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Drake Letters Index ◄ 3. Drake to Louisa 29 May 1854 ◄ ● ► 5. Drake to Louisa 30 June 1854
The Drake Letters
William Henry Drake (aboard Orinoco) - Louisa Drake (London), 4 - 7 June 1854
Orinoco 1 Gulf of Ægina
Sunday 4 June 1854 2
My dear Lu,
My last was finished on the 1st. I left it at Malta with Mr. Wild 3 to send on Malta is quite a different place from any I have hitherto seen. The approach fr. the Sea is beautiful although there is a dry barren look about the Island & that of Gozo, in fact it is the beauty of position & shape & the splendid scale of the buildings, fortifications &c. all of stone which gives it the imposing appearance – We visited much that was worth seeing during our short stay. The only thing I shall mention is the church of St. John – outside it is nothing but the Interior is magnificent, a large Centre & aisles with a Chapel for each language the Knights of Malta were divided originally into Languages – Viz. French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese &c. though a Knight to belong to a language was not necessarily of these Kingdoms the Floors of both the Church & its Chapels are inlaid with beautiful mosaic work – the Chapels adorned with good paintings, fine Statuary & most exquisitely finished carving, the reading desk as we should call it, is of lapis lazuli one Chapel has massive Silver gates quite across the building & of great height, these were painted to resemble wood or brass when Napoleon 4 was at Malta & so escaped plunder. – In the Vault under the Church, which I of course went to see, 5 lie buried the 1st and most celebrated Grand Masters of the Knts. of Malta, their effigies in Marble being on the tombs – I could have spent a Week in this church – The Streets in Valletta are generally speaking narrow & steep – narrow to ensure shade, & so steep that most are cut in Steps some 4 or 5 feet broad & 4 inches deep & well grooved to prevent persons or animals from slipping – The Padres in their big hats the donnàs in their black robes would remind my Father 6 & Mother 7 of the Peninsula 8 – It was very hot there – We left with our Two Transports in tow on the 1st at about 6 OCk. My Journal gives me nothing to tell you from that until the 3rd. Yesterday when we made the & “Morea” & I first saw the classic shores of Greece this morning at 7 we passed the Island of Hydra & at 8½ the Transports were cast off at the Island of St Georgio D’Arbora when they made for the Dardanelles & we took the route for the Piræus.
We went near Cape Colonna, & saw on it the ruins of a Temple Ægina is in sight & at 11 we expect to be at anchor.
The Programme is Col: Lockyer 9 & Staff (Major Colvill 10 & Capt. Legh) 11 & D.C.G. Weir land in full uniform to call on Genl. Fozet [sic] 12 & see our Ambassador Mr. Wyse 13 – they find out where we are to encamp & return on board, Weir & I then land to try & get our Contractors a house &c. tomorrow the Troops & Stores are to be landed & the Orinoco will leave for Malta, by her I send this. At 11½ took in tow the Transport “Camilla” with Det. 30th Regt. 14 and Stores for H.M.S. Leander at the Piræus.
The Acropolis of Athens in sight at 2. The Palace & Athens in sight – Ruins of Temples, & other things – 11 p.m. I have been on shore for some hours, called on Mrs. Black, Lord Byron’s 15 Maid of Athens 16 now a respectable elderly Matron just like any French or Spanish lady of same age Her daughter Miss Black 17 is a very pretty girl Speaks good English but with a slight foreign accent Mrs. B. speaks only Greek & Italian – But tho’ Miss is pretty enough to be the Maid of the Piræus where they have resided 6 years the charm of the dress is gone. She dresses just a la mode Anglaise. The Town of the Piræus is small but better cleaner & larger than I expected. It swarms with French Soldiers of course the road to Athens is open & Clear. Our revolvers might have been left at home & if I only knew I was to remain or if you ascertain it you may arrange if you can to come out in August or Sept. June July & August are fearfully hot they say.
[Written across the page.] It certainly is hot enough now but knocking about as we do, is always hotter than is pleasant – it is not so hot as the Swan 18 after Xday to April – We shall get a house living is tolerably cheap & every thing will go smoothly I flatter myself I could have managed the duties without Superior Knowledge & Experience –
The only question is, are we to remain here or not Genl. Fozet [sic] 19 has gone on with 4000 men to Turkey & the French Admiral Le Barbier Toisin [sic] 20 commands the French Naval & Mily. Force & of course in a degree us also Capt. King 21 is here in the Leander of 50 guns, & has another Whale Ship with him The French Admiral has the “Gomer” Steamer & three ships – An American Frigate (The Cumberland I think) with a Commodore & a Steamer – Two Austrian Men of War – Sundry merchantmen & Transports Three small Greek Men of War which have been returned to King Otho 22 – the whole of these compose a respectable fleet & some dozens of Greek Vessels are in line close to the whole lashed together – in embargo – to stop piracy.
5 June 1854 6 A.M.
Our men land today & I have to work so I just got up to say adieu, love to all & that all is going on well & quietly here
Your affect. hub
W. H. Drake.
Weir & I have each a room in Jalissi’s [sp?] Hotel Marina at ½ a dollar each per day – We shall live en Grec & consequently cheaply – 6th. Col: Lockyer 23 dined with us a very fair dinner but of what composed except that we had Fish & a Fowl (not together) made into something – Clean – and a bottle of Cyprus Wine very like inferior Constantia – Troops landed – Mr. & Miss Wyse 24 came down from Athens to see it – They are Papists & he is said to be a regular stingy fellow – Weir was at Athens some two years ago & called but except a return call recd. no attention but as he likes the great though he says he is stingy he is a very gentlemanly man & Miss W a very nice person – Pour moi who walked about as his A.D.C. & told them where to go while the Troops were moving about (which Col. Lockyer asked me to do) I took him for a very insignificant looking & very imprudent & foolish speaking person & Miss for a passée but still not badlooking young woman As we worked from 6 to 9 at night Weir was tired I thirsty got out the Teapot & cups had some Tea of which I drank some buckets – & went to bed at ½ past 10
No. 2. 6 June contd. Jalissi’s [sp?] Hotel – 6 a.m. Up at ½ past 4!!! & finished the other crossed sheet – Mails are made up here by one set of Packets on the 2.12 & 22 by another line on 7.17 & 27 of each month so after this you will get only Short epistles about twice or thrice per month – as I shall only have to Chronicle – Up, eat, drank & Slept – Weir has given me the Supply duties & will keep the Cash himself – I see no difficulty whatever & with one good Officer & one Clerk would do all the duty easily – I do not think they can possibly keep us all here and what Archer 25 is to do I don’t know – As Mr. Wild 26 is very desirous of going home perhaps they may send Weir there & leave me in charge in which case you would be able to join me & I should be very comfortable especially if they gave me Charge & War pay – June July & August are very hot here after which they say the Weather is pleasant & cool in Winter – bare floors a table or two six chairs or a long sort of Sofa on two sides of the room make up the furnishing of a house Weir threatens to keep a Carriage & so much but always ends with “but whats the use, let us keep never minding”
4 P.M. A letter of Shreds & Patches this – Weir has at last been driven into a corner & has taken a very nice house at 450 drachmas a month, = £15:18:9 for three months certain, There we take up our Quarters & Office I therefore live rent free so far so good – I have the charge of the Stores & Supply & Transport branch, Weir takes the Cash himself – tomorrow we move in, I write on a very uneven surface & sit on a three legged stool, however the writing signifies but little The Orinoco left today suddenly & I did not write by her as the Consul said the mail tomorrow would reach England at least some days before her –
The ambassador gives a grand dinner today at Athens to which Col. Lockyer & one Captain (one refigionist [sp?]) were invited – & The Honble Major Handcock 27 asked in the Evg. The Morning Col: L got a note to say if any of the Officers were desirous of going in the Evg. Mr. W would be glad to receive them. I simply replied I wd. see him – before I went on such an invite. Drive 6 miles, Thermometer in the Shade 84º in full fig to honor a man who although we are here to support his honor does not know what is due to gentlemen or if he does know is less excuseable. –
We have an invitation from the Colonel Comg the French Troops on Shore to drink “Ponche” with the French officers on Thursday Evening Every English officer is invited & I presume all will go. –
The Hotel Jalissi [sp?] is a great resort of the Greek Gentlemen & Ladies in the Cool of the Afternoon I have been amusing myself for the last two hours with Dr. Downes 28 & Venables 29 looking from our Verandah on the groups below by threes or more seated round small tables in the middle of the Street drinking Coffee or Cocoa at 1d per cup or lemonade at 2d per glass Men dressed in full Greek Costume & in every variety of our own dress, Ladies also in every variety of dress a few very handsome Greek faces of both Sexes – A large number of Greeks have also just landed from Kalamachi armed & accoutred, they are supposed to have come in from their escapade against the Turks, I believe they have had a month to do so in – The English Mail has arrived from Trieste but we shall get no letters until tomorrow, 7th June – A mistake mail not arrived expected today I move into cottage this morning
Last night a grand party at our Ambassadors at Athens. Col: Lockyer, 30 Legh 31 & some Officers went, tonight one at Consul here, tomorrow “ponche” so you see we are not altogether among the Savages – Adieu Love to all,
Your affectionate hub
W. H. Drake.
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
1. The Royal West India Mail Company's Steam Ship Orinoco, 2250 Tons, 300 Horse Power.
2. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand). ▲
3. In 1856 CG Henry James Wild was stationed in Malta. ▲
4. Napoleon Bonaparte spent six days in Malta in 1798. ▲
5. Henry Drake was an active member of the Freemasons. According to Brig. A. C. F. Jackson, Henry’s grandson and also a keen Freemason, Henry was instrumental in establishing the first lodge in Perth, Western Australia. According to Kent Henderson, in his book The Masonic Grand Masters of Australia (Melbourne, 1988, p. 11) the first lodge chartered in Western Australia was that of the Lodge of St. John, No. 485 EC (now No. 1 WAC), in 1843. Henry’s brother-in-law, Francis Lochée (husband of Louisa’s sister, Emma) was the 1st initiate of the St. John Lodge of Perth. [Rica Erickson, The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians pre-1829-1888: Vol. III K-Q, (Nedlands, WA, University of Western Australia Press, 1988), p. 1881.] - “MEETING OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS IN PERTH. On Friday last, being St. John’s Day, the Masonic Lodge No. 712 on the registry of the Grand Lodge of England, met in full strength in their Lodge-rooms, Perth, for the purpose as well of celebrating this high Masonic festival, as of electing a Worshipful Master to succeed His Excellency Brother John Hutt, and other officers. … At 5 o’clock the Lodge was closely tyled, and we are, of course prohibited from giving any description of the ceremony. It is, however, permitted to us to say that the election of the following brethren took place:- Brother P. Broun (the Colonial Secretary), Worshipful Master; Brother MacDermott, Senior Warden; Brother J. Schonles, Junior Warden; Brother Webb, Senior Deacon; Brother H. Samson, Junior Deacon; Brother W. H. Drake, Secretary; and Brother F. Lochée, Treasurer. …” [Inquirer (Perth, WA), Wednesday 1 January 1845, p. 2.] ▲
6. Henry’s father was retired CG John Drake. ▲
7. Henry’s mother was Maria Drake (née Story). ▲
8. Henry’s father served as a Commissary in the Peninsular War, fought between the Allies and Napoleon, 1808-1814. Henry was born in Coimbra, Portugal in 1812. ▲
9. Colonel Henry Frederick Lockyer, 97th Regiment. ▲
10. Major Robert William Colvill, 97th Regiment. ▲
11. Captain Edmund Cornwall Legh, 97th Regiment. ▲
12. General Elie Frédéric Forey.▲
13. Thomas Wyse, British Minister at Athens from 1849, until his death in 1862. ▲
14. 30th Cambridgeshire Regiment of Foot. ▲
15. George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron, (1788-1824), English poet. ▲
16. In late 1809 Lord Byron lodged in Athens with Mrs. Tarsia Macri, widow of the former “British” vice-consul. He was stricken by her three daughters, all under fifteen. His favourite was the youngest, Theresa, who was then twelve. In early 1810 he wrote a poem about his love for her: Maid of Athens, ‘ere we part, / Give, oh give me back my heart!. He was, however, unwilling to marry or buy Theresa, whose mother reserved the right to push her into marriage or to take money in lieu of it. Byron therefore left this lodging. In April that year he rejected Mrs. Macri’s last offer, of Theresa for 30,000 piastres. [E. Longford, Byron, (London, 1976), pp. 28-38.] ▲
17. Caroline Black, only daughter of James and Theresa Black. ▲
18. Swan River Colony, where Henry and his family had been stationed from 1831 to 1848. ▲
19. General Elie Frédéric Forey. ▲
20. Rear-Adm. Marie Charles Adelbert De Tinan. ▲
21. Captain George St. Vincent King. ▲
22. Otho I (1815-1867), King of Greece. ▲
23. Colonel Henry Frederick Lockyer, 97th Regiment. ▲
24. Thomas Wyse, British Minister at Athens. ▲
25. ACG William Spearman Archer. ▲
26. Mr. Wild was Commissary-General at Malta. ▲
27. The Hon. Major Henry Robert Handcock, 97th Regiment. ▲
28. Henry Downes, M.D., 97th Regiment. ▲
29. Lieutenant Thomas Venables, 97th Regiment. ▲
30. Colonel Henry Frederick Lockyer, 97th Regiment. ▲
31. Captain Edmund Cornwall Legh, 97th Regiment. ▲
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Drake Letters Index ◄ 3. Drake to Louisa 29 May 1854 ◄ ● ► 5. Drake to Louisa 30 June 1854