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2-154 (Original)

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author,female,Bussell, Frances Louisa,un addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Clarke, 1992
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2-154.txt — 11 KB

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Cattle Chosen
Feb 20th 1836
Yesterday afternoon my dearest Capel the Sally Anne entered our bay and amidst the variety of pursuits and the new faces which her arrival brought amongst us, I have only succeeded in mastering the contents of your precious letters within the last two hours.
None of your packages have come down by the Sally Anne but the Fanny is hourly expected with the whole of your valuable cargo. I scarcely know how to thank you for us all as you deserve my own best Capel for all your exertions for us and the beautiful exactitude with which you execute commissions or rather anticipate them. By the Fanny we shall write again and shall then be able to notice everything more satisfactorily.
And now I must notice but briefly the severe afflictions with which it has pleased Providence to visit our beloved friends at Ballard Lodge. They need not me to point out where consolation alone can be found in such an hour of trial. I always feel it is so cruel to dwell upon the losses which however new to us have been softened by the lapse of time and the blessed effects of religion to those on whom the stroke has fallen. [233] To my dear Mother this has been a sudden and unexpected blow, and by us who knew but little of him and yet so enough to love his name most tenderly his loss is felt as the loss of an affectionate relative. And poor Uncle Geroge too! it is sad indeed to find one's early friends and connections thus dropping round us. It makes one look almost with impatience to the time when we may too "depart in peace".
Oh Capel it is a fearful thing to glance one's eye down the page of an English letter and to shudder as each dear name meets the eye, hardly knowing by what distressing intelligence it may be succeeded. But why do I dwell upon feeling my dear friends which your own hearts have already understood. When there are still so many spared us for a meeting even in this world. I am wrong in encouraging the melancholy which cannot always be suppressed. [...]
You will be pleased to hear that we are all quite well and delighted with Cattle Chosen. It is indeed a sweet place and improvements are daily springing up around us but there is so much to do that to an English eye we still should appear sadly unsettled. The house which we now occupy would strike at a distance as a comfortable substantial looking mansion. It is white and the four upper windows in the upper story [sic] give it a cheerful and finished look which perhaps it does not quite deserve.
As you approach it the garden well fenced in and productive in all English vegetables would almost make you forget that you are in Australia. You would stop to admire Phoebe's cottage which is the first building after the barracks in the precincts of Cattle Chosen. John's house near the garden very comfortably fitted up as a bedroom for himself and Vernon and ornamented with shelves containing his books would almost make you in love with the little hermitage, by following the garden fence you approach the cottage shared between Lenox and Alfred. All these buildings have chimneys and as the winter is now approaching a bright fire not infrequently blazes on their hearths.
I have now brought you nearly to our own house, which you gain by skirting the stock yard bounded by a fence on two sides and by the river on the others. Our sitting room is a well sized and well proportioned room which we are gradually rendering comfortable and civilized. The walls of wattle and daub have been most beautifully plastered so that not a crack is visible. The floor is of clay and the front door opens upon a pretty cheerful looking pasture land ornamented with some magnificent trees but not heavily timbered like Augusta. [234] Our books are now arranged on shelves extending the whole length of the room, indeed by the front door we have manufactured a species of couch covered with your drugget dear Capel.
The piano occupies its place under the window, our two sea chests which Vernon has painted white stand in a corner and act as a kind of closet. Our noble chimney occupying nearly one side of the room gives promise of many a brilliant winter blaze. This is as yet our only finished room. The room upstairs forms a dormitory for all the females of the family. My little Mother has her cot and we three girls each her cot her toilet etc.
The windows command a pleasant view of the river up on one side with the country in its unredeemed state which is so completely of the Park like description that you would scarcely believe that a year and ten months only had elapsed since the improving hand of the European was first extended over its glades. This side of the picture is full of beauty and yet I dwell with more interest and delight on the opposite scene which offers to our view the little hamlet, our garden, our hayrick, and our stockyard. It is more esssentially English and it bears the mark of daily improvements.
My dear boys having rested from our labours are standing round the cooking fire which according to Colonial customs is kindled out of doors. Our fowls have been duly fed and are at roost. The geese have returned from their evening stroll, the ducks my peculiar charge have quacked their last quack and are settling themselves to sleep. Bessy has penned up her turkeys young and old and the signal for the last meal is expected by everyone. At a short distance the cow bells are faintly heard and almost at the same moment dear Alfred's voice pealing forth some favourite song surely never meant for cowherd's lips. "Wilt thou say farewell love" and "Bushman's Dream" are the rage at present, as the sounds approach the gates of the stock yard are thrown open and the business of milking commences.
I wish you could see our beautiful sleek cattle amounting to 15 in number. Our pretty goats too have been long awaiting admittance and after a few graceful antics have thrown themselves beneath our windows or close to the door for the night, but often in the summer season suffered to run loose as they are sure to return for water from the pond in our stock yard.
The little filly (Cape!) is really a beauty, and a more animated and interesting spectacle than our farmyard in the cool soft evening hour is surely not often to be seen and I turn from it with an emotion of gratitude and happiness which only requires the participation of those we love in England to be rendered complete. [235]
Within the fence all our offices are to be collected, the store which is already built the dairy which is to be our next work, and the fowl house which at present occupies our two builders John and Lenox and their valuable assistant our little Mother who has regularly converted herself into the builders lad. I think now I have rendered the demesne of Cattle Chosen fairly familiar to your imaginations I will pass on to the inhabitants . [...]
I have in the course of this letter not mentioned Phoebe she is wonderfully well tho the marks of age becoming more apparent as the years advance. Our arrival has made her quite happy. She undertakes the greatest part of the washing but the assistance of one of us is constantly requisite. She makes and bakes our bread and butter at present with the aid of one of us in churning. Besides this she cooks for herself and Ludlow now our only manservant. Everything else devolves upon ourselves and our duties are divided into three departments. Cook, Housemaid and Chambermaid, which offices we change monthly. Add to this the care of the poultry, making and mending for the boys the household and ourselves, to say nothing of catching fleas which we are gradually exterminating and you will not call us idle.
The great bell erected just before our windows awakens us from our slumbers at daylight, breakfast is prepared as soon as the sitting room is put to readiness our milk boiled and our vegetable soup which we term combustible all in order. My little Mother is never absent. After breakfast the boys separate to their various duties. John and Lenox to their building or carpentering, Vernon to the garden, Alfred to the cows. Bessie prepares the vegetables for dinner. Mary clears away the breakfast things and arranges the sitting room and Fanny armed with her own little dusting pan (a present from Mr Toby) and brush, goes to the different rooms of the boys to make their little dwellings look as comfortable as possible for which she is to be rewarded by a pat of the shoulder in the evenings and the epithet of a most admirable girl.
After arranging our own room a more elaborate business I generally find that Mary and Bessy have finished their avocations and feel only too happy if I can sit down with them but Phoebe's relentless voice often claims my attention to wash to hang out for her which now becomes very fatiguing or to fold the clothes and distribute them to the different houses. At 12 Bessie's great bell summons us from our work and dinner succeeds.
Then comes the feeding of the poultry. The turkeys falling to Bessie's share the ducks to mine and the cocks and hens to Mary's. The dinner is concluded consisting generally of salt pork and every variety of vegetable to which Bessie does ample justice the plates dishes are washed put away and we all retire to take a short siesta or a little rest with a book which often falls from a tired hand whilst the unconscious eye not infrequently closes on complete oblivion. [236]
At three the boys return to their labours the heat of the day has passed away and we again settle ourselves to work for the afternoon. These are long and very pleasant and we work till the setting sun calls in our animals to be fed and settled for the night. The boys also come in and our last meal I cannot call it tea as that beverage is now confined to Mamma is in progress.
The cows are all milked and the horses are praised and petted and then we all sit down to our bread and milk supper. We retire early but generally have service in the evening and conversation without end in which England and her connections claims her part. At present my little Mother is living low on account of her eyes allowing herself a cup of your delicious tea my own Tip and some of Mr Turner's biscuit which is the only description of bread she now patronizes. We younger colonists do not complain of leaven bread in fact we generally prefer it. The baking pan dear Tippo and Fan will be most useful. We left our camp oven with Charlie and I at least have grumbled ever since. The cover for the lamp is indeed ingenious I think we shall not wait till the other is broken before we use it.
And I must conclude this long prosey concern who would read it who did not love me as you do? God bless you my darling it is getting dark and I have written till I am quite stiff. I fear I shall not be able to keep a journal here I have no time for writing excepting Sundays and then I am quite bewildered at the accumulation of events which press upon me...
We are now busy in making up the last gown you sent for Phoebe for her birthday the 5th of next month. We like our merinos of all things. We intend making up our shawl dresses sent by dear Mrs Jones and the Clergy school girls to appear on the arrival of our next batch of visitors, but we have so much to do I don't think we shall ever be vain again.