August 26, 2007

7 February 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The Bridge at the River
John returned with several Paris mannequins, dressed in the very latest fashion (although I suppose they are nearly 3 years out of date now), and Mr. Campbell's store has silks and other fabrics that are exquisite, and there is a shoemaker here, Burgin by name, who can fashion a stylish slipper if he has a pattern. Mrs. Putland kindly lent a beautiful low-heeled shoe that Burgin has copied for Elizabeth and I, and I have sown my gown in a red Damask silk that thrums with reflected light; for Elizabeth I found a light blue cotton material that has sewn into a presentable gown, and we both have lovely new slippers to wear to the ball. Of course I still worry that Mrs. Putland will so out-do us all that we shall appear tatty by comparison, but many years here in NS Wales have convinced me that appearances are always deceiving, and I'd rather appear dowdy than cheap.
The hardest items to procure are decent petticoats and suitable under garments, which never appear on the mannequins. Mr. Campbell has brought in a selection from Bombay, but until his wife-to-be has visited Bombay herself and trolled the shelves, we can not be certain that Campbell's items in any way resemble the latest fashion. Mrs. Putland wears the finest cloathes imaginable but her demeanour convinces me that we have nought to fear in that regard; I am almost certain if I mentioned the difficulty with under garments that she would display hers to us! Mrs. King has already been commissioned to post to us the latest fashion in our sizes, as soon as she gets home.
With Elizabeth still unwell, we shall travel to Sydney together in the morning, and in the meanwhile I rode out past the jail today to see our latest acquisition, in the way of the sheep we bought from Mr. Larra. Funny Mr. Caley called to me and I visited with him, which was fortunate for him as he did not know the Buffalo was due to sail, and had a great collection to send to Sir Joseph Banks. His native servant, Moowat-inni by name, had laid out the crisp white papers that the specimens are dried upon along the grass outside of Caley's house, and when I mentioned the Buffalo's imminent departure Moowat-inni rushed out to commence bringing in the dried collection. Mr. Caley too had to excuse himself to prepare his correspondence, but before he sent me on my way he mentioned that Moowat-inni distinguishes more than 200 species of the gum trees that grow around us - and Mr. Caley says he has determined that their genus name is to be Eucalyptus, from the Greek meaning "well-covered". How interesting that he should so name them - he believes they are the tallest flowering trees in the entire world, and so one comes to look upon them anew. I love the gum trees and have no great desire to grow the trees of Home.

No comments: