Letter #105

Major-General Sir George Arthur, Governor General of Upper Canada and an opponent of devolved government, suppressed several rebellions around this time, some of them supported by elements from the USA. 

John Gibson Lockhart, for many years associated with the publishing house of John Murray, published his Life of Scott in seven volumes in 1837-38. It immediately took its place among the finest examples of the biographer’s art. 

The blue and yellow macaw, ara ararauna is native to northern South America and Trinidad. In letter 57, English said he was trying to get one to send home, so this was probably obtained there. 

I have not been able to discover what cucarscum was. A peg-gall or pegall is a Caribbean word for a covered basketwork container.

Writing in the Hurricane house, Shot Hall, 8th July 38

Well my dear Kittens, what must be our subject to commence upon. You are a great politician and a very superb Tory. What may be your opinion as to matters in Canada? In place of pay or corn stacks which suffices John Bull for a bonfire, these frontier Canadians & dominion amuse each other alternately with a good large steamer. Will or will not the end be my dear Kate war, or an encrease of our army & navy force in that country? Have you read Col or Genl Arthur’s proclamation? Do the Barbadian papers reach you? Of late I have forwarded them regularly. Your 1st of June portmanteau package with the valued detailed account of my dear family from the subs has not come to its destination. Probably the Insp General was absent in the country. However, that which my good wife ‘scribbled of glaring inconsistency of all human beings’ was so agreeably penned, notwithstanding it in some measure conveyed most unwelcome intelligence, that I am sure it embraced all that could be of interest, yet I miss the grand envelope & its contents very much. Moreover when two arrive at one time I always read the last date, thus the former loses somewhat of its value in the reading. Have you read W Scott’s life? It is a very delightful work I think. On friday last 6th inst the Horatio transport sailed. Mr Green our late Head Quarter Clerk of Works has a passage in her with his family to Portsmouth. You will think I am not disposed to allow any of you to forget me or my propensity for pets. Consequently a very great one of your lord and master’s is in his charge – a beautiful Blue & yellow Macaw, which, with the assistance of that trump of a Brother officer Capt Tait, I trust will be safely delivered at Wickham. He is a magnificent bird when his plumage is complete. The voyage may destroy his finery but it will soon recover under good Jenny’s care. Do not let him fall of in his education. He used to fly at large here & always came to hand when called, but I was fearful of his being destroyed for some idle rascals shot at him. I found them out & you may suppose did not quietly submit. Since I cut his wing, still they would revenge themselves on poor Cara no doubt if an opportunity had offered. A Box of bird & snake, the former dear Kit or Cara must brush well with a camel hair brush & put the feathers in order giving a coat of good copal varnish to the snake & camphire with spirits of wine to the former. Then comes a Jar of Tamarinds, 3 bottles of red pepper with soap beads & vegetable coral or cucarscum beads, all from my garden or grounds. The latter will be a fashion next winter Fareham ball room, for I have sent a bag at Capt Douglass’s request to him by the Satellite Capt Robb for home duty & I suppose for the Miss Douglasses. Then comes part of an Indian basket, which has got me a good scolding for sending away being only the half, with 4 kerchiefs pinned up as the french women and many others wear them in these colonies. I would not disturb the packing as they were put into the unfortunate peg-gall by the person who put them in shape as worn by the acknowledged tasty ones. You can try them – I think they will become you, with a comb underneath of course. They require a little pulling out & placing knowingly on the head piece. Should you disapprove, nothing remains but to use them round the throat when en route to the Wickham bohea entertainments. They will shew the head costume at all events. Formerly they were from 8 to ten dollars each, but are not of English manufacture, in imitation equal to the originals. Tell my dear girls they must get some of the servants to drill the beads by fixing them in Bees Wax to a piece of board & getting a sail needle or two fixed in a handle with the three edges sharpened on a hone to an edge equal to a penknife. The Macaw used to call Fred, Kate, pretty Laura or Cara, Edward – master’s horse – and George, what’s oclock? and much more, in fact he was a very amusing fellow & attracted the notice of every person. I have a very fine Amazon Parrot which shall be disposed of as you may wish homewards. Mr Mundy RA arrived a few days since looking thin but in health. He goes on to St Vincent’s & prefers it to remaining here. He is right, for this is a stupid place for anyone & particularly a young man. He has brought me 8 pounds of chocolate but it was too late for the transport. You shall have with some more by direct transport, not as you John-ny like people, Capt Tait worse than the rest, by a vessel sailing half round the globe. What on earth possessed you all, not you alone my good misled wife, to send me a garment by a ship of war going not nobody knows where but very very unlikely to come here for the next four months, which Capt Tait in his steady days of thinking knew well enough. When it does reach me, if ever, I shall either have outgrown its shape, or its fashion of past days will constitute its value to the curious in such antiques. Why, one of the sugar Capts, all of whom know me by name or know Shot hall, would take charge of a box at any time, coming direct, in 25 days occasionally. Ah! I wish I were with you again. Your last accounts of Mr Hawker have alarmed me & I dread the next. It is a subject I have driven to the close of my letter for it is a melancholy one. If anything should happen to him it would be a great loss to me, for I have so many pleasing remembrances associated with him & his joyous society. That in truth would afflict me deeply, but I hope he is better & may be spared until I can once more shake him by the hand. But regards to him, Mrs Hawker and kind MOB. How are the Gardiners? My love to my nieces. Do not let my lassies be fickle. They do not I think appear to value or be so much with them. That will not do – steady is the word. I have been out but little since I last wrote. The Seringapatam has returned. H Naghten looks thin – he was here two days since. I am going to Antigua in her, Capt Leigh having offered me a cart. How is dear Gusto? – remember me to him & Fred, all the dear girls & Miss Parker – believe me your

aff Fred English

Tuesday dine at the Genl, Wed at Govr’s – dress day, a bore. Thank Capt Tait for his letter – we agree with him about the building but it is posponed again.


Am I to have the new order or a grade in it?

Who is to relieve me? – that’s the question.