Letter #16

This letter lacks a cover 

It will soon become clear that the word ‘humbug’, then used as a verb meaning ‘trick’ is a favourite of English’s.

Morne Fortuné St Lucia
commenced 9th, Augst 10 1834

My Dear Kate

Your last dispatches were perfectly charming. I read them with such delight that for the time the Atlantic was forgotten & I almost fancied myself within the sphere of home, but too soon the phantom vanished and the Mess dinner drum brought me to my senses and the fact of being still surrounded by vile serpents, scorpions and all the other reptiles that glory in this climate. The Cuba, a fine vessel belonging to this Port, sails tomorrow and altho the monotony of one’s life here affords but little incident from week to week, I always find my pen in humour to write to you. But it was fated not to make much progress for I had scarcely commenced when Mr Berril called, one of the Chief Council, and set the whole of yesterday morning. Soon afterwards several of the officers, and in spite of my wish to continue writing, unceasing interruptions prevented it. However, the most important part that I had to perform and which occupied the remainder of the day until Mess time was having to meet Leicester Smith at Castries. He has been sick at Pigeon Island some time & could not return to Barbados with Sir C Smith. It commenced by humbugging – you are aware that that talent exist to a remarkable degree in the members of the family holding commissions in our Corps. Lt L can carry it on famously and at last what with performing sick and getting frightened out of the few wits he has, he actually produced a fever, not of the climate but a low nervous one which has reduced him exceedingly. He was brought to Castries in a boat & eight of my blacks carried him up the mountain in a hammock. He will soon recover, in fact the exertion & finding himself among his acquaintance had a wonderful effect. This morning he is fatigued but better generally. I still continue in excellent health, and could be in mad spirits occasionally were it not checked by thinking of Wickham & the feeling that I am transported from you for so long a time. How I laughed & fancied I saw Mr Hawker telling you that Fred ought not drink so much Porter. Why the total amount would be but two tumblers per diem. It is the perspiration it promotes that does me so much good. Something you must drink, & in my opinion the light porter sent to this country is preferable to any other beverage. I have tried claret which will not answer, Madeira and water better, but the quantity you drink to satisfy thirst end in a restless night. Thus I have come to the decision my dear Kate even in opposition to your advice & Uncle Hawker’s that generous porter without a particle of the water of this country is the best when you take exercise. All the water we have here is collected in Tanks and preferable to that at Barbados which is strongly impregnated with lime. My inside belt parched out when there. However frequently you may write, all your letters are most interesting and of course acceptable; in truth had I not the constant expectation of receiving them I positively think I should fret myself into fever. Kate, Cary’s, with Miss P’s letters in addition, are the greatest possible comfort to me. I mean to reward them with such collections of Insects that I have my doubts whether you will not have to stick on your front door not at home – the curious will be so attentive in their visits. My room is a daily lounge for all my messmates who come to witness the additions making hourly to my museum. So Arthur Goset is married, & in a paper I took up about a month since I observed that Strangeways was blessed with a family – Madame had presented him with a daughter. I am pleased to find Augustus is disposed to be musical. I must confess I am greatly annoyed respecting Mr Ambler’s mode of proceeding. I will write, but I think if Charles or Col Harding would look into the matter being on the spot, it would have more effect. Augt ought at latest to pass at the next Examinations – Xmas I think – or he will be late. Tell him from me there is no fear whatsoever of his getting on when the Cadetship is once obtained and that the examination is trifling. If Mr Ambler does not give satisfaction, take Augt away, first finding out through Mr Drummond or Murphy a person that will what is termed cram him for passing, striking a bargain with the tutor for the time. I shd write to Augt again. Did he not get a letter or two from me? As to Fred’s letters, I am exceedingly entertained with them, he is an excellent fellow. I trust he may never alter for the worse. The dear girls must take the will for the deed just at present. I am so taken up with the Estimates & work going on that I have not made sketches or can I write as I could wish, or to Miss Parker until I feel idle again. I observe the vessel shaking her sails out therefore must come to a close. Edward will find out when the Cuba returns and from what Dock. I shall write more fully by the next ship or packet. Love & regards to all, not forgetting my good friends at Catisfield. The Negroes won’t work & there is for the present a bit of a row – no soldiers will be required.

God bless you all & believe me my dearest Kate your aff Fred