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Drake Letters Index 91. The London Gazette 5 February 1856 ◄ ● ► 93. Louisa to Maria Drake 18 February 1856
The Drake Letters
 
Louisa Drake (Balaklava) - Maria Drake (London), 11 February 1856
  Balaklava
Feby. 11th [1856] 1
 
My dear Mrs. Drake,
 
        We are so anxious now for news, that we feel rather disappointed at not getting English letters to day, but the Mail is not even Telegraphed, so we must wait patiently, many thanks for your kind letters, and present by last mail, we have taken several long walks lately, “Bulb hunting”, where a Veil is most comfortable, for the winds are still very cold and the bulbs just peeping above the ground, waiting for the Sun to draw them up, but I expect the growth in Spring must be very rapid. We heard of the Armistice some days ago, 2 from Constantinople, but as yet, the firing goes on just the same as ever, indeed today, the guns have been incessant, and we have heard some tremendous explosions they say the French have blown up Fort Alexander, whatever it was, it shook all our windows, and these shocks feel almost like an Earthquake, we are now so accustomed to the sound of heavy guns, that unless it is something more than usual, we do not notice them; there are several places I want much to see, when the Armistice is proclaimed, particularly the Ruins of Inkerman, great parts of them are I believe in our lines, and must be very old and curious; Henry is now reading Seymours work on the Crimea, 3 a very good one, which I intend to industrious enough to read [sic] too; he (Henry) is rather complaining, with cold and sore throat, nothing serious, for he has gone to dine with Mr. Carpenter, 4 when he comes home he promises to dose with three pills, which I have no doubt will put him all right again. We had a visit from Sir George, 5 his son 6 and Mr. Smith 7 today, the latter arrived from Constantinople this morning, “to have a talk on business, with Sir George”, was surprised to find him so unwell, the Doctor wishes the old gentleman to take a short trip for a change, and I hope he will do so, I shall be very sorry if he is obliged to give up altogether and go home, for then Mr. Adams, 8 from the Turkish Contingent, would come here, and I should fear Henry being sent to Kerche [sic] 9 in his place, which would not suit us at all; however I never allow myself to think of disagreeable things, always looking for what I wish. Mr. Smith is full of the gaieties of Constantinople, they have had some very gay Balls there, his girls went in Fancy Dress to the English Ambassador’s, and were much admired; Pera is now a very expensive place, so I console myself for our dullness here, by knowing we are saving a little, for a future day, which it must be impossible to do there, and I do not think my young lady, 10 cares much for gay parties, we should have liked to have had a peep at the Ambassador’s Ball, because the Sultan 11 and his court was there, that must have been worth seeing. I really have nothing to write about, for the mud keeps us prisoners, we managed to get to Church yesterday morning, in our “Wellington boots”, but it is filthy walking anywhere in Balaklava. You must be very glad the long Christmas holidays are over, to have quiet in your house again; your account of our dear Laura 12 gave us much pleasure, I am glad she is so happy and contented, and a favorite with the Misses Rodwell, as it must add much to her comfort at School; I am longing to see my dear children again; and [written across the page] am sure they will be delighted to see us again, I only hope Henry will be lucky enough to get a station, where we shall have a house again: how fortunate Mr. Weir 13 is to get Halifax after being so many months quietly at home, poor Henry is very fond of building Castles, but I fear all to be blown down again. We are glad to hear that Mr. Roraner 14 is recovering, his has been a sad long illness, please remember us to them all, when you next see them: it is fortunate you found another convenient postman. We have had a great loss in the Poultry Yard today, our two last Turkeys disappeared today, three beauties did the same a few weeks ago, we suppose some one leaves the Gate open, and they walk out, of course never to be seen again; I dare say they were put in the pot, before we missed them. We hear that there is a great deal of thieving in Camp now, and a man has been tried for a very brutal murder, and sentenced to be hung, some example of the sort is requisite; the man who did the deed is only 19. 15 We had another visit from Captain Venables 16 today, he very kindly brought us a box of Crocus bulbs and roots of Violets, only fancy a young man bringing such a box seven miles for us on horseback (almost as bad, as the one Grandpa 17 sent by him, to St. John), 18 he is as goodnatured as ever, spent yesterday afternoon collecting them for us. I believe I must close them uninteresting scrawl, and say good night. Remember me most kindly to all. Louisa is writing to Charlotte and Laura, I suppose, a description of her Pidgeons and such things, for what else she can find to write about, I am sure I do not know. With best love, Believe me ever
 
Your Affecte Daughter
Louisa Drake


 
WH Drake Journal
 
Feby. 13. Fine. Sir G. Maclean & D.C.G. Smith left for Pera by the Prince Arthur, No. 85 Steamer. I dined with Morse. 19 Mail of 28/1 arrived.
 
Feby. 14. Showery morning then fine with N. Wind. Mail of the 1st arrived. Sent private letters to Sir G. Maclean Pera.
 
Feby. 16 [Saturday]. Fine day. Wrote to Mr. Petrie 20 Dir. Genl., to D.C.G. Wilson, 21 both about Sir G. M. also Pera G.B. [sp?]. Lu, Lu Jr. & I took a walk. Ottawa arrived new burial place.

 
 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Footnotes
 
1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
 
2. Henry’s Journal entry for 6 February 1856 reads: “Fine & frosty. Lu & I took a ride. Lord P[almerston]’s Telegraph to Sir G[eorge] M[aclean] & Smith. Notice of Armistice.”
 
3. Henry Danby Seymour’s book was entitled, Russia on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov: Being a Narrative Of Travels in the Crimea and Bordering Provinces: with Notes of the Naval, Military, and Commercial Resources of Those Countries, published in 1855 by John Murray.
 
4. DCG Frederick Stanley Carpenter.
 
5. CG Sir George Maclean. His son was Captain Henry John Maclean, Rifle Brigade.
 
6. Louisa Drake mentions Sir George’s son visiting them before in her letter, Louisa Drake (Balaklava) – Maria Drake (London) (4 January 1856). Annie Baxter Dawbin, in her journal, published as A face in the glass (ed. Lucy Frost, (Melbourne, 1992), p. 143) tells how her niece and her “companion”, Georgy Maclean, had stolen her gingerbread nuts while on board the Calcutta, en route from Van Diemen’s Land to England in early 1850. I wonder if this son is the “Georgy Maclean”.
 
7. DCG John William Smith.
 
8. DCG George Adams.
 
9. Kertch; now Kerc (Crimea), on the Sea of Azov.
 
10. Louisa’s daughter, Louisa Maria Drake.
 
11. Sultan Abdul Mejid.
 
12. Louisa’s daughter Laura Mary Drake.
 
13. DCG Thomas Christie Bartrum Weir.
 
14. James Roraner/Rorauer. The spelling of his surname is vexing, as I found obituaries under both Roraner and Rorauer.
 
15. Private George Day, 77th Regiment, was executed on 23 February 1856. He had murdered Gunner Thomas Kirby, of the Royal Artillery, a patient in the hospital of the 77th Regiment, under treatment for a severe wound. [Capital punishment in the Crimea, by Mike Hinton, War Correspondent, Vol. 29 No. 1, April 2011, p. 38.]
 
16. Captain Thomas Venables, 97th Regiment.
 
17. Louisa’s father-in-law, retired Commissary-General John Drake (1782-c.1867).
 
18. The 97th Regiment had been stationed at St. John when the Drakes were stationed there. [The New Brunswick Almanac and Register, for the year of our Lord 1851, (Henry Chubb: Saint John, 1850), p. 70. Google Books.]
 
19. DCG Henry Browne Morse.
 
20. DACG Samuel Petrie, Director of the Commissariat in London.
 
21. DCG James Wilson.
 
 
 

 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Drake Letters Index 91. The London Gazette 5 February 1856 ◄ ● ► 93. Louisa to Maria Drake 18 February 1856