Skip to main content

Passengers VI

Children of the Marquis - Theodosia

I shall next proceed to speak of the children of this worthy couple, and in [so] doing, as a point of politeness due to them, I shall first introduce to your notice the female portion and among these I beg leave to include the young daughter of an intimate friend of the Marquis, of whom he had undertaken the charge of educating with his own children.

The names then of the young ladies were Theodosia aged 14 or 15 - Monica aged 12 - Emilia, the friend’s daughter about 10 - and Ignatia the youngest of all aged 7 years. 

Theodosia was a fine girl, not certainly beautiful, but possessing those voluptuous tho nameless graces so peculiar to the natives of a warm climate. This characteristic imparts a charm even to mediocrity and is often found to possess greater attractions to men from a Northern climate, than all the natural beauties of face & form, which the ladies of a colder region do conspicuously display. In the dark coloured beauties born under tropics, their native sun imparts a portion of his heat to their constitution. Their sparkling eyes betray the hidden fires within. Their passions while under constraint, are like the slumbering volcano, whose summit is covered with snow - and when they burst out into a blaze, they resemble the same volcanoes when roused into activity and sweeping all things before it in its impetuous and irresistible career. Their love and their hatred are always in extremes, and while on the one hand they would go to death for the objects of their affection, on the other hand woe to him who has neglected or slighted them, for they will sacrifice all & every thing to satisfy their revenge. No calculations of cold prudence, or sterner virtue ever comes across their minds to stop their mad career - or if they do, they are spurned at with anger, as unworthy of the least attention.

But to return to Theodosia - Not that I mean to apply the remarks just made specially to her - by no means, for from any thing I know of her, she was as cold & as prudent as the most virtuous of her sex. The remarks I have just made arose at the moment in my mind - and at the same time the recollection of many observations made to me & the result of what has been within my own knowledge irresistibly led me to write what I have written.

Theodosia as I have said was not a pretty girl. Some of her features were individually good, as her eyes & brow, but the tout ensemble was bad, if not unpleasing. Her lips in particular were too large & protuberant - approaching to the negroes. Her figure was small & full - aye full as the woman of 20 with us. Her manners to us were very concerned & cold, probably owing in a great measure to our being unable to converse with her or to draw her forth. That this was the case, we might judge from the animation & smiling countenance she exhibited when conversing with her friends. In addition to her own language she spoke French, having been several years in France. Besides her own friends, she used to converse with our Skipper & I remember one day upon entering the Poop Cabin,  I found him laughing heartily. Upon asking him the reason he told me that Theodosia has just been complaining that she had lately been very much annoyed by “les petites animaux in her head, alias the “poulies - oh violation of delicacy, the very idea of which would cause the face of our country women to be suffused with shame. Theodosia had nothing childish in her deportment. She employed herself in nothing that indicated anything unworthy of a woman. She was as discreet - as womanly - as her mother herself - & regarded the childish amusements of her sisters with the staid deportment of an indulgent patient, than with the eager delight, which a childish mind would have showed.

Monica resembled her sister much in appearance - especially in the faults of thick lips. In other respects she was superior. Blubber lips apart, she would have been a most lovely girl. Like her sister her figure indicated more years than really belonged to her - say 15 or 16 - but her manners & amusements were altogether childish. Her temper, from several displays of it, appeared too hasty and hellish - and she was alternately fond of and angry with her young associates.

Emelia was a very little girl, with very light hair & bluish eyes. Her figure was really petite, and symmetry itself. She was like a little sylph, moving here & there about the vessel, with a step so elastic that she seemed hardly to touch the deck. We all liked her very much. She was more grave & thoughtful than her companions - & by no means so free in her ways. Sometimes you could not refrain from laughing to witness her affected dignity & stateling - and perhaps you would be apt to despise her, were you not also a witness to her truly affectionate & loving disposition, manifested in numberless occasions. We used to call her the Queen of France & each of us pretended to be anxious to obtain a post at her Court. I myself was promised to be appointed Surgeon in Ordinary to her Most Christian Majesty, for which I of course returned my thanks for the intended honour.

Ignatia the young[est] of all & the petted of all. Father, Mother, brothers & Sisters - together with the Captain & Officers made much of their little Mexican doll. Like Emelia, & in complete contrast to her sisters and brothers Ignatia had fair flaxen hair & blue eyes. Her features were totally dissimilar to those of her family - but it was said resembled those of her Mother’s sister, who was married at 14 to our Minister in Mexico. Like all children she was amusing in what she did & I must say this for her that she behaved remarkably well during the voyage, and was not foolish more than once or twice, which is saying a great deal.

Besides the children I have mentioned General Mooran had two Sons, Antonino and Joaquin.

Antonino was the eldest and his fathers hope. He might be about 17 years and was a fine gentle tho’ not very handsome young man. He as well as his eldest sister had his father’s peculiarity of countenance viz. the eyebrows met and intermingled with each other at the ridge of the nose. He was a great favourite with us - much more so than his brother. He delighted to keep company with us - was fond of listening into our jokes & amusements - and in a very short time he made himself master of a great many words of English. Indeed his English was a source of daily laughter to us. He learned all the orders necessary to put the ship about - he had also picked up some general phrases as beautiful - splendid - go forward - be off with you, and which he shewed himself to be able to understand by his correct application of them. From all this we were sorry to part with him when the time came - it will be long ere the memory of him will be lost by us.

Joaquin (pronounced Hoakeen) was a boy about 9, with enormously large unmemoring eyes. He seemed a very stupid boy & did not acquire a single word of English all the time he was with us. He was very selfish and a great gourmandie. Every frie day (these occurred four times a week) Master Joaquin would furnish himself with a plate & silver - go forwards between decks among the men in one particular mess, seat himself quietly till 8 bells struck, when the men went to dinner & helped him as well as themselves. There then he was silent and entirely engaged in the high delights of devouring a pound or two of sea pie. If he wanted more he held out his plate, if he were satisfied he as quietly marched aft as he had come without saying a word. It is astonishing to observe how fond some of our men became of this silent boy & how they would go without meat themselves than suffer him to want. I cannot forebear however to notice an honourable trait in the character of the boy, which would redeem many faults. Towards the end of the voyage, our men were [out] of potatoes and consequently could no longer make their sea pies. When Joaquin was somehow or another made acquainted with this misfortune; he appeared very much grieved, but whether on his own account or on that of his messmates it was hard at first to say. But this was no longer uncertain at our dinner table, when the boy was discovered concealing several potatoes from his own share, in order to give then to his friend between decks - No public notice was taken of the apparent theft, and great indeed was the exultation of the poor boy, when he produced his hoarded potatoes, and offered them in all the simplicity of conscious well doing to those who had befriended him in their time of plenty. From this simple but touching act of Joaquin, we may augur that more lies deep within him, than he is pleased to show in his general conduct, & that he will one day shine forth a good, if not a splendid character. Amen so be it.

Thus have I enumerated seriatim the different members of the Marquis’ family. Their names I believe I have given correctly, but I’m not quite sure, if the Orthoefry is right. I dare say you will be as much struck as I was myself with the strangeness of the names - and may be inclined to think them of page or heathen origin. You may say, why being Christians, do they not give their children Christian like names - Well so they do - tho’ it little you can know of the matter. The truth is that all the names I have recorded have belonged to some real or reputed saint of the Romish Calendar - nay what is more, that they are known by every one to be what they are, provided the birth day of the person has been previously ascertained - and vice versa, give me the name of any individual & upon inspection of the calendar, I shall tell you his birth day - tho’ not the year. To explain this apparently paradoxical assertion, you must know that in Mexico, and I believe in several other countries, the printed calendar has a saint or saintess for every day in the year - & so sure as you are born on one particular day, so sure are you that your name will be the same as that of the saint, who is appointed to preside over that day. This is an admirable plan in many respects, in as much as it prevents disputes between mother & father - removes many serious difficulties - avoids all show of undue familiarity - and above all places the new born babe under the special protection of a powerful saint, who of course will do his utmost to assist his peculiar protégée thro’ life. The consequence of this excellent provision is that your acquaintances know exactly your birth day, and without any invitation or announcement on your part come in shoals to offer their congratulations & felicitations on the occasion, wishing you many many returns of the same answering in health, wealth & happiness. It is not expected that all should wait upon you to offer to you verbally the expression of their good wishes - but it is accounted a very great insult, if you do not call at the porters lodge, and insert your name in a book kept for that purpose, as an evidence that you had not forgotten your friend. With this explanation you will readily understand to us the real variety of names, of strange sound but importing nothing, which must occur in a large family. I must say however that I am very partial to most of the names which I have heard. They seem to me to be very soft and Musical - so I repeat Thoedisia - Monica - Emelia - Ignatia - Antoninino - Margarita - Macaria - and a long string of others equally pretty and euphonious.