Letter #68

English made a mistake in dating this letter: it is clear from the context, Mrs English’s note on the cover and the postmark that it was written on 13 January 1837. It demonstrates that he was right in preferring to use merchant ships in preference to packets while he was in Demerara; this letter arrived in Wickham after 38 days and overtook the previous one sent by the packet.

 Demerara 13th Oct 1837

A signal is now hoisted, a Rumming ship from Europe, thus I trust we may have the Mail in today, as most of the vessels that have arrived within the last three day have made long passages. One that came to anchor yesterday sixty two days from Glascow I understand. The date of your last letter now before me is the 28th Oct 36, therefore I have just cause to expect this packet will be the bearer of the dispatch 15 Novr and 1 Decr. I trust it may for I have been so long without intelligence that my mind is almost made up for the receipt of some dismal news or other. When any delay takes place, the non arrival of the Mail in due time or your letters not being forwarded according to date, which has repeatedly occured of late, I become so anxious & irritable everything goes out of order & I settle to no pursuit. The Cruickshanks sails this evening for London, therefore it is as well to give you a few lines reporting my excellent health. Spirits I never am much in want of & that part of my system will be improved if the English letters due since the 7th Inst reach Demerara today with acceptable tidings. By this time you will have made the acquaintance of my much esteemed friend Capt Tait and I beg you will make much of him. There are few of such sterling worth to be met with. How little did we think when last parting at Barbados that it was his destiny to be relieved so soon and to be quartered so near all those I most value in this world. By what caprice or what not, the change of arrangement respecting my being quartered at Barbados took place I cannot guess. However, it has only put me to a trifling inconvenience. I sold off all my little all & now find few traps to fill the large boxes with. Possibly it has been for the best – Barbados has suffered in the last 4 months with more sickness than any of the other Islands, altho my excellent constitution might not have been attacked. Still you would think every packet’s news would be the Capt in a fever. I am in a fever – to get home, more so if possible than ever. Tait’s report of a relieve in 1 Capt & 2 Sub is reviving, but they are so long making their appearance my period of transportation will be drawing to an end. It will therefore be of little consequence whether I remain here or go to Barbados. In truth, the excitement having passed by, I would almost prefer dragging on my existence to the wind up of my term here and avoid the expense with the packing and settling in another quarter for so short a time. Moreover, if Sir C Smith quits Barbados, Capt English will be left in comd & detained in all the honors of it until some Amateur for a West India trip can be nominated to relieve him. Honor that I have no ambition to be burthened with. Whilst I write all this on surmise, the expected little Schooner & her bag of letter may have the Orders on board that will upset all I am thinking of. When shall I see Fred again? When indeed, nevertheless it is not to be regretted his passing a few years abroad. It is a fine climate his Regt are ordered to. If the depots are continued, he will be entitled to join his at expiration of two years. After all, what pay can remunerate an officer in the British service sufficiently for his Colony duty where he serves in all climates, hot, cold & pestilential, separated from his family and friends during the most interesting of his and their advance thro life? In all probability his fate is little better that of a malefactor. He is a gentleman convict and humbug’d that he is serving his country. How I wish I were home! Even to get out of this station would be a blessing. I only at the present moment allude to being with Sir Com – our fight has for the time terminated and he has been ordered by the Lord of the Treasury not to make Grants of Land without a reference to the Board of Ordnance when their property is in the neighbourhood. He is a dangerous fellow & will if he can pay me off, I have no doubt, & has such a wretched set of sycophantick creatures about him that one feel in close quarters with an Inquisition. A fine room and other additions now under my superintendence at Camp House, his residence as comding the Troops here, causes somewhat of a more polite intercourse between us. This complete & nothing to expect from me will be the signal for another attempt to overwhelm with his overbearing haughty conduct, unless by good luck I am moved in time. As Charley often remarked, I’ll grin and bear it. Last week we had another Lord Mayor’s fools shew. Fortunately the rain which came down in torrents prevented most of the morning folly, but a Levée of all, I may say all, for Tailors Black & Brown & every other that could get a coat jostled [word missing] Red Military in every direction. A dinner party of 70 completed the farcical adventure of the Representative of Majesty for the day. I hope all digested the bad fare & worse wine as well as the Capt of Engineers who laughed himself to sleep. I saw Tom Naghten, quite well, yesterday, full of preparations for a Bachelor Ball to be given on the 27th Inst. So soon as the Rooms are complete the Repr of Majesty gives a Fancy Ball – he tell me so is his intention, thus to shew I bear him no ill will I am putting all my strength in, self & Carpenters &c, & even Tailors if required by him to get on, finish & prepare for our next brush. I was delighted reading the account of your gay dinner. I am always pleased to learn that you are enjoying yourselves. I fancy that you have been to Town on Gusto’s affair with Mr Dixson. A few hours will prove whether or not I conjecture right. It is most agreeable to find that family matters are on a footing with our good friend at Catisfield. Regards to all, particularly my old shooting companion Uncle Hawker & all the love possible to the Gardiners. I nearly wept when reading of their unfortunate accident. I trust they are not so disfigured that I may not kiss them, a pleasure I have promised myself on returning after living amongst so many black faces; it will be a treat. I now read again your dream – did you fancy I had lost all my front teeth?  No eyelashes, hair all gone &c – you are right. Adieu dear Kate, love to the children & regards to Miss Parker. Poor Toby is dead & I alone again.

Your aff Fred. E.