Letter #36

Ange René Armand, baron de Mackau, a year older than English, was a veteran of numerous colonial battles. At this time, he was commander-in-chief of the naval forces of the Antilles and governor of Martinique. France had recognised the independent republic of Haiti, but the slaves in the remaining colonies had not been freed. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mackau wanted to see for himself how the British colonies were faring after emancipation.

                                          Morne Fortuné June 30th 1835

You will soon perceive my dearest Kate by the stile of my letter that no dispatches have been recd from Wickham by the last Packet. I am well aware that you have written and that the letters are delayed in town. Still, it casts a gloom over me and I cannot muster spirit to give you a merry account of myself. As to health I never was better, rather stouter I think than when I quitted England but not so much so as the first six or eight months. The Renard Packet was some days after her time and did not reach St Lucia until the 23rd Inst in place of the 19th, but the 6th of July will I trust bring accounts of you all and favourable. Having replied to yours of the 29th April which now lays before me and has been read over and over again to make up for the want of intelligence by the last mail, I have little to remark on it more than it afforded me great pleasure finding that you were all so pleased with the contents of the boxes forwarded from Barbados. The insects were considered valuable there by many amateurs. I still collect, but principally shells and petrifications. If the cabinet increases I shall expect a letter begging that I send no more to fill your hen house. However it will not be difficult to get rid of such as you may not wish to be lumbered with. Last week the Negroes brought me a superb block of petrified wood which I have some thought of sending to the US Museum & I have heard of another in the woods today for which I shall send some of my blacks. All this sort of occupation passes the time but it is tedious in the extreme. The novelty has passed by and I feel more anxious to return to you than ever. There appears no chance for Brevet – the hope of promotion from it and returning home in consequence has been a Castle in the air that is falling altogether to the ground and I cannot flatter with any hope of leaving this detestable country at present. When the two years are expired something might be accomplished with the aid of my excellent Uncle & our Inspector Genl. However I am determined to hold out with spirit and lots of patience. My friend Baron is a great loss. Whilst he was here I felt I was gaining something in constantly speaking french and improving myself in that language. I much regretted his departure and went on board the Palestine to see him start. She sailed on the 18th Inst and has on board three boxes for you containing the long talked of Tamarinds &c. Send Mrs OB & Mrs Hawker one of the 2d sized jars each with some pickles with my love. I had written by the Baron but by some mistake the letter was omitted in making up the packet which enveloped. One for John, one for Capt Rob Drummond and Capt Otway of the R Artillery, all given with a view of getting him shewn over Woolwich. He intends seeing Augustus, and on his way to Southampton to embark for Nantes will pass a day or two with you. I trust he will thus perform his promise, as his information will interest you all independant of his having seen me the moment of his leaving the Island. He understands a little English and can speak a few words, sufficient with the french you all know somewhat to get on very well. Ask him to give you an account of my coming out of the harbour in a small canoe seated in the bottom so see him, and just escaping a white squal with torrents of rain. So much for Baron D’Yvoley. Report still states that Sir C Smith will move but I doubt it. He has been to Demerara with Sir Lionel Smith, now the Governor Genl of all the Colonies, and to Trinidad & Tobago, I suppose to be sworn in. We expect him here shortly. So soon as all the Estimates are sent in, I expect to move from this Island, but have so settled myself in my little cottage and like my messmates so much, that I feel almost indifferent about it. When does Col Studd join us? We are all looking out for him. I am going to dine with the Colonial Secretary Mr Hanley, and find it time to dress. You shall have an account of the party. The only thing that has occurred like a novelty since I last wrote has been the arrival of the [unreadable ship name] French Brig of War with Admiral Baron Mackau from Martinique, who has been here expressly to obtain information for the french Ministry as to how our Emancipation bill acts. B D’Yvoley will tell you all about him. He invited me to visit him at Martinique which I shall if possible avail myself of. He is undoubtedly one of the best sort of frenchmen I ever met.

1st July 6AM: the Gun has just fired & I see the mail boat coming round Pigeon Island. The party at dinner was rather slow – a Mr & Mrs Berril, a Mon Geonette who made some sort of a shew in playing & singing in the evening, a Mr & Mrs McFarlan just arrived from St Kitts to relieve Mr Mallassey in the Commissariat, the lady looking like a dried Herring & the Mr like a horrid Turk, old Judge Bent looking miserable and sickly, Mr Bruce 76 and a young man by the name of Burt, & Dr Evans. It was rather stupid & I was happy to get to my bed. Adieu my dear Kate – kiss the dear girls for me & regards to Miss Parker. Does Jane continue well? Remember me to her and regards to Mr Hawker, Aunts & MOB. If I can get them in time I shall send you more preserves by the next vessel. How are dear Fred & Augt? The former did not get the step he expected in the Regt. Accept my best love & believe your Fred.

The following letter referred to above, which should have been carried by Baron D’Yvoley, is enclosed.

                                               Morne Fortuné 17th June 35

When you receive this my dear Kate, Baron D’Yvoley will have arrived in the Palestine Capt Sims. He is a great loss to me, being always gay and a perfect gentleman, in fact a universal favorite. I mentioned in my last letter that he intends embarking at Southampton for the Continent and proceed to Nantes to join his family, and after a sojourn of a few months return to St Lucia with them and remain on his Estates for a few years, a measure of much wisdom. He appears delighted with the prospect of passing a day or two at Wickham & I have told him that you or my Uncle will put him on to Southampton. Therefore my dear Kate, put your carriage into requisition and shew him all the attention you can for my sake. Should he put his intention in force, get my good Uncle to meet him & recollect that light claret is his comfort at Breakfast and at dinner. Mr Hawker will obtain the best possible information from him respecting the changes in this country for he is a fine sensible and liberal minded man exceedingly fond of the English. He still, I believe, belongs to the Royal Guard, Cavalry, & served in the Russian Campaign. So much for my friend the Baron who I am sorry to part with. The vessel sails at 2 oclock today it is expected, and on board are three boxes, two containing Tamarinds, Pickles & curiosities, and the third some preserved Coco nuts which will answer for desert, and Papaw. The Lady of [word missing] overseer, a first rate hand [word missing] them for me & I trust you will approve. However, you will mark this, I forget ye not, so soon as you get this. If the Baron – he understands English mind you – gives his address, write not a formal note to him begging his visit. If he remains at Southampton, get Mr Hawker to introduce him to some nice family or two to pass his time until the vessel departs. A pot of Tamarinds, second size, and some pickles I beg you will present with my love to each of my Aunts at Catisfield. As I shall so soon write again, for we expect the Packet tomorrow, I will conclude. R Admiral Baron Mackau came here a few days since in a F Brig of War to obtain intelligence respecting the slave Emancipation & how it acts in order to transmit his report to the French Chamber. I called & was introduced by Baron D’Yvoley, & he has given me a pressing invitation to stay with him in Martinique.

God bless you my dear Kate, love to my dear children & believe me

Your afft Fred E

Send me scraps of new music.

Baron D’Yvoley’s home, we’re told, is in Nantes. In 1832 Baron L D’Yvoley was mayor of Ste-Luce-sur-Loire, now a suburb of that city. St Lucia had been so named by the French; was it just a coincidence that the island and the baron’s home village shared the same saint?