August 22, 2007

3 February 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

Mr. Marsden wanted to preach in the Church at Sydney, and he did so last Sunday, but it remains such a tumble-down affair. I understand Mr. Marsden has joined the Buffalo, along with the wom-bats and kangaroos, bats and Rosellas, the Kings and the poor unfortunate Captain Short, whose wife has just given birth to another child, for what promises to be an awful voyage. The delay, among other reasons, was that insufficient bread has been loaded, with the intention of filling with rice at Batavia, thereby however exposing everyone on board to the pestilence of that place, so now the bakers of Sydney are converting every weevily grain to bread, suitable for the voyage. The Barley is got in and there are moves to malt sufficient of that grain for the Buffalo to provide beer for the voyage, but who, only 12 months ago, could have imagined the Governor sailing home in such penury. A disaster such as the floods at Green Hills this twelvemonth past, has consequences beyond the immediate loss of life and livelihood, although it has stimulated the trade in pork from the Pacific, and has raised the cost of labour. Those are the very reasons we have withdrawn our stock, with wheat a guinea a bushel and mutton paying any price, yet we know that for a flock to produce fine wool, the wethers need be retained and not sold only because the price is high - I have sheep now that will produce much more than half a pound a head, as the Governor claims is all we can expect.
We bought most of Mr. Larra's sale of sheep - they are an untidy lot, the wool is not worth the spinning, and I suppose we will now face the inquisition of all as to why we won't slaughter. Well, we won't! Even these poor lambs will breed with the Spanish rams, and fine wool be had.
Mr. Macarthur tells me that the prisoners that escaped - in an open boat in this heat! - have been found again, baked red from the sun and parched dry from a lack of water, marooned near Hunter's River, in co-ee of soldiers who found and then arrested them, despite the old story of their ship sinking, the only survivors: every time it seems that such are caught, they tell the same tale. Only one of the soldiers says "Ain't you the blacksmith from the Lumber yard at Parramatta?" to which the poor old lag admitted he was! They'll be seeing a lot more of Hunter's River, I feel.

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