Letter #112

No date at head, started on 1 November 1838 

Dudeen is an Irish word meaning a clay tobacco pipe. 

Sir Andrew Halliday’s theory of vacuums as a cause of hurricanes is in chapter 3 of his book, The West Indies: The Nature and Physical History of the Windward and Leeward Colonies. English correctly points out that he offers no explanation for the cause of the vacuums. 

The ‘delicate youth’ Ferdinand Whittingham survived to become a Major-General. 

The General Monagas was presumably Venezuelan. Two brothers of that name were heroes of the wars against the Spanish; both later served as president. 

‘Wilberforce’ is the biography of William Wilberforce by his sons Robert and Samuel, published in 1838. 

Mara bunter is the marabunta or spider wasp, an insect with an exceptionally painful sting. 

There were several officers in the Royal Engineers named Gosset. The reference here is probably to Lieutenant-Colonel (later Colonel Sir) William Gosset. 

The Earl of Durham had arrived in Canada as Governor-General in April 1838, but resigned in October amid accusations of abuse of power. 

If my dear Kate you could witness the delight with which I read all your last letters so far as related to your valued selves, you would never cease writing, but so soon as one dispatch was sealed and posted, continue writing and so write on until all the household pens become dudeens. How I shd enjoy an argument with that old fashioned little lady, particularly as finance has been the subject of a few lines in her last agreeable letter to her dear Pa. It is a dry and difficult subject and unsuited to ladies’ study. By the bye – look to the paper I send home wherein is a proclamation that the doubloon shall be the full value of 64 shillings & the Dollar – poor Dollar boy, had you now been in existence what a pother we shd be in – the full value of 4s 2d sterling. Now the currency values are 100s Doub & 6s 2d the dol. Let me have dear Kit’s ideas on the matter, but I learn that every merchant in Bridgetown has signed a petition against this arrangement. So much for finance. By the same paper, Oct 31st, you will observe that a new distribution of our mail or packet system is to take place forthwith – steamers are to ply one way & Mailboats another, thus the two changes coming upon the Barbadians at once. They are truly demented, but their garden of an Island being turned into a Penal settlement must be an error. I would not dare mention such, you must have been misinformed – it is Dominica surely. I appear to have more than usual to write to you about this time, but in truth it is out of my power to recollect what, for nothing has occurred worthy of remark and I have been more than usual at home, for all the society such as it was has been broken up by the departure of all the families. My friends the Judge’s family, Alleyne, return to Europe in the spring. He has sold one Estate and let another. They are friendly people; if I had to remain I should miss them much. I have the address by one of the clerks from Pall office who took the trouble to complete the adirection. In my opinion the packages of letters could only have been so forwarded out of idle mischief. I shall write to Sir F Mulcaster to remind him that my period of transportation is up in the spring by this Packet, but it must be worded with care, for Ellicomb would be prompt enough on application for employment again to reply that I had thrown up what he would term their best and most important command. However, if I am reduced to keep but one 4 legged animal & that a pig, I must get home. 2nd Nov: for I am very sick of batchelor’s life. Unless you will return with me, taking leave of absence would be out of the question. I should obtain six months’ pay, my passage home and out again – for what? to break my heart at leaving you all and pass another 3 or 4 years of wretchedness. I have written as follows to the Inspector Genl: ‘Sir. As a period of five years will have elapsed on Feby next since I embarked for the West Indies and as my health has suffered from long residence in some of the most insalubrious colonies in this comd, I beg leave most respectfully to solicit that you will have the kindness to relieve me from my present duties and allow me to return at your earliest convenience to England where urgent private affairs await my personal attendance. I have &c &c. FE’ No doubt it will be long before they give me another comd, and that Munster or Antrim or some of the Irish back settlements will be my berth is more than likely. However, we shall be together again. Do not be too sanguine and fancy that Ellicomb will take up his pen to direct Lt Col So and So to repair here forth with. No, no – he will give me ample time to pack up, depend upon it, & Jane will find little trouble in sorting my kit. However the letter is gone & I have done my do. What can man do more? The thought of seeing you all again renovates my whole system, but the draw backs to the happiness of returning are weighty in truth. Hampshire will have no charms to induce our remaining &, with the exception of dear MOB, all attraction has vanished. Therefore I shall be anxious to withdraw you all from thence. My sisters’ affairs are a severe cause of vexation, and will under their present line of conduct force me to a foreign station rather than encounter the constant anxiety which their headstrong and mad career is likely to entail upon their unoffending brothers, and more particularly upon the unfortunate one who happens to be within the reach of the everlasting scandal they have bestowed upon us. It is melancholy to reflect on their misery and I am situated without the power of remedy. How very opposite might their lot have been. I have just heard that the packet is detained until tomorrow. In case I shd not write to Col Reid, will you tell him with my best regards that I will do all in my power to promote his wishes respecting his book on storms. The advertisement will be in the next week’s papers – the West Indian & Barbadian. The Editor of the former, Mr Hyde, is dead, and as yet I cannot promise the information respecting the barometer. We have escaped this season without hurricane. Capt Leith, Seringapatam, promises the Register of his Barometer for the last 3 hurricane months. This may be useful to my brother officer for comparison. It shall be sent with all information I can obtain. Have you read Sir Andrew Halliday’s book on W Indies & the hurricanes? He states they are caused by vacuum – wise old chap – but how is the vacuum accounted for? We are all in the dark dear Kit. I wish I could fill up the vacuum my absence causes in Wickham society. Tomorrow morning early I will finish my story. Young Whittingham leaves Barbados on sick Certificate by Packet. He is a delicate youth unfit for the climate. 3rd Nov: Your dispatch 1st Oct reached me in 20 days from Falmouth by the Lord Melville Packet. What do you think of that as a passage Mrs Kit? Thursday we had two packet here together. The Magnet made it in 35 day, anchoring in Carlisle Bay on the 22d ultimo & I had scarcely got through the budget ere the 1st Oct Mail came in early of the morning 24 Oct. There must be something most attractive in Old England which is drawing the W India Islands nearer. We have had various arrivals: Seringapatam – H Naghten is well – Pluto Steamer & many ships now decorate our Bay. At present there are 4 Steamers: Echo, Columbia, Pluto, Her Majesty’s property, & one that trafics with the Spanish Main, the General Monagas. The Red pepper was grown in my garden and manufactured by bold Phillip. I have lots more for you & have ordered some Arrow root which is to be very dear this season Mi lady. Augustus’s letter are admirable – I wish Fred could, or rather would, write in better stile. Capt Rutherfurd actually laughed outright at Gusto’s. We walked up and down the shaded walk by the sea for an hour reading his two or the letters, Fred’s & one of Cary’s – her last, an excellent one respecting her wish to make herself acquainted with the history of the Slave bill. Kate’s would have undergone the same ordeal but I did not happen to have it in my hand. We have Wilberforce here and I am going to read it in turn – as yet I have only read a review on the work. Read & write is the order of the day with me – I am constantly at it. The 52nd are expected hourly to relieve the 36th who are encamped to have their barrack prepared for the regt which I suppose is to be petted as I find they remain here. For myself I never was better with the exception of one eye being shut up nearly from the bite of a Mara bunter, a sort of hornet which attacked me whilst lopping the trees to open a vista. It was extremely painful, it is still very stiff & inflamed. Last week I managed to get the juice of a Bird’s eye pepper into my eye when pressing a fresh black one with a knife at dinner. It caused me dreadful pain & I was almost thinking I should lose my peeper, but run to the Bath & kept the daylight open under water. You observe it is time I should be home to be kept out of scrapes. A steamer is to keep up the communication with this and Demerara, thus we shall have constant intercourse. I had a long letter from Gosset two days since. He & Madame like Jamaica & want me to come & pass a few weeks with them. It is a very hearty letter. My poor sisters must not be deserted – you have acted perfectly right, but it now comes to this. If the brothers are to assist them or in fact support them, they must submit to be somewhat guided by their mutual advise to regulate their affairs which it quite palpably

Red ink starts here

from the plain facts, after all their efforts, they have not the foresight or discretion to controul. Unfortunate Georgiana’s eyes are still in darkness to her extreme folly, even now the crisis has brought all the three into such a miserable state. Affection for either of the brothers is now out of the question, but it becomes a matter of serious consideration how to dispose for their future support in a reputable manner, which can be accomplished only by an entire submission to the guidance of their 4 brothers whom they will discover at last all their true friends. It becomes more necessary than ever they should retire to the country. Regards to MOB. I sincerely hope to receive better accounts of her in your next letter. I doubt that country lawyer being an efficient man of business into whose hands Mrs Hawker has placed the Will. His letter to me was only written to draw questions from me mistify matters. Major Chadds returns to St Lucia today – he look very old. The prisoner, Lt Beecher 1st W India Regt applied for two days to prepare his defence & died in the time. He drank himself to death, leaving a wife & 2 children without a sixpence. Thus our Court broke up. Kind regards to Mrs M Hawker & to my Uncle & Aunt HH. I calculate on much Corps news in your next. My good friend Capt Tait must make some. Is Major Fenwick comming out? It has not been intimated to me yet. T Naghten is a good fellow but as you observe he has to much magnificent folly which he never will get entirely rid of. I do not understand: what property do you mean of Mr H Hawker’s that he is in trouble about? I am so amused at your question as to where I get plates & spoons to give my entertainments. What do you mean? Is it because I wrote that the Bishop went from this? I on that occasion entertained the Clergy with fresh air with the exception of 2, our chaplain & another, to whom I gave bread, cheese & onions with beer. The Governor & his Attorney Genl took a glass of liquor. My Entertainments require but few articles you have enumerated and are very rare. I almost wish you were all out here with me now the bad months are over & the climate so delightful. Am happy to find dear Fritz is getting reconciled – when shall we meet again? Mr Kelsall will bother the Executors and make work for himself I feel certain. I am distressed at your account of my brother John. So dear Kitty is looking thin. I hope she is not pining for Capt Head – he must be back from Jersey ere this. We have the report some time that Lord Duram has resigned & gone home to the Malabar. Our Admiral I hear is very ill. If well, he & Sir R Grant may be here next month. Love to my nieces at Roche Court. Kiss my dear girls for me, an as usual pinch Miss P for her delightful letter. Tell Gus to order a tender stake for me. How is Jenny? She would like this place, in fact you all would for a time. Adieu, dear dear Kate.

Your aff

Fred E

I have 17 young Pig.