Letter #80

Not dated at head, but begun at Barbados on 10 June 1837 

The places mentioned in Major Gordon’s letter are in Dublin. 

For the capture of foreign slave ships, see letter 22. 

At last my dear Kate, all your letters have reached me. On the 8th Inst the Schooner so long absent returned and anchored in the Bay. Thus the mistery is explained. Yours of the 29th March conveys the account of my Aunt’s decease. I regret it much but from various reports of her late state of health, I confess it did not surprise me. Catisfield, I much fear, will appear almost a deserted village to me if I should have the destiny to visit it. So long as I can recollect it was always a source of pleasure anticipating a sojourne with my relations in that once in its day a happy spot. However, it compensates for your melancholy intelligence in some measure the favorable report of Mr Hawker. He has, if I may judge from your letters, escaped all the indispositions the recent hard season has been accompanied by. You did not state Mrs O’Brien’s age. How is Mary? My poor lonely wife, as I used to call her when we were young things, must feel solitary at times. Regards to her and beg she will keep herself single until I come home to give her away. If our old acquaintance and Mary’s great friend Ld James could get me made King’s Aid de Camp, thus getting the rank of Col and probably a trip home, or I shd be satisfied to become one of Princess Victoria’s attendants in that Grade. In truth the C Engr here should always be a full Col to place him out of the way of being interfered with by Lt Cols of Regt. You will smile at my ambitious views already breaking forth. However, joking apart, more extraordinary and much more difficult matters meet with success constantly in the present day. You have granted me permission in one of your letters lately to write as much as my inclination disposes me to do – of myself – so dear Mrs Kit, do not complain. Your friend Mr Bingham has not yet arrived amongst the Flying Fish, but last evening the Sapho Brig of War came into this Bay. I am told Capt Fraser – it must be Culduthel’s brother – comd her. I shall soon find him out. Lady Smith still commands at Shot Hall. Altho I am well housed, it would be very gratifying to your old weather beaten Col if Mi Ladi would up and budge. She is [words missing] in temper amounting to the [word missing] outrageous that I keep out of her way. Twice I have been sent for without attending, being aware it was to draw me into some of her disputes. I leave her to L Smith’s care, whom Mi Ladi, as he calls her, adores to the very extreme of her ability. The greater portion of the old tubs, packing cases and other rubbish are disposed of during yesterday & the day before, therefore I trust Mi Ladi will soon take the wing. Did I make any remark in my last letter of having recd a long letter from Mjr Gordon? He is turned out of the Castle Yard & resides at Island Bridge. He writes in a lively strain, ‘it is melancholy for we old soldiers to see such boys as you getting the start of us’. This is one of his remarks. What think you of your old gentleman being termed a ‘boy’? Miss Begley I left at Demerara well & grown stout – we used to have long chats – &, like all other strangers, wishes the period arrived to go home again. I shall not conclude for today, sat, the Packet sails on monday the 12th but I wish to get my letter ready in good time, meeting with so many interruptions from the General’s letters & other official affairs. Lt Munday, who is a great favorite of mine, has just come in to pass his hour or two which he does every day. I am sorry he is not intended for Barbados station.

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11th June: The Sapho that I thought was Comd by John Frazer I find was a mistake. The Navy have been fortunate in capturing slavers lately. Last week the Harpy 10 comd by Hon G R A Clements brought a slaver in, a small vessel in appearance but she had 280 slaves on board when taken. Capt Jones, Vestal, has taken several. The Belvidera is still here waiting to be relieved. How strange it should so happen that you have had at Portsmouth or Gosport Col Brown from Weedon, and now Col Read & Capt Tait, both of the latter having been so recently at Barbados. Remember me kindly to them, thank Capt Tait for his letter and tell him old Racheal is very ill, I think too bad to recover. There are some few articles here of Capt Tait’s, some broken, some whole, which I will either pack, take care of for him or take off his hands at their value. Beg of him to write me a long gossipy account of himself and our Corps. Augustus in Town – on consideration I do not think he can do better but Spanish he must learn and keep up French or he will repent it all his life. The upset in the car shd not have ended so easily had I been at home. Mr Coacher shd have paid well if he was on the wrong side. However it was fortunate no accident happened. The turn at that part of the village is dangerous in the event of meeting a carriage from the Inn. Larcom, Bordes, James &c &c will take their turn out here I should suppose before the survey is completed. How pleased I feel that my services on that duty were dispensed with. So my Aunt Hawker thinks me a flower! You will consider that I am rather overblown I guess when we meet. Remember me to her, to my Uncle & Mary – how I miss my poor Aunt OB – when writing good wishes to all the party. This is as stupid a place now as you can immagine – not a change takes place worth relating from day to day. The Garrison Library affords the most amusement, the only one I care about. The climate is undoubtedly preferable to Demerara, which Colony Dr Whyte writes me is now very unhealthy since the rainy season commenced. Fortunately my share of fever is passed by, and the change, I assure you, has made another person of me. Portsmouth papers, did you say? Why [word missing] send these good wife – I could easily write & say [word missing]. You require information as the No of Horses & Sert now allowed. I have three, but with orderlies and under strappers there are lots of two leg’d animals at my call. The affairs of my unfortunate sisters is a constant subject of unhappiness to me, & I cannot forsee how their means or opinions are to be improved. It is to be regretted that

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the legacy was not secured to them. It will only be another inducement to Georgiana to make a new start in her mad career. I have little doubt that Charles has been in some measure induced to remain abroad in consequence of their distressing mode of proceeding. Never could three women so completely through away the affections and assistance, I may say, of 4 excellently disposed brothers. The hours that I reflect over their worse than folly are so miserable I dread writing about them for invariably the subject haunts me into such low spirits, it requires all possible energy in this climate to recover a composed state of mind. It pleased me exceedingly receiving Fred’s first letter, more steadily written and altogether less giddy. What do you all think of coming out to Barbados? Let me understand in your reply to this. House rent, servants, taxes, Horses, with Rations – all to put against climate, mosquitos, little or no society, &c &c. Then Rank, patronage, Palace, grounds, land, crab soup &c, made much of, and the arms of a drinking husband which you have been pleased to compliment me on in one of your Wickham effusions, at least insinuate as much on my description of the entertainments at Demerara. It is time you moved from Wickham, & in revenge I retort that you are all becoming a regular set of village Twaddles. So spare your suspicions, good wife, you never saw your old sinner tipsy, nor has any other person. Had I been one of that habit, I should most likely have swamped in the swamp fever I left at Demerara, but have perfectly recovered. What say you to wintering at Barbados to look after the sinning old Col – hey Mrs Kit? Several vessels have arrived, no Mr Bingham – or rather my Mo net of more importance to me. Remember me to my nieces & Lady Gardiner. I regret for their sake the state their brother remains in. Adieu dear Kate. Love to my dear children and thanks for their letters. Regards to Miss Parker & Do. 45£.1s.4d. is deducted for Fd Officer’s quarters here. I will write an account of profit and loss when I get into Shot Hall. I have no abstract, want none. Drew 60£ before I left Demerara for new clothes & other matters & part for cooking utensils, crockery, Goat and various requisites. When I am fitted out, my expenses will not be very great, but at present I want everything almost. Your afft

God bless you FE

‘Understrapper’ is an obsolete word meaning an underling.