Letter #103

Not dated at head but dated on cover: ‘Barbados May thirty 1838’

No more time can be spared my dear Kate for the direction of newspapers, for taking into account the usual interuptions the chances are much against your obtaining a long account of the Col, as Gusto terms me in his very entertaining letters. He collects more Corps news than the Wickhamites, Capt Tait or all my esteemed brother officers on each side of the Harbour. Yesterday was sultry in the extreme and all the fore part of the day expended at Sir Samford’s levée and collecting the news from official & private communications. In fact when I returned to my cool shady quarters, reclothed the Col & took my seat on the sopha enveloped by envelopes & letters, I could not muster a trim leg or arm to support the weary old trunk. My ideas were conglomerate, but the eyes feasted on the packets from Wickham. Without coat or stock I set to in earnest to read and decipher the collection. The packet that you sent by the second April Mail thro our Pall Mall sanctum was detained, that and the first May came together, but your post letter I get regularly. Yesterday was the 29th May, Oak apple day. For this occasion, Isabella, I suppose, was lamenting the want of flowers, or more probably for the first of May. I have been so long away I forget these gay holidays. However, if Capt Joe’s report proves true and a Lt Col is sent to relieve me as promised, I may yet see you all in a few months and scrub off the tan of the tropics. As I anticipated, lots of visitors have but a stopper on the thread of my ideas. First arrives a Mr Howell, Treasurer to the Colony, to arrange matters relative to the Pier Head and the entrance of the Carinage. Next Mr Ford, applicant for the Clerkship thereof at a 100£ pr ann. This he has got and I recd thanks in due form. Next Mr Friggle, head man in the Mason & dam line with a grizzle head and frizzled beard. Excuse me Genl, but I must to my letters for the Packet which sails at two. Bow I them out but – torment! – Mr Perkins met me at the door with certificates on musty parchment applying for the above stated situation. I could but laugh, being the big man as it were in the small way. So it is from top to bottom, but as Gusto remarks, all things have an end & thanks to my luck when I find myself along side of you dear Kate again to dream of marble Halls & delicious mangoes &c &c will suffice. The cold will be felt severely no doubt, so prepare plenty of flannel. I met our Comsy Genl Filder yesterday. His family who rested here in waiting for the boat apparently not ten days since had arrived safely in Plymouth after a delightful passage in the Jupiter troop ship. They suffered much from the cold, he told me. In the midst of the charming letters yesterday I was beset with visitors and have not got thro Augustus’s last yet. I read three sides of Mrs Pring’s in bed this morning between 5 and six & fell fast asleep with Mrs P next to me! Don’t tell. What does my excellent friend Capt Tait dare to croak about – Brevet? Before this reaches you that matter will be settled & he a 1st Capt. Before troublesome friends shew themselves I must write on several interesting subjects. HM Steamer Tartarus came to anchor in the Bay on the 21st Inst, 30 days from Plymouth, and a very few hours afterwards Commodore Douglass and Capt Robb called, the former I thought I shd have embraced for he is a hearty delightful person & had either seen or heard of you all so recently. After paying all their visit of form, they returned & took the best fare I could procure for them & reembarked at the Wharf in the Captain’s gig, & the Commodore made steam for Jamaica soon afterwards about 6 in the evening. A nice fellow – I did not like parting with him. We tattled of wives & daughters & sons until Robb & Rutherfurd, who met them, were either tired or, in their own defence, were necessitated to talk of no other subject but the dear creatures until it pleased us to start politics, on Canada &c. We shall have Capt Leith here again, whom I also like much, but prefer, I think, the Fareham sailor. Immagine my wrath & disappointment as Capt Douglass presented me with a letter – who from? – neither from wife or young fry, but Major Colebrooke RA, Portsmouth, an old friend, but his letter at the moment was any thing rather than acceptable. The visit unsettled me woefully & the surprise that you did not take advantage of such a favorable opportunity to send some trifling token of remembrance. The mystery will be forthcoming I suppose in some of your letters. However, I must forgive you as the last letter, 28th April, is written in such excellent spirits it has perfectly renovated me. If they are serious, which they ought to be, & relieve me, I much doubt that I shall get clear of the W Indies until next spring, which will make up the five years, and there is always delay in getting the officers out to this station, to wit, in my case, I want three now. The very thought of a termination to my exile has set me all alive. The Genl called last evening to ask me to dine today. Capt Darling, Sir Lionel Smith’s ADC and Private Secty was to have been one, but he started on the Flamer Steam vessel for Jamaica yesterday. The old Genl and I get on well together, in truth gallantly. He is exceedingly attentive and by a little management the comdg E here get his own way in everything. The rest of the staff cannot understand it. When Sir Charles left, they expected to have all their own way, but not an inch has been gained. Still I flatter myself I am not unpopular. Rutherfurd is a first rate second & Capt Graham 70th, son of the late Genl Sir James G, a beautiful draughtsman & agreeable man, fills Master Leicester’s berth quietly & produces more work. The subs they sent were so young & useless, I had to send them adrift to learn their business in the wide, wide world. The Artillery, under an old woman, tried to sting – they are floored & worse off about the St George quarter than ever. Whilst I am here, one of that cloth never shall have it in.

Red ink begins here.

Lt St George sailed for England yesterday. In revenge they worked upon the old lady before alluded to to write to officially about the Mess. They dine at 4 oclock, which not only interferes with my habits and comfort, but my duties. At the same time a very disagreeable set of fellows were collected, thus on my return with the General I declined paying for what I could not probably enjoy 4 times in a month. I had no intention of withdrawing from any mess entertainment or otherwise. However, they caught at this and attacked me officially, & in return I gave the old Col a plain sharp statement of facts. He went to the Genl but he would have nothing to do with it. I just wrote madam that if the matter was pushed further, I gave them, the committee, to understand that the REs would form a Mess of their own, which I will do rather than our Corps shall be dictated to, or not have their share of power to controul the Mess affairs. It was all very well when Sir Charles was here. They did not dare shew him any disrespect. My mind is made up: ‘I care for nobody, no, not I’ but thee dear Kit. Capt Rutherfurd, Mr Kinloch 36 and the Milty Secretary just come in, the latter respecting the treasure we are digging for but not yet found. We are about to change the encampment to another spot. I forget how far I related this affair to you. However, we have been much interested about it & still are, all the world in a wonder at our proceedings. It is a strange story altogether, constant interviews with Govr & Genl on the subject. I have dined with the Govr since I last wrote, a large party, & with the Genl several times with only his personal staff. On Wednesday last I went to dine with Mr & Mrs Hinds – he is the Speaker – & slept there. Tell Capt O’Brien RN they enquired most kindly after him & that I gave them the favorable accounts I had recd from Capt Douglass. Next morning rode over to the burning spring, a humbug which Capt Tait will tell you – regards to him, your son in law indeed, he is nevertheless a first rate good person. Every thing must have an end, so adieu dear Kate, regards to my Uncles & Aunts & Miss Parker & sincere love to my children.

Believe me dear Kate

Your afft

Fred E