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2-245 (Original)

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addressee,male author,female,Brown, Eliza,31
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Hasluck, 1977
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Grassdale July 3 1842 [date wrong]
My dear Papa
We have now been four months in the Colony and not received a line from home, the only letter that has come to hand from a relative is one from Mr. Brown's Brother Wm. which communicated the tidings of poor William's death, the circumstance was touched upon more in the way of a passing remark than with any idea that it would be the source from which we should first hear the melancholy intelligence. These were his words "I have had a letter from Mr. Bussey (relative to some business concerning the insurance of our mares, I believe) and was deeply grieved to hear from him of the death of his poor son". His letter is dated Janry. 27th, poor William did not survive many weeks then after we left England. I did not think poor fellow he would have been cut off so soon though I felt persuaded there was no hope of his final restoration. [21] I am now more anxious than ever to hear from you being most solicitous to know how you support the trial. I feel assured your grief is deeply seated but trust to learn you have many consolations in the endearments of children still left to comfort you in whose peaceful and happy homes your sorrow will find alleviation, and I also trust that the God of consolation will send peace to your grieved spirit and be your support through this life, and to eternity.
I shall now be able to give you a more experienced account of what a settlers life is than when I wrote you three months since, and will candidly state that it has hitherto been one of great perplexity to us. Mr. Brown has a most difficult task to perform in making it answer his purpose to have brought out so many labourers. The expense of providing for seven servants in addition to the wants of ourselves and little ones is a very serious matter, wheat being at present £1 per bushel and 2/6 for grinding and every other article of food in the same dear ration. The pork and other things we brought for domestic consumption are scarcely available to us from the great expense of bringing them up from the government store at Perth to this District and we are as yet almost without the common necessaries of life though it is only the distance of seventy miles that parts us from the household conveniences that we set out well provided with from England. We look forward to having them brought over the hills to our remote residence by degrees, but the first object is to get ploughing and sowing done to provide us all with bread next year. £25 per ton is the charge for conveying goods from Fremantle here, eight or nine times the cost of bringing them 13000 miles over the sea from England, between Fremantle and Perth and from thence to Guildford the sand is so loose and deep that a horse of good strength cannot without difficulty draw an empty cart over it. The mode generally adopted for the transition of goods into the interior is to take them in boats up the Swan as far as Guildford, but in this way innumerable obstacles present themselves, the course of the river is very circuitous, several shoals come in the way over which the boats have to be dragged by the boatmen and there is no certainty of getting things conveyed in safety for it frequently happens that boats are swamped. The boatmen all bear a very bad character, there is said to be not one honest and sober man of that calling who plies on the river, we were run aground full twenty times in coming up to Mr. Tanner's and coming up the Swan did really appear to me the most dangerous part of our voyage.
We have a team of four bullocks, two other bullocks, two strong horses (bought in the Colony) and one young horse (saved from the wreck of those we shipped from England) but all this force is not available for the purposes intended, namely the conveyance of goods from below and ploughing, the cattle being almost constantly lost in the Bush and the men's time taken up in looking for them, but when we become more accustomed to the wilds, understand the native language better by which we shall be able to make the Natives more useful to us than they are at present, we shall manage better I trust and get on with farming operations much more satisfactorily than it seems possible to do in the commencement of the undertaking in a primitive country, under a different clime from that to which we have been accustomed and the circumstances altogether so novel as to make it a matter of hesitation what to proceed with to the best advantage. [22] Mr. Brown toils incessantly, it is one unbroken period of manual labour with him from early dawn to bed time. The land has to be cleared previously to ploughing and our nights are generally illuminated with blazing fires. Tree after tree falls a sacrifice to the devouring element, first being felled either with the axe or sawn down then the men with Mr. Brown to lead, encourage them and set an example pile several together and set fire to the heaps, we have sometimes eight or ten bonfires of this nature which continue burning for several days. With respect to cattle straying ours is by no means a solitary case, the old established settlers are equally subjected to the same inconvenience and quite smile when we express any anxiety lest they should not be found again. Instances have been known of horses, cows etc. being missed six and even twelve months yet returned to their original pasturage and rightful owners. We have a flock of about 600 ewe sheep that are attended with very little trouble, it is about a sufficient charge for one shepherd. The experience of all the Colonists goes to prove that great profits can be made from sheep, the climate being particularly suited to them, they increase rapidly and the wool becomes of good quality even should it not be so when a flock is first imported, ours are all long woolled sheep and considered very good ones.
Mr. Brown has accepted the appointment (which came out in due form by the Trusty) of assistant surveyor to this Government, which will make matters pretty easy for us as regards sufficiency of income, but he will have a most difficult task to perform, not unattended with danger. Two soldiers will constantly attend him for protection and a civilian also to take care of baggage, instruments etc, and in case of any disturbances from the Natives a detachment of soldiers would be sent for from the nearest Barracks to quell it. The duties of the office will be entered upon in about three weeks from this time and it is arranged by the friendly concurrence of the Governor that the District where we reside shall be the first to be surveyed. This will give him an opportunity of overlooking concerns on the Farm, which locality I shall now proceed to describe to you. [23]
Grass Dale is the name of the estate, it is about eleven square miles in extent and has a range of hills running through one part of it, the highest of which is called Mount Matilda. At the foot of this is our dwelling, a cottage consisting of two rooms, it is roughly built but of exceedingly picturesque appearance from the extreme beauty of the site where it is placed, rugged rocks are heaped in wild confusion around and a fertile valley stretches itself for full two miles and a half like a green lawn in front of the lowly habitation. There is an outhouse near which serves as a temporary sleeping place for the men, adjoining a stockyard where the bullocks, mares, etc. are penned at night. 5/- an acre 'was what Mr. Brown gave for the land with the buildings upon it, since the purchase was made Government has raised the price of land to £1 per acre. We bought Grass Dale of Mr. Bland the Government Resident at York. We are about four miles from York and attend service at church there, the Revd. Wm. Mears is the name of the clergyman. We are on friendly terms with him, he preaches at Yanjedin, Mr. Viveash's residence, every third Sunday in the afternoon. Yanjedin is about 9 miles from here and at a convenient part of the York District for a congregation to assemble who are not within reach of the place of worship at York. It adds to the pleasantness of our position that we are not cut off from social intercourse. The Viveash's are farther off than I would wish but they are within occasional visiting distance, and frequently the Doctor's profession and engagements bring him to York, on which occasions he is pretty sure to give us a call. I am sorry to say it will be a professional one very shortly, an increase to our family being looked forward to.
Mr. and Mrs. Hardey are our nearest neighbours, the Evans know them, their little boy Robt. comes daily on his pony to receive a lesson along with Kenneth. I take great delight in instructing them. Robt. Hardey is a nice companion for Kenneth, he is a vigorous boy but of gentle disposition and seven years old. My little Vernon has had such serious illnesses from time to time since we left England, Dr. Viveash expected we should lose him once. We spent a month at Yanjedin after leaving Mr. Tanner's and his worst illness was struggled with whilst there. His limbs were much swollen from debility when he was recovering from the last attack. He has gained strength since we came to Grass Dale and is now I hope likely to continue healthful. He is a child who attracts much interest and certainly is a pleasing little creature though unfortunately so delicate.
July 8th. Bedtime arrived before I had concluded my letter on the 3rd, I had therefore put the writing [away] intending to finish on the following morning. Then a little boy arrived during the night, resembling Kenneth for vigour and healthfulness but disabling me for resuming the pen again so early as intended and wholly frustrating my intention of writing dear Emma and Matilda at present. [24] Mr. Brown starts for Perth early tomorrow morning and will be the bearer of this to Miss Crocker one of our late fellow voyagers by the Sterling to this Colony. She is leaving by the Trusty and has offered to take charge of letters for us to England. I had many enquiries to make respecting Dorchester friends, regards to send etc. but must now only inform you that I am according to general phraseology on such occasions as well as can be expected, and remain
Dear Papa
Yr. Truly Affectionate Daughter
E. Brown