Letter #51

English still favours pulling strings to try to rescue Augustus’s army career. Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill, whom English may have known in the Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns, was now commander-in-chief of the Army. Lord Fitzroy Somerset had lost an arm at Waterloo, then served as secretary to Wellington in his capacity as Master General of the Ordnance. At this time, he was at Lord Hill’s right hand as military secretary at the Horse Guards. He is best known as Field-Marshal Lord Raglan, commander of the Army in the Crimea, where he died.

English does not mention that he met Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk, but it is very probable that he did. Schomburgk was commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society to explore British Guiana between 1835 and 1839. He recorded and named the Victoria regia water lily, found on New Year’s Day 1837 on the Berbice river. He returned after English’s departure to survey the boundaries of British Guiana; he also published a History of Barbados in 1848. 

Baboons do not occur in South America; perhaps the animals making themselves heard so loudly were howler monkey

Demerara 26th Feby 1836

It is doubtful my dear Kate that I shall fill this long sheet, not that there is any want of inclination, for I never feel so happy as during the few hours enjoyed in scribbling to you, but since your dispatches have been filled with Augustus’ ill success, I have felt depressed in the extreme and inclined to put off writing in the fear of dwelling on the subject and thus renewing all the miserable thoughts of the past and the ill consequences that may accrue from this unfortunate mischance in the bud of his career. I am at all times unwilling to despond, and do not therefore suppose it impossible that he may overcome the disappointment and get on far better in some other profession. Still it will always be a sore affair to me whenever I even hear of Woolwich or its Academy. Your welcome letters of the 30th Decr and 14th Jany both reached me on the 22nd Inst, and greatly was I delighted to find you were all in good health. For myself I never enjoyed better health in my life than during my stay here, in fact since I joined, in this country. Major Brookes 69th has just called to take leave. He and Captain Parker of the same Regt depart for Barbados by Mail boat tomorrow. The former, one of my allies and a most gentlemanly man, is on his way home to join the Depot, being relieved of the Comd of the Regt by Lt Col Monins who has landed with his Lady about a week. I have called and think I shall like both. Capt Parker is on leave – the next we shall hear of him will be as a Major and probably married man. It adds to my unsettled feelings wishing them adieu – I wish it was my turn with all my heart. For some little time we were rather looking with a certainty to a Brevet. It was agreeable to think of but I must own I was dubious after so many disappointments. There will be an advantage in serving a fair time out here if I am promoted & proceed home. They might give me a command and leave me at peace for several years, in which case some thing might be done for Augustus. I still think his name shd be got on Ld Hill’s list if possible as they know me. I shd add Ld H & Ld F Somerset, and on the plea of being on active duty his name might be recd, and if nothing better falls in his way, at 19 he would most probably be admitted into the service. Since I last wrote so little has occurred that there is no subject to entertain you. Capt Thompson, after a severe attack of fever, got about and I got rid of him about the 10th Inst. Poor little fellow, he endeavoured to be as pleasant as possible, but withal my patience was nearly expended by his pottering and want of decision. It will now be necessary that I turn my steps towards Berbice. I observe Sir M Creagh coming – he has made me laugh, although a bore at the present when writing is the move. ‘Well English, we are going to lose our friend Major Brookes. It makes me wretched to see all the best going, ‘pon my honor. If they don’t soon take my Regt up to Barbados, I shall wish myself tried by a Court Martial or any thing to get away.’ This feeling is a constant one throughout, consequently all are unsettled and stick to no one thing. In March we are to have what are to be called races. They have an excellent course which is preparing, and I believe the officers are about to get up another Performance at the Dutch Theatre, a very pretty one. Mr McIntire asked me to take a part, for which fun I do not feel in glee sufficient. Lt Haning, who I introduced to you in some of my letters as Adjt of the 65 now at St Vincent’s, returned on the 24th Inst from his excursion with Mr Schombergh into the interior. He has had leave for six months for the purpose, with permission from the Geographical Society to join the party. They have suffered much from sickness, & does not appear to regret having joined in the world again – a short visit to the Indians is sufficient. Schombergh remains up the Essequibo to complete his reports & collections. Haning has just sent me a Parrot & a huge Monkey skin – in truth my quarters much resemble a museum. Of late I have been employed in forming an Orange Grove in my gallery in tubs, the painting & preparation of which has occupied some time. This and improving the quarters, planting &c for the next Engineer, has afforded considerable exertion both to mind & body, dog Toby & the black cat being always of the party. Yesterday I locked the former in the cellar without being aware of it. He was so amused with the rats that, from fatigue I suppose, he went to sleep, for he made no outcry. Missing him at my bed side at night & at breakfast in the morning, I began to be alarmed & threatened many punishments for absence without leave. I was quite unhappy. At last I thought of the cellar & out mi lor came like a culprit out of black hole. This was about midday so he had time to reflect. Sir Charles & Lady Smith are gone in the Mail steamer, Columbia I think, or some other, to Jamaica for a trip, the latter having been ill, in fact they are anxious for a change. I should not be the least surprised to find myself in command yet in the West Indies, but hope not. T Naghten is quite well. I saw him two days since, laughing away, looking as fresh as possible. My poor friend Miss Parker’s misfortune I sincerely regret – offer my regards to her. I was disappointed when I discovered her usual contribution in the letter way was absent. When about to close my letter on friday evening I learnt that the vessel would not sail & I fancy will not do so until this evening. On Saturday the Mail boat returned to Barbados with my friend Major Brookes & Capt Parker. I put them bag & baggage on board in the Engineers’ boat in heavy rain, almost the first we have had for some months. Certainly the weather has been delightful in the morning & evening, inducing me to take much exercise and really becoming perfectly shap-like in consequence.

tuesday 1st March 1836

I am delighted that you think me economical. It my earnest wish not to draw more than I can possibly avoid but this is an expensive place & requires to be on the look out not to fall into what is not absolutely necessary in order to keep pace with others, however this is all humbug. What I was going to write that on the 3 or 4 I drew for 25£ is more to the point – as usual at 30 days after sight. On saturday I dined with Mr Glen, a Merchant of property and on Sunday morning he drove me to Haag’s Busche, about 5 miles from town. We met a large party at breakfast and past a delightful day returning to a late dinner. It is a beautiful spot on the edge of the forrest, the inhabitants of which, the Baboons, were making a horrid noise all day. Yesterday the Levée & being on Garrison duty took up all my day, assisted by a long visit from Sir M Creagh, & today, just as I was about to complete my letter an orderly came to say that the Genl Court M of which I was a member had met to revise & that they wanted for me. Thus there is no rest in this Garrison. I must now send this away or lose the chance. My dear Kate, God bless you all. By degrees I hope to write you more merry letters. Regards to my good Uncle, Aunts, MOB & Miss Parker. I will write to Gusto by the next vessel.

believe me Your afft Fred

I drank your health in ½ a doz bumpers on the 14th Feby