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Waterspout

Monday 5th July - same kind of weather, as also on Tuesday 6th. At 3 P.M. of this day, the Capt.n came on board, and we were fully occupied in taking out of the shore boats and stowing away in our own vessel, a freight of about 325000 dollars, till 9 P.M., when a little breeze having sprung up, we set sail for Vera Cruz.

Wednesday 7th - nearly a calm all day, that, in consequence of a strong current setting to the Northward, we were carried far out of our way. In the afternoon the lead was tried and soundings in 40 or 50 fathoms, found. Immediately all the lines and hooks in the vessel were put into requisition - and we were well rewarded with upwards of 30 large red fish, averaging 10 or 12 lbs each, and of excellent flavours.

Thursday 8th - pleasant weather - moderate but unfavourable breeze.

Friday 9th - fine weather - light and unfavourable wind, with a strong current setting us back.

Saturday 10th - fine weather - winds moderate but foul.

Sunday 11th - d.o weather and wind - land in sight, low and completely sandy.

Monday 12th - fine weather - wind still foul. The current has carried us 30 miles out of our course since yesterday.

Tuesday 13th - unsettled weather - wind  variable with calms.

See a Waterspout

Wednesday 14th July - calm all night. Disagreeable squally weather. During almost the whole day we had a deluge of rain with sudden shiftings of the wind. Not far from us was one of those phenomena, so common in these parts, viz. an immense waterspout. Altho’ I had seen them before, I had never had an opportunity of contemplating one so large and so near to me. Its base seemed much broader than the body of the pillar (for such was the form of the spout), which indeed passed towards the other extremity. This difference of breadth was produced by the descent of a stupendous volume of rain continual and heavy, which spread diffusively and created a horrible turmoil resembling the bubbling, but on a magnificent scale, of boiling water. From this base arose almost perpendicularly the body of the waterspout. It might be, to our view, about 20 or 30 feet in circumference, and was composed of the globules of rain succeeding each other so fast as to form a continued but small stream about the size of a cord - at least it appeared to me, as if I could perceive that the jets of water were distinct and separate, composing en masse the pillar. The upper extremity of the spout, which originated at an immense height in the clouds, assumed a form conical gradually attenuated, and bent considerably from the perpendicular, until it was lost in the dark mass of clouds which were sailing awfully and majestically above. The spectacle was at once grand and exceedingly interesting to me - and I imagined to myself what a splendid effect would result if the arch of a brilliant rainbow could be made to traverse the spout - when then we would see the various colours still more gloriously reflected, and seeming to dance and be alive with instinct, with the rapid motion of the rain drops. Such were my first thoughts - but to change the old proverb a little, second thoughts were widely different. According to an ancient part “Suave mari magno, turbantibus.” i.e. tis delightful to see objects and spectacles of grandeur and sublimity, when you are in no danger of suffering from these qualities - but suppose the case to be reversed, and immediately all our perceptions of abstract sublimity are deadened in the soul, which is now alive only to the imminency of the peril, which threatens it from the Avalanche, the Volcano, the Earthquake, & the Shipwreck. So was it with us. In a few moments the wind acted upon the water spout, and carried it to and fro without breaking it. At first its direction was uncertain but at last it began to move with great rapidity towards us - and had it broken over our decks, as would have been the events from the passage of so large a body as our vessel thro’ it I think that our destruction would have [been] inevitable, because so vast a volume of water must have sunk us at once or we would have been involved in its vortex, and be lost. To prevent the threatened danger, the Capt.n gave orders to keep the ship away, and a loaded musket to be ready to be fired, as in general the sound of a gun or cannon is the readiest & most efficient way of dispersing these spouts - and this, I imagine is caused by the great vibration of the air separating the connection of the drops, and breaking them. As it was the first precaution of keeping away was sufficient. It followed us for some time but at last, taking a contrary course, was  soon lost to view. [3]

Thursday 15th July - weather very unsettled - nearly a calm all day and when we had wind it was variable.

Friday 16th - fresh and nearly favourable wind in the morning - calm all the forenoon - and a very fresh and favourable breeze in the afternoon. In the evening wind changed against us. Fine w.r  Land in sight, high & mountainous.

Saturday 17th July - calm and fair wind alternately all day. Very fine weather - High land in sight with several distinct and lofty mountains.

Sunday 18th - got a fresh and favourable breeze this morning, which continued all day. Passed along the coast which in some parts was elevated, and others very low. Anchored in front of Vera Cruz at 2.30 P.M. a 12 days passage from Tampico or 7 times as long as it took to go to that place. Weather cloudy and pleasant with occasional showers. 

A few hours after we came to anchor, M.r Bariere, whom we brought from Tampico went on shore - he was a young man of 30 or 31, a native of Toulouse, and at present a merchant in Mexico the Capital of the Republic. He was what you may call a pleasant, if not a very instructive mess mate - and as he spoke pretty good English we had many conversations with him. In the course of one of these I learned that in his earlier years he had attended a theological seminary for 5 years, being intended by his fond father for no less than a Cardinal. As is often the case and outward excess of religion, where the heart and affections had no share, produced in the mind of young Bariere first a dislike to his intended profession, and afterwards, when he had mixed much with the world, a total disbelief in religion at all. In short he became a materialist, and proved the truth of an well known observation, that there is but one step from fanaticism to Infidelity.

Mons.r  Bariere has been 7 years in Mexico, and during that time has if we may believe a Materialist, experienced immense losses, as well as gained very large profits from different speculations. He has come from Mexico to Vera Cruz to make a purchase of some articles, which are more wanted there and expects to make very handsome returns. However much he lost by his rejection of religion he certainly gained no equivalent from the spirit of philosophy or reason - for he bore very ill the petty evils of our short voyage - and was least of a philosopher, when most preaching about the dictates of philosophy.