Letter #116

Barbados 3d Jany 1839

My dear Kate: In consequence of the Packet having made an excellent passage and reaching Carlisle Bay on the 27th or 28th Decr whereas she was only due today, you must be content to receive two of my stupid letters dated within I think a week of each other. No doubt you will exclaim at the postage and substance herein, but truly I have little more to add to my last red ink affair than that I am well and you need not be alarmed for the extent of my happiness – it only amount to the comparative. However, I do my best to continue so, notwithstanding all the rubs and scrubs that flow in. Just at present all is going fair, no arrivals, but I think the Comsy Genl has recd a gentle hint from the Ld of the Treasury with reference to his impertinence & reports to the Genl, all of which I have alluded to in some former letter to you, for I observe the delinquent is on Genl orders last night to move forthwith from St Vincent’s where he originated. Official strife – it is better valour to leave the REs alone. The last day of the old year, Capt Rutherfurd & his comd officer, that’s I, took our chop together, and both disposed to a quiet chat, after some effort started for Mrs Eaton’s, the Storekeeper’s lady, commonly known as little Dick, who had issued invites a week old to pass the old year out and new one in. A few ladies were collected and many men with lots of half grown, the fair & brown all looked tropical. The evening passed heavily, the only circumstance that roused me from a sopha, where a few annuals and other such rubbish were put in the way to amuse the elderly, occured about eleven oclock when, by mistake, the older Dick proposed refreshments, when, according to those ancient rules of follow the leader, all did follow to a very well arranged supper on the small scale, but it was in great measure demolished. When thus it was discovered that the supper was not to be attacked until 12, and the error was to be rectified by the whole party withdrawing after some delay and an effort or two at dancing. The party returned to inspect the fragments, not to eat, excepting those voracious Ensigns & lean Lieuts. Those fellows would have made a meal each time, had half a dozen successive suppers been introduced. In the meantime a thundering rain fell, and the Band, 69th, were washed out of their tent, candles and aw. The hint was immediately taken by a worn out lovely who had been rather overlooked, and down the creature sat to an instrument strung I should say about 40 years since, having sustained the effects of all hurricanes & earthquakes during that space of time. Nevertheless, off with the gloves & to it merrily did the galant dame work at ‘drops of Brandy’. Old Col Story RA, with a phiz the color of his facings and a white head in truth, started with an elderly, each step his knees almost paying the compliment to his chin of the happy new year until the romp was complete, & I fully expected to witness some of the Old lady’s members going astray at the top of the country dance when the others were at the bottom. You must excuse this long tale, but it is the only occurence that has caused me a hearty laugh of late. I was a looker on & soon quitted, & I believe the old woman, both I might add, the RA & partner got home without accident & with all limbs correct, not having heard to the contrary. I forgot to tell you that Mr Lang left me a very pretty spaniel (Rover), well known by the good family at Crofton, & Mr Way his favorite terrier, a superb fellow, Tiger is. They have already given a good account of the rats & Cats, and are my constant companions, with the Great Nero. Both are much admired, particularly the Terrier, & precisely what I wished for – not a stranger can come into the grounds that they do not call to book. Having expended my paper thus far, I shall conclude tomorrow. I proposed to Capt Rutherfurd after we had completed our officials this morning, as something new for our good wives, that he should write to you & I to Mrs Rutherfurd. 4th Jany 39: Upon consideration, it will be ‘more agreeable to the survivor’ – quotn Kate – to continue on the old plan. The nuts were superb – how I did enjoy them. Last evening the news arrived that the Duke of York Brigantine, lately sold by Government as unworthy of repair, but refitted & hired by the Commissariat to convey troops from one Island to another, was lost off Guadeloupe with the Hd Quarters of the 14th Regt comdd by Col Everard. They were to have been disembarked at St Lucia, where he was to be acting Governor. This we have to thank Govt for in not supplying an efficient steamer to relieve the Regiments. It is reported that no lives are lost, but that all their baggage &c &c was. I trust not so bad when we receive the particulars, for it is said the H Quarters had all their mess plate and other articles of the value of 2000£ with them. It is an unfortunate affair. The 14 were coming from Antigua, and the Capt of the Duke was endeavouring to beat to windward of Guadeloupe, a passage not commonly attempted. It was a beautiful Moon light night, which in all probability saved the men. The Duke of York was taken at the surrender of Guadeloupe, a perfectly new ship, & has made the same Island her last landing place. & now you have had enough of this story, I’ll look to your last crossed letter if I can decipher it thro. I trust your next will be written on a bright sunshining day & the less gloomy, for in truth my dear Kate, such dismal news, made doubly so by the tone it gives to the rest of the letter, does upset me for days. You have certainly had of late a most melancholy task to perform. If they keep me here longer, I shll not have a relation left to greet my return, with the exception my own dear party at Wickham. Under the circumstances my sisters have placed themselves, I have no pleasing anticipation to look forward to in meeting the few remaining. Poor John you seem to think degenerated, & Edward with just cause will of course be bitter in complaints of those misguided persons. Remember me kindly to Capt Tait – depend upon it, he is a good and superior man, and all the jokes he may tell about me are only related from a kind wish to make you feel easy on my account as having a spirit not altogether to be broken down by climate or seeing so many around me carried off. The loss of 52d officers has no doubt been caused by alarm, thus causing a predisposition in the system. The mind once diseased here, fever and all its horrors soon follow. We have both had much cause for reflection within the last two months. I have too frequently heard the warning from the pulpit of St Paul’s here, and the service of the Burial of the dead, to be thoughtless on the subject, but my paper will not admit so much on that topic as might flow from my pen & ink, were it well timed, or my humour to send across the Atlantic what can be read in better language by reference to any vol of good sermons. If I have the good fortune to find myself with you all around me, take care of thyself, goody, for your old white headed tottering Col intends to play the boy. I promise you the glooms shall soon be cast away. It amuses me your writing about my gayities – a little makes a talk and stir here. Why, five or six days in a week I dine on a chop at home with my dogs round me, of late & for weeks together, until the Genl was alone when he used to call for me. Nine men out of ten would have died of blue devils situated as I am. It is by dint of exertion, always making some occupation that my old bones hold together. Send me some of my children & then I may be gay. Ah, poor old soul, get out of the coach. Can you read red ink crossing? Your young man who gave such correct information must be a monstrous cub & been in a very odd society of young ladies by description. As to T Naghten, if he could ship a cargo of his foolish weak pride in place of sugar Hogheads for transport anywhere, there would be a considerable vacuum disposable for a better article, &, good as he is, he would be refined at Demerara. There were family most respectable & well Educated persons of all classes, more than T’s equals. He very naturally dreads being pushed into juxtaposition again with the set he was forced into, & poor T could not be a great person there – so it is. T would do anything rather than live there, but made the best of it. Henry has improved, is more happy. The 1st Lt is very strict with them all. He looked well when he started for Mexico. The Blue boxes will be sold. I shll return without a kit, to my dear Kit. Regards to MOB. The seed grow. Send Brown lettus &c &c. Ford never will be of much if any good

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as an officer. He plays & is indolent and extravagant. He may improve. He is most amusing & clever. I wish Read joy with all my heart. The Mina has not arrived.

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So Ld Durham is at home. What now with ministers? Car Smyth is gone. Our disputes were not from what was repeated, but from his low, vindictive spirit. However, he did me much service at Hd Quarters at home and abroad by his persecution & I have gained experience. I have heard of Balls being bullets in the side, but never, as you state, Balls being thorns. What a farce that a few old married women & enraged spinsters shaking their toes at the Genl’s particular desire should have travelled thro a bumkin Ensign to England as a splendid Ball. The truth is that a few at tea here would look so to him, the house itself being splendid. Now dear Mrs Kate, God bless you & my chicks at home & afar off. Miss P, Catisfield &c &c and believe me your afft

Fred E

The following words appear, but seem to have no relevance to the rest of the letter: 

Lt Col Monins, Mr or Sir John Checkland or Strickland, 80 Pall Mall