August 31, 2007
The farms near Prospect Hill
Nothing happens in the Government House but a friendly eye sees it or a friendly ear hears it, or more often, a friendly hand scribes it. These are my friends, convicts usually, who know that the snippet of knowledge they pass to me are kept confidential, and some suitable reward is made to the friend. Many of these friends I've never met, yet friends they remain, kept friendly by suitable gifts sent through intermediaries. These gifts are taken to the barrack and from there by boat to Sydney, or directly to friends here: small amounts of money, bundles of cloathes, writing paper, candles - these are the currency from which knowledge is paid.
Our currency here is unusual, to say the least. It is legal to pay in wheat or beef, at a set rate determined by Government. Or small copper coins, of Portuguese, Dutch or similar origin, may be exchanged up to a value of five pounds. Or notes of hand, issued by people without wherewithal, to others without the means of exchange. I find our old shoes are worth more than gold, given to the right hands - or feet, rather!
If the Governor writes to a friend that he, the friend, "would be surprised at who claims to be a gentleman here", then knowledge of that is soon passed to me. Usually I will let John know, unless it is hurtful to Mr. Macarthur or needs to be kept close. So I am like a spider with her web, stretched across the Colony.
The Barrack here is now a large, commodious building with good arrangements for the officer posted here, and for the men. They have a ration, and we have found that wisely distributed supplies ensure ready hands to call at need. Our outlying farms - not the cow pastures but at Prospect and the Seven Hills, often require judicious protection, and it is valuable to know that our interests are protected because we have looked after those who can look after us. In return, we feel comfortable travelling around, when many others do not. Much loyalty is claimed by caring for others.
August 30, 2007
The plant that we use to set the hides
Leather goods of all kinds are manufactured here, using seal skins, kangaroo skins and the hides of other, better known animals. Seal skins make lovely soft shoes and kangaroo can be worked into designs – to set the hides, the tanners use a local tree, of which we have an abundance. The shoes Elizabeth and I wore to the ball are made from seal and kangaroo.
Nearly all the vegetable production of the old world is available here – I’m not certain what prices are paid for different kinds, as we grow most ourselves, but I understand many are very reasonably priced. Apples, pears and quinces can be expensive, up to three shillings a dozen pieces, whereas peaches when in season may be had a dozen for thruppence. We have very few berries of any kind, other than a native berry that makes a lovely jam – the Natives call that lilli-pilli. Figs grow luxuriantly and we are over-supplied, however Theos is teaching us to dry them in late summer, to eat during the winter, much as one has currants back Home.
All meat is cheap – even the convicts expect to eat Beef, Pork or Mutton every day, fresh when possible or their ration of salt meat from the store. They pay one shilling a pound for their meat. Wild ducks can be bought for a shilling, from the Natives, as can fish or oysters, at a shilling for a quart pot full.
Cloth, such a damask or other silks, and Indian cottons, are prohibitively expensive and are the first thing one asks any returning to the Colony to procure. We shall live off the items John brought with him, until they are worn thin!
A General Order concerning cur dogs was issued this week, demanding they are all destroyed. Packs of these animals, often of mixed breed with the native din-go and our lurchers, roam near here, a decided nuisance for the sheep but even to be feared by the horses: I have seen a stallion with two or three of these beasts hanging from his neck as he tries to keep them away from the foals, so Bravo! the Governor for this initiative.
John is away with Hannibal at Mr. Davidson’s, the selection he has been granted next to our own at the cow pastures. His too is being reviewed by the Governor, and in the meantime he is seeking suitable shepherds to look after the herd he’s collecting: back Home, Mr. Davidson was not a farmer, so he is learning quickly and has established good relations already with the settlers near-by. He will need a wife to come out – I wonder if he has asked Mrs. King to recommend him back Home?
August 29, 2007
These flowers grow profusely near our home
At the Ball, Mr. Marsden informed us of a marriage Mr. Fulton celebrated that day, where the combined age of the couple was 80 years, and the bride was just 19: love works wonders every day! I wish them every happiness, here where so few couples are regularly married.
We are at home, feeling rather bereft. Of course, people leave the Colony all the time, sometimes friends, but on this occasion good friends are gone, perhaps forever.
Nevertheless, our life goes on. The sheep we bought are being moved to the farm at Seven Hills and Mr. Macarthur and Hannibal are leaving today for the cow pastures, to supervise the operation there. They are taking two of the natives who live near Prospect hill, who John has been training to ride horses and round up cattle - they seem particularly suited to the trade and comfortable in boots and leggings. I have made offers in the past for young native women to join our household, but experience has shown that after a day or so, they wish to return to the family and friends. I would too!
We are eating grapes until we can eat no more, and Theos has suggested we start converting this harvest to wine.
My letters are all written and on their way; this diary is proving useful, a refuge each day to record some of my feelings and the events, and there is plenty to do on the farm, as well as looking after the children. And yet I'm feeling rather useless - I hope this will pass.
August 28, 2007
Well, we joined the throng lining the shores to wave fare-the-well to the all our friends – I shed tears for Mr. Marsden too, at the end, for an acquaintance of fifteen years is not easily put aside. He has our wool and may he have good fortune in the voyage and in England. The Kings are heartbroken, sad to past bearing, but it is for the best for them – how the crowd did cheer the Governor when he appeared on deck! The band played throughout the afternoon and many of us took our carriages and continued down the Harbour, waving and calling out, until finally we could go no further and the wide ocean was before us. The Buffalo passed the Heads and bore north, all its flags a’flutter, and the shore battery at South head let out its final hoorar, a fine plume of smoke and the sound of the report. And so an age passes – back Home it would be “The King is dead, Long Live the King” but not so here, and it is with considerable trepidation that we view the future.
We returned to Parramatta on Sunday night and now seem dulled, enervated and listless, and I know John is very concerned for our grant and his relations with authority. The departure of the Kings appears to signal an end to an order that we worked so hard at, and now face an uncertain future.
August 27, 2007
The mannequin for Elizabeth's dress.
The ball was a rousing success - really, parting from dear friends is a sweet sorrow, it is only our own sadness and the lack of their society that makes us sad. And I know they will profit from leaving here - Mr. King has been dreadfully unwell and if he can survive the trip, will be the better for it. Elizabeth looked very lovely in her dress - it is not a true ball gown, but here in the Antipodes in February, one hardly need wear that. It was sufficient that she shone. As did the King's daughters, especially being danced by Mr. Hannibal Hawkins. Why even Mrs. Marsden, sweet tempered as she is but not known for her elegance, pulled off a fabulous deep blue gown that turned her hair radiant - if the Reverend had taken off his collar, he would have done well too! Governor King managed a turn before his leg became too much and he retired, but enough to know that to those that matter, he will be missed. The only blemish on the evening was the poor health of Mr. Putland, recently promoted to the Porpoise by his father-in-law and sent to Van Diemen's Land, he has returned a shadow of himself, even in full dress. John is still coming to terms with a formal event sans uniform, but dressed in a lovely outfit he brought from Home. How silly men are, about their swords and such; the swords get in the way when they dance!
Toon-gabbe near Parramatta
Mr. Collins employed an excellent engraver to create many views of the Colony and this one, of Toon-gabbe near Parramatta, is of the area I rode to yesterday.
Today we have travelled to Sydney - and needed to meet several conflicting expectations to get there! The tide and wind, my daughter's well-being, and attending Church all crashed together, but now I am writing today's diary in our Sydney house, looking over the small bay were cockles are still gathered by the natives and some of our own people. Mr. Marsden preached again, but at the Orphan School which is more comfortable - seats, at least, are provided. The Orphan School is Captain Kent's home, converted, and fully paid for not by subscription as one might imagine, but by the ad valorem duties applied to spirits and such brought into the Colony at Port Jackson, collected by Mr. Harris as the Naval Officer. Governor Bligh has commented several times to me that no finer purpose for the collection of duties could be applied for, nor is a place so in need of such an establishment. With so many men missing and children so easy to come by, it is estimated that nearly 1000 children are eligible for the Orphanage were it commodious enough for them. Perhaps nothing else illustrates so well the depravity the place may reach or the good feeling it generates - Mrs. King and Mr. Balmain the former Principal Surgeon were prime movers in the Orphanage, and both will be sadly missed if it is to continue. Some talk is already about that place moving to a spot on the River, almost exactly opposite our Farm, which may suit more, having some space for raising their own food stuff. Now, I must look to Elizabeth and then prepare for the Ball.
August 26, 2007
The Bridge at the River
John returned with several Paris mannequins, dressed in the very latest fashion (although I suppose they are nearly 3 years out of date now), and Mr. Campbell's store has silks and other fabrics that are exquisite, and there is a shoemaker here, Burgin by name, who can fashion a stylish slipper if he has a pattern. Mrs. Putland kindly lent a beautiful low-heeled shoe that Burgin has copied for Elizabeth and I, and I have sown my gown in a red Damask silk that thrums with reflected light; for Elizabeth I found a light blue cotton material that has sewn into a presentable gown, and we both have lovely new slippers to wear to the ball. Of course I still worry that Mrs. Putland will so out-do us all that we shall appear tatty by comparison, but many years here in NS Wales have convinced me that appearances are always deceiving, and I'd rather appear dowdy than cheap.
The hardest items to procure are decent petticoats and suitable under garments, which never appear on the mannequins. Mr. Campbell has brought in a selection from Bombay, but until his wife-to-be has visited Bombay herself and trolled the shelves, we can not be certain that Campbell's items in any way resemble the latest fashion. Mrs. Putland wears the finest cloathes imaginable but her demeanour convinces me that we have nought to fear in that regard; I am almost certain if I mentioned the difficulty with under garments that she would display hers to us! Mrs. King has already been commissioned to post to us the latest fashion in our sizes, as soon as she gets home.
With Elizabeth still unwell, we shall travel to Sydney together in the morning, and in the meanwhile I rode out past the jail today to see our latest acquisition, in the way of the sheep we bought from Mr. Larra. Funny Mr. Caley called to me and I visited with him, which was fortunate for him as he did not know the Buffalo was due to sail, and had a great collection to send to Sir Joseph Banks. His native servant, Moowat-inni by name, had laid out the crisp white papers that the specimens are dried upon along the grass outside of Caley's house, and when I mentioned the Buffalo's imminent departure Moowat-inni rushed out to commence bringing in the dried collection. Mr. Caley too had to excuse himself to prepare his correspondence, but before he sent me on my way he mentioned that Moowat-inni distinguishes more than 200 species of the gum trees that grow around us - and Mr. Caley says he has determined that their genus name is to be Eucalyptus, from the Greek meaning "well-covered". How interesting that he should so name them - he believes they are the tallest flowering trees in the entire world, and so one comes to look upon them anew. I love the gum trees and have no great desire to grow the trees of Home.
George Street Sydney Town
Our friends are preparing to depart and Mr and Mrs Putland have arranged a farewell ball to send them off with due honour. I've been very busy writing letters and entrusting them to our friends - Mrs. Kingdon, Sir Jo. Banks, and other friends will receive our letters as soon as the Buffalo reaches England. It is a long and arduous voyage - when Mr. Macarthur returned in '02, he took three ships to complete the voyage at a cost of 700 pounds! Everyone expects the Buffalo to have a good voyage - it has been delayed for all of six months while Mr. King recovered sufficiently to commence.
At home, we are preparing to harvest and store the fruits of Summer and plant those vegetables that we know grow well here throughout Winter. Baran-garoo has shown me the vegetable food that she finds throughout Winter but I haven't discovered any uses for these myself. Sir Jo. Banks gave John some European leafy vegetables that have proved very successful here in Winter.
Elizabeth will come with us to Sydney today, even if she stays at the house there, for she is unwell. Hannibal departed this morning on horseback, so there may be something in his attachment to young Miss King - how I hope that is so, even though she is leaving. Surely the Kings will return?
August 24, 2007
Our Church at Parramatta - much finer than Sydney.
Many aspects of our life here are identical to those in England and others are more like those struck at say Teneriffe or Gibraltar. John tells me that the Garrison nature of the place is similar to Gibraltar or anywhere else where the Military presence plays a large part and I have strong memories of Portsmouth and can see how alike we are to that Town, and to the villages in England too. Similar but different - the shops, farms and factories one sees everywhere in England are missing here, with the commonest house being a shebeen of some kind, selling grog. It is very difficult to find tailors for example and public houses are few, in the sense that we knew them back Home. Mr. Larra's place in Parramatta is quite fine but not common. I have mentioned the people living beneath the trees here - the weather permits that, which it doesn't back home - although I do remember talk of the vagrants who lived in the hedges, and perhaps that is similar. The Church is similar, but it is unique, whereas back Home one has many Churches and if one doesn't like the prelate, one moves to another more suitable place. Here we suffer Mr. Marsden or go without, which I will not do. And even dame schools are not to be had here - our most recent school for keeping books and such like, has closed with the jailing of the teacher for forgery! However, none of that affects us - our Doctor is Mr. Wentworth, we have our own tutor and John does a great deal with the children, and what is on our table each night has generally been produced on our farms. Tea excepted, which comes from China on a circuitous route via India.
We have a busy social calendar for the next few days, as we say our final "good-byes" to our departing friends - the children and I are perhaps more involved in that than Mr. Macarthur, although he is escorting me to the Ball. Mr. Harris called on us today, socially, so I was able again to urge him to ask Mrs. King to find a suitable bride. Harris is rich and that is very attractive, even when other features are not! I refer of course to the distance, for without the Kings our social circle is much reduced. If I were a butterfly, the lack of society would hinder me terribly - but as I rather stamp around in boots and a pinafore with dirty nails, meeting guests is not my first call.
August 23, 2007
I understand the concerns my far-away friends have for the circumstances of our lives here: do the natives camp in the streets, cooking their rudely caught game?; are Kangaroos and emus seen bounding around our property?; and what is it like to have highwaymen for one's doctor and robbers as the shopkeep? Mr. Macarthur tells a tale of being at some fine dinner in England when such questions were asked of him and he replied that he always employed murderers as his house servants, because he can't stand thieves in the house! Murderers he told the table, are generally quiet and most often scrupulously honest, making good servants providing one manages to keep them calm. Mr. Macarthur tells me he was believed but that one would never believe the horror on the faces of his listeners!
Our house servants are very fine people and none who sleep in the house are formerly prisoners; some of the people who work in and near the house during the day have been prisoners but are no worse for that (none are murderers!) while our field hands are all formerly prisoners, other than our Greek sailors. However, we are considered the best employers in the Colony - Mr. Marsden is often thought the next best - and we try to settle our employees in cottages near the farm where possible. What is different in the colony is that one may be thrown together with people one normally never meets - somewhat like in a coach, I imagine - so Mr. Macarthur at the cow pastures sleeps in a hut with the shepherds, all mingled together, and that would never happen at Home.
We do have emu and kangaroos on our property, but want neither as they are voracious eaters of the plants we love! The largest Emu I have seen stood well over 6 feet, and I have heard of kangaroos even larger.
August 22, 2007
Mr. Marsden wanted to preach in the Church at Sydney, and he did so last Sunday, but it remains such a tumble-down affair. I understand Mr. Marsden has joined the Buffalo, along with the wom-bats and kangaroos, bats and Rosellas, the Kings and the poor unfortunate Captain Short, whose wife has just given birth to another child, for what promises to be an awful voyage. The delay, among other reasons, was that insufficient bread has been loaded, with the intention of filling with rice at Batavia, thereby however exposing everyone on board to the pestilence of that place, so now the bakers of Sydney are converting every weevily grain to bread, suitable for the voyage. The Barley is got in and there are moves to malt sufficient of that grain for the Buffalo to provide beer for the voyage, but who, only 12 months ago, could have imagined the Governor sailing home in such penury. A disaster such as the floods at Green Hills this twelvemonth past, has consequences beyond the immediate loss of life and livelihood, although it has stimulated the trade in pork from the Pacific, and has raised the cost of labour. Those are the very reasons we have withdrawn our stock, with wheat a guinea a bushel and mutton paying any price, yet we know that for a flock to produce fine wool, the wethers need be retained and not sold only because the price is high - I have sheep now that will produce much more than half a pound a head, as the Governor claims is all we can expect.
We bought most of Mr. Larra's sale of sheep - they are an untidy lot, the wool is not worth the spinning, and I suppose we will now face the inquisition of all as to why we won't slaughter. Well, we won't! Even these poor lambs will breed with the Spanish rams, and fine wool be had.
Mr. Macarthur tells me that the prisoners that escaped - in an open boat in this heat! - have been found again, baked red from the sun and parched dry from a lack of water, marooned near Hunter's River, in co-ee of soldiers who found and then arrested them, despite the old story of their ship sinking, the only survivors: every time it seems that such are caught, they tell the same tale. Only one of the soldiers says "Ain't you the blacksmith from the Lumber yard at Parramatta?" to which the poor old lag admitted he was! They'll be seeing a lot more of Hunter's River, I feel.
August 21, 2007
A romantic, fanciful view of our house.
It is the Governor's contention that my Lord Camden merely intended the cow pastures to be one of the sites on which our grant might be based, a decision made by a man no longer in power, from a distance of thousands of miles, without local knowledge, and subject to review. Just as the decision to grant poor Captain Short his few acres was made, and then subsequently overturned. Our government here is a strange beast, comprised of capricious undertakings, and Captain Bligh seems the worst person for the position. We understand that the Governor is now solely a civil appointment, not naval at all, and so one cannot but help wondering if some more appropriate man might be found to take on this arduous task. All governing are worn to the ground, for service in a military outpost is hard work as John knows. The rations are poor - no one can survive on tack and salt meat, washed down with liberal grog, and we put Governor King's infirmity down to the hardships - why, even the word itself seems just: hard ships, for hard it is to govern 2000 prisoners in a strange land surrounded by enemies, a year from relief, with a substantial military presence to manage as well, plus the exploration and the incessant writing, and justifying of every decision. I am glad that John is now plain Mr. Macarthur. I was opposed to even his command of the Volunteers and am glad that Edward is here now to shoulder that responsibility.
I must finish my letters for the Buffalo - we hear she will sail on the next tide.
August 20, 2007
Well, what a day in Sydney we've had. Visited the menagerie on board the Buffalo - and pitied poor Mrs. King. Mr. King has suffered terribly since his voyage here, when he contracted a rheumy fever, and shipboard life no longer agrees with him. Having wom-bats to look after won't make it easier - I fear Anna Josepha will have many patients to look after on this voyage. Mrs. King assures me of her determination to return, and seemed to allude to certain feelings between her eldest daughter and our Hannibal, and of course her grant, that she informs me is to be called "Thanks". I shall miss Anna Josepha very much, for even when John and the Governor were at odds we retained our friendship. Isn't that sometimes the way for we women, not having a sword in our hands? What foolishness does being a gentleman sometimes involve - not that I'd say a word, of course. Knowing how close to death came Colonel Patterson, for instance. Womens' concerns are other than those - such as how to make the Church in Sydney even reasonably comfortable! Without pews, or hangings, or a tower or bell - we could have been Lutherans!
Our house in Pyrmont is fine, with lovely outdoor settings looking over the little bay near the Harbour - it is not conceivable that a Government fiat could cause it destroyed, yet that is what the Governor has promised. We will have war, I fear.
August 19, 2007
The Church in Sydney
Our lives are sometimes hardly lived at home and I can feel that time coming upon now. Losing the Kings is not only sad, but busy too. Mr. King had hoped to return to the colony but Governor Bligh's commission is without limit, so Mr. King may only return in some other capacity - just as John has done. That would not be easy for any man who hasn't worked as hard as John has building a future, and no one here has worked so hard as my husband. The heat is oppressive, and we had a huge summer storm yesterday afternoon, hail like stones and rain that filled Clay Cliff Creek overflowing, and no way could we take to the boat to sail to Sydney. This morn the sun rose shining without a cloud, so if we intend leaving then we should look to that before midday. Mr. Marsden is preaching tomorrow, probably at the Orphans' School, but possibly at the new Church building in Town. The state of our Churches leaves much to be desired - here we lack any pews, the windows do not open and bats have already occupied the roof timbers. In Town, the walls went up and then tumbled down, so this is the second attempt at this site, and very little ethereal beauty can be glimpsed in its drab walls. The governor has issued a proclamation stating that the leasehold on Town lands may not stand and no construction may take place, a material concern as we have three Town leases, one with our house upon it. Serjeant-majors Row will be pulled down, we have heard. Oh, why can't the Governor get along with governing and leave aside the petty quarrels he insists upon, as if only in the personal prerogative is the authority of the Governor proven. John has pointed out to Mr. King and Mr. Bligh that their commissions apply to the military and civil establishment, and the unfree, but so far as our legal opinion is concerned, has no authority over the free settlers who are flooding here to take advantage of the fine climate, cheap land and abundant labour, and without which this place will never amount to more than, say, Martinique. I have no wish to see our land, our house, our possessions ripped from our hands by illegal acts, and the Governor should beware of passion for our home.
August 18, 2007
Can people develop normally in NS Wales? I ask myself that about my children, for I know others who are raised by convict servants and suffer for it. The servants have been convicts, some of them, but none in the house. Away from the farm though and all differs - Mr. Hunter when Governor informed me that of the 5,000 nearly then in the colony, only 1200 were still under sentence, the remainder expirees, or soldiers, civil and free. We had no arrivals during the War, so I imagine now even more are free and expirees, but they live substantially different lives - from scallywags of the worst kind to Mr. Taylor, our police and the sadly-departed Mr. Barrington, although the violence surprises me still. Even among the military there is too much calling out over the tiniest slights - and every emotion seems magnified. As Hannibal said recently, "a man can be slighted here for much less than at Home and with greater consequences. Personally I didn't speak with more than half of my society, but that wouldn't do here!" He was right to say that - only since returning from England and having sold his commission has John not gone out sworded. I understand Edward has a pistol somewhere on his horse, secreted away, and the hunters go in pairs. And yet so few must cooperate - we have Bligh breathing over our shoulders, stealing our land, claiming it a lease not a grant, while Mr. King the governor granting it is still here on-board! If Mr. Marsden would cooperate, and bring along his supporters the Governor would quail and relent. Unfortunately Mr. Marsden is sailing away, so who knows what the future brings?
August 16, 2007
Fort Phillip - building has re-commenced
Once again the heat has struck. Yesterday at Seven Hills the sun was so strong that my neck and shoulders are burnt raw today, and today there is not relief from the oppressive heat to be found anywhere. We all take to the main rooms during the middle of the day and tell poor cook to leave the kitchen - she makes the most delicious lemon drink with sugar and juice and, I think, some tartar. We drank 5 gallons during the day.
The sheep that Mr. Larra has for sale seem very well conformed, so I may bid on those if John allows it.
We pulled some cucumbers yesterday for dinner that weighed over two pounds each, yet they were as sweet and delicious as you could hope. Cut along the length, with a dash of salt, they seemed to repel the heat. Why is that even when in the sun all day, the curcubits are always chilly cold inside? One of nature's little miracles - Elizabeth loves them.
I have quite a few fellows bringing water to the garden late in the day - I'd hate to lose trees in this heat.
One Sunday, soon, we are going to Church in Sydney, and I've arranged to see Fort Phillip, which is again being constructed. It is hard to believe that with the monopoly government has with the Store and tariffs in port, that it should always cry poor. I expect we will be in Sydney again soon to see the Kings once more before they leave - oh, parting is such sorrow, and not really so sweet!
August 15, 2007
A letter from Governor Bligh to Capt. Short of the Porpoise
I believe I have mentioned that we may have walked near to the corpse of a poor Sydney woman, murdered and left in the forest near Mr. Wentworth's, and today Mr. Macarthur tells me they have found the scoundrel who has done this - and I'm sorry to write that he is an Irishman - who is one of the brothers' Kenny, who ran a school in Sydney. Kenny has been hung in Sydney and his body is being brought here today to hang also, as recompense for the beastliness of his murder. We have heard of Kenny before - he set fire to his neighbour's field and burned an entire crop of wheat and untold damage, from which he somehow escaped due punishment. Anyway I shall certainly avoid Town for the next few days, not wishing for I nor the family to see such a sight.
My work takes me to Seven Hills, where the Spanish rams are to be run. It is time for that now, and the rams were taken there by cart the day before yesterday, held in a paddock but not for long, I don't doubt, so I'm off there today to ensure the men know just how to fence off the ewes and limit the expenditure of the poor beasts. Too much harm has come to good beast in this colony, for want of adequate supervision. I do not speak of Mr. Marsden there, who has done an estimable job of breeding a heavy carcase with good wool covering, and from not so fine sheep to start with. But our sheep, and especially the rams Mr. Macarthur brought recently from England, will add considerably to the wool's fineness, which is the character the English mills seek most. Rough hair suitable for a poor man's blanket may be grown anywhere, but fine wool is what we want, to cover the shipping cost and poke Spain in the eye. And the people demand that we release several thousand head for mutton! Are they mad - the future of the Colony rides on the back of our sheep, for fine wool needs shepherds, shearers, classers and the ships to take it to England, all of which toil will provide work for many years to come.
But in will confide to you, dear diary, that I have risen from bed with the cricked neck and sorest back, so off to the Hills, then back before its too late.
August 13, 2007
The Wom-bat, a digging creature
Mr. King is taking a menagerie Home. When we partied on the Buffalo the other day I was as surprised at the quantum of animals as the variety - London will be agog.
We've had Mr. George Barrington staying at Parramatta these last years - Barrington the famous thief! He's an Irishman - well, he was an Irishman, he's passed on now of course. John had him to dinner once, rather mischievously with Mr. Hassal and Mr. Oakes, although to their credit all the men behave magnificently. You really would have thought Barrington was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth, so well did he take to it. I thought him the daintiest muffin eater I've ever witnessed, using his fork to carefully break the bread and eating with his pinkie extended. He told us, retold I imagine for the hundredth time, the story of Prince Orlov's snuff box, pilfered by Mr. Barrington from beneath the Prince's nose, while taking a pinch. The prince's box was famously worth 50,000 pounds, encrusted with jewels by a master jeweller in Moscow. The prince was also famous for rarely sharing a snufta from his box, and Mr. Barrington affirmed this made the Prince a most tempting prospect - if we are to believe Mr. Barrington, it was only a pinch of snuff he wanted, not the box. The Gentlemen had been to dinner, Barrington giving as good as he got round by round, and he'd fully shared the considerable dinner expenses until they were at the Theatre. Barrington had shared his snuff so much that his tin was empty, and at that point the Prince proffered his. Barrington bowed and turned to the ladies, offering the tin but each refused; he took a sniff and returned the box to the Prince, who immediately pocketed it. Barrington then feigned a tremendous sneeze as if the snuff were stale - the Prince's snuff being used so rarely, it was presumed to have staled in the box - and during the occasion of fixing himself, he exchanged snuff boxes, his for the Prince's, right in the Prince's pocket. Barrington's case was made to the same dimensions, but of tin, however when the Prince patted his pocket he felt the reassuring shape. Barrington was certain the parsimonious Prince wouldn't share his snuff again that night, and it was only when his servant was dressing him for bed that the theft, or substitution was discovered.
Barrington feigned innocence, and called the reputable Gentlemen to prove that the jewelled box had not been on the Prince that night, for certainly none of them had seen it, although several boxes were circulated for their mutual pleasure.
The box was already sold and on its way to Paris that night, war notwithstanding. Barrington pleaded habeus corpus and would have been scot-free, except this is how he finished his story. "It was a Great Lady, ma'am, who finally betrayed me", he told us in his lovely soft brogue - he had trained for the theatre himself, I understand. "She recalled that I'd offered the Prince's tin, the jewelled box, to the ladies at the theatre, proving the Prince had the box upon his person that night. It is to her, ma'am, that I owe my reform, for she was thinking to do right by me. I was sentenced to die, but she applied to her husband, the judge in the case, for my mercy. And so ma'am, here I am and I believe I have done more good for my country by leaving it, than ever I could have achieved had I stayed".
August 12, 2007
Governor Phillip and the foundation of NS Wales
Today marked the anniversary of Governor Phillip landing at Sydney Cove and here in Parramatta we had a wonderful celebration in the Town Square, with all at the barracks on parade, surrounded by many of the country people from round-abouts. In nineteen years the Colony has grown five or six fold, and may support itself at any moment, should never a government ship call here. I suppose that we are living now beyond the limits of settlements from Captain Phillip's time, although he established a military post here very early. John believes that the Governor camped on our property when he first explored here and points the spot to any inquirers.
Mr Wogan told me the most extraordinary things about the early times, such as having his Clavichord placed beneath the trees at Sydney Cove and playing a Boccherini piece to the natives, to their astonishment, and then dancing with the same fellows for hours on end when he'd finished playing.
I was at first reluctant to believe Mr. Wogan, although of course we have the Clavichord here. I couldn't imagine the dancing, but Governor King shewed me some sketches he'd made of the men dancing with the natives, emulating the spread-leg stance that the native men adopt throughout their performances. Mr. King went so far as to demonstrate the knee-knocker, or rapid percussion of the knees that the natives use at the climax of their dance. Our relations over the past twenty years have been so mixed - and now either many natives have moved beyond the settlements, or their simply aren't so many left, because I noticed this season a diminution of numbers, especially of the young women and men. Even here, with our dogs and the two men Mr. Macarthur keeps in the field, hunting game, the available foods must be shrunk, although it appears that sufficient bats and duck abound to fill many bellies.
The ruckus in Town, with cannon and gun-shot, kept the natives away from our celebrations, when a splendid tea was served in the afternoon when the sun had cooled a little, with dancing until the wee hours I suppose, for those that stayed. Hannibal returned to the celebrations, after seeing us safely here.
Another Sunday! And soon it will be February and that flys by. How the year gets on. The rain last month has brought all the trees and gardens on, the maize is man-high and the wheat full - a harvest we need to support the Colony after the flood. Tomorrow is Anniversary Day in Sydney, and the barrack here is flying its kite, the place is all abuzz; at Church today there were so many officers and at least 200 men mustered outside, although I noticed only a smaller number went in, proving something that John has said, that few of the them are Established - they're often living in some arrangement outside the barracks, especially in Sydney Town.
Mr. Marsden reported his imminent departure and I could see people were genuinely sad to see him going Home; he is a curmudgeon though. Mr. Marsden is taking a Report on the State of the Colony home, urging greater obedience to the laws of the Church of England as the cure to our ills; anyway, he is spruiking the wool, taking yards of the Parramatta cloth woven here, and fine wool from his and our flocks. I'm sad to see him go and can only hope that the Yardley's will look after Mrs. Marsden well - I understand that no servant has ever left their employ, which is remarkable. They are offered so much here, the free worker that is. We pay 9 shillings a week all found, including shoes and cloathes, and more if he has a family - we have 3 huts for the married and 2 barracks. Women sleep 'next the kitchen, and of course Mrs. Lucas in with us, as is Mr. Hannibal Macarthur. And we are all perfectly cosy in our little house. But I've heard that some free labourers are earnings nine shillings a day! Not found, though, and somewhere safe to live can be hard to find, I understand; still I doubt not that they are much better off than stuck in England, in the nether world of some Town. And bread is tuppence a loaf less here!
Yet Mr. Marsden's report will urge that no short sentencers be sent here - but then where will the men come from that the farmer needs? If none of the transports ever become expirees, who'll labour for us? Or are we to be duped by government, who will have farm hands galore and will crush us at the General Store? "That these men whose sentence is short, maybe only seven years at the start and they've spent a year on the voyage here, and half a year on the Thames, and they're playing fiddle-de-diddle in a twelvemonth, being on licence on a farm at Liverpool or somewhere near here - and I think the reverend dislikes the ones at Prospect the most - and they've taken a mistress and soon enough there are children; then a place comes up for a man on a ship to England and his time is up and he's away, leaving mistress and child behind him, the woman to starve or find another mate and the child to be a burden on the society, kept at the orphan house. So he's proposing that none who'll ever be free be sent, but only lifers that will labour away for the government forever. And he being a magistrate, I expect the Civil will have their servants assigned, not paid for!
Mr. Blaxland's was broken into in the last seven days, I hear, and his watch and personal papers taken. I paid five pounds for this quire, not quite 200 sheets, so I'm unsurprised that a man is burgled for his paper!
August 10, 2007
The convicts' rising of 1804 and the military response
It's said that women live their lives through their children but I've always needed more than that. Like a spider at the centre of a giant web, when someone plucks a strand in High Street I want to know of it, but I cannot understand the rebellion of the Irishmen against us. Mr. Marsden is convinced they will rise again when he's away, and the Governor has asked for a declaration of willingness to bear arms - and an inventory of all weapons in the Colony. Of course Edward volunteered immediately, even William wanted to go, and there are sufficient men in Parramatta to have their own regiment. I'd rather keep my boys about me, all the same.
In '04, when the croppies rose at Castle Hill and swept down on Parramatta, Mr. Macarthur was still in England and I, alone with the children, fled to Sydney in the middle of the night. I was so fearful, fearful for my life and the lives of the children and this current unrest is frightening me again. This time I have three grown men to protect me but what is that against a thousand Irismmen? So the bucolic existence of which I am so proud is sometimes held by a slim thread, and civilisation as we know it is not entrenched here by any means. There is more liberty, certainly, among the poor natives in their forest than we as free women and men possess here. No wonder John railes against oppression - is ever an Englishmen to suffer the total abscence of civil rights and the imposition of tyranny? Away, to work.
August 09, 2007
The sun, rising over Port Jackson
From when the first glimmer of light appears in the Eastern sky, the natives here commence singing. So far as I can tell it is always the same song, and Bar-ang-aroo Benelong's wife told me it was calling the sun to come up - the song is sung very softly, in harmony and parts, and I have heard the laughing jackass respond with his call to the singing. To hear such a song is to know how far from Home we are and to rejoice in that distance, or at least I rejoice in that. I have no wish to return to England although I support the children's wish for the best schooling - to me, here in Parramatta with the warmth of summer and the soil sprouting its produce after the rains, and the animals in good health, I cannot see why anyone would want to live elsewhere. When we first came here, Mr. Balmain the surgeon took me on a tour of the streets near where the windmill now stands, appealing to my charity I suppose, and we stopped at the home of an old crone, nursing a baby boy at her breast, and Mr. Balmain explained that many women, previously without children, had issue here. I was glad of his honesty as I hate the pretence of protecting we women from all pain and the everyday sights and sounds of humanity - we who give birth! I don't want protecting from my imagination! Mr. Macarthur is very good like that - although he wishes the able hands to manage the flock, and they do, he doesn't object to my work with the rams, keeping the stud books and so on, as he knows that I enjoy it and do it well. The heat is rising again today - I write now first thing in the morning, of hope and expectation - I hope Elizabeth is not distressed by the heat today, and perhaps we will find a place near the river where she and William can play. Now, to work.
August 08, 2007
The Women's factory in Parramatta
Of all the inhabitants of this place it is the women who most suffer deprivations. They often live with men to whom they are not married, and if the men can cadge work on a Home-bound ship, they willingly leave their women here, encumbered by children and all. When Mr. King established the first Orphan's school in the year '01, it was estimated that nearly 400 children were without parents, either because their father had left the colony and their mothers were not able to care for them, their parents were dead or most distressingly, both their parents had left the colony. The Factory here provides a place for indigent women to work and if necessary sleep, but we are without those basic provisions such as Poor Houses and charitable homes, that exist in London, Portsmouth and elsewhere in England. It has been a special mission of Mrs. King to look after those who cannot look after themselves, and I expect a large crowd will line the shores when she departs in the Buffalo - her friends first, and behind them a mass of women and children to wish her fare-thee-well. Mr. Macarthur has told me of a woman murdered near here - it appears we may have passed close by her remains when returning from Church, and Mr. Oakes, who is the constable here, has already spoken to Mr. Macarthur, to ask if he did see anything. As with the poor family I saw the other day, there is often no-one to miss these poor beggars. We are but one family in the middle of perhaps 5,000 souls, so there is little we can do.
I have looked through the fleeces from last year's clip - at least what is left after selling most of it to the Womens' Factory, where it is wove into cloathe - and there is some of the finer stuff left. Mr. Marsden wants to take several barrels of wool with him, still as fleece, and Mrs. Marsden tells me he has some good fleece but not enough, so we'll add what we have to his barrels. I have no doubt that this place will become the finest sheep land that England has ever dreamed of, when the breed is improved sufficiently. I already have a small number of sheep of the Spanish breed, brought here in '97 by order of Governor King, that have bred and bred again to the Spanish rams, and their fleece is remarkable, though I don't have sufficient yet for Mr. Marsden.
August 07, 2007
Monday last was the birthday of Queen Charlotte - I did not attend the celebrations in Sydney although I believe they were very fine. I've always had a soft spot for an engraving I own of the Queen early in her reign, with her children and dogs, that appears to combine regency and domesticity so nicely. Poor thing though, with her husband barking as madly as the dogs! That is a cruel fate for woman to face, that the struggles of coupledom should be faced for so long and then, when one hopes to profit from the long association and gain composure with one another with fewer toils, to lose one's partner to madness seems a great loss. How happy then to hear that the King's madness has passed again - and may it stay away!
I am preparing for the departure of our Kings, who even now are aboard the Buffalo in the Harbour - but then, where else could they go? I have offered them our house here, or the Sydney house, after they were so kind to me before Mr. Macarthur returned from England, putting me and the children up in Government House, sparing no comfort. However, they are on board, sans Mr. Marsden who will preach until he leaves, but accompanied by, I believe, two wombats, two kangaroos, more paroquetts than can be counted, several opossums, in all a veritable menagerie. I will miss them though - Mrs. Putland appears kindly enough, and very gentle to me at least, but I first met Anna Josepha more than 15 years ago and for some time we were the only two gentlewomen in this place and were thrown together of necessity, and while she did spend much time on Norfolk Island, whenever she were in Sydney she was here. Since Mr. King has been governor we've been especially close, even when John sent the Governor to Coventry, I remained in touch with Anna Josepha. Well, she will prosper in England and poor Philip is too unwell to remain - how the running of this place does take it out of men.
I heard today that Mr. Larra the auctioneer has over 200 Ewes to sell on Monday fortnight - I wonder if they are one-toothers that I might bid on them? Perhaps I should send Macallister, our best overseer in the ways of sheep, to have a glance at them. Not that we absolutely need more sheep, especially if John wants to turn them into mutton, but good Ewes wouldn't go astray. What about that wool for Mr. Marsden - perhaps I can look through the clips tomorrow.
August 06, 2007
The Landing Place at Parramatta
A wharf cannot be expected so far from the true harbour, yet the landing place suffices for much of the produce brought from Parramatta. Several of the settlers have lump boats capable of carrying grain, at the shipper's risk - in other words, if they overfill the boat and grain is lost, it is the farmer who suffers. Mr. Macarthur so opposes this system that he urged Governor King to insist that the ship owner bears the risk and so does not over load, but that was agreed only for the Hawkesbury. Young William went to the landing place today, as he will any day when permitted, to observe the soldiers and settlers and the general activity. I wonder if we could let him wander so in England, whereas here nothing seems more natural. Surrounding by uncivilized natives and incorrigible convicts, it is only snakes that we fear!
Much planning today for the Kings' departure - I may travel to Sydney tomorrow to further these plans, if I feel all is well at home. John is at home, so I needn't worry. Perhaps Elizabeth could come with me?
August 05, 2007
Capt. Glen's sketch of Mr. Macarthur's armed schooner "Parramatta"
Mr. Macarthur's trading in the Southern Seas has become quite an enterprise since his return, and he now has two ships on almost continual voyages, the Argo and now also the Parramatta, Captain Glen. I don't know how he finds the time to superintend all of his activities, but no-one would ever accuse John of being a laggard. The Parramatta is scheduled to trade in the islands to our north-west, primarily to purchase salted pork, for which we first transport the barrels and salt and we have a factor in Tahiti who organises the production of pork. John tells me he can bring 70,000 pounds weight of pork in a voyage, at a value of 5,833 English pounds in money, at a cost of 1,720 English pounds for barrels, hoops, lids and salt, and even that may be moderated with side trades, although buying a ship is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Our advancement and the fate of this place march hand-in-hand, and much of the concerns and worries lay on John's shoulders. Thank Heaven our home is a retreat from these.
I heard today that Mr. Marsden has the Governor's approval to voyage Home, seeking more hands for God's work here and in the Southern Seas. Mr. Marsden has previously told John that he will take samples of our wool and his, if we have any fine.
August 04, 2007
A gathering of young men for a ceremony called Yoo-long Erah-ba-diang
How the Sunday's roll around! Our usual start to the day was somewhat interrupted by the arrival of a large group of young men accompanied by their fathers and older brothers, asking for bread. I don't remember seeing so many young men gathered together, and I recalled that the women had told me earlier this week about the boys and men needing all the ducks that could be caught, for a feast after a ceremony. I must assume that the ceremonies continue - however even Mr. Macarthur could gain no intelligence about the nature of the event.
After Church, Mr. Palmer drew John aside to discuss the grant, and I believe he was seeking an inducement to progress the matter on our behalf. Mr. Macarthur however is not interested in advancing Mr. Palmer at all, and cut off any further discussion. John asked Hannibal to lead his horse home, and sent the children in the cart, so that he and I could walk back to the farm.
In some ways Parramatta is like a provincial English town - every house has its sign, mostly offering "Foreign Liquors", but shoe-makers, saddlers, cordial-makers and tailors also advertise their wares, and just as Mr. Marsden fears, all were open to business even on a Sunday. The usual miscreants caroused beneath trees, and the barracks were a riot of noise, with many comings and goings. We walked past Mr. Wentworth's house, and entered that quiet that is surely unique to this country - only the huzza of the crickets was heard and even the birds were silent. It seems that John has a plan to legally challenge the Governor for possession of our land, based on the contention that the Governor has authority only over those under sentence and those governed by the Articles of War, and we fit neither category. The stumbling block - and I'm sorry to have used that expression in the circumstances - is the attitude on the bench of Mr. Judge-Advocate Atkins, who almost certainly will subscribe to whatever the Governor insists upon. Mr. Macarthur proposes to use a certain note he holds, to encourage Mr. Atkins to impartiality, although my experience in this place suggests such a course is fraught with danger.
Funny Mr. Caley met us walking through the forest - he has no idea of pretension nor place and immediately struck up a conversation. I know that in many ways John would rather not notice him, but I have all the time in the world for this brave young explorer, and desired him to walk with us, to view young olive trees that have struck so well. That ended our discussion of private matters, and when we were home, it appeared young William had grazed his knees, and one thing then another, and then to bed!
August 03, 2007
Our Farm near Parramatta
Whatever happens we have a strong family, firmly bound by our shared experience here in this new land, and we are wedded to our soil. The great lack in NS Wales is manure for the soil and plough animals, but John's foresight has overcome that lack and we comfortably farm our land and feed many people from them - feed them, cloathe them and give them shelter. Apart from the sheep - which I agree are smelly and troublesome, and hard to love, although I do very much - we all love the gardens John has built around the house. I love telling my friends back Home such as Mrs. Kingdon, of the variety of plants that we grow. We have tobacco, a long-leaf Virginian variety, and many herbs in a small field of rue, hyssop, wormwood, bergamot, lavender and rosemary, as well as as much mint as we need for sauces and cologne. Mr. Macarthur planted orange and lemon trees years ago and these are trained into a cone shape - he has built a peculiar frame that straddles the trees for picking - and we make a lovely conserve of bergamot and lemon. We have figs both black and white, and our grapes are tended by a man from the Peloponnese who knows all about these fruits - I have read Pliny on the grape, and if I could speak comfortably with Michael I'm certain I'd find he was following that old sage. Mostly we keep the grapes as table fruit and conserves, but I find the leaves make an excellent vehicle for stuffing with mint and diced lamb. We make some wine, but John's stomach cannot take too much wine or brandy. There are copious peach and nectarine trees, that are eaten fresh, and the older fruits were made into a type of schnapps last year, under Mr. Schaffer's instructions. I will attempt them again this year, rather than feeding the fruit to the hogs. Yesterday I picked some rather too green apples that Elizabeth and I enjoyed, if only for the novelty of eating the first apple of the year.
August 02, 2007
What a terrible day and it appears it is all my fault. John was so angry yesterday that he felt unable to devote any time to pretence and frippery, and so did not attend Mrs. Putland's soiree, and when the Governor inquired as to his whereabouts, I pleaded his ill-health. Little was I to know the consequences!
This morning John and Hannibal were in high spirits and took the two flightiest stallions on a substantial ride, and they met Governor Bligh on their return, as he rode out to visit the "unwell Captain Macarthur". John could hardly excuse today's high spirits with yesterday's indisposition, and so he was found out. I believe he tried conciliation first, but was met by the Governor's coldest shoulder, and unfortunately the Governor has prevailed on Mr. Marsden to ride with him on his visit. Now I'm afraid all is lost and that only doom waits for us - the Governor was livid and turned away from John without so much as a "Good day", feeling I suppose that he had been put upon and slighted. Of course, Marsden's smirk was larger than his head, if that is possible!
I fear today is a turning point, turning to the worst. Whatever courtesy existed will be diminished, and I perhaps have lost a friend in Mrs. Putland. Oh, woe.
August 01, 2007
Governor Bligh - a pencil sketch
Mr. Macarthur may well contend with Mr. Bligh, but I see no reason for Mrs. Macarthur and Mrs. Putland not to enjoy one another's company. Today was quite the finest event we've seen staged here in Parramatta at this time of the morning. Anna Josepha attended, along with Governor King, and Mrs. Palmer made her appearance along with her sister, Mrs. Campbell, myself and my girls, it was quite a lovely do. Mrs. Putland's chef excelled again and good French champagne was served along with English porter and the finest tea, so really no-one could complain. The Governor was asked to describe the famous open boat voyage he was forced to undertake when he was put overboard from his ship - I had not been aware that his had been the only Commissioned vessel to have sailed without Marines, and that subsequently the policy was forever altered to preclude any Royal Navy officer from being left in such straits. Mr. Bligh certainly don't lack bravery, and a very civil tongue today, surrounded by we women, at least. A marquee was erected next to the House and acceptable and liveried servants circulated. I was asked to play a tune and fortunately refused, for Mrs. Putland demonstrated some mastery on the clavichord, and I would have been shamed. Elizabeth however made quite the sight, easily accompanying Mrs. Putland on all the latest songs from Home, and several Continental numbers as well. A s several of the men-folk made an appearance later in the day - Mr. King and Mr. Marsden, along with Mr. Palmer - the Governor inquired as to the whereabouts of Mr. Macarthur. "He's not well, your Honour", was the best I could do. I could hardly state that he was apoplectic about the rumoured actions of the Governor himself, could I? I do hope we can find some reconciliation on this point of the grant.
Mrs Mary Putland (nee Bligh)
John and Governor Bligh are at loggerheads. I could not write last night after the contretemps at the end of the day. I visited with the Governor's elegant daughter Mrs Putland, who is staying at Parramatta to escape the heat of Sydney. That is not entirely sensible, as I informed her, for if the westerly wind blows, this place becomes an oven. Like our's, her house is at the top of a rise - her's faces east and so may catch whatever breeze springs up in the afternoon. Govt. house here may have certain advantages over the Sydney house though - the garden here is extensive and full at this season, and the creek to the harbour is very pretty.
Mary and I shared tea - her tea service is exquisite and the French cook did her proud with cakes and savouries. She must long for children, of course, so I steered our talk away from the mundanities of domestic affairs to topics such as art in London, about which I know nothing! When Mr. Macarthur returned from England recently he brought many books of etchings of the latest works, and one small Nolleken's bust-o which is my treasure. I believe it is a bust of Mrs Walsh, one of Mr. Banks' circle. Mrs. Putland of course has seen so much more - she drinks tea with Mr. Banks, knows Wilberforce and calls Mr. Phillip "my friend"! How we prattled - she has the knack of not making me feel provincial and seems genuinely interested in my my plans for improving the breed of sheep we have. After tea the Governor arrived and was all kindness and "how do'ee do's?" - but I sensed ambiguity. I returned home, but first received the Governor's invitation to join Mrs. Putland and some others for a "Parisian Brunch" later this morning. But when I arrived home it was to discover Mr. Macarthur steaming with rage, as it certainly appears the Governor, on the recommendation of Mr. Palmer, will "refer the grant to England". Whatever for, when it is a grant from the King himself? Does Mr. Bligh really think he is so far above the laws of England, newly arrived here in the colony? Well, after those contretemps I couldn't write a word - and now I must finish and prepare for the morning brunch, an event I heard of but not experienced.