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2-087 (Raw)

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addressee,family author,female,Bussell, Frances Louisa,un
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Clarke, 1992
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January 19th 1833
I have taken up my pen which I laid down in disgust to give you an idea of the penguins which have been our companions on board since we left St Paul's. They are I think a connecting link between a kangaroo and a flying fish and its wings are in reality fins and its legs placed so far back that it walks upright. They are when young of a bright purple with primrose coloured crests. They are awkward, stupid things, amusing from their very ugliness...
We are running on delightfully, 7 knots an hour, with a bright sky, smooth sea, and a delicious air. This they tell me is the Swan River climate. In four days we shall see land, the land which is to be henceforth the abode of all our interests, hopes and affections. Dear happy England already seems to us like the land of shadows, beautiful and beloved but abandoned for ever, and yet how many dear ones are left behind. It does not always do to think of this...
We are collecting our property, books, etc etc. Bessie and I have been very busy with Phoebe's gown, it looks so nicely, she will really be a princess in it. We shall put the finishing touches to it this morning. You would smile at the next employment which we propose to ourselves.
Monday 21st. January.
Almost a calm. I must describe the anxiety and trepidation which now accompanies every moment bringing us as it does nearer to our Augusta home. At times I am excited almost to pain when I anticipate the approaching meeting. I am writing now because I can settle to no other employment.
As we were sitting in the Cuddy this morning the alarm was given - "Two Swans! Black Swans in sight". I cannot say how it overcame me. [212]
They proved however to be albatrosses and were shot accordingly, two beautiful birds 10 feet in width, Capt Rolles has given me the foot.
I ought not to scribble so much, but where can I go if not to you my own Mamma when I feel as I do now. But I won't tease you any more with my egotism and so on. God grant that we may find the dear brothers, to whom we are going, well and happy, and that we may be the means of making them more so. I shall not now write more until our arrival. Every face has now the appearance of anxiety and watchfulness. We are 60 miles nearer to Augusta than Swan River, 300 miles from the latter.
1833 26th January.
Now, indeed, we are in sight of the Swan River. Some days later than I had expected when I closed this. Capt Toby was the first person on board this morning and from him we heard that our dear brothers were all when he saw them last, six weeks since, Vernon had accompanied him down to King George's Sound. The boys have a grant at Port Leschenault and at King George's Sound. He says they are grown such rough creatures. Vernon and Alfred are quite young men. Miss Turner is married to a Mr McDermot so there was no truth in the report of Ally's engagement.
The coast looks very flat, we can discover some houses, or rather wigwams, tho built of stone, as the habitations, it rather reminds me of Stonehenge. Two boats here, just appeared, containing Mr Luke Leake, that shocking affair Mr Philip Dodd, and others. Poor Mrs Leake what a meeting for her! They say she is sadly altered. We have felt much disappointment at not finding Capt. Stirling at home.
I broke off this morning because a boat was in sight and I was anxious to see a specimen of the creatures who are hereafter to be our compatriots. Quite a crowd of young men came on board, but I have not time to talk about them, as their images have been obliterated by the variety of characters which have since passed in review before us.
My first sensation was that of desolation. Capt. Stirling was absent, we knew no one in a strange land, we will not go on shore, we will stay in our own ship which has at least been hallowed by Mamma's presence. In the evening when we were alone, we sat down and tried to occupy ourselves. I attempted to dry the seaweed which you will find in this book, but Mr MacDermott soon put a stop to such domestic pursuits.
In this colony, "NO" is never an answer, and tho Bessie and I virtuously determined to abide by the ship we soon found he was determined not to go without us, so we set off with him and Mr Toby, and were greeted on the jetty at Fremantle by several gentlemen. [213]
Mr MacDermott's is a splendid house, a nice drawing room with every English comfort except a looking glass, a tea table with all "appliances and means to boot" seemed like home, but the Hindoo servants in attending partook more of the Oriental style. Mrs MacDermott is a nice little woman but as I have left a letter there to be forwarded by the Cornwallis I need not dwell upon this period of my narrative any farther.
On Monday 27th we had a terrible fright. Bessie had sent for her music and portfolio and in the evening we were expecting it when Lenox came in wet through. He had not he said, thought it safe to bring it in the dinghy with him, but had put [it] in the Captain's long boat which had been capsized on the Bar.
What regrets followed! All Bessies dear songs, her portfolio with our drawings, journals, Len's passing certificates and Charlie's Power of Attorney. Bessie went out to agonise on the sand and got a great deal in her eyes, which brought on a touch of opthalmia, in fact we went to bed full of miseries and self reproach...
Bessie has described our voyage up the Swan, lovely indeed it was! like Chepstow, Clifton, Henley, every beautiful place I have ever seen, only broader, clearer, fuller, than any river in England, and then such a lovely clear sky, and a gentle breeze...
I quite love Mr Brown he speaks of John just as people used to speak of Papa, dearest Mother on such occasions. I can only pray that we may all be equally worthy of him and you, and that you may, when you arrive, hear your girls spoken of as we do, the boys. We are received by Mrs Brown most kindly. She is a very pretty young woman, with the whitest skin, and the prettiest black hair and eyes I ever saw. The first evening we had music, but I derived more pleasure in merely looking from the window even, than in listening to the songs which I most dearly love.
The heat is great certainly, and the mosquitoes here are very troublesome; and I may truly say I never was better in my life. The warm climate suits me even better than I expected. This is an extremely pretty place with all the comforts and luxuries of an English country house with a few incongruities which by the charm of novelty prevents perfection from becoming insipid. . . The Kingsfords are staying here also, they know the Browns in England and Miss [NN] a very delightful girl, so domestic and active and good, completes as cheerful and agreeable a circle as can often be found. [...]
The society has not degenerated in the least and instead of anyone or anything for the Swan I should say selectness and refinement are more prevalent than in England. Yet no one scruples to assist in the duties of the "menage" - 'Here I am well aware and at the McDermott's we have seen emigration divested of all its miseries to use the popular term. But the Browns have gone through more than we will have to undergo in exposure to climate and trials unknown.
To continue my recital - On Wednesday Mr Dawson called much surprised to find John's sister. I could not but view him immediately in the light of an old friend. He had so much to tell us, and I assure you we were not sparing in asking questions.
John, he says has made a vow not to shave until you come out, tho his beard rests on his shirt, but it looks well as he keeps it beautifully combed. Their exertions have been wonderful and their perseverance, unanimity and industry are quite proverbial. Mr Dawson will tell you all about them as he has promised to see you .
Mr Dawson and Mr Moore, the Judge Advocate (these titles will amuse you I know) dined here and we strolled about in the beautiful moonlight and talked alternately of Augusta and England.
Perth is a very promising city but the sand is greatly against it. The country residences are far preferable and I do not at all join in the universal regret that we are so soon to retire so completely from the world and its gaieties.
The boys are so methodical, the mornings are devoted to work, two hours in the heat of the day to study, and then labour again. We have not spend [sic] any of our money and Mr Brown thinks it better to take it to them unbroken and expend it at their own discretion. Candles are dreadfully expensive and would be good things to send out, so would soap, and starch.
Shoes are more valuable than gold. Our dresses and things have been very well chosen, and we feel quite comfortable, Mrs Brown proposes giving a dance next week, there is much curiosity felt on our account and a great deal of speculation I daresay if we were not so fortunately out of the way of it all.
Nothing can exceed the hospitality here. Mr Brown advises us not to go on the Ellen but to abide by our property, but Mr Toby is very urgent to take us and our inclinations are decidedly with him. [215] [...]
Everyone is very busy in preparing their despatches for the Cornwallis. This will go by Mr Dawson our first journal unfortunately left at Fremantle cannot go by this opportunity but we will forward them by the Cygnet I fear I shall not have time to write other letters, but this is public property...
Mr Brown the other day told us an anecdote of John, which I must retail. The Governor in reward for his great exertions in the Colony presented him with three miles frontage on the banks of the river. Mr Turner and Capt Molloy thought it rather unjust, and John in a beautiful letter to the Governor requested permission to resign one third judging it more advantageous to the Colony that friendly interest should yield to public good...
Whilst we were at the Botanical Gardens Mr Irwin received a packet from the Colonial office which he opened before me. It was directed to Capt Molloy and proved to be a long letter from Mary to the boys. We have brought out a number of newspapers also, which we probably put into the post office ourselves. I shall leave you now.
Bessie tells me her journal is to be devoted to [NN] and she puts down everything as it pops into her head. This she intends as an apology for Scramble Hall tho I consider hers far more methodical than my own. Yesterday Saturday we had a pleasant little evening party beginning with music and ending with quadrilles, much amazement but no dearly beloveds. Mr Lewis and Mr Dawson were my partners, with the latter I had one of my tremendous tête-a-têtes despite Bessie's reproving looks but I could not resist hearing all about our darlings. But she will tell you all about this [...]
Perth April 5th 1833
You will be justly surprised my own Mother that we have not yet attained the "Ultima Thule" of our hopes but the fact is that the Cygnet has been detained far beyond our expectations, and is only now under sailing orders for next Tuesday. I write this by the Merope quite a venture as the mail closes this evening and I have been prevented in a thousand ways from settling to letter writing before, tho I have daily threatened to do so for the last month.
You will readily believe from our description of Mr & Mrs Brown's family which closed my last that our stay here has not been wearisome indeed no kindness no attention has been spared and your two girls have found that the spoiling system commenced in England has been rather carried out than counteracted here. [216]
When we left Bassendean it was to visit Mr & Mrs Roe with whom we are now staying. Delightful people whose kindness have been equal to the Browns' I cannot say more. Society here is on a delightful footing no formality yet a strict adherence to all that is nice and right.
Shortly after our arrival the Government schooner Ellen was ordered South and greatly tempted we were to embrace such an opportunity of joining our beloved colonists without delay. A party was formed consisting of Captain Irwin, the Lieut. Governor, his Aide de Camp Mr Dale and Mr Moore. It was with beating hearts we took leave of them all, feeling that they would so very soon reach our future home but Lenox was so decided in wishing us not to remove from the ship in which all our property was embarked that we declined going and only commissioned these new friends to inform our brothers of our arrival.
I must confess however that "Time on airy pinions flew" and a fortnight found us alternately domesticating ourselves with the Browns or the Roes, Len making our old Cygnet home his headquarters still as well as Phoebe etc.
At last however I decided on a trip to Fremantle and a visit to the ship, and accompanied Lenox one lovely morning on this expedition, how little did I dream of the happiness in store for me. I refused all temptations to stay at the McDermotts' by the way and spent the day in packing books, arranging cabins, scolding Emma, who is my most anxious care, and comforting Phoebe.
It was on Monday 8th of March. "A ship in sight" "A schooner" is announced by the cabin boy. Oh can it be the Ellen? It seemed too much happiness to expect for she is to bring us such late tidings of our darlings. I ran on deck to watch her approach, not as I had often done before from the listless desire for something new but with all the delirious excitement of hope. "It is the Ellen" for she comes not in as a stranger but as if she knew the harbour well. And now she comes nearer and nearer, red coats are visible, and Mr Toby's form was recognised by Capt Bolles who watched the movement with his glass, and reported it to me.
A Whaleboat is lowered and makes for the shore. The Lieut. Governor has left the vessel with his suite, and now another boat is lowered nearer and nearer it comes towards us "There's a Bussell in that boat I am sure" said Capt Bolles and shortly even I could recognise a row of white teeth which seemed to claim relationship with my own.
In a few minutes more dearest John was on board looking so well, my Mother, rather barbarous but quite poetical, large canvas trousers made by his own hands, a broad leather belt, hair and beard both long somewhat and moustaches enough to give a bandit look. [217] All this was seen in a moment (you know how I do see) and then too there was a mingled likeness to you, my Mother, and to Emily which had never struck me before.
The moment of meeting was decidedly the happiest and brightest I have ever experienced, forgive me if I have dwelt upon it too long but I need not say this to you. Mr Toby the kind Mr Toby accompanied him and really this our meeting seemed an affair of general interest.
Lenox who had gone to Perth for me a few hours before returned on the news of the arrival of the Ellen and surely so happy a trio has seldom met in a merchantman's cuddy. We only wanted our poor little Bessie who had been left at Mrs Roe's. The next morning we started by the sea breeze and the kindness and hospitality which we had so long enjoyed was extended to this, our dear Johnnie. [...]
A month has elapsed since then, which we have passed either here or at Bassendean. Our next remove will be to Augusta to the dear ones there. It is not without regret that we shall say Goodbye to the new friends who have made our stay here so pleasant. . . The weather now is getting cooler, and it is so exhilarating after the heat which awaited our arrival. Our worst evils are the mosquitos, they have no mercy upon newcomers. Bessie is a great sufferer, I am bitten all over but the inflammation is not so great as at first. The fleas here are numerous and tremendous in size, and bugs are not a few.
Walking at Perth is very disagreeable on account of the sand. From the first and last of these evils we shall be free at Augusta, and the climate there is much more agreeable than here. You cannot conceive the annoyance that servants are here, few and therefore expensive and full of consumate impudence. Yesterday we were all at church for the last time Easter Sunday. How I thought of you dearest Mother and of Winchester, dear Winchester...
My journal I will make up and send by the Cygnet, this is so completely a chance letter that you must count it for nothing and we have been so interrupted by visitors that I scarcely know what I have said.
I commence another sheet because our meeting with the dear boys will obliterate for the time the events that are passing around us. While we were at Bassendean Mrs Brown was confined. I was with her when a dear little boy was ushered into this world of woe I almost felt like a mother myself, I think. [218] But the sequel to my story is a sad one. Our baby only lived two days and dear Bassendean when we left it was a house of disappointment and mourning.
To turn to lighter subjects which Bessie had called to my mind by mentioning the "Inflamatory Book" you would smile to hear the reports that have been circulated about us. Bessie especially has been given in turn to everyone here almost, and I have been appropriated I am told to the Lieut. Governor and to Mr Lewis I do not know what the people think of us, you will hear when you come.
Dear Mary will be so petted and admired she must be a favourite as she always has been with all who know her. I see no one, dearest Mother, like my own brothers and sisters. The Harrises have got a very nice grant on the Swan River. Mrs Leake is with her husband. The Kingfords are in quest of land for their mill, and will decidedly settle here. So much for our Cygnet companions. [...]
The natives are very troublesome, Mr Brown had four sheep speared last week, they are such things to look upon these wild brethren of ours. This morning when I came up to breakfast I saw a black face looking at me. "What your name" said I "Monday" was the answer, I suppose he liked my complexion, something akin to his own for in a few minutes he said "Your name Monday" It is a proof of affection I hear, to change names so I of course gave him mine in return. "Bussell" I said "You Monday, I Bussell" He laughed and pointed at some bread, certainly more attractive to him, than my brightest smile. This Monday is a shocking affair however, having speared his wife and mother only a fortnight ago. His countenance is very bad, decidedly ferocious.
At Bassendean we had a "Corrobborree" (Native Dance)
One evening a large fire was kindled and the natives having chalked their bodies very tastefully soon commenced accompanying their movements with an ugly panting noise like a thirsty dog. One of them imitated the kangaroo and went through all the movements of the animals eating grass scratching its side. Another very gracefully advanced with a spear, pretending extreme caution until within reach of its victim; I thought of Cooper's North American Warriors. [219] At last the hunt is supposed to be up, and all join in a general dance. I have nearly got to the end of my paper. [...]
Remember me most kindly to Ben and Foot we have not forgotten their kindness to us and we never shall. How delicious will be our meeting in about 9 months. Oh! may we be found worthy of you our own Mother and as useful to the dear boys as we hope to be. We have two cows, one is a heifer, the other in calf.
Our garden at Augusta thrives beautifully. I long to begin my arrangements there. Send out guernsey frocks for the boys. Bessie would like you to bring out cambric muslin frocks for her. It will be cold enough at Augusta in the winter, to wear anything, and I still have a great weakness for silks. But just one will do Mother. Let our dresses if you have them made, be marked, as to save confusion. We are grown capital dressmakers however and have had some experience. [...]
Soap is invaluable (at least it is now 8/- per lb). Shoes are still more so. I would like you to bring me out some boots made beautifully neat. I must now close this. Love to all at Henley, no one must forget their fondly affectionate Bessie and Fanny. Straw bonnets are the nicest wear here, so light cool and durable. The boys have received their seeds, newspapers and quarterly review. I do not think many packages have miscarried.
Don't send or bring many coloured robes for us, simple good shirting stripes we prefer for morning dresses, or things of one colour. Merinos for winter will not be too warm, but remember we shall not want anything yet, but clothes out here do wear out dreadfully, stockings especially from the black sand you are obliged to change them three or four times daily and washing so often does not add to their strength. Remember me to Brown and Wells. Read what you please to Brown. Kind regards to Mr Mayo. Love to La chere Tips I meant to have written her, she must not however think that I am going to break off my promised correspondence because I have not yet. Bess has addressed her journal to her, but she must surely come with you my little Mother. Our sister, our friend will join our circle again, or will it not be incomplete? Once more Farewell. [...] [220]
My dearest Mother,
I have left out my desk that I may scribble to the last moment; we are still in the Cygnet and Bessy and I have been busy since 4 o'clock in the morning, we are shipping our goods, all in good preservation & none of the cargo in the least damaged, indeed they look as fresh as when first put on board.
We have not yet landed; so this cannot be an all satisfactory letter. Dear Alfred was on board us all yesterday. Oh my dear Mother how would your maternal feelings exist in seeing this noble boy & how did his sisters' hearts triumph in looking & listening. Captn Bolles says Charles is a delightful young man, we have not yet seen him nor Vernon who is up the country. John as you will hear from a long letter of mine which I left at Perth, spent the last month of our sojourn there with us. You cannot think how well and how young he is looking. Lenox looks older by far. This is our last day on board the Cygnet, pray thank Captn Bolles for his kindness to us if you have an opportunity, with all his occasional violence, his attention to us has been unremitting. Dear Mother your girls are as little inured to unkindness and "roughing it" as when they left England. Bessy is quite tired with her exertions this morning & will not write, she is not so strong as I am, but in this lovely climate & with so many kind nurses she will soon become so...
Augusta April 21st,
I continue my narrative. Yesterday all our goods were landed. Captn Bolles pressed us to dine on board - the last day that we could not nor [NN] did we wish to refuse. The boys & Mr Green resigned the honour of wafting us to shore to the Captn, but we were met on the beach by the soldiers & our own darlings. Mr Green (how Lord Halsingham would laugh) escorted me to Mrs Molloys. It was nearly dark, but I could perceive that the river was broad & beautiful & the country more richly wooded than an English imagination can conceive. Mrs Molloy came out to meet us with her little Sabina in her arms looking so youthful & interesting, her house is very comfortable & she is so active. We are to stay here for a few days, but as she has not accommodations for us she has fitted up one of Mr Dawson's houses so nicely, a French bed & all sorts of land comforts; a vase of sweet mignonette upon the table & your picture my mother were its ornaments, & a large wood fire blazing on the hearth cast a cheerful light around. We spent a very pleasant evening but broke up early, and as we had little inclination to sleep, we proposed taking the boys by surprise & walked down to their almost deserted abode. We proposed a walk on the beach, tho' it was getting very late, Bessy with John, myself with Charley & Alfred (how nice to lean on two of them again). Now I feel in my element said Alfred drawing a long happy sigh. [221] And so did we. It is here that one sees the magnificence of emigration; at the Swan, European comforts & luxuries have already robbed this life of somewhat of its romance; but here it is in all its wildness & grandeur, don't smile at me, my feelings are not more excited than when I left home, but I feel the same wish to act right, & the same energy to do so. We slept delightfully, & I have slipt away from all society & employment for the sake of scribbling to you. I am now in my home (pro tempore). Bessy, Phoebe & Emma are on the beach looking after the goods. Emma is herself again & I hope will improve now I have got her away from the ship - Pearce is grown a very fine young man & is much improved. Alfred relieves Vernon at the Adelphi to day & we shall see him tomorrow. Len is very well indeed. The climate is scarcely warmer [NNl than in England - I must not write more as I think my presence must be wanted at the beach - Let the cases be small - many of ours must be unpacked before sent to the Adelphi.