Letter #119

Barbados 16th Feby 1839

This will be somewhat like master Fred’s hasty scrawls, but you must not be severe my dear Kate, for ski-he is the order of the day. I was only released from the Genl Court Martial last evening about 3 oclock, and have with Capt Rutherfurd who was also on the Court, been working away to prevent our office affairs getting in arrear by this interuption. Our award has been confirmed – the young officer who in the warmth of irritation gave a blow to another, has been doomed to the bottom of the list in the rank he holds, but in thus punishing him according to military law, with the united wish of the Court, I wrote to his Excellency the Genl recommending him to mercy. From the young man’s youth, inexperience in the service, high testimonials from his superior officers, & the gross provocation he recd, this has met with confirmation. So thus he will get a warning at the commencement of his career, and the other just escapes a trial as the Barosa cannot be longer detained. The reprimand he gets on the face of the proceedings is, however, even worse than the awarded punishment to the former – but you are not interested for a Mr Dickinson or a Mr Grant & why shd I trouble you with such detail? But it proves that the lads may be too young in the Army, and when just from Eaton or other public school, they forget the change and the ordeal they are liable to go thro if boys’ play is not dropped on mounting the red jacket. Poor Fred, I thought of him during the two days the Court sat. One or two raw looking subs of the W India, fine young men, they pointed out as married with the usual look of pity as no longer eligible officers. I regret now he went into the Army – it is decided long ere this no doubt, and the thoughtless blunderer has come to the sacrifice of himself & his profession as was foretold. There is a hope that the evil may be delayed so long as the fatal knot has not been tied. I must fear your next dispatch will convey the unwelcome intelligence. The Sovereign transport arrived last evening, 28 days I think from Ireland, Kingston Harbour, it is said. The RAs for this command land today, embark a compy from hence, & away to Jamaica to relieve one there, then home with the two W India bombadier Companies with all their tropical experience. Lt Col Grant has also arrived in this transport to relieve Lt Col Story. The latter is a pottering old fellow of no loss and less good in any command. On dit that we do not improve our set by this day’s importation. It matters little to me, I keep quite clear of them. I stated in one of my letters that the Genl made a poor business in supporting the Commissary General Filder against me. He has been gently told from home that the latter was totally in the wrong, & is now more civil and on a footing I prefer than ever. When is your expatriated husband to be relieved? Why not send Gradon & give me Portsmouth? This would stir him out of his quiet habits, or they would ride him roughshod & such a comd would suit our arrangements & save us expense. How well I recollect walking the High street as a young sub & thinking the comd there would be the height of my ambition, & now eligible for it and should be in no measure over flattered were I to be appointed to it. There is no end to an army man’s ambition if he like his profession & make a fair advance in promotion, more particularly as he approaches the top of the tree. The General tells me he thinks of starting in the Steamer about the middle of March to Berbice, Demerara, Tobago, Trinidad, Grenada, & return here, making a second trip of the others. I do not think he will go. Capt O’Brien still stays with me & is most agreeable. He leaves this by the next vessel for St Vincent’s – To be married. He tells me the lady is a delight &c &c and appears most anxious that I should like her. At all of this I laugh heartily & spare him not. He has been very busy in his capacity as D Q Master Genl. The day before yesterday the Rochester Freight Ship anchored with the 74th & 52 Reinforcements, which properly speaking would not be here until the end of the present year or beginning of the next, thus our force is considerably increased, in fact a portion have encamped owing to the Barracks being fitted and no vessels to transport the detacht to the Islands. Capt O’Brien is on his horse or in the Boats the greater part of the day & the morning & the evening he cannot rest a moment for the thought of his dear girl & where he shall find a house to suit a young couple. At present he has the hurricane house to himself where he packs comfortably. He seems to have been much struck with you and the daughters, but this is an old tale told when he first landed but often repeated since. Well dear Kit, what shall I tell you? That I love you dearly – will that do? I think I hear you exclaim, ‘Come, Mr Fred, enough of that nonsense.’ Another look at your bewildered doleful written letter dated 28th Decr. I have just recd a satisfactory letter from the Military Secretary in reply to a remonstrance I made against my confidential off Capt Rutherfurd being placed on the Court Martial, this moment opened & handed over to the said Confidential who drew me from my bed room corner by a flourish with a huge packet of official letters. Lt Freeth 64, who married a Miss Ashe, is here from the Barrosa. He departs for Jamaica. It will be a relief to me when all the arrivals tomorrow and changes are at an end, for in my station here I am forced to call and make myself agreeable if possible, without feeling much inclination to be so. I was most happy to learn that you were again out and going into society. Nov, Decr & Jany always produce gloomy letters from Wickham. Take care of yourself & put on your best cap. I’ll nurse you soon I hope to some purpose. I thought Kitty dear wrote me that there was a parcel on board the Barosa for me – I cannot hear tidings of it. I cannot read half Charlie’s letter – have made several efforts – best regards when you write & thank him for it. You were quite right not to clip your horse. He was subject to inflamatory chest complaint when I bought him. You can keep this to thyself dear Kit – that was the reason I always disapproved of the system for horses in general as making them more subject to such attacks. Dress up your carriage & harness – I long to drive you again. I can acquit Fred of deceit, for it is more than probable he knew not his intentions & had little or no control over himself. Do not mind what your neighbours say as to Fred’s affair, they always have some ilhumoured remarks to make on others in like cases. Regards to dear Gusto & Fred. How is MOB? Give my love there & to the dear dear Girls. Regards to Miss P. Remember me to Sir E Brace & Miss Brace, Mrs Hawker. They should send Mudge out here – he is a spoon of a fellow & has seen no service. You must be in error – I never quiz’d Kate about Tait, I never thought of such a thing. You write queer remarks about my remaining here. If you could suggest the mode of getting home without deserting, I shd be better pleased. Adieu dear Kate

Your afft Fred E