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2-255 (Text)

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author,female,Brown, Eliza,32 addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Hasluck, 1977
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2-255-plain.txt — 8 KB

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Grass Dale Swan River September 26 1842
Dear Papa
The Hough ton Le Skerne has been coasting from hence to the more southern settlements and back again to receive a freight of wool to go laden home with. I had the gratification of receiving a letter from you and Matilda by the above ship. Your liberal wishes with respect to a numerous household population rather amused me and gave an increase to self estimation and a high opinion of the dutifulness of all your children, for surely you would not so cordially wish a numerous family might fall to the lot of any one if you had not experienced a great delight in your own. I hope ere this you have the letter that introduced little Aubrey to you, he was born on the 4th. of July 41. The greater part of my letter was written on the 3rd. and was completed on the 6th. or 8th. I assure you it grieves me that it has not come to hand for I do not know how to pen you another description of our first entering upon the arduous, romantic, but not unpleasing vocations devolving upon newly arrived settlers. A very curious feature was the numerous group of aboriginal natives who watched every movement of our busy household with looks of intense curiosity. We have seven natives employed at the present time on the Farm, it is sheep shearing and all the white hands are busy with the shears. We allow each of the natives 3 lbs. of flour per day for their services, three of them are out with the sheep to take care of them as they are feeding, two with cattle, one with horses and one is employed about home fetching wood and water. The greatest inconvenience in employing natives is that they are not constant, their services cannot be secured, and it takes up a great deal of time to persuade some of them to accept employment. There is also no punishment for them when they evade an engagement and often when they forsake others cannot be found to fill up their places as they will vacate a district suddenly and not appear again for several weeks. In a subsequent letter I will dwell upon the aborigines at greater length and relate what occasionally may come under my observation with respect to them, but now I must tell you of what more particularly concerns ourselves and the arrangements that have been thought most advisable for our advantage.
It is very perplexing to know how to act for the best when a choice is offered to the new settler as was Mr. Brown's case of accepting a government appointment, or pursuing the intentions with which we set out from England of becoming rural settlers and farming. We endeavoured to combine both, the appointment which was productive of about £300 per annum was too tempting to reject as it offered a certainty of sufficiency of income without resources from the Mother Country, and another inducement to taking this offer was having brought out Fruin as Bailiff, whom we relied upon for superintending the men during Mr. Brown's absence in his official duties.  Do not let it come to the ears of his friends, but I regret to say his old habits of drinking revived which rendered his services wholly inefficient, and the men without a director as might be expected were of very little service. This state of things joined to another circumstance which though of less weight yet helped to balance the scale in favour of a resignation, namely the being linked in office with a person who made himself wholly repugnant to Mr. Brown, induced him to give up the appointment altogether. The result has been that work goes on much more rapidly and Mr. Brown certainly feels much greater satisfaction in exerting his undivided energies in carrying forward his original plans. Fruin of course is no longer in our service, therefore no burthen to us but he resides on the Estate in a cottage with several acres of cleared land attached to it which he rents at £40 per annum. The above was the spot of our first operations detailed in my letter of July 1841.
It was in Novr. same year that we left this part of our grant (Fruin and his wife succeeding us) for a hut on the bank of the Pool which Mr. Brown had put up as a temporary residence until the house should be built. Here we remained until the following April, it was not until Xmas that Mr. Brown gave up his appointment and it was but seldom I had an interview with him until after that period. Fruin you will perceive was off our hands, Mitchel received his pay from govt. as Mr. Brown's chainer, his passage money was paid to us when he was taken in that capacity. One man who had behaved ill was also let depart upon his new master defraying the expenses of his passage, and finding one of my female servants take up too much room and making more work rather than lightening its burthen I obliged a friend by allowing her to quit and had £30 for her expenses.
This you will see reduced our expenditure very materially, and while at the hut I had only one female servant, one shepherd, and a young lad who fetched wood and water, tended the mares and helped to protect the place. The flock at this period was but small in comparison with the present number and the shepherd brought them home every night. He and the boy slept out of doors under a hay stack so innocuous is the night air in this climate, indeed it rather braced and strengthened them.
One circumstance tending to make it less desirable for Mr. Brown to continue his appointment was the necessity he would have been under of spending two or 3 months at a time in Perth, a place of great expense and conforming to the usages of which he would not have been able to save £30 during the year out of the govt. salary.  He had a three months trial of it and with the greatest care his expenses during that period came fully up to the receipts from that quarter.
Immediately upon giving in his resignation of office Mr. Brown returned to us and with Mitchel whose choice was to come home with his master he set to work clearing land and in three months had 30 acres ploughed and sown by the pool side which we consider by far the most desirable part of the grant for the principal farm and where the house for our own residence, stockyards, stackyard and barn will be built. We have planted 300 vines and numerous other fruit trees which are now being fenced in with a very substantial, I will not call it pail, but pillar fence, each post of wood being fixed firmly in the ground at the depth of at least 2 feet and 5 feet high above the ground. It will embrace the site of our future garden, vineyard and orchard in an area of 6 1/2 acres.
In prospect of the rainy season advancing upon us and being houseless, Mr. Brown has taken a farm house just opposite our present clearing on the other side of the pool which we have occupied since the last day of March. The grant he also rents with about 50 acres of cleared land, farm buildings etc. which will be very convenient until our own are put up. We have also taken to the sheep of the late owner, Mr. Hardey, who has quitted this to improve a farm he has in another part of the colony. 300 of the sheep we pay him so much a year for and have all the produce, two hundred are his own and he pays us £25 per hundred for their keep.
Perhaps I may have recapitulated in this letter some things I may have said before and really I feel a little dubious whether some matters that are here touched upon have not been detailed previously but if so you must excuse it. I think I have not before said what great trouble we had from the obstinacy and wrong feeling of the men who actually sometimes would not take out the sheep, cattle, or do any thing, during Mr. Brown's absences. Once I had occasion to solicit the aid of the neighbouring magistrates to bring them to order. Mr. Brown too has had a hard task all along to get any thing like justice and fair work at their hands, but this is a general complaint. The prospects of masters will be much improved by the arrival of laborers which is now daily expected, there being a great deal of money in the hands of govt. for that purpose. We have no doubt indeed that 2 or 3 hundred are on their way to this colony.
My dearest Papa
With affectionate regards to all
my sisters, Aunt, love to Bussel 
I remain
Your attached daughter
E. Brown
The idea of my little ones being an after consideration, not a word of them until the postcript. I know you would say no news is good news but still it would be unnatural not to say they are all well.
Still direct Grass Dale. We are close upon it though for a time at Mr. Hardey. Mr. and Mrs. Brown Grass Dale would individualize us from other Browns of whom there are several in this Colony.