Letter #86

Barbados 7th Sept 1837

Now for a scribble my dear Kate for the Packet sails tomorrow, but what shall I write to the good wife? So little has taken place since the departure of the last vessel, and the want of the Wickham budget I feel exceedingly. It appears a systematic arrangement at our office to forward the letters once a month. I do not think it occurs from any mistake or their reaching the office too late. In the first page of my paper I must get thro the old story that you have had of late over and over again, but in truth my health appears to have been re-established gradually since I arrived at Barbados. The climate of Demerara certainly took the shine out of me rather. Had I remained there up to the present date my poor dear forsaken Kit would have had much cause of alarm. Almost from the very period of my leaving that colony to play top sawyer here, sickness of the worst description, fevers such as yellow and the most fatal, Colony, have raged, and many have fallen victims. Capt Briscoe died on the 17th Ult of yellow fever after five days’ illness, leaving his wife to support 6 fine children. He was far from strong and I suspected he would not last very long in such a treacherous climate. Fortunately Mrs Briscoe has two brothers, wealthy men in New York, and has embarked I understand to join them. Thus three officers are short in this command, and are required to carry on the duty independent of those as a relief to those who have served their period. Capt Elgar, paymaster of the 67, & Lt Hammond died after 2 or 3 days’ illness and various others are now confined in doubt as to the result. In fact every officer has been attacked. Young Smyth, the Govr’s son, was not expected to live, I understand. Fancy their only son, he is to go home poor fellow, so much as may remain of him. I do not think he would stand another fever. 500 of the seamen & population have been carried off, independent of the Military. This is, however, much too doleful an account to occupy more of my paper. To make up for the loss of the Wickham papers, I recd an exceedingly nice letter from our good fellow Augustus, with two Portsmouth, making four I have had forwarded by him. He seems to have much business in the commission way from Wickhamites, as he terms you all, lots of trotting out. It will give me great pleasure to learn that he is fixed in Mr Dixon’s office. Col Tyler has just called to ask me to dine at six. His visit and several others with office affairs have as usual interrupted me. Hay making is in progress, or rather the stack making, with constant rain to improve its quality. Yesterday and today have been fortunately fine, which has put me on the alert to get the crop safe. Moreover, my first of Indian corn commenced housing today, the stock yard portion of the ménage will now begin to thrive. Altogether I am extremely engaged since I last wrote. We have not experienced another storm but have shut up several times in preparation from the suspicious indications. Tell Capt Tait I have been introduced to Mr Critchlow and am soon to pass a day or two there, when I shall make good use of my eyes and ears so far as relates to the lady he sends his hat boxes to. L Smith is up to his elbows in play acting, and as he cannot persuade any of the Officers of the Garrison to make mountabanks of themselves, he has humbug’d the Commissariat to form his stage company. I have been once or twice but was too sick of it to go the last performance. He is now half mad about an Oratorio, has nearly sent one of the Masters, 36, as mad as himself. There they are composing page after page of outrageous rubbish at the Resident Engr’s quarters, into which he has moved until I can get officers to enable me to order Capt Rutherford up from Grenada. Still, he manages to all the duty completed, therefore I look on and laugh at all his conceits. Our Genl is not quite himself, he is going into the country for change. He is too fond of drill and exposes himself to the sun – we get on capitally. You say we are a very connected set of officers, but it’s a fact they all go wrong in these commands and are forced to come at last to set them right. The Genl always sends his nice little Aid de Camp to me now before he proceeds. Lt Bates – he would just do for Cara – such a neat little man. I cook him up with cocoa nut milk with a few drops of gin to correct it, which makes the little fellow truly sentimental – I like him much. I must close this tomorrow. 8th Sept: Weather beautiful and room cool – must take a quill, this steel affair will not work. I left off yesterday recommending little Bates to Cara. The other Aid, Lt Ferdinand Samford Whittingham, has not returned from Trinidad where he went to assist at the Court Martial on the Black Mutineers. I have been shot of these determined vagabonds. I shall send this thro our office – Smith tells me he does so still. Kate, I observe, refers to the journal when at a loss for a line or two. By mine I observe that I was interrupted by Mr Gill, our Clergyman, on the 26th Ulto: when about to dispatch my last letter to you, and that Mr Eaton, Store Keeper, called & drove me to Govr’s. The hour named was ½ 6, but we did not perch ourselves at table until 8 oclock. The party consisted of the Heads Departmt & Comdg Officers. The Genl was indisposed & did not attend on following day. 27th: dined at Enmore, met Tyler and lots of strangers. 28: chez moi all day. 29th: called on Genl who was better, dined at mess, amature play, did no go, bad weather and sick of the rubbish – L Smith top sawyer in the Merry Monarch & Brigand. 30th: very busy all day at Shot Hall. 31st: L Smith making a horrid noise in the Resident Engr’s Quarters preparing an Oratorio – Hail Victoria Britannia Queen Hail Hail. He has made the Band Master 36th Regt nearly as mad as himself. I shall follow if he continues to collect all the drums, bandsmen and trumpets, such a shindy. However, I suspect this frisk of bold Leicester’s will be a failure. 1st Sept: HMP Pigeon came to anchor, no letters from Wickham, a very agreeable one from Gusto or I should have been outrageous. Letter from Demerara reporting Capt Briscoe’s death, rode to report this to Genl, got Lt Dutton 69th appointed Asst Engr, called on Lt Col Falls to get this put in orders, wrote to Col Monins, Mr Edwards, Store keeper Demerara & to Old Case, rode to Enmore in the evening, met Dr Evans & Col Tyler. 2d Sept: dined at Tyler’s, met Lt comd the Pigeon by the name of Luce I think, Dr Evans, Charly Winter 76th, two MacClearys, Capt King D Asst Adjt Genl. 3rd: at home all day, Lt Winter breakfasted and chatted of old times until one, dined solo & to bed early. 4th: Drawing all morning, Mic & James MacCleary called, dined at Enmore, met the usual party, Mic MacCleary in raptures at my success in cleaning his picture, rather a valuable dutch one. 5th: Breakfasted at Tyler’s, dined at Mess, at Genl’s levee, bad news from Demerara, bed early. 6th: Torrents of rain, very much occupied at home today, dined at home. 7th: Fine day, hay looking up a little, work hard myself & dined with Tyler. Fishermen asked permission to draw their net off our boundary, brought me a present of fish, sent them to Col Tyler – and you have, dear Kate, an account of your husband up to the present date – what more can I say? You will have some difficulty in deciphering this I fear, but do not like to lose the paper. I much require another Cap – forage – and a Pr of Shoulder Straps for the morning coat with the badge of my rank thereon. Ships will be coming in numbers after this month.. Young Naghten would inform Augustus when a vessel is about to sail for Barbados. They always come here in squadrons after the hurricane months. My shirts are luxurious after my tattered ones and are so much better cut to fit, I quite enjoy them, but your Col has made a sorry affair with a piece of linen he bought for 12 pr of trowsers unbleached for economy. Mr Phillip my head flunkey has cleverly destroyed it in what he calls ‘making him wite Massa’. It is covered with mildew spots. I have been forced to purchase another – and my goat is defunct and one of my hens has only brought out 4 chicks, another hung herself, one of my sheep died &c – all domestic misfortunes that make me laugh when Sambo or Calebash come to report them. Every morning I now walk round the grounds by the sea, ride to the stable with a large Newfoundland dog I have called Nelson, from the stable to the Stock Yard, seat myself and feed my poultry and pet pig, somewhat like Dundonald but not yet quite so portly. This will not do – I must close or shall lose the packet which I nearly did on the 26th Ulto. I would write to all the party had I time but verily it is fully occupied. The day previous and packet day are always those of business. Remember me to Capt Tait – I shall now defer writing to him until my visit to Mr Critchlow in order to interest him respecting the lady. All my letters from Demerara speak of T Naghten as being very well in the country. He, the vile fellow, has not given me one line since I left the Colony. Day day dear Kate – regards to my Uncle, Mrs H & MOB. Kiss the dear girls around & my Nieces. How are [words missing] to all friends. Remember your

afft Fred E

I shall soon learn whether my comd pay is to be 10s or 20s, I trust the latter. My Hay is likely to be lucrative – it should be worth 150 or 200£ this year I think but am not very sanguine about its value – time will prove – it is nearly all safe. FE

There is a sketch of FE in his stockyard.