Letter #37

This letter is addressed to Mrs English at Catisfield rather than Wickham; it was sent by the packet from Dominica.

Duke of York Army Brigantine
off Martinique 11th July 35

You will be astonished my dear Kate to observe my letter dated at sea, however so it is. Dominica is in sight and we expect to land there this afternoon. The history of this move will appear before you read to the third page. I have frequently surmised in my letters to you of late that my stay in St Lucia would be short, but always supposed that Trinidad would be the station Sir Charles Smith intended for me. On the 1st instant the 8 day boat brought an order to proceed to Demerara by Barbados, and a private note with Sir Charles’s regrets at putting me to inconvenience, at the same time stating that the service required it. I believe Demerara and Berbice are to be put under one officer, or rather that the unfortunate at the later place is to report to the former officer. Thus poor Capt Thompson will be removed or have the disagreeable duty of sending all his communications thro me. I hope not, but rather suspect that it will be so arranged. At this moment I have been under the necessity of moving my seat, for in front I could see a poor lady horridly sick and in the rear they are pumping out the bilge water – but to continue. The 3rd Inst brought the packet into harbour bearing instructions to prepare for the Duke of York’s arrival & take my passage in her by Dominica to Barbados. The Sheldrake also brought charming letters from you all – the packet missing a box of Jam – and Col Studd – with all of which I am or was truly charmed. Yesterday the Duke reached St Lucia and here I am with a fine breeze rapidly approaching Dominica where Capt Grubbe is to join us with a Lt Pickard & the family of the late Lt Ireland. Most likely we shall remain there the night & continue our voyage tomorrow morning, the Capt G on his way to St Lucia again & Pickard to take charge of Invalids and widows from all the Islands, thus I think we shall have a rare collection. Our party consists now of young Mr Lacy, making a tour before he goes to England – ship rolls so I can hardly keep my seat – Mr Torrence of the house of Cavan & Co, Major Clerk & family on his way to take command of the 76th left wing in Dominica, and a Mrs Millsea or some such name tripping it from Grenada, St Vincent’s &c, where the Duke calls, for her health, with a child & maid. The 8 day boat shd be at St Lucia today, but as we are in advance of her, I intend posting this short account of my being removed at Dominica, thereby writing to the last moment before she sails. It was so exceedingly rough and the ship kicked about so that I was obliged to give up writing since. We have made the land and are now sailing along the coast at a short distance from the shore, it is wild and mountainous. In about half an hour the Duke will be at anchor, but too late to start again tonight. We are now passing the crater of a volcano, the strong smell of its sulphur is exceedingly disagreeable even at the distance we now are from it. I beg you will take this letter into your kindest consideration and not be severe in your criticism upon it, for I write with sick women and crying children around me. With Col Studd I am delighted. I had rode to Castries when the Packet came in to get my letters & had just finished my breakfast at Mr Hanley when he landed opposite the window and on my joining him we immediately became as well know to each other as it were possible to be had our acquaintance been uninterrupted. The introduction to Mr & Mrs Hanley followed, & then I got them mounted & we proceeded to Sir D Hill’s from whence we rode to my quarters & all the officers were introduced there to him. The good feeling towards each other is mutual. His officers like him & he is as much pleased with them as I have always expressed myself. They are undoubtedly a most superior Corps of Officers & I regret leaving St Lucia on their account, doubly increased by Studd’s joining. We have been constantly together since & each conversation has added to my good wishes towards him. All the garrison came down to see us off – it was so flattering that I was almost overcome. And now for a new station – Sir Carmichael Smith and new society. I think St Lucia would have suited me better for the rest of my transportation – the expense & inconvenience is great.

Sunday morning 12th July

In shore Dominica – slept at a Mr Dalrymple’s, a merchant’s, an acquaintance of Mr Torrence’s. Major Clerk’s baggage and horses are not yet landed. We have to take on board Capt Grubbe, Lt Pickard 76 with their baggage, Mrs Ireland & six children, therefore cannot sail before 12 or one. The 8 day mail has not made its appearance, but I am in a fright that my letter may be late for post – they make up the bag here 2 days before the vessel comes in. Mrs Milsea told me that Mrs Chadds had arrived in Grenada. Where are my black silk handk that she was to take charge of, my dear Kitty? Mine are rather of the brown order & it’s difficult to procure others. General Middlemore is off the staff here & Chadds returns to his Regt duty, a great drawback poor fellow. The Colony appears a vile hole but the scenery beautiful. The dreadful effects of the hurricane are still visible. Capt & Mrs Kay are well but the former going fast – his constitution is gone, these were all kindness. I breakfast there this morning. I must conclude.

All well 12th July about to sail for Barbados. You will of course receive one of my dispatches from Barbados, until then my dear Kate adieu. The haste with which I have been started & necessity of closing this that you may not be disappointed of a letter must excuse me with Miss Parker & my dear girls for not writing by this Packet. Something new will turn up by the next. Regards to all at Catisfield & accept my best love to yourself & the children. How are the boys? Regards to the Lady & the Misses Gardiner.

Take care of my Baron, your afft Fred.  What a pen!