Passengers V

It now then becomes my duty to give you a notification particu-particulation et scriatins of those with whose Company we have been honoured since we left Vera Cruz.

There were received on board the Marquis de Vimanco, [5] the Marchioness – 3 daughters – 2 sons – the daughter of a friend – a Senor Santa Maria, a particular friend of the Marquis – 2 Indian servants, native of Xalapa & a young man, a native of Mexico & confidential Servant of the Marquis – an old Spaniard, called Senor Jose del Pino – & a young German called Fritz or Frederick Meyers.

General Moran – alias Marquis of Vivanco

General Jose Moran, or as he was usually called by courtesy, in right of his wife, the Marquis of Vivanco, was a Creole of Mexico. At the early age of 14 he entered the old Spanish Service and is almost the only instance of a native Mexican attaining the rank which he did of Colonel in the Spanish army. General Moran more particularly  belonged to the cavalry. When his native country withstood [?] her energies to throw off the yoke of the Mother country, general Moran feeling his duty to his native land to be paramount to the ties of gratitude which seemed to bind him to the interest of his old Masters, took an active share in the revolution which followed & which ended in securing the independence of Mexico as a separate country. Still however, notwithstanding his Real & substantial services in the cause of freedom, the circumstance that he owed so large a debt of gratitude to the old Spaniards, for their partiality to him, tended to hold a shade of suspicion around him, which not all he could [do] or say to give the contrary could disperse. Hence his conduct was carefully watched, & misconstructions put on his most innocent actions. No positive proof however could be brought against him, & he was suffered to live in place & even to take a share in the administration of government. In his capacity of Minister of war, he effected many notable reforms & by his excellent system of economy saved many millions of dollars to the republic. At least so said his friend Santa Maria whose assertions were partially corroborated from other less questionable quarters.

When the reins of government fell into the hands of Santa Anna, as President, who professed a violent or ultra antipathy to every thing connected with old Spain. General Moran was an object of such suspicion & dread that the Dictator could not rest satisfied, until he had him prosecuted & banished, for the term of six years, but was satisfied with that, & left him in possession of his very large revenues, amounting it is said to £40,000 per annum. The term of Moran’s stay in Mexico being limited and  imperative, it was our good fortune to be at Vera Cruz in time to take him with us, and when there was no other opportunity for him to have complied with the order to leave the country with in the prescribed time. The Captain being unwell, the Master & I waited upon the general in order to arrange matters, & take his commands relative to any thing which might contribute to his special comfort or that of his family. We found in him an old man, about 60 with a mild countenance, yet strongly marked by the lines of care. His manners were very pleasing & his dress plain & indicative of nothing like pomp or ostentation. By our representations he was induced to come on board & see for himself the accommodation which our vessel offered. This he did next day & was pleased to express himself highly satisfied with the result of his inspection. As to terms he never made a single enquiry – but at once paid down in dollars the amount of passage demanded, & not only that but he paid the export duty on the amount, thereby giving our Commander the full amount free of all charges or deductions.

Throughout the whole of our tedious voyage we had every reason to be well pleased with the Marquis. His manners were invariably polite & gentle & he always acknowledged with a smile – an acknowledgement of thanks, the trifling services which we had it in our power to perform for himself or his family. He spoke no language but Spanish. I have reason to think he was acquainted with French – as he possessed several French works, particularly Dupuis’ great work or the mercantile, naval, & military establishments of Great Britain – but on this point I am not quite certain as I never heard him speak.

I cannot help noticing here the conduct he pursued, while we lay at Havannah. Altho’ we lay there four days, he never landed, nor allowed any of his family to land, excepting his servant Torres, & his second daughter, a girl of about 10 years of age. The reason of this rigid self denial (for such it was) he assigned to be the fear, lest, if he should land, & mix with many of his old companions in arms, who were there, a charge might be raised against him, of conspiring with the enemies of his country – and thereupon a pretence seized for confiscating all his property in Mexico. He deeply regretted the necessity which compelled him to such a course, but he was inflexible in observing it, in spite of the entreaties of his eldest son to be permitted to visit the city. But, if he confined himself to the Packet, numerous friends on shore, came daily & hourly off to see him & with them he was constantly engaged [in what] appeared very interesting conversations. He was habited in plain clothes & never at any time wore any thing approaching regimentals.

On our passage home from Habana, the Marquis came under my care. He had been twice attacked with apoplexy & the last attack had been followed by partial paralysis. One should premise that he was a very hearty eater – as well as an indiscriminate one. Besides he took very little exercise, than which, after the regular & hard exercise he had lately been accustomed to take in the course of his military duties, nothing could more effectually have predisposed him to be seized with his old complaint. Accordingly one night I was called to him, & thro’ an interpreter, learned that he was labouring under all the symptoms, which threatened a speedy attack of apoplexy. To avert the apprehended evil, I strongly recommended immediate vivisections, but strange to say, altho’ the necessity was admitted, the general, like all Mexicans, had such an antipathy to that remedy, that he would not then submit to it, but promised should he not feel better next day to comply with my request. Any thing but bleeding he was content to do & I therefore blistered him, physicked him well – & put him [sic] feet in very hot water. By these means, & pursuing the strict anti-phloquatic regimen, the threatened evil was averted, and in a few days he was restored to his usual state of health – and was carefully cautioned to be more moderate in his diet, & take more exercise – a caution which [he] attended to for some time, but forgot in a great measure a few days previous to our reaching Falmouth.

Marchioness of Vivanco

The lady of General Moran was the Marchioness of Vivanco in her own right, and, as I understood also brought to her husband a large fortune which he enjoyed. It is curious to observe the fondness for aristocratical titles, which the new made republicans affect in spite of the self evident fact that the retention or assumption of these arms [lies] at the very root of their principles of equality. They may make themselves hoarse with bawling out, in conjunction with the canaille Viva la republic, et los sterechos dos hombres (i.e. rights of men), but still they must be addressed either personally or by letter, according to their several titles of Conde, Marquis, Duke &.c but let this pass. I return to the lady. In person she was rather tall & stout – but during the time she was on board, wearing no stayes; her gait and figure were slovenly and ungraceful – the latter resembling a skin of lard tied in the middle.

She spoke Spanish & a little French – and as [I] know very little of these languages, I cannot say any thing as to her mental qualifications. I thought, however, that her temper was rather hasty & her disposition none of the meekest – but I may be mistaken, seeing I formed my judgement solely from the lines of her physiognomy as expounded by Lavater. There was a sharpness of visage & a contraction frequently of the brows, which very nearly expressed discontent. And ill humour. She was accustomed to sit all day in an easy chair on deck surrounded by her family, with nothing on her head, & dressed rather in dishabille. In general she was satisfied with resting in listless inertness – while 5 or 6 times she was [seen with] a little embroidery in hand. She seemed to be a most affectionate Mother – rather if at all overindulgent. This maternal affection was the most delightful trait in her character & might well cover a multitude of other failings. Whenever any one of them complained she was miserable until they were well – & during their illness and convalescence her attendance upon them was unremitting. In these cases I saw more of her character a than any of the other officers & most cheerfully contributed my assistance to do what I could for their relief. This brought me into pretty close contact & confidence with her ladyship – and I soon found out that she was the lady Bountiful of her neighbourhood, not only in administering to the bodily wants but in prescribing for the diseases of those on her estates. She had with a great variety of Medicines commonly used in Mexico – besides a very excellent case of English remedies. [Like] So many of the former class, she ascribed virtues, which if founded in experience, were extremely valuable, very little short of being miraculous. Of course I said nothing to throw discredit on their alleged efficacy – but contented myself with saying to myself “fudge, fudge” while fortunately my inability to speak fluently in her language, precluded me from saying any thing more than “Bueno, very Bueno.”

Besides her admirable qualities as a Mother affectionate to her children, and a Mistress kind to her dependents, she was a strict attender to the duties of religion. Every night she and all her family & servants, excepting Torres, assembled themselves in the after cabin, where she officiated in reading the service. The utmost solemnity and decorum prevailed – all were on their knees listening to the missa, whilst ever and anon, their hands would be uplifted to heaven, or busily employed in crossing themselves – which they did with a rapidity that seemed rather indecorous & raised other ideas in the mind of a Protestant, than those of devotion, if not approaching the ludicrous.

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