Letter #48

Here is a day for a man to write to his wife the 5th January 36 my dear Kate – blowing a gale, rain, sultry at intervals, gloomy, and at this moment the sand flies are so numerous that I am forced to write with my gloves on, the bad weather having driven them into the houses. They are such a pest, added to their companions the Mosquitos that our suffering from them is the subject of conversation with every soul you meet, & the unfortunate newcomes are perfectly overwhelmed. Mr Naghten has been a fine treat to these worthy residents of Essequibo, they have made a rare feast on his fresh fat cheeks. Poor fellow, he has been laid up by their unwelcome attentions. As Capt Wood used to remark when out of sorts & the weather unfavorable, he always locked up his razors and verily I believe I must so do if you continue to write in such a desponding stile as your letter of the 12 Novr was composed. Taxing me with being unkind is unfair. I cannot make the sugar ships that have come under your disapprobation sail faster nor can I write by every ship or brig that leaves Demerara – they are  too numerous, and it so happens sometimes in this large colony that I never hear of their departure. But I have written every fortnight unless when absent. In fact I seem to be constantly scribbling. It was late last night that I understood a brig was to sail today at four for England and so soon as I packed little Capt Thompson off to the Gen Court Martial, I have seated myself and you must be content my dear Kate to receive what you term only a line in order to have the latest intelligence of husband for at such times I cannot prepare a long history – the case now. I must either forego the pleasures of writing to report that I am well and as happy as circumstances will admit of being absent from all I hold dear, or start a short account of myself, but pray think twice before you dispatch those uncontrolled feelings of ebulliency across the Atlantic, and bear in mind that six or seven weeks after they are put to paper I am nearly in a state of fever reading & fancying every description of misery. I regret Capt Kitson’s death. Poor fellow, he might have returned home at the end of his service in the Bahamas, but Sir Comical gave him the Fort Captaincy, some few hundreds a year, which induced him to stay – very likely it would have happened anywhere else. Writing in gloves does not answer – I cannot make my pen go. My hands, back of my neck & chin are like so many portions of the model of the County Down, fortunately they do not cause so much pain as on first landing. Augustus’ examination and the result still haunts me, and much as I delight to receive my Wickham packet, at present it is with some dread I look forward to the Mail’s arrival. To live in hope always keeps up my spirits & I have vowed within myself never to be cast down whilst in this state of transportation. Your news about the 8 Cols amused me, or rather the mistery Wilmot has made of it. The same has been long talked of ever since their Memorial. Some think that great promotion and changes will take place next April. I wish I was home again or at a station abroad where you could all be with me. If Fred shd make a goose of himself in Ireland, which it is to be hoped he has too much sense to do, he must leave the army and take a Grocery, not taking a wife abroad. He would be heartily sick of that scheme. The married people here have only one room owing to the number of officers that have joined. Thus Mrs Whyte is placed with three children in this hot climate. I have managed to make a temporary division for them, but it is wretched work. Do beg of Augustus to improve his hand writing. If he has left the Academy or otherwise, it is a very considerable draw back to a man who may be required to transact business in any shape. The Engrs’ quarters at Weedon, I suppose, are only lent to some married man. For my part, if single, I shd prefer the office at a distance from the Line men. To be sure it is a little overlooked, but bathing is very near. Jamaica is filled up I see by Major C Dixon. So Drummond is about to be, or by this time spliced – he’s a good fellow & I wish him every happiness. Young Naghten looks upon me as his old acquaintance and is frequently here either at breakfast or dinner. He is a good tempered lad. The day before yesterday, no saturday, he breakfasted and attended the Court Martial. He was to have dined but Mr Garnet the Attorney called to take to the Estates on the banks of the Essequibo – I expect he will return half devoured. Have not drawn any money from England yet but must soon. Xmas day I dined with the Govr and extremely dull it was, in fact I have passed rather a gloomy than a merry time of it. On the 31 morning I went across the river to a Mr Manget’s, a Dutch family, their names have I think been already introduced. It was a large party and we danced the New Year in. Handsome supper and then we turned in to our hammocks wherever we could sling them in the scramble. I returned the following day in the Engrs’ boat, bring Mr & Mrs Rose, Mr Kean & McIntire 86 & Mr Campbell, Chief Judge’s Secretary. Lt McIntire is the young man you must recollect at the Batchelors’ fancy Ball, Fareham, as a half emancipated Negro, half black & half white. I regret to receive such unfavorable account of my Catisfield friends. Regards to my Uncle H & thank him for his delightful letter. You are all in error respecting your letters no being interesting – all that you can collect together about yourselves is so to me. I don’t know why you should be angry with Sir C Smith. This is considered the Colony of most importance next to Barbados. How would you like coming out to the latter as Comding? You write wildly my dear Kate about the Packets. I thought I had explained that the Packet which comes here goes on to Berbice, returns here, & does not get back to Barbados in time for the 8 day boat. Thus if I were to write by the Packet now due, or tomorrow, my letter would not leave this until the 13th & would remain at Barbados until 8 days after the next packet comes to Anchor, but I will try by the next. I have dined out frequently since returning from Schoon-Nord – Mr Manget’s – at Mr Allt’s Saturday, Sunday Mr Campbell’s, Monday Acting Chief Justice John Walpole Willis, rather a rum mad fellow, meeting Sir M Creagh, Major Brookes 69, Capt Parker Do, Major Steward, Capt Lowth 86, Mr Goodman, Mr Price, Mr or Capt Warren, formerly Mrs Naghten’s Attorney, Mr Campbell & one or two others stupid enough. Harris has not long enjoyed his retired full pay. Major Emmet it’s said succeeds him. Oh! I’m mad with the sand flies. Perhaps a few gleanings from letters recd by Capt Tait from Capt Lancey and Lt Hawkshaw will be acceptable although it should emanant with you being on the new side of the water. Col By, to use Tait’s phraseology, has overstaid the time allowed him by the Doctors, but cannot hold out much longer. M C Dixon I have already written is off for Jamaica, Aldrich to Gibraltar, quite stout and strong, Lancey going to Scotland vice Victor ordered elsewhere, probably Bahamas. The former gives a melancholy account of his state of health as unfit for much work. He has been confined to the house ever since he went home from Tobago, & missed getting employed again in the Survey. Col Colby sent to enquire after him, so I conclude that Col Colby has found out what we all said about the Survey in those days were facts. Hulm it seems is to be invalided in place of Harris. Prince Gordon & Stocker are booked in the ineffective list, & leetle Johnny Oldfield has reached home. Were it not for the sand flies I would scribble on but it’s in vain – I must have the use of my hand to defend myself. Love to all – Fred, Aug, Katy, Cary, Bow & Fop – kiss them all round. Regards to Miss Parker. How is Janet? I wish I had her here for a few days to set my Wardrobe in order. God bless you all. Don’t fuss for I’m right well but more home sick than ever. Regards to Uncles, Aunts and wife MOB, Brothers – & let me hear all you can of my sisters. Oh! when will the season of sand flies and Mosquitos terminate? You would run about out of your wits, even the housekeeping book would not steady you.

believe me your attached

Fred English