Letter #35

‘Maroon’ here means a picnic or camping trip into the country, but originally the maroons were escaped slaves who lived in uninhabited parts of the islands to evade the law.

                                                            St Lucia June 8 1835

My dear Kate

Your most agreeable letter of the 30th April I have read over and over again, in fact the whole dispatch was written in such superior spirits to what have reached me of late that I was quite enchanted. The arrival of the boxes from Barbados appear to have caused all the sensations & even more than I could have anticipated. I have been amply repaid for my collection – what does Mr Hawker think of it? He has great taste in that way. By the Palestine, which will leave St Lucia about the 12th Inst, other packages will be forwarded containing a variety which will amuse & prove that you are not in any moment of my absence forgotten. The principle articles are the long promised Jars of Tamarines, some shells, pickles &c &c, and by the same vessel my friend Baron D’Yvoley departs for London on the way to Nantes & to bring out his family. I think it not improbable that he will pass a day with you & try dear Katy’s & Cary’s french. He seems delighted with the idea, and as he embarks at Southampton there is a chance. Should it so happen, you will find him a fine open hearted gentlemanly person. Just as I was about to seat myself, in fact had so done, to write you a long letter, I observed at the bottom of the Power of Attorney the remark respecting its being certified out of Great Britain. Much to my disappointment for having been disturbed with Respective Officer’s affairs early in the morning, I found the best portion of the remaining day would be occupied in finding out a proper set of witnesses, and so it has proved, having only now returned from Castries at ½ past 4 am. This Power of Attorney shd not be put in force until it is really required, for dear Fred may be, as all Military men are, rather sanguine. His promotion may yet be retarded some months. Thus far he has been exceedingly fortunate – the young men here are astonished when you write. Give my kind regards to the old soldier. I fear it may be many years before we meet. His Regt will be ordered abroad about the time I may have a chance of home. When in town today, a report reached some of the officers that Col Studd had sold & that Col Geddes was to join. It is not unlikely & if so I wish Col Studd joy of it with all my heart. Still, it will be a great disappointment not seeing him, for I look forward to his arrival with anxiety to obtain information respecting all my treasures at Wickham. How extraordinary it has happened that Studd as Lt Col should have topped me and come to this out of the way vile place, for vile it is, say the best of it. I do all I can and never knock under in order to kill time and drive thought out of my brain, but at times I become exceedingly doleful. Were it not for the packets coming so frequently, this miserable mode of existing, for we cannot call it living, would be insupportable. Write me word shd you wish for more Ginger – I know it is your favorite preserve, and forward a supply expressly. Considering the number of letters that pass & repass thro Pall Mall on our account, we must not be surprised that an occasional delay may take place. Mj Wells may be absent or the Insp Genl. Who is to be Master Genl of Ord? We understand that Sir G Murray is going out as Govr somewhere, the Cape I think. I requested Aldrich would see Augustus – you know he always was fond of him – it was exceedingly thoughtful. As to the tale about young ladies or my singing, it must be one of his usual humbugs, some of which have brought him into scrapes. I never was in company with any that I recollect when he was at Barbados, excepting the Lacy family who resided close to us. These I have described – the elder an amiable girl of 18 or 19 dying by inches, and the younger 16, a sprightly little filly but subdued by seeing her sister gradually leaving her. I’ll work the rogue for peaching, never fear. You have every chance of having your husband back as he left you, only a little baked. I have not yet encountered the temptations we hear so much of in England, mais nous verrons, my dear Kit. After this little digression I must return to your letter. Tell Gusto from me that he must pass the first trial or he may be thrown back & not be a Lt whilst I continue a Captain, which he has a great chance of being if he works hard. The Oracle’s letters are very amusing. Webb the Lace man No 23 Old Bond Street has written to remind me he is in business again & that I owe his eleven shilling for a pr of Grenades. I wish you would order him to send a pr of Shoulder straps, Engrs Pattern, for my blue coat. If Mr Aldrich is at Woolwich he would order & arrange the sending them forward. I am also much in want of another Cap, commonly called forraging, but what we all wear here. They are all aware here that Col Studd will not remain in the Infantry. Poor Bayley – his pride must have a little hurt. He was so confident of success and thought mine was perfectly unlikely, so it is after all but a lotery. We have been exceedingly fortunate – my visit to Sir J Kempt, the conversation that passed, & coming out to this climate without making an effort to get off, contributed greatly & being so well backed by your exertions & excellent Charley, clinched the affair. I have pictured to myself several times the fitting the new harness. You have mannaged this very well but got little for the old if the bits were in the lot. It is so exceedingly humid that the paper will hardly hold the ink. You cannot suppose how damp all the clothes, books, in fact every article, is in this Island at times for days. I cannot get the largest boot on. Since I last wrote, very little has occurred. The Mutine Packet came in on Monday 1st June with your letters dated 30th April. On 31st May I dined on board Capt Sims’ vessel, meeting some rum french women and others pleasant enough, eat, drank & jabbered away, returning to take coffee at Mrs Hanley’s, whose husband is appointed Colonial Secretary in place of Mr Young, gone to Demerara in that capacity on promotion. One day I dined with the Attorney Genl, a vulgar fellow who knows the Mairs, with a flirting little Creole wife, not pretty but pleasing, having more larking in her composition than an English woman would in former times have considered fun. However, there’s no more harm in the lady I believe than in her neighbour. The party was heavy until some music & singing not on my part closed the evening. On friday last we made up a Maroon to Pigeon Island & obtained a part of the band. I breakfasted with Mr Berril, and soon afterwards started with seven or eight others, 6 being ladies, and as you have attacked me I must be particular in their description. Mrs Berril you have above, Md Brossard has been already explained in other letters. Md Longueville, rather belle but not remarkable, her husband some miserable frenchman at Guadeloupe; her sister Madlle Cassee a huge girl, beautiful faced, large feet & broad hands; Md D’Andrée the mother, the remains of a fine french Creole, Md D’Yvoley, good looking, talking little thing; and another I forget the name of at this moment. They were all mounted on cats of ponies to look at, but scampered along at a capital pace. It was agreed to halt half way at Mon St Catherine’s to lunch some little distance on the left of the road. My horse is a little hot with others, & I held a back to gain room always when he pressed forward & not to upset any of the aimables. The Monsieurs I forgot to enter. Just as I turned off the road, I caught a glimpse of pauvre Mdlle Cassee, a bad rider, with her plump person & beautiful filly rolling in the ditch, fortunately very dry and full of fine grass. Of course I was round in a moment and extricated La belle, but the stirrup had broken & the poor girl was much in disorder, her habit torn off nearly with hat crushed in &c, but no serious bruises. The lunch set all to rights but she was rather stiff, and we proceeded. I shd tell you after Aldrich’s account that after patching up the lady I was not gallant enough to remain behind, but gave her in charge to some of the frenchmen, her horse having taken french leave. St Catherine’s I have described in another letter. We reach Gros Islet in safety, embarked & landed at Pigeon Island, & were soon afterwards joined by other parties from the Morne & Castries. The officers gave up their rooms to the ladies & my quarter was fitted up with barrack furniture for the men. Eating and drinking followed & the evening closed with a Quadrille. By the bye, send me some new music for the Band. The last march was much admired & they use it on parade. Some of the party returned the same night, the Majority remained and we followed on saturday, but on landing at Gros Islet it was discovered that the party overnight had changed the horses’ saddles, bridles & in fact caused such confusion that I thought we never shd get away. After much exertion, borrowing & teeming with heat we got off in a pouring rain which continued all the way to Castries. Old soldiers like I had my cloak which no lady could accept being too heavy. It fined me down a little but brought me home dry about the body. Some of the others were soaked and the mountain streams were almost impassable, one in particular I thought the small horses of Md & Madlle would have carried away. Notwithstanding we all reached our homes in safety & had a hearty laugh at the adventure. I wish you could contrive to make me up a good strong dressing Gown. I cannot get any fitting stuff here & mine is dehor almost. God bless you my dear Kate, I delight in writing to you but must not lose the packet. It is now past 7 oclock tuesday morning 9th June.

The Gun fires!! Adieu – love to all Your

Ever afft Fred

Kiss all round & thank Miss P for her very kind letter. How is my Uncle? & love to the Catisfield party.

Lieutenant-General Sir George Murray had succeeded General Kempt as Master General of the Ordnance in 1834, and was himself succeeded in 1835 by Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Hussey Vivian, a Royal Engineer.