Letter #99

Written from Barbados; not dated at head, 1 April 1838 on cover 

The use of the word ‘Johny’ to mean a Liberal relates to Lord John Russell, party leader from 1834, and Home Secretary at this time. 

Stalleen is a village in County Meath, north of Dublin, Ireland. English must have been there when he was working on the Survey. 

Are you my dear Kate still a great Tory or gradually a good Johny, some thing of the more than respectable I suppose of that party? I must own it is my opinion your politics are changed. You complain in every letter of our olden time happy times & you even complain of your old husband, and have got some new light into that excellent and valuable head of yours of fancied reform, which of course is to be effected so far as your reprobate of a husband is concerned by lectures well supported by quotations from Sir H Thompson, E Wilmot and such other emasculate persons, but I love my old wife from what I recollect from years ago and from those ancient times 1809-10 & 11, long habit & cherished recollections, the good old soul was good enough for me. ‘Let good alone’ and I should regret to find her altered in one way or the other more than it is natural for us all to be by the work of that torment, time. A B Majr Reed 70th Regt has just called, gentlemanly person and an old soldier, thus dear Kit my laugh at you must be closed and another subject started. Well then, the 70th Regt have landed and a wing of the 76th departed to relieve the 69th at Demerara, and the Jupiter has departed for Europe with such a medley of sick & well on board it is beyond my description. Many families have gone home in her from this in addition to those collected by the Transport which arrived in time from her tour of the command to ship her cargo into the old 64. Dr Whyte & his family of 4 children formed some of the party, the Comsry Genl Filder’s family & many, many others. All these persons coming and departing have unsettled me exceedingly as they all embark within view of the windows & I should say within hearing. One day I had 8 children running about & some in arms, such screeching on. I shall never forget it, but I was very amiable and called them all little loves. Mrs Filder started from Shot Hall with her two daughters. They were not extravagant visitors, taking only sugar & water – how pale the poor girls did look. They admired my house – Mrs Filder said, ‘What a pity you do not bring Mrs English & your daughters to this palace of a house, how they would enjoy it!’ ‘Do you think so, Mrs Filder?’ I made reply, & looking at her daughters, ‘Why do you take your daughters away?’ ‘Ah very true, Col English, I spoke without thinking. You are right, no doubt.’ A short time would not have any bad effect on them, I think. For dear Cary I rather think the climate would be beneficial. I may retort on you, Madam, you remark I never read your letters & never answer a question – I go over each whilst I am writing. How is it you dare write & tell me I never mention a blue frock Regt coat or surtout? Did I not particularly request it as the Genl had ordered us to wear them, with shoulder straps, who composed his staff & about his person. You sad woman, did I not repeat how anxious I was to get it before we made the tour? The one I have worn since I first came up here is the same sent to me when at Stalleen, Mrs English, and verily it appears somewhat in rags. Why? ‘Cause I expected a better from England & made everybody believe so when they have attacked my coat, even the Genl. I have even cut the tails short to obtain stuff to repair damages – oh, you sad woman! Col Bunbury has been here and gone on to his temporary Government. A sick horse he left in my stable in charge of a Farmer died a few days since; there was little hope of it when his master sailed. Bold Leicester Smith is, I am most happy to add, gone at last. He did not appear to me very desirous of returning home. I am delighted to get rid of him. He was undoubtedly useful & clever, but unprincipled and deceitful. I do not think he has left one friend behind. Nevertheless he has contrived thro the Govr, to whom he was bowing, to obtain a vote of 100£ to purchase a piece of plate, unknown to me & when I was away for a short time with the Genl. The common courtesy to his comdg officer was not even paid of mentioning the circumstance to me. By mere accident I heard of it. Contrary to my wishes, not having obtained the Insp Genl’s sanction, he has superintended some alterations in a Prison here, for which this is given. I have reported it & sent home the newspaper which I saw for the first time yesterday. I am always delighted when any of Corps obtain any pledge of exertions, but this has been done I think in an irregular and, on his party, unhandsome manner – like him. The Clerk of Works, Mr Green, deserves more, for I hear he had the most trouble. I have had one or two trifling attacks of Ague, remained of Demerara, I think they have gone by. Lt Ford went home in the same ship with Mr Smith, the Litherland brig. He is a good humoured, thoughtless fellow but not ill-disposed. He draws like a artist – don’t mix with him much – he is like a little tub, so stout. I am glad to get rid of him. He is too lazy for an officer of our Corps out here. My good & esteemed friend Tait tells you tales which I did not understand about our Govr, but on enquiry I believe there is something wrong. I rarely see him, but the Genl is an amiable man, I am much with him & he seem to have great confidence in me. This is as it should be at all event the outward appearance of such for the Corps’ sake. I trust your finances are more to your wishes – all will come right. You are too easily upset & annoyed. I must be at your side again. God bless you. Regards to my Uncle H & dear MOB, Mrs Hawker & to all at Southsea. Love to my dear children, Miss P.

 Your aff FE

Red ink begins here.

I trust all your invalids recovered rapidly and that you & dear Bella are enjoying the spring long ere this reaches you.