Liverpool Mercury 1913
Extracts in the “Log book” on feedback from the articles on the Marie Celeste
I don’t doubt Mr LINFORD for a moment, he being a gentleman of the highest attainments. It is the late Abel FOSDYK who seems to have played a posthumous prank on the British public.
Let us see how we stand.
In July last the “Strand magazine” copied the mystery of the Marie Celeste from the “Nautical magazine”.
The story very unnautically told, the first thing required should have been a full list of crew and their ratings.
The account states that she had a company of 13 souls, these included the wife of the Captain and their 7 yr old daughter.
The Marie Celeste [Capt CRIGGS] left New York about Sept 1872 bound for Naples. Dated Jan 2nd 1873 the U.S, Consul at Gibraltar advised the owners that the ship had been brought into that port by the Dei Gracia, which picked her up on the high seas on Dec 5th, 1872, abandoned.
The brig was in perfect condition, a half eaten breakfast on the table, a half stitched child’s pinafore on the sewing machine, a thimble was there, everything unmoved, proving fine weather. The sails were set, the Captain’s moneybox was there, with money intact, everything, “ship-shape”, except, the passengers and crew, gone, as had the chronometer and ship’s papers.
Famous people were asked what they thought had happened.
Sir H. Conan DOYLE, thought a passenger, GORING, had gone mad shot the captain and tampered with the navigational instruments, the mate had found himself off Africa instead of Portugal. The vessel was attacked by natives, the mate had a charm, which saved him from being killed and he lived to tell the tale.
Mr Barry PAIN, thought a ship had lost her crew through fever and survivors had boarded the Marie Celeste capturing the crew, the other vessel then going down with all hands.
Mr Morley ROBERTS who has thought it over for many years gave it up as a bad job.
Mr H. A.VASCHELL favours the ship suddenly sailing into noxious gas, which impelled all to jump overboard for relief.
Mr Arthur MORRISON thinks “Holy Joe”, a religious maniac A.B, threw the passengers and crew overboard, then the chronometer and papers as religious offerings.
There is a gentleman in North Wales, B. W. W, who once served on the Marie Celeste, he says, Capt BRIGGS [the Strand alters, GRIGGS to BRIGGS] met Capt MOREHOUSE of the Brig Dei Gracia in New York, they were old friends and both were bound for the Mediterranean.
The Dei Gracia sailed a few days ahead of the Marie Celeste, on Dec 7th, made Santa Maria, seeing a brig in the distance, making her out to be the Marie Celeste.
There was not a soul on board, the Captain’s watch hung from a bracket of the swinging lamp over the table, on the table was a slate with some jottings written on it for the log book, dated Nov 24th, showing she had been left to her own devices for nearly 2 wks.
Recorded on the slate was, Light winds and fair weather then these words :-
“Fanny my Dear wife” in the hand writing of the mate, probably started to his wife when his shipmates were lowering a boat.
What boat ? none were missing, unless they took an extra boat, as in the sea story, “The Wrecker”, they took a whale boat – the wrong type – on the Currency Lass, which added vastly to the mystery afterwards.
My correspondent continues – the exploring party entered the Captain’s room, they found the clothes of the child, and in one of the berths the implant of a little head on the pillow. The other berths undisturbed showing the abandonment must have taken place in the evening.
The galley was just as just as the cook had left it after clearing up after supper.
One sailor’s chest contained a five pound note and other valuables, pointing to the fact that the crew left in haste.
B. W. W, told me the belief at the time was that a cask of alcohol under the main hatch had exploded, and all had left fearing the vessel would blow up.
C. H. H, entering the fray, said the Marie Celeste on leaving Boston had 20 persons on board and was found abandoned at Gibraltar. No boats were missing and she was in perfect order except for one cut in the bulwarks.
Then we have Abel FOSDYK, who said they had, had, bad weather for a month, one day they discovered “Baby” standing on the bowsprit. The Captain was horrified, FOSDYK ran to the bows and grasped the child’s frock, he warned her not to go up there again, but she said she had often done it. They were fond of “Baby” and made a kind of trestle bridge which they put across the bows and after end of the bowsprit.
In the picture given it looks maliciously unsafe, and in fact, impossible. Sailormen who adore children would never have done such a foolish thing.
The mate a capable man challenged the demented captain to a swimming match, in his clothes, did anyone ever hear of a sensible mate doing such a foolish thing. Two sailors entered the contest and lowered the captain by the means of a rope from the Baby’s quarter deck, imagine sailormen selecting the most insecure thing on the ship for this purpose. They all then were on the Baby’s quarter deck watching the captain swim, on hearing a shriek all leaned over, the deck collapsing and all went overboard. Does this strike you as reasonable and sailorlike? This is against every tradition of sailors at sea.
Why did FOSDYK not tell, at the time, he was faced with nothing worse than being the most famous man in two continents. He could have cleared up the matter in respect of the rest of the crew [a duty he owed them] as well as for the Captain’s little son in New York.
On Mr GREENOUGH’S long enclosure, he was asked by the editor, for the complete satisfaction of the general public, if he would be prepared to make a complete affidavit of the facts.
Mr GREENOUGH at once wired back :-
Story is my own entirely. Have nothing but my word to prove it.
Later the telegram was confirmed by letter :-
The story re the Marie Celeste is entirely my own, but I have no positive proof of it save my word. The account I forwarded to you and the rough copy I have on board, are the only two in existence. To this I am willing to swear.
What we wanted to know, has he preserved the original document found in the bottle ? On which ship was he when loading grain at Rosario ? Could the German who translated the document be found?
The steamer TORTUGERO has cleared for Santa Marta, but we hope to hear from Mr GREENOUGH when she comes back to this port.
I still think the most practical idea is to obtain the crew list and ratings of the entire crew. I appeal to the U. S. Consul here to ask the shipping authorities in New York – indeed the owners may still be there – to supply the same.
I also appeal to my log bookers for their help, I have received letters from far afield. To find Abel FOSDYK’S name on the articles would be the best “leg up” for such an improbable tale.
Don’t run away with the idea that the Marie Celeste furnishes the solitary mystery of the marine world. My home or distant readers may have personal experiences of the following :-
Did not the FANNY E. WOLSTON, abandoned on, Oct 15th, 1891, drift 4,000 miles, and was sighted in Dec 1893?
Did not the American schooner W. L. WHITE, abandoned on Mar 13th, 1888, roll around the Atlantic for months and after being reported by about 50 vessels, drift ashore on the Hebrides in Jan 1889?
An ounce of fact is worth a ton of fiction C.P, is a gentleman who has really been on the Marie Celeste and tells us some actualities.
My opinion is that the author has had his leg pulled, or is to be sympathised with for knowing nothing about the sea.
One is given to believe that the Marie Celeste bowsprit was that of the present day full-rigged ship, which carries no jibboom. Instead it was only a short, old-fashioned one, overlapped with a jibboom which used to be unshipped and up-ended in port. Her foretopmast stay was fast at the outer end, with the dolphin-striker below and the usual gear attached, and it would be unnaturally ignorant, to rig up any sort of play bridge in a space used for the setting of the foretopmast sail, especially as the jib-sheets had to be also considered, making that spot of all others the most dangerous part of the sailing ship of under 500 tons sailing weight.
She was a brig rigged and painted white, a sharp clipper bow came off her beam well aft, and I should say a hard ship to steer, whilst she had a long, low poop, or quarter deck, with the cabin built through it, the top of this being about 5 ft higher than the quarter deck.
The waist of the ship had a large deck house and galley combined, as far as I can remember this was her other crew space.
Her boats, two in number, were on this house, not as has been pictured, inverted, but standing in chocks.
I was in the company of my father at the time of my visit in Mill Bay, he was a china clay merchant from St Austell, he closed a charter with her then master to load cask clay for Philadelphia for Messers DUNN, now the well known bankers for that port. I think Messers SANDERS, STEVENS were the brokers, but it may have been either of three firms that he was in business with, LUSCOM BELLAMY and Co, ANTHONY and Co and Messrs THOMAS, JONES and STEPHENS and Co, all of whom are represented under different names at present. 40 years is a strain on the memory.
Mr GREENHOUGH’S story is feasible, yet -
When one has to consider that a well-manned brig’s crew were overpowered by a helpless lot of dying men, 6 in number, it needs a lot of digestion.
That gentleman visited St Paul’s rock in 1904 and found a skeleton and papers which he did not try to decipher for 5 yrs. Does he mean as an officer he met no one able to decipher the message for 5 yrs – why did he not hand it over to the Marine Dept or the Board of Trade!
To me it is somewhat of the nature of Capt SHAW’S Saragasio sea story.
St Paul’s rocks is situated less than one degree north of the line, and are annually visited by hurricanes. They are a quarter of a mile in area, the highest point less than 60 ft and quite bare.
In 1891 on a voyage home from Argentina. I fell in with a Captain on his way home to London having just navigated a small vessel to the Brazils. He had landed on his outward run on the rocks, climbing to the highest point, finding fresh bird dung – not guano as Mr GREENOUGH remarks, 22 yrs is a long time for the remains to be left exposed. I cannot believe this was all that was left which could throw light on the Marie Celeste mystery.
Mr Robert R. SHERRARD the well known writer, says, I am of the opinion no such name as Abel Fosdyk will be found on the list of ships crew.
I cannot understand the photograph of “Baby” reproduced on the first page of the article. Either he carried it in his pocket or had left it in some lodgings.
After his long submersion in the water it is impossible to be in condition to be reproduced. He could not have reproduced it without person or persons knowing he had survived the disaster.
He describes Clark as boasting a long, bushy, beard, in the picture of Clark [with Ginger] Clark is clean shaven.
Copyright 2002 / To date