Letter #101

Written from Barbados 

‘Cul’ is Culduthel, a suburb of Inverness and home of the Fraser family. 

English again urges his wife to use influence to get him an order; it is clear from letter 109 that he has his eye on the Companionship of the Bath. ‘The old boat story’ refers to his rescue of fishermen in the Moray Firth in 1823, for which he was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society. Sir Herbert Taylor was a courtier and army officer. He served as private secretary to William IV, but was now retired. 

23rd April 38

The only novelty that has occured since I last wrote to you my dear Kate is a letter from John Fraser, now a Commander on the Jamaica station, having the Nimrod. I think it was stated in one of my letters that his ship was in quarantine here, consequently I did not see him. I would send the letter but you do not seem aware of the orders prohibiting our enclosing private correspondence under official envelopes. This does not apply to your Ladiship but to me is a caution that I dare not brave, otherwise Mary Fraser’s and other little documents should undoubtedly be forwarded. However, this would afford very trifling amusement. Mary McPherson’s, as I should have named her, was I immagine only a repetition of what she has most likely written to yourself or Miss Parker in allusion to the happy days long since passed by. But to our old acquaintance John Fraser: ‘My dear English, Nimrod Port Royal March 19, Let me introduce to your acquaintance Capt Robb, you will find him a sterling specimen of our profession. I hear Mrs English is not with you, and conceiving it possible that you have given yourself permission to indulge in an Havana segar, I send you some I bought from that place a fortnight ago. Can I do anything for you on this division of the station? We are attached to it, and will probably continue so for the remainder of our time. All were well at Cul when I last heard. Believe me most truly yours, Jn Fraser.’ I have seen Capt Robb & from first impressions like him – we shall see in time however. I intend to shew him any civility that is in my power. The segars have also been seen and after a trial of them by several tasty persons, it is decided that they are very superior weeds. Even your old companion in arms has a puff or two. The thought of me was worth ten times the value of 500 bits of tobacco in the form of segars. It really was extremely kind of John F. What a fine young man he was and what a superb he and Miss Baker made in a dance. By another friend, Lt Tinling, Echo steamer, I recd two fine yews from Halifax, brought to Jamaica by Sir R Grant and from thence forwarded. He mentioned his intention of so doing, but their arrival was very unexpected. Thus my farm can boast of variety as to its stock. I have just been informed that the Racer, Capt Hope, proceeds to England tomorrow, she came into the bay last night. If this is the case, this letter will go direct by her to Portsmouth probably. Capt O’Brien and Capt Jarvis 70th have just drove up, they embark for St Vincent’s tomorrow. The former begs to be remembered & they have a very agreeable set of officers at present, but like all other Regts here, they will soon disperse and all the odd tempered slow coaches sent out to fill their places. I am more than usually stupid today and cannot collect any amusing matter to write upon. Tomorrow I trust my ideas will be more bright. At all events, if early rising will assist you shall have the benefit my dear Kit. Tell the great Gardener Katy that I have been employed some portion of today with one of the small Ordnance Engines maned by Sambo’s in the attempt to restore some of my drooping bulbous roots & shrubs. All look at death’s door from the extreme dry weather. I must read you last letters carefully over or I shall run the risque of another goosing. Now is the time if my good Uncle can make Sir F Mulcaster of service in obtaining the order I wrote about, or to get my name put forward for one. Even the old boat story might be of use coming from a private channel. It does annoy our old soldier to observe so many wearing badges of service who have not seen half as much as he has. In fact many have ribbons attached who have scarcely seen a shot fired. It is possible Sir F Mulcaster would make an effort for me, particularly after serving so long here & being in Comd. It would carry more humbug & weight with his application. 24 April: By your dispatch of the 14th March I observe you were looking out for my letter from Dominica. It was a short affair but would let you know that I was well and homewards bound to Barbados. The news of dear Isabella, Skip and yourself with the rest of the invalids was most acceptable. Your winter seems to have been extremely severe. So my good and esteemed Uncle Hawker looks himself again – I am truly rejoiced. To hear he was laid up would be a source of much anxiety to me. We have been so much thrown together that to return & find him in bad health would indeed take much, very much, from that happiness, but regards to him & Mrs H, who has, Cary says, actually become so warm hearted as to kiss her. All right – so my wife Mary’s party went off à merveille. Kind regards to her & say I will be more fond & attentive to her in my old age than ever if she will but be constant. Am happy to find you have an agreeable acquaintance in Mr Hawker’s new tenant. Ord store keeper just come in with papers to sign, chatted & detained me. Now Mr Bertles has arrived to fit a new Blue frock coat, one arm having fallen off the old in pulling up my horse short when riding with the general last evening. It has been cut so short to repair the cuffs, it somewhat resembles Old Bordes’s shooting jacket. When my dear wife’s package comes forth with a Mr Fitchett new shoulder straps & forage cap, shall I not be dignity man? Why, you old Col will in truth cause a sensation by his youthful appearance if he could withstand that horrid Cham dinner parties, but my dear Kit I must not joke you so near the end of my paper. Mind, if a good push is made for me by Mr Hawker with Sir F Mul, Ld James with Ld Hill &c &c &c &c, you may see me with some order of merit yet. All officer of any rank have some – why not I? It must be asked for, it seems, or an unfortunate fellow out here would never be thought of. Consult with my esteemed friend Read on the subject. Sir Herbert Taylor is the man that can do it if well put before him – by a little exertion and perseverance the thing is to be had. Mr Hawker could do wonders with Sir F Mul. Charley is right – if I were unemployed we would be off to the Continent good lady. Remember me most kindly to Capt Tait. Tell him Capt O’Brien is now seated here. He sails at 5 this evening with the Right wing 70th. I am confident you do all that is right about Augustus, therefore have no remarks to make or questions to put to you, dear old lady. He is a good fellow, his letters amuse me exceedingly. Don’t fear – Master Fred will not be likely to get home so easy & he will soon pick up some sort of a love. The play of spoon-ness will always be his fort, but he is much to good a fellow & promises well as an officer to be spoilt by heavy baggage. He would be forced to leave the army or lead a wretched life. The bad society that I live in my good Kit is the General’s & a few officers – there is no other so fret not. The Bishop returned last evening from St Thomas’s – I shall call in a day or two. This climate you say would agree with some of your party. I wish you were all here & not suffering from it with all my heart.

Your aff Fred E

Best regards to Miss Parker and love to my dear Girls & Gusto of course, to dear Fred when you write. Adieu dear Kate. How is Jenny? Remember me to my amiable nieces at Roche Court.