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2-066 (Text)

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addressee,male author,male,Moore, George Fletcher,42
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Moore, 1884
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2-066-plain.txt — 6 KB

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Hermitage, Western Australia,
August 19th, 1831.
My last letter was dated from Perth, where I then was. Nothing remarkable has occurred within the last two days, except the appearance of seven spermaceti-whales from Fremantle, and that the people have been smitten with the mania for whale fishing; but, unfortunately, there is no suitable fishing-tackle for an attack on these monsters of the deep, which would otherwise (and will at a future time) have a successful result. I have been in vain endeavouring to obtain a Perth newspaper for you, containing an account of our last agricultural meeting. I returned home, partly by boat and partly on foot, and found all well but my young cow has become plaguy restless, and has broken away repeatedly into the bush we have her, however, in the cow - house now.
20th. - The weather is still very fine, the temperature delightful. At this moment I am very much annoyed, and am actually writing from my bed to tell you how uncomfortable I am from an incursion of blow-flies, which have taken a fancy to my new blankets, that have been so covered by them as to require fumigation with brimstone to effect their dislodgment, and I am now bewailing the absence of my comfortable clothing.
22nd. - Dined after church service yesterday on delicious kangaroo soup, a fine haunch of ditto, lamb, a pair of fowls, ham and sausages, turnips, lettuce, onions, fruit - pies, and plum and custard puddings.  Just think of such fare on the Swan River, and confess whether your organs of taste can resist an extra humidity "from bare imagination of the feast." You know, however, that I care little for these things, and detail them merely to show that we have not always hard fare.
It falls frequently to my lot to settle disputes about boundaries: the Dii Termini are very troublesome divinities to me; this day I have been arbitrator in a case of this nature, besides one on a disputed point concerning a sale of horses.
I have to finish a certain memorial to the Home Government, to attend an agricultural meeting on the second of next month, and to prepare for an exploring expedition over the mountains on the fourth, and have just written for Mrs. Tanner a song about this colony, of which she wishes to send her friends a copy; but I have not time now to transcribe it, but must do so at some other time.
I have a song in my mind, suggested by that of a bird's notes; and if I can get my flute mended, shall set it for you. I mean to try the system of robbing my own potatoes - viz, taking away the large ones from the roots, which is practised here with good effect.
23rd. - You will think me a most dissipated dog when I tell you that I have dined with the same large party three successive days.
Servants' wages are extremely high, and all work proportionably so; £2 10s. per month for inside servants; from 5s. to 7s. per day (without diet) for labour. At present time cultivation of new ground will not pay where there is any difficulty beyond mere ploughing, and that can only be performed in cleared flat meadows. The quantity of stock is still insufficient to support a shepherd. There are not yet more than a dozen persons possessing large flocks, but we are in daily expectation of arrivals of sheep from Van Diemen's Land.  I am within the limit when I tell you that for even a small establishment like mine, where everything is to be purchased, it is necessary to have between £200 and £300 a year.
Our means will be greater and our wants less as our gardens and crops become productive. My stock of shoes for myself and people is already exhausted, and the price is 18s. per pair. Clothes and provisions, as in all infant societies, are of course our chief wants, but in some things money goes a great way. Wine, tea, and sugar are cheap. F - talks of sending goods here on commission - an excellent speculation; in shoes alone a profit of 150 per cent. might be effected.
As to clothing, black and blue clothes are the most saleable. Our medical men, lawyers, clergymen, and those in mourning, as among you, wear black; and there are persons here of each of the learned professions. The Government officers and naval and military men wear blue cloth coats with gilt crown buttons, and blue frocks and trousers - on great occasions, white duck trousers; but there is some hazard in this speculation, unless on a small scale.
Substantial clothing seems to be the taste of our sensible people, who are good judges of such matters. Blue striped shirts, shoes, boots, buskins, and corduroy trousers, meet with ready sale. We are in great want of light black beaver hats, which every one who can get them wears; but we can procure no male headpieces here, except some villanous-looking silk ones of an old-fashioned shape. In the country, or in undress, little attention is paid to mere ornament; but in company, or on state occasions, we are a very well-dressed and particular people.
As to the ladies - I suppose you have hitherto been in the habit of mistaking them for Hottentot dames, and consider them suitably appareled in linsey-wolsey, or "in druggets drest of thirteen-pence a yard;" but our fair ones of the upper grades are of a very different class indeed: but, alas ! alas! I cannot enumerate any of the thousand articles which they may wish for, from the bustle (no allusion to the Hottentot ladies, I assure you) to every other appendage of the person - pray interest yourself to have a well-selected cargo sent especially to them.  Among the common necessaries which would sell well in this colony are starch, blue, candles of every kind, glass, flannel, and soap, which now brings (and sold as a special favour) 2s. 6d. a pound.
Masters here are only so in name; they are the slaves of their indentured servants. In my absence,  does nothing, and if I speak to him - exit in a rage. I could send him to gaol, but I do not like this extremity, and yet I cannot afford to lose the advantage of his time, and pay £30, besides diet, to another in his place. Letty, however, continues faithful.
Yesterday, after the adjustment of a boundary line between neighbours at the base of the hills, a singular circumstance occurred, when the last two trees were struck with an axe, for the purpose of making a boundary mark - a jet d'eau issued from out of a blue gum tree, and continued running without intermission during the time of our stay - a quarter of an hour. This water had a strong chalybeate