1st Richard Ham – was not a very young, yet not an old man. He was strongly marked with the small pox – of a stout make – with light hair. He has been a great traveller – having travelled in the United States – and formed one of the Mining party that were at Buenos Ayres during the blockade of that place by the Brazilians. There he acted as Steward to the rest on account of his carefulness and sobriety – qualities I assume as highly valued as they are rare among that description of men. Richard was a very good fellow & lived in good fellowship both with our men & his own companions. He had a laugh & a joke for every one – and was always busy as a Bee. I took much delight in conversing with him, and as for subjects we found plenty in talking of Buenos Ayres & the different persons we knew by name & celebrity – He told me that while there they lived well & did nothing – & were handsomely paid – and that their only regret was, that they had not remained a year or two longer. He entertained me with many anecdotes – for he was an observant fellow. Among others he mentioned a circumstance, which happened to himself, and which shews the state of the country of Buenos Ayres at that time.
One night one of his messmates was unwell and Richard was dispatched on horseback into the City (for they lived in the suburbs) to purchase some medicine which he chanced not to have. Now Ham was always very ready & willing on such occasions – and he rode post haste – purchased what he wanted – & was returning with equal speed, when he thought he heard someone halloing to him. However he thought it best to disregard this being fearful that some one had a design of robbing or murdering him (no groundless apprehension there, where such things were of daily – I mean of nightly occurrence) and accordingly slackened neither rein nor bridle when to whiz flew a musket ball over his head, and brought him to in a jiffey. He was then passing the fort, and he immediately knew that the leaden messenger had been dispatched after him by the sentinel on duty – so he suddenly turned round rode up to the sentry. This self important rascal ordered him to dismount – and having conducted him to his box he commenced a thorough search of his person, and appropriated to himself all he could find not excepting the physic. In this way he got possession of 4 dollars – a little handkerchief with various sundries & minor considerations. Being at last satisfied that he had got all poor Dick’s valuables, he suffered him to depart – with a word of caution – to say nothing of the matter for fear of worse consequences. If he had had to deal with a Spaniard he might have been perfectly safe – for fear would have completely obfuscated the poor wretches intellects & taken away his memory. But Richard was a man of different stamp – he had all his wits about, and by the light of an adjoining lamp, whilst the soldier was rifling his person, he took very particular notice of his features, that he might be able to identify him again.
Being as I have said at length dismissed, he wended on his way with redoubled haste to his quarters. On his arrival he roused the Doctor impatient at his protracted stay – and to his demand for the physic he related what had befallen him. The medico was astonished and deliberated what was to be done. After some reflection he took Ham to the Agency – to whom Dick gave a full account of his mischance, & further assured him that he should be able to recognise the robber among a thousand. In a very short time comparatively speaking, all three were on their way to the Fort – at which when they arrived, the Agent requested to see the Officer on guard. In a few minutes he was introduced to the Officer and told his story. The officer heard attentively the whole & then ordered the sentries to be brought to the Guard House to see if he could identify the rascal. When Richard was introduced, he cast a look all around and being then satisfied he laid his hands upon one whom he affirmed to be the man. All were surprised and the officer admitted that he was the very one who had been on guard at the time stated & that he had since been relieved. He then ordered him to be taken into custody & his room to be searched. The search was perfectly successful, even to the Physic, which together with the money was discovered under his bed. The Handkerchief was concealed elsewhere. All the articles were restored and promise made that the offender would speedily meet his merited punishment – And meet it he did – for that very morning he was tried by marshal law – & at 8 A.M. was shot in the Plaza, in front of the Fort, & nothing more was said about the matter.
2nd James Rowe – a decent middle aged man with a pure Cornish brogue – Nothing peculiar otherwise gave no offence – was apparently a pious, well disposed person.
3rd Benjamin Penularick – A fine stout young man – perhaps the strongest of the party – Very quiet and inoffensive – said little – & was good friends with everybody.
4th John Martin – was a very fat & stout fellow – hardly more than twenty – rather a green horn and the butt of our men & his own companions. He argued always with our men, but why I know not. Not much sense or savvy about – but extremely good natured. The slave of passion in a proportionate degree to the small qualities he possessed of principle or sense – But perhaps his youth may be the cause, why he acted & spoke so foolishly.
5th Samuel Renfrew – one of our droll ones – laughing with & the cause of laughter to others – a short awkward figure, with red whiskers and a furry expression of face. He had also been a rover & resided for some time in America, where it was expected to find many rich mines of gold & silver – but which all [proved] a hoax – Sammy had a long tongue & loved to have the last word. He said that he was the best fellow breathing, when nobody put him into a passion! Hah! Hah! His peculiarities, & the continual play which was made upon them by all communicated some little life to our monotonous & dullness. If Samby had a failing it was pride. He never saw himself but in the most self-satisfied light – and the very day he left us, he strutted up & down the deck dressed in M.r Balls laced jacket & having his waist encircled with a sword belt, from which was appended a handsome sword with a steel scabbard – & his bearing reminded me of the fable of the jackdaw & the peacock. We laughed at him but he heeded us not. He presumed an air of gravity & importance worthy of his habiliments – & replied to our remarks, as if he despised us all & considered us to be actuated by envy & jealousy of his superior accoutrements. He hardly deigned to say good bye, but marched over the gunwale into the launch with a most ridiculous assumption of fancied dignity.
6th John Richards – a very young man – of manners and address rather superior to the others, a little bit of a fop – but otherwise a pleasant enough fellow.
Thus I have given, mia cara Madre, a full, true, & particular account of all and each of our Miners – and have only to add that we have seldom had a party with whom our men agreed so well and that their expressions of regret and wishes for their welfare & prosperity. The only fault I found if fault it could be called, was that when they could get it, they made too free an application to the grog bottle – & that when under its baneful influence, they were not so peaceful, or so amenable to discipline as at another times. But these causes of complaint were few & far between, occurring only when we were in harbour. I was surprised also to see how well – nay how delightfully they all were attired previous to their going on shore at any port & I assure you their behaviour in their novel character of gentlemen, was scarcely believed by their actions. This particularly when we lay in Jamaica, three or four of them together, went to one of the most topping Board Houses there, and spent their money freely like gentlemen, eating & drinking of the best this House afforded at a most extravagant cost.
Long ere the Miners left us, I was become quite an adept in their dialect & tone which indeed I studied so much, that I could hardly avoid imitating them in my own conversation. They spoke quickly & with a singing drawl – which I had at first some difficulty in following them – but a little attention & practice soon familiarised it to my ear.
When with three cheers on either side, we bid a final farewell to my old shipmates, the contrast presented by my ship was most melancholy – Left alone now to ourselves the silence seemed profound & ominous. The before well filled spaces were empty – the sound of the merry voices had ceased & the accents of expostulation, argumentation and assumation were now no longer heard. We knew not what to do with ourselves – Like fish out of water, we looked around and asked each other if all was reality.
The fineness of the weather was undisturbed [?], the fishing lines left unattended & in short what to do or what to say we knew not. So at a very early hour I retired to rest, hoping to awake sensitive of less regret and with a new train of thoughts to occupy & divert my mind.
Disappointed in getting Mail – Ticklish situation
Saturday 8 Feb.y – the weather today was delightful, the sea smooth – the Bar just in the best state to be passed with ease and comfort. From morn till night we were on the qui vive, wondering how the Cargo agent had not sent for the 9 tons of quick-silver we had brought from England for the Mines – and also whether the Mail & our freight of 568000 dollars would be oft or not. In the afternoon a launch came off for the quicksilver – but owing to the small depth of water over the Bar, would only take one half of the bottles (125) promising, however that another launch would come that evening for the remainder. No launch however – made its appearance, nor did we [see] any signs of the Mail or freight, altho’ we kept a good look out with our glasses, till darkness descended over the scene. Our Captain was very angry that the American Consul (M.r Robertson) who was also acting for our government in consequence of the absence of the proper English Consul M.r Crawford in England & the recent death of the young Hocking whom he had left in his stead. He was also exceedingly anxious lest a Norther should strike in, in which case we should be obliged to slip our cable (which could be unshackled in a moment) & run out to sea, when it would be impossible to say how soon we should be able to beat back – get up our anchor & take on board our Mail & freight. He considered that our remaining beyond our time appointed (viz. 8 oClock this morning) was a tempting of a Norther. However there was no help for it, & every thing was done for the safety of our vessel in the event of a gale. M.r Williams, the Mate being also ordered to keep watch at night, in order to take measures for our safety betimes. After issuing his commands the Skipper retired to his cot, & the Mate, A. Snell & self sat down to a game of cards to while away the time till the hour of repose.