Irving, John to Catherine Irving (née Caddell) (1843/09/16)
H.M.S. “Volage,” 16th Sept. 1843.
My dear K.,—I heard from my father that you and Lewis were, away on an excursion to Arran. I presume that by this time you have returned to Blackness, and according to my promise I send you an account of my adventures since I saw you. I was accompanied down to the pier at Granton by a large train of friends, whom I was sorry to see fade away rapidly from sight as the steamer started off down the Forth. We had a pleasant passage, and I left London the same day. On arriving at Plymouth I found that I had to wait four or five days for a steamer to Cork. To my great joy I found the “Volage” at anchor here. I was afraid she might have gone somewhere else. I went on board direct from the steamer, and was introduced to Sir William Dickson, the Captain; rigged myself in a blue coat and pair of epaulettes; the hands were turned up, and the Captain read my commission appointing me lieutenant of the ship to the ship’s company. There are three of us. I am the second in seniority. Our mess consists of seven—viz., three lieutenants, one master, surgeon, a lieutenant of marines. They are all very good fellows. I was three years messmate of one of them in a former ship, so am comfortable in that respect. We are in the Cove of Cork. Nine miles up the river is the city of Cork. A steamer goes up from here every hour. I have been up once. It is a fine river, nicely wooded on the banks; the city is a strange mixture of good houses and wretched hovels. It swarms with beggars; things are cheap, and the climate is much milder than in Scotland. This place is something like Portobello, with machines for bathing, and is much resorted to for sea-bathing quarters. We are the flag-ship at present. The Admiral and his suite reside on shore. We have many visitors coming on board to see the ship, and many ladies do I hand in and out of boats. We are asked to many parties. The people are very frank and kind. We have no idea how long we may remain here. We may probably visit Bantry and go to the Shannon. The “Volage” has been two years in commission, and it is not likely that she will be kept more than another twelvemonth without being paid off. I shall be glad to hear from Blackness. The least you can do in return for this long yarn of mine is to send me another such account of your proceedings. You can put in something about the Kirk, as I can hear nothing whatever about it here. I am anxious to hear about its prospects. Indeed, you cannot go wrong in writing me, as I am interested in all you can tell me, no matter how trivial.—I am, dear K., your affectionate brother-in-law and sincere friend,