Letter #58

Maroudie: Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘maroodi’ as guan, and locates the word in Guyana. Of the three guans native to Guyana, the one that best fits the description is the blue-throated piping guan, Pipile cumanensis.

Demerara 15 Jul 1836

You all express anxiety that I shall find the Wickham letters dull and uninteresting. It always makes me smile my dear Kate. On the contrary, I devour every line from home and the last budget contained matter that has amused me exceedingly independent of the sincere pleasure it affords me to find that you are all so well. The last three packets have been considerable after time, and that of the 1st June only reached this about gun fire this morning when my factotum awoke me by screeching ‘Captain, the packet has arrived’. We all anticipated great news but as usual little has come to light. Fortunately for my peace of mind I had long given up all hope of a brevet – it may come some day but I doubt it. Thus you will receive your old worn out West India Captain if he has the good fortune to reach England with the same rank, same coat, shd it hold together &c &c and in most respects as he quitted home excepting a tanned phiz, well dried skin & shrivelled brow, adding a temper not improved by hot pickle and sour fruits. Nothing has occurred since my last letter that I can give you as a portion of the history & adventures of Capt F English during a residence in British Guiana for the Vol Miss Parker or Mrs Hawker hinted was about to be put to manuscript. I wrote you word that I had been somewhat indisposed after returning from Berbice. However, that has passed by, I shook it off manfully, getting considerable fined down and allowing the buttons and their brethren a holiday. The prospect of going to Barbados has occupied much of my thoughts of late & the preparations of packing, sorting my things and contriving to reduce the lumber to the smallest establishment have tended not only to drive care away but given me lots of amusement with exercise. A very friendly letter from Tait today informs me that Lt Mould has departed for Dominica – he went on the 2d Inst, thus I may soon hear something of Capt Victor. He will be exceedingly comfortable here I have no doubt & delighted at the change. The house & ground round it with the Department I do flatter myself are in capital order comparatively, for when I joined every think was going on as bad as bad could be. He and Madame his wife may like this station. I own I detest it and am pleased to pass the remainder of my banishment in Barbados. Col Stud with the Right wing of the 76, it is now said, are to be part of that Garrison so soon as the 86 or 19th go home. It will delight me to meet them again. So bold Fred is with you – it will be many days before he enjoys that treat again. He must make the most of it. I shd like to see the good fellow before he goes abroad but it cannot be. What a blessing it will be to have got over this detestable tour of duty. Is it to terminate at the expiration of 3 years or four? that’s the question. Saturday 16th: Capt Williamson of the Thomas King sugar ship sails I understand this evening, he touches at Barbados. Tell the children that he has sent me a most superb English Cat – they are in great estimation here. I am making myself agreeable to her. The pet stock now consists of the famed Toby, known & petted by every officer in Garrison. He killed a huge wild cat yesterday after much fatigue. Genl Evans & his Westminster are nothing to him. A black cat acts as his ADC and is his shaddow within certain limits of my domain. The new puss, 2 parrots, 3 young tortoises, a Powie or wild Turkey & a Maroudie, somewhat of the pheasant only black or rather blue black. Laugh, however several of these will be dispersed in a short time. I will now copy Tait’s note to me of yesterday. This Packet was 6 days reaching this from Barbados. The few lines from my brother officer will give all I know yet of my movements. I wrote you that Molesworth was my sub at Berbice & his affair of the Court Martial, Capt Thompson’s loss – he has not departed yet. Well, ‘My dear English, 9th July 36, I must send you my blessing lest I may not have the opportunity of giving it on your arrival here. You may imagine that I was agreeably surprised to find Lt Mould established in my Caravansery on my return from a cruise in the Duke of York, he sailed last Saturday the 2nd. Of course he means to relieve Capt Victor who is to work his way to Demerara as soon as possible. If he waits for the Duke’s return he cannot be here before the end of this month. My movements were to commence after yr arrival here, but Sir Chas has now kindly consented to allow me to start as soon as my Estimates for next year are completed & I am working hard in hopes of beginning my homeward bound voyage in the course of this month. Of course you heard of Molesworth’s Court Martial – it was all got up and finished during the time I was absent. All accounts agree that he did very stupid throughout the whole of it.’ Now the cream my dear Kit, don’t be jealous. ‘Mrs Tyler and several of your friends here express great delight at the prospect of enjoying your cheerful company again. Fare thee well and believe me always sincerely yours, G Tait.’ By the new distribution of the Military in this comd, Col Studd & your old friends of the 76th are to form part of this Garrison when the 19 & 86 are relieved. So my dear Kate you have the detail or on dit of the day in these parts. The sketch dear Cara sent me I am much pleased with, not only the scene but the excellent touch with which it has been pencilled. Pray urge them to persevere in all their accomplishments – the Italian, French, Music & drawing, sketching particularly. When I return it will be up anchor & make sail, it is impossible to say to where, probably Mediterranean, abroad somewhere most likely for I shall not rest in such a place as Weedon again. The worst has been done & I will have my share of the good stations and face the office keepers of Pall Mall. More Arrow root shall be sent from Barbados – the last I ford was laying address to you in Mr Hayley’s office. Sir C Smith calls there every day. Sitting next him at dinner a day after – he speaks very very slow – he said, ‘Eng-lish, was all that box of Arrow root for Mrs E? Why, you will make your family so sleek they won’t be know to you on your return.’ But it is the droll dry way in which he breaks forth that caused the laugh. I am delighted by the proposed change. The 69th have given me the remains of a very nice light boat, oars & Gear. She has been lost to them some time, but on examination I think a very trifling repair will make her perfectly servicable & I intend to [word missing] to Barbados to cross the bay, fish &c in. It will be a fine amusement during the mornings & evenings. This is a novelty & I’m high busy. The Ord or Engr boat I have got into high order – it was quite neglected. Tom Naghten is quite well – I saw him yesterday & got the Portsmouth papers. On Sunday I was officer of the day, had gone to bed early when in a sound sleep about 3 in the morning a Non Com officer came knocking at my door, ‘Capt English, Capt, Capt, your wanted to march the troops down. The Town is on fire.’ ‘What, what,’ I bawled out.’ ‘Town on fire, Sir, your wanted at the Main Guard. I’m sent for you, had to scale the gates – all locked.’ I was soon in my saddle and a gallop brought me to the scene of action, passing old Bunbury and some others on the road to the fire which after all was only two houses, but the whole Militia & their staff & all the town were out – such a scene. I returned with Col Bunbury & had a drink & turned in. I observe the 35 have been conducting themselves well in the same sort of service. Tell Fred it’s useless to take out a lot of things such as White Jackets, lots of boots &c. He shd take a saddle & bridle but all stores of things go to decay in a hot climate. Lots of cotton shirts, half the officers here wear the same as the men do – they answer all the purposes when buttoned up. Flannel & cotton drawers I find the greatest comfort. Never drink spirits & eat sparingly at a time, bathing in the morning regularly. I have much to write but will do so by the return mail. I fear losing my chance today. It has pleased me greatly your trip to Southton as the carriage has been forced into notice – it must require much. I have sent you home a travelling bill of ten £ which will reduce what I must draw shortly. My beautiful horse is in great demand now but I think I will take him if possible. God bless you all – Fred, Aug, Kate, Caro, Flush & Fop, Miss P, Old Jenny and your dear self. Regard of the best & warmest kind to my good Uncle, Aunt OB, Mary & Mrs Hawker

Your afft F English