August 24, 2007

5 February 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

Our Church at Parramatta - much finer than Sydney.

Many aspects of our life here are identical to those in England and others are more like those struck at say Teneriffe or Gibraltar. John tells me that the Garrison nature of the place is similar to Gibraltar or anywhere else where the Military presence plays a large part and I have strong memories of Portsmouth and can see how alike we are to that Town, and to the villages in England too. Similar but different - the shops, farms and factories one sees everywhere in England are missing here, with the commonest house being a shebeen of some kind, selling grog. It is very difficult to find tailors for example and public houses are few, in the sense that we knew them back Home. Mr. Larra's place in Parramatta is quite fine but not common. I have mentioned the people living beneath the trees here - the weather permits that, which it doesn't back home - although I do remember talk of the vagrants who lived in the hedges, and perhaps that is similar. The Church is similar, but it is unique, whereas back Home one has many Churches and if one doesn't like the prelate, one moves to another more suitable place. Here we suffer Mr. Marsden or go without, which I will not do. And even dame schools are not to be had here - our most recent school for keeping books and such like, has closed with the jailing of the teacher for forgery! However, none of that affects us - our Doctor is Mr. Wentworth, we have our own tutor and John does a great deal with the children, and what is on our table each night has generally been produced on our farms. Tea excepted, which comes from China on a circuitous route via India.
We have a busy social calendar for the next few days, as we say our final "good-byes" to our departing friends - the children and I are perhaps more involved in that than Mr. Macarthur, although he is escorting me to the Ball. Mr. Harris called on us today, socially, so I was able again to urge him to ask Mrs. King to find a suitable bride. Harris is rich and that is very attractive, even when other features are not! I refer of course to the distance, for without the Kings our social circle is much reduced. If I were a butterfly, the lack of society would hinder me terribly - but as I rather stamp around in boots and a pinafore with dirty nails, meeting guests is not my first call.

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