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2-198 (Text)

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author,female,Thomas, Mary,51 addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Ward, 1969
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2-198-plain.txt — 7 KB

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Adelaide, 14 October 1838
I will now tell you some of the reasons which induced us to leave England. In the first place, the lease of our house had nearly expired. It was greatly out of repair, partly owing to the next house above having been pulled down and rebuilt a short time before. This caused ours to give way, though I could not make Mr Thomas believe it was in so bad a state as it really was. I knew if we stayed to the end of the lease we should have heavy dilapidations to pay for. I also knew this would put him in a terrible rage, as I estimated them to be at least £200, and to prove that I was right in my conjecture Mr Baugh has since informed us that the repairs took £300. Added to this, Robert wished to go abroad, and William was not likely to be placed to any business. Mr Baugh wished very much to have him as an apprentice, and I did not like to see him idle away his time at home. The scheme of this new colony happened to be started just at the time. We first heard of it from Dr Inman, of Portsmouth, who came up to London to purchase some land in it for one of his sons, who is now here. It was thought to be an excellent opportunity for young men of talent to try their fortunes, especially as the plan on which this colony is founded is considered to be superior to all others; and as neither of my boys is deficient in genius or education I flattered myself that, with attention and industry, they might become at some time or other possessed of considerable property. Besides this, Frances's health, which was never good in London, t hoped might be improved by a sea voyage and change of climate. These were the principal reasons which made me encourage rather than otherwise Mr Thomas's inclination to become a landholder in this new Province. Accordingly, he purchased 134 acres, each at twelve shillings per acre, which also entitled him to two in the principal town, and these were purchased several months before we left England. In my latter object I have not succeeded so well as I could have wished, for Frances is the same here as in London, never well long together, but with regard to the boys they are both likely to do well.
By his drawings and some maps which were exhibited at the committee-rooms, Robert obtained a situation under the principal surveyor, and came over in the Cygnet three months before we did, on March 21, and is now in partnership with Colonel Light and three others as land agents and surveyors under the name of 'Light, Finnis, & Co'.  They are likely to realize a very good income, being the principal firm in the town. Robert is acknowledged to be equal to any draughts. man in the colony, though we have some very clever men here, and in mapping and ornamental writing superior. Perhaps you may have seen engravings from some of his maps, with his name attached to them. Several went to England for that purpose, but I do not know if they are yet published. William is overseer of the printing office, and is very useful and industrious.
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 acclimatized.
And now, having spoken of the climate, I cannot say that it is by any means so agreeable as I expected, according to the accounts which were given of it, and in this respect I am much disappointed. The heat, which was said to be seldom greater than it is in England, is sometimes so intense as to be scarcely endurable. I have seen the thermometer at 105 degrees four days following in this room where I am now writing. The mud houses are by far the coolest. One day I placed the thermometer out in the sun to see the effect. In a few minutes it rose to 155 degrees. Sometimes the weather is very cold; the wind is often extremely boisterous, carrying up whirlwinds of dust, and the rains are so heavy that they literally come down in torrents. Moreover, the atmosphere is subject to great and sudden changes from heat to cold, cold to heat, much more than is the case with the climate of England, so long proverbial for its changeableness. The mornings and evenings here are often cold enough for a good fire, while in the middle of the day the heat is almost insupportable.
As a proof of this, the morning after we landed, which was November 14, I arose between 5 and 6 o'clock, and, to my astonishment, found ice the thickness of a shilling in a tin dish which had been left outside the tent with water in it. I did not expect to see such a thing in this country. And yet the same day the thermometer rose to 110 degrees in the sun. 
As for the seasons, we being the opposite side of the globe to you, of course our summer in your winter, and while you are sitting round a comfortable Christmas fire you must imagine us under a burning sun.
This, as I have said before, is a very beautiful country, and for those who wish to better their condition they cannot do amiss in coming here, provided they be sober and industrious and can make up their minds to endure many things which in England would be considered unreasonable, and yet nothing in comparison to what we underwent when there was not a house to be seen or a thing that could be done except by manual labour. 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 Therefore I would advise all those who are doing well in England to remain there, but I would by no means discourage any mail who wishes to try his fortune in South Australia, especially if he has a family, as there is plenty of scope for industry, ingenuity, and talents of every kind.