Letter #20

Written from Barbados, not dated at head, started on 4th November 34

There are numerous mentions of courts martial in the letters. Unlike this one, most were  for desertion or crimes against property. The sentence would often be flogging. Convicted criminals were often given the option of serving in the Army instead of transportation, so there was an above average proportion of criminals in the ranks. Transportation was abolished in 1868; flogging in the Army in 1881. 

‘The Genl’ is Major-General Sir Lionel Smith Bt, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Windward and Leeward Islands. His command was both civil and military; later the two were separated.

My dear Kate

The information of Augustus’s success has afforded me more pleasure than you can well immagine, for between the periods when your letters reached me, the first at St Lucia where his nomination was intimated, and the second recd here on Sunday 19th Oct, I was in a constant state of excitement. Moreover the packet was considerably over her time, thus keeping me longer in suspense. However the good fortune of our dear boy has amply repaid me for all, and not a little proud do I feel of his having taken his seat in the Academy by storm. I trust he will be unceasing in his exertions in obtaining his commission. I was riding to Church with Capt Tait when I met the bag of letters, but could not obtain it of course. You may fancy that my thoughts where wandering and that the sermon was very little attended to. On the whole the trip here and delay of the packet have turned to a fortunate account, for she was due at St Lucia the day after I sailed and the fear that we might pass on the wide sea & that I shd proceed with Sir C Smith to Demerara before the dispatches could overtake me completely kept my mind in a state of fever. Therefore you may immagine how I grasped the packet of letters & on breaking the seal the first line that caught my eye was Gusto’s good fortune. His letter to me is excellent and I agree with him perfectly in the necessity of attending Mr Ambler for a portion of the Academy vacation, if not the whole. It will afford him an opportunity of retaining what he has learnt and preparing for the examinations. He must make up his mind to work for the Engineers and he will succeed. Charles being about to be married and the intelligence respecting the young cadet have broken upon me so unexpectedly that it was almost overwhelming until I could brace my nerves with a draught of Porter, upon which I began to open my eyes and mouth re the former, putting the question to myself – can it be true? Is my worthy Commodore actually going to anchor at last? I sincerely hope it will contribute to his happiness, of which there can be little doubt if the lady is half what is reported of her, & Charley is well capable of making a woman the best of companions. The packet we expect the day after tomorrow will most probably bring confirmation that the sailor has his consort in tow. The Capt’s letter of 12th Sept without signature clearly proves that he is over head and ears in love with the most amiable girl of independent fortune. ‘She’s a dear creature.’ I laughed intollerably over his effusion – as it is to make Charley happy and settled. I trust ere this Miss Carden has changed her name and shd they want a supply of black servants, men or nursemaids, I’m the man that can supply them on demand. I promise myself much entertainment from the reading the description of Mrs C E elect and how your dinner party goes off. It is to be hoped that the lady’s property will suffice to content both. Dear Charley has learnt by experience how to be moderate, and will not launch out at his time of life, and the little he can call his own will enable him always to feel his independence. It is now time to give you an account of what has transpired regarding myself since I last wrote, which I think I did on the 18th by Arethusa. The following day the packet made her appearance. Sunday: on this day I felt greatly rejoiced, dined at Mess and told my story. I had scarcely drank a glass or two of Madeira after feast which we always take under the Almond trees in front of the Mess house, when Sir C Smith drove up telling me to take a seat beside him. He was going to hear the Band of the 65th with Lady S. After a chat with some of the crowd, drove into the country for a few miles along the coast. I thought all the time when shall I leave it for England. However I am determined to make the best of it. Persons here who make a fuss lose their place in society, and only get laughed at without a shimmer of pity, to wit Leicester Smith, whose grand object from his first landing was to humbug in such a way that he might force a sick certificate which has completely failed. He has played tricks on himself, brought on gout and rheumatism &c, and at last actually lost his health & the good opinion of Sir C Smith. He is now at Barbados gradually getting well, but still continues acting such a comedy that no person can ascertain whether he is well or ill. So much for Leicester who by some accident omitted writing or his letter was late to Madame his wife. Poor woman, no doubt she must have been uneasy on his account. All is set right since, and L Smith will soon be himself again. Monday 20th Rode into town, nothing particular occurred that I can recollect. Went to Shot Hall in the evening. Next morning 21st got up at day break, I should say before, at ½ past two, collected the officer of Artillery and started to draw the net – fortunately I succeeded in taking a quantity of both large and small – astonished them all as the subject had been started several times, the difficulty of procuring fish. All hands were delighted and at day break Sir C & Lady S joined us and invited the party to breakfast where the fish eaters had a treat. Some people dined at Mess with the Club in the evening. The day ended, I went to my bed early. On the 22nd I dined with Sir C Smith and we drove out thro Bridgetown & some distance into the country. This day the Dee, Steam Man of War, came to anchor from England after a long passage, but using her steam only four days to nurse her coals. She cut rather a dash in the Bay, being the only King’s vessel. Thursday 23 Oct: On a Regt Court Martial for the trial of a Black for biting a piece of flesh out of his comrade’s right cheek – pleasant sort of a fight. Dined at Mess, Sir C Smith called & took me a drive. Evening ended at Shot Hall. You will be weary reading my letter if I reduce it to a mere journal. However, it may give you an idea of the mode in which my tempus is now passing, and, as every circumstance however trifling, related from Wickham is of great interest to me, I will conclude that the rubbish in form of information which I forward may be equally so to you my dear Kit. Now for a regular extract. Friday 24 Oct Ther 82, weather comparatively cool. Called on Dr. Bell & Capt Ingram Royal Regt & Dr Stewart R Art. Rode to Bridgetown with young Henry Lacy, hired a Black sert named John Wiltshire. S C and Lady Smith dined at the Mess. Drove out with them in the evening along the Coast. 26th on a Garrison Court Martial, dined with Mr Hayly, Sir C Smith drove Capt Lawrence RA and myself. Party consisted of Col Bridgeman Adjt Gen, Capt Ward Staff, Lt Fisher RA, Capt Tait RE, Commisary Genl Filder Dept. Com, J Stow son of Mr Stow Collector of Customs formerly at Dover, Capt Hamilton Stipendiary Magistrate, Capt Harpur Judge Advocate, a plain coat or two, Lt Darling ADC to Govr &c Lots of every good thing to eat & drink of which I partook sparingly & walked home early to bed. Sunday 26: Packet came in – went to Church with Lady Smith & Mess Steward, Col Bridgeman & Capt Ward in the pew. The clergyman commenced by stating that ‘No man could serve two Masters’. Returned on the box of Ld Sm carriage to Shot Hall, and after a glass of cool Porter started to my quarters and got my letters. ‘To pay’ arrived: news of my box. Dined with Sir C Smith. In the evening drove to an estate named Rowans about 5 miles in the country, pleasant enough. Monday 27: went to the office, read all the correspondence regarding the Berbice law suite, engaged to dine with Col Bridgeman but was prevented by a most tremendous storm, the rain falling in torrents with thunder and vivid lightning. Sir Lionel Smith with all the Staff of the Garrison were inspecting the 65th. Regt when the whole hoste of them were completely sopped. Rainbow Frigate came in. Tuesday 28 Club evening, to my mind a monstrous stupid bore. Rode to call on Col Bridgeman, nothing remarkable occurred. 29 Called early on Sir C Smith, who with Lady S joined our party to see the net drawn, caught a quantity of fish. Sir Lionel Smith and Staff dined at Mess & Capt Ramsey of the Navy commanding the Steamer on whom I called with Sir C & Lady S last week. Sat next to the Genl who was exceedingly agreeable. Mentioned that Lady S with her family were to join him almost immediately. Your letter of 1st Sept which went to St Lucia came to hand – found my box in my room on going to bed and unpacked it forthwith, finding all the articles in capital order. For the waistcoat I am exceedingly obliged to Miss Parker, the various pretty pieces of work decorate my table and would serve to remind me of you all, did I require anything, but home and those dear to me are constantly in my mind. The collars, tell the small fry, I shall reserve for other dogs or cats, poor Sooty being departed and the latter animals left at St Lucia, an island it is doubtful I shall visit again. But Sir C never opens his lips as to the arrangements until the moment they are to be put in force. The cigar case and watch guard are exceedingly pretty, and shaving cloths so gay, that I shall use them for the pocket, being just suited to the dimensions of a Jacket. In fact I have look at each present over and over again until I have become dreadfully homesick – counting the days of my transportation. One great advantage in this moving and change of scene is that the time flies so rapidly, and after the same routine day after day on Morne Fortuné, the life I pass here is exceedingly gay. However bad the air is supposed to be at St Lucia, it is far cooler than that of this Island. Your old friend Col Dickens has got into some paper war with the Respective officers and has shown himself up rather. I hear he has been a great invalid but is better today. I have not seen him yet. The more I think of Augustus’s affair, the more I am astonished at our good luck in obtaining the Cadetship so promptly and on his attaining the age of 14. On my mentioning the circumstance to Sir C Smith he said in his dry manner ‘some good may arise you see from a man being in the West Indies’. In a letter of Gordon’s or Fred’s it is stated that all the Ord officers or others in or about Dublin who had applied received refusals – and now my dear Kate our Boys are provided for as far as our exertions can go without their own being put to the test. Fred’s prospects are not bad insomuch that he is unquestionably an amiable worthy fellow. His letters to me are delightful and stile of writing very much improved. A few hundred on his account would certainly be acceptable, but we must and ought to feel contented our plans for them have succeeded to the utmost of our heart’s content. [word obliterated] first interest in the country could not have started them under better auspices. The expenses have fallen unfortunate and you have suffered unexpected calls upon you in my absence, but I trust ere this you have overcome your miserable fit, and that the packet hourly expected will confirm my hopes that you have regained your spirits, for it is necessary for both the happiness and health of both that we shd have the least possible matter to fret about. If you are in diff unavoidably from Augustus’s piece of good fortune or otherwise, do not sit down and write that you are miserable but set to work to overcome the case – write to Mr Arkle requesting he will forward pr of Attorney to effect the sale of what you may require, taking care it is sufficient for your wants, direct to me or thro our office, and you will thus obtain by the packet in due course what you want and deserve for all your care and trouble, but as it now rests, notwithstanding I so well know your general state when the dollar bag is getting empty, I am vexed to death in all my moments of reflection without the power of setting the matter right. The remarks about poor Mrs Galloway and her nonsense are not worth filling my paper to you with. I am doing my utmost to keep my station here as second in Comd, and to be economical without crying out poverty. As yet I have been successful. Since my last report I have not drawn on the Agents, and do not think I shall have occasion so to do again for a month or six week, thus the account 75 remains as heretofore. Porter is 7d per Bottle at some Messes and 10d at others, depending on the state of the Mess funds. You know they never credit an officer’s pay until the returns are received. Whenever you are in want of money and feel doubtful, write a few lines to Mr Marriott requesting he will state your wishes to overdraw a sum until I can reply to your letters when it will be refunded. I have always stood on such ground with that officer that they would assent immediately. The balance you write me as against you is fictitious & only on paper, as squaring the accounts would reduce it tout suite. Endeavour from Edward to ascertain where my sisters are – the retiring without letting us know is another of poor Georgiana pieces of wisdom.

Mr Smith son of Col S Cheltenham is here in the 65th Regt – he enquires kindly after you all. I regret Mr Seymour’s death exceedingly he is a loss to his family and the service of which he was an ornament. We have now here the Belvedere, Rainbow, Serpent, Pickle Schooner & the Wasp, but I must not write you more. So my want of tact has been the cause of all the troubles and our apparent state of warfare. I have still a budget to write but I will continue my scribbling to Cary and Miss Parker – the former’s turn is come, I think as I wrote to dear Kitty last.

Dear Kate adieu think how we have been blessed with good fortune in respect to our sons and hope to marry off our daughters when they are tired of us with equal good luck. Love to all at Catisfield and regards to my excellent Uncle. There has been a mistake about the Tamarinds which I hope to rectify soon. Mr Aldrich beg to be remembered he sitting by me with a biscuit and glass of Porter which seems quite to revive him – all well 4th Novr Your affect Fred

The Mail Boat for England is detained until tomorrow, the Gov having got a fit out gout at our Mess – I shall keep this open until tomorrow.

All well 5 Novr 34