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2-146 (Original)

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author,female,Thomas, Mary,49 addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Hale, 1950
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Dec. 28, 1836. Early in the morning it was announced that the Buffalo had arrived from Port Lincoln, accompanied by the Cygnet, which had gone thither to escort the Governor, Captain Hindmarsh, to Holdfast Bay. This made us all alive, and soon after Mr. Thomas received notice to attend at the tent of Mr. Gouger, the Colonial Secretary, where His Excellency the Governor was expected to be at 3 o'clock to read his Commission and proclaim the colony. [172] Mr. Thomas then went to the Company's store and soon returned with a request that he would procure a ham, as Mr. Gilbert was not provided with one, which was done, and a fine Hampshire Ham was dressed for the occasion. It was also requested that we would prepare ourselves to meet the procession, as all who could were expected to attend. We went accordingly, and found assembled the largest company we had yet seen in the colony, probably two hundred persons.
The Governor's Private Secretary read the Proclamation under a huge gumtree, a flag was hoisted, a party of marines from the Buffalo fired a feu-de-joie, and loud hurrahs succeeded. A cold collation, of which we partook, followed in the open air.
The Governor was very affable, shaking hands with the colonists and congratulating them on having such a fine country. After the repast he mounted on a chair and gave the first toast, 'The King,' which was received with three times three, and followed by the National Anthem, led by Mr. Gilles. The old royal appellation of 'George' was so natural to Englishmen, after four successive reigns of Kings of that name, that it was forgotten at the moment that a 'William' was now on the throne, and the first hoe was sung as formerly, 'God save great George, our King,' which excited a smile. Yet I believe that William the Fourth has not more loyal subjects throughout his wide dominions than those who were there assembled to welcome the first Governor of South Australia. The health of His Excellency was then proposed and drunk with loud and universal cheering, followed by 'Rule, Britannia.' Then 'Mrs. Hindmarsh and the Ladies' was proposed by Mr. Gilbert, and also received great applause, as did several other toasts.
The Governor then gave the following: - ' May the present unanimity continue as long as South Australia exists,' which made the plain ring with acclamations. At about 5 o'clock His Excellency and lady departed to the ship, and some officers and others followed in another boat. They all seemed highly delighted with our village, as I may call it, consisting now of about forty tents and huts, though scattered about without any regularity. Everyone fixed his present abode wherever he wished, knowing it would not be of long duration. [173]
In March, 1837, the remainder of the town land was sold by auction in acres, of which Mr. Thomas bought eight, in addition to the two preliminary ones he already possessed, at from six to eight guineas per acre. All these are in good situation and likely to increase in value. As a proof, a few days ago lie sold for two hundred guineas a quarter of one of them, the whole of which cost him less than ten.
Adelaide is about six miles from Glenelg, or Holdfast Bay, as the anchorage there is called, and somewhat further from Port Adelaide, another part of the coast, which place I have never yet seen, and perhaps I never shall, as I seldom go out, especially since I have been without a servant.
We came here on June 1, 1837. Mr. Thomas and the boys came up some time before, as the printing press was obliged to be set up here, and resided in the tents until September while this building was finishing. Since then we have been within these walls, which are built of mud, and the roof is of boards. We have a stone house in progress, and when we remove into it I hope it will be the last remove we shall make till we return to dear old England!
Mr. Thomas, who is perfectly infatuated with this country, does not seem to anticipate such an event, but I do, and so do the girls, and I feel confident that, please God, at some time or other such will be the case.
This is certainly a very fine country, and capable of the highest improvements. Doubtless those who are born and brought up here will think of it as we do of our native country, that there is no other like it in the world; but to those who know what England is, and recollect the comfort there enjoyed, it never can bear a comparison, notwithstanding its luxuriant plains, its magnificent trees, its ranges of lofty hills, and scenery often sublime. The soil, too, can doubtless be made to reproduce nearly all the fruits and vegetables of the known world. We have a garden in which we have abundance of the latter and some of the former in cultivation, but the vegetables have not the sweetness of those in England, and generally run to seed before they have attained half their size. This may, perhaps, be remedied by proper management, the plants being, like ourselves, not yet acclimatised. [174]
All our goods had to be brought from the beach by hand, as no such animal as a horse or a bullock was then in the colony. Now there are thousands of both, with carts and every convenience for carrying baggage and passengers, and lodgings either at inns or private houses; and yet those who have been accustomed to English comforts will find themselves very deficient of them in many respects, unless they reckon among them hundreds of rats and mice, thousands of fleas and flies, millions of ants and mosquitoes, and many other such annoyances.
I must now think of bringing this long letter to a close, which I have been nearly a week in writing. I have so little time to spare that I could not sit to it long together. Since I began it Mr. Thomas has let a quarter of an acre, which cost him ten guineas, on a building lease for ten years for forty pounds a year, and the tenant is to leave all building thereon at the expiration of the lease.
You were kind enough to offer to do anything you could for us. It is only a childish whim, for I fancy I could relish a bit of Hampshire bacon more than anything to be got here, and if you can prevail on Mr. Kinggate to pay you for two flitches out of my money from the bank interest I would be glad to have them. They should be well packed in a strong case, for the meat there in summer is flyblown before it is cold, and next day crawling with maggots.
I forgot to tell you that our population exceeds four thousand, and several more ships are expected. Streets are rapidly forming in all directions in regular lines, for the city is laid out on a particular plan, which cannot be deviated from, and in a few years this will be a magnificent place. We have already a church built of stone and of considerable dimensions, and a clock has lately been fixed in it. This we find of great use, as all our watches are stopped, influenced, I suppose, by the climate. This is a general complaint. Mr. Thomas is making bricks on his country sections. These are in great demand, and are now used in preference to mud. When we built our house stone was the only thing to be had. Of course our fuel is wood, which I fear will soon become scarce. It is already very dear, owing to the great consumption, and although we have plenty on our lands the carriage is expensive. [175] No doubt this country contains much coal, which will be very profitable to anyone who may discover it. We have abundance of goods of all kinds, almost as cheap as in England, but provisions are dear. Fresh meat, 1s. per pound; fresh butter, 3s. 6d.; salt butter, 2s. 6d.; and bread 1s. 8d. per loaf; all of which have been munch more. We sometimes get fish. The water is not so good or so plentiful as in England. Neither is the air so bracing or refreshing. Frequently there is a hot and scorching wind, which, while it lasts, is almost past endurance. With all the advantages of this fine country it will never bear comparison with dear old England, where I hope to end my days in peace and comfort. This is all I desire, for I have no ambition to be rich, and though we may wish, with the blessing of God, to obtain a competence here, we must go to England to enjoy.