Letter #108

We can only speculate as to the nature of Georgiana’s ‘last vicious measure’ which has so alienated her from her brothers. 

It is interesting that English felt certain that war with the United States over Canada and slavery was imminent. He also predicts here that the successful revolt in Haiti under the freed slave Toussaint L’Ouverture – he uses the old French name St Domingue – will be repeated in British colonies.

Hurricane House Barbados 23rd Augt 38

My Dear Dear Kate, which you must allow amounts to dearest, to quote the commencement of your very agreeable letter of 14th July last now before me. ‘Now what have I to tell you since I last wrote? Why really, on looking over my pocket book, nothing of any moment’, and really at knocking at my head piece I may truly say nothing, for the booking system has died a natural death, never finding from day to day any occurrence worth noting. However, that something must be forthcoming out of this tropical parched pericranium is certain or I shall be lost, lost, lost! in credit with my good wife, God bless her, but there is a magical effect produced which affords immediate spirit to the man so soon as the first few lines are endited to you, which, my dear Kit, I cannot account for but as sympathetic, for I observe in all your letters and particularly the last that whatever difficulties are in the road of your composition at the commencement after you overcome the three first lines, away goes the pen, long words and short words all follow rapidly again, reminding me of that song of the runaway Dutchman with his spring leg. But away with nonsense, you will fancy the heat has affected my upper story and that I am in a wild humour. The fact is that I have been so pestered with Estimates and official matters, not always going smooth, that the recreation of writing to you is verily quite electrical to my ‘elastic mind’ – quotation from Madam English – and I feel joyous in the retirement of this detached building. I shd add fancied retirement, for I have already been interrupted by the long legs of an ordnance messenger who poked in his sallow phiz with an uninteresting Store keeper’s letter respecting hair beds & hair brooms. I gave him such a blessing that you will doubtlessly discover the change of temperature I write in since his visit. The channel of Mr Victor’s information respecting my relief is easily traced to our officers at Portsmouth or letters from his brother now at Trinidad. They of course conclude as being the common course of justice that I am to be so, but their information on the subject is not to be depended upon. We are now 4 short of officers here at the most busy and important period of the year, and no intimation of a reinforcement. I will not admit that everything is going on badly, but the department is as it were paralysed for the want of a few energetic & able officers. Between ourselves my dear Kate, did it not so happen that I am so much with the General who appears to favor me with such confidence, our Corps in this comd would fall greatly from the leading post they have always taken under Sir C Smith. Our Assistant Engrs go for nothing & only entail correspondence on the Hd Quarters. It is not to be expected they can understand the duties & generally are removed before they become useful. The Genl has intimated to me that he is so weak in line officers that he cannot spare me more, thus I have two stations without. They call from our office for plans &c &c when positively the persons are not forthcoming to draw them. Of the last batch not one was fit to keep at Head Quarters for this purpose. As office business, all these matters are far from amusing to you, but it will prove how sincerely delighted I shall be to get home, notwithstanding the Marble Halls and fairy land of Shot Hall, in which terms a gentleman expressed himself a few days since when paying a visit here. The great attraction of a residence near Catisfield is now lost to me, and now that my valued Uncle is no more, it matters not where I join you so long as we do not again separate. Therefore, if Wickham is disagreeable my dear Kit for another winter residence, sell off goods and chattles & move to some more desirable spot. I am in great hopes that you will persevere and make a trip into Suffolk. It will be a change of scene and of infinite service to the party. Am pleased and gratified to learn that your nieces have paid the promise visit that they are so warm hearted and amiable. Dear Gusto seems to like them much. His merry letters are to me a delight – I enjoy them beyond words to express myself on paper. His going to Liverpool matters not – he will make himself useful to all members of the house by so doing that I trust he will eventually identify himself with it. Nothing is to be gained without some risque or abridgement of our comforts. I trust he will make himself master of Spanish & keep up his french, as he will be, as a member of a Spanish House, constantly amongst Spaniards. It is of the utmost consequence to him being acquainted with the language as he will become actually necessary to the firm, but his ambition must not stop there. In his own breast he must determine one day to be one of that or another as respectable. Tell him to read Lady Knighton’s memoir of Sir William’s life. How I now regret I did not know more of that good man. I have perused it with great interest. Are the Barbados papers of any interest to you? Do not be misled by them to suppose there is anything like riot in this island. With the exception of a few insulated disagreements with bad Masters or worse Attorneys who were probably, at the close of the measure of intended emancipation, consummate tyrants, & in their alarm at the prospective change, affected kindness to the negroes under them. With the exception of some trifling bad feeling towards such persons, all goes on perfectly quiet & orderly & Jane may be certain of getting lots of sugar for her Jams. I agree with you perfectly as to the advantage of having fulfilled one’s period of transportation to its extent, but do you think they will allow any unfortunate officer with two legs, arms and eyes, with a healthy and capacious trunk, these fixed into a head not quite addled, to remain in peace? No, not long. There are a set of working men whom they will work so long as it remain with the poor convicts. Perpetual motion will most likely be my future lot – Ireland, Canada or Botany Bay, what more can I say? Why, the Brevet is too small, but we get Col Burgoyne’s place & I remain still very far from the Mj Genls’ list and 400 pr Ann. So far good. Your packet of letters did not arrive by the last mail. The Genl continues his attention to me. I drive with him about 3 times a week – he is a most amiable man. Regards to Mrs Hawker who may be premature in her displeasure with brother John. Lawyers are slow fellows or some delay may have taken place in proving the will. Love to Mary – I hope to receive good accounts of her health. I shall send her my parrot for a companion. I cannot dwell on my sisters’ affairs, the thought perfectly overcomes me, it is shocking in the extreme. Think of Edward’s former kindness to them. What will be the end of all this, & what will be their reflections when advanced in years? The unfortunate and cruel die is cast, they have cast it in open defiance of their brothers and all feelings towards them. The rupture is now complete. Nothing can now be done to regenerate that affection, total lost, which would have comforted their declining years. Folly could have been overlooked, but this last vicious measure never can be forgotten. It distresses and afflicts me to that sorrowful degree that I fear the thoughts on the subject. I would have lost my hand rather than authorised such a step. There never existed a family of sisters who had 4 brothers more affectionate and ready to meet all their wishes on the face of this globe. All lost to them in truth by their headstrong folly and misinterpretations of their brothers’ kind wishes towards them. It is melancholy to reflect, had those young women gone to Fareham or its neighbourhood, in all probability some would have now been established in houses of their own as married women. Indeed Georgiana has much to answer, for her unsubdued high spirit was the first seed of misfortune, now too late to be eradicated. The evil is beyond it, truly my dear Kate. A sincerely religious turn may warm their hearts, it will give them strength of mind to meet and bear up against the misery they have endured & bear up against it. But we never can meet as brothers and sisters should feel towards each other. War with America seems most likely, then we shall free their slaves and at last the Black population of the Colonies will free themselves of the white population. We may not live to see this but so it will be – example St Domingo. We shall have a struggle for it but we could not stand the climate under such circumstances if the Blacks were united throughout – I allude to the thing on grand scale. An American war will force us to strengthen our WI colonies which could now be walked into, thus Engrs will be required, & if they do not order me home to join you, you will I have no doubt come and unite with me to strengthen Shot Hall, but I must get home next spring, even if it is by the General’s leave on private affairs. Tell Mrs Hawker with my best regards I would have done my best to have been a comfort to her in her affliction. I hope it may be my lot yet to prove so. At all times I shall consider it my duty to do so, not only as my respected Uncle’s widow but for the high opinion I have of her straightforward & upright bearing, the highest encomium a soldier can give as his opinion of a worthy character. So adieu dear Kate, it seems I have filled my paper at the cost of your eyesight. The mysterious tale is not yet at a close – act patiently. How is Fred? Tell the boy to put more matter into his letters – I fear his mind is an indolent one. Remember me to Capt Tait. Kind regards to my nieces & Lady Gardiner. Am happy to learn that the music – mais song – French – and Statues are kept up – what are young women without such ceremonies in the present day? My wandering parcel is in Upper Canada ere this. I will send the Deed by some careful private hand anon.

Adieu dear Kate, love to all

Your aff FE