Diary of a person associated with the Navy in 1800
possibly connected to John Marsh
27th October 1800, Naples
I left the Foudroyant last night about 8 o'clock. The interest expressed for my welfare by my Messmates affected me, and the cordial grip of the hand given me by the Admiral (Lord Keith?) with a parental "Take care of yourself," impresses my mind with a just sense of the gratitude I owed the supreme Being for the happiness I felt at the moment, and determined me, by favor of his protection, to neglect no means or exertions to execute the mission on which I am sent to the satisfaction of my employers, with economy to my Country, and credit to myself; by acting with the most strict integrity on every occasion, and industriously endeavouring in this my first onset of confidential service to acquit myself in such a manner as may be best calculated to establish my reputation. In which may the Almighty of his infinite goodness, amongst other of his most gracious favours to mean unworthy Being, grant that I may succeed! On my arrival on board the Cameleon I experienced a most friendly reception, even more so than I had anticipated, from my old shipmates the Surgeon, Master and Purser. In the evening a pleasant breeze opening up from the Southward and Westward, and all sail was made. The breeze still continued till noon, when it nearly died away. We were then a few miles distant from Cape DeGatt. In the evening about sunset, it appeared cloudy to the NW, and at ten o'clock a fresh breeze sprung up from that quarter which continued all night.
29th October 1800
This day we made little progress, owing to calm and light baffling airs.
30th October 1800
A strong breeze from the Eastward; stood over to the African shore.
31st October 1800
At light in the morning the wind shifted to the Westward and continued all day; but at night it became calm.
1st November 1800
The weather was very fine and clear today, as it has been all the week; but the wind blowing from the Eastward we made little progress
2nd- 4th November 1800
The Ships Company were mustered this morning by Divisions. I do not recollect having seen a more cleaner orderly set of men, particularly the detachment of Marines, who far surpass any I have seen before. The Officers of the Ship speak in the highest terms of them. At noon a fine breeze from the Westward sprung up which continued the next, and on the 4th increased into a fresh gale. At noon we saw the SW end of the Island of Sardinia.
5th November 1800
A fine fresh breeze all day, the Ship going 7 to 8 knots through the water. I have been employed hitherto in making myself fully master of my Instructions and every possible arrangement of completing the object of my mission.
6th November 1800
We anchored at Palermo at 10 in the morning. Captain Maitland delivered to me 3 letters for Mr Paget. The Pratique boat came off and put the Ship in quarantine. I immediately went on shore in one of the ship's boats with the First Lieutenant Mr May. Mr Pagets (Right Hon. Sir Augustus B. Paget, G.C.B.) secretary was there and received the Dispatches after they were smoked. I represented to him that it was necessary I should have an interview with Mr Paget as soon as possible. Presently he came down, when I urged how extremely essential it was that Pratique should be obtained for me as soon as possible. He made every enquiry as to the state of health of the Ship &c &c. and waited on General Acton the King's Minister, who gave an order for my reception on shore in the Pratique Master's room, there being no Lazaretto at Palermo, but he being absent boarding some vessel coming in, I thought it better to return on board the Cameleon to dinner and afterwards come back to the Pratique House as it was at this time past one o'clock. At 4 o'clock I returned on shore and took possession of my apartment in the Pratique House, which was tolerable comfortable, at least in appearance. I carried a letter from Colonel Anstruther for Mr Paget who sent his secretary to order the Cameleon to wait two hours for his dispatches for Constantinople which message was sent by the Officer of the boat that brought me on shore. Previous to leaving the Cameleon I sent Governor Ball's letter on board the Vincejo she being hove short and destined with a convoy to Malta. At 7 o'clock Mr Paget's secretary brought down his dispatches and delivered them to the Officer who had just returned ashore for them, and he conveyed them to the Brig, she having been under weigh and standing off and on in the Bay for near two hours.
7th November 1800
Mr Paget called on me this morning about ten o'clock when I fully explained to him the nature and extent of my Commission, the measures I had proposed to negotiate my purchases founded principally on my instructions but added that of Colonel Anstruther that the most prompt shipment should be completed in vessel of the Country without waiting for transports provided any prohibition was likely to be interposed by the Government of the Country for the exportation of so large a supply, and concluded with solicitors his recommendation of persons to whom I might apply. He generally informed me that the wine might be procured without difficulty; but that it would be impossible to obtain a single ounce of rice without the consent of the Government, as this was a scarce year and no person dared to sell either that, or scarcely any thing else that was eatable, for exportation, without their sanction; and added that he had been near three months in obtaining leave for 2000 quarters of wheat to be purchased for Malta. He said that he would wait on General Acton and try what could be done about the rice; but was fearful he should not be able to succeed. He appeared, or rather recommended, that I say part of my supplies were intended for Minorca Victualling Stores, as it might seem in some measure to colour our views. He also said that he would make inquiry into the prices of ship(?) wines and make them known to me by his secretary. He concluded with saying the Mr Tough was a very honest man and he would recommend him and also another person to me to make my purchases of wine, and that he would send them down to talk with me. With respect to the lemons, he was of opinion on considering the state of the fruit that they should be purchased immediately as they would be getting over ripe. With my hands thus tied as it were by being unfortunately subjected to quarantine I greatly fear that I shall not be able to execute my mission with that degree of satisfaction to myself, consequently to my employers, that I could with, particularly as my views must be in some measure promulged through the intervention of others who may not act, though well inclined, with the same caution I should myself; still there is no time to lose. Mr Paget gave me hopes that I might expect pratique in the course of three or days, this is losing valuable time, besides other bad consequences that it carries in its train. No.1 I had no farther conversation this day, with any person.
8th November 1800
This day passed without a visit either from Mr Paget, his secretary, or Mr Tough the Consul though Mr P promised to send him yesterday.
9th November 1800
Mr Paget's secretary called on me this morning with a message from him that my affairs were in a proper train. I did not fail to repeat how essential it was that pratique should be obtained for me if possible sooner than the usual time but was again soothed with the hope that it would no exceed two or three days more, which I've better reason to think is correct as I have learnt that seven days is the quarantine assigned for vessels proceeding from Gibraltar and Minorca since they heard of a Plague raging at Cadiz about which they were very inquisitive on our first arrival here. If such proves to be the fact I shall obtain pratique on the 12th, till then I fancy little will be done. If they have appointed any time, I can see no reason why it should be concealed from me. I next proceeded to solicit some farther explanation of the train my affairs were termed to be in, when I learnt that the reason I had not been visited by Mr Tough was because he is very deaf and it would be necessary that I should speak very loud to him to be understood which would not exactly correspond with our intentions in the first place, and secondly that my face and his ear must come so close in contact that it would not exactly meet the inclinations of the Guardians of Health that would surround us, but that Mr P was to have and answer from him in the morning respecting wine. He greatly apprehended that old wine could not be procured and the new was not at present nor would for some time be fit of make use of. Rice is not to be procured in any part of the Island except by single pounds, and he supposed the whole quantity in Sicily does not amount to one fourth of my wants. Live cattle might be procured with the consent of Government to the number of four or five hundred, but miserable beasts, as there is no pasturage for them. He complained greatly of the scarcity of the year. I very much fear that half our wants will not be satisfied here. If any opportunity offers I shall endeavour to forward a letter for Mr Brown to Minorca to suggest that Tunis, Tripoli, or Algiers, are more likely places to furnish so large a supply of rice. I learnt today, from the Master of a Merchant vessel, last from Porto Ferrojo, and who had evacuated Leghorn with his ship in ballast only on the approach of the French, that Mr Briggs was anxious at the number of refugees and on board the Santa Dorotea with which vessel he had parted company in a gale of wind four days ago and bore up for this place, but he supposed she had stood on for Naples with the rest of the convoy to the number of about twenty sail. I learnt that Colonel Graham was gone to England.
10th November 1800
I was this morning writing a letter to Mr Brown when I heard Mr Paget's voice in the adjacent apartment and he was speaking rather vehemently. Presently the door was thrown open and he came in with his secretary and Mr Tough to whom he introduced me, and gave me the welcome intelligence that I was liberty. I learnt afterwards that when he come down to the Health Office and expressed a wish to see me privately he was told that he could not, when he immediately flew in a passion and said that I was sent to him on His Majesty's Service and he did not choose that our discourse should be overheard by any one, luckily the Mayor of the City, who is the Chief of the Health Establishment had come down to be present at the examination of the Leghorn Refugees who had arrived yesterday, and he immediately desired to seem me that he might judge what state of health I appeared to be in, and perhaps the greatness of Mr Paget's passion had a good effect for he immediately ordered them to give me pratique otherways it would not have taken place till Wednesday. I accompanied Mr Tough to his office where I made every enquiry possible respecting the different articles I am charged to procure. In the first place with respect to wine I learnt that at Marsalla there was none to be had. Messrs Woodhouse's who are the only proprietors a few days ago had five hundred pipes ready for shipping; but had chartered an American ship with the intention of sending it over to America and one of the partners was going there a passenger. Hence there is no hopes from that quarter. At Palermo wine might be had but besides an additional price, owing to its passing through two or three hands, it is so much adulterated that it could not be warranted to keep for a month. There is plenty of wine and of a good quality at the distance of from 30 to 40 miles round, but the difficulty is how is it to be got over. The only means of conveying wine from the country even for the consumption of the city is in small barrels containing ten or twelve gallons on the back of a mule, and you will meet a drove of three or four hundred in a morning. At this rate it would take six months to obtain four or five hundred pipes at Palermo. How little do the Government of this miserable nation avail themselves of the immense produce that the bounteous hand of nature has scattered over the island, or endeavour to make this city a depot of commerce for the superabundant produce of the surrounding country to the distance of 40 or 50 miles. Melassio appears to be the only place where our wants will be supplied with all the requisite warranties, the only obstacle to be apprehended is a want of pipes, which when procured will not be of a very good quality, and it is feared a great delay will be incurred, as the quantity of old that can be had there, the price of old and new, the number of pipes that can be furnished, and in short every information possible, which at his distance cannot be expected to be fully ascertained. Mr Tough and I have concluded that a messenger shall be dispatched to his Vice Consul, a man in whom he can confide to make enquiry, and his is to return on Saturday morning, till which time nothing can be concluded. With respect to rice, it is not cultured in the Island, but a farmer on the coast about 30 miles to the Eastward of Palermo had this year gathered and the man wished to dispose of it. The sampled appeared to be very good and clean. It was necessary however, to surmount two great obstacles which presented themselves, these were the approbation of Government to export rice for the use of His Majesty's Navy, and that that exportation should be duty free. Mr Paget naturally presented as the medium through which these obstacles were to be removed, and it was resolved that I should wait on him immediately and request him to apply to the Government to night that we might have an answer tomorrow. This lot is all that can be heard of on the Island. On the subject of live cattle, I have more anxiety than any thing else. Mr Tough states that the little confidence to be placed in the inhabitants of the Southern Coast must effectually precludes the possibility of his entering into any engagement for furnishing any supplies from thence. He can supply me with about four hundred head here, but does not like to engage for their delivery at Malta, they will be very dear, and miserable beasts also, owing to the great want of pasturage occasioned by the great drought experienced this year. Malta furnishes no provender, consequently a proportionate supply of that must be necessarily be forwarded with those which may be shipped for Malta. They have of late been supplied at Malta with cattle from Syracuse, they are generally very poor when they get there, but soon grow fat with the cotton seeds on which they feed them. With the inhabitants of Malta it has been the custom to (even?) down, when the wind has been fair, with one of their Sparonaros as far as Grigenti, or somewhere on that part of the coast and then land and go up into the country, for several miles, where they would purchase two or three oxen and drive them to the coast and ship them, and so return. These are the only means which they ever used of procuring fresh meat for the island. With regard to lemons I find it will be most advantageous to procure them here. I can have them insured to keep for six to eight months, which will be sufficient. (Mr Tough declined contracting) On my way Mr Paget's respecting the rice we accidentally heard that a vessel would sail for Mahon in an hour's time. I immediately determined on writing to Mr Brown, and accordingly stepped into an adjacent shop, and proceeded to acquaint him generally with the conversation that had just passed, with my determination to decline from making any purchases of cattle except here, as their high price and miserable appearance would not justify me and that not more than half our wants of rice could be supplied. I requested in case the transports had not sailed that they might be sent here. The Northumberland arrived in the Bay this afternoon from Malta. On my appearance at Mr Paget's I sent in my name when his secretary came out to me, I expressed a wish to see him, he said except it was something very particular I had better call in the morning at nine or then o'clock. I urged it was of some importance as I wished he should make an application to the Government to might for leave to export the rice duty free in order that an answer might be had tomorrow, but he replied that it was impossible to apply to night but that if I called on Mr P in the morning he would wait on the King's Minister personally and negotiate the business. What could I do but take his answer and withdraw. I was furnished by Mr Tough with a room in his house in Palermo though himself and all his family reside in the country on account of his wife's health.
11th November 1800
My first employment this morning was to wait on Mr Paget respecting the rice, and to acquaint him with the result of the conversation I had had with Mr Tough. I there found Captain Martin who I learned had come here for the purpose of conveying General Acton and the Prince Royal to Naples. He made a many enquiries respecting our procedures to the Westward and various other subjects to which I generally gave applicable replies without appearing talkative, for I found Mr Paget had acquainted him with my business in Sicily. Mt Paget desired me to return at one o'clock and bring Mr Tough to him. At the time appointed we attended when he informed me that he had obtained permission for the rice to be exported. He entered generally into conversation with Mr Tough respecting the different articles I wanted and urged on him the necessity of using the greatest expedition. I acquainted him with the measures already taken respecting the wine. Next of the obstacles which presented, bullocks being obtained owing to the savage manners of the inhabitants of the Southern part of the Island and the little confidence that could be reposed in any of the Sicilians if they got money in their hands. We concluded that the 200 which were ready in this neighbourhood should be driven across the Island to Grigenti and vessels diverted there to convey them to Malta. We then left Mr Paget, he having previously directed me to wait on him at ten o'clock tomorrow. On our return we gave directions for the cask to be made for the rice, but when the bargain was to be concluded with the proprietor we found that a part of it was still in the field not being yet housed, and that he could only engage to deliver one half at the end of this month and the remainder fifteen days afterwards. We also directed a proper person to inform himself of the number of wine casks that were to be had in Palermo. We next ordered the boxes to contain the lemons, and were promised 1000 at the end of seven days and so on for each succeeding seven days till our wants were completed. When we came to consult about the cattle I found that if the 200 here were removed from their present pasturage they were to be considered as purchased and every future expense of forage devolve upon me. This added to the uncertainty of chartering vessels at Grigenti determined me to send of a courier to the Vice Consul at that place with directions to purchase 5000 head if possible with fifteen days forage for each and charter every vessel in the harbour at the risk of Government, for it was an undertaking no individual would venture on as Mr Tough declared to Mr Paget, but he would readily yield every assistance in his power. The courier was to be 24 hours going and the same time returning with an answer, so if we make a little allowance for his stay at Grigenti while the Vice Consul is obtaining information we may expect him in about 60 hours which will be on Friday morning.
12th November 1800
This morning the lemons were begun to be gathered. At ten o'clock I waited on Mr Paget and found captain shipping in the possession of Mr Woodhouse, when he determined immediately to stop it from going to America and direct it to be delivered at Malta immediately. We then had a long conversation about cattle. Captain Martin stated that I would be impossible to provide seeds in Malta for the sustenance of so great a number even as five hundred, because this was a scarce year and had produced less cotton than usual, and the inhabitants collected and saved all the cotton seeds they possibly could for feeding their own sheep &c. That the Army Commissary had never been able to procure cattle but precausiously by two or three together, and could never make any engagement for having them kept on the Island in quantities and fed by individuals, but was always obliged to provide forage for them at the expense of Government. He was of opinion that none should be brought on the risk of Government but that of individuals to deliver them at Malta at a fixed price and head. I said that was exactly the tenor of my instructions, but the difficulty was where could individuals be found that would enter into such engagements. Mr Tough had declined it and I knew no person likely to apply to. He thought Lord Keith must certainly have overlooked Cyprus where our ships had always procured bullocks in such large quantities as never to have a salt meal, and at a cheaper rate than in any part of the World. The immense quantity of shipping it would take to convey so great a number over to Malta even if they could be procured, and more than all the large quantity of hay, which is not packed as in England but loose except just tied round with a hay band to keep it together, that would be requisite, rendered it in his opinion perfectly impracticable. The only steps he could recommend were that Governor Ball should send some persons over from Malta to make purchases and have them ready in the neighbourhood of Grigenti when the Armament came up where they might be shipped in vessels detached for he purpose and would be nearly as convenient as if they were in Malta. He gave an instance that last year Commodore Troubridge sent the Lion over to Sicily to purchase cattle when they were distressed for them at Malta, 80 were shipped, of which 30 died before they arrived there, and the remainder such perfect carrion that the sailors would not eat them. If such was the case in a King's ship where every help and assistance was to be had, what must it be on board vessels of this country, and the cattle still more miserable now than at the time he alluded to. M Paget thought of one person to whom he would apply in hopes that he might be induced to engage for delivering them at Malta and he would wait on him immediately. He asked me how much number of head I thought it would be right to go. I replied that I should think cattle that would weigh twenty stone when slaughtered would be dear if they lay in 10 per head when delivered at Malta. He thought that it would be better to have 1000 good cattle at 15 per head, than the same number of bad ones at half the price. In that I perfectly agreed with him, because bad things are dear at any price. He desired me to wait on him in the morning at the same time. On my return I closed my bargain with Mr Tough respecting lemons. He engaged to deliver them at Malta and ensure them for keeping four months at thirty Tarius per box containing 500 lemons and to commence the first shipment of 1000 lemon boxes on Tuesday next. Then I desired to conclude respecting the rice, when to my astonishment the person who had offered the sample for sale and set his price on it declared that he could not close the bargain till he had learnt from the country whether his partner had already sold any of it. A mere equivogue to obtain a greater price. It exasperated me so much that I could have exterminated the villain instantly for his perfidy. He was a Priest. However, we endeavoured to frighten him as much as possible by representing that the British Minister would certainly get an order from Government for having it seized. We immediately sent off Mr Tough's broker to the place where it is grown about thirty miles distant to make every enquiry about it. The slow uncertain and deceitful mode of transacting business in this country even, even those well acquainted with their manners are not free from imposition as is the case on this point, render it impracticable to conclude a written agreement in a reasonable time. The anxiety it gives me is not a little for such proceedings would certainly press very heavy on the patience of any person. We next found the person who ass to procure the empty wine pipes, when we learnt that about 350 or 400 might be obtained, but they would be (ocar?). My next step was to procure information respecting rope. I found that they made tolerable good rope here, but not a single fathom on hand. A coil of 2 ½ inch 140 fathoms long would weigh near 120 lbs and cost near 10 Oncias, about one shilling per English, but all the rope makers in Palermo could not make 50 coils in 20 days. Lastly to day I gave directions for a sample of bread to be brought to me in the morning. Sent a messenger to Grigenti to direct that no cattle were to be bought, only afford every information.
13th November 1800
This morning a sample of bread was shewn to me which was very good, and it was stated to keep for a twelvemonth, the price required was three Once and twenty Tarias per cautar of 175 per English about 25/- per £lot, but it was supposed that it might be had cheaper in the country where it is baked and better information would be obtained by tomorrow. It was next reported to me by Mr Tough that paper for packing lemons was not to be had through all Palermo for more than 1000 boxes. I concluded with him to write immediately to Messina for 2000 boxes to be got ready an forwarded from Messina with all expedition. Mr Tough told me that he had found a person who would engage to have 500 cattle at Grigenti ready to ship in eight days after any vessel might arrive there to convey them away which we might think proper to send, but he could on no account engage further than to deliver them at Grigenti with ten days forage for each and if more was wanted we must pay for it. This of course I intended immediately to communicate to Mr Paget but when I waited at his house at the time I was desired, I learned that he was at a public breakfast on board the Northumberland. I called again at one o'clock but found he was engaged with General Willot. He pressed me to ride out while I was waiting in an outer apartment and told me enpassant that part of my business was set in a way of going on and some progress making, and desired me to call on him in the morning when he would speak to me more particularly. He immediately got into his carriage and General Willot with him. On my return back to Mr Tough's office a satisfactory answer had arrived respecting the rice and the bargain concluded; but it was apprehended the quantity would not exceed 500 cautans. At 2 o'clock it began to rain very heavily and continued at intervals the remainder of the day. The people gathering lemons were necessarily driven from their work, or they would have picked 200 thousand by night. The Box Makers were going on briskly as well as the coopers.
14th November 1800
This being Post day and that of fixing the exchange Mr Tough recommended that I should endeavour to negotiate some of my Bills, but when I told him it was for £2500 Sterling he said it would be impossible, they scarcely ever saw a Bill in Palermo for more than £1000 and seldom above £4 or £500. However it was offered but could not possibly be negotiated, nor was a singe Bill of any amount on London, of course there was no Exchange fixed with London today. What a miserable country for trade. I have long found it impossible to do any business except on a Commission account, and I now begin to see it is not possible to do it other ways for if you make a purchase, whether great or small, a deposit must be immediately made for half the amount, and perhaps to a person who would run away with it, so little faith is here reposed in a Merchant's honour and integrity. If you bespeak a pair of boots, half the value must be deposited to purchase the materials before the shoemaker will set to work. When I waited on Mr Paget he acquainted me that he had engaged a person to furnish 400 oxen and 200 cows at Grigenti in three weeks with two months fodder, but we must procure vessels to convey them to Malta, and also the same person would engage to deliver 500 pipes of wine at Maskali in the same time and under the same condition of a vessel being found to convey it to Malta. The bullocks would cost about £7 per head, the cows £6, and the wine about £3 per pipe. We concluded that I should hire vessel of the Country to transport the wine, and devote the transports which I expected for the reception of cattle at Grigenti after their quarantine should be expired. He also directed me to write to Mr Woodhouse at Marsala for the 500 pipes of wine which he had ready. Then with the 1000 pipes to be furnished by Mr Tough would complete our wants of that article. On my return Mr Tough told me that he had had more conversation with the man who had proposed to supply cattle, but he had recanted and made a number of difficulties. I wrote to Mr Woodhouse for the wine by the Post to night and directed him to send an answer by a messenger immediately. Mr Tough also wrote to Messina by this night's post for 2000 boxes of lemons. About four o'clock the first messenger returned from Grigenti with an answer from the Vice Consul that there was not a single vessel in the harbour, that bullocks were to be had from 20 to 30 and 40 miles round that place, but they hay and straw were necessarily scarce and dear. I anxiously wait for an answer from Milassio respecting the wine, and then I shall be able to take my measures better.
15th November 1800
This morning I heard a Frigate had arrived in the Bay which I found to be the Santa Dorotea from Naples, and a Cutter in the evening of yesterday, the Entreprenant. Presently afterwards I met Mr Briggs who had come in the Dorotea. He told me that he had saved all his papers (passengers?) When Mr Tough came to town about 10 o'clock he delivered me a letter from Mr Brown which he said had been sent to him last night to the Country by Mr Paget. It contained a commission for purchasing 20 thousand pair of shoes. I immediately dispatched Mr Tough to obtain the prices, and samples, and waited myself on Mr Paget with a view of communicating the contents of my letter and to desire an interview with the person who proposed to supply the cattle at Grigenti and the wine a Maskali. He was in a great hurry to wait on General Acton, and only answered me that the person would extend the number of cattle to 100 head. He said that he was going to dispatch a messenger to Malta, who he expected would find Lord Keith arrived there, and directed me immediately to write what had been done and in short give every information in order that his Frigate might be prepared to take such steps as were thought needful. And let him have the letter in three or four hours. I accordingly wrote to Mr Brown generally the difficulties experienced to transact business in this Country, what had been done respecting wine, rice, cattle, lemons, rope, bread, and the shoes, on which latter subject I was incorrect, for I represented that 10,000 might be expected with the first shipment of rice and lemons, and the remainder with the last, this was agreeable to the Shoemakers proposal but when he was pressed before a Notary to make a public engagement, like the general custom of doing business here, he would not oblige himself to produce more than 1000 weekly. I delivered my letter at five o'clock to Mr Paget's secretary and expressed a desire to see him, but was desired to call in the morning at ten or eleven o'clock. Desired Mr Tough to make some enquiry respecting onions. The Shoemaker engaged to make the shoes at 10 Tarias per pair equal to a sample which he delivered. At intervals it rained extremely heavy, which prevents the return of the courier from Malassio and has driven the people from picking lemons.
16th November 1800
This day being Sunday no business could be done. I went to Mr Paget's with a view of seeing him respecting the cattle and rice. He was very busy preparing dispatches for England and was to send off a courier to night, of course I was compelled to communicate my business to his secretary, who informed me that the gentleman who proposed to supply them lived in the country but if I would call on him at ten o'clock in the morning he would accompany me to him as he would be in town. I met Mr Briggs and had a long conversation with him. At twelve o'clock I set off to Monreale on foot to dine with Mr Tough.
17th November 1800
My first business this morning was to get the Shoemakers to work. Heard that the Strombolo had passed in sight yesterday afternoon with 5 transports towards Messina. Waited on Mr Paget. He directed his secretary to accompany me as interpreter to Mr Matthieu, the person who was to supply the cattle and wine at Maskali. We found that he was absent in the country but on entering into conversation with his managing clerk, that it was considered merely a business on commission. They had sent two persons into the interior respecting the cattle and could not give a definitive answer till they returned, which would be on Wednesday or Thursday next. On the subject of wine, they had dispatched a courier to Maskali to make the purchase and had directed a vessel to be chartered to be at Messina with it for convoy in 20 days, but when I pressed him as to the quality and that he should warrant it for four months at least it caused a great demur. It was represented on the part of Mr Matthieu that it would be impossible for him to warrant it because he was no wine merchant. He had only undertaken to execute a commission given by the English Minister, he certainly would direct the very best wine at that place to be procured but would not warrant its being good if kept for 4 to 6 months. Mr Paget with Captain Martin were coming along the street in the height of our discourse, and entered fully into it with Matthieu's clerk to convince him of the necessity that it should be warranted, for I asserted that unless either myself or some Agent of Matthieu's in whom he could rely were upon the spot to see every cask filled we should have one half water. Nothing was concluded on as Mr Matthieu was out of town, but he was to be sent for again at morning. Mr Tough engaged for 200 Cautars more rice. I acquainted Mr Paget with my intention of going to Messina in two or three days. Began to prepare Instructions for Mr Tough. He chartered a vessel to load wine at Malessio. I am uneasy that the messenger to that place has not returned, it can only be attributed to the rise of the rivers on account of the heavy rains we have had. It is very singular no answer is come from Massala. A transport has been working into the Bay all day. Rainy weather.
18th November 1800
It rained very heavy all this forenoon. During the night the transport seen in the offing yesterday had anchored in the Bay. At ten o'clock I went to the Health Office where I met Mr Paget's secretary. He was waiting for some letters brought by the transport, she being put in quarantine. I received one from Captain Thomson of the Strombolo wherein he mentions that he should see 4 transports under the direction of Lieutenant Pemberton to Messina and then return here to convoy the Boreas to Messina, and from thence proceed to Malta with such others as might be ready, and afterwards return for the rest. I immediately awaited on Mr Paget as well to communicate the contents of my letter as to come to a conclusion with Mr Matthieu respecting the wine. He told me that he had had a long conversation with his clerk a few minutes before and he represented it impossible for them to guarantee the wine to keep 4 months, and as a transaction altogether unusual and unknown in the Island of Sicily. He was willing to engage that the best wine produced at Maskala should be purchased and he had an agent there whom he could trust and was willing to answer for his seeing none but good wine put in the cask. And in short, Mr Paget added, "he has explained the business so much to my satisfaction that I am willing to take the responsibility upon myself." When he offered that I could say no more, but accepted the proposals. We concluded that I should direct the transports to proceed from Messina to Grigenti as soon as their quarantine was expired to receive bullocks, and that the one arrived here should take as many as she could from Mr Tough. Prepared directions immediately for Lieutenant Pemberton to repair to Grigenti and forwarded them by this night's post to Messina. The English vessel which Mr Tough chartered by verbal agreement yesterday to load wine at Melassio was refused to be satisfied by the Master. The messenger arrived from Melassio with information that 3 or 8000 salun of good red wine was to be had there that would keep for 2 or 32 years, but worst of all no pipes were to be procured. Messina was recommended as the only place where they were to be had. At Palermo only 120 pipes could be found, and would take 14 days for coopering. The courier had been interrupted 3 days by the swelling of the rivers. Mr Tough extended his engagements for shores. He also wrote to Messina for his agent to procure every wine pipe he could lay his hands on, provide a sample of shoes against my arrival, and hasten the lemons he was already directed to prepare. Dispatched a messenger to Melassio to purchase all the wine to be had there, or rather to satisfy the purchases already made by Mr Tough's Vice Consul there. Continued to prepare Mr Tough's instructions. Exchanged through Mr Tough 2 Bilols for £5,500 at 51 Tarias per £Sterling. They were the largest Bills ever seen on the Exchange of Palermo. I am extremely unhappy that no answer comes from Marsala.
19th November 1800
I this morning went alongside of the Boreas transport and enquired what state she was in and the number of cattle she could contain. I found she had suffered a good deal in her rigging during heavy weather in their passage from Mahon and could not go to sea for some days. I next waited on Captain Martin whom I found at Mr Paget's to acquaint him that I had received a letter from Captain Thomson, and suggested my intention of putting on board the Boreas here as many cattle as she could contain with as many shoes and as much rice as might be ready for her, that Captain Thomson should then convoy her to Malta and bring from thence two empty transports to Messina with as many cask as could be had at Malta, then to take in the remainder(?) to complete their cargo, and then repair to Melassio to load. He endeavoured to dissuade me all in his power form shipping a single ox at Palermo or any other point, because the scarcity of cotton seeds to feed them with at Malta he was perfectly well acquainted with the mortality during the passage, even from the very nearest point to Malta, he was certain would be very great from what was experienced last year in a ship of war. And he added that, had Lord Keith commissioned him to make the purchases that he had done me, he would not ship a single beast from Sicily, but certainly would only attempt to have as many as he could procure ready in the neighbourhood of Grigenti to ship when the Forces might have arrived. He concluded with saying that I was perfectly at liberty to state that he had dissuaded me from complying with my instructions in this matter, and he was ready to come forward to justify me when called upon for the good of His Majesty's Service and the interest of the public. He could not assure me of any transports being at Malta, though he had directed a part of those which had conveyed French prisoners to Marseilles to return there. Whether they had arrived or not he was not able to say. There was none when he left there. There was not a single cask in the place I might depend on it, for he was short in the Northumberland from supplying the transports which took away the prisoners. I immediately determined that the Boreas should go to Messina to take in as many casks as could be procured and from thence to Melassio to load. Mr Paget furnished me with a declaration that she was a British transport, which I carried to the Health Office and they promised me she should have pratique in the afternoon. On my return I found a messenger had arrived from Marsala with an answer to my demand for the 500 pipes of wine. Messrs Woodhouse state that vessel to load 300 pipes for America to be arrived there but under quarantine, the remainder from 1 to 200 pipe they offer to deliver at Malta at their risk for 22d per gallon provided the expense of freight did not exceed 27 Tarias per pipe. I sent a vessel to receive it 19d per gallon. It is of the first quality, but if we could defer it till after Christmas they would contract for 500 pipes of the same quality and on the same terms as that supplied to Lord Nelson, the price 17 per gallon if delivered by them at Malta but abate 3d per gallon otherways as above. The price is high. No vessel here to be chartered. The transport would take more than double the quantity. As they refer to a proposal made by them to Captain Martin in August last I determined to wait on him, but he was just going off with Mr Paget and his secretary to dine on board the (Doctor?) and I was desired to see him tomorrow morning. Mr Woodhouse charges 20/- for each pipe.
20th November 1800
Directed the Master of the Boreas transport to proceed immediately to Messina to take on board casks and afterwards to load wine at Melassio. Waited on Captain Martin respecting the wine of Marsala. He told me the Dorotea would sail for Mahon at 2 o'clock and recommended that I should write immediately what I had done. I accordingly wrote Mr Brown on each different article I was charged to procure. Mr Paget's servant called for my letter before it was finished. I then wrote Messrs Woodhouse of Marsala saying the high price they required for their wine would not admit of my purchasing it, but that I had submitted their proposals to Lord Keith. The messengers sent by Mr Matthieu to procure cattle are not returned, which alone prevents my departure for Messina. Very heavy rain at times all this week.
21st November 1800
This morning I called on Mr Paget with Mr Tough to request he would deliver a petition which we presented to the Government for leave to export the different articles duty free. We then waited on Mr Mattoc to see if any information had been received respecting the cattle, and found that one messenger was just returned. Many difficulties were laid before us which had been already anticipated by Mr Tough. Few oxen to be found, many heifers and a few of more than two years old, severally cows, but nearly all in calf. Very little hay and excessive dear, none in the neighbourhood of Grigenti, but must be carried along shore in vessels of the Country from Shakali in the Val di Marara. Notwithstanding all these disadvantages I judged it requisite to commission Mr Mattoc to procure 4 or 500 head of the best quality preferring oxen to heifers, and heifer to cows, with about 1000 Canton of hay, which is about twenty days fodder. They are to be delivered at Grigenti on the 7th December. Completed instructions for Mr Tough, and made preparations for the voyage to Messina, having engaged a passage in a Sparonaro the Padrone of which promised to sail as soon as the sea got down a little. A very heavy sea running and blows fresh in the offing.
22nd November 1800
This morning the Strombolo appeared in the offing. I awaited Mr Paget to take leave of him and acquaint him of the state of forwardness every thing was in. He directed me to call at 5 o'clock when I might see Captain Thomson as he would be anchored by that time. At 5 o'clock I again called at Mr Paget's and found Captain Thomson who showed me the orders which he had received and acquainted me that Lieutenant Morgan had arrived at Messina the day on which he left there. That he reported everything to be excessive dear and scarce at Malta, and was particularly descried by the Governor and Senior Officer to apprize me that no fodder whatever could be had there for the cattle. I stated to him what I had done and the little prospect there was for the present of his fulfilling his instructions. We concluded that I should hasten as much as possible the preparation of cask at Messina and detain one of the transports that were there to receive them, and in the mean time he would proceed there with the Boreas to receive the remainder as soon as the wind could admit of his sailing. At six o'clock I left him and embarked immediately in a Sparonaro for Messina. My sea stock consisted of a cold turkey, some bread, and cheese, some grapes, pomegranates and a few walnuts, with two bottles of wine, which were furnished to me by Mr Tough, and my friend Mr Laval had added a most excellent piece of stewed beef which proved a great acquisition. The weather had been clear and fine all day, and gave us great hopes that the rain had ceased for a few days. We immediately quitted Palermo, and in course of half an hour we enjoyed a fine land breeze which continued all the night.
23rd November 1800, Sunday
Breeze did away, and the boatman continued to row all the day. The weather was chill and cold, but the beautiful picturesque views which continually met the view from the vessel constantly keeping close to the shore, seldom farther than half a mile distant, kept the (ruses?) perfectly animated and the time slipped unobservedly on till night overspread the Heavens with darkness. Anxiety then took possession of my mind and disturbed my repose, not from any consciousness of impropriety, but from the situation in which I saw myself placed, with the eyes of the whole Fleet fixed on me, heavy charge committed to me, and rendered perfectly unable to acquit myself of its execution with the least degree of satisfaction to myself, consequently much less to those who have honoured me with their confidence: And all proceeding from the miserable situation of the Country into which I have been sent. I found relief in a flood of tears, and endeavoured to calm my anxieties by a fervent application to that Being who can alleviate our miseries and encrease our happiness at his pleasure, to take me under his divine protection, guide my footsteps in the paths of honour and integrity, give me inclination to be industrious and endow me with fortitude and patience against the reflections of a censorious world. This proved a sure relief. And I enjoyed a sound sleep with mind perfectly calm and undisturbed when I awoke at day light on the morning of 24th. We were approaching the Isles of Lipari and Strombolo with a column of smoke proceeding from its summit had just opened to our view. The weather continued sharp but clear, and in the evening about an hour before sunset we enjoyed a fine prospect of the city of Melassio, situated on the side of a hill, and the adjacent country. The weather had now assumed a gloomy aspect and threatened not only wind but rain. We however, kept on sometimes rowing and sometimes sailing, and on the morning of the - 25th November at 8 o'clock we arrived at Messina. I was interrogated at the Health Office as to who and what I was according to the usual custom with all travelers. A report was made out and I was told that I would be sent to the Governor who would immediately order me to have pratique. While I was waiting the Padrone pointed out a person respecting whom I had been making enquiries that was passing by. It was Mr Auguso to whom I had letters of introduction from Mr Tough to prevent any delay he carried me to the Governors, who I found was a very polite man and spoke very good English. He asked me several questions about the Fleet &c. and what news I had little to say, but he requited me with communicating all he knew, and seemed desirous that I should think he possessed an extensive and general knowledge of places as well as things. There was an urbanity in his manner that was very engaging. His name is don Giovani Guillichini, a great friend of General Acton's, the Prime Minister, and he bears the character of being too good. Being now at liberty, after taking leave of the Governor, Mr Auguso was so good as to accommodate me with an apartment in his own house and a place at his table. I entered into conversation with him respecting the cask he was charged to procure, the lemons &c &c. The fruit I found was ready to be shipped and the vessel would begin to load on Friday morning, samples of shoes were making. The Coopers were all excessive busy, this being the season for furnishing cask for oil, lemons juice, wine &c. And none could be had immediately. This was what I had anticipated, for disappointment has become familiar to me, however, I immediately directed him to furnish me with an exact account of the number each cooper would engage to supply at the shortest period possible. In the meantime I waited on Mr Pemberton to acquaint him with my arrival and to give him every information I could respecting the cattle which were to be delivered at Grigenti on the 7th of December. He stated the dangers of the coast and the insecurity of Grigenti, but the cattle were ordered and if they were to be deposited at Malta there was no alternative but take them on board the transports, for ships of the Country could not be had, nor would any body engage to deliver them at Malta. He had a good deal to say of proposals that had been made to him by Mr Ross, an Englishman here, but not of the best character, and I had already been cautioned against listening to him.
26th November 1800
This day we had very heavy rain accompanied with a heavy gale of wind from the East. My first business was to get the different coopers to enter into public engagements for the delivery of cask, and succeeded so far as to get about 400 to be ready on the 6th December and about the same number on the 15th. Mr Pemberton told me that Mr Broadbent had some casks of English shoes to dispose of, and would also be able to make up to the number of two or three hundred pipes of old wine. I accordingly accompanied him, but I found the shoes to be of a far superior sort to what I wanted and could not be had for less than a dollar and half per pair. I apprehended a disappointment also respecting the wine, and it turned out so, for Mr Broadbent said that he had but a small quantity and reserved it for the use of the Officers of any ships which might come here, but that he would on no account dispose of it for the use of the Navy . It was possible there might be old wine in the Faro, and he offered to send a person in the afternoon to enquire which I told him he might do if he pleased, and if he could find me one or two hundred pipes ready for shippers immediately if we could agree upon the price, I would purchase it. I now began to know the people in Sicily a little better, but the same duplicity seems to pervade the whole of them. He vaguely asserted that he could procure pipes to load all the transports in five or six days but I knew it to be false for I had not many minutes before been through all the coopers shops in Messina and the principal one who does twice the business of the others was employed for eight different merchants and could not engage to furnish more than 130 casks by the 6th of the next month which is eleven days. We left Mr Broadbent promising to call again in the morning, when Mr Pemberton whom Mr whispered to at parting cautioned me against the character of Mr Aufuso and related a circumstance which had already been made known to me by Mr Lough (Tough?) and which had been cleared up to the credit of Mr Auguso some time ago. I thanked him however for his friendly intention and told him I would take care that the property which was interested to my direction should not be squandered away by any person. Sent for sampled of the Faro Wine. Got information respecting rope, no stock on hand, must purchase hemp and tar and get it made. The Ropemakers will require 15 days to make 100 coils. The price will be including every expense about 70/7 per Cwt or 79/16d. I sent a messenger to Milassio to know what wine Mr Di Arvico had purchased.
It still continued to blow a very heavy gale from the SE. I sent Mr Aufuso to hasten the cask as I had made up my mind to load a cargo of wine on board the transport in which Mr Pemberton has his flag. I waited on Mr Broadbent to receive his answer respecting old wine of the Faro, but none was to be found. H had a recaptured vessel with wine to the amount of 80 Catalonian Pipes of the produce of some place in the neighbourhood of Naples on board. He proposed to get samples against tomorrow. He also stated that there was some old wine to be sold by Auction, part of the cargo of an American ship that had been ashore, which the supercargo intended to buy in again; and he said that I might attend at the Auction and purchase it. I thought proper, he supposed it might be sold in the beginning of the next week. This was adding procrastination to procrastination and did not meet my approbation, however I suffered it to pass silently, but determined immediately to purchase wine of the Faro of this year, and accordingly directed Mr Auguso to buy 2000 salus at the lowest price, for I had already made it known that my purchases of wine were completed except of old which I was willing to buy if it could be found, and no use had taken place though I had apprehended it from the transports having arrived here before me and my Commission having become notorious. The Shoemakers having required 14 and then 12 Tarias per pair for shoes, I determined to reject their exorbitant demands at least for a day or two in hopes it might have a tendency to reduce their expectations. I made some enquiries as to the price of Rope and found it could be manufactured here at as cheap a rate as it could be procured in England, I accordingly directed Mr Aufuso to buy about 88 Cautars of Hemp and 23 Coutau of Tar, which I had calculated would make near 30 coils of 3inch, 35 of 2 ½ inch, and 35 of 2inch, in all 100 Coils, of 120 fathoms long. I received an answer from Melassio wherein Mr Di Amico says that he had already purchased 2000 Talus of Wine of the first quality and that he intended to buy more. I was displeased and uneasy that he had misunderstood his orders and immediately wrote to him to complete the purchase of 7000 salus at least without a moments delay of the best quality he could, such as would keep 8000 for 8 months, and at the lowest price he was able. I learned that Bisket could not be purchased here at less than 3.33 per ton(?) Ounces per Cautar which would be 3d per - at the Ex d of 52. I dined with Mr Broadbent in company with Mr Pemberton and a Mr Newton &c.
This morning I again called on Mr Broadbent to see the sample of old wine, but he had not yet got it, though he said he would obtain it against tomorrow morning. This points out the little confidence to be placed in the promises of Merchants in the Country. At 2 o'clock the Romulus anchored here. I went alongside where Captain Culverhouse informed me that he was come to take the transports from this place under his protection, that the Artrea was passing through the Faro to Melazzo, to convey those expected to be loaded there, and that the Champion was gone to Palermo. As they put the ship in quarantine I could only generally tell him that nothing was ready, nor would be for some days. He wished me to come off in the morning with Mr Pemberton. I instantly sent away a messenger to Melazzo with directions to Mr Daurico to complete at his purchase instantly and enclosed a letter for the Captain of the Artrea which I desired might be delivered before the ship anchored, acquainting him that the transports were still here waiting for Cask and that the first would not be ready before the 6 December. I wrote by the Post to Mr Tough pressing him to hasten every thing depending on him as much as possible. We had heavy rain at times and fresh gales.
I breakfasted with Mr Pemberton and then went alongside the Romulus. We had a little conversation with Captain Culverhouse and told him what arrangements were made. He decried us to wait on the Governor and endeavour to get pratique for him and he promised to come to the Health Office in about an hour. We waited on the Governor but found that it was not in his power to lesson the time, which he regretted very much. The Gale had encreased so much during the short time we were absent that Captain Culverhouse had not been able to get on shore. Mr Aufuso had heard of about 100 Cautan of Rice that was expected here every day from some place near Catania, the price asked for it was 3 once and 15 tarias per cautan. I directed him to purchase it immediately. Ordered a Cooper to make a sample of Cask to receive it. Attempted by means of Mr Chaperoux to negotiate a Bill, but nothing was done. At noon it blew excessive hard Gales with rain. A few minutes before 3 o'clock I went down on the Marino to see if all the transports were safe and had not been there a minute before the Romulus appeared to be drifting. I expected to see her come on shore, but fortunately she brought up a few yards only distant from it. She touched abaft and unshipped her rudder on strained it, for it hung loose. They immediately struck their lower yards and got the Top Gallant masts upon deck. I sent the Consul to the General of the Arsenal to ask assistance, and went myself to Mr Pemberton, who hailed one of the transports and told them to send a boat under the wake of the Frigate and he would get into her. The surf was very heavy but he got alongside and Captain Culverhouse told him he considered himself safe as he had two anchors and cables all out, but wished to have a Lump(?) sent down when it moderated with an Anchor and Cables. We immediately proceeded to the Arsenal where they were almost ready and Mr Pemberton intended the transports boats should tow the Lump down; however the gale fortunately broke and about six o'clock the Wine came rowed to the Westward and she got safe afloat.
30th November, Sunday
The weather has been very fine and clear all day. At two o'clock I received a letter from Captain Ribouleau at Melazzo wishing to know if I would supply him at that place with Beef, Wine, Vegetables and other articles of which he was in want. I answered in the negative saying I had no directions to make provision for private ships, but recommended Messina as more eligible for furnishing what he was in want of. Mr D Aucico the Vice Consul of Melazzo waited on me to acquaint me of the purchases he had made which consisted of about 7000 salurs of Wine of the first quality at the rate of 33 a 36 Tarias per Satur, he added that there might be near 3000 saluns more of equal quality, which I directed him to procure to be delivered betwixt and the end of February. I waited on Captain Culverhouse to whom they had given pratique a few minutes before. I found with him Lieutenant Pemberton and Morgan consulting on the harbour of Girgeuti respecting the security of which they were all greatly alarmed, but concluded that they must go there. I communicated fully to him the different periods it was probable vessels would be ready at this place and Melazzo, in order that he might make such arrangements as he thought most proper. At one o'clock Captain Thomson of the Strombolo anchored with the Boreas transport from Palermo, which place he left at daylight on Sunday the 23rd, only twelve hours after my departure and had been at sea every since. How little can sea voyages be reckoned on at this season of the year.
This morning began to make preparation for loading wine of the Faro on board the Ann Transport, measured 13 Casks and marked them 1F to 13 on the end with Ink, and with scribes at the Bung the number 131 and letter only, thus 1 F&c. Enquired at the Custom House and found that orders were not yet received there for the different articles to be exported Duty free, however to obviate delay on that point we waited on the Governor who could not interfere, but the Officers of the Customs suffered us to proceed on Mr Auguso promising to be accountable for the duty if orders did not come from Palermo before the end of December. At 2 o'clock 7 carts arrived from Faro with wine which was racked off into 12 pipes of 130 to 140 gallons each,, and shipped on board the Ann. The Shoemakers commenced work today. Dined with Mr Chaperoux.
Measured more Wine Cask. Ordered the Vic Consul of Melazzo to give the Astrea as much Wine as might be required. Today 9 carts came from the Faro. Employed as well as yesterday, writing to Mr Brown at Malta.
Measured more Cask. At nine o'clock the Transports sailed with the Stombolo for Grigeciti. Just Mr Alldridge and Mr (Biett?) at Malta, dated the 22, 24 and 27th November. A Schooner (the Malta) anchored, from Mahon in 4 days. Lieutenant Bushby informed me that he had delivered letters from me at Palermo. He sailed again a few hours after. Called on Mr Citra and gave him directions how to act respecting the Wine at Maskali. The Lemons were loading briskly. Twelve carts arrived from the Faro. At six o'clock received Mr Brown's letters of the 7 and 20 November, and one from Mr Briggs at Palermo of the 30th. They were sent by an express to Mr Broadbent. Took information about the cattle of Calabria. Ordered as much wine as possible to be bought on the Faro at a price not exceeding 40 Tarias per salun.
4th December 1800
Continued to measure more Cask. Made some enquiries respecting Oil and Calavances. Deposited two Bills for £3,300 in the hands of Mr Chapeauroux to be negotiated. The General of the Arsenal let me have six men to work at the Rope. 15 carts arrived from the Faro. Dined with the Governor of Messina by invitation in company with Mr Broadbent. Captain Culverhouse and Mr Boncester. At 4 o'clock a Lieutenant of the Kent arrived in 4 days from Malta with dispatches for Captain Martin at Palermo which were immediately forwarded by a courier.
5th December 1800
Continued to measure wine Casks. Exchanged £3,300 at 51. Bought 100 Taluis of Oil of Mr Chapeauroux. Dispatched a messenger to Mr D'Amicoto purchase 1000 Tomoli of Colovances or Pears. Mr Broadbent shewed me a sample of Rice for which he required 20 Ducats- 200 Tamis at Cautai of 175 lbs, and did not think it could be bought for less in Sicily. However I declared it, because that which I have bought at Palermo as well as the 100 cantars at this place do not cost more than 105 Tanis of Cantaur. This is a clear proof of the impositions practiced in purchases made by some individuals on account of Government. Mr Broadbent being commissioned to load a small vessel called the Feltow with sugar by order of Captain Hope, I ordered him not to send more than 30 a 40 Tous, and fill him up with wine as agreed on. The Astrea anchored from Melazzo. Captain Ribouleau acquainted me with his wants of wine and his intention of taking over 80 Bullocks to Malta. I promised to have them ready in three days. It began to blow very fresh from the South East. 25 carts arrived from the Faro. At 5 o'clock the transports under protection of the Strombolo arrived. At ½ past 7 Mr Broadbent enclosed me a letter which he had just received by express from Palermo, from Mr Brown (without date) in answer to the one I wrote him by the Dorotea from Palermo.
6th December 1800
Continued to measure more Casks. Made inquiry respecting the possibility of procuring Spanish cobs and Venetian sequins. Captain Ribouleau gave me his demand for Wine, Rice, Sugar and Calavances to complete the Astrea to 3 months. Directed Mr Broadbent to supply the three last articles. It blew a very heavy gale from the Southward all day. Endeavoured to negotiate a Bill through Mr Broadbent for £2,400. In the afternoon carts arrived from the Faro with Wine. Measured 141 casks for the Cybele to take wine in at Melazzo. The Ropemakers all busy at work. At night the messenger returned from Melazzo with information that about 160 salurs of calavances might be purchased at that place.
7th December, 1880. Sunday
This morning I received 217 pair of shoes from different shoemakers. All of which I carefully examined. Ordered as much wine as possible to be bought on the Faro at a price not exceeding 40 Tarius per Salur. Directed Mr Broadbent to purchase 300 Salur of Calavances at 160 Tarius a Salen. And 200 cantars of Rice at 105 Tarius of Cantar. Exchanged with him a Bill for 2,400 at 51. Dined with Mr Roche. In the evening very heavy rain. Procured a dispensation for the Ropemakers to work today, for which I paid 3 Tanirs and 10 Gracias, about 15d Sterling.
8th December 1800
This day was a great festival the Conception of the Virgin, and no work could be done. Completed my letters to Mr Brown, which at noon I forwarded by Lieutenant Richardson of the Kent in a Sparonaro. Supplied the Stromboli with (blank) Gallon of Wine. Dined with Captain Culverhouse who had a large party.
9th December 1800
Received a letter from Mr Tough yesterday, wherein he advised me of having purchased 4000 saluis of Wine at Maskali to be shipped in January. Measured more casks for the Cybele. Sent 12 boxes of Lemons to the Romulus and 6 to a person into Calabria to purchase 65 oxen and as many Cantau of hay for the Astrea.
10th December 1800
Completed the measurement of 300 cask for the Cybele. Shipped 20 casks of wine on board the Astrea.
11th December 1800
Preparing casks for the Ann. Bought 120 Salun of Calavances at Milazzo at 10 Tarius and 10 Gidins per Tumolo. Weighed 4 cases of sugar for the Astrea. Very heavy rain with thunder and lightning.
12th December 1800
In course of last night the Fulumiante Cutter anchored from Naples. The Cybele completed her cask for Melazzo. This day was remarkable for the heaviest rain without the least interruption that I ever recollect to have seen. It effectually put a stop to everything out of doors. Wrote to Mr Brown.
13th December 1800
Commenced filling the Oil casks. The Cybele transport sailed for Melazzo. Employed weighing and clearing Calavances and weighing sugar. Shipped 2 casks of wine on board the Fulminante.
14th December 1800, Sunday
Shipped 8 cases of sugar on board the Fulminante. Weighed 14 casks of calavances. Heavy rain. Wind still southerly.
15th December 1800
At 8 in the morning I set off on horseback for Melazzo and after travelling over the worst road I ever met with arrived there about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The Cybele I found had landed the greatest part of the cask. I ordered the wine to be brought down at daylight in the morning. A wine cooper from Messina had arrived to see their properly bunged and secured. When I came to examine the calavances which I expected that I had bought, I found they were kidney beans which in Sicily are called Calavances and what we call calavances they term Cice: of course I declined taking them.
16th December 1800
Began to fill the casks with wine which I found pretty good. Directed Captain Gray of the Cybele to attend and see all the casks properly filled. At 11 o'clock I set off for Messina, where I arrived at ½ past 5. Found a letter from Mr Tough enclosing order for wine &c to be exported duty free from Missina Villelazzo. And a letter also from Mr Brown at Malta of the 8th instant. It was a triplicate and had come by post from Syracuse. Found the cattle had arrived from Calabria and shipped on board the Astrea, as well 16 cases of sugar by Broadbent. The Ann had continued taking in wine. Captain Ribouleau informed me that he intended to sail in the morning. I was employed all the night in preparing my letters for Mr Brown and putting my affairs in a little order.
17th December 1800
Employed preparing and taking receipts from the Purser of the Astrea. At 3 o'clock she sailed. Wrote to Mr Tough at Palermo in answer to his letters.
18th December 1800
Measured 48 casks of oil. Found a Major Wilson of Howspeck's Dragoons had arrived from the Head Quarters of the Austrian Army on his way to Malta. Accompanied Captain Culverhouse to the Governor's, and from thence went to the prison to visit Dolomieu the Philosopher with Major Wilson who obtained permission to see him, but was required to converse only in Italian, and in presence of the Goaler. The sufferings of this great man will one day fall on his oppressors. The Ann completed her cargo of wine. Shipped 48 casks of oil.
19th December 1880
The Ann completed taking on oil. Employed preparing wine for the Romulus. In the afternoon heavy rain.
20th December 1880
Heavy showers of rain all day. Shipped 6 casks of calavances and 18 cases of sugar on board the Ann. The rice arrived form Catania. Began to put it in cask. Only 9 coils of rope completed.
21st December 1880, Sunday
Completed the invoices of the Ann's cargo and took receipts from the Master.
22nd December 1800
Weighed casks of rice. Received a letter (duplicate) from Mr Brown at Malta of the 8th. Preparing wine for the Romulus. At 4 o'clock the messenger vessel with lemons sailed.
23rd December 1800
Shipping wine on board the Romulus. Exchanged £8000 with Mr Henry Season. Made a remittance of £4000 to Mr Tough. Wind Southerly. Preparing the Cybele's papers.
24th December 1800
In the morning the Cybele anchored from Melazzo. Shipped on board her 9 casks of rice, 4 casks of shoes, and 25 coils of rope. In the afternoon the Adventure transport arrived from Malta bringing me several letters from Mr Brown who apprizes me of my appointment as Storekeeper of Minorca yard. Continued to ship wine on board the Romulus.
25th December 1800, Christmas.
Wrote to Mr Mattoc to cancel order for sugar. To Mr Tough for his proposals to supply rope. And to Messrs Woodhouse for 500 pipes of Marsala wine. Closed the papers of the Cybele. Wrote to Mr Burdock (Bundock?) at Malta.
26th December 1800
Continued shipping wine on board the Romulus. An idle day with the Sicilians. In the afternoon the Cybele sailed.
27th December 1800
Ordered Mr D'Amico to purchase 4000 salurs more of the wine of Melazzo, Mr Tough having informed me that he had broke off his bargain for that quantity at Maracali. Shipped 4 cases of sugar and eighteen casks or rice on board the Romulus; and the remainder of Faro wine, in all 116 casks. The Adventure began to discharge her cask, she having obtained Pratique.
28th December 1800
Preparing different vouchers. In the afternoon the Champion anchored, having Mr Pollard on board.
29th December 1800
The Adventure continued landing her cask. The Boreas began to take cask on board.
30th December 1800
Accommodated Mr Pollard with two thousand Ouzi at Palermo. He gave me a Bill for 1500 which I paid to Mr Broadbent on account at the Exchange of 51.
31st December 1800
Preparing invoices &c for the Romulus. The Boreas continued taking in cask.
1st January 1801
Shipped one cask of shoes on board the Romulus. The calavances (or cici) arrived in a felucca from Catania.
2nd January 1801
Settled with the Purser of the Romulus. Began to unload the cici.
3rd January 1801
Continued shipping cask on board the Boreas. And landing the cici.
4th January 1801
Wrote to Governor Ball and Mr Bundock at Malta.
5th January 1801
The Boreas continued taking in cask. The cici landing from felucca.
6th January 1801
A Feast day, and nothing to be done.
7th January 1801
Packing the Pease. The Boreas continued shipping cask.
8th January 1801
Filled and weighed 111 cask of pease. Shipped 48 on board the Romulus. The Boreas completed to 400 pipes.
9th January 1801
Preparing for my departure to Palermo. Settled all accounts with Mr Aufuso.
10th January 1801
In the morning the Romuls sailed. The wind to the Northward.
11th January 1801, Sunday
The wind Northerly.
12th January 1801
This morning at 10 o'clock I set off from Messina in a Sparonaro. The weather was fine. I had an Officer of the Custom sand a Priest for companions.
13th January 1801
The weather still continued very fine. And on the morning of the -
14th January 1801 we landed at Termini in order to proceed by land to Palermo, 24 miles distant. The country was romantic and the prospects fine, though we travelled close by the sea side. About six or seven miles from Palermo we plassed a house or rather Country Seat of a Nobleman which was ornamented on all sides with the most monstrous figures in stone that can be imagined. The whole animal creation was here so blended and mixed together that would puzzle any one to describe. I could not help regretting that so much money had been expended by the whim an caprice of one man, which had it been applied in relieving the distressed, would have rendered hundreds of families comfortable. At 3 o'clock we arrived at Palermo.
15th January 1801
I waited on Mr Paget to apprize him of my return, but found he could not be seen. Began to close my accounts with Mr Tough. Found several letters from Mr Brown. Wrote to Mr Woodhouse of Marsala to meet me at Alcarus on the next Sunday.
16th January 1801
Waited for Mr Paget. Continued preparing my papers.
17th January 1801, Sunday
At daybreak I set off for Alcamo to meet Mr Woodhouse to extend my purchases of Marsala wine. At three o'clock I arrived at Alcamo. Mr Woodhouse did not come.
19th January 1801
At ten o'clock I set off from Alcamo on my return to Palermo, having previously dispatched a messenger to Marsala with my proposals. At five o'clock I arrived at Palermo.
20th January 1801
This forenoon Mr Woodhouse arrived, the messenger I sent to him on the 15th not having arrived at Marsala till Sunday noon which prevented him from meeting me at Alcamo. Entered into a contract with him for 1000 pipes of wine, 500 to be delivered on 31st March and 500 on 30 June. Dined with Mr Paget by invitation.
21st January 1801
Continued to prepare my papers.
22nd January 1801
Employed as before.
23rd January 1801
Employed in the same manner. Received Mr Mattoc's account of Marsala wine.
24th January 1801
Continued preparing my vouchers &c. Dined with Captain Culverhouse of the Romulus in company with Mr Paget &c.
25th January 1801, Sunday
Employed about my papers as before. Bought of Mr Tough 1450 bushels of calavances at 19 ½ Taris per bushel delivered at Malta
26th January 1801
Continued at my papers as before. A very wet day.
27th 28th January 1801
Finished all my papers and prepared to depart for Messina.
29th, 30th, January, 1st, 2nd February 1801
Waiting the arrival of the Post from Naples, Mr Tough not being able to accompany me till he had dispatched two American vessels which depended on the receipt of letters from Naples. At noon on the 2nd the Post arrived.
3rd February 1801
At ten o'clock in the morning we set off from Palermo in a coach and at three we arrived at Termini. Here we engaged a Fistering(?) boat to take us to Melazzo. While the boat was preparing we had an excellent dinner procured for us by the landlord of the Locanda della Fortuna where we stopped, particularly of fish. At six o'clock we embarked and by dint of rowing and sailing we arrived at Melazzo at five o'clock in the afternoon of the 4th.
4th February 1801
Found the Boreas had sailed for Messina six days after taking in her cargo with great expedition.
5th February 1801
Settled the Boreas cargo, and all other affairs with Signor D'Amico.
6th February 1801
At noon I set off for Messina where I arrived at six o'clock. Found the Triton arrived.
7th February 1801
Settled the Boreas cargo. Took receipt, gave invoices, and wrote to Mr Bundock, to whom I also enclosed invoices of the Felton's cargo.
8th February 1801
Employed about settling my papers.
9th February 1801
Prepared corrected invoices of the Felton's cargo (Mr Broadbent having marked every cask wrong) and enclosed to Mr Bundock.
25th February 1801
This day at 2 o'clock Mr Season received an Express from Mr Gibbs at Palermo wherein he states that peace was concluded between the French and Neopolitans to the exclusion of the English commerce both in the Ports of Naples and Sicily; and that he was in consequence preparing to embark himself and effects for Malta. I immediately consulted with Lieutenant Hewitt and we determined to charter a vessel to convey away what property remained at this port, which consisted of pease, rice, and wine. Though the necessity might not be so great as was represented we still considered it as a matter of prudent precaution. Chartered a Polacre Brig of Mr Broadbent's for 340 Ouze.
26th February 1801
Began to ship wine. Shipped 18 casks of pease on board a Maltese Sparonaro chartered by Mr Wilkie. At 5 o'clock the wind coming round to the Northward and the Boyne in which vessel I intended to take my passage being perfectly ready, I determined at the solicitation of Mr Hewitt to suspend my departure for a day or two in order to take measures for securing the property of Government remaining with the Island, and we dispatched the Boyne to Malta with our letters.
27th February 1801
Continued to ship wine on board the Catarnia. At ½ past 4 Lord William Stuart in the Champion stood into the (Bay) Harbour. Mr Hewitt and myself went on board when he acquainted us that an Armistice was concluded between the French and King of Naples, the principal article of which was to expel the British from the Ports of Naples and Sicily and that only six days would be allowed. He desired us to use every exertion and stood on with his convoy for Malta. Wrote to Mr Tough at Palermo to cover the property remaining at Melazzo. Made a false sale of 1700 Taluns of wine at Messina to Major Barnes and authorized Mr Broadbent privately to act for me therein as well with regard to shipping it as everything else that might occur relative to it.
28th February 1801
Continued to ship wine on board the Catarina. At noon the Adventure arrived from Melazzo. Shipped 12 casks of pease. Wrote to Mr Tough that I had sold the wine which would remain at Messina. At 5 o'clock, after taking a farewell of the few friends I had in Messina I embarked and at six weighed with a fine northerly wind and made all sail for Malta.
1st March 1801
We had a fine breeze all the night and in course of the next forenoon passed Mount Etna and in the evening Syracuse.
2nd March 1801
The weather continued fine with light airs of wind, which enabled us to proceed but slowly.
On the 3rd March 18901 at 4 o'clock in the afternoon wee anchored at Malta, I immediately waited on Captain Ball and made him acquainted with the situation of our affairs in Sicily., I found with him Mr Wilkie the newly appointed agent Victualler and communicated to him also what might be expected yet to arrive from Sicily. He informed me that on the preceding Sunday morning he had sent two vessels to Grigento for the remainder of the catch.
On the 4th March I waited on Mr Bundock (after receiving my appointment as Storekeeper of Minorca Yard) and communicated everything to him respecting the accounts I had left in Sicily.
On the 5th March in the forenoon the Speedwell arrived from Egypt. I had had some thoughts of delivering over my affairs into the hands of Mr Wilkie but I found him so wholly incompetent to complete them that I judged it prudent to solicit Mr Bundock to take that charge, to which he consented. I accordingly delivered to him all my papers, and waited on Captain Ball to request he would order me a passage to Minorca in the Speedwell. I delivered into his hands the contract which I had entered into with Woodhouse of Marsala. He desired me to transfer it to Mr Wilkie which I complied with the next morning.
On the 6th March 1801 in the morning the Triton arrived from Messina without having been able to take on board a cargo of wine at Melazzo in consequence of all English vessels being directed to quit the Ports of Sicily in 224 hours. In the evening at 6 o'clock we weighed in the Speedwell and made sail for Minorca.
Nothing of moment occurs until the morning of the 9th March 1801 when at daylight we observed a sail bearing down upon us under English Colours with all sail set and sweeps out. At ½ past 6 she came near us when she hoisted French Colours (having previously hauled down English) and fired a gun. We kept our way, she continued to fire. At 7 we tacked and gave her a broadside or two, when she crouded all sail to get away which she succeeded in, in consequence of the light airs and being well to windward, by management of sweeps.
An the 17th March in the morning we arrived at Mahon.
From Betty Harrison Family Archives. Transcribed Michael Heath-Caldwell.