July 30, 2007

13 January 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The prices we are paying for food stuff this year.

My friends in England ask me about living here but I have lived here so long since I left England that I am now more interested and less likely to understand about living there. It was just before Christmas 1789 that I last saw my parent, and even then it was a fleeting visit, after our ship returned to Portsmouth before we finally sailed. More than 60 people work on this farm, with free labourers, convict labourers, two convict women workers, and all the parts of the family, and none of us have too much free time. I am more often visited than a visitor, but now that Mr. Macarthur does not hold a commission, visits from the Corps have reduced. Mr. Harris, our neighbour, is perhaps the most consistent guest, often seeing us morn and night. Later today however, it is I who will be visiting, calling on Mrs. Putland at Government House, Parramatta. Mr. Harris tells the most delightful stories and I have learnt to disregard most as untrue, but his latest tales about the Governor's daughter are very far-fetched. According to Mr. Harris, Mrs. Putland took her language and grammar lessons on the quarter-deck with her Pa, and ends all her sentence with "d...ned" - highly unlikely. We've met several times and I've found her delightful: today she is attended by all the officers of the Corps for a route this evening, from which I'm excused based on family responsibilities, but young Hannibal has an invite and I'm sure he'll enjoy it a great deal.
If I am lucky, I can converse with another intelligent woman - excluding my daughters and their tutor - not more than twice a month. I've often badgered Mr. Harris to marry, and he has agreed to do so, "as soon as a convenient lady is found". From what I've heard, it is not any lady's convenience that is hampering his connections.
So I am more likely to be found with boots and smock, than lace and stockings, and in the garden more than a reception room. Such is the life that one leads at the ends of the English empire, and there are many compensations. In England I would not still have so many of my children with me, and our partnership, John and I, is the happiest imaginable. John is away again today, having sailed down the harbour this morning in a new small boat he has built.

1 comment:

Mousie/Paisible said...

it's really surprising how one feels so close to Elizabeth as if she was real ...having a real good conversation only about once a month with another woman...we don't realize now how life was in these days, how people especially women could feel lonely...