Letter #34

No date at beginning of letter, probably begun on Sunday 24 May 1835 

It seems that Kate has expressed concern about the irregularity of English’s letters, so he refers back to his journal of February to show that he was not at fault. 

The mention of purchase money for Fred junior is a reminder that, having already bought his commission, it would be necessary to lay down more money for his promotion to Captain. The next letter reveals that a power of attorney has been prepared so that the necessary capital can be raised when the time comes. 

On referring to my Journal I observe the Sheldrake Packet sailed from hence on the 27th Feby, and I have no doubt ere this you have recd the letters I forwarded by the 8 day boat that arrived the same day. Depend upon it my dear Kate that I shall not lose the chance of writing, but you must not feel uneasy if you do not receive accounts every fortnight. Sometimes it may occur that I am absent or the packet not to the time. The following extract from my Journal will prove to you how particular I was in getting my dispatches ready in time: ‘Thursday 26 Feby 1835, Ther 74, writing home greater part of the day, did not go off the Morne &c. Friday 27 Feby 35, Ther 75-76: At Breakfast the gun fired, and on observing the burgee, a sigl was flying for the 1st Feby packet in place of the 8 day mail boat expected and for which my letters were prepared – delighted altho despondent and fearing some unwelcome news, ordered my horse. Lt Smith 76 who breakfasted with me joined, away we went and arrived just at the critical moment as the Capt of the Sheldrake and his bags landed. Got home to the Club-room and soon afterwards – Huzza – recd all my lost letters – all well at home – about an hour afterwards the 8 day Mail boat came in, wrote to Miss Parker by her in reply to letters dated 30th Jany, the above Packet, Sheldrake, reached Barbados in 21 days. All alive again. Saturd 28th Feby 35, dined with the Govr &c’ – an account of this party I have already written to Wickham. On the 17th Inst I sent letters to you and my dear lassies with such detailed history of myself and pursuits that it requires consideration what I am to write now to amuse you for nothing has occurred worth putting to paper and the weather has become so sultry that to write in any comfort it would be necessary to sit in my bath. Moreover those villains the Mosquittos are as busy as possible. What a luxury is the new Mosquitto net. With the assistance of a towel well shook behind me as I enter my bed, I have succeeded in obtaining some glorious nights & have slept beyond my usual hour, thanks to the white hands employed. I never was better than I have been in St Lucia, and begin to flatter myself that I shd return to you all somewhat advanced in years, but, with the exception of being well bronzed, much as I left you. My spirits rarely forsake me unless a packet arrives without letters, and then a fit of restlessness overcomes me and I wander about without fixing on any pursuit. Capt Sims will leave St Lucia the first week in June when I shall forward the box or boxes already promised and thro the same channels that the first preserves were sent. I stated in my last letter that Tamarinds & in fact whatever I can collect will be the contents. One of the articles for thyself will I think be admired. All that have seen it here are charmed – a négligée made of Indian shot, a black seed exceedingly hard and which will take a high polish from wearing. The boring them has afforded me much employment early in the morning, having tasked myself to complete 20 or five and twenty at a sitting, & the difficulty of drilling will make them more valuable, added to the necklace being unique. Hampshire or other County will not produce its fellow when you receive it. You appear to write out of spirits, but do not forget that a month or six weeks may elapse before it reaches me & that it implants the same feelings long after you have forgotten your little troubles. In reducing the Army, the probability is that the Ord Corps will suffer. It may stop my promotion but cannot send me adrift without giving the next step. Augustus, whose letters are most amusing, will work hard I trust to get out of any break likely to reach him. How fortunate we have as yet been with our boys – you see I was right in my calculation respecting Fred, he never would have made such a start in the 2nd. You are right respecting the purchase money – he must not be left in the lurch by his obtaining his Lt’s commission only. He may get his company when the Regt are again for service. As to a Brevet, I have given up all hopes of it. We must consider it fortunate if the places are filled up in our Corps. Your accounts amuse me exceedingly – I could fancy you seated making out the detail for my information, still I am in hopes you will have little or all events less trouble with them. I approve of all your arrangements respecting Fred, Augustus and finances and all others excepting that of fretting yourself. Our separation will I trust lead to some unforeseen good. I shall avoid New South Wales, where 4 of our Corps are transported to as a station. Major Mat Dixon is gone to Ceylon and Charles Dixon to St Helena where the Artillery have sent a Company. A Colonel, Younghusband, 3 officers of Engrs, 1 Capt and 2 Subs are going or gone to Van Diemen’s Land. Capt Kay has been seriously ill but is better. Did you hear of poor Capt West’s fate? He was going to or coming from Honduras on duty and was first on board the small boat of the Spitfire when she struck, but he persuaded Capt Macdonald to take him and his son into the large one and mark the consequences – all on board the small boat were saved and all on board the large one were drowned with the exception of the Capt and surgeon. Charley’s letter was very acceptable. You appear up to the present intelligence to be in one very unsettled state in old England. We hear that Mr R Peel has again accepted office with Ld Stanley supporting him. Always endeavour to fill your purse before you write to me. The letters under such circumstances are far more gay. Thanks to those amiable Miss Gardiners for driving up & stopping your melancholy mood. I cannot picture to myself Major Patton with an infant added to his lumber. Mr Crawford has not recd your letter or cannot decide, he is too much the good fellow in private life to neglect you or other politician. How I do long to be with you, however 16 months have already passed of my West Indian tour of duty and I am determined to go thro with it without grumbling. This must be a single letter dispatch and your dear party will excuse my writing to them this time. The heat is so oppressive and the young men have done nothing but run in and out of my quarters, but they are such good humoured and gentlemanly fellows I cannot but laugh with them. The Govr bothers them greatly and they relate all their troubles here. Young Hamilton is likely to become a pet. He now occupies the Hamock & is far from well. The officers of his Regt at Barbados I suspect have alarmed him without cause – the worst thing that can happen to a Newcome. I have nursed & laughed him into better spirits & doubt not he will soon come round. Since I last wrote I have been employed in adjusting a Hand Organ of some size which is considerably disgusted with its voyage out and at first when I paid it a visit would not squeek a note. This I rectified but sing a tune he won’t yet, consequently the Govr had a party of men down [here there is a mark at the end of the sheet to indicate that more follows, but it is missing.]

The following is written on the cover:

All well Monday 25 May 35

My dear Kate

And did that impertinent little animal suppose that I was going to write more to her? About 10 days since my huge snake was either stolen or escaped. It has caused much remark as I had promised it to the Baron to take home with him. The novelty was over – I had seen the exhibition of gorging fowls & did not value him much, still was vexed at the Baron’s disappointment. Last evening in conversation the Gov and others said more than usual about snakes alarm & his having killed a serpent in his drawing room. Well, we broke up, the Govr to walk home, had his lantern & several officers with him, when behold, an immense snake, attracted I suppose by the light I conclude, crossed his path. He was foundered and alarmed beyond description. I observed the bustle but would not join under the impression that it was to joke me, several officers exclaiming ‘English, Capt English, here’s your snake!’ It was pitch dark, still I would not join, but in truth it was the lost snake looking for food, for on returning to my quarters for bedfordshire, I found him in his box or den. The extraordinary thing was that the Govr shd stumble over him. Adieu my dear Kate & believe me your ever attch


The news from Westminster travelled slowly to St Lucia. By this time, Peel had failed to form an administration and the king had recalled Lord Melbourne.