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2-229 (Raw)

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author,female,Moger, Ellen,un addressee,family
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Frost, 1984
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Adelaide, Gouger Street 28th January 1840
My dear Parents, I have very melancholy accounts to give, which I cannot do without great excitement to my feelings.
We landed at Holdfast Bay, about 7 miles from Adelaide (the ship being too large to go into port) on the 10th of December 1839, having been just four months to a day on the Great Deep. We had a safe, and many would say, a delightful voyage; but as regards myself, for the first five weeks I was scarcely able to move my head from my pillow with Sea-sickness, which brought me so low that I could render but very little assistance to the dear children, as I was obliged to be helped on deck by two persons, Edward and another Edward and the children suffered but little from sickness. But as we entered on a warmer climate, the dear children became relaxed (with the exception of Emily) gradually getting weaker and, for want of proper nourishment, became at last sorrowful spectacles to behold. They could eat none of the ship's provisions and our vessel was not like many that are sent out, provided with one or more cows for the accommodation of the sick; and, had I the voyage to take again, I would make that a first consideration as I firmly believe that the dear children would have lived, and much - sickness been spared, had we experienced proper attention from our Doctor and been provided with a little natural nourishment. -
Poor little Alfred was the first that died on the 30th of Oct, and on the 8th of Nov, dear Fanny went and three days after, on the 11th, the dear babe was taken from me. I scarcely know how I sustained the shack, though I was certain they could not recover, yet when poor Fanny went it over-powered me and from the weakness of my frame, reduced me to such a low nervous state that, for many weeks, I was not expected to survive. It seems I gave much trouble but knew nothing about it and, though I was quite conscious that the dear baby and Fanny were thrown overboard, I would still persist that the water could not retain them and that they were with me in the berth. I took strange fancies into my head and thought that Mother had said I should have her nice easy chair to sit up in and, if they would- only lift me into it, I would soon get well. I had that chair of Mother's in my 'mind's eye' for many weeks and -was continually talking about it. [35]
I was bled and blistered, or rather, plastered, and continued in that weak state until within a week of landing. I think I never should have recovered at Sea - you can have no idea of the effect the sea has upon some constitutions. Mine, for instance. It was a sort of Sea Consumption. Our Captain took great notice of our children, when he saw them gradually wasting away and would send for them into his Cabin and give them port-wine, almost daily. In fact, wine and water was the only nourishment they took for weeks and that was given them too late. I would advise everyone who came out for Australia to bring nourishing things with them and take in turn with what is allowed on board, for the change is so great and so sudden to what we have been accustomed that the constitution, unless very strong, sickens under it.
My dear Emily now seems more precious to us than ever, and I feel very thankful I did not leave her in England. Her health is not as good as formerly, having something Scurvy, the effects of Salt diet. She is also troubled with weak eyes, a complaint exceedingly common in this town, from the great degree of heat, light and dust.
It is now time to say a little about the country, after so much said of my frail self. I have given you but a poor description of our voyage from the fact that little transpired worthy of comment, for it was, I assure you, one continued scene of confusion. r will, however, give you a faint description of one day and you will then be able to judge of the rest.
The bell calls 'the watch' off at six o'clock in the morning when down comes the Steward to give out the rations for the day, 'Ho Mess!' (six persons comprise a Mess) for rice, biscuits, flour, suet and raisins, or such as it may be, reiterated through the ship, till one is stunned with the sound. Then comes such a rush of meagre looking visages till all are served. Then immediately follows the cry of 'boiling water'. Then there is such a scamper, with piles of soap, biscuits and slices of pork to roast at the Galley fire which, many having to wait full half an hour to accomplish, return metamorphosed into Blackamoors, with smut and smoke. When the great treat was over, those who were able to go, were ordered on deck to break-fast and there kept the whole of the day. Great was the difficulty to keep the emigrants above, not withstanding there was an awning to shelter them from the scorching sun. -
The Doctor was a young and very austere man, and during the first half of the passage very careless and inattentive to the health of the passengers, till there were many alarming deaths, when he became more solicitous, respecting them. [36]
During my last illness he appeared quite an altered man towards me, allowing me more brandy, arrowroot or whatever I could take. In turn, and as a recompense on my part it seems, I invited him (whilst in a state of delirium) to my wedding dinner of roast pig and turkey. I was in an odd way, as you may suppose, to take such fancies into my head.
We had thirty deaths during the voyage, besides a young gent, a cabin passenger, who was missing one morning at breakfast time, when it was discovered that he must have thrown himself from the porthole in his cabin. He was a man of very quiet and reserved habits and no cause could be assigned why he did the direful act.
But, to return to my description of the transactions of the day. Ere the sumptuous repast of biscuits and pork or biscuits and butter is over, down comes our Commander, the Dr, ordering all beds on deck, after which the ordinary deck cleaners commence their operations by throwing chlorides of lime and scouring out, which you may suppose is quite necessary, and with all they were in a sad state of filth, frequently finding vermin, but could not tell from whence they came. I spared no trouble to get fresh and clean changes of clothes for the dear children, whilst alive, but to no purpose. They were soon remarked as being the four nicest children on the Ship and this you can imagine caused no little jealousy amongst some of the mothers and there are not a few queer ones amongst them, I assure you.
Pardon this digression, my dear parents, for whilst I write, many thoughts of scenes and past trials enter my mind and frequently I feel as though I must throw away my pen, though I have much, very much I would tell you, nay, more than my poor weak spirits will enable me to recite. However, as I am enabled strength of body (I trust I shall of mind also), I experience more resignation to my circumstances. I have been under a Doctor Nash's attendance since we landed, for a month, and he ordered me strengthening medicine and port wine, which have wonderfully restored me. Edward was also laid by for more than a week since landing, but I am happy to say he is now regaining his strength. I fear I am covering my paper in my old style, sooner than I expected. I will, therefore, proceed to tell you many things in few words.
There were seasons on board when I could have wished and did wish that you were with me, to contemplate the beauty of the setting sun - its splendour was beyond description, and in a few moments you turn to behold the moon rising in silent majesty and shedding her glorious rays over the vast and mighty world of wonders. [37] Whilst gazing on the beautiful scene you are, perhaps, interrupted by the sad tolling of a bell, informing you some poor victim to sickness and privation was about to be launched into a watery grave. Such events are not uncommon, but the mind, I assure you, soon becomes hardened and callous on board a ship.
No doubt, you are anxious to know how we like the country and what we are doing and I also am solicitous to inform you. At the same time, I am at a loss what to say, as there are two ways to represent the same case. One very flattering, or the reverse, but I wish you to know from me the plain truth as I would ought extenuate, or ought set down malice, but as far as my little knowledge will authorize, without embellishment, make a fair statement. To say I like the country would be false, for I do not. And I believe the English are greatly deceived with the many flattering accounts respecting the beauty of the country and fine salubrious air of South Australia. It is true we came in the heat of summer, but I write as I find it. The heat has been most intense and when attended by what is called the 'hot winds' and whirlpools of dust, which are like clouds of smoke, extending as far as the eye can reach, it causes an overpowering lassitude which I am unable to describe. When the rain comes it descends in torrents, we have not had much. Winter here is considered the growing season. At the present time everything is scorched up, or I should say bears the appearance of barreness for I have not yet seen anything to scorch. I asked Mr Brandis the other day where the beautiful geraniums grew that he sent such a fine account of to England, as having 'trampled under foot'. His reply was that they grew a few miles off in the country where, he said, everything bore a different aspect.
Bugs and fleas we have by thousands everywhere. Some nights I can get no rest for them. When we came first I was in that horrid place, the Square, and caught from 100 to 200 of a night and still they were swarming. Ants and mosquitoes are also very tiresome, these are a few of the comforts of 'Australia'.