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Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 20

Dated: 27 July 1809 from CB H.M.S. Lavinia Addressed to: Mrs C Bevan

You will, my dear and good Mary, be surprised to receive another letter from this quarter but the winds are unpropitious and I fear we are not likely to get away this day. I am very much obliged by your long letter from Bailbrooke (?) I assure you there is no necessity for a Court of Inquiry on this subject for even admitting that I could entertain the meaning you hint at, I must indeed be a most inexcusable and stupid beast thus to promulgate (difficult legibility), but I know you are only quizzing. I had rather hoped you might have been invited to sleep a day or two at Inglewood – But God knows I have no reason to be dissatisfied with anything from that quarter. I do not intend that you should infer from this expression that I have reason to be so with anything from your quarter & there’s for you Mrs B (difficult legibility) With regard to the other Mrs B I am a good deal vexed and a good deal alarmed, I foresee trouble in that quarter approaching fast. There is a degree of indolence and insensibility to her affairs that I dread will prove in the end very vexatious to herself. I am not by any means astonished at her declining the offer of accommodation at Montague Square because I am sure that offer was not made in a way calculated to show that it was much wished to be accepted – I can only say that if I am wrong in this conviction I shall most readily accept and certainly most happily acknowledge my error. I know that even the common invitations to a family dinner are made in such a way that it is quite petrifying - ~Remember Brighton – the visit to Brighton remember! I also know what I heard with my own ears from two of the three when I urged, strongly urged, that this offer should then be made. It was positively refused and that in such a way to convince me there can be no sincerity with offer now made & when that be the case rely upon that those who have eyes will see and those who have ears will hear. I am the more alert to her feelings in this predicament because I have been in similar ones and I do well know that it is full as much the manner of an obligation as the favour itself which makes an impression on a feeling and a honourable mind – I could give you some beautiful quotations out of your favourite Spectator to ? this very meaning – but I know you are of the same way of thinking and therefore it is now unnecessary – Our party here is far from an unpleasant one – there are no less than three volunteers to see the effects of this expedition – a Mr Allan, a man of very general and good information – a friend of Lord Henry Stuart, 2nd Sir William P ?illeg?, a brother-in-law to ?illeg? 3rd a Mr Wood Private Secretary to Lord Castlereagh – Col Belson & Major B – the latter a pleasant fellow, a slight acquaintance of ?yours I believe – these with four others from below constitute the regular dinner party – we go to bed at ten – get up at seven – the morning employed in walking the deck & reading. Sometimes in arguments in one of which I am always the Honourable opposition & always will be so; as far as my knowledge of the subject permits me to judge – There is only one man who could make me change my opinion of this matter and that would be from his superior knowledge of facts full as much as the Estimation in which I hold his judgement – that man is General Paget – The subject is Sir J Moore. Of course I have against me Lord Castlereagh’s Secretary – Do not you talk about this because he is, I believe a vary particular friend of Wm Adams. We have just had a warm discussion, on what do you think? On the morality of Mr Monk Lewis’s Monk. It was defended by one gentleman as a very excellent Moral Work – Yourself of course have never read it and therefore cannot judge of its morality Thank God! This is the first time I hope it will be the last time I could heard so wonderful an opinion broadcast – I flatter myself I made some appropriate remarks and neat observations – How pleasant to argue on the side of virtue & morality and religion. you always compel me to argue a little on the other side; or we should have no argument at all.

I am sure this is paying you a handsome compliment if you be but as late at finding them out as you are suspicious on the other side of the question – However you are a very good fellow and as you will not say so I shall say so aaa

Make my best love to all at Bailbrooke – hope you are all well and happy God Bless you all

I am ever most affectionately
Yours CB

Would to God we were off and back again that I was a Lieutenant Colonel & that we had a snug shop near the sea & the Reg Plymouth Dock to be it.

Lord Chatham went on board the Venerable yesterday besides a ??illeg??
Adieu Adieu

NB This cross written letter is difficult to decipher

i) CB was embarked with Bn HQ & Light Company 28th Foot in the Frigate Lavinia, Captain Lord Wm Stuart for the Walcheren expedition. Embarkation of some troops began on 16 July; the 28th sailed on 28th July
ii) Inglewood – the Berkshire house of CB’s cousin Mrs Shaw which was eventually bequeathed to and sold by his children
iii) Mrs B – presumable the first mention refers to Mary and the second to his mother about whose stand-offishness and meanness to may he frequently complained
iv) Montague Square either Dacres of Mrs Bevan had a temporary house there at one time – probably Admiral Dacres
v) Lord Henry Stuart – unid unless connected with Lord William Stuart who commanded Lavinia. Similarly Mr Wood and Sir W P? Lord Castlereagh was Secretary of War and the Colonies, and the originator of the notion of the Walcheren expedition. Colonel Belson was Commanding Officer 1st/8th Foot, Major B the other, and senior Major. Perhaps ‘latter’ here refers to Mr Wood since CB’s other mentions of Browne eg in 1808 were a good deal less flattering
vi) General Paget – probably here refers to CB’s mentor Edward Paget (who was in Portugal with Wellington) rather than to General Henry Paget who was commanding the Light Division in this expedition
vii) Sir J Moore – General Moore had of course been killed in January at Corunna
viii) Mr William Adams – a connection of the Dacres – may have been Private Secretary to Pitt
ix) Mr Monk Lewis – M.G.Lewis published his novel ‘The Monk’ in 1796. Described as a mixture of supernatural, horrible and indecent its main figure is a Capuchin ensnared by a whore disguised as boy-novice. Eventually a compound with the Devil results in a dramatic death. Apparently it attracted ‘a considerable vogue’
x) Bailbrooke – appears to have been a Dacres house, but not identified
xi) Lord Chatham – the Commander in Chief – Pitt’s elder brother, known from relaxed or indolent attitude as “the Late Lord Chatham”. Lieutenant General Venerable – records confirm that Chatham and his staff boarded her on 26th and led the fleet away on 28th July


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