Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 2-364 (Text)

2-364 (Text)

Item metadata
addressee author,female,McCrae, Georgiana Huntly,46
Narrative Discourse
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Private Written
Webby, 1989
Document metadata

2-364-plain.txt — 6 KB

File contents

Jolimont, Sunday, November 11th, 1850
At dinner Mr Harding was telling us about plantain leaves used for plates in India, when there came the sound of wheels grating on the carriage-way followed by the noise of at least two sticks hammering on the door. Mr La Trobe sent his servant to answer the summons, and, while he arranged his neckerchief, hinted at the possible arrival of a new governor in search of a night's lodging! Enter the mayor, Nicholson the grocer also, the ex-mayor Augustus Frederick Adolphus Greeves.. . Nicholson, with one of his fingers tied in a rag, holding an Adelaide newspaper.
"Your Honour, allow me to draw your attention to the fact that the Separation Bill has passed through both Houses. The news is spreading quickly, and I shall be unable to restrain the people - "Here Augustus Frederick coughed, as though he would like to add something, when Mr La Trobe quizzically remarked "The Bill is incomplete until it has the Royal Sign Manual." Nevertheless, he gave the required permission to celebrate that night, and the mayor scuttled off to light his private bonfire which is to be the signal for general jubilation.
The Prince's Bridge to be opened on Friday; the ball to take place on this day fortnight. 
Another sitting from Charlie, but not a good likeness. Indeed, I fear the excitement of the Separation doings has had an unsettling effect upon me. Also, Master Charlie himself has grown restive since he heard that a royal salute is to be fired at one o'clock, and jumped about like a mad thing when his papa invited him to come and "see the smoke!" Arrangements for the illuminations are well in hand, stands are being built, and a hundredweight of candles has been ordered from Jackson and Rae's, and now it is whispered abroad that one of the Bishop's men-servants has composed an ode - or is it only a congratulatory address? - to be read to "The First Governor of Victoria".
A sitting from Charlie, who has assumed the airs of a man-about-town since he was allowed to eat the mustard Mr Bell had put upon his plate!
A day full of surprises and excitement. At 6 a.m. the saxhorn band began to play a reveillée outside "The Chalet": a performance which had been kept secret even from Mr La Trobe himself, who now appeared in a flowered dressing-gown, straining his eyes at the window. He held my sleeve while some of the gentlemen put down their horns to sing "Hark, Hark the Lark!" in a key that was too high for them; yet it sounded better than the French aubade which immediately followed. After this they recovered their instruments and gave us stirring polka tunes, although poor Madame, who had one of her neuralgic headaches, would gladly have forgone that part of the programme. Mr La Trobe then walked out on to the veranda to put an end to the music, but with the opposite effect, for, no sooner did the performers behold him, than they joined, some with voices, some with saxhorns, in a tremendous rendition of the national anthem. His Honour bowed, and they would have gone through it again had I not led him into the house. . . . So they marched away, still playing polkas.
Upset by the saxhorn band, and fearful of any cannonading, Mrs La Trobe appointed me her deputy at the opening of the bridge, an arrangement hardly completed, when Mr Edward Bell blew a bugle to announce his arrival in a carriage and pair.
Behold me now, equipped in Madame's black satin polonaise jacket, trimmed with Australian swansdown (a present from Mr Cowper, of Sydney), and my own grey silk bonnet! The Superintendent, having first of all handed me into the carriage, entered it himself followed by Agnes, Nellie, Cecile, Charlie, and Mademoiselle Beguine.  Adolphe de Meuron sat on the box, beside Mr Bell, and thus snugly packed together, we came to the Treasury, where Mr Bell changed places with His Honour who drove us, more slowly than his predecessor, to the corner of Swanston and Collins streets, and thence, after a view of the procession, to our proper stand - beside the Bishop's barouche - in front of the Prince of Wales Hotel. From this point of vantage, we had a clear sight of the hill, with its tent and a few field-pieces, opposite, while constantly moving banners, very small in the distance, glittered and went out again, according as the phalanxes changed places in the sun. Horsemen had hard work to keep onlookers from trespassing on the field, and we witnessed many rushes but none which broke the line For want of control the cheer mg was ragged and no doubt if the two lots of instrumentalists that followed the saxhorn band had been more d accord the music would have been better.
At 12 a m Mademoiselle Beguine who had been observing the hill through her lunette d'approche exclaimed that she saw smoke and on the instant there arose a prodigious noise of guns the signal for us to set out for the bridge. Mr La Trobe gathered up the reins and we proceeded at a majestic pace until we reached the middle of the arch 75 feet from either bank here His Honour stopped and merely saying I declare Princes Bridge open drove to the opposite side During our progress thither we were passed by a procession of Freemasons and each man as he went forward ducked his head to Madame whose double in the black satin jacket replied with the most gracious salaams At the summit of the hill Mr La Trobe alighted and standing by the flap of the tent spoke a few words suitable to the occasion Mayor Nicholson said something supplementary after which the Superintendent proposed the Queens health this being drunk off in small ale drawn from a barrel under a cart where it had been placed to keep cool.
His Honour then returned to us, and we accompanied him (walking) to the Botanic Gardens, where two thousand buns were distributed to children of all denominations; deduct from these, two begged by Mr Eyre Williams for his little boy, and one each to Charlie, Cecile, and Nellie La Trobe.
Mademoiselle and myself were so hungry, we felt we could have eaten the whole two thousand between us!
The Superintendent drove us back to Jolimont Charlie beside him carrying the ceremonial sword. On the journey a few spots of rain made me anxious on account of Madame's best jacket which had already been stickled by Nellie's saved-up bun. Then, when we arrived at "The Chalet", the wind blew through the house, throwing the doors open, and the children made so much noise shutting them again that poor Mrs La Trobe retired to her bed.  The servants were still absent, but the gardener's old helping-man, who had stayed at home, brought in a round of beef with vegetables, and on these we dined en famille, most heartily.
Yesterday's procession is said to have been three miles long, and Mr La Trobe estimates the number of people assembled on the hill at twenty thousand. (Mr J.B. Were informs me that a ship was to sail from London on August 10, by which time the Act of Separation would probably have received the royal signature.)