Another week has now gone over our heads and its termination has found us in a very different situation from what we were in at its commencement. During the first Hebdomade all the new hands were sick ‘ennuyi.’ Their sorrows began with the day – instead of ending with the season of night – the darkness – the stillness – for in lieu of that the many change[s] and unknown sounds which shriek upon their acutely sensitive hearing, only aggravated them, almost beyond the stretch of human endurance. Now the case is completely altered. The season of sickness had passed-away. The stomach which has been so often amplified & felt so disinclined to food, even of that sort which, when well it would have relished extremely, is restored to its wonted state of quietude & repose, undisturbed by the greatest motion, and as a consequence craves for food of the commonest description, which is devoured with a relish indescribably great.
The Feet which had refused to perform their office, or had only supported the body upright, quickly and treacherously to cause it to fall, are now its most firm supporters, and bravely keep their ground in spite of pitching and rolling – or lurching – or in other words, those among us whose legs are to be so depended upon, are said nautically to have their sea legs aboard.
The face which erst was disfigured by wry involuntary contractions – which expressed in all its several gestures nothing but the most ineffable loathing and abhorrence, is now once more radiant with smiles, & not infrequently expanded into the broadest grins.
The eyes, so lately dull, and of which it might be predicted as in Shakespeare – There is no speculation in those eyes, ‘now dart their cheerful joyous glances on all around – speaking the language of contentment.
The Nose that delicate organ, whose nerves had but a few days before scented the gale of tar & bilge water to the turning of the stomach, has now lost its primitive sensibility, & sniffs with indifference the same fumes, now innoxious or disregarded. In brief all the organs of the body have now passed triumphantly into their various distinctive ordeals & are become adapted to received pleasure from the various impressions made upon them on board.
The mind, it has been justly remarked, sympathises in a wonderful degree with the body, altho’ the series of causations, which produce this effect is unknown. In the common experience of life, and more especially in disease, we observe this curious and mutual dependence. Thus all of our late patients have recovered their natural cheerfulness of temper – nay the mind by its having been unusually depressed, has excited anew its elastic force, and lends a charm to every trifling circumstance.
To particularize. Bustle and life have supplanted their former stillness among the Miners. They are all upon deck. Some have got their traps up, and are overhauling and arranging them. Others are trying their pistols and their guns, of which every one is in possession, and seeing whether they are ready for service should they be required, as will most probably be the case in Mexico, whilst a third set are lounging about meditating about nothing at all, at all. In the evening the laughs and the jokes go round – songs are sung – feats of activity and strength are performed; & loud guffaws succeed the awkward & unfortunate attempts of the weak and inexperienced to follow the lead of the strong and the skilful. No one attempts to pass the boundary of fun and good humour – the tricks and skylarking of the party serve only to produce harmless merriment, not to favour mischief or malice.
M.r Barlow, wife and children – are very prominent in the picture. The father enjoys himself sedately and quietly – reading or musing, or indulgently watching the gambols of his children, who while they observe towards him a proper respect, yet love him and tell all their little joys & griefs to him in preference to their Madre. Madre is a very quiet and pleasant woman silently pursues her work – while she says nothing, does a great deal. The children consisting of two girls Catherine & Elizabeth – & two boys James & William, are busy all the day. They are very young. Their attention is constantly occupied with some childish amusement, and your heart is frequently cheered by that unusual sound on board ship, the loud laugh – the cheerful & light hearted merriment of the tiny elves, who like their prototype the butterfly, seek for amusement in endless variety – now tired of this – now pursuing that.
If we had to complain of too much wind last week, in general we have had to complain of too little this week. When the breeze has been moderate is has also been foul – when fair it has been a calm or nearly so. Hence we have made but very little progress. On Monday 2 Dec.r we weathered Cape Finisterre – a great point and steered for Madeira, which with any thing like a wind we ought to see in three or four days. But at the end of the week we were still a long way off.
With the exception of two days on which we had disagreeable misty weather with drizzling rain, the weather has been very fine – the temperature is pleasant and enables you to enjoy yourself.
Saturday 7 Dec.r – calms with flows of wind – fine weather.
Sunday 8th – light variable but favourable breeze – fine weather.
Monday 9th – fine weather. Moderate and favourable breeze.
Tuesday 10th – fine weather. At 11.30 A.M. saw the island of Porto Santo. Moderate and favourable breeze.
Wednesday 11th – fine weather. Moderate and favourable breeze. Madeira in sight this morning.
Thursday 12th – fine weather. Moderate and favourable breeze.
Friday 13th – fine weather, fresh and favourable breeze.
Saturday 14th – fine weather – fresh and favourable breeze.