Letter #9

English is keen for his younger son Augustus, now 14, to follow in his footsteps in the Royal Engineers. The boy is now in the care of Mr Ambler, a private tutor specialising in preparing boys for the entrance examination for Woolwich Academy at age 15.

St Lucia 2nd June 1834

Having closed Mr Augustus English’s letter in reply to all his amusing sheets of paper I will write as hard as I properly can to complete one for you my dear Kate. On my return last evening from Pigeon Island I find the Packet is expected in as this morning. It is now about ½ past 6 and no signal has yet been hoisted of her being seen from the summit of the mountain where a party are constantly on the look-out. The difference of time will cause our occupations to be very opposite. Alexander is laying out breakfast in the adjoining room. I am writing to the best of wives. Little Charley is wandering round me killing Musquittoes. My cat sits waiting the arrival of the milk and makes me understand by her attention how welcome my return is, friend Fritz being on a visit to complete his term of bathing leave, Puss in quiet possession, which is not the case when he is at home. The Dublin tea pot or percolator looks splendidly, Alex’s extra polish has done wonders, poor fellow. He has attached himself to it, I think, for he rubs at it every leisure moment. Charley has just entered with my two kittens, much grown and full of antics. [his writing hand is disturbed sending his nib in all directions] He has destroyed the beauty of my antics, you will observe, by a crack on the leg, having missed his blow at one of the vile vermin – and hit me. I wrote to you about a week since by one of the Merchant vessels, which dispatch it is very probable you will not receive so soon as this, the ship being laden with sugar will be long on the road. During my stay at Pigeon Island which was protracted far beyond the time I intended in consequence of the great benefit I experienced from the sea bathing and cool air. Sir C Smith & Lady S were exceedingly attentive. At times we went together exploring, he giving me a mount, his horses being at a village named Gros Ilet immediately opposite the Island. Some of these excursions were very interesting from the beauty of portions of the scenery. One spot, a small bay about 4 miles from Gros Ilet across the Island, was beautiful. We returned to it on thursday with all our party – Sir C Smith, Lady, Capt Martin 76, Mr Caddy RA, Mr Lloyd, Trevelyan, Hilton and many more forming what is termed Maroon. The day passed pleasantly enough but I wanted all my own party with me to enjoy it. I have evidently pleased Sir C without making any effort so to do. He said he would give me any station if I intended to bring out my family. This I told him I had at present no intention of doing, knowing well that if he thought so, Barbados would not be my station. Lady S does not get on with the ladies, I suppose, which leads him into contention and coolness with their Lords. This is to go no farther my dear Kit. He also said that it was very likely he shd go home when I was the person to be left in Comd. Something is gathering – time will shew – and I will rest on my oars comparatively happy that you are all separated from me but in England and comfort, of which you could not have enjoyed a moment circumstanced as I was at first arriving. If I go to Barbados & in Comd mind you, we will not long remain asunder. I fight my own way singly here gloriously. But I never could have borne the misery of having my family kicked about in such a climate at the caprice of any person. The Gun as been fired announcing that the Packet is in sight. My next letter will be longer and with more to amuse you. I am perfectly well, in fact I never was better and my sea bathing trip has quite renovated me. Tell Ann & Isabella that I take the shower bath & Dip together, they should try how they like it. Kate & Cary, with Miss Parker’s delightful letters, shall be answered, but I cannot make up so many together, not for want so much of time, tho’ I’m fully occupied, but subject and the relaxation one feels during most part of the day. I have not yet drawn for any money, therefore your bank account shd be in a favorable state. I shall live for little out here, I think. My quarters consist of two sitting rooms, one opening out of the other, very small, a bed room and bath Do adjoining with kitchen detached and man’s pantry in very good order & well suited for a Batchelor, a small garden with a pinery &c, which fruit by the by grows wild in the wood. All the finest a brought from thence by the Indians. A French vessel, Man of War, arrived here yesterday. The Capt dined with us. You will see something about it in Augustus’s letter which I beg of you to read as part of this, being rather pressed to get this off in time. Req of good old Charley to go to Col Cooper about Augustus & write to Capt Roles or Mr Drummond or Murphy begging they will see what Mr Ambler is about with Augustus. He writes me word that he has not done any work in Euclid and that his Master Mr A say he cannot prepare him in time for Woolwich. I think he is to be depended upon & you must not take offence at his not letting Gusto home, it was for the best. Respecting letter writing, he may find that the thoughts of home are thereby kept up too much. Adieu my dear Kate, regards to all at Catisfield. How are they all? Shake my good Uncle by the hand heartily for me. Will he have a Turtle sent home? We had lots at Pigeon Island. Kiss the dear children all round over & over again for me. I look at their immitation of heads & think of them. Kate’s is like but altho there is a resemblance in some of the others they do no give the likeness. Miss P’s is vile about the mouth as yours is. You must by the under lip have been spitting at each other. I hope all your little troubles will subside & that you will all enjoy yourselves. To learn that you do keeps me well & in spirit. Accept my best love & believe me your attached Fred.