Letter #125

Not dated, but written on 18 May 1839.

Your letter of the 15th April signed your ‘miserable and wretched wife Catherine English’ wherein you state my dear Kate that you had such a wretched dream about me is now under my left hand. Your worthy maid Janet will solve the said dream, as always going by contraries. Thus some good luck attends us, it is to be hoped. Altogether your letter is written in such wretched spirits that I cannot understand what I am to expect on my return home. Honor bright, the style quite paralyses my efforts to write gayly, for you seem to read every line of my letters in a wrong sense. With respect to your remark about Charles’s letter, I am certain I could not even have hinted that I would not read it. That I had not done so when the mail was making up is very possible, & most certainly your observation about my writing to yourself is not just. No mail has ever left the West Indies without a long letter for you. Of course many must be in such a number exceedingly uninteresting, where there is no subject except that of myself being well & tolerating my exile to the best of my spirit, but as taxing me with going to diner & evening parties and calling upon me to give up the one or the other to write to my family is exceedingly ungenerous to say the least of it. I never attend evening parties in the first place & very few diner, and no one matter of pleasure nor even business have I allowed to prevent a dispatch being duly forwarded to you, much as I am at times overwhelmed. Already I have recd two letters this morning from the Genl respect the memoires he requires connected with our late tour round the Island, and a dozen letters for the ordnance office on dry stupid affairs, all to be gone thro, and enough to sour the temper of an angel. However, all is coming to a termination. My next letter inform you the name of the Ship I sail in for Europe. My late letters before you sent me Col Ellicombe’s will explain that plan of operations was decided upon not to wait for Col Graydon. Before this reaches you I shall have embarked and probably be half over the Atlantic. I have ordered Major Fenwick to Head Quarters, who I expect in a week or ten days, say a fortnight, a short period to turn over the official matters, as estimate &c will suffice. All this is arranged with Sir Samford Whittingham, who expressed himself very handsomely & with sorrow at my being about to leave him, granted all I requested, moreover gave Rutherfurd leave to go with me. The latter is far from well, in fact, did he not quit now, would do so before the end of the year by order of a Medical Board. For myself, I am well enough by comparison with many others, but feel that I have been long enough in this degenerating climate of which you appear to think I am so fond. My letters must belie me most wonderfully. Never mind dear Kit, cheer up, you shall have your husband all to yourself until you will wish he away again ere long. The Name of Anthony Collins made me sick. Some disagreeable association is connected with him that has passed my recollection. But nothing is in my pate now but preparations for England. My sale will be advertised on tuesday and take place about the end of this or first week in the next month. Therefore on the arrival of the next packet I shall be free and propose starting by a Sugar ship, as the packet lays 5 or 6 days at Trinidad, then to Grenada, St Kitts & St Thomases, which makes the voyage very tedious & over much of the same ground I have recently passed over. Another inconvenience is landing at Falmouth with baggage – certainly mine will be light but still it is lumber to drag about so great a distance and it is very probable I may succeed in landing either in the Isle of White or at the Downs. The cork leg is on the start and it shll have little rest until I am on your side my dear Kit. As to Portsmouth or elsewhere, I care not as to station. I would rather not go to Ireland in a back settlement. It’s all one to me when I have my family with me. The Staff Ball went off well the night before the last. It was kept up with spirit until morning. A very handsome letter of thanks for our exertions as three committee men was recd yesterday from the Genl. He was much pleased – about 300 persons were collected. Fancy my astonishment – Lt Tinling RN walked in two days since from Jamaica. He has comd of the Charibdis I think, & was put into her by Comd Douglas who sent his kind remembrances to me – he is much liked. Don’t scold any more – this will be nearly the last letter you receive, the next will give the day I start. The Misses Chads looked extremely well at the Ball. Tell Fop & Flush to take care of their cats. Now recollect: remember me to all, love to my children, regards to Miss Parker & what to old Jane. Believe me my dear Kate your very happy & contented husband & affectionate

Fred English

English here promises another letter to give the name of the ship by which he was to return to England. ‘Do not send to meet me at Gosport’ in the next letter suggests that Mrs English has been told his port of arrival. However, if such a letter was sent, it has not survived. English did not return to England by a sugar ship, but by the packet HMS Seagull. He would have left Barbados in the second week in June, made another tour of the islands, and arrived in Falmouth as described in the next letter, on 20 July.