Letter #114

As letters were charged according to the number of sheets, a larger sheet, in this case slightly smaller than foolscap, would accommodate more words at the same cost, and perhaps avoid a third coverage in red ink, which had clearly given rise to comments about illegibility. However, the temptation to use red ink proved irresistible. 

The Trinidad Artilleryman is Lieutenant Munday. 

‘Johnny Crapaud’ (toad) is a derogatory term for a Frenchman. 

‘Henry Critchlow’ is probably a mistake; English’s friend was James Crichlow – see letter 88. 

‘Information respecting the Club’ suggests that he has not yet been elected – see letter 107. 

To cry ‘peccavi’ is to admit guilt.

Barbados 13th Nov [error for December] 1838

A long sheet of paper is the General order, is it my dear Kate? Well, here I start – no red ink – the old lady’s eyes begin to blinky blinky a bit, hey? You are not satisfied yet then with my letters, they don’t afford that description of country, men and manners that the Trinidad Artillery man gave his mamma. Surely I have more cause to plead want of subject to fill such a superficial space of white paper, than my choice Kate and Cara can possibly put forth, who appear to be the gayest of the gay – in so far as Fareham, Catisfield and Portsmouth trips can furnish topic, they ought never to despair. Frequently I observe when they complain most in the first three lines, their letters contain much to amuse me and generally wind up with a perfect budget. The Almanack over my head, it would seem, goes to prove that Dr S Johnson died on this day 1784 and St Lucy AD 304, some news for my good friend Miss Parker. However, we will not enter more on that interesting subject, but I must proceed to acquaint you our Packet reached Carlisle Bay on Saturday last 8th inst, and several letters of more than common import concerning your lord, not master I fear now, came to hand. I had just opened all the officials and was reading your most charming letter when a Snow Ball advanced into the Hall with a box, a paper package and another containing letters. The former, by its outward sign, certainly looked very much like a candle box, but its companions, neatly enveloped, plainly proved an arrival. Such a collection of Wickham documents never met at one time before, two thro Sir F Mulcaster, the last dispatches having been detained, & your letter direct, with sundry others from Wickham. I could not decide which to attack first. After having discovered from yours my dear Kate that all my valuables in Hants were well, I progressed. Sir Phillip soon had the box lid off when lo! what a scene to witness – roots, seeds!! &c &c & well mixed in marmalade, which latter had nearly mar’d my temper. I exclaimed ‘Well, who on earth after the age of childhood could have been the goose to put this rubbish with these valuable seed?’ Even old Phillip mumbled out his disapprobation. Some screen or fan handles were at last extracted, which after a time proved to have gilt upon them, but old Phil was using them to stir up the Mess from the very bottom. Wickham air must produce these valuable bumps that develope packing & cementing – glorious organs! they never will be lost, I suspect, to my family. But I rescued the handles & after much care have made them answer in some measure for what they were intended. The screens or fans are exceeding pretty & are much admired, & most of seeds I trust will vegetate, no doubt the marmalade mixture will tend to produce sweet cabbages. As I was engaged to Mr Alleyne’s, I put the American scenes into my carpet bag – the ladies of his family admired them very much, certainly they are exceedingly well executed. After reading the greater portion of my letters, I mounted and rode the 7 or 8 miles out, & as Charley took me at a smart canter along the sands & thro groves of cocoanut trees, I had no person to trouble me & thus my thoughts were with you all until I arrived at Coxes, where I met the usual hearty reception and lots of enquiries after my family. I am digressing rather but must conclude this trip & then begin again on the Contents of the last budget. Our dinner party were Mr, Mrs & two Miss Alleynes, Mjr Blois, Capt French, Mr Torrance, Capt Considine Mily secretary, and some few others. However, disappointments, usual in this country, made our party smaller than intended. I slept there, went to church with them the following morning, dined, slept and mounted Charley at 6 AM & in about an hour ¼ found myself at Shot Hall, birds singing & my pet humming birds all alive about the tamarind trees to welcome me. ‘Who sent these parcels, Mister Sambo?’ ‘Me no no Massa, but white gentleman, buckra say he come call.’ ‘Go back to town you vagabond, and tell the gentleman to send his name, & further tell him not to call today as I am starting for the country.’ Away he went & in about an hour returned with Mr Lang’s card. In the mean time I had read your letter & knew all about the matter. On passing thro Bridgetown I met Henry N and a fresh English looking person with him who he introduced as his Uncle, but he looked more like his brother. He appologized for his dress as having come away without his baggage. This I should not have observed for I remarking his good humoured countenance. Henry seemed delighted. It was arranged they should breakfast at Shot Hall on the Monday, which took place. On my return I found Mr Lang & Mr Way his friend wandering in the grounds here, enraptured with the novelty of every tree, plant, shrub, house, & particularly with the cool & shady walks &c. Having recd your orders to be polite, added to my inclination so to be to my honest straight forward countrymen I did my possible. Henry was to sail on the tuesday to Mexico to join the Admiral at Jamaica where a squadron are assembling, & then proceed to Vera Cruz & talk to Johnny Crapaud about his blockade, thus he could not join us, but I obtained a man of war’s boat to put them on board & wrote for Henry’s leave. The three soon returned delighted with the Seringapatam, took a trip into the Garrison & out to dinner at Enmore. Next morning the two landsmen breakfasted here. I went to the Levée, returned, found Mr Way fast asleep on the sopha & Mr Lang, like a good boy, doing what I recommended – writing to Mrs Naghten. They dined with me, meeting Capt Rutherfurd & a very intelligent friend of mine, a Mr Henry Critchlow, who has charge of several Estates with a nice House & family of his own. We chatted on all subjects, but sugar cane soon took the lead. Mr Critchlow took them to town in his gig & the last animated part I saw of the three was the long legs of Mr Way in a most prominent position toward the splash leather. Where they went yesterday I do not know, but think Mr Critchlow put them on the road in some direction to see the country & making of sugar. Today they dine at the 52nd Mess – I dined there yesterday – their first party, & tomorrow do so to meet the Genl. Saturday our two amateurs dine at the Genl’s I think, for I told him Mr Way had a letter for him & he said he shd ask them, requesting I would meet them. The Seringapatam did sail on tuesday, leaving the Crocodile here. And now dear Kit, enough for today, as my letter is in good train towards completing in ample time for Saturday’s Mail bag. Friday 14th Decr 38: Just at dusk last evening I met Mr Lang & Mr Way tooling along in a gig for their dinner at the 52d. It seemed they had made an excursion to Mr Alleyne’s, lost their road and after some driving found the house, but Massa no in. They did not admire the country and have not yet seen any equal to Shot Hall. They ‘were’ to breakfast at Mr H Critchlow’s & proceed to inspect his Estate. Both are looking well & have got over their first feelings of head ache, I flatter myself from the doctor-ing I gave them the first morning, taking into my bedroom & giving each a dose of salts – how they laughed. I have stated that they dine with the Genl tomorrow. Before reading & replying line by line to your agreeable letter, I must give you the copies of Ellicomb’s notes enclosed with the officials, first respecting the CB affair, & lastly as to the termination of my transportation: ‘Private, Dear English, the Genl has desired me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of  the 9th Sept relative to the distinction of CB, and in reply to tell you that the list is closed for the present, but your application will be noted for consideration when an opportunity offers, sincerely yours, N Ellicombe, 22 Oct 1838.’ Little may be added about this. I wrote to Lord James to remind his that I had not nor could ever forget his former kind interest. He will know how to ask the thing, and as Lt Genl goes near to acknowledge my right I might yet get it when all my hard service is put in to endorse the application. However, I have done my duty on the subject. Next and of more importance to our comfort comes: ‘Dear English, 84 P Mall 16th Oct 1838 – Private – Dear English, It is right that I should have in intimation from you as to your wishes about being ordered home. If you had not fallen into the Command during your tour, you would as a matter of course be ordered home next year, but having fallen into the Comd we can reckon either way, that is, from the time you went out, or six years from the time you took the Command from Sir C Smith. Let me know your wishes & this from yourself as I do not like to act by information thro a 3rd person, ever yours, N Ellicombe’. My official of the 2d Novr last will settle this, I trust, & that next year I shall have no occasion to write red ink unintelligible characters to you dear Kate, but stumble upon some Comd in England, unless they want a young fellow in Canada, where we understand from American vessels that the mischief is still brewing. Your friends the Wigs are getting a shake & will go out I guess. Gusto’s letters entertain me exceedingly – how well he begins to write, both as to hand & diction. Thank dear MOB for her kind note – am most happy to find her recovery has been so satisfactory. Shall send you some more with the pickled black boy for Jane’s store room. I hope Miss Parker had no hand in making the seed pudding, if so it will a story against her for a long time. The filberts are excellent, the slab is very pretty. Your accounts dear Kit are likely to be rather musty ere I look over them. Thanks for your information respecting the Club – in the present day it almost becomes necessary to belong to one, & if I live to get home & in a comd, I shll necessarily be about town frequently. Ask my good & esteemed friend Strangeways to push the matter, for I hear there is such a thing as putting names forward when candidates are abroad. Remember me to Tom Naghten – grey or not grey, I could pommel his fat sides until he’d cry pecavi. I am grey, but expect to save a few dark coloured hairs until my return. If I were in his place I shd go out to Demerara again, but remain short periods. My farm that you quiz is a great recreation & makes me independant of all others for amusement. I have now 15 head of cattle of the finest breed here – many wish to purchase them – loads of sheep & pig and Hay. Poor Mr McKenzie – I trust he is better, it is a fearful climate. Don’t be a goose Mrs Kit, nor mind what one or the other say or remark. Why, had I not been of a happy disposition, thank be to God, I should not have been to the fore. In all probability I should have gone where so many poor fellows, since my sojourn in this country have brought up, & many many more gone home miserable objects. Adieu today. 15th Decr: for visitors arrived, among others Mess Lang & Way, who as I expected have been sent all over the country by Mr Crichlow – they are delighted. The loss of Lord Durham to Canada matters not; it is the mode the Ministry have acted towards him & the unsettled state of the Government there, they do the mischief & eventually lose the country, no loss after all to old England. Could we swallow the proud feeling of being driven out, the only matter in which John Bull is bound to shew fight is to defend the rights of the Britishers he has placed there to have no other support. I do not think my letters are written out of spirits more than you might expect after such distressing intelligence respecting my sisters. Georgina’s letters a those of a person whose common sense has fled for the time. She appears reckless of all consequences, her extreme folly & speculation has brought her two younger into this dire scrape. Until they separate or submit to their brothers’ control, no steady system can be organised for their future support & comfort. How strangely blind they are. G seems to think she must keep tight hold of the other two, thus the three must sink as they go on. It makes me very unhappy. The Genl and his C R Eng get on admirably – I dine there today. We had no words, but the Comy Gen was impertinent and put the old gentleman & his son, act Mil Secretary, on the wrong scent as to regulations, stating what was not the fact, so I gave him his due. The Genl is fearful & timid about Comy and treasury affairs, but as I am not, I declined at the old Genl’s request to withdraw what I had written to wig the D Ass Comy Genl. The origin of this was a question of transport for the E Dept at St Vincent’s, & I was right, but in truth we have some weak subjects on the staff here & they find well to leave the RE alone. You seem very bitter with Sir C Smith – what a tirade & what is it all about? Believe ½ you hear, divide it & disbelieve the rest until facts are facts, so dip your pen in ink old lady, not in gall.

Red ink begins here

Hurra for the Red ink in spite of the old lady’s orders and eyes. Love to all. I do hope to see you in the ensuing summer. Now shall I set quietly down to a domestic life after that of late my lot. God bless you dear Kate, love to dear Fred when you write, Gusto and all friends, not forgetting Miss Parker, Southsea & Catisfield. Your affectionate

Fred English

Am happy your domestic arrangements are satisfactory. If I had had a person to exert interest, I should have been on the CB list. You see our office people do not question my claim. We have loss many of the 52 – in truth the W Indies has been very unhealthy of late, but I hope the storm has gone by. If Major Fenwick makes his appearance promptly, I shall be able to give him a good station.

The explanation in Mrs English’s letter and the mention of Crofton in letter 116 make it highly probable that Henry’s uncle and Mr Lang were the same person.