Letter #13

St Lucia 10th July 1834

It is reported my dear Kate that the Athol Troop Ship is to pass this Island tomorrow morning and that she will lay to. In the hope that this may be the case, I shall prepare a sort of a letter merely to say that I am in perfect health and going on in my usual steady habit, rarely being out of my bed at 9 oclock unless dining with Sir C F Smith when I think ½ past 10 is the hour. He continues exceedingly civil to me, in fact I almost live at his house. From various hints he has thrown out I think it is doubtful if I remain here very long after he is reestablished in Barbados. This is all intended exceedingly friendly no doubt, but what matters it? Whether I am passing my transportation from you all here or at any other Island it comes to one and the same thing. For my part I consider the climate here as healthy as any of the other stations, and were it not for the total want of society and difficulty of walking 500yds, I would as soon be at this place as any other of the frying pans. You cannot suppose how dismal I have felt since the last Packet came in without one single letter for me. Before you can rec this of course I shall have many, but it appears an age since I last had accounts. The English or rather what is termed here the Jamaica Mail boat is about due & is expected tomorrow or next day. If I don’t get letters by her I shall be in perfect despair. By this time you must have returned home and the dispatches will resume their regular period of departure. Your visit into Suffolk & the unhappy cause of it no doubt has rather interfered. I fully expect to learn in some of your letters that Mr Steward has endeavoured to persuade you to take up your abode near Ipswich. For a time it might answer but your present situation is better adapted than an inland quarter. I have put all your shaddows in a row into my desk – one of the greatest comfort I have – and begin to fancy I observe a resemblance to you all. Certainly not flattering, still they are of commendable value until you send me something better. [At this point he appears to have stopped writing for the night.] Last night I was completely done up. I could not proceed with my letter – you may easily find this out by the writing which tells the truth that my eyes would not keep open and the pen gave up. It is now about ½ past 6. I have had my bath, shaved dressed & taken coffee, therefore you may judge how early I rise. However I have no time to through away for I can see the Athol rounding Pigeon Island. She will not anchor but just lay to for a Quarter Master who is – I wish I were he – going home on her. You will I think do me the justice to acknowledge that no opportunity is lost of writing to you all, in fact it is the only pleasure I have, but you must not be disappointed if a few lines only are sent off for the chances of sending to England occur sometimes so unexpectedly that I have to scribble away with all possible haste and my object is always to give you the very latest intelligence. This is the 11th July, thus in a few weeks I shall count six months over of my transportation. Oh how I do wish to see you all but home is the place. As yet I have never once regretted your being left in England. If I return to Barbados I may become so wife sick as to persuade myself to think otherwise. Sir C S certainly has serious thoughts of leaving this command. He continues most attentive to me, in fact I might live at his table, only you well know my good dear Kit it is one of my maxims never to get too well acquainted. All this I have written over & over again, but what else can a poor devil write from the tip of a mountain who life is the same every day of the week, without society excepting that at Mess, which supports the same conversation dinner after dinner. The officers’ ladies here are a wretched specimen, and as they have all thought proper to take offence at some of Sir C Smith’s orders respecting the proper arrangement of the Fort where they reside, and which orders I have had strictly supported, I keep myself quite distinct. It is better in every sense to have little to do with such persons under any circumstances, but of course in the present case it is my business to support Sir C. Even had they all been exceedingly agreeable, the Col of the Regt is a regular old noodle, the Adjt little better, & the Paymaster Kennedy – you recollect – he has not improved. Enough of these matters. I have drawn 20£ at 3 days after sight dated St Lucia 7th July & in a short time shall require another such sum to complete my stable live stock for horses they cannot be called. With this I have purchased two ponies – a venture out of a vessel from Porto Rico. Poor little wretches, when they were tipped off the deck into the sea I thought I never shd see them more, they were so thin. However they have remarkable good points & many of them. I mean to get them into condition, having lots of fodder, keep one if he turns out well & sell the other for some little more than prime cost thus obtain amusement and a fund to mount myself at Barbadosif I go there. How are our dear children? I shall write to Fred by a ship that leaves this place in a few days for Dublin. Augustus is of course at home ere this, putting you all in order as the monkey threatened. I am delighted to receive such favourable accounts of him. My fear is that the M Gen will humbug me out of the Cadetship. If so, he had better go immediately to the Mily College & work for his commission. I have little doubt he would obtain it. Alexander just this moment has come in to say ‘Massa, you must make no haste wid your letter, she only lay off’, meaning the Athol which is now at the mouth of the Harbour. In about a week or ten days, the Packet will call for letters, when you will have another dispatch. I have some necklaces of my own construction making not yet ready for you & those of ours who conduct themselves the best & most steady, & am making a great collection of Insects &c &c which will I trust reach Wickham in due time. I did intend sending them by this conveyance, but do not like to part with them until complete. Moreover every moment that I work away at my finery polishing them up &c, I think of those for whom they are intended. I shall close this up and start for the town fearing the ship may sail without it. If time will admit of it I will add a line when at Castries. God bless you all, kiss the dear children for me and offer kind regards to Miss Parker, my Uncle and Aunts, MOB, and believe me my dear Kate your ever aff

Fred English

If Charley is near you, kind regards to the old buck.

I never was better. Early to bed. Early up, always at work drink no spirits, lots of Porter to fill out the huge shirts. I have torn all their tails off. I have an old Black woman cutting the sleeves short.

The Tamarinds ought to be on board the Athol.