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2-286 (Raw)

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author,female,Selby, Penelope,un addressee,female
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Frost, 1984
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2-286-raw.txt — 5 KB

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Port Fairy
6th November 1844
My dear Mary & Kate,
This is my dear Mother's birthday. She will surely be fifty-two. I cannot fancy her any older than when we left five years ago. [167] How quickly time passes and yet it does seem long, long to me since I saw you all. Well is it that the future is hidden, for were it not so we should not have left England with such hopes for after days. What were we not to do in five years - and see the result. We have both grown older and poorer but still with hope and willingness to try for better times.
I wrote about a month ago an account of our settlement here upon a very fine station, but unfortunately not ours. Mr Dawson is the owner of it, but George has the privilege of keeping his cattle on it for one or two years if he pleases free of expense, and he thinks we shall be better off than fighting on with a dairy now butter is so low, as it takes more than the profits to pay wages, besides spoiling the growth of the calves.
Mr Dawson does not live here. He is going to commence melting down at the port. He is putting up buildings upon a large scale, and I hope he will succeed. There was a misunderstanding between him and George with regard to this station but it is amicably arranged, and although we have not the half of the station as we supposed we should, it will be better for us in the present state of the finances to be relieved from the expenses. Mr and Mrs Dawson have always shewn themselves sincere friends to us, and I should have been sorry for anything to break the friendship. Mrs D. is now on a visit to me and after being sometime alone you may be sure it is a great treat to talk over our respective troubles.
My old friend the Yarra Yarra has overflowed beyond the calculation or remembrance of any persons here and done great damage. Entire houses have been washed away. The blacks still say as they said the last flood, 'This is only piccaninny - big one coming.' My affection for the Yarra is still great, and this run not being George's I never shall feel at home here as I hoped to do were we owners of a really good station such as this is.
If my last letter is duly received, you will know that I have again had a still born child. It came at the seventh month, the 12th of September. I had been very unwell the month previous and was truly thankful when all was over. I was very ill for some time after and I think so when I wrote, but am now recovering very well though I fear I shall never be so strong as I have been. I need not repeat the particulars as I filled my last sheet with them, but I fervently hope I shall have no more. If ever such a thing should be likely, I shall be obliged to have medical advice all the time as constant bloodletting they say will be my only safety and that - of course must weaken me much. [168]
When in Melbourne I saw a gentleman who knew the Palmers well. He did not give a very favourable account of their circumstances. Poor Mrs Palmer like so many others has had her expectations sadly blighted. They are very ill off. Frederick, who was troubled with epileptic fits, fell into a river and was drowned. The other boys are variously dispersed, none doing well. The daughters are very nice girls and he speaks highly of Mrs P. but said that Mr P. was sadly given to drink, a bad thing for the family, but I recollect my Mother suspected him to be guilty of that failing.
Mrs Dawson is sitting beside me and she sends her kind love. I wish you knew her. I never met a woman with such a heart and so sensitive for the troubles of others. She is a universal favorite. She has been living in the town of Port Fairy called Belfast but prefers the Bush. She finds no one like me, so she says, but I don't believe her. I much fear this air will be too keen for her, and she will not take the rest which the doctor says is the only thing to prolong her life. I must confess I have a great fear for her and feel convinced that some of the violent attacks of pain she has will carry her off but dare not tell her so.
Some day perhaps we shall get a batch of likenesses from Chester; it is quite as well you never came here, though the best off now are steady young men who came when we did without any money to lose. They received such high wages that they could save the greater part. A great many persons here have become insane and it is said to be in consequences of the reverses and great shock their expectations have received. 
Prid is the image of his father in face, figure and walk. I must make him write a letter soon. He gets on the best with figures, and though not at school is really not bad at his books. He will soon know all I can teach him and is constantly longing for books.
Am I to believe my letters are such a treat? I get quite stupid at writing and if you can make sense of the epistles and decipher the words it is more than I sometimes can myself - this is not the life for intellectual improvement and few children reared in the colony have hitherto had more than a Charity boy's education at home, with the addition of being taught to swear, smoke and ride. The first, some children of those that consider themselves snobs are adepts at. I never heard my boys utter a bad word, but they are fortunately uncontaminated. How they would be injured by bad example remains to be proved. [169]
With lasting love to all assembled at our cottage fireside, I remain
my dear sisters,
P. Selby
I begin now to get nervous before opening letters, death has been busy with so many friends at home that I always fear the loss of nearer and dearer ones. Every time we remove our hut is worse. I often wonder what you would think of this one.