Letter #25

This letter is incorrectly dated 1834

                                                      Barbados 18th Jany 1834

My Dear Kate

By my Journal, if a small red book badly kept deserves to be so named, I observe that it was on the 4th inst that I had the pleasure of writing to you. Nothing of note has occurred since worthy of being put to paper, therefore it becomes my turn to regret that I have little news to fill this sheet of hot-pressed. It never fails to make me laugh on reading all your letters wherein you all state ‘we have so little to add since the last Packet & we see & hear so little that we fear our letters will only be filled with trifling subjects that will not amuse you!’ On the contrary, my good dear wife, it is these trifles respecting yourselves and your various occupations that afford me so much pleasure. Being made acquainted with all your pursuits is the only comfort I can enjoy, connected with that of thinking of you all which I do without interruption. At times I find that I become so gloomy at the thoughts of this vile separation that it is with the greatest difficulty my spirits rally again. Fortunately is not my nature to be easily cast down, and I do my utmost to avoid giving way or allowing those about me to discover how sad I feel at heart frequently, but the fact is that in an oppressive climate like this, feeling constantly relaxed by the most trifling exertion, the mind, if ill at ease on any subject, is depressed doubly in spite of every endeavour to contend against the blue devil. The truth is I am already getting very very homesick, and the chance of a Brevet, to the extent of serving my purpose, appears so distant that I have almost given up indulging in the thought of it. However, bad as the matter stands, I am more pleased than it is possible to express it that I left you all in old England. Vexation would have killed me as the color would have left daily the cheeks of my two chirping maidens & of poor little Fop & Fan. Certainly at the present season it is by comparison delightful – the Ther rarely being above 78. Still, something is wanting to renovate the man – imperceptibly I have devoted half my paper to a strain unusual for  me to humour my pen in, but have got such a superb steel one at this moment that admiration of the wonderful improvement in the hand writing has led me away altogether from my subject. Well then, my Dear Kate, dining out yesterday at Mr McCleary’s, already explained in a former letter as one of the house of Cavan & Co, I understood that the John or Thomas King ship would call here as today on her passage from Demerara to London. On Thursday, when at a feast given by Col Tyler, a report was afloat that this John or Tom King would sail on friday last from British Guiana which put me on the alert in the service of my Wickham living museum or Cabinet of comicals all the 16th & 17th. In one of your letters you expressed a desire to have a supply of Preserved Ginger – this you will receive by the vessel named if she remains here for sufficient time to clear the box at the Custom House, which I find is absolutely necessary in order to obtain a certificate that it contain produce of this Colony, thereby saving a duty that you might be liable to pay, and a very high one, as foreign preserves. I trust my arrangement will succeed & that if you are called upon to pay the duty at all it will only be a trifling amount. On Arrow root I am informed it is about 1 penny pr lb. In all probability you will receive a box containing 25 lb some few days after this reaches you, having sent it yesterday to Mr Hayley’s, one of the top Lawyers here & who promised at dinner yesterday to attend to all the necessary forms before putting it on board ship. Of Ginger I have packed 20 lb in ten jars prepared on purpose for you & I shd think as good as it is possible to obtain it. The chances are, in my humble opinion & much as I shall regret to find it a fact, that you, Miss Parker, Jane and your children with my entertaining amiable nieces of Roche Court will the first week after it arrives be all suffering with toothache, and I may add MOB. Notwithstanding the heat, I was high busy and forgot it unpacking myself garment after garment like the Grave digger in Romeo & Julliet until I was almost denudated, so earnest was I and amused at each squeeze between the Jars, thinking of your party assembled round with intense interest, staring into the boxes and offering advice as each packet is drawn forth. Oh! Mamma! will only think!! Tell Jane if the wax on the Jars does not effectually keep in the sirop, to pass a warm iron over it, taking care to keep the air out as much as possible when you replace an open Jar. To all these instruction you & Miss Parker are, I have no doubt, saying ‘humbug – does he think we don’t understand what shd be done’. However, it is a great matter not to allow the sirop to dry up. One large & two of a small sized Bottles of hot pickles are of the party. The weather has been so remarkably dry here, parching up all the crops that the pepers are not to be had or the Pickles would have been made expressly for your store room. They will take five vinagers in this country and still remain sufficiently warm for use. If time will admit, I shall add some Cayenne pepper – these are all the useful articles. Curiosities will fill up the rest of the box and it is not unlikely that they may require a second. All I hope is that the boxes will reach you & that you will be amused and enjoy their contents. We have to thank the late Mr Huskinson for reductions of duties on our West India produce in order to relieve the poorer class by increasing the demand. Preserves, Arrow, Red pepper &c are prepared & brought to market principally by that class of people. This, my dear Kate, ought to be a very sweet letter. The part of one of yours is now laying before me, stating that the Bells ring by their own authority in your Mansion & that the stupid servants are alarmed. You may suppose I have a broad grin on my visage at the very thought. Why don’t you know all the wires pass up the side of the lead pipe in the recess as you go into the beer cellar, and of course your pet Rats make that their footway to the upper part of the house, tugging at the bell wires in their efforts to ascend? No doubt those wiseacres have ere this made this discovery. Dear Cary’s gold edged paper cuts a mighty splash amongst the packets of home letters. They are very entertaining and they have all 4 improved exceedingly in their stile of expressing their thoughts and what has passed from time to time. I trust Miss Cary has recovered her good looks again and that it has enabled her to enjoy Fred’s and Augustus’s noise & mirth. How I have wished & wished over again that I could be of the party. Augustus can make up for his holidays if he will pay attention, he must pass the examination – it would be as bad as losing his commission to fail. 20th yesterday morning the Dee returned from Demerara with the Right Wing of the 25th Regt under command of Mjr Young with whom I am acquainted – he is son of Sir – Young, Govr of Prince Edward Island, coast of Merry key. Captain Ramsay departs, I am sorry to add, today for Jamaica with detacht that came here in the Columbia steamer and relieves the Radamanthus, by which steamer the Governor sends home his younger children. Jamaica does not agree with them, I suppose. The Belvedere is here. I dine with Capt Strong today to meet a large party. We are great allies and talk of home generally when together. He is more reconciled to the climate and if you can see, or Admiral Sir G Brace may have an opportunity, let Mrs Strong know that he looks better now than when I saw him at Portsmouth. On the 6th inst I was present at a very gay Ball at the Governor’s. Lady Lionel is a pleasing person and her little girls remind me of Annie & Isabella. In fact, since I wrote to you on the 4th I have dined out nearly every day. The Mutine Falmouth packet was in sight on the 7th and made the passage in 32 days. By her I recd your agreeable letter of the 2 ultimo, and am now waiting with anxiety the arrival of the next Packet which I trust may reach Carlisle Bay before I start for St Lucia which after all is not so bad, and although Sir F Collier objects to be surrounded by French, I care not. The jabbering, a little parley vous with the ladies occasionally, is amusing, makes a change, and the scenery is beautiful. Sir C Smith has promised to give the choice of another station if I wish it when the officers are sent from England, which I suppose will not be very long. Therefore I expect to be on the move again before the Brevet. Miss Betsey Austin has just sent me up two bottles of Cayenne pepper which I trust may prove good. Thus the Wickham bonvivants will feast – all I fear is that their tempers may suffer from such a mixture of sweets and peppers. You will not be so much interested with the contents of the upper part of the larger box, the Ginger &c laying in the lower part. ½ past 10 AM. The Tom King is now coming off the Bay & I understand will only remain an hour, thus it will be impossible to get the Preserves sent by her as she does not come to anchor, but they shall be forwarded  by the first vessel to London. The packet is expected tomorrow or Thursday & I intend going on to St Lucia by her. My next letter will be written from thence. I must now conclude, my dear Kate, fearing to lose the chance. Accept my best love for yourselves & the dear children – when I get settled they shall hear from me. The Arrow Root may be ford by this ship but it’s uncertain. When you get the other boxes, be careful how you unpack them, as the Insects &c &c are delicate articles. The bird skins are superb. Directions shall be written to Kate & Cary how to treat them. Regards to Miss Parker and let the boys know I am well. Miss P’s letters are delightful. Adieu – don’t be so warlike at Catisfield & it is much better to laugh at such matters. Give my love to Aunts OB & Mrs H & MOB & best regard to my good Uncle. God bless you all.

Your ever affectionate


Tomorrow I dine with a party at Sir C Smith, next day at Messrs Deane & Stotts.

All well 20th Jany 35.

How lucky we were to get Gusto into Woolwich before the change of M Genl. How does dear old Fred look?

The Governor of Prince Edward Island was Sir Aretas William Young. 

Betsy Austin was one of a number of free coloured women who prospered as innkeepers and traders in Barbados, their taverns also serving as brothels.