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2-239 (Raw)

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addressee author,female,Clifton, Louisa,26
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Private Written
Frost, 1984
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Wednesday, 17th March 1841. Barque Parkfield
Under feelings of the most intense interest and excitement I take up my pen to write the account of this day; we are laying to within sight of the Australian shores. How can I describe the emotions of this moment?
About 1/2 past 5 the soul-reviving sound 'land in sight' rang from the mast-head; and then how every heart leapt for joy. I soon after went and joined all the party on deck, and there in the far horizon, in the grey colouring of coming twilight, loomed the faint outline of our adopted land. At a distance of 30 or 40 miles it rose high. The moment any eyes first rested on that 'dim discovered scene' was one the remembrance of which the longest life can never obliterate; none who have not known what it is to sigh, to long with sickening longing for land after a voyage of more than 3 months can fully understand with what ecstasy of feeling the first view and scent of land greets the weary senses. [44]
A native fire has been distinguished on the shore tho' we are still distant, and we are almost laying to and standing off the land till daylight dawns. The motion has been very distressful all day and I have done very little and felt wretchedly uncomfortable. Mrs Gaudin went into hysterics on first seeing the coast; it is time she should display some feeling for she has not hitherto manifested much.
Thursday, 18th March 1841. Parkfield
A boat was soon descried coming off from the shore, and between 2 and 3 o'clock it reached us. It proved to be Capt Coffin, an American settler, who acts as pilot to ships coming in. The moment, I felt, was an anxious one to hear of the surveyors. Mrs Gaudin said not a word. Papa enquired after them and heard of their safety, but that poor Mr Gaudin was out of his mind, and had been so from first sailing. Papa immediately broke it to poor Mrs Gaudin whose distress was of course extreme. This sad intelligence produced a general feeling of gloom and sympathy. I had always dreaded and expected it, but the shock upset me, for the more we heard of him the more affecting appears the whole case.
About 6 in the evening we found ourselves in Leschenault Bay, within 1/2 mile of the shore, the sea perfectly smooth, the temperature more warm and balmy than can be described. We were all struck by the pretty aspect of the country at the mouth of the inlet and in parts along the shore. Masses of beautiful foliage grow down to the water's edge and in an opening of it we descried Mr Eliot's and Mr Stirling's little dwelling. Papa, Bob and two of the young men went ashore and found Mr Austen; then called upon Mr Stirling and Mr Eliot; heard that Australind is beautifully laid out. Everything here promises prosperity, and all excessively cut up at the change of site, which, as neither the Stirling nor the Henry have arrived, was before unknown to them. The excitement of this evening may be imagined.
Friday, 19th March 1841. Parkfield
Papa with Pearce, Mrs Gaudin, George Smith and Charles Bedingfeld went up to Australind at 7 in the morning and returned about 1/2 past 7. The description of Mr Gaudin's state is the most heartrending and affecting I ever heard. [45] [46] He was lying nearly naked, dirty beyond everything, on a mattress in the corner of his tent. After some persuasion they induced him to wash and dress and see his wife. He appeared pleased to see her and talked, but a strange apathy and indifference seems to mark his aberration of mind. He said it was not fit for her to remain, so she came back, overcome with the awfulness of her position.
The evening was passed in hearing a glowing description of this lovely Australind and its vicinity. The meeting and disgraceful conduct of the surveying party under Mr Austen, his and his wife's sufferings on the voyage, poor Mr G. 's pitiable condition, and then summed up in regret on all sides that this is not to be our resting place. Mr Stirling, Lieutenant Nory, Mr Eliot, Mr Ommaney, Mr Onslow called in the morning and expatiated on the advantages of this colony, the impossibility of settling at Port Grey; they have all speculated on our arrival, and there is a general gloom at the disappointment in their expectations. Papa decides to go tomorrow to Perth to the Governor.
Saturday, 20th March 1841. Parkfield. Port Leschenault
A grey day; till these two days not a cloud has been seen for 6 months. A heavy rain drove us down from the poop very early and the weather looks threatening and windy. It is lightning vividly. How exquisite is the being at rest. I feel intuitively in high spirits.
2 of the natives, dressed up for the occasion, visited the ship this morning. They were both covered, but I was more shocked than I can express at their appearance. I never witnessed so affecting a sight as this display of the degradation of humanity. They do not look like human beings, so thin, so hideous, so filthy; oiled and painted, red faces and hair, and pieces of rush passed through their hair. They danced and distressed us still more; in fact I feel distressed at the idea of living among such a people, so low, so degraded a race. -
Sunday, 21st March 1841. Parkfield. Leschenault
It blew too hard to enable the Capt to read the service on deck and we all therefore separated. The morning till 1/2 past 11 was very much interrupted by a visit from Dr Carpenter and one of the young surveyors, a Mr Harrison; the former I like, or at any rate feel disposed to like for dearest Priscy's sake, who met him on one of our Wednesday's parties and had a great deal of conversation and was pleased with him. Christina was not prepossessed in his favour. How clearly was the past brought to my recollection by seeing one whom I had met in our dear English home. [47] Mr H. is not pleasing nor gentlemanly.
The evening was passed in conversation on the natives and local interests; nevertheless I felt in a serious frame of mind and my spirit seemed to yearn for a corresponding disposition in circumstances around.
Monday, 22nd March 1841. Parkfield
I passed great part of the morning in making my noviciate in washing, an employment I expect often to be engaged in. I feel no desire to spare my self-indulgent nature; on the contrary I am only eager to humble it and to come down to the occupation most repugnant to it. There is too much selfishness, I fear, in my desire for refinement of every kind; it is a web that must be broken, for it partakes perhaps too largely of that which is only worldy, and producing dissatisfaction and vanity.
My mind has run spontaneously today upon Stanstead and its inmates; Anwell and Cat's Hill and those past days of pleasure, I believe; but they come up with heavy tread upon my memory and leave too deep a trace behind. A desolation of feeling has crept over me as I walked the deck this evening and surveyed the land before us. Dearest Priscy's society would at this moment have been of exquisite solace, for to her alone can I pour out all the weak, the foolish, perhaps the morbid feelings of the moment. But I will not encourage melancholy, for all is right and best. It is Providence who has brought us here, and for our happiness too, I do not doubt, and I therefore submit.
Tuesday, 23rd March 1841. Barque Parkfield
We breakfasted at 8 to start at 9 for Australind. The weather was most lovely and a fair Irish breeze carried us up quickly to the encampment. The scenery of the estuary gratified us extremely; the banks on each side beautifully wooded down to the water's edge, with foliage of varied tints even at this season of the year. Mama was charmed.
On arriving at the tents we were most warmly received by Mrs Austen and were astonished at the comfort and neatness of her tent. Fruit, wine, home-made bread and cakes were laid for us, and most refreshing and delicious we found that which we had so long desired to taste - good bread. The appearance of the camp struck us much; the tents distributed under large spreading trees, a hill covered with wood and bush rising behind. I never saw a more picturesque scene. [48]
Thursday, 25th March 1841. Parkfield
According to appointment Mr Eliot and Mr Stirling came off to take us on shore about 1/2 past 10. Nothing could induce Mama to go ashore so we three, Ellen, Mary, and myself were obliged to go under Mr Gibson's escort, for he accompanied us. We landed at Bunbury, walked to the Giants' Causeway, a basalt formation at the point over which the sea was breaking, but it is not above 6 feet high so that there is nothing majestic or striking. Mr Northey and Onslow accompanied us.
We walked over the site for the town of Bunbury, a pretty situation for such a purpose. We then mounted the hills to the left of Mr Eliot's house, and were charmed with the exquisite view of the estuary, the hills beyond, dips and dells and knolls beautifully studded with large and picturesque trees forming the nearest landscape.
At length we arrived at Government House, situated on the summit of one of these high round knolls, commanding a lovely prospect, and tho' rude and rough in its construction, gave an idea of cheerfulness. A sofa, table, chairs, a small bookcase with books and writing materials in one corner, was all the furniture. A chimney-piece and fire-place for burning wood astonished us; the sides of the room whitewashed, the roof of thatch and high, the ceiling not having been built. Mr Northey showed me his collection of dried plants, and very kindly gave me a specimen of each kind.
After resting for some time we again set out. I again walked with Mr Eliot, Ellen with Mr Gibson, and Mr Stirling with Mary. We wandered through some sweet woods and were pleased with all we saw. We again returned to Mr E.'s and had some delicious bread and butter, which I did indeed enjoy and then came off to dinner; all four gentlemen; the Capt and his wife, Bob and his, had not returned from Australind. We sat down to a dinner so scanty and so bad that we were all made really uncomfortable, and did not conceal our indignation. The gentlemen were very agreeable and did not go off till after tea; their attention and kindness to us was most gentlemanlike and considerate.
I am destined to collect seeds and flowers. Mr E. gave me 62 packets of native seeds, collected by some famous botanist, a valuable present. I really enjoyed the excursion and felt quite at home with our new male friends, though I did not quite like our going alone.
Friday, 26th March 1841. Parkfield
Mr E. and Stirling having insisted on again coming off to take us for a walk, we could not resist the temptation of another agreeable excursion. [49] Again Mama would not leave the ship so we again were obliged to go sans chaperone. Mr Gibson was of our party, which was the same as the day before. The weather was still more lovely than yesterday and I cannot forget the exquisite beauty of the colony.
We gently sailed up to the landing place, walked, (I with Mr Eliot) to Scott's farm, then to Capt Coffin's where we rested a few minutes and then wandered on along the banks of the picturesque Preston into the bush. We sat down by the edge of the ford while the gentlemen gathered the tea tree bark and then made calabashes from which we drank, as the water poured out from the bottoms. Having had a charming ramble we returned to Capt Coffin's where we found a delicious cold dinner laid out. He himself was piloting a ship and could not be there to entertain us, but which Mr Eliot did most kindly. I wished dear Priscy could have seen us and been with us; we three dining in an American settler cottage, with 4 comparatively strange friends.
Saturday, 27th March 1841. Parkfield
Many of our young men went ashore at 3 in the morning, to join Mr Stirling in a kangaroo hunt. Mr Eliot, however, true to his appointment came off about 11, and Mama, Christina, Ellen, Mary, and myself went off. We landed up the creek and walked to his house. The heat was too intense to walk out so we made Mr Eliot give us some work, pocket-handkerchiefs to hem. Mary and I attempted to sketch the lovely view from the verandah. We enjoyed the repose of the day; had a delicious bread and butter luncheon.
The hunting party arrived in detachments all the evening. Mr Stirling and Mr Onslow have just left us, having brought the fruits of their labour in the shape of a small kangaroo, as a present to Mama.
Sunday, 28th March 1841. Barque Parkfield
We had no reading; the sun being too hot to have it on deck. Meeting and reading with Mama as usual. Speculations all day as to Papa's return. A day of annoyance (a petty one) about the kangaroo and Mr Stirling not being invited to partake of it. About 5 o'clock a sail came in sight from the north, which proved to be a cutter. We of course immediately concluded that it was a government vessel, conveying Mr Hutt and Papa hitherto. Soon after, Bob with Mr S pence and many of the young men sailed off to meet her. [50]
Sunset came on, a glorious one it was, the sky painted with every tint and hue of the most radiant rainbow; dark followed; a boat was heard alongside and in a moment Papa, Pearce and Mr Ommaney stepped on board. Our desire to remain here instead of going on to Port Grey has become irresistible. After the first feelings of joy at the safe termination of their hazardous Irish expedition had subsided, our anxiety to know the result of it became intense; all assembled in the cuddy, and tried to read in their countenances the decision. In half an hour hopes were crowned by hearing that the governor so entirely disapproved of the settlement being made on the inhospitable, barren, unknown coast contemplated, that Papa had taken upon himself the responsibility of remaining.
I cannot describe the joy I, in common with all our circle, felt. Two hours passed quickly in hearing the adventures of the travellers, the intercourse with the Governor, Perth, and the only drawback was Bob's absence and the anxiety about him. I retired to rest with a grateful heart, I trust, for this great favour. This place offers a home we never could have felt on an uncivilized uninhabited territory. Robert returned safely at 2 in the morning, having received despatches from the Champion, and rowed 4 and a 1/2 hours and almost failed in finding the Parkfield. 
Monday, 29th March 1841. Parkfield
I passed an excited night without much rest; how did my spirit sink within me when at 6 this morning I heard Papa and Capt Whiteside in conversation, the latter expressing his opinion as to the safety of the anchorage at Port Grey and Papa's reply that [he] should proceed thither in accordance with his instructions. I felt calm, but discouraged indeed. After breakfast a thorough consultation held with the Capt and all; charts examined; Mr Hutt's letter read &c; and then it was decided by almost universal consent that Papa would take upon himself greater responsibility by going than by remaining, and that we are to remain here. What a renewal of hope and comfort to our tried and harassed feelings. Poor Papa has suffered sadly in the difficult position in which he has been placed by Capt Grey's abominable misrepresentations.
A very busy day, washing and ironing. Mr Eliot, Stirling, Mr Northey and Major Irwin who came down in the Champion, called. Mama explained the matter of the kangaroo and told them that the butcher had thrown it overboard today without anyone's knowledge. [51]
Tuesday, 30th March 1841. Barque Parkfield
I have passed a day of considerable industry, activity and fatigue, having been engaged from 10 till our dinner at 4 in unpacking and repacking all my chests in preparation for our disembarkation and camping in a day or two. With the occupation of the muscular frame, how much the mind partakes in the energy of action; and to one who watches the process of the mind and feelings, it is singular to observe the variations, the totally different phases which characterise them at different times. This morning I felt bouyant; this evening thoughtful, associating myself with nothing round me.
On opening my desk today I met with a note of dearest Waller's written in the April of last year, the outpouring of a broken heart, and as I read it what a host of sad thoughts and recollections clouded my spirit. The faded flowers I gathered the last time I saw Wandle House, wore on that ever to be remembered Wednesday evening, the latter fell also into my hands; how strange that such apparently trifling relics of the past should possess so magical a power as to give a tone, a colouring to every idea and thought during a succession of hours. From these two incidents my present mood may be traced.
I met also with a note (which I had not before read) from dear Aunt M. Turner to dear Frank congratulating him on his marriage and requesting his choice of a present, and then added that 'a similar event to prevent Dear Louisa from quitting England would gladden my old heart'. Dear creature, the grave by this time has made her his prey and that probably was her last written note. I was affected by it and a train of thoughts I cannot express arose. I believe that Was a wish entertained by many, but heaven decreed otherwise.
My feelings have been strangely buffeted the last two years; who can tell how deeply? I would not have had it otherwise, for with it all I possess a crowd of interesting and sweet associations and recollections that I would not part with for anything. As for marriage, I have always clearly seen there is a fatality which is insurmountable as to myself. In early life I had a strong prejudice against it, being persuaded that it is an unhappy state for a woman; as years have rolled on and I have increasingly needed a prop and support, a kindred heart, I have at times thought that it is a state in which I might have found the dependent happiness I have longed for. Now I am, I think, content with what is my apparent lot, and in drawing all my enjoyment from my own dear family circle I am resolved (for I have no inclination or power) to make no new friendship or interest. [52] I am so often happy in the knowledge that I cannot again suffer as I have done in the severing of the ties of the affections. It cannot come again and I should be a fool indeed did I ever again place myself in a position of enduring what I have done.
Papa, Pearce, and some of the young men went up to Australind this morning to place some of the tents, and the wind is blowing so hard that they have not yet returned and I trust will not attempt it tonight. The Napoleon, laden with stock, the speculation of Mr Stirling and Mr Eliot, has arrived here this afternoon, and another whaler so that there are 4 vessels in company with us.
Wednesday, 31st March 1841. Parkfield
Passed the morning in setting to rights, work &c. A stupid day. I very stupid, not very well. It was not the Napoleon which came in yesterday, but the Helen with horses and stock from the Cape.
Friday, 2nd April 1841. Parkfield
Mrs Austen and Mrs Gaudin came down from Australind at 3 and dined with us. Mrs Austen returned in the evening, leaving Mrs G. to sleep here. Mrs A. attired in the same dress as she wore at one of our soirees; and at the déjeuner, and white bonnet of flowers, looked more than usually unladylike. The scenes in which she appeared in town were bought vividly before my mind.
Major Irwin, Mr Eliot and Mr Northey dined here; the two latter were my neighbours at the dinner table and made themselves very agreeable. With the former I had a great deal of conversation. There is something about him which amuses me excessively. From laughter however we came down to gravity and almost melancholy, as we talked of England, friends, separation, colonial life &c. He expressed many feelings which reminded me much of dear Waller, and the more I see of young men, the greater similarity I find in their sentiments on one point, that of sighing for an object, ties of affection, home interests &c.
His two little native boys came off in the evening; they were brought into the cuddy and tho' rather frightened at the large motley company, behaved extremely well. Guanga hung round Mr Eliot with a sweet confiding manner and then read the English alphabet clearly and boldly. Christina sang; they look astonished beyond measure, and listened most attentively but said little. It appeared too much for them. [53] [54]
Dr Carpenter in the midst of all this confusion and bustle began to write his home letters; one of which to his brother at Trinidad contained about 5 lines; he is the most heartless, conceited man I have ever met with.
Saturday, 3rd April 1841. Parkfield
Although I have not been at all well, this day has been a pleasant one. I enjoyed a quiet reading in my own room for an hour or two; the more delightful in proportion to the rarity of such an employment. I then went on deck alone to try and sketch the coast, but failed.
A very small party at dinner. Robert, Papa, Capt Whiteside and Dr Carpenter are dining at Government House. We have been sitting on deck watching the fires on shore near Shenton's store. The scene has been most beautiful, worthy the pencil of a Claude Lorraine; the moon and sky dazzlingly bright; the sea glistening and perfectly smooth; the outline of the shore dark and clear; the lurid flash and the curling grey and vermilion smoke of the fires throwing a bright redness over the scene, investing with a wildness congenial to the spot and exciting to the imagination.
Poor Mrs Gaudin's cup of sorrow is almost overflowing. Her maid Maria turns out to be thoroughly worthless, and she is obliged to discharge her; thus depriving her of the last comfort she could look to, that of having a confidential, comfortable attendant. She left us in very low spirits.
Sunday, 4th April 1841. Parkfield A day of exquisite warmth and beauty. A very small party at the reading on deck; being the last day on board, I wished to take a sketch of the coast and attempted, but had no pleasure or success in it, feeling it to be an undesirable occupation for the day.
Monday, 5th April 1841. Australind
Papa was so discomposed at our decision not to accompany him to the encampment this morning, that at the expense of a great deal of exertion we resolved to go up at 1 o'clock, and about 34 past 1 we took leave of our kind friends the Whitesides and the barque Parkfield. Although exulting in the joy of getting ashore, my spirits forsook me at last; the remembrance of the first time I saw the ship, with whom and with what feelings, with the train of thoughts accompanying a review of the past, ran through my mind. I felt an oppression of spirit which I could not throw off, during our calm and scorching row and sail up the estuary. I made an effort to be chatty, but was silent; the last view of the Parkfield awakened too much thought and feeling. [55]

I here transcribe a letter I wrote to dear Waller this night: Tent, Australind
5th April 1841 I must attempt before I lie down for the first time in the bush, to give you some description of the picturesque romantic scenes in which we are now engaged. We have just made our beds on the ground, arranged our tent for the night, and with the moon shining brightly through the canvas over head, solemn stillness reigning around, except when broken by the merry laugh of gentlemen encamped round a log fire, the chirping of the grasshoppers and now and then the breaking of a wave upon the distant shore. You may fancy Mary and myself kneeling at a table we have rigged up in the centre of our abode, alternately writing and talking over this strange page in our history. Papa with a party of young men came hither this morning and left Mary and me to follow with a boat load of goods &c later in the day. Mr Eliot and Mr Stirling went on board the Parkfield just as we were going and insisted upon taking us up in their boat, a proposition we readily agreed to rather than commit ourselves to the care of Dr Carpenter. We sailed almost all the way up this beautiful estuary, under a sky of surpassing beauty, the heat intense and scarcely a breath of wind. On arriving, we found our tent erected and two or 3 others scattered about, on the slope of a deep declivity a few hundred yards from the waterside, commanding a lovely view, surrounded by beautiful trees, but in a state of charming confusion, the sand, ankle deep, almost the only floor.
Our kind friends Mr E. and S. insisted upon getting everything to rights. We all went to work under a scorching sun to cut rushes for the carpet, turned everything out; they then spread them, arranged this table which with a nice English cover gives an air of comfort to the apartment; put up books; in fact, in the course of an hour or two we found ourselves in order. Mrs Austen then kindly came from her settlement with a loaf of bread and cold meat, a most acceptable present after the labours of the day.
An immense fire of branches was soon lighted on the level ground a little distance below our tent, water boiled, and tea made, and having fortunately got up our plate chest containing knives and forks, teacups &c, we sat down to a welcome repast, and with more comfort than we could have imagined possible. I wish you could have seen the interior of our new abode, some sitting on the ground, others on our mattresses rolled up; I making tea upon a gun case seated on a hassock in the midst. By degrees all the young men collected to this centre of comfort and sociability. I forgot to describe in due order a scene which amused us vastly. While we were engaged within, we found the Government Resident, the magistrate of the district, Mr Eliot and Mr Gibson, hard at work without, kneading dough to make damper, in other words, unleavened bread, which has since been baked in wood ashes, and promises to do justice to the skill of the manufacturers. I cannot describe half of the amusing and curious incidents of the day nor convey to your mind an adequate idea of the picturesque appearance of a bush encampment in such a climate and with such scenery on all sides. [56] Papa and Mr Plowes have a tent; Mr Eliot and Stirling and many others are by this time reposing on the bare ground, wrapped in blankets by the side of a large fire. We have just made our beds and are so completely tired that we are longing to lie down in them. The nights are extremely cold and we are beginning to feel very chilly, and the sand underneath strikes damp and cold. Mama, Ellen and all the party are to come up on Wednesday.
I find myself involuntarily providing against the motion of the sea, altho' we have been almost entirely at rest for the last fortnight. The delight of feeling still, relieved of the burden of preparation against pitching and rolling and a thousand other charms in being on terra firma again compensates most fully for the personal exertions which will be required for some months to come; and then the indescribable blessing of not going to Port Grey. I feel a sensation of 'home' in this place; civilization is partly known. There are only 3 or 4 settlers, but there is the truest hospitality and kindness, and instead of being out of the reach of any human beings, we here at once meet with a hearty welcome and with ready assistance and cooperation. I cannot tell you how truly kind Mr E. and S. have been. The former is a very agreeable gentlemanly man, and the latter is most pleasing, and tho' a colonist not less the gentleman. All is hushed and still and I must to my rest as we are to be up at 5 in the morning.