Letter #65

Georgetown lighthouse, on the eastern shore of the estuary, was built in 1830. 

Mr W, ‘that Horse Artillery youth’, is of course Mr Wilmot whom we have met before. See, for instance, letters 52 and 63. He was evidently influenced by the Oxford Movement and their Tracts for the Times, published from 1833. 

Princess Victoria’s eighteenth birthday, 24 May 1837, had special significance apart from the prospect of a brevet. She was the niece and heir presumptive to the ailing king, William IV, who was determined to live until she came of age. Had he failed to do so, there would have been a regency, which might have allowed Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, whom the king regarded as an evil influence, to assume power, and perhaps ignite a constitutional crisis. The king survived until 20 June.

Demerara 16th Novr 1836

And now for a long account of your elderly husband my dear Kate, if not interrupted, for invariably when I am anxious to dispatch a letter to you lots of unwelcome visitors appear. Since I wrote to Kate, I have commenced, in fact nearly completed two to you, the last dated on the 10th Inst which I laid aside in the hope that the Packet due on the 6th or 7th Inst would have made her appearance. Day after day I have waited but no packet has yet been signal’d. Today we are all on the tiptoe of expectation for no arrivals from Europe have we had to keep up the necessary excitement for a fortnight, and this morning some change has taken place in the breeze or currents. The person in charge of the Lighthouse in which all signals are made has been employed since six oclock without cessation. Eight or nine noble ship have come into the River, besides brigs, the former all Rumming ships from Europe, the latter from New York, Barbados &c. Thus we have every chance of our letters, I am so persuaded that it is to be so. I have moved from the usual seat at my office table to my bed room window looking towards the sea. A vessel it is said departs today but there is no great certainty, depending so much on Hogsheads of sugar – one goes from T Naghten’s residence tomorrow which I think will be the bearer of this. Your last letter dated 13th Sept now lays on my left hand – it is written rather in a satirical strain. That Horse Artillery youth who undoubtedly is more crazed than the generality of persons so attacked has succeeded in some measure to decoy you into his stile of writing. You are aware that I quiz those only most dear to me & great favorites so that you must submit to a little. I have laughed heartily at portions of the 13th Sept letter and will endeavour to reply notwithstanding the subject will be forgotten ere this reaches you 3 or 4 months after its date. The trifling indisposition I suffered from was a sort of fever I suppose. It made me a little miserable for a time. Had I not feared that Naghten might allude to it in his reports home you would never have been troubled on the subject. I caught cold most likely on the voyage to Berbice & the extreme heat whilst there upset the whole system. All has passed over and ‘Richard’s himself again’. But to return to the 13th Sept, I do hope, old as you seem to think we are gradually growing, that we may have some few, I trust many, days to pass together, not in the Tropics but jovial England, & [word missing] ones they shall be if the spirit now [word missing] in your old gentleman is not altogether broiled out of him before he quits this part of his Majesty’s colonies. In the 3rd line, 2d page of your 13th Sept, you state, my good elderly lady, ‘that we have passed many years in giddy though ful-ness, unmindful of what we came into this world for’. Now my dear Kate you must admit that the long word introduced and occupying a space of one line in place of thoughlessness I suppose, although I can hardly conceive it cancels the foregoing one giddy, thus proving that you were not thinking nor did you mean what you wrote. I really think we may some little merit to ourselves in so much that, having married so young, we have little to reproach ourselves with. All the twaddle and unconnected rubbish you receive in a small cramped hand will never persuade me that we were sent into this world to be miserable or convert others into the same unhappy way of thinking. I admire your high sense & feelings on that subject, I always did. In truth I detest and avoid all that have not such feelings on matters of a religious tendency – a man without I should scorn, and a woman without would be to me worse than hateful. That we have all much to answer for I grant, but my dear Kit, when you give me two sides of a letter so much in Mr W’s strain I must confess it alarms me a little & I wish more than ever that I were home by your side, not to differ one iota but the scale shd be balanced fairly. Several old acquaintances have returned here, already reported to you. Col Goodman tells me that there is to be a Brevet certainly on Princess Victoria coming of age, 18 years old. This is in May next, so there is a probability of my being ordered home on promotion next spring – it is too good to think of. A signal is not hoisted that more vessels are in sight. The attention from the persons recently returned from Europe has made this place more to be tolerated for a time, in fact we have been rather gay since the first of the month. The Races went off better than the former, the Ball very passable. The various parties consequent upon this start have caused the time to pass quickly. I have dined & danced & danced & dined until I find all my boots are de-hor for I always walk home. The last and now existing amusement is the presence of a french Brig of War laying at anchor here. The day after her arrival here I had a visit from her Capt, my old acquaintance Pardeilhan in St Lucia. He has been to france since, got some promotion & is now on his way to Barbados, Trinidad & Martinique, having already been at Surinam and Cayenne. Of course I did my possible to make him welcome & he makes my house his head Quarters. I laugh every time I pass thro the Hall & observe his little French cocked hat hung beside mine & his tricolored cockade looking Bonaparte at the English black one. We had a small select déjeuné on board & are to have something more splendid. He really is a warm hearted excellent fellow & his officers very gentlemanly. The Govr has been very civil to him & with his introduction coupled with mine, Mons Pardeilhan has little time left to dispose of. We dined yesterday with Capt Southey RN, Harbour master here, brother of the Poet. I had quite a levée here yesterday. Calling on him tomorrow, we go to a very large party given by Mr & Mrs Arindale on their return after visiting all the Islands – he was Attorney Genl here. His visit yesterday was very acceptable to me for he brought a bundle of St Thomas’s cigars that should last all the time I remain, not that I smoke much but officers drop in rejoice to get a good smoke. It is fated that I shall not finish this today – Capt Pardeilhan has just arrived, he has been out all day with a Mr Reteniyse [word missing] Genl, a Dutchman who they introduced him to for the purpose of obtaining information. You would laugh to hear how earnestly we chat away in french together – it improves me much of course. His first speak on returning here a few minutes since was, ‘Ah my dear English, what you going to do today? Let me lay down, I’ve such a head ache. That dutchman has talked me to death & given me a history of every body but could not explain one single part of the machine of the steam mills I went to see – voyez vous, he then went on – he say look at that mill, it was purchased, put up &c by such a one, he’s married so & so, he did this & that & the whole history of family &c’ & followed loads of scandal but not a word of information. It ended with ‘Oh, that man, how he has made my head ache, let me lay down in your hammock’, where he now lays fast asleep & today he partakes of my beefstake. I am on duty & have to go round the Guards in ten minutes – which duty performed. 17th Novr: the sugar ship departs this evening. No mail has yet reach Demerara – 10 days after her time. 11 sail of Mert ships came to anchor here yesterday & 18 or 20 more are expected every day, thus you may immagine the importance of this colony with reference to its trade. One was 56 days on the passage & several 52. This accounts for the delay of our mail. What have you done about painting the Carriage? I have not heard more of going to Barbados but suppose I shall soon. I am anxious to hear the result of your Isle of White trip. How is dear Annie?

The last few lines are written in red ink, but it is faded and some words are illegible.

I was exceedingly sorry at the intelligence of Col Rose’s death. We shall have very little interest in going to that country [several words illegible] is made the sufferer for Charlotte’s follies. [word illegible] her flirting days are coming to a close, but what are they to do with all their daughters? The Col’s income [several words illegible] their prospects. Miss Rose will assist them [word illegible] Must now come to the close for they embark at 3 and I promised to go on board Le Fabert Capt Pardeilhan. Regards to my Uncle & all at Catisfield & to Miss P and kiss the dear girls for me, and turn Gusto from the fireside, the rogue. Remember me to all friends, particularly Ld & Miss Gardiners – God bless you dear Kit & believe me your attached FE.