Letter #57

 2d July 36

You will think my dear Kate that I was lost – but no, only that the spring leg has been in motion again. Would you credit it? Since I commenced, in fact hardly had I seated myself, and it is now nearly four oclock, when in came behind me and without shoes they are at your elbow before you know a person is in the room.  First Capt Walter, ‘Massa, here em a Powis nest you to take Barbade’. ‘Devil take you, don’t interrupt me.’ Two moments after, another: ‘Here in 29 dol from Commissary from em detacht’. ‘Get out and don’t bother me,’ then as I wrote spring leg in came Sergt Congreve: ‘Massa Captain, me come for order book.’ Begone, you dirty looking fellow, your unfit to go to the Brigade office for orders.’ Next & I trust last, a knock. ‘Who is there?’ ‘Witham, Massa, from Storekeeper, paper to sign.’ Added to all this, the servants have lengthened Mister Tickler’s chain to reach across the road that leads thro my domain, which, being a short cut, I give permission to the people on market day that have business this way to pass, but not the least aware are the old fruit ladies who carry every article in trays on their heads, that any alteration has been made in Tick’s bounds and, to their dismay and the delay of my letter he is amusing himself by stopping them all until he obtains toll of Yams, Plantains or whatever they may carry. T Naghten tells me that he explained that I was absent at Berbice. You will therefore be prepared for a lapse of some time without letters and our last two packets have been so much after the proper date, that of the 1st of may coming to hand on the 22d June in place of the 7th & of the 15 on the 29th June. I have been quite thrown out. I started for Berbice on the 1st June and after a quick but most unpleasant passage, the small cabin being occupied by sick ladies, Capt Hooper 69th and self were obliged to sleep on deck. The night was rainy and the Rollers broke once over us. In truth I was heartily glad to step on. I remained at Berbice until the evening of the 9th June when the Dispatch Boat sail for Demerara where we arrived on the 10th, knocked and bruised with motion of a little cutter thro a cross sea for so many hours. My sojourn at Berbice I cannot say much of. I was for the first time somewhat miserable – I think a cold was hanging about me. The place is wretched, nearly under water with the quantity of rain that has fallen this season. In fact, some valuable estates were, as well as tracts of country, completely flooded & I so believe, the coffee destroyed, roads were impassable. One of the Stipendiary Magistrates was actually dragged in a large tub with a chain in it by negroes up to their middle in mud & water to some post he was necessitated to visit. Capt Thompson ménage was wretched & dirty in the extreme, his unhappy Spanish wife quite in her dotage & sick withal. I could not eat there from filth & knowing he had not a penny to pay for what was at table, light fare too. Poor unfortunate fellow with a kind heart & no head. I fortunately had my friend Hooper & Mj Noel Hills’ Mess to go to or I know not what would have been my fate. On the morning of the day I sailed for this place, Miss Thompson, between 15 and 16, a lively little girl, was indisposed, and a very few days after my return I heard the poor little girl was dead & buried. I do not know when I have been more shocked, for poor Nettey was the only lively & reasonable person of that house. Thompson was making no preparation for his departure; his order for England came early in april and what I foretold him has come to pass: I have orders to take his name off the returns as employed here, & who shd report himself on his way to Berbice on Wed 29th June but Lt Molesworth – he proceeded the same day by Mail Boat – he begged to be remembered to you all, looks passing well considering he was ordered up from Tobago to receive a goosing for signing a disrespectful letter as Senior Respective Officer to Sir C Smith & the Barbados Board. He says he read it but was not aware that the letter was so!  I always expected that he would get into some scrape on duty from his extreme want of headpiece, but not satisfied with his lecture he must needs write a very improper letter to Sir C & his Board when at Barbados, & after 6 days reflecting over his affair, if he ever did reflect, it has ended in a severe reprimand & he was ordered under me. I have all the sinner, you know of old. I pity the poor fellow & received him so much as an old friend that his heart opened. He has sent Mrs Molesworth home some time as Capt Rutherford has done by his better half. You observe I was right in parting with you my dear Kate. Capt Rutherford is at Grenada, Lt Dill at Tobago, Capt Lewis at Trinidad, Capt Victor Dominica where Lt Mould with a wife & two children, having two at home, is gone to relieve the latter. The following copy of L Smith’s note will now explain the rest: ‘My dear E, Good news for you! Mould has arrived from England & Tait is ordered there. Victor will consequently relieve you at Demerara & you will gladden us with the jollification of your society as R Engr at Barbados. I hope you will be as much pleased with the arrangement as we all are. Mould goes in the Duke in a few days to relieve Victor & all the rest follows in regular course. We all long to see you. Lester S 23rd June.’ What a will. That man is a good humoured fellow enough but such another humbug I never met. He cares no more about me than the Pope, but thinks I am to be at Barbados on good terms with Sir C Smith and all there, consequently it is well to make a good hit at starting. But – before you get this, if luck is in my way, I shall be in Barbade, as Tyler in a letter of congratulation terms it, to reside for the remainder of my imprisonment. I must own it has cheered me greatly & the news has perfectly renovated me. I long to get out of the way of Carmic Smyth – he is a dangerous fellow – and the climate I prefer. Since returning from Berbice I have felt until the last 5 or 6 days far from well – the news and a few sugar plumbs have set me all right again. The 86th that left this & the 19th Regt are ordered home – lots of changes. My march to Hd Quarter appears one towards home. Some talk of Brevets but I think little of it. 4 of our Capts I observe are allowed to join the retired list on full pay. They intend to expend the old Captains – no thought of making them field officers it would seem. T Naghten dined here on Wednesday last & we have a regular chat. I read him all the news. Inform Mrs Naghten that he is well and going on most steadily, in truth Tom has throughout shewn more than a common portion of good sense. It was to be expected that a lad would at first feel a little hurt and his pride alarmed finding himself in juxtaposition with a set of young men all day, selling in retail & unaccustomed to the same class of society that Tom has moved in. Possibly some of the 86th might have quized him a little, but not with any such views. I much doubt it – they were rather a superior set of young men & understood perfectly how Tom was situated & the object of his joining the House. In fact I need add little on the subject but that Mrs Naghten may make her mind perfectly easy on that score. It is impossible that a young man can be going on more steadily, making friends of all worth his notice, and as the Merchants term it, sticking to business in a most sensible way. All our laughing terminates when Tom & the Capt are together with the advice you wished me to give. He is a worthy good fellow & if spared will be a rich man. I try to persuade him to give up smoking & never drink spirits. The latter he has altogether given up, the former will follow in due time. So much for Master Tom, & now my very best wishes to his charming mother. I wish you would order me from Hawke’s a new sword belt & sword knot. I expect lots of dress and parades at Barbados. My mind is not yet made up as to selling my beautiful charger – many want him, but think I shall run the risque of embarking him. I am pleased that you have taken your Car & carriage in hand, it was the subject of my thoughts several times. What is Fred about? Not making a spooner of himself I hope. Am glad to find that Annie is so much better & that Gusto is so attentive. Your next will convey I fear the account of Mr Steward’s decease, poor man. It is disagreeable but Sir E Mulcaster is right no doubt. Having served my time there can be no remarks made whatever my lot may be. Kiss the dear girls, God bless them. Regards to Miss Parker. I regret Mr Hawker has fallen out with Sir E Brace & trust all will be square before I return. Shake him heartily by the hand & remember me to my Aunts & Mary. If Jane could but see my wardrobe – am happy she is so well. Pinch Gusto & Flush the wild cat. I am trying to get a blue & yellow Macaw to send home. Mr Tickler goes with me. Why is it that no work has been done for my little godson? He is a sweet boy. Adieu my dear Kate your ever aff Fred. This departs by a trader tomorrow. The Isabella sugar ship sail tonight I believe the 3rd July. Tom N is now seated at the table writing. He breakfasted here – a noisey fellow. Again adieu – I will write before I start for Barbados.

The Arrow Root shall be sent from Barbados – the best place.