Letter #100

Written from Barbados, not dated at head, dated 16 April 1838 on cover, begun on 15 April. A piece has been cut out, so there are many gaps. This may be explained by the fact that FE wrote an authority to transfer some money to Cox & Co on this letter.

Never read your letters, my dear Kate? Why, I read them over and over, but it so frequently occurs that in the course of the two months or thereabouts which expire between the period you put the query & can receive my reply, the spirit of the question has evaporated or time has worked out the answer, but in truth some of your winter letters have frozed my humour for composition and paralized my plume rather from its former ready habit of giving a description of all that came uppermost in my thoughts when at the Rose wood desk. I used to endeavour to give you a fanciful and gay account of a dinner party which in fact was quite the contrary to my taste – gênant, hot and detestable. Then you wrote me how much distressed you were that I was so found of dinner parties. Memo, said I, I’ll write no more on that subject. Champaign, as much drank in this climate never to be hinted at, altho Madam could discuss a fair proportion of a bottle on the steps of Calonne House now and then, and the transported Lt Col would rather at any time have a glass of table malt. However, forgive me for even penning these few lines on the subject. A ball – ‘Madam in se’. I dare not write it, but the Atlantic is between us, and Kate & Cara may like to know that I was present lately, and a gay one given by the Irish Merchants in the Theatre of Bridgetown, the pit being covered over. This was bold Leicester’s last effort to bring himself forward and a monstrous fool he made of himself. Just mention dear Kit to my lassies that I was actually there and danced. ‘What an elastic mind’, not to mention the old gentleman’s footing. I shall have many a quotation from Wickham for this, no doubt concocted from the Eardley planet. Thus my good wife, the above sont des choses défendues but [about 8 lines missing] to St Vincent’s, a quarter I think he will like exceedingly after the damp of Trinidad. He will be here shortly as he cannot give such early information, indeed does not know of this order yet. It would be a  kindness on your part to give his good mother a line to explain that his letters should be address either [word missing] or St Vincent’s or they will go on in the Trinidad bag & reach their destination for many weeks after the mail arrived. I would like to know the amount of my poor dear Aunt’s legacy, that is to say, if it is worth while placing it in the funds towards Fred’s promotion or placing it at your disposal in the agent’s hands. You can judge for the best. On the fold of the sheet I will three lines as authority to pay in to Cox & Co which may be sufficient, if not write & state your wishes – there is no hurry about it. It has vexed and grieved me more than you can immagine, the fret you have indulged in about your finance, which must eventually come square & content you. However. I have so frequently written on the subject that I will not now dwell much on it. I have to receive so long as in comd here 365£ as Comd pay pr Ann. This sum is in all probability more than necessary for my expenditure in this year. The other double pay is now 32s 2d pr diem. If Mudge or Dickson retire, I shall be above the 5 Junior Lt Cols & entitled to 1£ 16s 2d pr diem, at your disposal unless some very unforeseen expense beyond my control shd occur. It is true these sums are not pd up to date of returns, but so soon as those returns are recd at home, the amount is money due on my account and forthcoming to a certainty, but dear Kate, you are never, you well know, so happy as when you can make yourself a little unhappy. If I were by thy side, all these cares, I flatter myself, would vanish, and it is even possible, mind you, by gentle means, by which all your sex obtain the upper hand, I might become somewhat less of the classic old reprobate you now appear to infer that I have become, & gradually fallen in that bad and de moral society by habit, which at first coming out to the W Indies I could not tolerate. No, no dear Kit, you are egregiously mistaken. The other Packet has come into the bay & I do hope to get your letters of the 15 of March in time to read before the bag is made up. I do not write to my dear good fellow Gusto as it would only be a repetition of the Wickham letters, and as to giving a lad fatherly advice to an excellent youth who by all accounts I have every reason to be proud of, in my opinion it would be ill timed & casting a doubt upon his upright [for the next 20 lines, the end of each line is lost]…land net, advice is exceedingly reasonable…when he goes wrong or wants it…him that his father has lived in the…how & when to give it, but I have…in him. Tell dear Fred, God bless him…profession & study it not to be his…and filling his letters with rubbish…at home his mind requires invigorating…too much young wives and pretty…soldier. They are well enough to pass…I fear he will make a fool of himself…some fine day & thus remain a…sub all his best days. He shd ex…read all the military works he can…on. His letters are delightful so far…and amiable feeling and all tho…met him speak in Irish terms…that met him in Ireland…dear old fellow. The Right…disembarked yesterday. We have been in a constant whirl & change for the last month – no peace. The Genl is ‘really Massa too fond’. I breakfast & dine constantly, in fact he sends to me on all occasions. Now for another read of Madam’s letter. I shall in future send you the Barbadian newspaper. Letters just arrived – yours of the 14th March – delightful – shall now close for today as the Packet is detained until tomorrow in order to answer dispatches.

16th April:

Red ink begins here.

Recd your letter of the 14th March, & am rejoiced to find Isabella & the other invalids are mending. I wish Janet were mending some of my wardrobe. No parcel for me let. Two vessels have arrived from Woolwich, very own Sergt Major on board on one and all our stores in another. You are poor hands in fordg Parcels which is the most simple affair possible. If Augustus were to call on Naghten or at the American coffee house or Lloyd’s, for that place of meeting must be still in some part of the City, he would hear of numerous vessels about to depart for Barbados before the Hurricane months. I am as well known here as Comd Engr & possessor of this Hall – as you know, the ace of spades – & there is not a Capt of Merchant ship that would not gladly take charge of any packet addressed to me care of Messrs Cavan & Co, Bridgetown. But enough of this – my great delight in getting a parcel from you is the pleasure unpacking it and thinking of you all. Am happy to learn that my Uncle is so well – best regards to him & Mrs Hawker, also to Mr & Mrs H Hawker, and now on the subject of regards, give my very best to MOB and a good rattling kiss as she likes that sort of thing. I hope to be at her table yet with a new pr of dress boots or pumps on. I am sorry you are so fond of parties & give way to dinner parties, it is so unlike you. ‘There is another world,’ dear Kit. Why, you appear to have ten gay and happy days even to one of my immaginary ones. I have not had time yet to read Fred’s letter. Have just read it – little therein, he and his wife, it’s all humbug, will forget that should he not, vulgarly to express it, he will be totally lost and dished as an army man & what is to become of him I know not. It never would be with my consent. He says he is second for purchase. In this case somewhat must be done, but I would through away a fraction for his company if he is so disposed to make a tomfool of himself. If he is only in joke it is a dangerous subject and tends to make me doubtful of his stability of character. What a vile hand he writes, poor fellow! Who has Miss Hanson married? –  I know not. Mr Mundy will be here in a few weeks. All the Naghtens are conceited, I think. Tom was in good odour with himself & young Harry required putting down a little. By the bye, the Satellite…[from this point, 20 lines are truncated as a result of a piece of the paper having been cut away] meet some of the…Capt…I see is sent to…How I laughed at your remark about…no doubt a fine woman but…to my taste but for her good humour…of her. My brother officer just gone…whom I never liked. I first was a more…character than I thought him – more…Canada, a dispatch I read yesterday reports…with about 4 or 500 Patriots at…ing Island. Tell Jenny she cannot fancy…of little Black babes. Their little heads…they were stuck with cloves…land had not energy to appreciate the…I had picked out for him & was…Berbice. Capt O’Brien, in a fit of…few Captain came with his regt…Assistant Engineership, but in a…way. So Mrs Hawker has…my eye! Mrs McPherson’s letter was charming – I will send it next Packet. Poor Mr Gooldrington. My letters must belie me or I have written in a trance, or you have read them after a dinner party. There is no society to admire, and as to liking the WI, I would sink [words illegible] destroy to get away, but so long as I must be here not under my own control in any way, I will carry on with spirit in spite of your ungenerous remarks, Mrs Kit. ‘A wife [word illegible] such dear girls few men are blest with. You must like the WI very much to stay.’ All this you know is rubbish, why write it? God bless you all.

Your afft FE