August 01, 2007

15 January 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur


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.

1 comment:

Mousie/Paisible said...

a French cook...she escaped from the French revolution...must be one of Babette's friends...
that little detail made me proud of our cooking...