September 10, 2007

10 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The ramshackle tent has been replaced with the finest building in Town.

I have re-read letters from Home today, along with two papers from London and a news sheet from Plymouth that have recently arrived in the Colony, so I feel very up-to-date with the latest English news. The canvas is much bigger there. My news would be so parochial - we extended the carriage drive towards the river, giving us another view up the Harbour, and a slightly longer ride for those of us who find horse riding to be valuable exercise. Mr. Macarthur's family was humble, so sword play and horse riding are skills he has learnt in his later youth and as a young man, but he does well at both. Edward and he may spend an hour jousting when John is home, and Hannibal is a fair horse man, given his upbringing exclusively in towns. Mr. Macarthur is also an excellent sailor and passes those skills onto the children - William and Mary share a skiff, as a welcome relief from lessons. For myself, I have no fear of horses, and rode but recently to Richmond Hill, but in general my traverses are to Prospect and the Seven Hills, and they usually in a cart of some kind. We have the off-spring of Major Johnson's great nag to pull a cart, so we make a fine sight and cover a lot of ground very quickly. Between here and the Western Road the pavement is certain, but once beyond the Town, to the west, the pavement becomes very rough, and the trees by the roadside may harbour the indigent, or natives. The Governor, in addition to his out-riders, always carries pistols, and Mr. Macarthur has urged the same for me, but I know perhaps thirty of the local women natives by name, and nearly as many of the men, and I don't believe one has anything to fear from people one can name. My assistance with births, small though that is, has also become something of legend, and a native woman at the Green Hills asked for me by name, fearing a breech birth. What good I would have been, I don't know. Fortunately, Mr. Arndell's reputation among the natives is also strong and he was on the spot - he hadn't liked helping in the past, when he heard that if a patient died, then the doctor was to blame and his life forfeit, but that attitude among the natives has changed, and they understand that the doctors' will only do their best. Mr. Balmain was a fine man in that regard - on many occasions when boating in the Harbour, for he did love to fish, he was called to assist with some emergency or other. His natural goodness, and fine skills, made him a great hero among the people dwelling around the harbour. I don't know if any of the natives deal with Mr. Wentworth here, and between you, dear diary, and I, to call upon dear old Harris would be the action of a desperate man! And none of that is hardly a fit subject for news.

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