Letter #44

Coonancy is not a dictionary word – perhaps it is a private one.

Demerara 5th Novr 1835

No letters my dear Kate by the Packet which arrived here on Monday the 2d Inst, stopped I suppose at Pall Mall office as usual. Still, it will not answer to grumble for Major Wells has taken some trouble in our behalf to forward our correspondence. I returned from the woods late Sunday night, and was not a little astonished to learn that there had not been an arrival from Europe during my absence. Consequently I felt on the tiptoe of expectation that the mail would afford most important news – Brevets, Augustus’s fate &c. Conceive my disappointment on breaking open the envelope to find letters only from Mr Lord & Winter 76th, St Lucia, and one from old Rachel our washerwoman at Barbados wishing directions about some ginger. The vexation has not passed by yet, in truth I cannot write until the next dispatch, expected tomorrow, has arrived, when I hope to receive such favorable accounts from Wickham that the history of our late adventures in the Bush will be written with an overflow of spirit, and the description amuse you in reading as much as the visits we paid to the various Tribes of Indians did our whole party, consisting of Lt Col Sir M Creagh 86, Capt Halliday 86, Lt Jenkins 69, Mr Leney, DA Commissary Genl, Mr Allt and Mr Carbury. The latter having a small establishment about 90 miles up the Pomeroon, was leader of party and purvayor, I may add Adjt Genl, on the occasion. No Packet yet my dear Kate, therefore the description of our voyage & the reception by the Arawaaks &c must be postponed until tomorrow morning, when I trust on opening my eyes I shall observe the signal flying, & have your dispatch in time to reply to it before the bag closes tomorrow night as this letter sails by the Pothumous on sunday morning early. Her Capt, named Remington, a relation of my sub in Ireland, has been rigging the Engineer Boat for me preparatory to a voyage up this river to the Sand Hills & falls which I propose making so soon as I return from Berbice, which I start for on the receipt of the two Packets due 15 Sept & 1st Oct. Your letter of the 27th Augt now lays before me, no doubt every line of it has been replied to in mine dated about the 7th or 8th of last month. You will all be annoyed I fear, and fancy all sorts of troubles, not receiving from Demerara for such a lapse of time. There has not been a favorable opportunity since my return from the interior & I hope my letter will reach you wherein the possibility of being absent for a time is stated. Fred Regt, I observe by the papers, has moved its Hd Quarters, the fracas with the country people so common in Ireland with a Protestant Regt would not call down such severe punishment as immediate foreign service. The 35th will doubtlessly serve their period in the South of Ireland. The promotion will be rapid on their again embarking. Regards to the Old Ensign when you write to him – I would give a trifle to shake him by the hand. My late comrades the 76 are coming to Barbados, the 74th to Antigua & 36 to St Lucia & Dominica. You are aware that Capt Kay has quitted the latter station & gone home unfit for service – they ought not to have sent him out. By the bye, some of our Corps must be quaking – we shall want a lot to fill up the vacancies here. How happy I shall feel on returning to think this my term of service here has expired. Read will repent his wild scheme. Your young friend Miss Beecher appears to have ‘kicked up a regular shine’, as Genl Brown of Ft George used to express it, and your old fashioned friend Mr Wilmot is as comical or more so than ever. How dismal must Weedon be to him after what he was accustomed to enjoy there. Old Lady Keymes was I find was no great favorite here latterly, and some do affirm that parties were set by the ears, of course not by her smooth tongue – a regular old sinner. I never saw her but once to speak to, what could she know of me and being beloved – it’s all blarney, depend upon it. Mr Nooles I think I recollect at the Tower, and a monstrous affected Ape he was in those days – in five minutes he made use of the word ‘amalgamate’ 10 times. My Baron, as you term Baron D’Yvoley, has written a very sweet letter to me from London wherein he regrets that his plan of embarking at Dover prevents his paying you a visit. The boxes were not in his charge. I trust you have recd them and enjoyed their contents. It would be well to write to the Agents about the wine allowance. I never have drawn it, but Sir C F Smith returns us all & I understand that for the periods we are at the Barbados Mess it is paid to the fund. However, that is but a short time out of the months I have been in these Colonies. To my surprise I have lived more reasonable here than at St Lucia owing to keeping house for myself. In some of the first letters written from hence, I stated that the 69 and 86 Regt had voted me an honorary member of their Messes. I dined several times at each, not being able to make choice of the two, both being bad enough and expensive. I decided to eat my chickens at the R Engrs quarter – for economy, being more independent – and as I dine out frequently or am absent on trips to the interior or coast for days together, I find my new plan answers exceedingly to my taste. Fortunately eight or 9 oclock is bed time making the evenings short, one of the great secrets of keeping in good health in this climate. Up as soon after day break as possible, get cool in your Hammock swinging in your Gallery for half an hour, shave &c &c and then tumble into a bath with a shower. This is my plan, thus I avoid if possible fagging before breakfast, avoid the morning vapour, and sit down to my bohea as cool as the heat of the weather will admit of. During the day I walk and ride without thinking of the sun, which in my humble opinion injures not so long as a person moves about & keeps up a constant perspiration. The fact is so far proved that in Barbados, in fact in every station, those soldiers to whom the punishment of hard labor is awarded & who are exposed working in the hotest part of the day are in the most robust health. I allude to Barbados more particularly because the white lime roads in that Island reflect the rays of the sun to such a degree that many of the Natives move about in masks of white linen. This has been a considerable digression from the subject of economy. Since the 10th of August, the day I embarked on board the Duke of York for Demerara, I have not had occasion to draw on the Agents and hope to get on some time longer without doing so. Every Packet I expect a present from you of a pr of Major’s or Lt Col’s Epaulettes. This promotion you have promised me which might bring us together again I much fear will terminate, as all other report of a similar tendency have done for the last five years, notwithstanding what was contained on that little square of printed paper of Portsmouth news. Does Miss Parker collect information thro that channel as heretofore? Forgive me but I will not give you my dear Kate nor either of those saucy girls who are no doubt waiting to read this letter a description of the voyage to and up the Pomeroon river and Moores Creek to explore, if Miss Parker will promise not to criticise the account of our adventures, make extracts for the Portsmouth Gazette, or write a book on the subject. It shall fall to her lot to have the first reading, no sinecure, and it will be well that you get your tea made before handing over the journal. It was not the best season to get the coffee when I left St Lucia, but as my duty will take me to Berbice, a spot famed for it, your wish to have a bag shall not be forgotten. I am now laughing at the account you give me of your coonancy – if they will but let me get home I will upset some of the system and enlist Kate & Cary to assist me. Take care of all your teeth and give my aunts the same precaution, for the supply of Tamarinds I forwarded, if they ever have been recd, would extract a whole Regiment’s. The handle of your store room must be in a nice sticky state if Jane has not courage to defend that apartment from the attacks of your four young flounces reinforced by the Miss Gardners. If Lady Gardner wishes for Arrow Root, I will send it off. Tell Mrs Wainwright her request is not forgotten. Do you require a fresh supply? I am anxious to ascertain whether the boxes by the Palestine with their contents reached Wickham in good order and if the opening caused much pleasure. You are now thinking of having Fred and Augustus with you again. The former will obtain leave at Xmas I shd think without difficulty. If he is in Town, tell him to call on Ld James OB, and if the chance falls in his way get his Lordship to introduce him at the Levée. Tell him to keep up that acquaintance by every means opportunity may offer. The old horse has proved, as I anticipated, a great comfort to the whole party. His occasional lameness is from the dry & hard state of the Macadam roads. Have his feet kept well stopped, & in dry weather put them into the water as frequently as can conveniently be done. With care he will last many years, and I expect to enjoy the pleasure of driving him in the new harness & Car newly painted, a compliment on my return. Let the carriage lining be well looked to – the moth must not attack that. A coat of varnish would be of service to the Body and the wheels require paint. You write that you all dress very shabby. I regret this part of the system exceedingly, but hope to find you all as smart as usual, if not Fred shall be called to account for neglecting his charge. Did you go to Mrs Naughton’s? Tom’s arrival will be hail’d with pleasure on my part, independent of the pleasure of seeing him as one of Madam’s sons, for her agreeable manner made a great impression on me – in truth the little woman is a great favorite of mine but the flannel will be most acceptable. My waistcoats, thanks to the fabric which has kept me in health, are so diminished from constant washing that I must put two together to make one. When this improvement is going forward, I will put the sleeves with the elbows the right way which Kate stitched in hind side foremost. Tell Mrs Naughton that I dined with Attorney Mr Garnet before I left Demerara for the woods, who did all he could to draw me out about Tom, what he was coming for and many other enquiries. The fact is that Young Naughton, after a little insight into his mother’s estates here, if half as shrewd as old Mr Garnet, may save his family some 5 or 600 a year & act Atty himself. Mrs N’s Estates are considered exceedingly fine, and that they will make her ample returns. There are three: Canefields, Golden Fleece and Columbia. On my return from the Pomeroon I put up with Mr Carbury at the Affiance Estate and remained several days there. This was close to the Port of Capoey – look at the Map – which I had to inspect, and Mrs Naughton’s property joins. The house inhabited by a Mr Johnston, an excellent residence, was within 10 minutes walk of our quarters & Mr Johnston, a young Irishman from Larne near Belfast, dined or breakfasted with us each day. He is the Manager & I understood before I was aware that the property was our friend’s, that he was an active and attentive person. However, Tom Naughton will so find them out unless he gets humbugged by the old hands. On the 30th I have engaged myself to stay with a Mr & Mrs Rose at Lima near Columbia, in order to be present at a very gay Ball under the patronage of the Scotch in this Colony, and is termed the Caledonia meeting. It will be a rum turn out in every sense of that word, I have no doubt. A description for your amusement will be forthcoming. On Monday last we had a Levée at Camp House, and Sir Com Smith really appeared glad to see me back again. Afterward a field day of the Lancers & Militia which I escaped and saved my swallow tailed coat a heating, as I did the Sunday prance on my charger as a portion of his Excellency’s staff. Tuesday we had a very large party at Govt House. Mrs Whyte sat opposite me looking exceedingly well. I continued to fix myself amongst the men – it’s too sultry to chat with the tender sex when clothed in red & gold lace. Govr & his Lady all smiles & much delighted with the variety of account brought home by the late exploring expedition. I felt perfectly at a loss finding myself amongst petticoats, flounces &c after having been so long with the copper colored ladies without vestment of any kind beyond a few red, blue & white beads round their ankles, below the knee, and loads of necklaces – I assure you the contrast was most amusing. The hunting, about which you remark, that Sir JS has given me, I care not for, but I was not sent to relieve Mr Ford – the station has been vacant since last April, Mr F having been ordered to Barbados. The arrangement for my coming here was in consequence of the Board deciding to place British Guiana under one officer to reside here, and my being senior to Capt Thompson, poor little Devil, I shall start to Inspect him when your letters have reached me. Miss Lacy, who I wrote to you as being so ill, died the first week after leaving Barbados – I had no hope when last I shook her hand. You must not despair – some good luck may turn up & I shall be ordered home, but certain I am that we have acted wisely in separating for a time, or in other words not dragging our family to this trying climate. Our Military Clergyman here is a Mr Lucan – he has called on me. He assists at the Church, or rather he belongs to the Church Establishment of Demerara & does duty at the military services. I attend sometimes at one & at the other. He is an agreeable person enough – he sat opposite to me at a dinner given to the Govr at 69th Mess yesterday, & your lord & master next to Sir Comical who was very chatty, talked of you, the children, humbug, in fact was quite hearty. I never wish to meet Mr Wiltshire again & I trust I never shall. He is a miserable minded fellow. And now my dear Kate you are wishing to attack Miss Parker’s letter after wading thro the long yarn. Regards to Mr Hawker and Aunts with MOB & to Mr & Mrs HH if you see them. Tell Fred I do not write to him direct, for whilst they are in Ireland the Regt may be constantly moving & a letter traversing the country after him. I am very anxious to receive a letter from Gusto. Kiss the dear girls for me & include the Miss Gardners if they are with you. Best wishes to Miss Parker & rout Jane for me – hope she is well. Your afft Fred

All well Saturday 7th Novr 1835 but no Packet yet

I have just understood the Posthumous bag is not to be closed before tomorrow.

All well 9th Nov 1835

It is said here that Mrs Naughton’s Estates will make a rich person of her yet. Property is on the encrease in value in these colonies. Alarm has subsided and freedom will prosper for all parties.