Letter #90

Stoke Hall, Ipswich was Mrs English’s family home. 

‘Poor Gardiner’ was James, brother of the Roche Court sisters, who had died aged about 25.

Barbados 14th Nov 37

So my dear Kate it must be a foolscap sheet of paper and no lopping off the ends – very well I begin to flatter myself that the old Col’s letters are becoming more interesting than heretofore, notwithstanding they do not convey matter relative to the customs and manners of the brave Barbadians, more commonly termed Bims. Your last letter was delightful – it has kept me in boyish spirits ever since the packet came in on the 5th. I could scarcely suppose that the Autumn months were approaching. Now tell me before I forget to put the question, who made the shirt or shirts with open stitches down the breast – how many loves & good wishes I would send the person did I but know the good fellow. Schoolboy like since I recd them, I wear no others and always endeavour to lay my hand on the open stich on dress occasion. As I rarely put on a waistcoat, the jacket being open shews the beautiful work. It is but lately I discovered my fashionable trim. Sir Sam Ford Whittingham with his ADCs, having called here, was detained by rain for an hour when I observed that he fixed his eyes on my under garb. It caused me to examine & it must have been the open stitches that opened his Excellencie’s eyes. We got on superb as I do with all his staff. I dined with him on saturday 11th. Unfortunately his medical man recommends 3PM as his hour of dinner, thus he incapacitates his friends for the whole evening afterwards to exertion, for even a modest quantity of Champaign has a very stupifying effect at that early hour, & he is so exceedingly liberal, his table so well appointed & entertainments so excellent, it requires a firm & well regulated person & his appetite. An American ice ship has just arrived with fresh beef, mutton, oysters &c &c preserved in ice. Those who entertain are of course displaying their taste & the best cooks are looking up. All these good things have no charms for me – give me my wife and fillies with a plain good steak and their smiling faces for the second course. I would burn, sink and destroy Shot Hall and all its beautiful marble halls & Galleries had I the option. However I perfectly agree with you dear Kitty, it is far better to wind up one’s term of transportation as top sawyer, for ten to one I shd have been kept here as a Capt until the expiration of the 5 years. I admire Gusto’s cards – get some printed for me at the Steam Engine, Portsea. I rarely make calls but will start with orderly behind so soon as I receive them. Captain Pringle took his dinner with me here yesterday. I was to have done so with him at the Hotel. He was late at the Governor’s, met him in my ride and we agreed to return and take the chance of my larder, at all times on the small scale. We talked you all over and over again – he is a good warm hearted fellow. He spoke in such raptures of Kate that I verily believe that had he seen her last evening with the Madeira in his eye, he would have asked your consent to pay his addresses. He quits Barbados for St Lucia tomorrow by Mail, & returns after making his report on the Prison system in that Colony. I do not know when I have passed so pleasant an evening – he admitted he felt the same. He is the only person I have met for years that knew you all well & we were both in good humour in spite of execrable beef & only two potatoes. You will think I am rather the fashion for on Saturday I had invites to the Govr’s & the General’s – of course accepted the first recd invite. Captain Lawler RA landed here a few days back looking an English rose coloured county gentleman. He tells me that a Lt Chapman is on his way to reinforce the REs in the W Indies and thro Limerick Cps & other channels I understand Lts McCausland & Freeth are under orders. We require them much, in fact I am suffering much from the various stations for want of officers to controul our Department.  Tell Capt Tait I have this day commenced repairing the Bridgetown Mole, destroyed in the hurricane, at the earnest request of Genl, Govr & Council. I wrote to the Board for their sanction which I suppose they will grant. L Smith superintends – he is all anxiety to get home. Will he attack Lady Smith respecting her unfavorable reports? I really cannot understand whether they are true or scandle. Her Ladyship was so odd & took such extraordinary fancies that it is difficult to say what were the facts. I know they had a desperate quarrel before embarking. Leicester & I are very distant owing to the duty we are constantly on together, but you may immagine in the Island so hot where people have little to do or do nothing there must be a good opening for talking & like other people in old England, the gossip is I suppose generally at the expense of others. My head aches a little, I worked so hard this morning from six oclock trimming hedges that I was forced to take a nap, an unusual occurrence. It has caused a stupid heavy feel, thus I shall close for today and wait the result of this fine breeze which may bring in the Packet. I have a long letter from Tom Naghten before me. He is all alive and merry, was preparing for the race ball at Demerara. The matches were expected to be well contested on that Course. You observe they soon forget the effects of the fever – it seems to have passed on to Berbice and has attacked the seamen so severely that the laden vessels could not leave the river. They sent a ship here to obtain hands at enormous wages. Your last exceedingly pleasant letter lays before me – I must read & reply to it line by line tomorrow, so adieu dear Kate. Inspection 36th Regt this evening & Brigade day on Thursday, staff to appear in blue coats &c, sash, Dress briddle & holster, no saddle cloths – this is just put into my hand. New dog, Newfoundland, a beauty is Nero, young, lays beside me. The Stock Yard improves & increases, all my Yews in the family way, Do Cows, Do Pigs, Cat has two kittens, Rabbits 5 do sent in a present, Guinea pigs the same, sold two sheep, one for 1£ 6, another 1£. 13. 6.

14th Novr 37: The Comders of the Steamers bring me lean stock from Antigua & they fatten here soon. Second chop of hay better than the first. Fancy – just as I got up from my desk yesterday the second Oct Packet came to anchor & brought your welcome and charming letter. I feel altogether so overjoyed at the good spirit you write in & contented stile that you must excuse my replying as I have already promised to the former line by line, for I must read it over & over until the eighth day from this date when another Mail will be made up for England. At this moment we have the two Packets laying in the Bay. Mr Marriot does not understand the matter – all he knows is that 10s per day is the comd pay. Sir Charles had 10 more by Board order to cover the extra expenses of such an extensive comd. This I get and I have returned myself for six months past without any objection being made. The money must be forthcoming. Sir C then had 10s in addition as Senior Officer of Ord which Col Story receives. Thus Lt Col English is entitled to 10s comd & 10s extra until he is senior Ord officer when he will claim 10 more. At all events I trust I shall make it good, there being the Board’s authority for it which is quoted on my returns. Capt Tait was correct respecting Sir C Smith. I received a message of remembrance &c from him when at Falmouth on his way to Town. I immagine he will give up Gib. In the event of a brevet he will be a M Genl. It would therefore be useless expense to fit himself out for that comd. I have some idea he will get the Governt of Trinidad. My Mos net is rather large but look elegant & is not too warm. Could you witness the pleasure the receipt of a few articles from home affords me, the ingenuity of dear girls, Miss, & the worsted & silk stitching of my dear wife would often be employed in my behalf. A common table looks well with a gay, good chozen cover, however cheap – such cannot be got here. Tell Miss P I keep the slippers on my dressing table to look at & the Sultana, which I regret to say looks very pale & tropical like. Dine with Pringle yesterday, found my letters on returning home but have not had time yet to read them all, it so happening that a Mail is going to all the stations – a Packet come in & a Packet going out. I have pressed so hard for a Capt that one must be sent. It would be an extraordinary convenience should Bordes be the man. Very soon now I shall go my rounds when you must not feel disappointed if you do not receive letters regularly. I think it’s likely Sir C Smith will get Demerara as a Govr. I hope so for with all his faults which are exagerated, he is a noble fellow. It is very likely that young Munday will come here – if I can lend him a hand I will. Col Story & I are very great. I have positively so many letters before me I know not which to read first & Leicester S is back to and fro from the office every half hour. Gusto’s letters amuse me exceedingly. He will get on better yet in my opinion than as an Artillery officer. Poor old Steward – so he is departed. I have thought much since reading your letter of Stoke Hall & Park times, Harlequin chambers – all appear but a short period since. I have not had time to read dear Fred’s letters – he is well, God bless him, or was so when writing. Urge Augustus about his French & Spanish – if he will stick to it he may yet be a man of fortune & give his old pa a bottle of Champaign – quotation Kate. Cara’s hand & yours are becoming so alike that in the 2 bundles come together, 30th Sept & 15th Augst, did the lassie not write with extraordinary light ink, I shd fancy it your letter. Am happy to find the horse is well again. The shoeing smith has put a nail in the quick of his foot, that’s the fact

Red ink begins here

my dear Kit, but they play into each other’s hands & probably would not tell you. But you deserve a good horse – it’s a pity you have not a good husband. I was quite cheered to see my good Uncle Hawker’s hand writing again. I will give him a long letter during my visit round these colonies. I shall muster somewhat new to describe to him. Remember me to Tait. Tell him I have ordered Capt Rutherford into his former berth but he is detained at Grenada by the quarantine, which also prevents my starting out on my tour. Poor Gardiner – I did not know him, but feel for his family. Give my love and a few Tropical kisses to my nieces. Am happy my wife MOB is so much improved in health – tell her not to desert her old hubby, pinch her well for me. Nothing I observe benefits you so much and affords me gay letters as a visit to Southampton, Isle of White and a racket about. Be, I pray ye, perpetually moving. Regards to Miss Parker whose letters are a great treat, not long enough. Pringle was almost on the point of asking permission to address our daughter. I told him so – we had such a laugh. Oh, how I wish I had you in my fairy castle – in truth it looks so, the fine moonlight nights with such, oh such sky – turn over [an instruction to turn the page]. Tell the dear girls to send me some dahlia roots, they thrive here, and some Jeranium seeds. Young Naghten can inform Gusto of vessels coming out here almost every week. Thanks good Kit for your exertions about my saddlery, I’m much in want of it. Hawker’s is a good house but so old fashioned. Did you give directions about the saddle cloth? I trust Mary Hawker is better – kind regards there. Fred’s love affair will subside without a doubt. And now goodbye dear, dear Kate. Love to my girls, thanks to them for their very entertaining letters – kiss them all round, and give my sisters loads of advice for me. Wishing you all well. Your afft

Fred E

This letter was apparently written on two days, but both instalments are dated 14th November, a Tuesday. ‘Inspection 36th Regt this evening & Brigade day on Thursday’ suggests that he is writing on Tuesday, so the date on the second part should probably be 15th.