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Drake Letters Index 87. Louisa to Maria Drake 17 December 1855 >◄ ● ► 89. Louisa to Maria Drake 18 January 1856
The Drake Letters
 
Louisa Drake (Balaklava) - Maria Drake (London), 4 January 1856
  Balaklava
Januy. 4th [1856] 1
 
My dear Mrs. Drake,
 
        I was really piqued [sp?] that I could not manage to send you one of my delightful scrawls by the last Mail, just to wish you all a happy New Year but I really was knocked up, or rather down, with my painful face, I am thankful to say it is very nearly all right again, I have only a small handky about it now, we had several visitors on New Year’s Day, Admiral Freemantle [sic] 2 Colonel Harding 3 and others, among them Dr. Hadley, 4 who prescribed for me a large poultice on my face, a glass of good hot Negus 5 on going to bed, and a good dose   I followed his advice and shall be careful not to get such a cold again, for I think I must have got it, a few days before up near the Castle, where Louisa & I went for a walk, the wind was severe enough to cut off your head, much less attack your mouth, you can have no idea of the severity of a Crimean wind. I sat down this morning to write an answer to a letter received from my Aunt 6 months ago, and which I felt ashamed at not having answered before, I had scarcely began it, before the Captain of the Gibraltar called to say he had brought a bag from Captain Bowen [sp?] of the Ottowa, & we immediately sent for the Boatmen to fetch it: accept our best thanks for all your presents and thoughts for us, please give my love to Grandpa 7 and many thanks for his kind present, I fear it is almost too good for the Russian Cottage, but must be displayed on dinner party nights, we shall be rich in Puddings for I suppose Louisa told you in her last of our handsome present from our fellow traveller, Mr. Powell. The new Candlesticks are grand I put Candles into them for dinner today, our ceiling is painted such a dark color that we require a high light to make any impression on it. It was very thoughtful of you to send me so many useful things
 
I intend to make some Mince Pies tomorrow in the new patty pans, they will be very useful, I often have things to cook, but not the proper utensils to do them in. Will you thank Caroline 8 for her kind letter, I know she will not be offended if some time passes before I answer it, it is so difficult to find time to write as we would wish; dear Emily’s 9 Cuffs, “I should say mittens” are very pretty, and will be so comfortable; I suppose the dear Children 10 are all enjoying their Holidays now. I shall thank Aunt Charlotte 11 in my next for her kind presents, please tell her, the lady like pretty apron was just what I wanted, for my old gown is getting so shabby [written across the page] that I required something to draw attention from it, and really if I had the materials to make things, we should never find time to do things, poor Lou’s dress has only the seams in as yet, I am quite sure it will never be finished for winter wear, our house is so dark, with the miserable Russian Glass 12 in the windows, that I was writing by Candle light at four o’clock today, but I do hope the days will soon be longer.
 
Poor Caroline says she is badly troubled with Chilblains and asks if I have them, I am thankful to say I am never troubled with them and though our winter now is rather severe, all the ground covered with Snow, yet our strange Russian fashion of warming the house is delightful and it is our own fault if we even feel cold in it. We had a small party of three besides ourselves on New Year’s Day, Mr. Morse, 13 Midwood 14 & Wakefield 15 all the others we wished to invite were engaged, which was just as well as my face was so bad. We have had a visit from Captain Maclean 16 today, I did not know him, he is so much changed since I saw him in Van Diemens Land, Major Kean [sic] 17 also called to say good bye, he has leave; and I do not expect he will ever return here, we are sorry he is going, he is a favorite with every one, always so kind & good tempered. I quite forgot to mention your pretty present to Louisa, the “bewitching hat,” I think it will do, so very becoming; unfortunately just now, she has no chance of trying its effects, for there would be no pleasure in riding in the wind, snow and Cold, but in a few weeks, we hope to ride again, There have been some grand dinner parties in Camp this Christmas, and the 4th Division have got up some excellent Theatrical performances, which are highly spoken of, I should like to see them, but it is too far for us; they say the lady performers are excellent. 18 I sincerely hope that Grandpa 19 is quite well again, for I fear such a party of young people as you now have at home, must be almost too much for you.
 
I believe the mail due yesterday has arrived but we have not yet received the letters, they so often arrive just as ours have departed, which will be the case this time. With love to all
 
Believe me ever, Your Affect. Daughter
 
Louisa Drake
 
 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Footnotes
 
1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
 
2. Admiral Sir Charles Howe Fremantle.
 
3. Lieutentant Colonel Francis Pym Harding, Commandant of Balaklava.
 
4. Dr. Henry Hadley.
 
5. Negus: A liquor made of wine, water, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon-juice – so called, it is said, from its first maker, Colonel Negus. [The household dictionary of the English language, (London, [before 1893]), p. 488.] Mrs. Beeton gives the following instructions on how “To Make Negus”: “INGREDIENTS. – To every pint of port wine allow 1 quart of boiling water, ¼ lb. of sugar, 1 lemon, grated nutmeg to taste. Mode. – As this beverage is more usually drunk at children’s parties than at any other, the wine need not be very old or expensive for the purpose, a new fruity wine answering very well for it. Put the wine into a jug, rub some lumps of sugar (equal to ¼ lb.) on the lemon-rind until all the yellow part of the skin is absorbed, then squeeze the juice, and strain it. Add the sugar and lemon-juice to the port wine, with the grated nutmeg; pour over it the boiling water, cover the jug, and, when the beverage has cooled a little, it will be fit for use. Negus may also be made of sherry, or any other sweet white wine, but is more usually made of prt than of any other beverage. Sufficient. – Allow 1 pint of wine, with the other ingredients in proportion, for a party of 9 or 10 children.” [Isabella Beeton, Beeton’s book of household management, (London, 1994), p. 890. (Originally published in 1859-61.)
 
6. Whereas I don’t know which aunt of Louisa’s this may be, it could be either Mary or Harriet Viner, sisters of Louisa’s mother, Elizabeth Sarah Purkis (née Viner). Unfortunately I don’t have further details for Harriet.
 
7. Louisa’s father-in-law, retired Commissary-General John Drake.
 
8. Louisa’s sister-in-law, Caroline Manning Browne (née Drake).
 
9. Henry’s niece, Emily Charlotte Browne, who was about 15 at the time.
 
10. Henry and Louisa’s two younger daughters, Charlotte and Laura, were staying in London with Henry’s family.
 
11. Louisa’s sister-in-law, Charlotte Augusta Drake.
 
12. I don’t know what made Russian glass distinctive from other glass, but I presume that it was not quite as clear as that which Louisa was used to.
 
13. ACG Henry Browne Morse.
 
14. ACG Thomas Wroot Midwood.
 
15. Felix Wakefield.
 
16. Captain Henry John Maclean, Rifle Brigade.
 
17. Major the Hon. Hussey Fane Keane, Royal Engineers.
 
18. I have details of a later theatrical production, that of the Royal Fusiliers, which opened at the Camp before Sebastopol on 18 February 1856. The critique of this production speaks of the ladies in the play: “Perhaps the “hit” of the night was the “get up” of the ladies. The feminine attractions of the lady’s maid Chintz, personified by Mr. Kerr, were extremely great; in fact; it was extremely doubtful to the majority of the audience whether he – or she – were a woman or no, for the white hands, rosy cheeks, and well-padded bustle, puzzled the most scrutinising, whilst the small voice and coquettish manners only added to the height of the deception. Mr. Delmi Radcliffe was a woman of a finer growth – six feet one; but, notwithstanding his or her altitude, she made an extremely graceful Lydia Languish kind of lady, with a pair of bright eyes that many of the softer sex might have been proud of.” [“Theatricals in the Crimea”, Colburn’s United Service Magazine, 1856, Pt. II, pp. 78-82.]
 
19. Louisa’s father-in-law, retired CG John Drake.
 
 
 

 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Drake Letters Index 87. Louisa to Maria Drake 17 December 1855 >◄ ● ► 89. Louisa to Maria Drake 18 January 1856