Week 10

Sunday 26th Jan.ry – all last night we lay off and on, till the dawn enabled [us] to see our way, when we steered in for Vera Cruz. Whilst we were yet some way off, it fell a calm, & every thing around plainly announced that we should not have a breeze for some time. To lose no time therefore the Captain dispatched our Master with the Mail, who was also accompanied by two passengers for Vera Cruz – viz. M.r & M.rs Ebert. They were both natives of Westphalia, and had been married only about 6 months. They seemed much attached to each other – and in particular the Husband manifested the utmost care & anxiety for the petites maladies de la femme. But I must be a little more particular with respect to each.

M.r & M.rs Ebert.

M.r or Mein Herr Ebert was a gentleman, rather under the ordinary standard of height – with light blue German eyes, pale complexion and black hair, which he wore smoothed down like a Methody Parson. He had resided for a 8 or 9 years at Vera Cruz and is now at the head of one of the first houses there. Tired of his single blessedness I suppose, he went home about a year ago, and there took unto himself a helpmate – whose love for him must have been very great, since she had been induced to leave her native home – her northern climate – & the companions of her youth, to brave the heat & pestilence of the climate of Vera Cruz, where, besides she will have to associate with Mexican females, whose habits (dirty enough in all conscience) & modes of thinking and tastes are so different from her own. M.r Ebert was no dandy, like many I have seen abroad, but always dressed really well. He had seen much of the world, & like most of his countrymen, his powers of observation had not been neglected nor uselessly employed. He was a pleasant companion to us & notwithstanding his quiet, trim & precise opinion, he occasionally shewed us that he was not destitute of fun or humour – in other words that he could enjoy or give rise to a joke as well as the most lively of our Mess. In his manners M.r E. was a perfect gentleman – as also in his language. He spoke English remarkably well – only that he could not pronounce the W – which he sounded as V. – and it is a remark which I have often made that by far a greater proportion of  Germans speak our lingo than of any other foreigners.

M.rs Ebert next claims our notice – first of all I beg her pardon for my want of politeness in not making mention of her before her husband – but n’importe – I know her so well that I am sure she would forgive if she knew it, which she never shall. M.rs Ebert then in her personal appearance wore about her the evident marks of her Northern origin. She had the blue eyes and the fair flaxen tresses of the Saxon race. She was not very pale, but she had very little of the coulee de Rose. Her stature was a la ordinaire – and she was inclined tun petit pur to the embonpoint. She professed an entire ignorance of the English language – but begging her ladyships pardon, I doubt whether she advanced the truth or at least the whole truth in her assertion. I rather think she knew a great deal of it – but not having being in the custom of using it, she felt a great mauraise herite which prevented her from attempting to speak it. Now and then she would attempt to address a few words on the weather or voyage in perfectly good English – and besides she understood perfectly what our steward said to her whenever she had occasion for his services. At night too I have heard her often call Steward bring me a light. Nay when we have twenty together & some thing was said laughable or ridiculous I have seen her smile & even laugh heartily. Be my supposition however right or wrong – she at least spoke German & French. The former per__ you I know [visited] some eight years ago for six months and from my own experience, I should have said that I know no language so harsh & unmusical – but then remember, I had never heard it pronounced except by myself or one of my companions. Oh how different was my opinion of it melody, when the rchs – ochs – & uchs proceeded from the vermilion labra of a lady, in tones soft and mellifluous as could be emitted by the fair Italian with also the advantage of liquids & a carte blanche of vowels.

M.rs Ebert never dined or took any meals at the common table, but always in her own cabin. Her husband said that she was averse to be among us & yet ignorant of our conversation. She spent most of her time on deck latterly altho’ for the first 5 or 6 weeks she suffered much from sea sickness and indigestion brought on by a change of life. She appeared very good humoured and laughed much & often heartily. M.r Ebert said that at home none so lively or so full of spirits. Hence when she & her husband left us, they carried with them our sincere wishes for their future happiness – and our unfeigned regrets at losing their pleasant society.

During the whole of the day we had either a calm or very light winds – of which we took advantage to sail to & fro, up & down the harbour. At 2 P.M. the Master returned with the Mail, when we had advantage of a gentle breeze to leave Vera Cruz. We had not however got out far when it fell a stark calm, & we lay like a log on the water, with our sails flapping idly against the Masts. Fine weather all day.

Monday 27th January – the calm continued all night and up to 1 P.M. of to-day, when a very light & foul breeze sprung up, which compelled us to tack off and on to the shore. However we gained by this means a little way, and at 8 P.M. we were standing in for the land, when lo the water began to swirl, and the wind to whistle among the rigging, filling all our sails, & causing the Old Duke to exchange her snail-like sauntering pace for the caracoling & bounding of the war horse. We were all rejoiced at the change. We considered that we had got the land breeze, which would enable us to lay our course – and seeing the bountiful clearness of the sky overhead, & the regular constant blowing of the wind, we were under no apprehension, that this was a Norther, altho’ not to neglect any proper precautions, the Captain ordered two reefs to be taken in the Topsails. Fine weather.

Tuesday 28th – during last night I slept very little in consequence of the trembling & tossing – heeling & reeling – pitching and plunging of the vessel. I was aware by this that some alteration had taken place in the weather – & I suspected we were now encountered by a violent Norther. The air was piercing cold, so that I was obliged to look out for a blanket or two – the wind was distinctly heard howling & bellowing – and every now & then a huge sea would wash over our gunwales & by its concussion cause every timber to tremble and quiver. With all this I arose in the morning wearied & unrefreshed, and harassed not a trifle by the blue devils. These were not likely to be dispelled by the sight on deck of our ship under close-reefed topsails. – of a mountainous sea – of thick cloudy damp weather – of constantly wet decks – of the once comfortable poop cabin, converted into the receptable of every odd & end which could possibly [be] shove[d] there. Altho’ not laying to, we were next door to it – for we were close hauled upon the wind, & from that cause as well, as the heavy seas, we made little or no way – indeed our only hope was to be able to hold our own against the current & sea way. The wind was from the Northward and Westward. This melancholy state of things continued all day – and at night, we retired to our cribs disconsolate and despairing of a speedy change. You must not imagine we thought ourselves in any danger – by no means – but we were utterly uncomfortable, and the prospect we had of sooning reaching Tampico was removed to an indefinite period.

Wednesday 29th Jan.ry – this day dawned upon us in unabated discomfort. The same damp foggy – wet penetrating thro’ all weather was still present. The sea was still high & the wind from the same quarter, but to our joy evidently inclined to moderate. By night the breeze was considerably lulled as the swell of the sea came longer – more regular – as if it only wanted to subside gradually. We congratulated ourselves that we had so easily & so cheaply undergone the gauntlets of a Norther – and we expressed our conviction that we would be exempt from their recurrence for 8 or 9 days at least.

Thursday 30th – the expectation we had formed yesterday seemed continued to day, for the weather was very fine all day, and the sea smooth as glass. To be sure the wind still from the NNW & foul, but it was very scant – we anticipated a speedy change for the better. We therefore though but little of the little way we were making. All were in high spirits and of our ten passengers only one remained below.

Friday 31st Jan.ry – but alas it is a common and a true comparison to say ‘fickle as the wind,’ now here, now there, and constant never – but rejoicing was premature – our anticipations based in error, our hopes built in air – & our calculations only proved how ignorant we were of the winds of this part of the world. At 2 A.M. last night the wind began again to sough & rise and in less than an hour, the tempest burst forth with added force. The vexed sea awful to behold – it seemed to [be] coming with heavy dense vapours of the sky. The view around us hardly exceeded a mile or two, whilst all beyond was wrapped in impenetrable darkness. The only advantage of day light was that we could get up & see at least a portion of our danger instead of, as all night, being left to uncertainty – conjecture & the suggestions of apprehension, which invariably exaggerate the immensity of it. Our sail was less than before, being reefed mizen topsail & reefed foresail, which was still further reduced to M.n Topsails. Weather damp & foggy, with occasional showers. Very very cold – penetrated to the very bones and marrow. Thermometer at 58* of Fahrenheit. All our passengers today betook themselves to their dormitories & there lay or snoozed, till the welcome summons to dinner enabled them to beguile an hour or two in the pleasant amusement of eating and drinking. And I must do them the justice to say that even in the most intolerable weather, they shewed themselves valiant Knights of the fork & the knive. Sick tho’ they be – hardly able to sit or stand, they nevertheless acquit themselves as well as we do, in the capacity of trenchermen – & generally after they had finished, they retire to bed again. But more of these gents ere they leave us – this notice of them is only by the way.

Saturday 1st February – the 1st of another month. Oh how swiftly is the lapse of time – 10 weeks from England and it seemeth but yesterday that we left Falmouth. But to my Journal of weather & winds, the most interesting topic to me at least. I have already observed in speaking of Northers, that they seldom last long – their duration being generally 24 or 30 hours. This remark, which I have often heard made, was verified in our case. The fury of the tempest is gone tho’ the wind is from same quarter, it is comparatively moderate & still becoming less. The weather has by no means improved, being cloudy dull & miserable all day – with drizzling rain at night. We are now anxious for a sight of the sun to take an observation in order to ascertain whereabouts we are – for at present we are as blind men, probing in the dark, not knowing how we have been driven by the current and consequentially undecided what precise course to steer.

Sunday 2nd Feb.ry – Commencement of 11th Week – cloudy but fair weather all day – drizzling drenching rain at night. No divine service was performed to day – which is to us regretted as if prayers ought to be offered on every occasion, much more are they required when we are in doubt – difficulty, or danger. Wind still foul but moderate.

Monday 3d – variable weather. Moderate and foul wind. Saw the land about Lobos Island.

Tuesday 4th – in the morning hazy weather. I saw the line of coast but could not make out where we were. In the forenoon a thick fog came on with a heavy drizzle, shutting out every thing from our view. In the evening it cleared up partially when we saw a vessel off Tampico. No wind but strong current against us. Caught two fine turtle & several large fish.

Wednesday 5th – a calm nearly all night – further off in the morning than we were last night – Calm all day – several vessels in sight. In the afternoon very light and favourable breeze. As night came on, we lost sight of the vessels at anchor – but we continued to sail in their direction, till 9 P.M. when not seeing them, we came to anchor. Very fine weather.

Thursday 6th Feb.ry – this morning found us nearly off the Bar of Tampico. Master went off with Mail at ½ past 5 A.M. At 10 A.M. a launch came off which took away our passengers from Vera Cruz, bag and baggage. Fine weather.

Friday 7th – very fine weather. At 5 P.M. the Miners left us for the shore.

Saturday 8th – very fine weather – remained on board – very dull – dull – impatient to be off.