September 14, 2007

14 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

Without Mr. Marsden, there seems less reason to attend Church; yesterday, we said prayers and read from the Bible in the orchard with as many of the people of the Farm attending as was possible. Mr. Macarthur reminded me that at sea, the Captain will hold a Sunday service and often only read the Articles of War - he proposes to write our own Articles of the Farm and read those. We had quite a laugh together at the thought of matching the sections about "that sin that shall be un-named" with a suitable Farm-based alternative!
The people who work for us have, in general, been very good. Only two have been dismissed in fourteen years, a remarkable record, one for failing to be truthful and the second for theft. How fortunate for that one, that a position of Jail Keeper came up into which he so easily slipped!
One of the most remarkable stories in Parramatta is that of the now deceased Mr. George Barrington. Of course everyone knows his name, the most famous pick pocket of the age. Apparently he was in truth a total scoundrel, who was offered redemption several times and spurned it, until eventually he stole the Russian Prince Orloff's snuff box at the Opera in Coventry Garden and was apprehended, tried and sentenced to transportation in Australia, where he was sent to Parramatta. Well, true redemption did come upon the man here and he was soon the Superintendent of Convicts, a position he held for some years with considerable distinction. His accent was that of an Irish man, but he wore his hair quite long, and his manners were almost courtly. When I was first introduced to him - for here, on occasion, one is introduced to unlikely characters - he bowed very low, and moved his arm as though he had a sword: I was most impressed. His conversation was refined and he came to our outdoor parties several times, especially at Christmas and the King's birthday. Among other adventures, which he could be persuaded to relate, were several events in the bush near here, where he fell in with Mauguran, the chief of the natives hereabouts, and with whom he spent much time. His actions to the convicts he superintended were marked by his generosity and fairness, and yet he maintained discipline. Altogether a remarkable man.
Spring is certainly on us today - John informs me that the temperature at the barracks, where a mercury measure is available, showed it to be 85 degrees. A strong wind has blown in this evening, and keeping a candle burning is proving a challenge

No comments: