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2-325 (Original)

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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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Farnham, Port Fairy
31st October 1847
My dear sisters, Since writing we have received [a letter] from Susan. Tell her how pleased I was to see her writing and to find she is so contented with her lot. I wrote to all my sisters at once,- so she must not think I forget her or any of you from my always addressing my epistles to the oldest of my six unmarried sisters. Is there one of them who would think it worth while to come to Australia with a husband if they had the chance? If they were all here they would soon get off, but marriage is a greater lottery here than at home.
Little did I think when we left home that we would be no better off after seven years working than we were when we left, but it is better to be born lucky than rich. We must try on and see what an apprenticeship at farming will do.
Your last was a very satisfactory letter. What pleasure it gives me to know you are comfortable and your school increasing. Many hours have I thought of you all during the time of scarcity and- wished you in this land of plenty and waste. If the government does not send some emigrants, I don't know what will become of us. From fifty to fifty-five pounds a year is now wages for a man and wife with two or more children, all of which are to be found in what they choose to eat and waste. [175] The men are so particular now they will not submit to be kept on rations, but must have all they like and work as little as possible. Nearly all the men about this part are old Vandemonian convicts and a notable set they are, but I trust their days of extortion and impudence are nearly over.
Did I ever mention that Mr LeMann was going to visit his family at home? He intends leaving about Christmas and will be away about two years. We will give him letters and ask him to go to see you. I know you will be pleased to see one who has been so kind to us and who is really worthy. He is very quiet and unaffected but well informed and well to do in the world. I do not know if he wants a wife, but she will be a lucky girl who gets him.
William has been most anxious to write to his Aunt Esther and has a letter nearly finished but I must send this without telling as I do not think it worth while to make you pay postage for him when he can send it by Mr LeMann.
We have had a disagreeable winter but hope to be quite snug by next. We are having the fence put up now. Our farm is a mile long and one-third of a mile wide. Our neighbor does the half of the fence. We shall then be able to keep our bullocks without trouble. As it is they have to be constantly watched, which comes very hard on the boys. Almost every person in the colony has been laid up with influenza. Never was any disease so prevalent as it has been. Our men have had it and I was in hopes we were going to escape but Willie is very bad today and my throat feels sore, so I suppose it will go the rounds. My poor Mrs Dawson has been very ill all the winter. I fear she will not hold out much longer, but God only knows. How much I have missed her, it is not likely I shall meet her like.
We have a very nice neighbour about half a mile off, Mrs Urquhart. Indeed, this is a more civilized place, and I shall have to furbish up my silk gowns etc that are precisely in the same condition as when I left home, but I am rather at a non plus for I saw in the paper that the sleeves are worn full (I do hate the tight ones). Now mine are large with a vengeance, I wish I had you or some fashionable to give me a shape.
November 21st This letter has been lying long but I have had no opportunity of posting it. Besides, we have been bad with influenza previously mentioned. I have had nothing like it since we left home. The boys, particularly Prid, was very ill but I am thankful we are all better now. [176]
Willie has finished his letter and makes so much work that I must put it in though I am ashamed of the mistakes, but it is entirely his own. Prid has been the last week staying with Mrs Dawson and come home quite well but has brought a sad account of [the Dawson's daughter] poor Isabella. She has turned so weak she cannot walk. I am very unhappy about her. She is a sweet child. Mr D. had been to consult a doctor but I don't know what he thinks of her. I am going to try to go up to see her this week. Poor Mrs D. has her share of the troubles of this life. I think the high spirited and merry often have the greatest portion of them.
Our garden is looking well. We shall have peas and new potatoes by Christmas. I wish I could send you some. I have a fine lot of young ducks. The boys are very keen to have some on Xmas day, but too many good things won't do. I begin to think with all its troubles this is a better country than yours, no fear of famine, all we want is people to eat. If you were all here on this snug little farm you would think it holiday time, fine grass, you could live in the open air if you chose but the sun is rather hot.
Your very affectionate sister,
Penelope Selby