August 04, 2007
18 January 1807, Sunday, by Elizabeth Macarthur
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!