Week 11

Notwithstanding our apprehensions, we were lucky enough to escape the visitation of another [Norther], till we reached Tampico. The wind for a day or two was foul or else nearly a calm. On Wednesday afternoon we saw the line of coast and descried several vessels at anchor off Tampico. We were at no very great distance from them – say 12 or 14 miles – but darkness was drawing on and the wind tho’ fair was light. We continued however in their direction, and kept up a good look out from the packet’s bows, while the Master with a night glass continually swept the horizon, endeavouring to discover them. When we thought we ought to have been up with them, nothing was yet to be seen, on the right hand nor on the left, a head or astern. It was now 9 P.M. and a thick mist was rapidly overspreading the sky, when the Captain not daring to proceed further, ordered the anchor to be let go and the sails to be furled, intending next morning to get up the anchor and sail or beat up to our old anchorage, which we were positive could not be far off from where we were now laying. Thus were we once more at peace, which we enjoyed the rather that we now a pleasing contrast with our former situation, under the influence of the Northers.

Arrive at Tampico

Very early on the morning of the next day (Thursday 6th Feb.ry ) the Master, accompanied by Don Miguel Prieto & M.r Denis Ball proceeded in the gig with the Mail to Tampico. I had declined to be one of the party for fear that I might be wanted, when it would be impossible to send for me so far. I was daily and hourly in expectation that some one or other would be sick, for during five or six days a disorder of the bowels & stomach resembling Cholera had prevailed, attacking the greatest part of our Ships Company & nearly all the Miners – and altho’ no additional cases had occurred for two days, I distrusted the suspicious calm, and therefore refused to leave the ship on such a distant expedition. To say that I should have not liked exceedingly to have gone on shore with the Master for my Companion would be to assert a falsehood. In sober comment I had anticipated much pleasure in visiting Tampico, where I should have the society of so many I was acquainted with. But duty, imperious duty demanded the relinquishment of my once cherished plan – and at her call I steadily but not unregretfully resolved to stand by my post & there remain to be dull & lonely & ennuye in place of society – novelty and pleasure.

Mexican Passengers – Don M. Prieto & his Son Thomas

About 7 A.M. I got up long after the departure of M.r Geach – and we had come to anchor a little to the Southward of Tampico – indeed so little that our skipper did not think it worth while to weigh anchor, & move further up. The weather was delightful. The sky clear & the temperature of the air remarkably cool. Having now nothing to excite anxiety or awaken our attention we soon began to feel the want of our usual stimulus & curiosity as to wind and weather. At 10 A.M. all was again bustle and activity, among the Mexican portion of our passengers – for a very large fine launch had come alongside to take them and their luggage ashore. Next to going on Terra Firma myself, I was delighted when they left the ship – for I and all of us were most heartily tired of their company. They were ten in number. There was Sen.r Don Miguel Prieto (or Black) the new Inspector of Customs at this Port – one of the best of them – a fine pleasant old gentleman – had plenty of excellent cigars, of which he made me a present – regarded & looked up to by the rest, who listened with respect & deference to his dogmas, as far as I could judge from their manner & language, a noble Frenchman – not to be despised as a wine bibber – and altogether a very favourable specimen of his country and rank.

Next may come after him his son Thomas a young lad of 15 with an Indian cast of features & marked by a large scar on his lower jaw. I had much to do with him. He was my patient nearly all the time he was on board. The day after he came to us he very foolishly ate nearly a dozen oranges – & in the afternoon he complained of headache – thirst – debility – which symptoms were accompanied with great heat of  skin & a rapid pulse. In a day or two more, there seemed to be a considerable determination to the bowels & chest – and it required much attention & care to subdue these unfavourable symptoms. On the day he left us, tho’ much debilitated, he was free from fever – having no thirst or heat of skin – no pain any where – and my opinion is that a few days more, he will come round rapidly. I was much puzzled how to act with regard to him. The Spaniards regarding our mode of treatment as little less than an attempt at Murder. I therefore dozed [sic] him with Rhubarb – Cremoo of Tartar & castor oil – applied blisters & counter imitation – & kept him on the strict antiphlogistic regimen – and thus either by my treatment, or the “vis medicatry naturae” – he was soon convalescent. My next difficulty was to get him to take his physic – He refused repeatedly, declaring it was ‘muy amazed that he was sickish’ – but in the end he was coaxed to gulp it down, which he never accomplished without much agua & plenty of  __ga – He was at times very restless and constantly moaning & exclaiming “Ay Dios – Ay Dios” –  Oh my God, oh my God. His father seemed to pay but little attention to him – & the rest of his countrymen still less – He was left entirely to me, and the assistance – which our stewards cheerfully rendered – and I hope that my attentions to him were not slack because he was a foreigner. There was still another difficulty, and I will admit a subject of annoyance & botheration to me, which was that he knew not one word of English, and my acquaintance with Spanish was too limited to enable me to enquire after his symptoms & understand his complainings. Hence I was constantly obliged to ask the favour of one of the Mexicans, who understood a little, but to little English to interpret for me. After my telling him what I wanted to know he would gaze at me with an unapprehending countenance & confess he knew not what I meant. Then would I use another & plainer words – use broken English as foreigners do – and finally fish up from the innermost penetration of my memory such Spanish words as I thought would convey my meaning. Sometimes I was successful or thought I was, which was not the same, sometimes all my efforts were in vain & I had either to call in the assistance of M.r Denis Ball, or trust for information to that study of nature herself. Thus you see that on all hands this case caused me much anxiety & uneasiness – but never did I think of neglecting it or paying less attention than I would have done to any of my old shipmates – and at the departure of poor Thomas, I felt almost an interest in him.

The third I shall notice is Dionysio Goz. This gentleman was a distant relation of the President Santa Anna, and had been a Purser in the Mexican Navy. He used to wear an old jacket with a band of gold lace, about one inch wide, on each shoulder – but his buttons were plate & by no means new. He also was a patient of mine, in consequence of a severe attack of Olitis, for the removal of which he seemed very grateful to me. Some days after he had been cured, he met with a severe accident from the rolling of the vessel during the second of our Northers. He fell with great violence right [on] his ribs, where they cover the ribs [sic – but ‘heart’ ?]. For some days he complained of the heart, which palpitated strongly & prevented free breathing. I strongly recommended him to be bled, blistered & purged – but no arguments of mine, backed by the consideration of immediate & future danger, would prevail upon him to submit to my treatment. He had a horror of the lancet & of causties as he called blisters. He lived [but ‘loved’?] all vitals, imposing no restraint either in regard to eating or drinking – and in both qualifications he was behind none of his countrymen. The consequence of all this was, that when he left us, he complained greatly – & was labouring under irritative fever. He spoke a little English & was employed by me as interpreter for Thomas. He was a great boaster, both as regards what he had done, & what he could & would yet do – but I believe his achievements had no better foundation than his own brain, & his gasconade of future deeds of gallantry proceeded more from the desire to raise himself in our estimation than from any regard to truth.

Besides these three whom I have mentioned in particular, we had a lawyer a very gentlemanly man, who was accompanied by his wife, a native of Xalapa & no great specimen of beauty –

We had a young man a native of Vera Cruz, whose father was a Biscayan & his Mother a Creole, with the features of a Frenchman, which language he spoke remarkably well, in consequence of having been educated in a pensioniaire, where also he had learned the liberal principles, which are at present in vogue both with respect to religion and politics. He seemed not to be in much favour with the rest, and knowing he was ignorant of English, Dionysio called him a damned rascal.

We had likewise three other young men, with whose names or employments I am ignorant but with whose pertness insolence & rudeness, I was perfectly disgusted.

Lastly we carried with us a poor woman & a little girl, 8 months old, named Carolinas. She was a native of Norway & her husband had died four months ago at Vera Cruz. She had no personal attractions – but her features indicated her Northern extraction. She followed the custom of the country in going without any covering of the head – & this custom enabled us to see her fair, light hair, very tastefully done up, & a large tortoise shell in the centre. She spoke English very well, but with a strong foreign accent.

Such is a list of our Mexican passengers individually – and I come now to present you with a few Notabilities respecting their manners – or of those passengers on board.

Read on …