Letter #74

Not dated at head, but started at Demerara on 27 March 1837

By Tom Naghten’s report, who was here last evening, a fast vessel sails tomorrow for London, and, altho my dear Kate I write rather under the disappointment of not having heard from Wickham since the 13th or 14th Jany, still I will not lose the chance or wait for the packet’s arrival – she was due on the 26th, I should state 24th, and this is the 27th March. Had I not been on the look out in order to reply to your double dispatch which I promise myself I shd have written several day back, more than a fortnight has elapsed since the Gazette and new Army List came to hand here showing up my name as a Lt Col, and now dear Kit you may sing ‘Mount & go, for I am a Col’s Lady oh!’ Whether from climate or what not, probably being away from you all I know not, but the elevation to such a desirable has not had the effect I always thought it would have. I expected to greet the news with my heart overflowing with joy, but this feeling has in no way as yet shewn itself. The draw back, I verily believe, is the chance, in fact the almost certainty, of my being booked in to relieve Sir Charles Smith in the command, and thus my castles of home and the pleasures of your society at Wickham for a month or two will all vanish. In my last letter I stated he had sailed for Tobago. Since his departure it is reported he recd letters at Trinidad which caused his return to Barbados, and from thence Lady Smith joined him to make the tour of the other Islands. That he will go to Gibraltar I have not much doubt, in fact he told me he shd accept it. He also mentioned that orders were left at Barbados to send Capt Briscoe here immediately on his arrival. You may suppose I am in a disagreeable state of uncertainty. It makes me laugh when I think of you all holding up your heads to the doubtful, with Kate nodding her head to those who have argued the point with her: ‘You observe now I was right’. Papa is a Lt Col with three under him, it is to be hoped with five soon as it adds to the rate of pay. Since I last wrote nothing has transpired out of the usual routine, various [word missing] both Ball & diner & the huge Bunbury has sailed for St Lucia rather in alarm as to its climate. He was not favorite of mine, and from what I understand has rather humbugged the people here, the parting I have not attended. In truth, the very day the Gazette came to hand I felt that a cold was hanging about me. I tried to shake it off & joined a large dinner party, but in spite of being Coloneled right & left it would not do & was glad to get home. It was last saturday fortnight. From that time until within the last two days I have been far from well with a sharp touch of Colony fever & ague. However, I thank God, with care & Dr Whyte’s medicine, I am all right again and picking up fast, but it certainly does weaken a man most rapidly. It is a treacherous climate, Demerara. I shall feel most happy to get away, even to Barbados, and wander in the empty halls of Shot Hall, if such is to be my fate. My good Uncle will, I hope undeceive Sir Fred Mulcaster shd he be persuaded that I am desirous of retaining the command here – nous verrons. The report is that Pasley is to quit Chatham & Col Tinling is to take his berth – not efficient for it I should say. Com’s fiz of unmeaning character with the exception of deceit I have not seen since I recd the news of my Lt Colonelcy – doubtless his congratulations will be warm. And where, may I enquire, does the Col’s Lady intend to comd? Does Madame mean to join at Barbados, or wait like a prudent soul at Wickham?  I would give a little to have heard all the party making their remarks over the fire this last two months. Of course, a very handsome Pr of Epaulettes are on their way & will meet me at Barbados. The Dispatch boat from Berbice today has brought me a long letter from Mr Molesworth. He writes to congratulate & in good spirits at finding himself 18th on the Lt list. It’s a sorry lookout after all for a man of his age. Capt Bordes! My goodness – a few Survey bucks will find it their turn to try the Tropics. Some vast changes must take place in our Corps. It is reported that Burgoyne, Gosset, Gipps & Drummond are to quit. When we begin there is always a great turn out. All sorts of gay doings are in preparation for this week. Tomorrow the Races commence and continue the day following, thursday a Race Ball and the next day private theatricals. In the last Naghten takes a part – he would not tell me what as he said I should laugh at him. I may join in some of these amusements if my timbers feel strong enough, but fear taking cold & would of course prefer starting from hence a jolly fellow rather than an invalid. We shall make an effort at all events, if only to be addressed Col – what a farce. My friend Hooper 69th has got his Brevet Mjty, & Molesworth writes that he has mounted a huge pr of gilt spurs & Brass sword scabbard, and is flaring thro the town of Berbice in all directions. However, he is an excellent fellow. Sir C Smith met Molesworth in a most friendly way, he states, and that old affair of court martial are forgotten – so far well. How are my chicks? What is done about Gusto? Have you all escaped the influensa? I trust so. We have the small pox here & the [word missing] in a dreadful fuss about it. Banks, railroads & Steamers are all the rage here. It is intended to construct the railroad between this & Mahiaca passing thro numerous estates & the latter to ply from the Essequibo River & bring up produce. Improvement is the order of the day & at the same time Govr Com & his Council go quarrelling on like winkee. You could not hear more of dear Fred. What think you of the Comd there? Hey? Regards to my good Uncle – I do not write to him as you are so near, it would only be a repetition. I feel right well this evening so expect to be all sound tomorrow. Remember me to Miss Parker & my dear nieces. Tell them to prepare for I’ll give them all such a tropical smack that will make their eyes go twinkey twinky. Kiss the chicks. How’s Jenny?

Your afft

Fred E

28 March 37 Am happy to add that I am still better today & made a good breakfast – have some thoughts of going to the Races. God bless you all FE

Get the carriage wheels ready & spring legs – FE

What are my sisters about? Love to them.

The Demerara-Berbice Railway ran along the coast from the mouth of the Essequibo to that of the Berbice, except that the Demerara had to be crossed by ferry. The first short section from Georgetown to Plaisance, opened in 1848, was the first railway in South America. It was dismantled in the 1970s.