Letter #107

‘Junior Club’: the reference is probably to the Junior United Service Club, later merged with the Senior Club, but now defunct. 

John Alleyne Beckles, a member of a prominent family of planters, was President of the Legislative Council of Barbados. 

Frances Trollope’s Vienna and the Austrians had just been published. English had enjoyed her book on Paris – see letter 64. 

Lady Knighton was a member of the Plymouth Hawker family, and was known to the Englishes and General Whittingham – see letters 41 and 76. Her husband, Sir William, was a physician to the Prince Regent, and, after his succession as George IV, his private secretary and keeper of the privy purse. He died in 1836. Memoirs of Sir William Knighton, consisting mainly of his journals and letters from and to him, was published in two volumes in 1838. 

Barbados 12 Augt 38

No Hurricane as yet my dear Kate but we all had shrewd suspicions the night before last and during the greater portion of yesterday that the elements were about to favor us with a repetition of the dreadful visitation this Island suffered from on the 11th August 1831. All the night and for many hours until midday we experienced the most awful thunder and lightning with torrents of rain. You will observe by the papers I forward that it has been kept as a day of thanksgiving and Sambo has enjoyed a holyday, an anniversary to remind poor snowball of all his losses & the horrors he experienced, which probably it would be as well or better forgotten, were it possible. Everything is progressing here as quietly as ever. The emancipation affair has caused neither an ebulliency of gaity nor of turbulence & it appears that our good friends in old England may still hope to obtain sugar for their tea and puddings as heretofore. About half of our Garrison has been detached in various parts of the Island as a preventative, but no vestige of disorder has occurred nor have any unfavourable accounts reached head quarters from any of these Colonies. It is not unlikely, I think, that some disaffection may be shewn at Trinidad. It is reported that the heads have not managed affairs with judgement in that Island. Lt Mundy you know is gone on to St Vincent’s, fortunately so, for a fever of a malignant description has been too active of late in that beautiful land but unhealthy climate & carried off many to their last homes. In this we are perfectly healthy & by comparison have very few sick. The Genl, with whom I dined, a trio of us, yesterday, told me with great delight that the medical officers’ returns were wonderfully reduced. Tell my good friend Capt Tait that I begin to doubt the necessity of rebuilding the Hospital, so frequently recommended but posponed. And now dear Kit, as I have turned to this side of my paper, you must put up with dear Gusto’s short & pithy system. I will give you what comes uppermost & you must make the best you can out of it. The Packet sails tomorrow, therefore I shall conclude the black ink work today & close in red in the morning. Have you read Walter Scott’s Life? I suppose so. If not, do. Will you write my valued old friend Strangeways a note requesting he will inform you whether I was proposed at the Junior Club by himself & Capt Pascoe RA & if admitted or Blackballed? He told me in town he would do so and that the latter was to second him, I think when last in town. I want to know this very much. A French Brig of War has just come to anchor in the bay, a fine vessel, and we have been returning her salute, popping blank cartridges at each other. What a farce! I almost wish it had arrived at the olden time custom again, & that we were elevating the guns with good round shot therein in order to elevate all branches of the Army & Navy, for there is a miserable lack of esprit and energy in all ranks and services owing to the dearth of professional occupation of the qui vive order. Sad! sad! The ladies’ Brevet being a shabby one which we have every reason to expect it will be from report, the Gazette has not reach Barbados yet. I do hope that wigs will no longer continue fashionable & that our gracious little Queen will explode them from her court. False ringlets are bad enough. Mr Bingham is here & to remain for the present. He called & I met him at dinner the day before yesterday. A good looking young fellow, too much so for a Black Corps. By the paper, Barbadian, you will see that the new colors were presented to the 69 Regt on Saturday the 4th inst & consecrated by the Bishop. It was a pleasing and I may add an imposing spectacle – he performed his part admirably. On the following tuesday we, the Bishop, &c, Genl & staff, dined with the Regt, which of course produced many speeches and it all went off with good taste. The next day, as Gusto would inform Skippy, was Wednesday – you wish to know when I put myself into respectable society and to associate with Bishops & so on, thus I relate all this and as follows. On Wed, the day after tuesday, aforesaid, the Bishop, Mrs Coldridge, almost all the clergy from the dean to the curate, many of the staff &c &c met at Shot Hall, Lt Col English handing the lady in and out & leading the whole, to say adieu good Bishop, a safe voyage home, & speedy return, when all the honors were paid of bowing, scraping, firing salute, Guard of honor, Color &c. Thus you will learn, my dear old excellent and sincerely loved Evangelical wife, that your reprobate, disorganized husband is still patronised by the Bishop, Madam, the Clergy, the Govr, the General & Staff and more or less by Cols of the Regts, but they are monstrous jealous or so, meaning the latter. Col Story and his party are put to rights, vulgarly to express it they are floored – peace be with them. Last week the 69th got up some amusing Regt races which answered to enliven an evening. Most likely, as the whole went off with such good humour, they will continue. Tell Capt Tait it was on a large tract of ground now a waste in rear of St Paul’s, which is to be formed into a course & public rooms thereon erected by plain coat subscription, the land hired of President Beckles. I forgot to state that the ornamented platform for the Bishop was plain and by the Comd E at the request of Col Monins from which the Prayers were read & Colors presented. Capt Tinling’s brother breakfasted here a week since. He tells me that Commodore Douglass is well. Send me garden seeds, I pray & beg you. – lettuce, beet root &c. Mrs Trollope’s Vienna & the Austrians, Lady Knighton’s Memoir of Sir W Knighton’s life – have you read these? And do you know that the Hudson’s Bay Company have discovered the Arctic Passage? Doubtless Miss Parker has read it in a late Portsmouth. 13th Augst: Do you think my surtout – that you or rather Capt Tait has to the Canada Wars, Gibraltar? Gulf of Mexico & Jamaica – will fit well if ever it comes to its destination, the W Indies? I’ll wear it as a curiosity but I have my doubts if it will hang together. And the Godchild’s frock – that’s a sorry story. What more can I say? Did you give the Stewards any birds? You are very generous – who gives unto you? Mr Thistlewaith is well, he has moved with his regt into a distant barrack & I do not see him so frequently now. I hear there are great disappointments as to promotion in this command, both Navy & Army. For my part I believe the slower the RE Lt Cols get on the better for them as all they can look forward too as Mjr Genl is 400 pr Ann, a miserable wind up for an old soldier. I trust Read will stick well up for the Corps & that he will represent me as an uncommonly fine fellow deserving a Badge of one sort or the other. I much fear you are following the system of economy, allowing your carriage to go to decay for the present saving of a trifle. Thus they jolly fellows will find every dept reduced to little or no state of efficiency when required. As the Storekeepers’ carriages in Canada have of late been not serviceable, our handsome Chariot will, I only suspect it dear wife, be worth about 5£ on the day of need when you & your old broken down husband want it to go to Court. What have you done with the harness? It would sell well here. I do not know how to get the deed of release home by the post. It would cost a little fortune and the Lawyer has already made a shameful pluck at the legacy. What detestable fellows they all are, except & except about one in a 1000. Poor Mr Hawker – every day I feel his loss more painfully. I shall dread going to Catisfield. The dear Girls’ & Miss Parker’s letters, descriptions of their last visit, quite overcame me. I perfectly unman’d & forced to take to my horse to recover my spirits. Poor fellow – how I did esteem him. His will may entail much business on the Executors – all I hope is that it may be well done. Regards to Mrs Hawker with Mr HH &c.

Red ink begins here.

Give my kind love to Mary – I trust her good health has returned and that notwithstanding all these sad scenes & losses that have left her so solitary she will have spirits left to welcome me heartily. I wish the day was arrived & that I was stepping ashore at Gosport. The Brevet does not move Sir Samford. He had the local rank of Lt General, this being a comd for that rank. No step for the R Engrs excepting Burgoyne’s. What folly is his little wife committing now? Am sorry for Strangeways – don’t fail to write to him & send my best remembrances. Am delighted you have the old pictures – when I return I shall have them done up. The treasure has not been discovered yet. Our efforts have been reported home & we now wait instructions. An old black woman’s coffin was discovered one day & a man’s the following, but Col Maxwell was the finder, Major Harpur & I having other matters to attend to. We had a good laugh at him, you may suppose. I do not recollect a Mrs Burt. Was he a little squeezy pocket sort of an Engr? I was not aware he was married. He was at Stalleen solus, I think. You termed him as condemned twice as unserviceable – amused Capt Rutherfurd & myself exceedingly. Rem me to excellent Reid, his wife, Tait, Gradon, not forgetting the Burt. In truth Gusto’s letters are very very amusing, God bless the dear fellow. How I wish to attack his bread and Jam at his lodgings & off to the Opera together. Regard there & to Fred. I wish the latter would write better & less flighty letters. Positively there is no subject or matter in them, but he is a dear good young man, as Miss Parker would add. How is that kind hearted and amiable Portsmouth news finder? Offer my best wishes & thanks for her charming letters. My sisters’ miserable line of conduct is beyond conception, it makes me wretched. How is it to end? Georgiana must have lost her reason, sad indeed. A package of books from Capt Tait to Miss Elliza Critchlow dated 21st April & stating as forwarded by HMS Dee has only this moment come to hand from Jamaica in the Tartarus Steamer with a basket of Pines from Capt O’Brien at St Vincent’s. Dear Kit, the folds of your letter were very high flown. I like to quiz you but I pay the paper dear old cat. I hope you will have lots of my company and ample time for lectures & sermons.

Love to my dear girls

Remember me to the Gardiners & all friends & believe me

Your ever aff Fred English

Kelly waits

This is the last we hear of the buried treasure.