Letter #113

Thomas Parry was appointed Archdeacon of Antigua by Bishop Coleridge in 1824 to help bring the Anglican church whole-heartedly into the emancipation camp. He succeeded Coleridge on his retirement from the diocese in 1842. His presence in Bridgetown suggests that he was deputising while Coleridge was in England. 

RW is Robert Wiltshire, husband of Mrs English’s sister Mary – see letter 44; W Ford is the Lieutenant English reported having recalled from Demerara in letter 95.

Barbados 22d Nov 1838

Blowing fresh my dear Kate but the weather is cool and refreshing after all the sultry days and nights we have experienced, but the wind is really too troublesome Massa for it is with difficulty I keep my paper in its proper position. Still in good company dear Kit for Archdeacon Parry called the day before yesterday and I have a few minutes since received a note from him. Thus I hope to be welcomed next spring in to the asylum of Wickham forgetting that I have been performing the character of a roving soldier. The bells will ring, I shall fork out my guinea I suppose, and you, worthy wife, will introduce me at all the tea parties as a respectable old gentleman: ‘My husband Mam, Mrs Perkins my dear Fred! You don’t hear me: Mrs Perkins, a particular friend of mine and plays cribbage beautifully’. Your last letter 15th Oct was in truth a charming one written in some thing like good spirits – it has left me in good humour ever since. I must now go thro it or I may receive several wiggings in addition to the numerous ones already scored up ere I get my legs on shore in Great Britain. The trip to Southsea appears to have done you all infinite service – remember me to my good Uncle & Aunt at the Terrace. Capt Tait seems to perform as your ADC. He is a first rate, a good officer and an amiable man. His friendly attention to my family is very flattering, as I feel that the motives that first prompted him was his friendship for me. However, you are valuable acquaintances to any person, therefore it is fortunate that he found you out. The chair, I trust of red Morocco, of the Comdg RE Portsmouth will not I think be filled by your loving lord, more likely one of the Comds of an Irish back settlement. Should such an arrangement be made we might like it and much trouble & expense would be saved. When I first entered the Army I have thought, if ever I should be comd R Engr at Portsmouth it would be the height of my ambition, and now I should be still looking higher. I used to think if ever I arrived at a rank eligible for such a command, it would be at an age with double barrelled wig, worsted stockings over my knees, & black cloth shoes, but thank God for a fine constitution. If it should be my lot to be stationed there I might yet have a gallop with the foxhounds or, possibly, a step down with the Harriers. When the evening would be passed, my walnuts ready cracked, remarks on the reading of the morning, an occasional uproar produced by some of Caro’s tricks played upon her poor old father – sad girl – dear Kate’s music & chattering, Annie’s drawings &c &c, with the lively antics of that old maiden lady Isabel Louisa of Cat fame, and a renowned dog teazer. Candles to bed when the elders draw round the fire. Miss Parker looks very wise, index of her mind, & we talk matters over of lost friends and sorrow, be it said they are numerous. Still, we will wind up with somewhat more cheery, and then to bed. Will this ever come to pass? What pleasures we derive from anticipation. Well, but to Plymouth & Portsmouth. I should think Hoste would prefer to remain rather than have the move & expense attending. Gradon has not warning to quit, but as you remark it is an amusement to conjecture what may come to pass. Where Reid & Tait to remain, the station would be doubly of value to me. Malta would suit us were it vacant. All are the same – except back settlements – to me, if I can have my family with me, so shall take your advice & make the most of my batchelor’s life. How I did laugh when I read that part of your letter. Capt Rutherfurd also had the benefit of it. I do not find him conceited, whatever he may be to those who have no small conceit on the score of cleverness – Mrs R – probably he would be thought so, but he is a sterling fellow I think – in the first place unremitting in his duty, an excellent companion whose conversation is far above the common rubbish of most military men. Lt Tinling, of the Alban steamer arrived from Jamaica, has just called to offer his services in taking home what ever I may have for you – I shall send some few articles. He is a fine young man, all heart and soul – will tell Admiral Sir E Brace, with his best wishes, that the Alban is hors de combat & makes the best of her way home by Bermuda, where he goes first in the hope of meeting the Admiral. The Alban leaves this about the 28th Inst. He is all alive about getting out of this little worn out steamer. He promises to see you all. The first thing, he say, shd be 7s worth of gig hire for Wickham, where I tell him he is sure of a hearty welcome. The 52nd have arrived and the 36th departed in the Hercules, Capt Nicolas, an agreeable sailor like person. I asked him to chop it with me but he sailed – I met him at dinner. Major Cross 36 died on board a few hour after he embarked – poor fellow, he over exerted himself, was well enough before. I felt his hand feverish on shaking it when getting into the boat. The first duty the 52nd had to perform was to follow this brave soldier to his last home. ‘Why, soldiers, why should we be melancholy boys?’ & so on. It was an unfortunate beginning for a new Regt & I think they felt it, several being exceedingly overcome. On the 20th inst we buried a fine young man, Mr Gough 52. A relative of the same name 33rd an two others have been in a dangerous state but I hear they are a little better this morning. Thus the interior it would seem is completely subject to the control of the mind. One is a Mr Jarvis, who on coming into the Bay enquired for Capt Jarvis 70th Regt, his brother, when he first learnt his death in Grenada. Lt May 70th of Belfast is also gone. The mortality has been great in that Colony, they all have their turn. Did I inform you I recd a long letter from Major Gosset, very very kind old broom? They like Jamaica & wish me to come and see them. I cannot get round my own command for the [At this point he turned over the page and appears to have omitted something like ‘want of ‘] a vessel. The Genl has put off his trip until next month when I think we shall go in the Pluto Steamer – Tant mieux – for the Columbia is a sorry one. It is to be regretted the loss of such a good sert but I trust you will find another. All old serts are a pest in every part of the world, new brooms are the only ones that do their work well. Am most happy at the account you give of Edward’s prosperity. He has had much to contend with in his progress of life. As to RW, I saw thro his character very early in our acquaintance. His name was in one of the newspapers – I thought it must have been him. W Ford would never do much duty well or ill – he is indolent in the extreme – draws beautifully & talented & generous, but no energy for common work. Tell Fop & Flush to prepare their skip-jack shoes for there shall be little rest in our house when the gude man come hame. On my misguided sisters after I dare not write today. I cannot at this distance give advise & if at home they would spurn it. How is MOB? Best regards to her. I’ll shake all these meagrims out of the good wifee when I’m at Catisfield. I’ll shew you from Coz to wife what a young fellow is come amongst you. I would endeavour to break the winter or spring & trip it from Wickham for a few weeks were I Mrs English to drive away colds &c &c.

Red ink begins here.

With the 52nd in comd is Major Blois, Charles’s old friend, and Capt French you must recollect in Dublin, then a lad, he used to pass Henesker Hotel every morning when we were there. Now married & has sent in his papers to sell out to join Madam – he is soon sick of the W Indies. I have just written a long letter to Sir Charles Smith reporting that the old charger he left with me is shot. I am clearing off to prepare for home. My Lady pig do not seem to think it time yet for they have increased my family within the last six weeks – 25 wee things. I sent one to the House of Cavan & see it at dinner today, but must decline partaking of it. A few parties have taken place since I wrote but no event worth reporting has occurred. Lots of lambs; I have not sold my Hay but am making another crop, I hope the last I shall call mine here. If I do not write to Col Read, pray do call and tell him his book is ordered for our library. I sent him the Barbadian newspaper & I forward on that of the 21st, wherein you will observe I have not been forgetful of his wishes. It was the W Indian I sent him, but the advertisement is also in the Barbadian. Best regards to him – I long to shake the good fellow by the hand. As to Tait, I cannot add enough for him. He will be amused to hear my wars with the officials here. But not one inch have I lost. My successor may have a doughty heart to make to. Love to MOB – I think of sending her a Parrot, a beauty. Adieu dear Kate, love to my dear girls, Gusto & Fred & regards to Miss Parker, not forgetting John, Edward & sisters married & single. How is Mrs Hawker?  Best regards. Tell old Jenny I’ll thump her if she bullies my Black servant Timbo Lysamder.

Believe me dear Kit your afft Fred E

Letter did not come by the Mail.