On Board Ship Alert Mon
Oct 28th 1816Worthy Parents, I write this to inform you of my health and that I have Ship’d in the States Service for two years, and am bound up the Straits [of Gibraltar] with Stores, for the Ships Station’d up there, and Expect to be Drafted on board Some Other Ship on my arrival up there, and Stay up there untill my time is out [.] the wages are low in the Merchant Service, and Dear parents I Should have come home, but my past Actions have been so bad that my Conscience tells me I have Done wrong[.] but depend on it Dear parents I have moments at Sea when I think of my past Conduct that is very uncomfortable and I pay Severely by Reflecting on the past, when I think with what tender Care you watch’d over me in my infancy and try’d to Instill into my mind Sentiments of becoming Such parents, and how have I abused all your good Intentions, how have I Repaid such Kindness, by Cruel neglect, by turning a Deaf Ear to Such parental Advice, and Running into [sic] headlong to my own Ruin [.] But D[ea]r Parents I See my own folly and am Asham’d of it[.] And I have been in bad Company So long that it Seems like Second nature, and it would be almost Impossible for me to leave it[.] I suppose God knows when I shall See you again[.] I dont Know as I Ever Shall, and I hope you will forgive my past follies and if Ever I should Return I will Endeavour to Conduct myself with a little more Steadiness and hope you will make yourselfs easy on my account as you have Done all parents Could do for me, therefore it is all my own fault if I meet with misfortunes— Give my love to my Brothers and Sisters and tell them I am well and that I Respect them and always Shall[.] May god Bless them and you and wishing all the happiness which this world affords, I Subscribe myself your
It is of no use to write to me as we Expect to Sail in a few Days. I have been in an English man-of-war and gave myself up and went to Dartmoor Prison and was oblige’d to Alter my name[.] I heard my Grand-Mother was Dead which I was Sorry to hear[.] if I Never see any of you again I wish you all well and may God Bless you all[.] I Shall write to you again when I Gett up the Straits[.] No more at present
from your Affectionate Brother [sic]John Bartlett 1
Research Historian, USS Constitution Museum
Matthew Brenckle was the Research Historian at the USS Constitution Museum from 2006 to 2016.