Letter #63

Leguan is one of a number of islands in the Essequibo estuary. 

John Gabriel Stedman, half Scottish, half Dutch, took part in a Dutch expedition to put down a slave rebellion in Surinam. His book, Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, 1796, was widely read and much cited by campaigners against slavery.

Does Fred shoot?

Tuesday 6th Sept 1836

The Underwood Capt Underwood, Tom Naghten tells me, sails today at 2PM. Probably it may not be until tomorrow, however, a scribble to you my dear Kate I will have, short or not, so now comes the old story from the elderly gentleman. No letter by the last Packet, which to add to my vexation came in 6 days before her time, thus adding six before the next will come to hand. No news yet of my departure from hence – Capt Victor is detained, I suppose, to overlook all the Estimates for 1837 before they are sent to England, no sinecure in these hot months. He must wish himself clear of H Quarters at Dominica, Demerara or even Tobago, certainly the latter rather than this station should he and Sir Comical not hit it off, which the chances are they will not. He disputes with every officer of ours, in fact all that do not succumb entirely to his overbearing will. Our warfare I trust is over for the present but he endeavour by various petty annoyances to keep me on the qui vive, and from his general character it is to be expected, as he got the worst of the onset, that my offence never will be forgotten. Like naughty Harry, I care not. I have stuck strictly to the regulations and have such good spirits to support me that it serves to laugh at. He never asks me to dine at Camp House, and with the exception of the King’s birth day when, as the Black people here say, Tom, Dick & Harry were invited, I have not seen his dinner table since Xmas day & his looks en passant are terrible. So much for Comical who I trust soon to say day day to, and I must add it will be with no regrets shipping myself from the Colony. There are many worthy people, but society is at and end until a change of masters takes place. There are no doubt faults on each side but Com has not tact to heal matters. The people will never be united whilst he remains. The next report is to give you an account of Massa the Capt who never felt better notwithstanding the greater portion of what is termed the sickly season has passed. The Troops have suffered much from low fever and Ague but the casualties have been few. It is an ill wind that blows no good. By Capt Victor being detained I escape the horrors in anticipation if not the expenses of Hurricanes, and as it has so happened, altho not an uncommon occurrence I never have witnessed an earthquake here. Sugar looks up, as the pigs did going to Belfast Market, and so high now that money appear a drug. Still, by some management of a few, the Exchange at the present moment is below par, but the building in progress throughout the Colony is to a great extent, yet Estates sell comparatively at low sums. What an investment it would be to purchase here – a man could not place his capital to better account. Your letter perfectly revives me when I find you have been enjoying yourselves. Prepare for a foreign station should a good one offer when I return. It will be pack up and a start, adieu to Wickham, the dear Gardiner family &c, rural walks, lawn & pets. The Bells may ring but it will be for the Spring Leg that never rests. I have an invite for Leguan, one of the Islands in the Essequibo for a week to depart tomorrow, but fear I must decline – Victor might arrive, and I am too proud to ask the Govr, his leave would be given with such an ill grace. Of late I have taken up drawing a little and read nearly all day when not on Horseback or engaged on matters of duty. For the last few days have been somewhat entertained by Stedman’s narrative of 5 years’ expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam. This book I have taken up in consequence of Mr Schomburgh’s departure with Lt Losack 69th Regt & several other volunteers to explore the Corentyne river, very little known beyond a hundred miles from its mouth & intending to make their way overland if possible to Surinam and then to Cayenne, the French settlement. We shall see, but I am confident that all hands will be heartily sick of their uninteresting adventures after 3 months’ or even 2 months’ absence. At Berbice it was reported of little interest after making the first 100 or 150 miles & this a country perfectly deserted. I wish you to write to Ld FitzRoy because you could take the favorable moment when Ld E O’Brien is in town. Augt shd be got from home as soon as possible, a trip on the Continent in good hand would be of great service to him. A civil Engr would be a good opening if he would apply & like the profession. What is Fred about? Tell him to make the most of home & his family – he may not enjoy their society for a length of time. By what T Naghten said yesterday Charles must be in Hants. They call Tom my son here. Regards to all at Catisfield & kiss our own dear party round for me. This is what may be termed a big letter to state that I am well. The next may be from Barbados. Believe me dear Kate Yours aff FE.

A great Ball entirely without ladies is to be given on the 15th at the Govr. I don’t expect to be asked and shall glory in Com’s severity.

Pale ink begins here

Poor Mr Wilmot – he is in a perfect state of derangement on one subject. It is preposterous the rubbish he concocts without point or connection. As no roads are so rough as those that have just been mended, so no sinners are so intolerant as they that have just turned saints.

It is safer to be attacked by some men, than to be protected by them – Lacon to those who think.

By Rev C C Colton AM

These last words are quoted from Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words Addressed to those who Think, by the Revd Charles Caleb Colton, 1820-22.