September 08, 2007

8 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The Colony of NS Wales when first it started: no one would recognise that scene now.

What does matter most? Is it our worldly success, our relationship with God, or something else. Is it foolish to say "family"? My family has always seemed very important to me and lately I've come to think of that more and more. When John and I recently celebrated our fortieth birthdays and nearly twenty years of married life, the importance of our relationship and our family loomed larger than ever. Surrounded by so many people who are not able to celebrate successes because of their worldly condition and the life they have been dealt, our family struck me as enduring and significant in a way that nothing else in this world is. A few years ago, faced with the hostility of government and the seeming futility of everyday life here in NS Wales, Mr. Macarthur offered our farms and livestock to Governor King, but Lord Castlereagh disapproved of the purchase and nought came of it. Then John went to England, with Elizabeth and John junior, so that only Mary and William were left with me, and hardly any person with whom I could freely speak, bar Mr. Flinders and my oldest friend Mr. Harris, and life seemed very drab and purposeless. So I took to the sheep, breeding the fine rams back to the flock and constantly observing the conformation, the fleece and the off-spring, determined to make as fine a flock as I could, and to my ever-lasting surprise I discovered I could do so - ordering the worst criminals in England to my bidding became second nature, and I noticed that the skills I has observed in John had somehow, miraculously, been transferred to me. There was some slight conflict when John returned - I believe I have alluded to that earlier this year in this very volume - but his concern is not for my proficiency, but my "state", shall I say, or the common regard for a gentlewoman. I remind him, that I was not born to that status, and grew up in fields among corn and sheep, and he has given me credit for my "ways" as he calls it, and I truly believe if I would stop wearing his fine boots to tramp the ram yard, he would be pleased! Now, with Hannibal and Edward full of praise for my skill, even Mr. Marsden called me the greatest farmer in the Colony, on the deck of the Buffalo before he sailed away, and I know that all that I do has no other purpose than to provide a focus around which we all may turn, I am indescribably happy and content, whatever the future brings.

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