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The following obituary notice by the editor, Mr. Mulhall, appeared in the Standard of Buenos Ayres:

" It is with profound regret we have to announce to our readers the death of Captain W. H. Smiley, a worthy American citizen whose connection with the River Plata dates so far back as 1808. During the Chilian War of Independence, Smiley served with great distinction under our lamented countryman Admiral Browne, and in subsequent years played a very conspicuous role in the waters of the south Pacific and Atlantic. He was born in Rhode Island in 1792, in the city of Providence, and well may that little State be proud of her sailor boy, who in his extraordinary career won the friendship and esteem of the savages in Patagonia, and the first statesmen of Europe and America. A man so universally esteemed must have had high claims to great philanthropy, and have proved himself in every sense a benefactor to humanity.

" Captain Smiley was one of the most whole­souled fellows that ever breathed, and possibly no more noble epitaph could be inscribed over his grave than the long list of vessels, with their passengers and crews, which he has been instrumental in saving.

" For upwards of forty years he acted as commercial agent for the United States at the Falkland Islands, where he established his headquarters. Although not belonging to the United States Navy, so highly did his country prize his services, that his little barque, the 'Kate Sargent' carried her own guns, and her worthy commander wore the uniform of the service which his name adorned, yet not in commission. Mr. Seward (U. S. Secretary of State under President Lincoln), when a boy, was cared for by the subject of this memoir, and Lord Palmerston (English Prime Minister), in his long connection with foreign affairs, was so frequently brought in contact with the noble acts of the lamented Smiley, that he often expressed a hope that he might some day or other have the pleasure of meeting this extraordinary man.

" The loss of Captain Smiley will be long felt, not only by the immediate circle of his friends, at home and abroad, but by the mercantile marine navigating the Straits of Magellan, where he was a sort of Neptune, intimately acquainted with every spot on the Pata­gonian coast, and the best pilot extant for the difficult navigation of the Straits. Captain Smiley ever found constant appeals for his services, either from suffering humanity, to further science in her discoveries, or forward commerce in her onward march. Success ever crowned his exertions, and he won the thanks of a trading world whilst he amassed a fortune for his family. We knew him, and proud are we to think that one of the privileges of an editorial career is to be thrown into contact with such men. Last year he visited this city in company with two little orphans, the children of a dead friend, — whom he brought up at his own expense, — to see the cities of Buenos Ayres and Montevideo.

" The first gun that saluted the Fourth of July, 1867, in our harbor, was from the 'Kate Sargent' and two years previously he joined the Fourth of July banquet at the Hotel Provence, and astonished the company by the naiveté of his eloquence.

" Men like Smiley pass from among us, but they leave their footprints. At his funeral in Montevideo, on Friday, the flags in the harbor hung at half-mast, and the American admiral attended with a full staff of officers, to pay the last tributes to one of the worthiest sons of New England. The Rev. Mr. Adams read the funeral service, a long line of carriages followed in the procession, and he who saved so many, at last found eternal salvation."

[Words of Captain Whidden]

As I shall not have occasion to refer to the Hon. William H. Smiley again, I will say that he was in many respects a most remarkable man, and worthy of a more than passing notice. Four months at the Falklands, passed in his company, gave me an opportunity of obtaining an insight into the character and studying the peculiar traits of the man.

Tall, possessing a massive frame, a face that would not have taken the prize for beauty, being seamed and scarred, but having a firmness about the jaw and mouth that indicated an iron will; fearless in the face of peril and always cool in the hour of danger, he was a man most admirably fitted for the position he held in his little world in a far-off corner of the earth, from which as a friend of humanity, and a benefactor to mankind, his deeds were heralded in both Europe and America, being recognized by both nations.

He was the owner of a number of small schooners and whale­boats, and in his occupation of sealing about the Patagonian coast and South Shetlands, as well as trading with the Indians of Patagonia, Captain Smiley, with his crew, was exposed to many perils. At one time, having his men all out sealing, he sailed alone around Cape Horn; it being said that he was the only man that ever doubled Cape Horn alone in a fifty-ton schooner.

His adventures among the South Shetlands were most thrilling, and many nights, in Port Stanley Harbor, I have lain awake until long after the midnight hour listening to Captain Smiley's yarns that were being spun to Captain Howes, who would sit up all night to hear them.

Captain Smiley died of cholera at Montevideo, in the year 1871 [actually 1868, Ed.], at the store of the United States consul, Mr. Parsons, where he was stricken. Mr. William D. Evans, a ship chandler of Montevideo, and his manager, Captain Joseph W. Clapp of Nantucket, a great friend of Captain Smiley, were with him to the end. As characteristic of the man, it was said that at the last, a clergyman was brought in, who started to read a passage from the Scriptures, but the captain, being in great agony, waved him back, saying, " Don't read me anything, I am in too much pain to listen. I am not afraid to die. I've kept a straight log."

Source: "Ocean Life in the Old Sailing Ship Days: from forecastle to quarter-deck", Captain John D. Whidden, Boston MA, 1908
Clipped: 9-VII-2013
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