Letter #50

Was Augustus destined to follow in father’s footsteps? The day of reckoning has arrived. 

Thomas Aiskew Larcom, at this time a lieutenant, was appointed by Colonel Colby (see letter 42) to be in charge of the Survey in Ireland, which must have been where English and he became acquainted. A meticulous surveyor, he produced six-inch maps of the whole of Ireland. The ‘Memoir of the Parish of Templemore’ (a part of Derry) resulted from Larcom’s conviction that the Survey should publish a detailed account of each area covered by its mapping. What he sent to English at this point must have been only part of the final document, which was published in 1837 and runs to more than 350 pages. Not surprisingly, it was soon decided that the time and expense in producing such works covering the entire country were not justified, so this is the only volume that saw the light of day. Larcom’s later career saw him promoted to a senior position in the Irish civil service; he achieved the rank of Major-General and was made a baronet.

Rank must & will come & if I am not revenged for this piece of partiality I pledge my existence.

Demerara 1st Feby 1836

As usual my dear Kate I am about to write with dispatch – a vessel, it is said, sails tomorrow morning, the Underwood. Mr Naghten came out in her, who by the bye is perfectly well & has recovered his English looks again. The date of your last letter as yet recd is 28th Novr, thus I may in two or three days get those due for the 15 Decr & 1st Jany, and sincerely do I hope that they may convey some more satisfactory intelligence than the one now laying before me. I would willingly defer writing until the Packet arrives, but do not like to disappoint you, as I am aware Naghten sends accounts of himself by this ship. Respecting Augustus’s discharge from Woolwich, I dare not write the twentieth portion of what I feel in consequence of it. Since your letter reached me I cannot drive it out of my mind from morning until night – it is uppermost. If a moment of gaity passes, the whole train of wretched reflection on the subject returns with double annoyance, as it were that some dire misfortune hung over me of which I have no clear conception. All this will pass over in time it’s to be hoped, and if I belonged to any other service would be forgotten, but as it is unhappily I must be content to meet with those constantly, all my life, who will revive these bitter remembrances. My pride is stung to the quick in this matter and I cannot compose my feelings or temper on the subject. I perfectly dread its being named. That Augustus has been idle there can be no question, & that he has notwithstanding been unfairly used I feel certain. In fact he has been sacrificed for some other’s interest. Had Sir J Kempt been in office who gave him the Cadetship, or I on the spot to fight his battle, the case would have been very different, but they have caught at his inattention latterly as good grounds for getting him out of the road for another. It is now too late to reproach Augustus. If the Army was his great object and he should continue to be partial to it, he will, poor fellow, often feel his want of success when meeting or hearing of his late companions. Is he the only one cadet discharged, or that has been on the same examinations since he joined? I wish to know this very much. I’m sorry you wrote to Col Parker, his is the most cold hearted affair of the whole, not even condescending to acknowledge you as an old acquaintance, and most likely made use of your statement that Augustus was inattentive to suit his purpose in forwarding his own view in getting the poor boy out of the way. I will write no more now for it can have no good effect. My views for him are blasted for the present. What I devise for his future prospects at this moment I cannot, thanks to that miserable Ellicombe. Had one year or two more be granted me at home, all this might [words omitted as he turned the page] avoided. I would willingly try to adopt the maxim that Dear Kate & Caro would impress upon me, God bless them, that something more worthy his pursuit may offer & that all is for the best. I never despond, and that he will do well in another profession I doubt not. Still, my whole soul was in the desire that he shd get into our Corps. Our Genl Court Martial is over – Sir A Halliday acquitted of 4 charges & reprimanded on another, the Gen’s Comical conduct in the business refered home. The members will now disperse but poor little Thompson is laid up with fever upstairs and cannot return for some days, being too weak. He is better this morning but exceedingly feeble. It is a sad wind up to his long visit. The Brigantine Duke of York arrived yesterday to take back those who came from Barbados. I had a letter from Capt Tait wherein he states that Capt Rutherford RE & his wife had just landed, a Lt Dill joined & going to Dominica, & Capt Victor, Lt Lewis & Lt Mould on their way. Thus we shall have two more than our number, a Capt & Sub. I have tried to persuade myself that the talked of Brevet is to take place & that the extra Capt is to take my place in case of such an event. We will hope so my dear Kate. Certain it is that some favorable regulation is about to be acted upon & we are not to spin out so many years in this climate as heretofore without being relieved. Since I wrote on the 17th Inst I have joined in a few parties, not at the Governor for we have cut & he has quarrelled with all the Military nearly. I will relate the story when more in the humour to laugh. However, I am sick of the parties and sand flies & everything else but home. My health is excellent & on the whole am more reconciled to this place. Dr & Mrs Whyte are attentive in the extreme. Mr Naghten is frequently with me & looks on my house as one of his homes. I wonder he did not take his dinner here yesterday, Sunday being his holiday. He makes me laugh heartily sometimes with his exceeding good humour. A trip up the coast I immagine has taken up his day. By the Brigantine I had a long letter from Larcom forwarding a copy of their first Memoir on the Parish of Templemore or Derry, a vol of some hundred pages in small print – very creditable, as the British Association on its meeting in Dublin confirmed by unbounded applause, but knowing as much of the survey as we do, depend upon it, the Memoirs must break down. All very well for the start but they cannot be kept up. Why this book has been sent out to me I understand not unless as a bait to join again on returning. Lancey has been offered the duty. I would not accept it for a trifle. My little Capt is better tonight. Tomorrow I dine with Mr & Mrs Bagot – he is the High Sheriff – and on thursday at Mr Wilday’s, the father of the young lady Mr Ford was engaged too, & a very pleasing fine girl the lass is. Augustus’ affair perfectly haunts me. To him it may or may not be of importance should good fortune place him in another berth. What satisfaction is it or counterbalance to such a sad break up of his prospects that at 15 or 16 years of age, old Col Drummond who has not an idea beyond Algebra & Lt Col Parker who has few ideas, white wash the lad by a domestic character that he has been exceedingly steady and well behaved – it’s a part of the plot & were I at home I would see Sir J Kempt and the present Scientific M Genl, and have my say out, whatever might be the event. I firmly believe, in fact am confident, that Augustus has been shamefully ill used, his father out of the way & an Engineer, Artillery at the Head of affairs, & no soul but a Lady to write or look after him, & if I can but get home soon enough, Col D & Parker shall have an early visit to impart my impressions on this head. However, the most important part we have to perform, resting principally on you my dear Kate, is to support August in his efforts to obtain by his exertion some situation in life which will prove by his success and advancement that the loss is not his. All that I have met who were from some or other circumstances out of Woolwich are far better off, five or six in this country for instance. If a military life is his bent he will not be much worth in any other & no time shd be lost on the strength of my being in a tropical climate serving my country in getting his name on the list through Ld J O’Brien. The 250£ is a farce compared with the sums he may require before he will settle in life after what has passed. In the meantime let him study French, Spanish & German, drawing and his Geometry. His name being on the list will not prevent his accepting a better berth if it offers in the time. So soon as I come home I start him to travel & pick up what he can in Languages &c. It will not be long I trust ere this desirable event takes place. Col Lacy went home in the Arab. Regards to my good Uncle & my Aunts. God bless you all & believe me your aff Fred. How are the dear girls, Fred & Miss P?

You fancy Major Wells being affronted – he has much to attend to – I had a kind letter from him lately.