Letter #79

Barbados 2d June 1837

It would be a perfect treat my dear Kate to see your hand writing again of a late date. The Schooner I stated in my last letter as missing with letters for me on board I understand has reached Demerara. This intelligence came by a Brig from thence which anchored in the Bay yesterday and reported to the house of Cavans, & so when I dined with the representative Mr Torrance of whom I have written to you long since when at St Lucia. We are in hourly expectation of the first May Packet, thus the chances are that I receive accounts from Wickham by her before the Demerara Boat returns & I trust they will be favorable. It appears such a lapse of time since any communication has reached me from home that the few past months have been more tedious than all the other portions of my transportation. So long as your letters arrived regularly I could at times almost fancy we were not separated at such a distance. It appeared that a fortnight, the space of time between the dates which flew so rapidly, was over and a fresh package of letters came to hand before the novelty and news contained in the former had escaped being read over & over again. There is a detestable monotony here, even worse than at Demerara. One cause on my part for so feeling may arise from being still so unsettled. Lady Smith still occupies Shot Hall – certainly somewhat of a move has been attempted. L Smith came to me early one morning and put the question ‘Where do you think Ma Ladi has removed to?’ ‘Where?’ I exclaimed supposing the bird has flown to some country house of her acquaintances. ‘Into the hurricane house’ – Sir F Collier or Capt Tait can explain the geography of this building – ‘and declares she is turned out of the house.’ I was exceedingly entertained at this new caprice, feeling that I had done all that good courtesy demanded, begging on my arrival that her Ladyship would not put herself to the slightest inconvenience on my account, there to remain so long as it suited her arrangements &c &c &c. However, there the lady remains. On monday a sale takes place of such wines and furniture not already disposed of. After this probably I may obtain possession, and as there is a delightful garden reaching to the sea shore and a small farm yard & other appendages, I may find other sources of amusement in place of the routine day after day. Under present circumstances my anxiety to receive your dispatches keep me constantly on the qui vive & looking for the signals made at the entrance of the bay. I wish so much to learn what steps you propose or have taken with respect to the house, young Gusto, & your opinion on being appointed to this command, what you think of making this your head quarters, & in short all that has been passing in your councils over the fire for the last 3 months. You must consider this a chance letter which I write to go by the Meteor steamer. This vessel is reported to sail tomorrow, but I shd rather think it will be on Sunday. Until I can ascertain the fact, it will be as well to keep my letter open – the mail may arrive. Yesterday I have already stated that I dined with Mr Torrance at Enmore, meeting Lt Col Story RA, Lt Wood 1st of the Belvidera and Lt FitzGerald with a lot of plain coats. The D Commissary Genl lady here, Mrs Filder is at home every thursday evening. After coffee, it was proposed to drive to this meeting of pale faced womanhood. The carriage was ordered and off started Torrance, Col Story, your Lt Col and two others. At first it was most wretchedly stupid. We found Lady Smith and a few other petticoats assembled, made a bow & seated. At last the 2 Miss Filders were directed by ma to play. Amiable dears no doubt & well educated, speak several lingoes, draw well & so on, but na bonny, with their hair as flat at the side of the head as if they had been kept all the time they remained on Continent in a wine press. Leicester Smith and some others having joined, a charade was performed of which I heard the particulars in the morning and lost all interest in. Sandwiches, commencing with the air of White Sands & Grey Sands by three voices, the witches in Macbeth, and a broken down Dandy’s supper party – on paper sand witches. This account is for the edification of my young fry. No signal so adieu for today.

4th June 37: The Mail arrived yesterday evening my dear Kate & I recd your letters dated 14 April & 29th at the same time. I have only time to add that I have perfectly recovered my Demerara indisposition & getting quite stout again, and delighted to receive good accounts from Wickham, for when I commenced this letter I felt almost in despair. You write on black edge paper and not a hint in any one page of all the dispatches for whom you mourn, this a sad oversight & [word missing] whoever it may be that lasting regret exists. The event must have taken place some time in March or early in April, but not a word of the particulars, who, where or if a relation or otherwise. The Meteor departs early today & I fear my letter may be too late. By the next packet I will reply to all contained in the dispatch recd yesterday. My sisters’ extraordinary affairs torment me constantly. It is a subject I detest to write on, but be more charitable in your remarks. They have acted very very wrong but you are more than severe. Lady Smith still occupies Shot Hall, I wish her safe home every hour now for I am exceedingly unsettled. It affords me the greatest pleasure getting Fred’s letter. Pray do write and urge the necessity of his writing somewhat of a gentlemanly hand – he used to promise well so to do. I assure you I am ashamed of his writing – it is worse than that of my black servants’ account for blacking &c. I shall take care of your 1st West India Sub if he is a steady fellow. A lecture is in store for you my dear Kate. I am not very patient under such myself, but your new mania on supper and excess from the other side of the Atlantic proves you are getting a little daft. God bless you all

believe me your attached Fred E

Isabella’s drawing is excellent. The General keeps us all on the move here. I shall have some battles to fight to establish my authority and feel ready to meet them all. I will tell you all about the coconuts when I get my hand on them. Tell the Miss Gardiners that Mr Mundy is well & rather enjoys the climate. He is a very nice fellow & much with me. He goes to Trinidad in a few weeks.

You ought not to complain of poverty now – when I am equipped you will have nearly double to draw.

‘White Sands and Grey Sands’ is a round song dating back to the eighteenth century. It is sung by a street pedlar selling sand for blotting ink: 

White sands and grey sands                                                                   White sands and grey sands                                                                  Who’ll buy my white sands?                                                                Who’ll buy my grey sands?