Go on shore at Carthagena
After being released from Quarantine on Sunday 28th we were detained till the Thursday following, for the Bogata Mail. Being in constant attendance upon the Master, I could not go on shore to assist the Capt.n in counting the cash – and I would not have been on shore at all if M.r Snell had not desired me to go with him to dinner at M.r Bunch’s. I went there, and in my walk thro’ the town, I could discover nothing new. Instead of improvement, I found every thing going to ruin – houses I had formerly seen inhabited now fast crumbling down. Mess.rs Bunch & Brush lived in the old Inquisition and from what I observed of the house, the conviction struck me, that the Holy and reviered Brotherhood had not intended their abode to be one of discomfort and self-denial – but rather one where princes might not distain to live. The poverty – the penance – the sufferings and mortifications which by their religion and their monastic rules they were under an obligation to endure, they kept aloof from themselves, and in the persons of their wicked and miserable victims, they performed by proxy those observances which their creed rendered it imperative to be preformed by them. The different apartments were lofty and extensive, and admirably adapted to the climate. The prison[s] were small, narrow, scarcely admitting air and light. The room in which we dined was one of the best – and there we set down to a dinner – dressed in the French style – that is to say, the fish meat &.c were so disguised that I could not recognise my old acquaintances. I would rather make half a meal upon our own plain substantial dishes, than a surfeit upon the kickshaws of the French.
No English medical practitioner there
I have not told you the reason, why I went to M. Bunch’s, which was this. One of the head clerks had caught cold, which produced Rheumatism, and there being no English Practitioner at Carthagena, he had wished to consult me, and by way of doing this in the genteelest way, had invited me to dinner. You might think that there being no medical person but an ignorant French quack, would present as most favourable opportunity for engaging in practice here and so undoubtedly it did. The Capt.n often talked to me about it – but I neither felt inclined to take up my permanent residence there, nor as a matter of mere prudence would it have been adviseable. M.r Snell told me that the last Surgeon received 1800 dollars a year from the English houses, besides whatever else he could make by his practice among the natives. Now if a definite proposal had been made to me, accompanied with the offer of a definite sum, I would not have hesitated to accept of such an offer – but I consider that it would have been the height of folly in me to have taken the bold step of setting up at once on my bottom – and no doubt you will coincide with me.
Political News at Carthagena
I heard a great deal of news here, and as a stranger I heard both sides of the question. I have already mentioned that on the day of our arrival, three vessels started for Panama, filled with troops, under the command of General Luca. They were about 400 in number and together with 300 which had been previously dispatched, would form a body of 700 troops – a number considered to be amply sufficient to put down the insurgents, who were about 200 or 300 strong. Of the success or failure of this mighty expedition we received no public intelligence during our stay – but I heard it privately stated, that they had partly succeeded, and were soon likely to be fully victorious, as some of the rebels had deserted their officers, and joined the government troops.
Whilst we were still in Quarantine a schooner with Columbian colours sailed past us. The same night we learned that she had gone to the Castello de San Fernando, situated at the entrance of the Boca Chica, and there having taken onboard between 30 & thirty officers, who had fought against the establishment of the present government, had orders to convey them to Corocoa, a Dutch Island. It is highly creditable to the present heads of the administration, that they have exercised so much lenity towards their political enemies.
No one, I understand, as yet has been put to death by a public execution but the officers have been removed into exile. I heard however that it was likely that one person would be shot, and that person was an Irishman, a Colonel Hand. He had rendered himself obnoxious to the people and soldiery, by several acts. You may remember, that when we were last at Carthagena, a General Cordova was up in arms against Bolivar – and you may perhaps know that in the very first engagement he was killed. Now it is said that Colonel Hand entered a hut, where the rebel general lay severely wounded, and inhumanly murdered him in cold blood – a tale which gains implicit credence with the people, who are all staunch anti-Bolivarians, and look upon Cordova as a martyr to the cause of liberty. Again when the troops of the present government attacked Hand at Chagres, he is said to have given orders to set fire to the town, whilst he retired into the fort – and thus rendered those poor people his implacable enemies, whose homes and property he had thus cruelly destroyed. These two instances then have been the cause, why the public will hardly rest satisfied with any punishment short of death – and if all be true, no one can justly blame their feelings.
Sed audi alteram partem. The friends of Colonel Hand allege on the contrary, that he happened to come into a house whither a number of the fl__neing and among others general Cordova had fled. He demanded if Cordova was there, and a man behind the rest replied “I am Cordova,” at the same time putting his hand to his pistol with an evident intention to fire. Of course, as a measure of self defence C.l Hand attacked him and put him to death.
In the affair of Chagres again, the favourites of C.l Hand say, that it is manifestly unjust to charge him with wanton cruelty in setting fire to the town since he was only second in command and was obliged by all the established rules of military service to render a strict obedience to his superior officers. Such is C.l Hand’s justification, and certainly considering the character of the man, I am inclined to believe that this view of his conduct is the fairest and most unprejudiced. How the matter will be finally decided I know not, altho’ I rather think, it will go hard with Hand. M.r Watts our consul at Carthagena, I understand is using making the most strenuous efforts to save his life.
We shall now bid adieu to politics & return to other topics.
New mode of flitting
I went on shore one evening opposite to where our Packet was laying and certainly witnessed some improvement there. Just as we were on the point of leaving, we saw an immense crowd of people coming along, carrying the perfect roof of a large house borne on poles. This is a most excellent plan of flitting so that you can remove your house from spot to spot, with little trouble or loss of time.
We carried off a good deal of freight from Carthagena, in gold dust & doubloons. There is now no duty on coined money – but the exportation of gold dust is prohibited as it defrauds the government of the duties, which would otherwise be paid on coinage. Our Packet was the first which carries freight at the new rate – and many merchants withheld their money, until after the 1st of Sept.r when the new act came into power.
The present rate of freight from Carthagena to Jamaica is ¾ for gold, and one per Cent for Silver – At five[?] per Cent on gold & silver for England – but then the responsibility of the Commander of the P.t only commences when the money is alongside and ceases as soon as ha has reached his port of destination. Such of the money as we received before 1st Sept.r was charged at the old rate – the rest at the new. But the Columbians were too clever for our Capt.n and deceived him as we afterwards found. They indeed marked in the Bill of lading the old rate of freight, but very conveniently dated it 1st Sept.r – altho’ really given in on the 29th Aug.st they rendering it impossible for the Capt.n to demand any greater rate of freight than what the new act allowed. The Bills of Lading being printed & written in Spanish, M.r Snell, thinking he was dealing with honourable people, did not notice or even suspect this imposition. Another case occurred where in a different hand, they had the impudence to put in afterwards, freight paid when our blank bill expressed no such thing. On Wednesday January 31st Aug.st the Bogata Mail came in and brought us a good deal of money, which we received next day.
Thursday 1st Sept.r – at 4 P.M. we received our Mail, but there being little wind, the pilot would not undertake to pilot us, but on Friday 2d we got under weigh, cleared the Harbour, & stood again for Kingston. Wind unfavourable squally weather.
Saturday 3d – cloudy weather – strong but unfavourable breeze.
Sunday 4th – strong breezes, head sea – wind more favourable.
Monday 5th – strong wind nearly favourable – fine weather.
Tuesday 6th – fine W.r – and fresh breezes