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Letter of John Geddes III about slavery


John Geddes III is writing to his son John Geddes IV. 'Davie' is David Geddes, the brother of John Geddes IV. 'Adam' is Adam Gordon Geddes , another brother.

11 Feb 1826 from John Geddes III from Edinburgh, addressed per packet, Major John Geddes, 27th Regt. of Foot, Demerara. (Demerara, British Guiana was renamed Georgetown.) Recd. 14 April. Wrote 17th Do.

My Dear John

I have received your welcome letters of the 8th and 15th December last, the former two days days ago, & the latter this morning. You were fortunate in a good passage & I am glad you like the place & keep up your spirits, but you must avoid the heat by Day & the Damps by night which you will have in your own power in a great measure, Amp; tho' moderate good living is necessary, excess is dangerous. I have not got a house yet ≈ I will look about a little until I see what this reaction will do. Some time ago money seemed to be too plenty, Bankers reduced Interest to 2 per cent, Joint Stock Companies were set agoing by the hundreds, & much money sunk never to be realized again; a reaction took place & the money has disappeared; about a third part of the English Bankers have failed, & many more in a tottering state. Cur Abbey is full, & a great number of Merchants who were supposed to be wealthy have failed in Edinburgh, & Corn & Cattle, which had got up to an extravagent price, have fallen again, & will continue come down, & I imagine Houses will fall also. No Person expects less than 5 per cent, & I am aware that considerable money is given in an indirect manner. You know I had a few shares of Gas & Water Concern, they have both fallen in price about 10 or 12 per cent, but I find no difficulty in getting 5 per cent interest. So much for the state of Matters herre which you will see more fully detailed in the Papers.

Davie opened a shop about Martinmas (Nov 11 - Scottish Quarter Day), but sales very indifferent, however his Cellars are full & no Bills yet to come against him, & I always endeavour to impress on his mind that the Goods is better in the Cellars ythan in bad hands, & if forthcoming the loss cannot be very great, & in the present situation of the Country a Man cannot say who is trustworthy, at the same time I do not think it will last long. It has given a great shock to public Credit in the mean time.

Mr. Green never answered Adam's letter, so we know nothing about Majr. Dansey's motions, but notwithstanding the goodness of the climate, I shall be glad when I learn he sets out to relieve you. John Fraser has returned, he left Willie at Rome in charge of a Dr. Clark, he is very poorly, but no worse than when he left this, but I am not sanguine about his recovery, & I udnerstand that Dr. Clark's opinion is not favourable.

Though I have some property, I cannot command as much money at present as will buy a house, being obliged to renew Bills & grant further Indulgence until matters come round, ebing satisifed the security is good. None of our Bankers have failed.

I see the Colonial Govt. of Demerara have passed an act for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Slaves, which I think is very well. Write fully on this subject, truth cannot be learned here, all Party work, & you can place no reliance on what either party says.

Adam and Davie joins me in love to you, My Dear John.

Your affectionate Father John Geddes

(Added in cross writing on the first page:)

I wish you may be able to read this hurried scrawl & wrote by every opportunity. The Papers say that Lord Hastings is about setting out for Malta. He has gained his cause regarding the prize Money. Adam wrote you to letters by the last to Packets & Davie will write you by the next so you may expect One letter from us by each Packet. Take care of your health while you are in that insiduous Climate.

Two of our Good people called on me this morning to sign a Petition for the abolition of Slavery, which I declined as not approving of the Measure until the Planters were indemnified for their property, which these people put out of sight, & I am on the opinion that the Slaves with you are better off & may be happier than the lower classes in Europe, barring the Idea of being a Slave. Liberty goes far with a Briton but it is only a Name. Give me your own ideas on the subject, I may be wrong, & mention how slaves do as hired labourers, & how those behave who have been emancipated.

I had a severe cold, & have been poorly in healthy since Christmas, but am better.