Letter #118

Sir Edward Cust was a veteran of the Peninsula and a former Member of Parliament. He was at this time Master of the Household to King Leopold of the Belgians. 

‘I never quized Kate’: see letters 102 and 103.

 Barbados 13 Feby 1839

How is this my dear Kate? No letter from you by the last Packet of the 15th Jany which arrived after a short passage of 21 or 22 days. That you have written I do not doubt, and that you are all well, I have every reason to conclude from the merry letters recd of dear Kate, Cara, Fop & Flush, but bear in mind that you are the first to fail. The dispatch I recd from you dated 28th Decr 38 now lays before me, but written in such foggy weather, it would equally depress me to read it over or reply to it line by line. It is to be regretted you set down to write when in such wretched spirits, for I am confident that were you to look over some of the Novr and Decr productions that cross the Atlantic in melancholy composition, you would laugh at them heartily and heartily will I make you laugh dear Kit when we meet again. Your letter to Col Ellicombe is exceedingly good & to the purpose. It may stir his energy a trifle, but I shall not think seriously of getting home until the man is embarked to relieve me. You are well aware what delay took place in both instances when I was ordered for the West Indies. We fancy here that Graydon will be the man & at other think your proposal of starting Mudge shd be resorted to. However, it is quite clear my dynasty is coming to a close, or Col E would not have written privately on the subject requesting my wishes. I was undoubtedly intended for a soldier to submit with a good grace and endeavour to perform my duty with spirit and cheerfully. Trumpet No 1 you may think, but in truth so it is, & thanks be to those feelings for much good health and such activity remaining to your old Col, that even old Kate will renovate again at the his return from transportation. The 1st Jan & the 15 Packet came to anchor within a few days of each other this time, thus we shall have two bags made up, the first tomorrow & second on Saturday or Sunday. Fortunately for my, tomorrow’s writing is done up. I have just learnt that I am President of a Genl Court Martial for the trial of two young officers who form some of the Barossa’s cargo. This vessel reached Barbados on the 11th after 21 days’ voyage from Cork. A report has reached that these foolish boys exchanged blows during the passage. I shall hear more tomorrow on the subject than is to be wished. Their folly or vulgarity in all probability will deprive them of commissions, and me the pleasure of writing to you & dear Gusto, to whom I fully intended to give a long reply in gratitude for his letter and all the joyous feelings his correspondence to Wickham has afforded me. Every thing has tended to disturb & put me out today, but I am determined you shall not remark to what extent my temper is ruffled. After a variety of interuptions all the morning, I called Phillip, ‘Phillip, just put a small table with desk and all the materials for writing into the bed room near the window, for I plainly see I shall not get my letters written for the Packet.’ ‘All ready, Sar.’ Mr Phillip you must know is a man of slow habits, never laughs, gets out of a slow crawl, or has any flow of words on the most trying occasions. I seated myself, making the remark, ‘It will not be many minutes, Phillip, before someone will interupt me.’ Phillip smiled assent, and right was I. First came Capt Rutherfurd with bundles of estimates from the several Island & a quire of other papers, then the C Officer of a Regt about Camp Equipage. How sulky I did feel, but got to my corner again, when I was again called down by an officer from the Governor requesting plans for a hurricane House & to know if I would build it &c &c. In the meantime, Capt O’Brien returned full of business respecting the arrival and departure of troops, Barrosa & other transports expected. By the bye, no tidings yet of the Sovereign 42 days out. We have had many arrivals and departures since I last wrote, which at all times causes us constant worry & qui vive. Did I inform you that my assistant Engineer at St Vincent’s Capt O’B has succeeded to the appointment of D Asst Quarter Mast Genl, a very good one here? Lt Chapman RE relieved him at St Vincent’s & Lt Lyster is at St Lucia. But to return, Capt O’B has managed to fall in love with a Miss Cumming, a large planter’s daughter & is to be married so soon as he can procure a house here. He is now staying with me & a most agreeable companion he is. The young lady, about 18 or 19, very well educated & brought up near Ipswich, very pretty & will get some funds it is supposed. The situation he is willing to think I have in some measure been instrumental in his obtaining; certainly being Asst Engr brought his name forward but the latter of getting spoony & a wife I disown in every branch of his progress, & strongly remonstrated on his views of becoming a benidicticus. It is needless to remark that I have returned to my desk & hope to be so advanced in my letter this evening to leave only a trifling space for closing it tomorrow morning early. The Barrosa does not depart, I find, until sunday in consequence of this unfortunate Court Martial. Let me see what else have I to give you. I dined with the Genl yesterday to meet a Sir Edward Cust and last week to meet the Governor. Sir E, Lady E & a child are just arrived on their way to Demerara where they have an Estate to visit, that and to re-establish the health of the wee thing. Lady Cust is one of your English beauties. I have seen her portrait in some of the Magazines or Annuals. They were brought to Shot Hall when Lionising & I met them at dinner at Enmore. The Lady begged to pass a morning in drawing at my Place, particularly to sketch some rare kinds of Cactus. This was granted, & I sketched the new arrived, much to the amusement of Sir Edward who caught me in the act. They made themselves very agreeable, & have, with their court manners, given us a brush up here. Ldy Cust is still handsome but not my stile of beauty, draws well & gave me a lesson – poonah or some such catch penny stile of painting, making casts of fruit &c. But let me get to my Wickham party & we will match them all at such work. It is more than likely I shall be favored with another visit to collect flowers. Persons on their first coming out are mad for a time in these pursuits. The Seringapatam is here & H Naghten is very well. I have not seen him for I rather think some trifling matter of duty or ettiquete between him & the 1st Lt prevents his shore going. He is in good hands that will be the making of him. He is a very fine lad, but young & probably a little restive. Stop for tomorrow, so, Tiger & Rover, let’s take a walk. Tomorrow dear Kit is thy birthday – long life to you. Recollect you are in your 70 year, so improve your elastic mind. The more I think of my poor sisters’ affairs, the mystery & intricacy in which they have involved themselves, the more seriously is their case to be deplored. Surely my brothers John and Edward on the spot might come to some decided terms thro the agency of a third person. Fred’s affair worries me much. However charming the lady may be, he will be ruined as a soldier. 14th Feby: Dear Kate, many happy returns. I must away to the Gen C Martial, but the bag for the last Packet is made up saturday. I will then write to you. Adieu.

Your afft Fred E