Letter #30

Morne Fortuné enjoyed a commanding view over Castries and the surrounding coastline. The former French fort at Vigie was on the far side of the bay. 

English, whose sympathies were clearly with the Tories, was naturally enthusiastic to corner the captain of the Sheldrake and get the latest political news. William IV was the last monarch to defy the Commons by appointing a prime minister who could not command a majority. Having dismissed the Whig Lord Melbourne in November 1834, he asked Sir Robert Peel to form a government. The captain of the Sheldrake brought the result of the inevitable general election – some Tory gains, but still a big Whig majority. On 18 April, Melbourne would return to Downing Street. 

Mr Smith’s musical instrument must have been a pancordion, a kind of accordion.

                                                            Evening of 6th March

It is not far distant my dear Kate from 12 months of the wretched day we parted, and I quitted so many comforts, as the late Genl Pilkington expressed it in his note to me. I can scarcely think it possible, but the four months I have been absent from this Island has assisted materially in making the time fly. I have my doubts of the next 12 months – they will pass wearisome enough, unless any unforeseen good fortune turns up and I get home before I expend myself in regrets at this horrid banishment. Since I recd your dispatches bearing 3 dates – 5, 19, 30th Jany – my usual good spirits have returned and by comparison enjoy myself. In health I never was better, but get exceedingly stout, not so bad that my coats, belt &c will no longer fit, nor have I filled out those Northhamptonshire shirts which from repeated curtailments (a new word) of Collars, arms &c &c have assumed rather a grotesque form, being now considerably broader than they are long. According to your lecture, I have reduced the quantity of Porter pr diem, in fact drink it very rarely now that the weather is cool. Still I am confirmed in my opinion that every person who suffers from great perspiration on first reaching this hot country shd attack that splendid draught in preference to all the mixtures of wine, brandy &c, of which they drink profusely and gain no strength. Porter set me on my pins, I have no doubt, for on first arriving at Barbados, I feel now that the fever did attack me – of course slightly. I wouldn’t knock under & with the assistance of Malt liquor, bathing, good heart & exercise, shook it off. The day I last wrote to you, the 27th ult, has been the only one that has differed in the usual routine of our occupation on the Morne. I dined with Sir Dudley Hill, and will copy the remarks I amused myself the next morning by entering in a sort of a Journal. This done, your letter shall be attentively read over and replied to. My dear girls must be contented this time without letters, and the fortnight elapsed may produce some adventure worth relating or that will make you all laugh. Extract from Capt English’s pencil Journal contained in a small red covered mem book given him by – Hayly Esq of Barbados: Friday 27th Feby 35. Ther, 72. Lt Smith 76th at breakfast with one signal gun fired remarked that the Flag at the Vigie Fort was red, indicating that the 1st Feby English Packet was in sight in lieu of the 8 day mail boat for which my letters had been forwarded to the postmaster. All alive and delighted, altho somewhat desponding, fearing bad news, both ordered our horses and away we went down the mountain in full expectation and reached the wharf just in the nick of time as the Capt of the Sheldrake & his bags landed. Got him to the Club room – lots of Porter to drive the thirst out of him and make the news flow, wholesale, about the Tories and Wig, but I started to the letter bags and huzza, recd all my lost letters, wrote a hasty letter to Miss Parker in reply to those dated 30th Jany – Packet reach Barbados in 21 days. It was the 28th Feby I dined with Govr – Gun! Just fired – 8 day boat in sight. Ext: Saturday 28th Feby 35 Ther. 78 – on Morne Fortuné all day, dined with Sir D Hill, rather late – found the party seated – Young Col Secy &c &c at one end of the table – Mallassy, Dep sub Dep Comry Genl and playing the part of Colonial Aid DC fig’d out in a Lt Col Uniform, the other sat next to him, and on my left a Mr Smith, lately returned from Glascow & Inverara, a tall civil sort of a Scotchman who sir’d me over at every three words – keeps a store, in most climates called a shop, of every retail article that can be called for, in St Lucia. However, he was a Scotchman & had been near the Highlands, therefore liked him. Next on our side was Mrs Hanley, a dressing little flirting Trinidad woman, then the Govr, all smiles and facetious and so overwhelmingly civil to me that something must be coming from it. He wants something done I guess. Next was Madame Smith, a pretty St Lucia or French woman, or say rather so – dark eyes, hair and white teeth, well enough, could not speak a word of English and her neighbour Dadle not one word of French, even worse, for he will attempt and botches all his parlez vous so completely that he is incomprehensible to every soul around him – non, oui, I see considerably mong ami you comprehend – he – me very good, very bon, ha, ha, ha and so on. The little woman liked England & I of course thought favorably of her. Next was a straight forward long legged German, a Commissary, good humoured. Mr Major – he relieved Mr McBreedy – lots of Epaulettes & Embroidery, in fact dining with the Govr full fig. Now comes little Young Col Sec, Puisne Judge with his merry black eyes and demi bald pate, doing agreeable to Madame De Brossard, an interesting fair French St Lucia woman with good eyes & eyebrows, speaking English well & the most steady of the Castries Ladies – on dit – at her left hand was Mr Hanley, second Judge, a dark, handsome, doubtful tempered looking man with immense black whiskers, has a bad manner & thinks more of play than Law, in fact gambles. Next we have Monr De Brossard, round faced, dark, ill-looking but vulgar Frenchman of this Island, a very uninteresting person who follows the Law of this land. How he became coupled to an Educated wife – it’s strange, she was broke in in England. Trevellyan has just crawled in, with nothing to do and less to say, has lost his brother officers, & his own society is a burthen to him. After prowling all round the rooms pulling every article he could touch out of its place and drawling out a few unmeaning remarks, he has rolled out to my great content. Mr Grant W India Regt has also made his tour of the room & departed. I got as far down the opposite side of the table as Monr Brossard, the Lawyer of some sort who would give his ear to speak English and understand what his wife is saying, I guess, by the constant observation he keeps on her. On his left Md Camsell, plain but smart little person speaking a lee-tle English. Now we have Doctor McCann, staff surgeon &c &c, all smiles and politeness, repeatedly squeaking out, plate pray – it is needless to add which country he owns or shd own, quite overpowering to the lee-tle french woman & Miss Major, niece to the Comy, on his left, scarcely knowing which it would be most amusing to himself to chat with, the lady in her teens or the old hand the widow on his right, he chose the latter & if I may judge by the expression of his countenance, the constant motion of his hand & arms, & perpetual laugh he was in, he felt that he could not be otherwise than agreeable. Miss Major, a good humoured, rather pretty little girl, short waisted & stooping dreadfully, only speaking a lee-tel English, but more German, formed the party, excepting Mr Vice Mallassy D Sub D Com Asst Comy General, performing the Lt Col in place of quill driving or spring Forrage, a simple good natured fellow led into this folly by the still more simple vain Govr. Cards, games I never heard off were introduced for the ladies, all rubbish in which I joined to keep myself awake, a rubber for those that wished to make a few dollars and quarrel, a common custom in these hot climes, closed the evening, but I must add that Mr Smith, either thinking of the Bagpipes or wishing to keep me awake, seated himself behind me with a Pan Cordium or some such name, drawing forth the most hideous sounds from this bellows like instrument that I ever endured. Luckily we were playing for love therefore I lost nothing & escaped making a display, thus I had not a Mou in my pocket. Adieu my dear Kate – Alexander says I shall be late. Love to all. God bless you. I have been writing away & forgot time.

Yours afft Fred E

Kiss all round for me.

If your harness is bad you must get a new set in town. I shd say Portsmouth or Southampton are good places.

Regards at Wickham to Miss P & to all at Catisfield. I am getting their Tamarinds ready – it is the season now.

27th all well.