September 01, 2007

14 February 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

Few of us live at Botany Bay, the common name for our Colony back Home

When a ship leaves our shores it carries among other items, our correspondence. whether we are individuals or the Governor. Writing materials by the way are hideously expensive - paper one can buy in London for two shillings a quire will cost us nearly five pounds, not that that is a concern for the Governor.
I was informed today about the Governor's correspondence concerning the Macarthurs: he has written terribly scurrilous things about John to various Government ministers and to his Patron, Mr. Banks. The Governor doubts that wool will ever be a commodity from this place and that the price of shipping is greater than the per pound value of the fleece, which is simply not true. I feel the Governor's friends, especially Mr. Thompson at Green Hills, give him misleading advice about sheep - Mr. Bligh admits he knows nothing about sheep, having spent his life in the King's service at sea. Some naval men are farmers but never Governor Bligh. Mr. Thompson runs a "model farm" at Green Hills, that is supplied with stock of all kinds from Government, and has unlimited labour. Next to the model farm lie Mr. Thompson's own extensive holdings on three sides, and the Governor's private farm on the other. No doubt it is difficult to maintain the boundaries, and I am reliably assured that the mark on the cattle is rarely applied, allowing them to be shifted as needed between the farms, so that what is one day the Governments, is next the property of Mr. Thompson or Governor Bligh. Thompson grows no wool, although his flock is as extensive as our own, he grows only for meat, and lets the hairy rams mix with fine Suffolk ewes, lessening the wool generation by generation, but maintaining his carcass weights. It is from this experience that Governor Bligh bases his calumnies against our wool - as Mr. Thompson grows only hair, so he feels the Colony will only produce such poor fleece. My sheep however are entirely different, showing much more of the Spanish characteristics, and producing fine wool. Other than Mr. Thompson, Mr. Marsden has the greatest flocks, though his are mixed more than mine, as he regards the sale of meat to the local market as his prime consideration.
If our Governor discussed sheep in the way we do, I would be happy for him to refer those discussions Home. But instead of consideration of fleece and breed, his concerns are about the character of the farmer and the increase of our wealth - never has a man more concern about wealth than he! His grants to date have been non-existent, other than to Mr. Palmer, Mr. Thompson and his cronies, and the herd of government cattle is now largely his. In one letter to Lord Castlereagh, he disputes the right of Mr. King to sell cattle to us, although those cattle are the off-spring of Governor Phillip's private cattle, brought here in '88! Phillip gave them to King when he left, and we payed Mr. King handsomely for their progeny that roam the cow pastures. Yet Governor Bligh writes scurrilous comments Home, disputing Mr. King's legacy, and claiming the cattle as his own! It appears that Property of every kind is subject to the whim of the vice-regal representative.
It is raining hard today, so we are all inside - except John and Hannibal who are at the cow pastures - I hope they are dry.

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