September 05, 2007

5 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The spiny ant-eater

As a girl I knew many of the animals in our district, even the ones no-one ever saw such as stoats; here there is an entirely different menagerie. The three larger animals most recently found, the Wom-bat, the water mole and this creature, must be the world's most unusual animals. It is believed that this creature lays eggs, although only the shells have been found, and its spikes prevent the native dogs, or our dogs for that matter, from harming it in any way.
Strange as the spiny creature is, so is our strange idea of currency here, where a bushel of wheat can be accounted equivalent to other items and exchanged, under the patronage of Government. Grains and certain beeves are readily exchangeable as currency, determined on a price set by Government. Last year the price of wheat rose seven-fold after the flood, and Mr. Macarthur asked for payment of a Note from Mr. Thompson of grain at the set rate. Mr. Thompson refused to pay at that rate and insisted that the rate contracted and published when the Note was writ was the rate of exchange, so John took him to the Court of Civil Judicature. The Court, which comprised Mr. Thompson's trading partners and the part-owner of his land grant, found in Mr. Thompson's favour, and Mr. Macarthur appealed to the Governor; after all, if one bushel of wheat equals 24 loaves of bread one year, and only six or four or less the next year, the "currency" of the wheat is not existent. On appeal, the Governor barely entered the law room before he dismissed the appeal, allowing only Mr. Thompson to briefly address the Court, and John not at all! Such is the state to which the law is sunk here, that he who sits on the Bench, or trades with those on the Bench, or has a friend in the highest places, is judged the more moral man.

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