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2-220 (Text)

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author,male,Parkes, Henry,25 addressee,family
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Plaint Text :
Private Written
Private Correspondence
Niall, 1998
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2-220-plain.txt — 7 KB

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My dear FRIENDS,
This is a duty I ought to have performed months ago, and you will think harshly of me for this neglect. I have no excuse to plead, save that I was unwilling to sadden your hearts with a tale of misery. I waited from day to day, and from month to month, hoping to be able to give a cheering account of this country, but it is a sad one I write at last. I have been disappointed in all my expectations of Australia, except as to its wickedness; for it is far more wicked than I had conceived it possible for any place to be, or than it is possible for me to describe to you in England. We came to anchor in Sydney harbour on the morning of the 25th July, 1839, my dear wife having become the mother of a little girl on the 23rd, when we were a few hours' sailing clear of Bass's Strait. Our little blue-eyed ocean child gets on very well, and is now, of course, more than nine months old. I thank God for this blessing.
"He moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform,"
or this sweet one of ours could never have out-lived the many ills which every day of its short life hath brought. I had but two or three shillings when we got to Sydney, and the first news that came on board was that the 4lb. loaf was selling at half-a-crown! and everything proportionately dear. There was no place for the emigrants to go to till such time as they could engage with masters, or otherwise provide for themselves. When they left the ship they had to do as best they could. Poor Clarinda in her weak state had no one to do the least thing for her, not even dress her baby, or make her bed; and in a few days she was obliged to go on shore, with her new-born infant in her arms, and to walk a mile across the town of Sydney to the miserable place I had been able to provide for her as a home, which was a little low, dirty, unfurnished room, without a fire place, at five shillings per week rent. When she sat down, within these wretched walls, overwhelmed with fatigue, on a box which I had brought with us from the ship I had but threepence in the world, and no employment. For more than two weeks I kept beating about Sydney for work, during which time I sold one thing and another from our little stock for Support. At length, being completely starved out, I engaged as a common labourer with Sir John Jamison, Kt, M.C, to go about thirty-six miles up the country. Sir John agreed to give me £25 for the year. with a ration and half of food. This amounted to weekly - 
10 1/2 lbs. beef - sometimes unfit to eat.
10 1/2 lbs. rice - of the worst imaginable quality.
6 3/4 lbs. flour - half made up of ground rice.
2 lbs. sugar - good-tasted brown.
1/4 lb. tea - inferior
1/4 lb. soap - not enough to wash our hands.
2 figs of tobacco - useless to me.
This was what we had to live upon, and not a leaf of a vegetable or a drop of milk beyond this. For the first four months we had no other bed than a sheet of bark off a box tree, and an old door, laid on two cross pieces of wood, covered over with a few articles of clothing. The hut appointed for us to live in was a very poor one. The morning sunshine, the noon-tide shower, and the white moonlight of midnight, gushed in upon us alike. You will, perhaps, think had you been with us, you would have had a few vegetables at any rate, for you would have made a bit of garden, and cultivated them for yourselves; but you would have done no such thing! The slave-masters of New South Wales require their servants to work for them from sunrise till sunset, and will not allow them to have gardens, lest they should steal a half-hour's time to work in them. I should mention that our boxes, coming up from Sydney on Sir John's dray, were broken open, and almost everything worth carrying away was stolen. I made this at first a very grave complaint, but only got laughed at for my pains, and told that was nothing. During the time I was at Sir John's, I was employed mostly in a vineyard consisting of sixteen acres of land. I was there during the vintage season, and left just as we had done wine-making in the middle of last February, having been in his service six months. This estate of Sir John's is named 'Regentville,' and is situated about three miles from the small town of Penrith, on the bank of the Nepean River, and about the same distance from the first range of the Blue Mountains. I have been in Sydney now better than two months, part of which time I worked in a large ironmongery store in George-street, which was founded by Macdonald, who now resides, I believe, at Birmingham. I am at the present time at work for Messrs. Russell Bros, engineers and brassfounders, Queen's Place, George-street. I get five shillings per day, finishing brass work; good brassfounders get 7s. 6d. and 8s. a day, I think I could get plenty of light turning to do, and a good price for it, if I had a lathe, which I will try to get before long. I am very unsettled at present on account of ill-health. This brass business does not suit me at all - have not been able to do any work for the last week. I think I shall be obliged to go into the country again. As soon as I get settled I will write and arrange with you how you may forward a few things which I should like to get from England as soon as I can remit the money. In the meantime, be pleased to write immediately, and let us know how all our dear friends have fared since we left home, I hope well. Address, Mr. Henry Parkes, ivory turner, at the General Post Office, Sydney, New South Wales. You must pay the land postage, or the letters will not be sent with the mails on board ship. Send me some newspapers, and write on the wrappers of them 'newspaper only.' Send me all the news you can.  I have seen but one person since I have been in this colony, whom I had any knowledge of in England; that was , who was transported about two years ago, from Moseley-street. I saw him once - met him in Sydney - he was then staying in the hands of Government at the new prison at Woolloomooloo. For the encouragement of any at home who think of emigrating, I ought to add that I have not seen one single individual who came out with me in the Strathfieldsaye but most heartily wishes himself back at home. Mr. Isaac Aaron, who lived in Deritend, is practising in this colony as a surgeon, at Raymond Terrace, on the River Hunter.
P.S. - Wages in Sydney at the present time are about as follow - good workmen 
You might get as good a house in Birmingham for 2s. 6d. per week when I left as you can get in Sydney for 15s. per week.
Clarinda sends her love and best wishes to her dear parents, with which I unite my own. Tell my own dear father and mother, if - as I trust - they are both alive, that they are seldom absent from my thoughts. Give my love to my dear nephews Thomas and William. Tell James I am not sorry he did not come out here with us, though I think he might have done as well as most. I will give you some general account of this country in my next, which you may expect in a month or two after the receipt of this, and I hope my next account of my own progress will be more satisfactory. Tell John Varney I would advise him by no means to come to this colony. Tell him to write.