But I must be particular at least in recording the names of our messmates & shipmates, in order to preserve some memorial of them, when days, months & years shall have passed away.
Two then claim our first attention as being cabin passengers & our messmates viz. Mess.rs Philip & Dennis Ball, Brothers and Sons of a gentleman who had been a large banker in Cornwall – but had failed.
M.r Philip Ball
M.r Philip Ball. Surely so short a name could never belong to so tall – so stout a personage as the gent just mentioned. Yet it was so. M.r Philip was a man of 6 feet in height – broad shoulders – expanded chest – full moon face, yet handsome with curling black locks. Altogether he was a very fine looking man – and a most favourable specimen on an “Inglese.” I assure you his stout, healthy, florid appearance at Jacquemel – Jamaica & Belize – excited no small notice among the people who seldom saw such a sight, except when some Newcomer from England direct visited their shores.
In character M.r Philip was a pleasant good natured fellow – just such as a one as would render himself agreeable in any society, without exciting envy by any superior attainments. In his conversation he displayed no marks of having studied or read much, on the contrary I should have judges that his extent of book love, on literary or historical subjects was very limited. I should consider him to be very unfit for a hot climate, from full plethoric habits, which he took no pains to keep down by abstinence or medicine. – Nay the evil seemed to be daily increasing, for whilst with us he became enormously stout – and his appetite & excellence of digestion prompting him, he partook of most extravagant quantities of food of every description & stimulating drinks, at the same time that he took little or no exercise, spending his whole day in eating & sleeping or lounging. He was universally liked for he had no pride about him. He was equally intimate with all the miners as with us. He was as often in their society as in ours. He laughed with them – joked with them and joined with them in many a game of Card. At 12 he was invariably to be found between decks, partaking of their mess of sea pie or pease soup & pork. In short he gained golden opinions from all, from the highest to the lowest. May he succeed to his hearts content in his plans in Mexico whatever they may be, & return with full pockets home to Cornwall – but I much fear if he is attacked with fever he will have but small chance of escaping with his life.
M.r Dennis Ball
M.r Dennis Ball the younger Brother of M.r Philip Ball was a person of a very different stamp, both in body and in mind. He is far surpassed his brother in mental as Philip did him in bodily qualifications. In size he was of the ordinary standard. His features were not so good or so handsome as Philip’s – and when annoyed, hellish or angry there was an indescribable something in the curl of his under lip which displeased you, and detracted much from the otherwise favourable opinion you would have formed of him. I have said he far surpassed Philip in mental calibre. He was very well read indeed in history & general knowledge – & during six years sojourn in Mexico at Real del Monte & Bolannos Mines, he had acquired a knowledge of the world which rendered him tho younger in years, [to] be [a] fit guide & instructor to his brother in the scenes in which they are about to mingle. M.r Dennis had one great drawback against him. He had long suffered from illness – & was still occasionally subject to attacks of Chronic nephritis, which had soured his temper, and darkened his soul. In these moods he was sullen – snappish and surly – and I apprehend should his attacks of illness continue (which is very probable) that his mind will sink under them & lead him to insanity or suicide. He is in truth a terrible hypochondriac – and when at the worst, he talks most strangely, expressing his indifference in living, of throwing off at once the wearisome burden of existence by an act of volition. I fear much for him – as he is either a Deist in principles, or rather has none at all – at least none that will stand the shock of illness or hypochondriasm, when his mind is weakened. At another times, when he is well, M.r Dennis is a very pleasant companion with whom you could pass many an hour in entertaining & instructive conversation. He had some very peculiar notions of his disease – and when labouring under cold – his idea was that bumpers of brandy, or of port wine were the best remedies. Under this persuasion he would swill away to an immoderate extent & continue the practice, till after a few days, finding himself no better but rather worse, he would knock off all at once from eatables & drinkables and thus starve out his disease – which by the bye of the two plans was much the better one – altho’ I must confess it was carried to too great an extent.
What were the objects of the Mess.rs Ball in coming to Mexico, we could never learn – It was a secret to every one on board & they kept it close – never offering any reply to our innuendoes & hints as to it. They were well stocked with every thing & every thing was the best & most complete of it kind – Clothes in abundance. Swords – pistols – fowling pieces – carabines – every thing in fact conducive to their comfort, convenience & protection they had from the most approved makers in London. I query whether many of the articles they had with them were not intended for sale in Mexico – as they seemed to have far more than they could possibly require.
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