August 12, 2007

25 January 1807, Sunday, by Elizabeth Macarthur

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!

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