Diary of ten years eventful life of an early settler in Western Australia and also A descriptive vocabulary of the language of the aborigines/The colony (4)
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The colony (4)
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|There are multiple chapters entitled "The colony".
For the version of this chapter as published in Moore's 1834 Extracts from the letters and journals of George Fletcher Moore, see Extracts from the letters and journals of George Fletcher Moore, now filling a judicial office at the Swan River Settlement/The colony (4).
THE AUTHOR'S OCCUPATIONS—FROGS—HIS GARDEN—WILD TURKEYS—CATCHES A SNAKE AND CENTIPEDE—KANGAROO HUNT—DISAPPOINTMENT—THE BOTANIC GARDENS—FARMING OCCUPATIONS—A STORM—PROVIDENTIAL ESCAPE—RECEIVES PACKET FROM HOME—VALUE OF KANGAROO DOGS—THE ANIHU—SYMPTOMS OF WINTER—GREAT WANT OF STONE—LOSES HIS COW—FLOWERS AND SONGSTERS OF SWAN RIVER.
My last letter was broken off abruptly from the necessity of the mail being closed.
Any man of sense, who has travelled far and observed much, is invaluable as a companion, or as an author, particularly if he don't let the latter character absorb the agreeable qualities of the former.
The author is often too retentive of materials which he is collecting for his work, to communicate them freely, whilst the companion, as such, overflows with interesting and useful information.
As far as the 28th instant, my time has been occupied in farming, gardening, &c., with a moderate attention to the larder and the provant.
I caught a couple of turtles, one but small, the other larger; and shot a pair of ducks, all tending to our great desideratum in luxury—a supply of fresh meat. We have had some refreshing rain, but the weather is now settled again, and most charming; thermometer 66°.
The spring of grass is amazing—everything green; beautiful little flowers, raising their heads like snow-drops, and having very much the fragrance of the hawthorn blossom, have sprung up in great profusion.
How often I wish that some of you were here! for this wild life although it has its inconveniences, has its pleasures too. I am sure you would enjoy it, if once the roughing was a little over. I have had great feasting upon fresh meat (fowls) every day for some time for myself and people: to-day I had at dinner a very large pigeon; yesterday, a brace of wild ducks; and the day before a brace of parrots, and so on—besides greens and radishes. I feel very happy just now in every respect except my solitude. Great rumours of ship arrivals!—are they true?—any from England?—any letters?
Oh! the anxious throbbings of the emigrant's heart, with those he loves, far—far away, but with perhaps long letters of their affectionate remembrances on board that ship now sailing into the harbour:—alas! she is from another country. But I must resume my diary.
Saturday, 28th.—The numerous frogs remind me that the moist weather and approaching winter have brought into active life an immense quantity of these creatures, some of which make a hard co—ax, co—ax, sort of noise, and others a most mournful and horrible bellowing, which might be mistaken for the high note of a bull; perhaps this was what frightened the French navigators. Planted yesterday two hundred cabbages and some lettuces in my garden: we did not get them till late, and put them in by the light of a beautiful moon. Do you take an interest in the daily labour of my garden? I hope you do, for to me it is a source of great interest and amusement. This morning I sent for my cows: the men could not succeed in bringing them, I went myself and brought the older one, and afterwards returned for the younger: I believe James and I never had so hard a piece of work in our lives; she was wild beyond belief; actually knocked him down twice, and ran at me. We got her home through the river, put her into a pen, and there she shall stay till she is tamed.
31st.—Some officers of the Nimrod paid me a visit; they had not long gone when two others came; and shortly after they had left me, a boat full of company hailed us in passing. I called on Mrs. Shaw when the family were at dinner, and sat down and stayed till the moon rose; returned about nine o'clock. Got from Mr. Breckman's gardener some onion and carrot seeds, and sowed them in the garden, which is now pretty well filled. My peas are above ground, and all the seeds I brought with me have kept pretty well. Most lovely weather! when is this dreaded winter to come? I feel like one that holds in his breath, and collects his force to resist a shock; making every preparation against the winter; but though this is the last day of May, it has been as warm as your May when you have sunshine. The mornings and evenings are cool; yet here I am, sitting with doors and windows open, feeling no cold, and not even once having a fire in my room. The thermometer is now 63° (eight o'clock in the evening). It is a delightful climate; would to God we were all settled together!—but I always check myself from saying much on this subject, until I shall have been here a full year. Those who are fond of the gaieties of a town life would not be reconciled to this place, but I greatly enjoy the quiet and peace of mind with which I am favoured.
June 1st.—We have had a most delightful day: this morning, soon after breakfast, some friends came to remain an hour or so with me, and two gentlemen came to dinner.
4th.—I am told that the Governor, Captain Irwin, Mr. Brown, and several others, are coming up the river. This morning I found my pigs and dog busily employed in devouring a wild turkey, which had been wounded; I had no notion it was so large a bird; it measured seven feet from tip to tip of the extended wings; the thighs like those of a lamb. My men were occupied in the distant field, trenching the wheat ground.
5th.—Got wheat-ground finished, and prepared ground in the garden for peas. Some wheat coming up well.
6th.—A boat with visitors stopped here just before breakfast, when I was out shooting. Got my chimney finished today, and this night had a fire for the first time; it burns well: my room looks snug and cheerful.
7th.—Dined to-day with Mr. Tanner, and have got some garden-seeds from him: he is to have half when they come up. I have just been calculating that since Sunday morning last I have had no fewer than twenty-one visitors. I expected the Governor, Mr. Brown, Captain Mangles, and Captain Irwin to-day; they did not come, but perhaps they will to morrow. Put down peas in garden; the wheat drills up, and looking well; sky threatening; thermometer 56°.
Yesterday, it rained the greater part of the day, but cleared up in the evening: heard that the Governor and his party on horseback had come up the river on the opposite side, and returned shortly after by an intended new road, which is marked out by notched trees, near half a mile beyond this place.
9th.—Mr. B. called yesterday; took tea, and slept here, being unwilling to walk home, as the night was foggy. He wants me to sketch a plan for employing prisoners, as a working gang; the Governor being anxious to occupy them in this way, if settlers will pay a superintendent.
This day I sowed many seeds: onion, cauliflower, broccoli, endive, French sorrel, brett (a Port Louis vegetable), spinach, parsley, and three sorts of tobacco, for experiment. My garden is nearly filled, and begins to look well. Caught in the garden a beautiful snake, about eighteen inches long, with a black head and yellow body; put him into a bottle of rum, along with many other such things; he vibrated his tongue most rapidly and wickedly. Caught a centipede, nearly four inches in length, when moving my trunks to-day; it is in the bottle of preserves also.
Captain Mangles, RN., Mr. Andrews, and Mr. Elliott stopped at my landing-place for a few minutes on their way up the river: they promised to call again, but, returning, shouted out they had not time: those whom we are most anxious to see are generally the most expeditious in their movements. This evening I took tea, sitting on my canteen opposite a blazing fire placed on a brick hearth a little above the level of the floor: no invidious fender to keep my feet from receiving the benefit of the fire: neither sashes nor windows, thanks to the erratic disposition of my carpenter.
10th.—Delightful day! I have been amusing myself in the garden, making a new bed for pumpkin, water melon, orange, lemon, and cucumber seeds; and these I mean to cover during the winter, from the heavy rain and frost (if there be any). John busy to-night mending his shoes; I rummaged out bristles, awls, thread, a ladle to make wax, and cut the legs off a pair of boots for leather, which cracks so rapidly with the heat, that we wear out a pair of shoes in two or three weeks. Captain Mangles told us yesterday that a ship had come in; it was not known with certainty, when he came off, what ship it was.
11th.—Sat up last night sketching a plan for employing prisoners as a working gang, I shot a duck before breakfast, and had, very reluctantly, to swim across the river for it; found the water by no means so cold as I have often experienced in bathing at home in summer; on the surface it was cold, but was quite agreeable at the depth of two feet. A little rain this morning, but the middle of the day as warm almost as your summer:—certainly this is a fine climate, though rather on the warm side in summer. Shot two cockatoos, which are excellent eating. Rain commenced at one P.M., and has continued pretty constant, and sometimes heavy. River swollen fourteen inches.
12th.—Rain all day. Continued building within doors. Weather not cold, like your wet summer.
13th.—Rain has ceased. Every thing looking well in the garden; all my cabbages strong and healthy. Shot a brace of ducks, one fell in the river, had to swim for him—any thing for a fresh mess. In the evening shot a bird which some call a squeaker. Tied my two cows for an hour to feed; they became tame,—thanks to the tethers.
16th.—Nothing worth noting has occurred for the last two days. My men have been enclosing the distant field. Crows are very persevering and destructive; shot one, with its stomach full of wheat—hope to have the field finished tomorrow. Much thunder and rain on Monday night, but the weather looks settled again; we have had nothing like winter yet. The Stirling has arrived; I must go down to buy a boat and other things.
17th.—Have been kangaroo hunting with young Shaw; we had three runs, but got only one brush kangaroo, about fifteen pounds' weight; I got half of it (the usual terms of hunting in company)—dined on part of it—delicious eating.
20th.—Here am I at Fremantle, after having spent the evening at the house of Mr. Leake, in company with Mr. and Mrs. McDermot, who have lately arrived; we had some airs sweetly played on the pianoforte by Mrs. McDermot, most of the music from Don Giovanni, which was a treat here. Dined yesterday with the Governor.
On looking over this, I found it an odd jumble de omnibus rebus, part of it being intended for my father, part for my sisters, and the rest for you. The vessel sails to-morrow for Java. * * * * * * *
22nd.—No words can express my disappointment in not receiving the letter which you had sent by Mrs. McDermot. They who are in the midst of society, with the constant facilities of having letters and news from their friends, have no just notion of the mortification on the non-arrival of a letter from home. The receipt of a packet is a great and happy event; its arrival an epoch, anticipated with anxiety, hailed with excitement, and referred to, as a period from which one dates the lapse of time.
I shall now give you an outline of the occurrences during my absence from Hermitage, which I left on Friday last.
Mr. Mackey and Mr. Madden (midshipmen of H.M.S. Sulphur), drank tea and slept at my house on the night of that day, and breakfasted there next morning, and afterwards overtook me at Guildford, whence I accompanied them to Perth, where we arrived in sufficient time to dine comfortably at the mess-room. On the next day (Sunday) Captain Irwin read the morning service of the church in the hospital, and in the evening I went to the Rev. Mr. Wittenoom's church, and afterwards had the honour of dining with his Excellency the Governor, Mrs. Stirling, Captain Mangles, and some others.
Not being able to return to Fremantle on Monday, I spent a few hours agreeably at Mr. Leake's, where Mrs. McDermot again gratified us with some excellent music on the pianoforte, with a flute accompaniment.
28th.—I arrived at Perth after a very tedious passage of six hours, greatly fatigued, having rested the preceding night on the bare ground—my blanket a greatcoat, my pillow a fishing basket!
The four following days were passed in short and pleasant excursions from Perth, and in quiet, and yet very social, dinner parties.
July 3rd.—The Sabbath passed nearly as before. The clergyman goes on alternate Sundays to Guildford and Fremantle, and attends a Sunday School.
A botanical garden has been lately laid out here, in which I walked with the Governor and his lady, accompanied by some of my kind friends. I left Perth mounted on a small pony, which Mr. B. wishes me to take charge of; indeed change of air or of keeping seems desirable for him, as he is miserably weak and quite unable to support me for any considerable distance; but for the honour of the thing, I might just as well have walked. My friends bore me company for a short time, and I reached my home and indulged in a sound nap in my own bed, being the first night, except one at Capt. Whitfield's, since my excursion commenced, that I had an opportunity of stretching my limbs upon any thing more luxurious than a clay floor or a chest.
This day I have been very busy sowing small parcels of red and white wheat (in drills), peas, beans, cabbage seeds, leeks, onions, turnips, cauliflower, mangel-wurzel, rape, radishes, mustard and cress, and had the gratification for the first time of eating an excellent salad, the produce of my own garden. Henceforward I calculate on a regular supply of vegetables for my solitary table.
I had nearly omitted to state that on the 23rd, we had one of those storms, with the accounts of which people have been kindly endeavouring to alarm me. It certainly blew with violence, but I have been ridiculed for asserting that its force was by no means equal to that of an equinoctial gale in England. I am certain, however, that it was not. There was not a single house thrown down, or any thatch stripped. The wind undoubtedly made a fearful roaring among the trees, and this led our Colonists to think it worse than it really was. The only accidents in consequence, of which I have heard, are the driving ashore of a small vessel of 35 tons (which was afterwards got off without damage), and the loss of a boat.
4th.—The weather is most delightful, like that in April or May at home—when is the winter to come? our shortest day is past. During my absence about half an acre was broken up for Indian corn. My potatoes,—me miserum!—have failed in a great degree; the seed was damaged, although it cost me thirty-five shillings per cwt., and now there is none to be had at any price in the colony; but we hope to have some from Van Diemen's Land before the close of the season, and I have the satisfaction of calculating, that there will be 200 acres of wheat grown this season, which will supply 800 persons with flour for one year—vide Malthus (or any other economist whom you may like better) on Food and Population. This is a great struggle for a new colony, is it not ?
5th.—We had a slight frost last night. This day I have completed the sowing of all my seeds, except that of maize (or Indian corn), and transplanted 300 cabbages, besides those which I brought from Perth, tares, flax seed, rye, castor oil seed, stones of the date tree, lucerne, red and white clover, trefoil, hay seeds, and planted five young orange trees.
9th.—After the interval of a week, I have heavy arrears to pull up, and have been interrupted this day by an incessant throng of visitors; and now at, eleven at night, I, for the first time, during this interval, find myself alone and at leisure. This day week I dined with Mr. Tanner, when a messenger came to state that Captain Irwin had arrived at my house, of course I hurried thither, and gave him refreshment and a bed. He had come for the purpose of making preparatory arrangements for the public celebration of the church service, which we mean to have regularly at a neighbouring barrack. Twenty-eight persons, many of them of the higher class, attended the next day; and warmly entered into Captain Irwin's object. He is a truly amiable and religious man; and interests himself most usefully for the colony, and the enjoyment of his friendship is a valuable privilege to me. We have subsequently measured the boundaries of a projected village, for which I have offered a part of my land. Young Shaw and I have been looking for kangaroos, but unsuccessfully. We have, however, obtained many varieties of beautiful plants and shrubs, and some more seeds from Mr. Tanner, who is to have half the produce.
Last Thursday was very wet, with high wind, and thunder and lightning at night. I slept very little.
On the ensuing morning, Captain Irwin came for me to accompany him to my back grounds to look for kangaroos; we were again unsuccessful. On the night of this day we had a most providential escape; my friend had put the cotton match, which we use for lighting a cigar, into his pocket, supposing it to be extinguished, but, as if purposely to convince him of his mistake, it communicated with the bed quilt, and before he awoke, set fire to it,—the blanket, sheets, and part of the mattrass; his pillow actually rested against an open cask of gunpowder! When I started up, the quilt was burning up to his head. I carried out every thing in my arms, and stood in my shirt until I had extinguished the fire. The night was very cold; so much so, that even this unexpected excitement gave me no renewal of warmth, and after a sleepless night, having talked with gratitude over our most providential escape, I arose to labour in the garden, in which I was occupied with little cessation until three o'clock, and ended the day with a most charming evening party, at Mr. Tanner's house. But the greatest event of all is to be told: a soldier has brought me from Dr. Millegan two packets of letters and newspapers (with some of my father's handwriting too), from you, dear brother. This, then, is the packet which I lamented as lost—oh the joy of receiving it! you were all well—may God be praised! Long before this time your affectionate and anxious hearts must have received tidings from your poor emigré. But to go on with my details, in each and all of which you are so intensely interested:—
On Sunday the 10th I filled, as I have so often done before, the office of chaplain to about twenty persons. On returning, still thinking of the lost packet, and home, and all its endearing associations, I found what I deemed a prize, in the present condition of my larder, in the form of a floating fish—a mullet, about two pounds weight! What a dinner I shall have! to say nothing of some young cabbages from my own garden; but, alas! without the orthodox accompaniment of bacon.
12th.—While I was reading a letter in a Derry paper, Mackey came in, and on examination recognised it as his own production, written in his boyish days to his father, or some other relative in the North of Ireland: whimsical coincidence! We remained awake almost all Thursday night in retracing recollections of our friends and contemporaries; and I read so eagerly the news in the Derry papers that I put my eyes out of writing order, and idled away the ensuing day in paying and receiving visits from a gentleman, and a lady too, who afterwards sent me an invitation to dine about two miles and a half from Hermitage, with Mr B. Think of the dissipation of society on the Swan River! I walked to and from his house without greater inconvenience than that occasioned by the wet grass. I wish the "walking" in Ireland may be as peaceable this day. When will the dreaded winter come?
I went yesterday to Mr. Brown for some carrot seeds; the weather was lovely, like one of your summer days; towards evening it becomes cool, and in the morning there is some frost. Every day now my garden claims my labour: I have transplanted my young carrots, rape, cabbages, and French spinach between my wheat drills, which are eighteen inches apart; and I expect that they will all thrive, especially where manure has been supplied to them.
* * * * * * *
21st.—I breakfasted this day week with Mr. McDermot, who lives, as a matter of temporary accommodation, at the Governor's house at Guildford. The succeeding day proved so tempestuous as to prevent me from proceeding to Fremantle. I gave Captain M. some specimens of flowering shrubs, besides a bottle full of snakes, lizards, and scorpions. On Saturday was held a meeting of our Agricultural Society, of which the Governor is patron. I shall send you a printed copy of its proceedings, and can assure you that, though not quite so imposing an association as the Highland Society of Scotland, or the late Farming Society of Ireland, it is of great consequence and utility here, where agriculture is but in an infant state, and where experiments are most important.
My cow has calved, but the "milky mother" does not yet supply me and her other calf with much nutriment. The calf is happily of the feminine gender: an important consideration to me.
I have been engaged in enclosing a field of about five acres, in which the garden is included: James and John are hard at it. I regret to say that my wheat has an unhealthy appearance, being of a reddish colour at the end of the blade: whether this discolouration be the effect of the frosts, or of the underground work of a wire-worm, I am not yet agriculturist enough to determine.
22nd.—Some boatmen have just brought me five cwt. of flour, a barrel of herrings, a bag of coffee, and another of rice, all necessary for my winter comforts, though of winter there is no appearance, neither floods nor rain: in fact the weather is delightful, and the cow seems to feel the benefit of it, if I am to judge of her increase of milk, which Letty has already churned in a small box-churn, expressly borrowed for the purpose: the result of her industry has been one pound of very rich butter.
23rd.—Laboured again at the garden, and sowed a bed of carrots and two beds of turnips, cabbages, and radishes, each bed about twelve yards in length, and one yard in breadth: transplanted peas, which were too thin in their rows. My garden is nearly full, and it affords me radishes every day for myself and my friend, Mrs. Tanner.
25th.—Yesterday I walked through the river, which was a a little cold, to church, where I read the service. The congregation was respectable. I afterwards dined with Mr. Brokman, and met an officer in the navy, who has left the Canning River to settle here; he knew our friends E. L. and his wife, and Mr. Edward Scott, the barrister, and this acquaintance with them at once formed a link of companionship with me.
30th.—My diary for some time past presents nothing more than a detail of work in the garden, and the cooking of a dish of greens, with observations on the weather, which has been rather windy, (accompanied by some rain) but it has now moderated. Ah, woe is me! the calf became so weak and ill, that I have been obliged to cut its throat,—poor innocent! Some gentlemen came here, while my larder was so well supplied with veal, and did me the favour of dining and sleeping sub tegmine. Next day we all dined at Mr. Mackey's, across the river, where we had a noble feast of vegetables from his garden, which being on moist ground yields abundantly
31st.—I went to bed early last night, but was deprived of my desired slumbers by the arrival of two gentlemen, who had been benighted on the river, and requested a night's lodging; they had come from the Surveyor's office on a holiday excursion, On the next night again, after I had composed myself to rest, with the expectation of taking a double dose of sleep, I was aroused by a furious barking of my dogs; up I jumped, and hearing moans of distress, commenced a search, which ended in the discovery of a drunken fellow lying in the bottom of a deep ditch: he proved to be one of Mr. Burgess's servants, who had gone up the river, got drunk en chemin, lost his companion (who was in a similar condition), and his way. I am in great want of a good kangaroo dog, which, besides his proper office of game-hunting, would be a watchful sentry at night: fifteen guineas are demanded for one, which is a high price; but the dog, if good, enables his owner to have a constant supply of fresh kangaroo meat,—a very material object. No winter yet,—thermometer 62°,—fresh flowers springing up every day!
Aug. 1st.—The younger Mr. Burgess came this morning to tell me that his dogs had killed an old and young emu; I hurried off with all the ardour of a young sportsman to see them; the old one, when erect, is nearly seven feet high, and resembling the kangaroo, both being small and slender in the fore parts and heavy and strong in the hind quarters. This bird has a very gentle look, seems to feed entirely on grass, has no wings, and scarcely the indication of a pinion, for it is only six inches long, terminated by a small claw. The feathers are singular, two of them springing from one stem; the only long ones are in the tail; the colour is of a dark brown. I hope to send you some in a box, with other Australian curiosities. The young one is not unlike a gosling, with light coloured longitudinal stripes.
2nd.—An easterly wind prevails, and it has something of the sharp penetrating and drying quality which it has with you. Some complain of rheumatic tendency as a consequence of it: unaffected by it I have been rambling about on my back grounds without seeing any living thing except a solitary quail, which I did not shoot;—game frequents swampy land, and I have none such on my back ground. This easterly wind already causes a parched appearance in the soil. Thermometer 62°, yet I have had a fire all day.
3rd.—This morning has been very warm. I shot a duck, and without hesitation jumped into the water after him: I have him, and shall eat him for supper; but without peas, which are only now coming into blossom. A moderate shower has already revived our drooping plants, and caused an agreeable change in the weather. I have found a new plant like a single wall-flower, but without perfume; and also a beautiful frog mottled with bright green—it is already in my bottle of preserves for my dear sisters. Some of the day was passed in garden operations, among which transplanting cabbages, preparing for Indian corn, melons, and cucumbers, were the principal. I have one almond and five orange trees, growing very well.
4th.—Last night there were strong symptoms of winter vivid lightning and cannonading peals of thunder, followed by heavy rain, which continued almost all the succeeding day; however, we had our in-door occupations. Johnny mended his shoes; James made a mud floor in the centre room, while I was building up one of the compartments which had been left unfinished until bad weather, such as we have just had, should confine us to the house, and in-door occupations.
Our building operations would be more facilitated, if we could procure stone; but there is none on the land here not even a pebble to be flung at a bird; a benevolent action, in which from old habit, I frequently feel a desire to indulge. My tools are suited to the nature and extent of my establishment; every thing in this way which I brought with me is useful; and grubbing hoes, which I did not bring, are indispensable. I have not used my cart or plough yet, but they will, I trust, be soon in requisition. My hand-cart is very useful; spades, hatchets, saws, wedges, nails, metal pots for cooking, my canteen and cooking oven, I find very serviceable; but the cooking apparatus I have not yet tried.
5th.—An unpleasant, windy, and rainy day, like some of our rainy days at home; and I think it worse than usual, because I am very cross and fidgetty at having lost my rest last night. You have heard of the man who, when roused from his bed to attend his sick cow, exclaimed, "he's a happy man that has no cow;" I can sympathise with him, and fully understand his feelings, for my cow is sick, and I have been up with her half the night, and have brought her into the next room to sleep.
6th.—James is making a house for the cow; the great difficulty is to find thatch. Heavy showers are frequent, yet my kind neighbour Mr. S. came to dine with me and inquire for my cow, which has eaten nothing these two days but glauber salts and aloes—I fear she will go.
8th.—When I was going to rest last night, a traveller came to beg a night's lodging—granted of course. I had just gone into bed and was very snug, when two drunken men arrived; one of them could not and the other would not go any farther, so I allowed the rascals to lie by the kitchen fire, and then obtained some sleep myself, after having removed the cow to the shed, which we had covered pro tempore with a tent.
11th.—A budget of news by Corporal Doherty (an Irishman to be sure) from Perth, where it appears the natives are exceedingly troublesome, and that a settler has been killed. The Governor and Captain Irwin are gone in pursuit. By one of the letters which I have received, I learn that I have been elected a member of the Institution here, and that we are to have a small detachment of mounted police or cavalry established near this. Government speak of sending to the Cape for horses—rather a long look out. A lovely day for vegetation, warm and damp. No flood yet.
12th.—The cow is dead! Dies atro notandus lapillo!
13th.—Cut up and salted my poor deceased companion, and made candles of the tallow. Query, shall I make a mourning suit from the hide, which is jet black? I dined sumptuously on one of poor dear Cowsy's marrow-bones—and now she's gone—"marrow-bones, and all."
The weather has been so very mild that I have seldom observed the thermometer, which was at 52° at sunrise this morning, and 64° at noon in the shade; really the winter of this climate is delightful, like your charming June. The air at this moment is perfumed by a shrub resembling jessamine, bearing a yellow flower; this is the fifth odoriferous plant that I have met with; the ground is almost covered with it. I have had a disappointment in some more of my farming stock—thirteen eggs which should have produced chickens about this time, have every one failed. I have been favoured with two new songs from birds like thrushes; the notes are not much varied, but seem rather a repetition of something corresponding with these words, "come with me and let us make a nest, ah! do," to which the other seems to reply, "no indeed I shan't, at least with you"—the last note accented.
15th.—I turn from the harmony of these charming birds to the disrespectful tones of James, who swears that he will leave me, even if I should send him to Botany Bay, and because I will not allow him to hunt the dogs after some strange cows which have wandered on my land. I do not well know what to do with him; he looks very sulky, but has commenced his work again. I laughed him into good humour by leading him to the ditch at which he had been working, and putting a spade into his hand. And what do you think was the reason which he assigned for not leaving me, after all?—his going away would vex you!!! Poor Letty has a sore throat; but a dose of glauber will set her all to rights again.
After breakfast I walked to Perth, which is no trifling effort–the distance being eighteen miles–and my load, a fishing-basket crammed with a change of linen, and other essentials for the comfort and ornament of the outward man: five kangaroos together, of different gradations, met me on the way; how I longed to catch them! Saw some native asparagus in the course of my walk.
My letter now draws to a close. I feel as if I were again parting from you: but I shall resume my diary, which gives me pleasing occupation, at every interval of leisure.