Alameda Hotel, Malaga
15th December 1856, Monday Morning
My dearest Mother,
Dearest Cha’ has passed a rather better week and feels a little stronger and has been out driving two or three times; still the improvement is only slight and she is not yet as well as when we left home. She still suffers very much from the cough at times. We have had some heavy rain principally at nights which has laid the dust and it is a little cooler somedays in the morning than it was; but it is still very fine and we do not feel the slightest desire for a fire. What a contrast it is to the weather you have when the winter seems to have set in with severity much earlier than usual. All your kind letters have reached us safely as well as the papers and I hope mine have not miscarried. I wrote two to you from Gibraltar and this is the fourth from this place. We were delighted to receive yours of 29th of last month with one for Cha’ from you & one from the nurse and to hear that you were all well and the dear children good; how glad we would be to be able to take a peep at you for half an hour. We hope the weather will not prevent dear Margaret and the baby visiting and we will like greatly to hear from you how they are looking. Such severe weather as you have had always delayed the labour a good deal and was teasing but when one is accustomed to it they expect it and do not mind it so much; when there are only the regular hands at work they can have employment in the barn and stable. The common barley is always an expensive and troublesome crop to thrash and it is more so when it is a bad crop such as mine was this year but it is much better to have it well thrashed than to ??? over it and especially this year when the price for barley is so good. I think about New Year’s day the barley will be all thrashed unless it will be necessary to thrash a stack of oats before that time for the horses. Here horses are fed entirely on chopped barley straw and barley and they seem in fine condition. I have nowhere seen so fine horses as those I see here. I would like to send the two best year old heifers I have to Mr. McGildowney’s mountain next year if you think the yellow heifer which was grazed with Mr. Campbell last year good enough for Ballyucan grass. The one which was grazed at home I am sure is a good one. These will both be two years old at May. I think it will be necessary to send the foal to grass next summer and if you and Burns think so and that Mr. Campbell’s grass is good and worth the money it would be well to speak to Mr. Campbell about it. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Douglas is making so much delay in finishing the porch and byres; it is always the case with him – there is another matter he promised to do before he was to be paid; it was to paint the woodwork in the stable and harness room with a priming coat. If you have not paid him yet do not do so till he finishes this also and he is not to make any charge for it. The farm is more advanced this year than it was last. I think before New Year’s day if the weather be not very unfavorable all the ploughing will be finished and some progress made with the manure heaps. I will give you some idea how the day passes with us – Rod and I get up and read prayers in Cha’s room before breakfast. We then breakfast between nine and ten. I then hear Roddie’s lessons from ten till half past eleven and go out either to walk with him or go to the reading room to read the papers. Cha’ goes out to drive pretty often from one to two; we dine at three. I read to Cha’ generally some time during the day for an hour or two. Sometimes I go to the news room after dinner when I have not had time before; Rod gets his supper and goes to bed before seven. We take tea at seven and have prayers and Cha’ retires at eight and I read and retire between ten and eleven. Rod and I sleep together. We find mosquitos rather troublesome unless we watch them. They are not so large as the common house fly but have longer legs, bodies & wings and make a great noise when flying about. I generally explore the sitting room and kill one or two every day. The mosquito curtains which are made of gauze are quite necessary here and it is even requisite to search the curtains well before going to sleep. I was very much bitten by them at first but do not mind them now. Rod is now nearly well although he coughs a little still. He was dining last week at Mrs. Mark’s the Consul’s wife at a children’s party when he met some young ladies and a little boy; they are all older than he; but he enjoyed himself very much and came home at seven. Mrs. Saurin and her daughter and Rev. Mr. Saurin archdeacon of Down visited us on Tuesday last. Mrs. Saurin has a great deal to say but they did not stay long as their visit was at a late hour. Monday Afternoon. Dearest Cha’ had a drive today and I hope will be the better of it. I hope dearest Mother that you have had no great trouble in getting money out of the Bank and attending to my money matters; and that you think you will have enough to pay all demands until our return. We hope this will find you and dear little Brab and Johnnie and we hope Annie and Margaret assembled together happy and well on Christmas day and that you may have many pleasant return, and what is more important still that each returning anniversary of the birth of Christ will find us still better and better fitted for spending an eternity with him. Cha’ desires me to thank you for your kind note to her; the good news you send of our little pets is such a comfort to us. We were also glad to get Eliza’s; we hope she and the other servants are behaving well. We have evening service here on Sundays at four o’clock when I go just when dinner is over. Mr. Brereton is a good preacher. Kiss our dear children for Roddie and us and give our love and kind remembrance to all enquiring friends. We unite in fond love to you and the children and sisters & brothers.
Yours very affectionate son,
kindly forward the enclosed by placing a stamp upon it. J.C.
p.s. Direct Alameda Hotel, Malaga as your last was delayed two days at the post office. Catherine is well and sends her love to her father and mother.