August 10, 2007

24 January 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

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.

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