of idleness, blind, boundless, mute, and motionless” — and idiocy would ensue, or raving madness. When a man is shut up in a rigorous confinement for many months seeing nothing but the same dungeon walls, the same bars, the same unwearied sun sending the same shadows every evening at the same pace along the floor, and nothing human, save a most down-looking and felonious felon, setting daily food before him, the intellect cannot but stagnate, starve, and grow dull, for lack of needful food and exercise. It is then one feels the value of even a very bad book — of anything, in short, that will help imagination and memory to take the place of the senses and of human converse, furnishing occasion and stimulus to thought.
But what is this? Is it the abyss of metaphysics I see yawning before me? Assuredly, I will not plunge into that bottomless pit again, after having drawn myself out of it, with pain and labour, full fifteen years ago — just so long is it since I endeavoured to walk with my own head in my teeth, like the decapitated Christian martyr celebrated by Mr. Gibbon — or to rival that “Irish saint,” known to Thomas Carlyle, who swam across the Channel with his head so secured — “a miracle,” saith Carlyle, “which has never been repeated.”
But, halting on this side the brink of psychology, I have yet made: a sort of excuse for a man in solitary imprisonment putting up with exceedingly bad books. They may be to him a succedaneum, in some sort, for the various scenes and intercourse of life and the ordinary “uses of this world,” which you know are often as weary, stale, and flat almost as the very dullest piece of “literature” ever heaped together — yet out of which you can always secrete and assimilate so much various pabulum as will keep the soul from devouring itself. Cor ne edito — it is not wholesome: stay your stomach with any sort of garbage rather than that.
February 3rd. — -Between my cabin, and the place occupied by the convicts, are two wooden bulks, or walls, and a room or passage between those walls — yet when the men talk loud in quarrelling or argument, I often hear their abominable discourse. To-day I heard a long and angry dispute, the subject and phraseology of which I shall not commemorate — but all that comes to my ears, or eyes, of the ways of life in this place, shows me more and more clearly what a portentous evil is this transportation system. Each hulk, each mess or ward, is a normal school of unspeakable iniquity: and young boys who come out, as many surely do, not utterly desperate and incurable villains, are sure to become so very soon under such training. I hear enough to make me aware that the established etiquette amongst them (for there is a peculiar good breeding for hulks as for drawing rooms) is to cram as much brutal obscenity and stupid blasphemy into their common speech as it will hold — and that a man is respected and influential among his messmates in direct proportion to the atrocity of his language and behaviour. Gambling is common, and for large sums, four and five pounds being sometimes lost and won at a game of cards. A few of them, it seems, are able to get money, partly by stealing, partly by traffic. Those who work in the quarries and buildings earn threepence per day, of which but one penny per day is given them to spend: but there are tradesmen, and these sometimes work at their trades after hours; so that in one way or another they contrive to carry on a considerable traffic with the Bermudians, who communicate with them on the works in various ways. Many prisoners are employed constantly about the ship as boatmen, servants, and the like; and they have ample opportunities to steal, of which they avail themselves to the fullest extent. If any of them were to discover a scruple about stealing, or decline or neglect to steal when he might, I find it would be resented as an offence against the laws and usages of the commonwealth, and punished accordingly. In short, evil is their recognised good — and the most loathsome extremities of depravity in mind and body are their summum bonum. Think of a boy of twelve or fourteen years, who has been driven by want or induced by example to commit a theft, sent to school at Bermuda for half his lifetime, in order to reform him! But what enrages me more than all is to think of the crowd of starved Irish, old and young, who have taken sheep or poultry to keep their perishing families alive in the Famine, sent out to Bermuda to live in a style of comfort they never knew before even in their dreams, and to be initiated into mysteries and profound depths of corruption that their mother tongue has no name for. About two months before my arrival here, came out a great shipload of Irish — the harvest of the Famine special commission — from twelve years of age up to sixty. They were all about three-quarters starved, and so miserably reduced by hunger and hardship, that they have been dying off very fast by dysentery. As to the behaviour of these poor creatures, I learn from the commander that they have no vice in them, are neither turbulent nor dishonest, nor give any trouble at all. “But,” adds the commander, “they will soon be as finished ruffians as the rest.” No doubt they will, poor fellows. He informs me that they were astonished, at first, at the luxuries provided for them — fresh beef three days in the week, and pork the other days, pea-soup, tea, excellent loaf-bread — things they had never seen before, except in shops, and which they no more knew how to use than Christophero Sly. Then they have liberty to write home as often as they like; and when they tell their half-starved friends how well a felon is fed, what can be more natural than that famished Honesty should be tempted to put itself in the way of being sent to so plentiful a country? This man tells me he has many prisoners in the Dromedary who have been here before, and not a few in their third term; that he has several fathers and sons together; and that it is not uncommon to find families who have been hulked for three or four generations. Hulking, as a profession, is as yet confined to England — that it will become a more favourite line of business there, as the poverty of the English poor shall grow more inveterate, cannot be doubted. God’s mercy! is Ireland not to be torn out of the hands of these ameliorative British statesmen until they have brought this crowning curse upon her, too?
There are now about two thousand convicts at Bermuda – about a thousand at Spike Island; how many may be at Gibraltar and Australia, not to speak of the several depots for them in England, I know not; but on the whole there is an immense and rapidly growing convict community distributed in all these earthly hells, maintained in much comforts, with everything handsome about them, at the cost of the hard-working and ill-fed, and even harder working and worse-fed people of England, Scotland, and Ireland. That there is a limit to all this, one may easily see.
What to do, then, with all our robbers, burglars, and forgers? Why hang them, hang them. You have no right to make the honest people support the rogues, and support them better than they, the honest people, can support themselves. You have no right to set a premium upon villainy, and put burglars and rick-burners on a permanent endowment. It is not true to say that in Bermuda (for instance) the value of their own labour supports them, because that labour is employed upon most extravagant public works, which government could not undertake at all without convict labour, and the wages come out of the taxes paid by the honest people; in short, they support themselves just as seamen on board a man-of-war support themselves, and do not earn their living half so hard. The taxes keep up the “convict service,” just as they keep up the navy and the excise men.
In criminal jurisprudence, as well as in many another thing, the nineteenth century is sadly retrogressive; and your Beccarias, and Howards, and Romillys are genuine apostles of barbarism — ultimately of cannibalism. “Reformation of the offenders” is not the reasonable object of criminal punishment, nor any part of the reasonable object, and though it were so, your jail and hulk system would be the surest way to defeat that object and make the casual offender an irreclaimable scourge of mankind. Jails ought to be places of discomfort; the “sanitary condition” of miscreants ought not to be better cared for than the honest, industrious people — and for ” ventilation,” I would ventilate the rascals in front of the county jails at the end of a rope.
Feb. 8th. — Tired to death of reading books — at least all books of an instructive sort — and have now been devouring (for about the fifth time) “Ivanhoe” and “The Heart of Mid-Lothian.” My blessing on the memory of Walter Scott! Surely all prisoners and captives, sick persons, and they who are heavy of cheer, ought to pray for his soul. One is almost reconciled to “popular literature,” because it has made the Waverley Novels common as the liberal air. — A famine of books, I begin to find, is very emaciating: and I know not well how I am to ensure a due supply. All my own, my well-known, friendly old books are sold off, and I cannot allow my poor wife to lay out any part of her small monies on books for me. What a loss to a bookish man is the loss of his own books! books in which you can turn to the place you want as easily as you thread the walks in your own garden, whose very backs and bindings are familiar countenances. Of all refinements in royal luxury, I know none more enviable (though the Parc aux cerfs was well enough) than the great Frederick’s library arrangements. He had five palaces; and, in the course of a stirring life, had to spend much time in each; but in each was the same library: same editions, same bindings, same disposition on the shelves; there was a room for the library of like size, same figure, same furniture; so, when he sat down by his study-fire of an evening, in the same dressing-gown and shippers, the great Frederick was always at home. And if he did not want to turn to any place in any book, but preferred dozing, he knew, at least, that he could easily turn to any he might want, which is often quite as good, or even better.
Feb. 12th. — Mr. Hire, the superintendent, came to-day to inform me that the governor had received directions to let me go to the Cape, where, on my arrival, I am to be set at liberty, but within a limited district, and under police surveillance. So the worst seems to be over; that is, if I five to reach the Cape, of which Dr. Hall seems doubtful.
Mr. Hire tells me further, that there is a good deal of discontent among the Cape Colonists, at the prospect of having their country made a receptacle for convicts, but that it seems to be the work of a faction, and that the Government at home do not pay it any attention. It seems to me very strange that there should be “factions” at the Cape on such a question — that they do not rise up, as one man, to resent and resist such an outrage. But Africa knows its own business best. It is no concern of mine. Certainly I shall have no scruple in going anywhere out of Bermuda.
Feh. 22nd. — Opening of the London Parliament on the 1st of this month, and Queen’s Speech. Her Gracious Majesty asks her Parliament for a continuation of “extraordinary powers” in Ireland, that is, continued Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and continued powers to thrust anybody in to gaol, without any charge against him; for, although, says her gracious Majesty, “Peace” has happily been preserved, “there still exists a spirit of disaffection in that country.” What! Even still! after so much amelioration being done for them — after the very bulwarks of the Constitution, Habeas Corpus, and Jury-trial, being destroyed for them – and all to maintain the “law?” – after the land-appropriators being strengthened by all the powers of government, special commissions, and a thundering army, to exterminate and transport them; and all for their own good. And disaffection still! Well, there is no gratitude in sinful man.
A spirit of disaffection! Yes, I thank God there is.
April 1st. — Festival of all fools. All March is gone — thirty-one long and slow-pacing days, and the Cape ship not yet arrived. I am sick to death. Dr. Warner, the medical officer of the hulks, informs me that he communicated with Dr. Hall, some days ago, about my bad state of health, and the uncomfortable nature of my quarters here, and that they both applied to the governor, to have me removed once more to the hospital ship, where I should have a much better room and more comforts of various sorts, but without success. It was not by my wish, or with my knowledge, that such an application was made, for I never ask for anything or complain of anything, in respect of my comforts and accommodations. Dr. Warner, however, tells me, that if any other prisoner in the colony had been in my condition he would have been sent to the hospital six months ago, and that without consulting the governor at all. It is still judged necessary to pretend to be afraid of the Americans coming and rescuing me, which I now believe to have been but a pretext from the first. So now I sit constantly panting and struggling in asthma, both night and day, exposed to a damp and bitter north wind, that sometimes blows out my candle at night; for the ship is old, and the port-hole is much rounded away at the edges, so that the casement window does not properly fit it. Of course there is no fire.
I cannot well understand the intentions of the “Government” with regard to me, or divine whether their instructions to my keepers here are to be kind to me, or to kill me. I said so to Dr. Warner to-day, and he only replied by shaking his head. Certainly ten months’ solitary confinement of a sick man in an unwholesome den is but a doubtful sort of indulgence. But I await the Cape ship. She is the Neptune, of 700 tons; and she sailed from England on the 15th of February. They are now looking out for her every day. This same cruel north wind, that blows out my candle at night, is roaring, I trust, upon her quarter, and straining tack and sheet with her bellying canvas.
 I fear that I applauded France and her Prince under a mistake; but of this I am not yet quite certain. Respice finem. Therefore I leave room hereunder for another note. Bothwell, V.D.L., 12th February, 1853.
OTHER NOTE. – I still believe in the French Republic, and regard the Emperor as an accident, and his alliance with England a delusion. New York, 22nd February, 1854.
 New York, February 22nd, 1854. – These dismal misgivings as to the fate of Mr. Williams were happily illusory. He is still alive, and in Alabama; though, I fear, he has not a very valuable plantation there. The best in the South is not too good for him. – J.M.