Letter #19

Here is the first reference to the use of steel pens. Although they were invented in the eighteenth century, they were not manufactured in quantity until the 1830s. The pen that exasperated English in letter 8 was probably a quill. However, in letter 86, he discards a steel pen in favour of a quill.

Barbados 17th Oct 1834

In consequence of continued calms, the Packet has not yet reached Head Quarters where my dear Kate you will perceive your loving Lord has again perched himself. In my last letter from Morne Fortuné which I think was dated 30th ult or thereabouts – 2nd I guess – but I am too much beside myself to remember exactly. I stated that the order to proceed here would be ford by the Mail boat, which came to hand accordingly on the morning of the 2nd, which I now recollect was the same on which I closed the dispatch for you, but posted it before the Barbados letters could be given out. Thus I was unable to inform you that my release from St Lucia for a time had come to hand. At the same time a few lines from Capt Tait announced that Sir C Smith had started in the Shannon schooner, a mail boat, on the 30th ult for Dominica, in order to make arrangements for housing the unfortunate sufferers from the recent Hurricane and that he would take me upon returning to Barbados. Did I not pack up? That’s all – by George I did and had every article boxed up in no time, no ties, no regrets with the exception of my shower and dip bath. At the suggestion of some of our Mess, I formed a raffle for my two once lean but now well conditioned ponies. Every member took two, some three shares & it was filled in no time, and decided who should be their masters as quickly. Thus I was free, discharged my servants and took my bohea wherever I could obtain a breakfast. 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Sept, no intelligence of the Comd Engr’s movements, until the evening of the latter date when a vessel reached our harbour with Lt Pickard 76th and Dr Evans – the former has already been introduced, the latter you shall shortly know more about. These two gentlemen left Dominica with Sir C Smith who departed fully intending to keep his promise, but at Martinique he visited the French Admiral, a jolly sort of Frenchman, and an unusual circumstance, the wind fair for Barbados, induced him to change his mind and proceed direct, sending a mem to join him so soon as possible. You will think that I am spinning a long yarn out of nothing, but wives must submit nevertheless. The same evening, a small schooner named the Warrior came into Harbour to get a cargoe of coffee which it was intended should depart on the 10th Inst. A bargain was soon struck for 16 dollars and after saying adieu to that consumate noodle Sir D St L Hill, on the 10th I embarked at 4 oclock for this place. Calm weather and the only breeze we were likely to partake of in our teeth, adventure appears to be my fate. Therefore to commence the voyage with excitement, the Capt of our cockle shell run her ashore or aground in the Harbour, causing a delay of several hours. However, this trouble passed by after some exertion and we got to sea and succeeded in 4 days to accomplish what is usually performed coming from Barbados in 12 or 14 hours. We lay in sight of Barbados three days. I suffered exceedingly 18th Oct 1834 from the overpowering heat – the sea was like a mirror and the sun reflected from it was insufferable, no shade or spot on deck to shelter oneself, and in the small hole called a cabin it was dreadful. Certainly I shd have been very ill had I remained longer on board. For the two first days I felt perfectly overcome. Tell the dear children – they like some sort of a tale – that I had almost decided to jump overboard during the calm and bathe. The Capt and crew said there could not be much fear of sharks – in truth I thought myself that there could not be. However a very gentle breeze sprung up at the moment, which changed my intention, and well it did so, for a few minutes afterwards a huge shark was swimming round the vessel, which settled my excursion without any hesitation. We endeavoured to take him with a running knot but without success. We had a horse on the deck – the smell no doubt attracted the disgusting looking monster. Most likely he had been attending us some time but not observed till then. The night of the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th were passed miserably on board the Warrior and on tuesday night I landed about 9 oclock. It was so dark and late that I doubt whether the Capt would have given me his only boat had he not expended his tobacco, which I took advantage of and promised, if he would put me on shore, that I would send off some cigars. It did not strike me that tuesday night was the Arty & Engrs Club, but on my reaching Capt Tait’s quarters, the Mess room being underneath, I was startled by finding myself suddenly in company with half the Garrison, some a whist &c, others under the Gallery chatting and enjoying their Porter, wine & water & sandwiches, all of which to me was perfect luxury after my voyage. My reception was undoubtedly very flattering – even Sir C Smith stopped his Rubber in the general commotion of the welcome I recd, offered me lodging which I declined, preferring my share of the Engrs’ quarters with Capt Tait. However on Wednesday I breakfasted with him &, mounted on Capt Tait’s horse, we proceeded together to call on Sir Lionel Smith who was exceedingly hearty. By the bye, Major Tyler, the stout man that wished to purchase my horse at Gosport, is coming out here on the staff. He would bring me out another Musquitto net which I shall require soon. The charge for such an article here would be trebble. After this little digression from my subject, I will proceed. After our ride, during which he introduced me to several persons, he engaged me to dinner – a very small party, Capt Lawrence RA, Capt Tait, Sir C & Lady Smith. The latter recd me in the most friendly way, in fact they were both so cordial that I felt as it were amongst old friends. In the evening Capt Hamilton & Madame his wife, rather a nice quiet person, with a Mr & Mrs Eaton or Eden, storekeeper here, joined the party with some few others. An attempt at music on a vile instrument, and dancing in one room, cards in another, passed away our time rapidly enough. The following day I dined at Mess and by appointment joined Sir C Smith to inspect his Cattle of which he has some very fine. A walk which added Col Lang’s family to the party, a drop in at Mr Lacy’s house for half an hour, expended Thursday. Yesterday I caught some of our lazy members of the Mess, Mr St George, Mr Fisher, Capt Harpur 67 Judge advocate here and one or two others into a trap to draw the net which Sir C S had lent me in St Lucia. I shd have written at Mess the day before yesterday I extracted the promise that they would join, but did not mention the hour of fishing according to the sporting of this hot place. Once enlisted they could not retract & I had them all up at 3 oclock yesterday morning, having the night before arranged matters. It was moon light. I have not time to attempt a description of the scene, nor could I do it justice. Myself and black party had just got the net out & beginning to hawl when the amateurs arrived. With my usual good luck, for all had been complaining they could not get fish even for money, the net was positively swarming with mullet at the time they came to the shore. Hundreds were leaping over the ropes – this was great nuts for the new come from St Lucia. We succeeded in catching sufficient for the Mess, Sir C’s family, Col Lang’s & many others, and leaving a fair share for Samboos. There is so little energy here that all were astonished and delighted with the morning’s fun. Soon after daybreak Sir C & Lady Smith joined the party bringing refreshments. A bath and breakfast set all right, and the sun being particularly oppressive, I could not follow my inclination of perpetual motion but from necessity remained quiet all day. At ½ past 6 I dined with Dr Bell of the Royals at their Mess, passed a pleasant evening enough & turned in early, sleeping like a top until gun fire this morning. Bed 4ft wide 6ft long for Musquitto net. Dr Bell I became acquainted with when Sir Lionel Smith visitted St Lucia. He was an invalid and was making a tour for his health. Dr Evans, to whom I promised to introduce you, is a wild but clever medical man in Castries. Mr Burke, one of the Judges of the Colony, a young man but rather a roué, was on his return from sick leave when he stopped for some lark with the 76th at Dominica

18th Oct 1834

and was there caught in the Hurricane – quarters blown down & his thigh broken, which he would not allow any medical man to cut off, but Mr Evans was written for, but the poor fellow died before his friend could arrive. No Packets yet – the second due may arrive in a day or two, she has been out from Falmouth 28 days. Fancy my anxiety to hear Augustus’s fate. I am, as the boys term it at school, a perfect funk, but am determined not to lead myself into the supposition that he has passed the examination. It is fortunate the packet has been late – it afforded me time to meet it here in place of having my letters sent to St Lucia – I shall now stop them. Sir C has not said a word about going on to Demerara, but I think from what passed at Sir L Smith’s that we are to have a Frigate. There is no ship of Star here at present, but they expect several at the end of the month. The Duke of York is engaged for another service, so I think we shall not depart for some few weeks. All for the best – the Hurricanes will be passed & the month of Novr is considered a most delightful season for a trip. This letter goes by the Arethusa to Liverpool – I see her blue Peter up and must close. Col Dickens is here but have not seen him yet. Lt Smith is laid up with gout & cannot move – all brought on by his folly. I have had several letters from little Oldfield. I heard this morning that my old friend Sir George Hoste has lost all his property thro the villainy of a lawyer. My steel pen is sulky & won’t go. When am I to meet you & the dear children again? I would give worlds to be with you again. Something may turn up but I cannot even allow myself to hope that I shall leave this climate for some time to come unless a promotion was to occur. How does Fred get on? Give the good fellow my blessing, with little Gusto shd he get into Woolwich. I think Cary’s hens will stand a poor chance during the vacations. Kiss our dear girls for me – I have not time to write to them. Kind regards to Miss Parker and at Catisfield of course, give them my best of wishes, shaking a & extra shake at Mr Hawker’s hand for his dutiful nephew. Does Jane take care of the Macaw & how is she? Pinch Annie & scold Isabella out my pure love for them. I shall now have frequent chances for England – adieu. No letters since the one announcing Augustus’s Nomination. How is the dear old Commodore? – regards to the old figure, John, Eliza, Edward, Louie and my sisters. God bless you & believe me my dear Kate

Your afft Fred

I have not drawn for any money since my last report Mam.