Mexicans and Miners

Manners of the Mexicans

Well, with the exception of the Portuguese – who are a shade worse, the Mexicans are among the dirtiest people with whom I have ever been in contact. Their manners are disgustingly filthy. They are perpetually expectorating, & they regard neither time nor time [sic – but ‘place’] when they wish to spit. Oh what an abomination did our poor Packet present after they had left. The after cabin in particular was shocking – the deck being covered with fragments of stale bread – putryfying remnants of meat – saliva & perhaps something worse than all. Above & below – everywhere indeed – filth shocked your eyes & your olfactory nerves from pieces of cigars innumerable – great streaks of saliva – & odds & ends of filth and dirt beyond all conception or description.

Only two of the whole were able to be almost always on deck. The rest were stowed away – in their berths, and seldom moved thence, except to obey the joyful summons to breakfast, dinner or tea – in fact to gormandise. At first it might have been a matter of laughter to you to witness their proceedings – but too soon alas disgust – impatience & anger would be the prevailing feelings of your breast towards them. They had not the slightest idea of the etiquette and decency of the table – but they eat & eat, of fish, fowl, soup, & mutton as if the sole end of their existence had been to live to eat, not to eat to live. It would be an unprofitable as well as an ungrateful hash to put down all that was done contra to nos ordores. I shall content myself with selecting a few of their solecisms and improprieties. Very frequently they would reach over the table to help themselves to a dish, which had been placed before you – and then too they shewed a perfect discrimination in selecting the choicest bits. If one or two or three wished to partake of the same dish, a most unseemly stretching and scrambling, from all parts of the table, would ensue, in order to secure the envied morceaux. On one occasion, when we had sheep’s head, & our Skipper was helping them as fast as he could, one friend Dionysio Goz, very coolly took the knife & fork from the Captain’s hands, & proceeded to cut out the whole of the tongue, which he immediately removed to his own plate. But the worst of all to us was, that each used his own knife & fork, with which he had been eating, to cut or serve from the same of which we were partaking. The sight was enough to turn a decent Christian or Protestant’s Stomach. Connected with this a very ridiculous scene occurred. Towards the end of dinner, one of the Mexicans was desirous to have [a] piece of sea pie, a dish was placed before our Master. Instead of asking to be helped, he drew the pie towards him & altho’ there was already a knife & fork in the dish wherewith to cut it, by way being very decent & cleanly, he first licked both sides of his own knife & fork, & immediately after employed them in apportioning what he wanted out of the general dish. After that none of us would touch it – but his countrymen had no such feelings of squeamish delicacy about them, & one after another took their share in the same way, till the whole was finished. Faugh! Faugh! Faugh!

Again we shall suppose that they have first partaken of fish with oil & vinegar – and that they wish to have some mutton or fowl or pork – instead of handing their plate to the Steward, & receiving a clean one, as we do, they used to shove the self same plate with the fish bones – oil & vinegar, to receive thereupon any of the other articles I have mentioned – nay they very servilely refused when the Captain desired them to change their platter. In this way at the conclusion of dinner – you would see on the same dish – fish bones – bones of mutton – & portions of fowl or duck or geese, with vegetables & biscuits. Truly they delight in dirt – they luxuriate in unpleasantness – they are obstinate in doing that, to do which with us would subject them to exclusion from any decent family.

I have not yet done. Suppose dinner over, they wish to shew you how nice they are. They take a mouthful of water – whomble it about in their mouths & then eject it right into their plates, or else with an elegant & powerful squirt cause it to fall a couple of yards from them.

= Eheer jam salis =

It is the custom among Spaniards to drink whatever wine they intend to use during dinner – & should you have any fruit for a desert, it is put down upon the table cloth, after the meat & vegetables have been removed. Of course it is contemporaneous with the cheese & the salad. When they are satisfied – & I must say they soon are, they have a cup of coffee & rise from the table.

From the manners & behaviour of our Company I should a priori had decided that they were no gentlemen – but there I believe my judgement would in the common acceptation of the term En Mexico lie erroneous. Heaven permit that I may have again to associate with such gents, whose rudeness & disgusting habits annoyed us all and in particular our Skipper & our English passengers who sometimes purposely absented themselves from the table to avoid the annoyance they experienced there. For myself therefore easily conceive with what joy we bid adieu to these our late messmates – and that the first order, after their departure was to scrub & wash, till all smelled sweet again – an object which it cost much time & labour & innumerable buckets of water to attain.

May we never look upon their like again.

Launch comes for the Miners

The day after their departure (Friday 7 February) we had still delightful weather – clear & nearly a calm. Our remaining passengers having been in expectation all yesterday of a launch coming off for them and having been completely disappointed, made sure that early on this morning it would be off. But hour after hour passed & no boat came near us. We saw them passing to & fro the other vessels, and around us. At 3.30 a boat was at last perceived coming in our direction with all the speed which 8 rowers could communicate to such an unwieldy bulk as their launch was. Then came the tug & the struggle. Boxes – chests – trunks &.c were piled on the deck to be ready to be transferred into the barge – whilst those who had not yet shaved & shifted did so now. Soon after the launch had been alongside and all their bags & baggage had been stowed away in it, and at last our passengers themselves took farewell of us, and gave us three cheers as they shoved off, which was returned by our crew, amidst the waving of hands & hats.

Very different, then, were the feelings with which we parted from the miners & those we experienced in saying our “adios” to the Mexicans. The former had been our shipmates from Falmouth – knew how to conduct themselves – and had lived during the long period of eleven weeks in the utmost Harmony with the Ship’s Company. We all felt pretty sorry when they left us & I believe there were some among them who bade us good bye with the unbidden tear in the eye & the lips quivering with emotion.

Read on …