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Megan Stevens: Drake Letters 2. Charlotte Augusta Drake to Louisa 29 May 1854 ◄ ● ► 4. Drake to Louisa 4 June 1854
The Drake Letters
 
William Henry Drake (aboard Orinoco) - Louisa Drake (en route to London), 29 May – 1 June 1854
Orinoco, 1 Tuesday 29 May 18542
 
My dear Lu,
 
        I sincerely hope by the time this reaches England which will be probably about the 8 or 10 June, that you will be there – Since leaving England I have had plenty to do but also plenty of time for meditation – I am deeply grieved at the disappointment you will sustain on finding me absent but on the other hand am much comforted that you will be in the midst of my kind Family now no longer strangers but your Sincere Friends, this is indeed a consolation to me & I trust you will be able to make yourselves, in a degree comfortable, had the house not been taken for the year, some other plan might have been hit upon, I don’t know what for my movements will be necessarily uncertain for some time to come – We are to go to the Piræus 5½ miles from Athens principally it seems to me as a demonstration Force or one of occupancy only conjointly with a somewhat larger number of French troops but if required by the F[rench] & E[nglish] ambassadors at Athens parties are to be detached up the Country for a time – Again we know not whether the Greek Govt. are amicable & desirous of us or not, as, we are in the latter case, to force a landing   At the end of the Greek affair it seems undoubted that the 97th 3  will go on to Turkey & I presume Weir & I will be sent there also – how lony long we may be in Greece is purely conjectured & I confess I should prefer being there at least six months to going on to Turkey   At the end of the year Smith 4  will be promoted, in fact he is now an Acting D.C.G. of Treasury Appointment & I am the Senior A.C.G. in the Field 5 – now they cannot in justice pass me over nor do I think they will do so, as I hope I made a favorable impression in the right place at Home 6  & feel that I made several good Friends at the Treasury & elsewhere – if they were liberal I should be promoted at Xmas but they are not liberal. Weir takes the present duty in very great disgust – He was very comfortable at Gibraltar with a probability of having a Colonial appointment of £200 as Auditor in addition to his pay – Now he gets 7/6 p.d. war pay & questions their allowing him the 9/6 Charge pay (this, I do not doubt myself he will get & is entitled to) but in the mean time he has had to send Mrs. W. 7  & family home & to keep the two Establishments instead of one, then he has no hope of promotion & says he would rather remain a D.C.G. on Full Pay than retire as a C.G. & in point of fact it is better while health permits it. – I make little doubt I shall obtain strong recommendations from him & from Col. Lockyer 8  which I shall get sent home in November (D.V.)   As far as we can ascertain opinions are expressed that the War will not be of long duration that there will be no land fighting, unless Sebastopol be invested, & that diplomacy will terminate the Russians – if so it will take time & our Army now in the East will not be recalled in the same hurried way in which they were sent out & my hope is strong that I may yet get my Step through it – I left my last letter at Gibraltar – We left G on Saturday Morng at 10 – Since which I find by my Journal we have had fine weather, seen ships, & the African Coast & voila tous [sic]. 9  We passed Algiers at 6 A.M. today – I work a little daily for want of better occupation at French, Italian & Greek – with the last I make very little progress indeed.
 
The 97 continue very friendly indeed   Major Colvill 10  is to be Brigade Major & Captain Legh 11  A.D.C. to Brigadier Genl. Lockyer – They will have no Mess – Weir & I probably mess together –
 
[Written across the page.] We live very well on board, not quite like Cunard line, because a Transport overcrowded cannot resemble a well regulated passenger Steamer – but the Orinoco is very large – I have a good cabin to myself with a porthole 18 Inches square glazed & sliding open – Welsford 12  has one just like it with a passage between us also with a porthole & we are cut off from the rest being on upper deck nearly in the centre of Ship   The Colonel & Major Handcock 13  have just the same on the Starboard side – The regular Saloon below is filled with the Light Infantry Company (Burtons) & we mess in what is usually the Ladies Saloon on the upper deck right across the stern, rather crowded but we are very amiable & as we have plenty to eat of good quality & plenty of good wine all are satisfied – Claret is the standing drink good light wine costing the owners from 1/– to 1/2 per bottle of which 4 doz!! per day is consumed a couple of Bottles Sherry & Port & very little Beer or Spirits –
 
Of Old Hands that I knew before, we have on board the Colonel two Majors – Major Colvill Capts. – Ingram 14  – Moore, 15  Obert, 16  Legh, Burton 17  Lts. Harenc, 18 Harvest 19  Venables 20  Woods, 21  Cannon, 22  Ens. Mackesy 23  & have Dr. Downes 24  & the Qr. Mr. 25  – The Paymaster, Griffin, 26  was appointed to a District just before they sailed & Harvest acts as Paymaster   Welsford’s Servant Farrell, the old St John 27  Messman (under Sally Williams providing) does all I want; makes bed clean berth brushes boots & Clothes & keeps me supplied with water & a good tub of Salt Water every morning – The Colonel has given Weir a Servant & told me I can have one as soon as I like which will be when we get on Shore – In fact I see no reason why I should not be very comfortable if it were not for the one thing, your absence, were we young & without incumbrances!! I should have said, at once, Come out, but we have others to care for & protect & our selfish feelings (& if we have any they are on my side I fear) must be kept under – None of the Officers have their Wives & only one non C. Officer (a Corporal) the other 18 Women are wives of Soldiers, the best they could pick out without any children at all – If any arrangement could hereafter be made the trip would not be an unpleasant one in the event of our being kept any time in Greece
 
One great thing is our postal communication is said to be excellent & almost daily by the various routes   What time I may have at disposal I don’t know but at all events I shall keep you aware of how I get on though not by such a long rigmarole as this – Dear Lou – don’t forget to write to Lochée 28  & press on him the necessity of his sending you all the money he has by Bills in favor of Ed: White 29  as if in wiring [the money] they wd. perhaps require [it] to be sent to me & if in [our] going [elsewhere] our arrangements may have altered & that wd. also cause delay.
 
We expect to be in Malta on Wednesday, when I shall add another scrap to this & leave it to be sent home under cover to the Treasury by Mr. Wild 30  – I may perchance get yours by the Arabia there as we shall have news 4 days later than we brought with us from England – through France.
 
2
 
May 30th – Our fine weather continues   At 10 this morning we were abreast of the Island of Galeta close to which the “Avenger” Man of War was lost about 1848 or 9. 31 Weir & I have had a long talk over affairs & we see but little difficulty to such as will put shoulders to the Work, this I am determined to do. The object I have in view being worth a strong effort. – He would gladly leave the Expedition for a Station if he knew how to do so or if they would let him, he is very much annoyed at being Selected for it. I hope at the end of the year if Mr. Robinson 32  is promoted they will give Weir Canada (which he much desires) & promote me giving me the Charge in Greece if it is still kept up as a Post – this would be something worth having but though I write about it – I do not expect anything so liberal. – What a difference between the life I shall probably lead & that I had anticipated for 12 mos. in Gloucester Place 33  but as we cannot control events we must make the best of them as they turn up & I am as you know, a Philosopher.
 
31st May. At 9 this morning made out two Transports “The Negotiator” & “Monarchy” with Detachments of the 11th Lt. Dragoons on board we after two hour’s work got both of them in tow & we have them so still – fortunately there is very little wind & beautiful weather. We are off the Island of Pantelaria 34  – Off Cape “Bon” (for Loll 35 to look out) I am sorry I have nothing in the shape of an Atlas or Gazetteer on board – Weir begins to be less downcast about his separation   I did not see Mrs. W at Gib: every one said from the moment she heard he was to go she had been quite prostrate, ill, melancholy & writing!! I cannot help associating her in my fancies with our Sister in law Margaret 36  the more so as what Weir tells me of his Wife coincides with my preconceived ideas of our sympathetic & literary Sister. – It is fortunate in such cases to be, as we are, among the every day Scrubs of life – Tomorrow was the day I had expected to begin furnishing for you, I shall probably be at Malta buying a Kettle for my own use, that & a tin Basin are all I intend adding to my equipment – I think I could have done with fewer things but so long as we are Stationary these are not too many    it is only a move in advance I fear, if such a thing takes place I must do the best I can probably send the things I don’t want to old Pickle Salmon 37  at Malta – I shall ask him to take charge of them in the event of my sending them. – We have two Clerks with us one I brought from England Mr. Servantes formerly in the 96th afterwards Interpreter to the New Zealanders – He has been very quiet on board but knows nothing of our duty & seems rather of the José order Mér. Pratt who came on board with Weir is 4 feet high & aged, a good Ck. perhaps in an Office but sadly out of place if we have Field Work 38  he brought a regular Spanish José with him as a hanger on  both have become very nervous from hearing the 97 men talk of their intended exploits in War. Seiges [sic] & Storms being the least things spoken of – So old P. addressed a Note to Weir to ask to be sent back from Malta on account of his aged Father in law at Gib. & an aged Sister in England, & the poor little body’s very greasy hat seems to have become more greasy ever since.
 
[Written across the page.] 31st May at 2 P.M. We saw a large French Steamer apparently bound to Marseilles & as we exchanged Colors we hope she will report us – At ½ past 2 The Island of Gozo was in sight from the deck – I am sorry the day though fine is hazy & consequently the Isld. of Sicily & Mount Etna are not visible at least we can only see something in the Clouds said to be Etna’s top. – At 6 Etna plainer another Frenchman in sight which we suppose to be the Steam Mail Packet. – About Letters for me if they are of consequence sufficient not to care for the expense they should I think be sent through Belgium to Trieste so to the Piræus by the Austrian Lloyd Steam Packets under cover to Senior Commissariat Officer, British Army
 
General Foyer [sic] 39  (French) is to command our Field force he is at the Piræus with a Frigate & at least 1000 French Troops. – Malta in sight we shall be [a] great part of tomorrow there –
 
Malta. 5 A.M. 1 June
 
Lay off the Harbour all night – It is said we are to start again at 10 so I take this ashore to be sure of its going. Love to all,

W. H. Drake.
CommtPalace
Just 5 minutes while Mr. Wild dresses   This is a strange place very – the House I am in (the Commt. Office & Quarters too) a complete Palace. –

Noon
We leave at 1. I have seen Malassez, 40  Shepheard, 41  Webb 42
 
French have taken guest possession of the Piræus – all well – I have bought such things here as I wanted, & taken Tents, Chairs &c. from Ordnance.
 
W. H. D.
 
 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Footnotes
 
1. The Royal West India Mail Company's Steam Ship Orinoco, 2250 Tons, 300 Horse Power.
http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/148907.html
 
2. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
 
3. 97th Earl of Ulster’s Regiment of Foot.
 
4. DCG John William Smith.
 
5. William Henry Drake was promoted to ACG on 16 December 1845, in seniority only behind CG William Filder, Thomas C. Weir, George Adams, and John William Smith on the Eastern front. [H.G. Hart, The new annual army list, and militia list for 1856, p. 384.]
 
6. That is, with Sir Charles Trevelyan.
 
7. Thomas Christie Weir married Margaret Mary Stayner in 1843 at Quebec City, Quebec. She was probably the daughter of Thomas Allen Stayner.
 
8. Colonel Henry Fred. Lockyer, K.H., 97th Regiment.
 
9. voila tout: that’s all.
 
10. Major Robert Colvill, 97th Regiment.
 
11. Maj. Edmund Cornwall Legh, 97th Regiment.
 
12. In 1840 Augustus Frederick Welsford was a Captain with the 97th Regiment.
 
13. In 1840 The Hon. Henry Robert Handcock served as Captain to the 97th.
 
14. In 1840 Thomas Onslow Winnington Ingram was serving as a Lieutenant with the 97th Regiment.
 
15. Isaac Moore was also serving as Lieutenant with the 97th in 1840.
 
16. Marcus A. Obert, who was serving with the 49th Regiment in 1840.
 
17. Fowler Burton was an Ensign with the 97th in 1840.
 
18. In 1860 Archibald Richard Harenc was serving as Brevet Major with the 97th.
 
19. Edward Douglass Harvest was a Captain with the 97th in 1860.
 
20. Thomas Venables was also a Captain with the 97th in 1860.
 
21. Lieutenant Henry George Woods, adjutant, 97th Regiment.
 
22. Osborne Barwell Cannon was a Captain with the 97th in 1860.
 
23. Ensign Ernest Randolph Mackesy, 97th Regiment.
 
24. Henry Downes, MD, who was serving as Surgeon with the 58th in 1860.
 
25. Quartermaster John Desmond, 97th Regiment.
 
26. Paymaster George Griffin, 97th Regiment. “PROMOTIONS AND EXCHANGES. WAR-OFFICE, JULY 28. … 97th – Lieut. T. Smith, from 82nd, to be Paymaster, vice Griffin, appointed Adjutant of a Recruiting District.” [“The Army.” Belfast News-Letter [Belfast, Ireland] 2 August 1854: n.p. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 7 September 2013.]
 
27. St. John, New Brunswick (Canada).
 
28. Louisa’s sister, Emma Purkis married Francis Lochée. It seems as if Francis Lochée owed Henry some money, or maybe Lochée was holding some money for him.
 
29. John Drake, Henry’s father, appointed his nephew Edward Marshall White one of his executors in his Will, dated 11 December 1861. Henry’s sister, Maria Harriet, married her cousin, Edward Marshall White, on 1 October 1844.
 
30. In 1856 CG Henry James Wild was stationed in Malta.
 
31. LOSS OF HER MAJESTY’S SHIP AVENGER. SOUTHAMPTON, JAN. 5. – The Peninsular and Oriental Company’s steam-packet Pacha, Captain Olive, has arrived from Malta and Gibraltar, bringing the melancholy intelligence of the total loss of her Majesty’s steam-frigate Avenger. The Avenger was on her passage from Gibraltar to Malta, and on the 20th of December struck on the Sorelii Rocks, 13 miles south-west of the Island of Eoleba. … [The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties (Colchester, England), Friday, January 7, 1848.]
 
32. In 1840 William Henry Robinson was serving as an ACG. He was promoted to, and retired as CG on 1 January 1855.
 
33. 1 Gloucester Place, London (W1), south-west of Regent’s Park, between Park Rd. and Seymour St. Henry had taken a 12 month lease on the house.
 
34. Isola di Pantelleria, between Tunisia and Sicily.
 
35. Henry’s youngest daughter, Laura Mary Drake was commonly called “Loll”. His eldest daughter, Louisa Maria Drake was called “Lou”, and his second eldest daughter, Charlotte Augusta Dring Drake was called “Pop”.
 
36. Probably Margaret Maclean Drake (formerly Dring, née Todd), the 2nd wife of Henry’s brother, John Minshull Drake. There is no other Margaret who was a sister-in-law, either of Henry or Louisa.
 
37. Possibly Dr. James Salmon, who was Deputy-Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets at Malta in the mid-1850s.
 
38. Commissariat Clerk Pratt is mentioned as being on board the Orinoco on its arrival at Malta on 1st June 1854. [The Morning Chronicle (London, England), Tuesday, June 13, 1854.]
 
39. General Elie Frédéric Forey. “The occupation of Greece is announced by the Moniteur of Saturday in the following terms:- … General Forey, commanding the 4th division of the army of the East, has received the order to proceed to the Piræus, of which he is to take possession. …” [The Bradford Observer (Bradford, England), Thursday, June 1, 1854.]
 
40. In 1856 ACG Charles Thomas Malassez was listed as being stationed in Malta.
 
41. In 1856 ACG George Shepheard was stationed at Malta.
 
42. Possibly DACG George Joseph Webb.
 
 

 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Megan Stevens: Drake Letters 2. Charlotte Augusta Drake to Louisa 29 May 1854 ◄ ● ► 4. Drake to Louisa 4 June 1854