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Title: The Golden South - Memories of Australian Home Life from 1843 to 1888
Author: Kathleen, Lambert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           THE GOLDEN SOUTH



                                  THE

                             GOLDEN SOUTH

                   MEMORIES OF AUSTRALIAN HOME LIFE

                           FROM 1843 TO 1888

                                  BY

                                ‘LYTH’

             ‘Such is the patriot’s beast, where’er we roam,
              His first, best country ever is at home.’

                                LONDON
                            WARD AND DOWNEY
                                 1890



INTRODUCTION


As I stood on the deck of one of the largest of the Peninsular and
Oriental Company’s steamers, that now almost annihilate distance between
England and her colonial possessions, taking a last look at the land
where I had left youth, womanhood, kindred, friends, and the dust of
parents, I thought, “Is there anything I can do in return for all God
has done for me here--anything to prove my gratitude to the many true
friends I am leaving: the Australians, young and old, who have thronged
around us to bid us farewell?” Nearly half a century has passed since
the good ship _Euphrates_ came to anchor in this, one of the grandest
harbours of the world, and I stood, as I am now standing, looking at the
beautiful shores of Sydney Harbour. But what a change! Then few signs of
habitation were to be seen, and now one sees stately mansions, countless
and beautiful, surrounded by foliage almost to the water’s edge, silent
witnesses of God’s goodness and man’s perseverance. One stately house
there was, with battlements and tower, set in terraced grounds, with
beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers that only bloom under glass in
colder climes; and over all a sky blue and transparent beyond
description. In this house there dwell the descendants of two who stood
near me when first I saw this lovely land. They are now in a still safer
and more beautiful haven, having lived a good life here, and left their
children the priceless inheritance of a stainless name. Two of that
family have just left us; I need not say, “Go and do likewise,” for
already they have laid up treasures in heaven.

Why do I wish to write of Australia, more especially of New South Wales,
when such men as Froude, Trollope, and Forbes have done so? Firstly, I
promised, and secondly, because travellers like those mentioned are
merely birds of passage for a few months or weeks, staying amongst us,
feted by a few men in power or position, travelling by special trains
through the country, or on mere pleasure excursions, seeing what is to
be seen under the most favourable conditions, and listening to
interested or interesting descriptions of places and people that they
have not had time to investigate. They leave without having the
slightest idea of the real homes, lives, intellects, and capabilities of
either country or people; and of the best families, scattered over her
vast territory, they know little or nothing. The descendants of military
and naval men, doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and merchants of the old
days, too often not the richest or most powerful men now. Therefore
travellers in these days come and go, either disparaging or fulsomely
praising, just as some do who have visited England, and give a bad
impression of our people and homes. I cannot help alluding to this, as I
have heard many stories of colonists’ behaviour when in England during
the Colonial Exhibition in London. These may be, and no doubt were, in
many instances true, still, if we were to judge the English people, or
indeed any nationality, by those who have visited our shores since the
“gold mania,” I am afraid our experience would be equally unfortunate.
No! let us not be too hasty in judging the many by the few; to my
readers in both countries I say it. This record of a woman’s life and
experience does not pretend to any literary talent; it is written with
the hope of bringing the people of both homes nearer together,
especially the young. Let the older country have patience with the
younger, and lead them by patience and experience, as well as timely
advice, to serve their God, Queen, and country.

To the younger I dedicate “The Golden South.”



CHAPTER I


On a cold dull March morning we left our home in London for the Waterloo
Station, to go by the London and South-Western line to Southampton, from
thence to Portsmouth to join our ship. After dining at the Ship Hotel,
we went on board the vessel which was to be our abode for four months
and a fortnight. Now, though nearly fifty years have passed, I see the
place and recall the strangeness of it all. The ship was an old East
Indiaman with only four large cabins opening into the saloon or “cuddy,”
as it was then generally called. Our family had two of these, so we were
very well off for room and comfort. We left on 25th March, and were
tossing about the famed Bay of Biscay until 10th April. As I am not
writing a diary of our voyage, I will merely mention its chief
incidents. On the 12th of May, when south of the equator, we sighted a
French vessel bound to Buenos Ayres, that diverged from her course with
the view of “speaking” to us. They invited us to dinner; but on our
refusal, accepted an invitation instead to dine with us. The captain and
two passengers were to be our guests, our boat going for them. They
were most delightful people, and Frenchmen-like, full of compliments to
our cook. As some of our passengers spoke their language fluently, the
result was a very pleasant change in the usual monotony of a long
voyage. Just imagine such a thing being done in these days of steam and
quick passages: the passengers from one vessel dining on board another,
spending a few hours, then returning, and being near enough to hear the
music played on board of each vessel, the Frenchmen vainly trying to
give us “God save the Queen.” We were able to give them the
“Marseillaise” splendidly, having some good musicians on board. On 30th
May we encountered a terrible gale, carrying away part of our bulwarks
on the lee side: during this dreadful weather what was left of our live
stock died. This weather continued till 8th June when off Table Bay, and
we had to lay-to all night. No one thought of sleep. Tales of phantom
ships and wrecks recurred to the nervous. However, about 9 A.M. of the
9th June we anchored safely in the bay. We were unable to land for some
hours, but at last went on shore and took rooms at the George Hotel.
What a rest from the unceasing noise of a ship and all its miseries to
the landsmen! Cape Town was lovely, at least I thought so,--very
different from England, the deep red-clay of the roads, numbers of
natives, strange waggons drawn by bullocks, the mountains for a
background, and now (while off it) the beautiful sea in front. The
bazaar-like shops, strange carriages and horses, the hotel so different
from anything I had ever seen--all come back as a picture, as I write.

We remained at the Cape until the 19th June, and had many drives. In
carriages drawn by six small horses we started for Upper Constantia, Van
R----’s vineyard and wine estate, where there is a well-constructed
house of modern style, elegantly furnished. In the garden there was a
Kaffir’s hut, with clay figures life-size, orange trees, subtropical
fruit trees, and flowers everywhere around. We were conducted through
the cellars, and tasted the wine, which has so great a reputation. We
went also to Lower Constantia, where the vineyard of Van C---- is
situated. This was quite a different style of place, close to the
mountains, with the house, garden, and people of the old Dutch type. In
the cool garden violets, primroses, and other English flowers were
blooming, the last I saw for many a day, and those dearest to me never
saw again. We were delighted with the wildflowers, my father making a
collection for his herbarium,--geraniums, phlox, and many others.

While at the Cape there was a ball given at Government House, to which
some of our passengers went, my father and mother among the number, and
in that out-of-the-way place the former met an old schoolfellow; so even
in those early days, when steam was almost in its infancy, the smallness
of the world was exemplified.

We left on the 19th June, and had very favourable weather, only having
two gales, in one of which we lost a man overboard--the carpenter. We
had three families of returning colonists,--the Attorney-General,
Archdeacon C----, with his wife and two children, and another lady and
gentleman, with one child. Divine service was held every Sunday, and
though the archdeacon was seventy-five years of age, he was a good
preacher and very active. He had gone home blind from cataract, but
Alexander, the famous oculist, restored his sight.

As we neared the end of our voyage, it became very monotonous to some,
as we were growing tired of one another; and to those who were going to
an unknown country and who had heard a great deal more about that
country than they had known prior to leaving, there was a dread of “what
the future might hold in store for us”; and in my own family especially
this thought would intrude. “We had better have remained in England;”
but it was too late now.

We were sailing through Bass Straits, passing islands, and with the
Tasmanian land to the south of us, in a few days expected to see the
land of “The Golden South.” We passed Sydney Heads late, and until the
anchor was let go did not know that we had at last reached our
destination. A resounding knock at our Venetians made me wake up.
“K----,” said my mother, “we are in fairyland; look out of the port.” I
did, and my eyes were dazzled by the brilliant sunrise of an Australian
August morning, the long white beaches fringed by heights wooded down to
the rippling bay. I was very soon on deck, and even now can almost feel
the thrill of delight at the view then presented before me. Many have
seen this and written of its loveliness since, in these days of travel;
but not as I saw it then, as to a certain extent man’s improvements
(save the mark!) have marred some of the Master’s works. Few houses were
to be seen, only a few cleared spaces surrounded with trees of the most
luxuriant foliage. We waited till the health officer came on board and
pronounced “All well;” then the pilot took charge of the ship, and we
were soon gliding towards the anchorage, from which we could see Sydney
and the north shore with its few houses buried in foliage. Soon the deck
was crowded.

Our archdeacon’s eldest son, I think, was the first on board to greet
the parent so loved and respected. “I can see you now,” were the old
man’s words of greeting. We were soon standing on the quay, a small
affair then, and entered the hired close carriages brought by my
father’s partner to take us to his house. We drove along George Street,
past the Gaol and Barracks, then into Pitt Street. “Well! what do you
think of it, K----?” asked my mother, I suppose from seeing the blank
look on my face; I was so dreadfully disappointed. “It is like E----,
where we stayed last summer, not a bit like a foreign country; Cape Town
is much prettier.” “Ah! Miss K----, you will find it foreign enough by
and by,” remarked our host. My mother was delighted at what troubled me.
“I can fancy myself at home sometimes,” she murmured. She was a true
child of the city. London had always been her home, and though, for her
children’s sake, she left it every summer for the country, she only
endured the change, and like Charles Lamb, saw nothing in it. “London
suits me best, and humanity is more satisfying than mountains, trees, or
flowers.” Poor mother! I remembered afterwards our host looked pityingly
at her beautiful face when she said this.



CHAPTER II


George, Pitt, King, and Hunter Streets were those alone worthy of the
name, and they were disfigured by irregular buildings, very small and
mean-looking shops and private houses, and by broken patches of vacant
land. The footpaths were miserably bad and the roads ill kept. There
were no omnibuses or cabs, only old private carriages for hire from the
livery stables. This to a woman like my mother, who had never walked two
miles consecutively, was indeed misery; however, when we found a house
of our own in Elizabeth Street, she brightened for a time. Such a house
to her fresh from one in a London Square! Our Sydney house contained six
bare rooms, a kitchen outside, and servants’ room over it, without
fixtures or cupboards of any kind, no water but what was bought or
brought from the city taps by our servants at certain hours of the day;
and for this house and small paved yard the rent was £100 per annum. I,
being young, could not realise the discomfort of such a home, and found
Sydney and its suburbs quite foreign enough for me.

When we had quite settled in our first Australian home, to find the
nearest Church of England was a consideration. To find our parish (St.
Laurence’s) church was a disused brewery was another terrible shock to
my mother’s idea of the fitness of things. However, when the incumbent
proved to be a clever Oxford M.A. and fine preacher, her troubles in
this respect ended. To me it was the greatest gain to become one of his
children; he was so kind, loving, and genial, and had that great gift of
leading young men and women to see in religion the love and pity of God.

Out of that one parish, extending then over many miles, there are now at
least ten made, each with a church and congregation much larger than
those of the old mother parish.

It was a pleasant walk across the racecourse, now called Hyde Park, to
the Domain and Botanic Gardens. In another direction miles of sandhills;
in another, towards Wooloomooloo, there were lovely walks by the waters
of the harbour. For six months I practically lived out of doors, the
clear fresh air was so exhilarating, except when a strong southerly wind
was blowing; then it became anything but pleasant, as the sand from the
hills, mixed with the pulverised clay of the roads, formed a dust which
covered and penetrated everything and everywhere. This was generally
known as a “Brickfielder.”

My father had letters of introduction to many residents in Sydney,
Elizabeth Bay, Darling Point, and Rose Bay; and visiting at these
places, we soon found that New South Wales was not wanting in cultured
gentlemen and families. The reason for stating this is that I find,
since returning to England, it is thought by some “that people in those
early days of Australia lived almost like savages,” and “that colonial
society was composed only of very low people.” How different was the
reality, for in many houses we enjoyed the society of educated and
scientific men, and of accomplished and gentle women, surrounded by all
the comforts and refinements of life.

The schools in the colony were few and far between. The chief were the
Sydney Grammar School, Normal Institution in Sydney, and the King’s
School, Parramatta; the latter being a boarding-school for boys, where
most of the young Australians were educated. Dr. Forrest, one of the
early principals of the school, from all I have heard, was a second
Arnold. One of his pupils in later days filled his former master’s place
worthily and efficiently, after working some years in a country parish.
He only resigned his position a few years ago, when a master from
England was appointed, but since I left Australia last year another
change has been made, and a new master has just arrived there. Only one
ladies’ school of note had been established at this time.

The schools certainly were of the best, and conducted by men and women
who understood their duties, and I have often questioned whether the
advantages of the present system of education in the colonies is an
improvement on the past. Everything is now made so easy, books of all
kinds and on all subjects doing away with any necessity for thought,
and therefore any special talent or genius in the pupil may wither or
die for want of the stimulant to exertion, and this generation, I am
afraid, like our Australian parrot, will only repeat the words of
others.

Our family were to a certain extent for a time independent of schools,
as both our parents were above the average in intellect and knowledge of
books. My father was a great reader, especially on all subjects
connected with natural history, a great lover of the stage, and an
enthusiastic entomologist, having a splendid collection of English
specimens in two cabinets he brought to Australia. My mother was also a
great reader, well informed in history, biography, and all the writers
of the day. Shakespeare was a household word, and most of his plays I
have heard read by both, each taking part. All the chief poets’ works
were well known to them. We had Byron, Scott, Wordsworth, Campbell,
Rogers, Shelley, Pope, and Moore as our guests of an evening: Bulwer,
Thackeray, and Dickens, the latter personally known to my father; in
fact, all the best writers of the day were our teachers. I have always
been a quick and insatiable reader as long as I can remember, and having
a good library to gratify my desires, I only required some one to direct
me and talk over the books I read to finish an education begun early in
England. My mother soon found a French lady to teach us French, music,
and singing, so for the first year we only attended her classes.

Sydney and its suburbs to-day are, I need scarcely say, very different
from what they were when my mother thought “Redfern out in the country
and a dreadful place.” When we were at Liverpool she drove out to
Redfern one day, and it was unfortunately after a bush fire, so that for
some miles nothing but dark charred trees were to be seen. It was her
first and last visit beyond Parramatta, which could be reached by water;
she never would go into the country again. Since those days I have often
sat by her grave, on the highest part of the Church of England Cemetery
in Elizabeth Street, and thought, as I looked on the panorama spread
before me on every side, “What would she think of the city of the Golden
South now?” What has been done in only forty years since we left her
there is marvellous; then there was only just a fringe of civilisation
and progress on its coasts. No railways, few churches; the interior of
the country almost uninhabited, reached only through mere tracks or
roads, nearly impassable, only traversed by that band of pioneers, the
squatters,--a terribly maligned people--who had explored and made the
country. Only those who have lived amongst them on far-away stations can
ever realise what the squatters had to endure before “the desert
blossomed like the rose,”--losses by fire, drought, floods, and the
raids of the Blacks and bushrangers; roads impassable, drays with
supplies kept weeks on the roads, while anxiously looked for. Famine
sometimes stared them in the face, for delicate women and children could
not exist upon meat alone. Just before our arrival things were in a
terrible state; my father could have bought thousands of sheep at
sixpence a head, and this price included homestead, improvements,
horses, and lease of land. I have sometimes heard later colonists say:
“The squatters want it all their own way.” If they do, surely they have
a right to a large share of the cake they certainly made under most
trying conditions.

I have often ridden through townships, the nucleus of which was the
homestead of some early settler; or in later days whirled in the train
in a few hours to what once took weeks to reach, for sometimes drays
would be delayed for months through the rivers being up. Then even
though money was made, consider the isolated life of the squatter. Once
a year a visit to Sydney to sell their wool and purchase supplies. It
was my good fortune to meet many of these squatters, and certainly, I
must say, better informed, more intellectual, and often accomplished
men, I have never met. Certainly some were quiet in manner, owing, no
doubt, to the nature of the lives they were leading away from mixed
society. Many were from the old country, and sons of military and naval
men. I need scarcely say, though they were unused to the society of
ladies, their behaviour was always gentlemanly. I have heard at times in
town “they were a little wild”; but who can wonder, after months of
solitude, without any softening and refining influence, that the old
Adam should become master! Well, well, the noble, hospitable,
single-minded, real squatters will soon die out, but their children, in
their native country, or settled in other lands, should never be
ashamed to own their fathers or country. I fancy I hear some say, “But
how about the first colonists; who were they?” To this I will answer in
the words of Him who was the truest and holiest teacher, “He that is
without sin, let him cast the first stone.” How many men and women were
there in the days I write of amongst all classes, and in every station,
who were as guilty and sin-stained as those referred to, but were not
found out? In my long sojourn in Australia I have met with some of them,
and many of their descendants, but, with very few exceptions, have found
them kind, generous, and clever, like other folk--in fact, better than
many who have emigrated. Above all, fond and proud of their native
land--the land that gave freedom to their ancestors, and in most
instances an independence which they could scarcely have attained to in
the old country. No wonder an Australian is proud of his country, which
appears to me the most wonderful example of the determined energy of the
Anglo-Saxon race. When I used to wander through the Exhibition of 1880,
this was always present in my mind, “Less than one hundred years ago
this country was untrodden by the white man. Where this beautiful
building now stands, there were only the Gunyahs or homes of the poor
savages. That glorious stretch of ocean unknown, and now---- but words
of mine can ill express the change.” But, my fair Australian maidens and
stalwart sons, remember, though your fathers helped to make this change
through determination and energy, and the lessons learned in the older
and more experienced land of their birth, the danger of thinking, “We
can do without England,” I cannot advise you too strongly to guard
against, as it is both unwise and ungrateful. Your country is a very
beautiful one, but not faultless; it has one feature to prevent it from
becoming quickly populated--want of rivers that are permanently
navigable. In this it is so different from America, where water carriage
is generally practicable and cheap. But the children, like the country,
are young, and youth is always a little unreasonable. With this warning
I will finish this chapter, only adding, be strong to write, each one a
page of your life’s history, to improve the present, and adorn the
future annals of your country.



CHAPTER III


My eldest brother, visiting Sydney from the station, thought we had
better go to school for a year. Fortunately one was found where there
were only eight boarders. The lady principal was the daughter of an
English clergyman, and her brother, also a clergyman, had charge of the
parish in which she resided, about forty miles from Sydney. She was a
highly educated woman and a true Christian. We were treated as her own
daughters, guarded from everything that could possibly sully the pages
of our dawning womanhood. I have often thought what a wise thing it was
that my brother suggested our going there. No poetry or novel reading
now; more solid food for the mind helped to leaven what might have
proved dangerous. My chief amusements were music and singing, and even
in “The Golden South” I remember getting up in frosty weather to
practise by candlelight with mittened hands and chilblained fingers.
These schooldays were very happy. The large brick house with verandahs
and balconies all round: the garden only divided from the river-bank by
a thick hedge of aloes, and on the other side the high wall of the
recreation ground of the Liverpool Asylum: this wall was the only one I
ever saw fruit trees growing against as in England. Liverpool was
certainly just the place then for a school, as we might walk from one
end of the township to the other without seeing a single individual; but
unfortunately for Madame’s peace of mind there were two residents who
had large families of boys; however, as they were always absent from
home during the week, and we never went out on Sundays except to church,
she felt relieved. Our dear Madame never thought that her girls
occasionally found boyish epistles written on aloe leaves. On Saturdays
we were never allowed out of the grounds, so on these mornings attended
to our wardrobes, and in the afternoon had a delightful time in an old
weatherboard cottage in the garden roasting cashew nuts, of which
delicacy Madame had a large quantity brought from the West Indies by a
friend. We used to make presents of these, when properly prepared, to
our friends.

One Sunday evening a great event for us happened. As usual we went to
church, but being a cold dark night, no one was religiously inclined, so
the Rev. Mr. Duffus, I suppose, thought “his sister and her schoolgirls
were not sufficient congregation,” and adjourned to his house opposite.
We with Madame followed, and I for one thought it a very good idea, as
we with his children spent the evening before a splendid log-fire in
their nursery. This and going there on Her Majesty’s birthday were the
only occasions I remember anything like amusement away from the school.
Being an exceedingly loyal people, the birthday was kept up by a huge
bonfire in the paddock after a girls’ picnic in the Bush, on which
occasion I saw a snake for the first time in Australia. Bessie D---- and
I having gone at my suggestion to wander about in couples to see “who
could find the most curious thing,” came upon an enormous carpet snake,
decidedly the most curious find. We ran away screaming; but Madame soon
came to the rescue and killed the dreadful creature. Only two of that
band of girls are now left; one in her native land, and the other
writing this near a small village in Hampshire, with a bitter
north-easterly wind blowing.

That year at L---- was truly a resting-place for me before the real
battle of life began, and it was well spent, for it drew together the
threads, a little tangled, of a rather exceptional education. The dear
Madame, who joined warp and woof so gently yet firmly, I can never cease
to love. She has gone where her work will follow her; loved by many
here, and in “the world beyond the stars” may have met some of her
children again who have lived to call her blessed. This is a digression;
but having finished my education and lived the greater portion of my
life in the colony so many people despise and throw stones at, I feel
bound to let my readers know that such things were more than forty years
ago. Yet I cannot help adding that Sydney in the forties was in many
respects not a comfortable place to live in, especially to those who
had only been accustomed to all the luxuries of London life. Tradesmen
were not over civil, domestics were scarce, and what there were, very
incompetent. The older colonists were in this respect far better off. I
knew a family who had a splendid estate about sixty miles from Sydney.
The owner was a retired major who had at least forty servants, many
living in huts near the house, among them a carpenter, blacksmith, and
shoemaker, and also a large store on the property. One of the men, an
Italian, taught his sons and daughters music, the flute, violin, cornet,
and piano; he also formed a band of musicians from the men on the
“Height.” There was also a theatre and billiard-room; in fact, this
place fifty years ago was like a large manor-house with every
arrangement for comfort and amusement. The owner once had the whole of
one side of George Street south offered to him for a few hundred pounds,
which he refused, as he wanted to add to the “Height.”

His eldest son and two daughters were amongst the dearest friends of my
youth, the two eldest most accomplished musicians on piano and flute; I
have often spent hours listening to them playing together. As was the
case with many others of the early colonists, not a rood of land ever
came into the possession of their descendants. In this case part of the
estate was sold for a trifle to a friend of mine, who was having it put
into partial repair when, by a strange fatality, it was burned down on
the same night that the major’s eldest son died many miles distant. Some
years after the youngest son bought back a piece of the old estate,
intending to build a cottage residence on it: the plans were completed
and all arrangements made when he died from a neglected cold. They are
all gone now. The sons never married, so the name has died out, except
that the estate and one street in Sydney still bear it.

       *       *       *       *       *

When my school life ended, I returned to my home, which was now a pretty
cottage, surrounded by a garden full of lovely flowers and shrubs,
enclosed by a high white paling fence. The house had a verandah in front
covered with white jasmine, roses, and honeysuckle. The entrance led at
once into the drawing-room, from thence into another we called the
music-room, and farther on into a back hall, from which you entered the
dining and bed rooms. At the back a flight of stone steps led to
kitchen, servants’ room, and laundry; at the other side a well-room and
larder; at the end of the front verandah was a room we used as a study,
and at the side a door leading to another flight of steps to a stone
passage between our house and the next. It was the prettiest and coolest
house I ever lived in in Sydney. While there my mother seemed to rally
from a severe illness she had had and became her bright self again, with
all her children around her once more; and having two very good
servants, affairs were a little more cheery. My father nearly losing his
life brought back again all her dislike to the colony. He had gone over
to the north shore by the ferry collecting for his Australian cabinet
of insects, when about four miles inland, going through the scrub, he
felt something sting his leg; on looking down he saw one of the most
deadly snakes gliding away. His first thought was, “If I have not a
knife I am a dead man.” He had one fortunately, so sitting down on a
fallen tree he cut the piece of flesh out round the bitten part, then
tore his handkerchief in half, and tied the pieces tightly above and
below the wound. It was an intensely hot January day, so that his
four-mile walk through the scrub and sand was dreadful. When he reached
the ferry the boat was on the other side; but a boatman near saw that
something was the matter, and running towards him, asked, “What is
wrong, sir?” My father was just able to answer, “Met with an accident;
take me to the nearest doctor in Lower George Street,” when he fainted
from loss of blood and over-exertion. The doctor knew my father, and
when he had given him some brandy and restored him to his senses, asked
him to relate what had happened. When we returned home from church the
house was in commotion. My father was being walked up and down between
two men, who were not to allow him to sleep on any account. He often
said afterwards he remembered little about it, as he believed the brandy
the doctor had given him made him intoxicated, he being a very temperate
man, and never taking spirits at any time. The snake, as he thought, was
one of the most deadly kind, and the doctor said the long walk after the
bite had caused some small portion of the virus to mix with the blood.
It was one of the few cases of recovery from that reptile’s poison ever
heard of, and for some weeks the wound was most painful. This made me
always most nervous in regard to snakes, and often spoiled my enjoyment
of country walks. On two occasions I was only just saved from treading
on them by the merest chance. Once sitting on the verandah of a friend’s
house at Double Bay on a Sunday morning, I heard the words, “Don’t move;
there is a snake round the leg of the chair you are on.” I obeyed, but
the creature, disturbed by the voice, moved off the verandah and
disappeared. That same day we were sitting at dinner when the report of
the gun was heard, which at that time used to be fired by the mail
steamers on arrival in Sydney Harbour; and my friend went out to see the
steamer pass, when there was monsieur snake on the door-mat basking in
the sun. This time nothing was done to disturb him till means were
procured for his destruction, and he was killed. On the other occasion I
was walking across Balmain with a friend. When passing through a rocky
part we came to some water, James said, “Let me go first.” Just as he
did so, I saw a large “whip snake” lying on the path. In an instant his
foot was on it. Being a heavy man he crushed the head: if it had been my
lighter weight it would only have disturbed the creature. I nearly
fainted; but my friend began to scold and then laugh at my fears.



CHAPTER IV


We had some congenial visitors at this time in two officers and the
artist belonging to H.M.S. _Fly_ and _Bramble_, which were visiting
Sydney occasionally, being on an exploring and surveying cruise among
the islands in the Pacific. The explorer Leichhardt also spent some
evenings at our house, my father taking so great an interest in the same
pursuits. It was very pleasant listening to their conversation on such
subjects. We also had men in the colony then worth listening to.
Responsible government had not yet been granted, and for the real
welfare of the country it would have been better if it had been withheld
another twenty years at least. Such men as Wentworth, Darvall, Cowper,
Windeyer, Lowe, and others, were fit to hold the reins, and knew how to
legislate, and would not sell its best interests as long as they
remained in power, as our later legislators have done.

We had two daily papers--the Sydney _Morning Herald_ and the _Empire_.
The latter became the political stepping-stone of the man whom some
consider the chief cause of the large liabilities of New South Wales. In
fact, nearly the whole of the Australian colonies have suffered through
their legislators being needy men without any knowledge of financial
matters,--men who were unable to finance their own small affairs, and
have only existed on polities while in place, and borrowing while out.

What would the children of the present day think of there being only one
toy-shop in Sydney--Reeves’s in Elizabeth Street,--where the lowest
priced doll was five shillings, a common box of toys half a crown? There
was another shop in Hunter Street where better class things could be
purchased, principally in wood and ivory. I have often been in both, and
since have seen the owner of the latter the companion of princes.
Fortune plays extraordinary pranks sometimes, and certainly in a new
country shows her usual fickleness more frequently than in older ones.
Impudence, assurance, egotism, and a supreme belief in one’s own ability
goes a long way with some people, and the everlasting _I_ is believed
in, and pushes its way to the front.

Nothing could be more beautiful than the views from our friend’s
verandah at Darling Point, the clear intensely blue sky and the small
islands covered with foliage dotted about the harbour. We used to sit
there for hours after dinner watching the beautiful effects of light and
shade on the sea. The mosquitoes were not so troublesome as in Sydney.
Such a splendid garden and orchard full of novelty to us
Londoners,--apricot, peach, nectarine, and bananas in blossom or fruit;
Norfolk Island pines, eucalyptus, cedars, camphor laurels, and numbers
of others I forget the names of. Beneath the gardens, on the rocks, we
could gather oysters _ad libitum_, taking a hammer to dislodge them, and
some bread and butter with porter for the elders. In this way we had
many a delicious impromptu lunch, and then started for a long walk to
Double and Rose Bays. There were no people’s grounds to trespass on
until we reached Point Piper, but green swards and trees, almost to the
water’s edge. Now there are gardens, terraced and flat, bathing-houses,
and jetties, where lie yachts and pleasure boats. Picnics were the chief
outdoor amusement (croquet and lawn-tennis were not known then): I
really think I have been to all the available spots for these sometimes
rather trying amusements, as with the thermometer at 90 to 100 degrees
in the shade you had mosquitoes and flies innumerable, and what with
ants of various sizes, and the horror of snakes, I often felt that “I
would rather remain at home and keep the skin on my nose.” Nevertheless
when there, I danced and sang with the rest. My brother started on a
fishing excursion with a friend one Saturday afternoon, intending to
return by moonlight. A southerly wind set in suddenly. They managed to
get under the lee of an island, and then made for Middle Harbour; but
their boat when near shelter capsized, and they with it were dashed
against the rocks. Both escaped without injury, excepting the boat. They
soon found an overhanging rock to shelter them, lighted a fire, and
determined to remain the night, taking off their clothes by degrees to
dry them, and then sat down to tea, damper, a smoke, and yarn. Presently
a bright light roused them. On looking round they saw their clothes were
on fire,--fortunately coats and hats only. The next morning they started
early to walk to the nearest ferry so as to arrive in Sydney during
church time. Such a disreputable pair made their appearance, footsore
and weary! I said, “You will not go fishing again in a hurry, H----;”
but he did, the next Saturday afternoon. Amusements were not plentiful
in Sydney,--only one theatre, and that too poor in every respect for a
family who had so recently seen the best in London. Concerts were
occasionally held in the large room of the Royal Hotel, and lectures at
the School of Arts. There were also some good private players and
singers.

The flower shows were a great treat, held in a large marquee in the
Domain. The display of flowers, fruit, and vegetables was most
interesting to us, consisting as it did of so much we had been
accustomed to consider rare or uncommon,--peaches, nectarines, loquats,
and passion fruit. Then the flowers,--camellias, Daphnes,
Bouganvilliers, Hoyas, Tecomas, and others I had never seen before. Now
we revelled in them. My mother even acknowledged, “We could not obtain
such in London.” At this time she would hardly allow that, as owing to
the present system of railways, flowers like these are brought from
Italy and the south of France in great quantities.

The Queen’s birthday was a great day for Sydney, a close holiday.
_Levée_ in the morning, a grand review in the afternoon, and the
evening for the ball at Government House, with a grand display of
bonfires and fireworks for the people. Can you imagine George Street
closely packed with people, with squibs, rockets, and crackers being let
off from one side of the street to the other, Catharine-wheels fastened
to pieces of wood and held aloft? I saw this from a window between
Market Street and the Royal Hotel in 184-. Saturday too for some years
in the same locality presented a great contrast to its present quiet.
The only market was very small, so carts, barrows, and baskets lined the
street, filled with everything the poorer class could want,--second-hand
clothes, boots, books, dairy produce, fruit, vegetables, poultry--in
fact a regular _Olla podrida_, as is at present displayed in the stalls
at “Paddy’s Market,” which was then only a hay market. A few months ago,
to my great astonishment, in going from one part of the west end to
another in London I was reminded of this; but the English street market
was in the daytime. We have nothing of the kind in Sydney, neither is
the pavement of our principal streets taken up by itinerant dealers
displaying mechanical toys, or taking in the unwary by selling them
wonderful bargains. Government House hospitalities were far more
exclusive than now, only a certain class had the _entrée_; but on the
Queen’s birthday the members of both Houses of Parliament, professional
men, civil servants, and merchants were invited. Shopkeepers were
excluded. What a change now! Ministers of the Government are
hotel-keepers, and members of Parliament keep shops or stores; but this
is gaining ground all over the world. Money makes the man, and if
impecunious peers and peeresses in England take to trade, surely our
colonists of every degree may try to legislate if they have education,
talent, and means. It is the needy, self-seeking politician who will say
and do anything to keep his place and pay, I object to. I hope for the
wellbeing of the country I love that in the future there will be
Australians who will legislate for the good of their country and not for
their own selfish interests. Now, alas, though there are some few,
disgusted with the present state of things, they cannot stem the power
of the majority created by manhood suffrage, giving every loafer an
equal voting power with the intelligent and honourable man.

I have been present at several birthday balls in the far-away days, and
could relate many amusing episodes, but will not, to raise a laugh at
the ignorance or _gaucherie_ of kindly people. Lady G----’s guests were
from all classes: some from the lonely “Bush” living in country style,
and only visiting Sydney once a year, who, if they were a little
awkward, or talked about dairies, poultry, and their children, thought
finger-glasses were “tumblers” and bonbons “fireworks,” were
warm-hearted, hospitable, and generous. “Being from the old country” was
a passport to admit the stranger to their hearths and homes. And I have
no doubt at this time in England there are many living in country places
the iron-horse has not yet reached just as unsophisticated, for even now
in this village, only one hour’s train ride from London, there is a
woman who never heard of false teeth, but thought “dentists could make
teeth grow.”

Boating and cricket were the principal recreations of the young men. My
father had belonged to one of the best cricket clubs in London, and I
had seen matches played at Lord’s; but he did not join in anything in
Sydney, devoting the whole of his spare time to entomology and botany.
My brother H---- belonged to both cricket and boat clubs. They used to
play on the racecourse in Elizabeth Street every evening. The new
racecourse at Homebush was a centre of attraction to many; but we were
not a racing family, so we never went. My parents were not fitted for
colonial life, having been always accustomed to London comforts and
amusements. My mother had no idea of housekeeping even there, keeping
the same experienced and faithful servants for years. Even if fortune
had proved kinder, she would never have liked the colony, and her five
years there, spent wearily and sadly, I am certain helped to kill her.
One of the few amusements then was the Military Band which played once a
week in the Barrack Square, and afterwards in the Domain, attracting all
the _élite_ and idlers of Sydney. Dress was displayed and criticism
indulged in. The drive in the Domain was the antipodean “Rotten Row.”
The baths in the Domain were owned and managed by one of our
fellow-passengers who had been home to see his friends in England. All
through the summer at some time in the day we went to have a delightful
bathe; most of the Australian women could swim.

The 26th of January, being the anniversary of the colony, was considered
young Australia’s. The Regatta was the event of the year. Races on land
were all very well; but the colonial “Vikings” revelled in their
beautiful harbour, almost living in it. And, alas, sometimes dying in
it!

One incident at this time made a deep impression on me. Two young men,
sons of one of our first Australian friends, with two others, were in
treaty for a boat, and being in Government offices, could only arrange
to go out on Sunday morning with the owner to try it, my friend calling
to his sister as he left, “I will be back in time to take you and mother
to church.” The others had been to early service, and were to meet at
Wooloomooloo Bay. When they left, it was a most lovely summer’s morning,
with very little wind. At the time I was staying at Darling Point, and
having dressed for church, was waiting in the verandah for my friends,
when one said, “Look, Miss L----, there is the ‘White Squall’ you sing
about.” In an instant the wind rose and the harbour was covered with
waves; we watched some boats hastening for shelter to one or other of
the numerous islands, and in less than an hour all was calm again. The
next morning the news came that my friends had not returned. Hour by
hour their anxious mother hoped on, but no tidings came, and never did,
nor will until “the sea gives up her dead.” A very sad circumstance
intensified my friend’s grief. Her eldest son had been in the constant
habit of boating on Sunday mornings until about two years before, when
his youngest sister, a schoolfellow of mine, died after a long illness
of consumption. She was a true Christian, and when dying fretted at her
brother’s Sunday boating, and as a last effort made him promise never to
go out boating on Sunday again, which promise he had kept until the
morning he was lost. Sunday was the only day he could go out, and no
doubt he was not so well able to manage a boat as heretofore. It was
supposed they had gone outside the “Heads” and were suddenly caught in
the squall, as not a vestige of the boat or its occupants was ever
found. My poor old friend was left with only one daughter, and she too
died young. As I had been dancing only a few nights before the accident
with the two others of the boating party, it was years before I could
look on the water without fear, and never went in a sailing-boat again.
One walk I shall never forget. We had waited for a friend who was
finishing her drawing lesson in Liverpool Street, near the corner of
Elizabeth Street; on turning down College Street I suggested going along
the South Head Road, now Oxford Street, and taking a short cut through
where they were quarrying stone for the new court-house, as I had passed
this way a few days previous on my way to Darling Point. As all were
agreeable, we soon entered the quarries; but what to see! A gang of men
chained together, with armed warders on either side guarding them. I
stood aghast! To my companions such sights were but too familiar; to
me, for many a day, it cast a shadow over all that once had appeared
beautiful. The face of one of the prisoners remained in my memory for
years--a weak, though handsome face. We shrank back as he raised his
dark eyes, and for a second when they met ours, the blush of shame could
be seen through his tanned skin. Who and what was he? I have often
thought since that he did not belong to the class of roughs that were
his companions in the gang. I was young and sensitive, and shall never
forget this, my first glimpse of the punishment of crime. That was the
only time I saw a gang of prisoners outside the prison walls. Since then
I became acquainted with the kindly family of the Governor of
Darlinghurst Gaol, and have spent many hours in his house, listening to
his daughters playing, or conversing with his amiable wife; but I could
not feel really happy, not being able to banish from my mind the
proximity to so much misery and crime.



CHAPTER V


Circumstances at this period made me decide upon leaving home. I went to
Newtown and spent nearly three happy years with a family there. My
pupils were a boy and girl, the elder son riding to his school at
Wooloomooloo every day. I was treated more as a daughter than governess.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were English gentlefolks, and Mr. Johnson was one
of the leading solicitors in Sydney. I had access to an excellent
library, and also mixed in the best society as well as with the best
musical talent of the colony. Our drives were picturesque and
delightful. Sometimes we strolled across the paddocks to Redfern without
meeting more than half a dozen people.

Newtown was very sparsely populated at this time, there being only a few
houses on the main road. Away from the road there were several large
houses surrounded by beautiful and well-kept grounds, such as “Enmore,”
“The Pines,” “Linthorpe,” “The Grange,” and towards Cook’s River “Bella
Retiro,” “Tempe,” and others. I knew these places well, and visited them
with my friends. The nearest church, St. Stephen’s, was at Camperdown,
where the third cemetery near Sydney was formed. The first, I think,
was in George Street, in which stood St. Andrew’s Church, now the
cathedral; the second, the one I have alluded to before, in Elizabeth
Street. I am not quite certain about Cook’s River Church, but think it
was built about this time, and had its churchyard round it.

All these places which I remember so well have been formed into streets
and filled with houses. I used to walk across the sandhills to Pitt
Street, Redfern, passing Henderson’s Nursery and Calder House, with its
gardens and paddocks; round it to Woolcott’s Cottages, and so on, to my
father’s house without meeting a single person. Then on the other side,
now called Kingston, Petersham, Stanmore, Norwood, Marrickville, only
some half-dozen houses, and these surrounded by gardens and paddocks.
Now the railway passes through the gardens of most, if not of all of
these places, and some of the houses have gone also; but my home is
still left, though built in at the back, and the garden ending at the
railway fence. I became thoroughly acquainted with this portion of
Sydney, quite unknown to me till I went to live at “The Grange.” My
relatives lived in another direction, and had never been to this part
before. My friends, being young, possessing means, and wishing to make
me happy and contented, we had many delightful excursions, picnics, and
pleasant days at Botany, Kissing Point, and Cook’s River. Botany was
most interesting to me, as being the first spot trodden by my
countrymen. La Perouse’s monument is quite a relic of the olden time.
Botany Bay was a bleak unpicturesque place compared with Sydney Harbour,
and the drive to it, through the Waterloo Estate, sandy and barren. I
had some knowledge of this district before, having been introduced to a
family that had a wool-washing establishment at Botany. A few years
after I visited the Water-works, just finished, for supplying Sydney
with water from the Botany Swamps, and I have been twice since to the
Sir Joseph Banks Hotel; but there had been little improvement on the
road. Waterloo has now become the Whitechapel of Sydney, the abode of
questionable white humanity and Chinese.

We had now a larger influx of emigrants, and consequently domestic
matters were carried on more smoothly. We knew many bright and agreeable
fresh arrivals from home, bringing with them new books, music, fashions,
dances, and ideas. How well I remember Mr. Hamlyn, his two pretty
daughters in the first Irish jaunting car I had ever seen drive up:
their teaching me the polka after dinner one evening, and then singing
some of Moore’s melodies. Then the Mayor’s Fancy Ball held in the
Victoria Theatre, a very grand affair, dances at Enmore, our own house,
and many others near.

Sydney was always a musical place. The members of the Choral Society and
others were indefatigable, and by this time we had some good teachers
wending their way to our distant shores. There was only one good music
shop when we first arrived; but by this time others were established.
The family I lived with were of great assistance in this respect. One
member was the organist at St. James’s Church, another at Christ Church;
so my musical education was not neglected.

I have often thought since my duties were very light, and how kind
everybody was to me. A governess’s life at the Antipodes in 184- was an
ideal one; but all were not so fortunate as myself. I have since heard
of some who were in very different homes, and were treated as upper
servants, slighted and neglected; but fortunately I never experienced
such treatment then or at any future period. Leaving home was entirely
my own act, as my mother felt that I was too young for such
responsibility; afterwards she acknowledged the wisdom of the step, as
it took me away from cares that might have crushed my spirit. And I was
near enough to see her often and to be with her at the last when, weary
and worn, she went to rest, her last hours soothed by my dear friend and
pastor, the Rev. W. H. Walsh. My sister went to the country with my
brother, the two younger children to school, and so for a time the home
was broken up.

After the loss of my mother I returned home and lived in a pretty
cottage on the Glebe Road, owned by the grandfather of a man whose
marriage I saw announced in a society paper a few days since to a
daughter of one of our old Scotch families. Australia is not by any
means a bad place for daughters of good families to visit, as they often
find desirable _partis_ with plenty of means, houses, and lands. Some
of the sterner sex have found Australia by no means an undesirable
country to seek a wife, as gentlemen from the naval and military
services can attest. They have shown their good sense and taste in doing
so; for without being partial, our Australian girls are fair,
fascinating, accomplished, and more useful than their English sisters. I
have seen two generations of girls, so may give an opinion.

The cottage at The Glebe was surrounded by a perfect bower of flowers,
and opposite the then church glebe land, now covered with numerous
streets and houses. The house we lived in has now a shop front added to
it in the dear old garden, and all the old associations are vulgarised.
We had a fuchsia growing at the side of an outbuilding nearly twenty
feet high. Where the shop counters are now, arches of roses stood. Well,
I suppose it is one of the signs of progress. Change brings change, and
perhaps if the property had been mine, £ _s._ _d._ would have proved a
panacea, as it has done to many who have seen the homes of their fathers
pass into the hands of strangers. So many changes have taken place in
Sydney and its suburbs that at times it is difficult to realise them.
Very few of the old landmarks are left. One still remains that is dear
to me--the resting-place of my mother in God’s Acre at the top of
Elizabeth Street; but every year I expect to learn that it too has
disappeared. Had “The Golden South” been more generous to me with her
wealth, it would have been devoted to the building of a church there, as
it is a splended site. One of our wealthy merchants, whose family
rested there, suggested removing “Christ Church to the spot,” and as it
was the parish church for some years it would have been most
appropriate, and to myself and all whose dead are lying there would have
been a source of consolation. Christ Church for so many years had been
my sanctuary in times of trial and disappointment. I taught in her
Sunday Schools the lessons learnt from the two most earnest Christians
in every sense I ever knew. The elder was the beloved teacher and guide
of the younger, of whom his father once said, “My eldest son is, like
Nathaniel, without guile;” and in truth he was. His church was built in
part of the parent parish nearly forty years ago, where he lived,
laboured, and died, deeply regretted and beloved by all.

My class in the school, its members’ dwellings scattered over many
miles, and our pastor wishing us to visit our scholars in their homes,
necessitated my taking many walks from the Glebe to Baptist Gardens in
one direction, in another to Darling Harbour. In those days Sunday
School teaching was not easy work; sometimes I had as many as thirty
scholars in my class. We also did our best to assist in visiting the
sick and sorrowing. The Benevolent Asylum being in our parish, we
undertook the visiting there. I could relate many a tale of loneliness,
sorrow, and sin heard in those days, of waifs and strays drifted to
these shores, in which “Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.”

We were at this period looking forward to the commencement of railways
in New South Wales, and I was present at the turning of the first sod by
the Hon. Mrs. Keith Stewart, daughter of Sir Charles Fitzroy, the
Governor; she having taken up the duties of her lamented mother, Lady
Mary Fitzroy, who was accidentally killed in the Parramatta Domain. Her
death was a great loss to the colony, as she was a kind and noble woman,
interested in every good work for the benefit of the colony. What a day
it was for the commencement of our railways, the rain pouring down in
torrents! Such a sea of umbrellas everywhere, excepting under the
marquee, where the invited guests adjourned for luncheon and speeches,
naturally called forth on such an eventful ceremony, and where for the
time the weather was forgotten! It was a great day in the annals of the
colony when every one looked forward with hope to the future opening up
of the country; but no one could have fully anticipated the rapid
strides the colony was about to make, or the position these colonies
were to arrive at in the world’s history. Now people too often forget
when writing or speaking of “The Golden South,” the great distance from
Europe, or that a hundred years ago it was only inhabited by almost the
lowest type of humanity, who had little idea beyond satisfying the
cravings of nature. Poor things! they are nearly driven out by the white
settlers, who have shown little thought for their wellbeing. Our boasted
civilisation has culminated in the weaker going to the wall, or rather
in their extermination. The first white settlers did not tend to make
what was then known as Botany Bay a desirable place for the better class
to select for a home when crowded out of England. So the first
half-century of the Australian colonies was spent in a struggle for a
better reputation, and the last half-century paved the way for results,
such as the Exhibition in Melbourne last year.



CHAPTER VI


It would be a difficult task to picture the excitement at the time of
the gold discovery. Most people seemed to have gone mad with the gold
fever. My brother (who was living in Bathurst at the time), in the midst
of it all, was one of the first to go to Ophir or Sofala, I forget
which.

The first discovery was made by a man who had been in California, and on
seeing the geological formation of the Bathurst district, he at once set
to work to seek the precious metal. I have heard my brother say, “That
with few exceptions there were only old men, women, and children left in
Bathurst when the fever set in. Men of all ranks, professional or
otherwise, flocked to the ‘Diggings.’ Stores were set up rapidly, and
every week fresh finds and fields were discovered and rushed to.” In
Sydney the fever for gold was nearly as bad. I have often gone to the
Parramatta Road, standing on the high banks on either side, and watched
the different parties wending their way to the new El Dorado. Some in
comfortable vehicles and well-laden drays, others--more humble
diggers--in carts, and parties of men on foot carrying their “swags” or
leading a pack-horse. All were full of life, hope, and energy. How few
reaped the golden harvest, and to how many who had broken up their
homes, giving up their comforts and family ties, did this bring misery
and ruin, almost, as Tom Hood wrote, “To the very verge of the
churchyard mould.” The greed for gold leads poor humanity to almost
every extreme. From my own experience in this instance it certainly did,
for in going about amongst the working classes as I did, the accounts
related to me were of the most painful character. The tradesmen leaving
their business, taking with them the earnings of years to sink in outfit
and expenses; the mechanics their trades, leaving their poor wives to
earn a living for themselves and children anyway they could. Little
homes sold or mortgaged, all for the mere chance of making “a pile.” All
female labour became cheaper, and laundresses in Sydney were plentiful;
female servants could be had for very low wages. Occasionally men would
send for their wives and children “to join them on the ‘Diggings’;” and
after the first rush the wife could make more money by washing than the
man could by digging, and many other ways than actual digging cropped up
to lead to fortune.

The news soon reached England, and steamers came out crowded with
passengers who were going to “make a fortune.” Such people too! Men who
had never been used to hard work, and had never handled spade or pick,
except perhaps in the soft prepared ground of a little villa garden,
men who had never soiled their white hands with any kind of work, men
delicate in health and used only to refined society. Here is one
instance which came to my notice. A young man with a pretty wife left a
most comfortable home and large circle of friends to go out to the
“Diggings.” He took a cottage for his wife close to us. Then he joined a
party, and took with him tents, tools--in fact, everything requisite for
a “gentleman digger;” promising his wife “that when the summer set in
she should join him.” I used to listen sadly to this pretty creature’s
anticipations of how soon her husband would make his fortune and return
with her to her father. In what part of England they would purchase an
estate. Every letter she expected to learn “that her husband and party
had ‘struck gold,’ and were getting it by the pound at least.” Then a
week passed without a letter from her husband, and she became almost
frantic. We took every means to find out the cause, and at last the news
arrived. “He was ill,” so the pretty brave wife decided at once to go to
her husband. My father saw her safely into the wretched vehicle called
“the mail coach,” and we watched her leave, taking charge of her house
during her absence. On her arrival at the “Diggings” she found her
husband recovering from a severe attack of inflammation of the lungs.
She remained with him until he was convalescent, then returned home,
having obtained his consent to let part of their cottage furnished. We
were aware that their funds were getting low, so, though we thought it a
great risk for her to take strangers into her house, we did not like to
dissuade her. I used to go in to see her every day, and about a week
after her return as usual called after dinner, when she met me beaming
with smiles, saying: “Miss L----, I have let my rooms to such nice
people,--a young married couple just from home. The gentleman called
this morning and arranged everything. Such a very distinguished and
aristocratic-looking man! He offered such high terms; and I am to engage
a nurse-girl for their baby.” “I am exceedingly glad,” I said; “but,
Dora, have you had good references?” Her face clouded, “He never offered
any.” “Did you ask for them?” “Yes; but he continued talking, and made
me quite forget all about it; still, Miss L----, I am sure it is all
right.” I looked at her innocent face and thought, “You are indeed a
Dora after Dickens’s model.” However the mischief, if any, was done, and
it would not avail to say more about it. I was very glad at the idea
that they might become useful and intimate friends to her, as we were
soon to leave for my brother’s at Wellington, two hundred miles from
Sydney, and her only friends in the colony were made through our
introduction. Well, the next day her lodgers came, and certainly they
were both handsome, the man aristocratic-looking. Everything appeared
favourable enough; Dora was charmed, though a week passed without her
having said more than “Good-morning” to Mrs. Fyling, who she thought was
fretting. “But I never saw greater devotion than his to his wife; she is
very fond of the baby; but whenever he is at home, she sends it away at
once. I think, dear, he must be of a very jealous disposition, and does
not care to see even his own child caressed.” “Perhaps so.” “I am sure,
dear, they are good people,” went on Dora; “they inquired about the
nearest church, and have a Bible and Prayer-book on their
dressing-table.” “Yes,” I answered vaguely; somehow I did not feel at
ease about these people, my father having remarked, “He did not think
all was right with them.”

The next morning I was leaving our gate when a gentleman stopped me and
asked “If I knew which was Mr. ----’s cottage.” I pointed it out to him.
“Do you know whether he is at home?” “No; he is at Ophir, but his wife
is there.” “Alone?” “No; she has a gentleman and lady living there.”
“Thank you,” and raising his hat passed me. He did not go towards the
house, but towards the town. How long that morning appeared, and when I
started on my daily walk back from Redfern to the Glebe, it seemed twice
its usual distance. I ran into my own home and said, “I will take lunch
with Mrs. ----,” which I did. We had just finished, and were waiting
until the maid had removed the things from the next room, when a knock
and ring at the hall door startled us. I looked out, and standing there
was the man I had seen that morning and another gentleman with him. The
girl opened the door. On his asking for my friend, she went towards him.
At that moment Mrs. Fyling crossed the hall. I shall never forget the
yell of the other man or the scream from Mrs. Fyling. He rushed to her
and drew her into her room, asking, “Where is my child and that man?”
Shall I ever forget this scene of agony, reproach, and violence? The
cause of all this had just arrived from town and entered the cottage by
the French window of their sitting-room. The husband left his wretched
wife and rushed at him; but fortunately his friend prevented further
violence, and begged him “to consider the terrified owner of the house,”
at the same time reminding him that his faithless wife was not worth his
passion or regrets. “You can have your child, and you promised me you
would let those miserable creatures go, as their sin will soon bring
about its own punishment.” “Hers will,” said her husband, looking down
on her as she was lying on the floor. “Only two years since you married
me, your father’s trusted friend. Did I ever refuse you anything or pain
you by an angry word? Did I not leave you with every luxury while I was
toiling for your comfort? Oh, God! it is such frail creatures make men
brutes.” “Forgive me,” she cried. “Never!” was the stern reply. We left
the room and went into my friend’s apartment, as the nurse had not yet
returned from her walk with the child. When he saw his child, he
snatched it from the nurse’s arms and wept over it in bitter tears.

His friend told Mrs. S----, “He had only returned from England a few days
before,” to find his wife and child gone, and a letter from Mr. Fyling
awaiting him, stating “they had started for Tasmania,” but he did not
believe this, as from his servants he heard that they were still in
Sydney. “I had heard where they were, and fearing that if he should meet
them together unexpectedly something very serious might be the result, I
determined to bring him here. I need not say, Mrs. S----, how sorry I
am: this was inevitable.” “Never mind,” sobbed my friend; “it cannot be
helped; but how could she be so wicked, and with a child of her own to
love and tend?” After a little while poor Captain ---- and his friend,
with the child in his arms, left the house. During the afternoon the
noise of packing in the lodgers’ rooms made me aware they were preparing
for departure, and about five o’clock the nurse-girl brought Mrs. S----
a note to state “they were leaving,” enclosing a quarter’s rent for the
rooms. A carriage was driven up soon afterwards, Mr. Fyling carrying his
unfortunate companion to it, and thus they passed out of our lives.
After this my poor young friend let her house furnished, and went to
live with her husband on the Ophir diggings.



CHAPTER VII


My stay in Sydney was to end for a time, as my brother had gone to
Wellington, a small township in the western district, and wished us to
join him. My sisters and I left on a fine February morning in the mail
coach for Bathurst; this coach, not unlike a large baker’s cart, holding
eight inside and two on the box seat. The joltings and creakings must
have been most trying to the elderly passengers. We were young, and
merely felt the heat, which was compensated for by the novelty and the
idea of seeing the country. We went as far as Penrith the first day,
arriving late in the evening, and leaving again at four o’clock the next
morning. It was lovely and fresh crossing the Nepean River in the ferry,
thence through Emu Plains and the valley of the Grose; and looking back
from Lapstone Hill the view was very charming. Then came into view the
scenery of the Blue Mountains, which we had plenty of time to admire. As
the weary horses had to be considered on the steep inclines, male
passengers would get out and walk, and sometimes the females preferred
to do so, becoming much cramped by sitting in the shaky vehicle. At that
time there were not any fences on the roads, so at times we appeared on
the verge of being precipitated over the rocks into the valley below,
the bottom of which we could not see. When the horses had been changed
at some wayside inn and were somewhat fresh, we held our breath with the
fear of going over the precipices. We had glimpses of deep ravines and
gullies, a mass of foliage, the sides and hollows green with ferns of
various kinds. At times the clouds seemed beneath us. Having had some
heavy rains, there were grave doubts as to whether we should be able to
cross the river lying between us and Bathurst. On arriving at the river,
and while fording it, we experienced a decidedly creepy feeling,
expecting every second that the water would reach us in the coach;
however on this journey such a misadventure, we were thankful, was
averted. Soon after crossing the river the Bathurst Plains were in view,
and then we had the curious sensation of travelling on a sea-like
stretch of land, not a tree to be seen for miles,--nothing save grass,
land, and sky, with an occasional flock of sheep in the distance. At
last we arrived at the yard of the principal hotel in Bathurst, where we
were to remain till my brother should meet us, and our escort gave us
over to the care of the landlady. We were not to remain there long, as
an old friend of ours, learning of our visit, came the next day and took
us over to his pretty cottage on the outskirt of the town. We were glad
to rest, as only half our journey was accomplished. In a week we were
again on our way to our new home, passing through Orange and Molong,
busy little places, owing to the gold-fields surrounding them. We were
constantly meeting parties of diggers on the road, sometimes a few,
returning cityward, looking already depressed; they had evidently found
gold was hard to get. Our first landmark of nearing home was Wellington
Valley, and it was certainly a cheery one, with its mountainous
background, its few farms, and peaceful aspect. The township of
Montefiores is on the farther side of the River Macquarie, and the
driver stated “that he had heard the river was ‘a banker.’” “If so,” my
brother remarked, “we shall have to wait until it lowers;” but we
managed to get over safely with only a little water in the bottom of the
coach, and soon drove up to my first Bush home, a comfortable brick
cottage, with a nice garden at the back, and my brother’s place of
business at the side. We were all very tired, so after a refreshing bath
and some tea we retired to beds made on the floor, as our furniture was
on the road. It being a bachelor’s home, there was very little furniture
on our arrival, and it was nearly a month before our belongings reached
us by the lumbering drays. Harry had an excellent cook there, and a
young woman in the township came to help. Shortly after a great
misfortune befell us. My brother’s cook--an old man--died, and then
indeed my troubles began. No servants could be got except Chinamen, and
these at fearful wages; for being so near the gold-fields, men would not
undertake domestic work, and if women were hired in Sydney they might
come, remain a month or two, and then leave for the nearest diggings.
As there were three of us, I determined to try and do without them
except for laundry and rough work. But what trials and mistakes attended
us in starting! Bread-making was a terrible experience, and certainly
after the utter failures and waste of flour for days, who could blame my
brother for saying, “When I marry, it shall be a country girl,”--which
of course he did not, as his chosen wife had never been beyond
Parramatta. We had at last to fall back on “damper” until I learned the
art of bread-making. The yeast gave the most trouble; it was either
flat, or else so lively as to cause a cannonade by the bottles bursting.
However at last we succeeded, and were famous bread-makers; though we
always had to knead each loaf separately, as neither of us were of the
muscular type of female. All our water had to be drawn from a deep well
by a windlass. This work I could never accomplish; but my youngest
sister (a girl of fourteen) became very expert, though I was constantly
expecting to hear that she had gone in search of Truth. Fortunately we
had an excellent American cooking stove, as well as an immense open
fireplace, in which three of us could stand, and a baker’s oven large
enough to bake for a dozen families. We soon became very good managers,
and were able to attend church every Sunday morning and have an
excellent hot dinner as well. It was a very happy home, three girls and
the head of the house not thirty years of age. All our friends were
young: the manager of the largest station near, with a young wife; the
clerk of petty sessions, his young wife and her sister--in fact, except
the doctor, an old bachelor, and clergyman and his wife, all were under
thirty.

I undertook the education of my youngest sister, and many an afternoon
we would walk a mile or two, choose a shady spot, and hear her lessons,
or prepare others for the following day, while we worked. Life for a
time was like one long summer day. Pianos were scarce in the district,
only one in Montefiores, until we had one from Bathurst. I managed,
without the aid of a master, to play the flutina for accompaniments and
dance music. The manager of the station could play the guitar, and one
of his superintendents the flute. What pleasant days and evenings we
spent there, dining at seven, dressing for dinner of course, and waited
on by the Chinese butler and his assistants in costume! All the indoor
servants at the station were Chinese, the outdoor aboriginals. I shall
never forget a terrible night we spent there. It was at the election
time; Mr. Dunlop and all the gentlemen were at the election dinner in
Montefiores, Mrs. Dunlop, ourselves, and two other ladies were in the
house alone. It was a long low house with small rooms opening one into
the other; most of the windows were French windows, opening on to
verandahs. We were chatting in the drawing-room when we heard fearful
shrieks proceeding from the barn and wool-shed about three hundred feet
from the back of the house. “What’s that?” I inquired. Mrs. Dunlop
listened for a while, and answered, “Some of the blacks beating their
‘gins’--wives, I mean.” But soon we heard men’s voices in the verandah,
and my young friend jumped up and ran to see if the shutters were
fastened, and then said, “We will go into my room, where the windows are
higher from the ground and the shutters are closer than these.” Putting
out all the lights here, the five of us went quietly into her room, and
sat there listening. The noise increased, coming nearer and nearer, when
Mrs. Dunlop said, “I am afraid the Chinese and the blacks are fighting;
if so, they will kill one another. I know Yang-See and Ah-Sing were in
the township all day; I am afraid they have brought drink home.” Imagine
our horror at hearing this; we might all be killed before the gentlemen
returned. At that moment a violent knocking at the door of the room made
us all think “What next?” when a woman’s voice said, “Let me in, Missy;
they will kill me. Missy Dunlop, let me in.” “I will call your master,”
was the answer; “you go to Mr. Brinsley’s room.” The woman ran across
the verandah to an outer room; at the end we heard her rush in and lock
the door. More voices were heard in the verandah, so Mrs. Dunlop said
very loudly, “David, have you your revolver loaded?” “Here it is,”
turning the handle of the door. In an instant we heard the pat, pat of
naked feet running past the windows, and knew her ruse had succeeded.
The men thought their master had come home, and knowing from experience
that he would not hesitate to use his revolver, went back to their huts
and camp. How thankful we were when about two hours after the sound of
horses’ feet told us our friends had returned! They were astonished to
see us all up; but at our urgent request did not go down to the camp or
shed. The next morning when I opened my window I saw Jenny, the “gin,”
cleaning the verandah with her head bound up; but otherwise she appeared
nothing the worse for her husband’s little corrections of the previous
night. When I asked her what it was all about, “Too much rum, Missy,
ba’al budgery drink.” “Did he hurt you very much?” She showed me a
terrible gash in her head. “Nullah, nullah, ba’al budgery, Missy,” said
poor Jenny. “They were all drunk, Missy, like gentlemen; but my Missy
did wise.” “Did they go to Mr. Brinsley’s room?” “No, no; me yabber,
yabber to him,” and then she laughed like a child, showing her white
teeth. “Stupids tink him in there; me know him in Montefiores.” “Did you
go to the camp when he came home?” “No, no; master put me in stable.
Chinamen no good, Missy,” she said with conviction. I thought, better
than your people. The two races never did agree, and were always
quarrelling; but they had to be borne with, as near the gold-fields a
white man could not be kept for any time. Mr. Dunlop liked the
celestials; they were steady, methodical workers, never forgot an order,
cost little to keep, and only occasionally became troublesome, when they
managed to get opium and have a smoking feast. Our cook nearly died
after one of these opium feasts. He asked my brother if he might go to
Nanima one Sunday. Of course he was allowed to do so. Monday morning
came, but Boney did not put in an appearance; Tuesday he was still
absent, so my brother rode over to Nanima to see if he was there. Mr.
Dunlop said, “No; I sent him off the place this morning. He will be
useless for a week; my men are in a terrible state, like so many logs;
look at them.” The Chinamen were lying about in a large tent looking
like corpses. Mr. Dunlop turned one over with his foot, and a shocking
countenance was disclosed. “What will you do with them?” “Let them sleep
some of it off, see that they have not hidden any, and then have some
good strong soup made for them.” My brother came home and found Boney
lying on the floor of his room, outside the house. He was a very
difficult patient; he “no wantee livee,”--he wanted to be left
alone--“no chin chin master; Joss wants Boney; me die.” But he was far
too valuable to be allowed to die without an effort to save him. My
brother insisted on his taking food, threatening him with all manner of
punishment, and standing by to see him take sufficient nourishment; but
it was several days before he could attend to any duties. He was an
excellent cook, exceedingly clean, and afforded us much amusement
watching his ways. Before he did any cooking he would wash his hands and
arms; this was done very often, a dozen times in a day. He did not
consider himself bound to obey any one but “the master;” “Missee no
good.” When I told him that “I was the mistress of the house,” he said,
“No, Missee not master’s wife.” He was also very much surprised to see
us engaged in any household work. “Ladies no work in my country.” Boney
was an invaluable servant, most economical and quiet; then as a gardener
he was most useful. Until his advent I had taken the flowers under my
care; but it was hard work, as there was nearly a quarter of an acre to
attend to. We had brought many of our old favourites from Violet Cottage
at The Glebe, and soon obtained some plants from our friends. We were
the first to introduce violets into the district, where they grew
luxuriantly; most of the dear old English flowers flourish there. At the
present time my brother has many to remind him of the old country, but
at the time I write of I only remember the violets. The climate, though
perhaps better than Sydney, is drier, and frosts in winter and spring
severe. Geraniums, heliotrope, and all tropical plants have to be
housed. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, and the vine flourish.
Nearly every fruit will grow there; but owing to the frosts oranges only
in a few sheltered spots. Acacias, cedars, mimosa, and many other trees
grow very freely. At the entrance gate of Gobolion there were two
magnificent almond trees, and when in blossom were very lovely. In
travelling it was not uncommon to come across a peach tree flowering in
mountain gorges or gullies, sprung up from peach stones thrown down by
travellers.

We found our Sundays terribly long when we first went to Montefiores;
the river being up, the Rev. Mr. Watson was unable to cross, and we were
without service for nearly two months. That river, or rather the two
rivers, as Montefiores was at the junction of the Bell and Macquarie
rivers, were my _bête noir_; no one could cross except by swimming their
horses. The Rev. Mr. Watson had been one of the early missionary
clergymen sent out to the Blacks, and had settled on the Wellington side
of the river, where he lived surrounded by a small colony of them. He
and his wife were now growing old, and all their interest was centred in
the poor natives, whom they taught to read, write, and sing. They had
sweet voices, and they were the only singers in the choir. The church
was a most primitive building of wooden slabs, the imperfect joints in
places admitting the daylight, wind, and dust. The seats or forms were
rough, the unpolished pulpit and chancel low, constructed for Mr.
Watson, who was a little man. The only music was human voices, and the
church bell was hung in a tree at the side; but what mattered it when a
temple not made by hands could be seen from the open door and windows.
Such a beautiful view of Mount Arthur, and above such a dome of glorious
blue, to make us feel how near we were to Him who fashioned it all. How
well I remember our first going to church for morning service! We had
been informed “that half-past ten was the time for service to commence;”
but as Mr. Watson’s time and that of Montefiores differed very
considerably, the warning bell continued its ringing till he made his
appearance. Those who rode or drove to church left their horses in the
open ground outside, as there was no enclosing fence. This morning Mr.
Watson was early, so we were really in church by a little after ten;
service commenced at once, and was finished before twelve. It was a
delicious morning in April, so we decided to take a long walk before
returning home, and started off by the river. We walked for some
distance without meeting any one, everything fresh and delightful. After
a time we sat down by the river, and I heard my youngest sister her
Collect and Catechism, then talked over the great desire I had to
establish a Sunday School as soon as Mr. Watson could be consulted as to
the best means of doing so; when Louisa reminded me that Mrs. Richard
had said, “He will not consent, as he does not care about the white
children when he has the black ones round him.” “I will try at any
rate,” concluded our conversation. “Now we had better go home.” We
started to return, but it was not so easy to accomplish, as we had
unthinkingly wandered from the river, and found ourselves surrounded by
hills, nothing except sheep tracks to guide us. We tried first one, then
the other, without success; all seemed to lead to the hills. Tired,
faint, and frightened we sat down to rest. “We had better go towards the
sun,” suggested Bell quietly. She was so delicate I began to dread the
effect of this terrible time on her; but she was the quietest and
calmest of the three. At last I began to get so bewildered, nervously
anticipating the horrors of being “lost in the Bush,” I could go no
farther, but sat down and wept bitterly. I was again aroused by my
sister’s gentle faith; “Harry will know we have lost our way, and he
will soon find us.” I did not tell her I knew my brother would not be
home until the evening. Vainly we proceeded, only to get nearer the
hills, when Susan said, “Look, there are some broken branches; let us
take that track, and follow it up.” We did so, and in about an hour came
in sight of a shepherd’s hut we had passed when we had first left the
river; and saw in the distance Mount Arthur, at the foot of which
nestled the township, and in a short time we could see the smoke rising
from the houses, and we were not long in reaching home. My brother said
we had been walking in a circle for hours.

Gobolion, a homestead near us, was almost a ruin; it adjoined the
doctor’s property on the bank of the river. His house was a small
weatherboard building, but quite commodious enough for the bachelor
medico, a tall gentlemanly old man, whose garden and pets were his
“Lares and Penates.” On my first visit there I could not understand his
reason for allowing several large mounds to remain in the front of his
house; they were not very sightly, though an attempt had been made at
ornamentation by planting flowering runners on them--one was nearly
covered with the small scarlet verbena. He told me the reason afterwards
why he had not had the mounds levelled. When he purchased the land some
years before, this spot was the burying-place of one of the principal
tribes, whose custom it was to inter their dead in an upright position,
and the mounds were heaped up over the bodies. He had ordered several of
the mounds to be removed, when he was told “That he would bring down
terrible vengeance on himself, as the aboriginals were tenacious on the
subject of the last resting-place of their people, and had been known to
travel hundreds of miles to bury their dead.” So the doctor at once
prevented more being done, and for several years allowed them to bring
any of their tribe to the old ground. I have since thought, when looking
at the neglected state of the cemetery in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, the
poor despised blacks had more feeling in this respect than their white
brethren. I felt pity for them then, and more still now, for they have
nearly all disappeared before the white race’s rule. The Australian
blacks have not found many advocates, I am aware, but they could have
been taught to be useful. I know this from experience to be the case. A
friend of mine had a woman, Emma, an excellent laundress; her husband,
Harry, was groom and handy man, and Fanny was nurse to my friend’s first
child; these came from the Mission, and could all read and write. One
great drawback was that they never would rest contentedly in a house; so
my friends allowed them a tent in the paddock. There was a very clever
black called Darby who was frequently in the township, and while we were
there was twice converted, first by the Roman Catholic bishop and then
by our bishop. Darby told some one, “He would be converted every week to
get money.” He could read, write, and play cards--in fact, he was quick
in learning. Once at a sale he was making a noise, when the auctioneer
threatened him with a spade. “Oh, Mr., do you want to make me the knave
of spades?” was Darby’s comment. Drink was the ruin of the natives; they
could never refuse it, and it not only debased them, but caused them to
die young from pulmonary complaints.

I was horrified on hearing them quote Scripture and hymns glibly. One
man, Raymond, when intoxicated would go up and down the road shouting
out the most sacred words from our service, and only ceased when placed
in the lock-up. This poor creature died in his gunyah of rapid
consumption. The blacks were like children, having no forethought,
little if any reason, but affectionate, and easily pleased. They
certainly believe in a future state, hence the idea of burying their
dead in a standing position--“To jump up quick.” They are also afraid of
an evil spirit doing harm to them. We had one black as outdoor help, who
was exceptionally wild and excitable; but my youngest sister could
manage him splendidly, not having the slightest fear of him; but he too
was fond of rum, and she often teased him about this weakness. He always
called my sister by her name, refusing to add Miss. One great objection
to him as a servant was his dislike to clothing; but this was insisted
on, so shirt and trousers were at last his everyday costume. At
Christmas we gave him a full suit, with hat, boots, and large white
collar, sending him down with a note to Mrs. Richard. He was very
pleased at first, but the next day he returned minus all excepting his
shirt and trousers, having bartered them away for drinks and tobacco.
Soon after this he informed us he must go back to his tribe. “Too hot
for houses now, Louisa; come back winter.” And he did so, taking up his
work as though he had never left it. He remained on until summer
returned and then disappeared again. He was a simple creature; the only
thing that roused the savage in him was to inquire, “Have you ever been
to Sydney, Franky?” Louisa had been told to do this without knowing why.
The result, Franky glared at her, saying, “No, Louisa; Franky will go
away and never come back.” Louisa made him understand “she meant no
harm” by the inquiry. We were told afterwards he had been to Sydney,
sent to gaol there for killing another black, and when let out started
for Wellington, travelling night and day, with scarcely any food or
rest, till he had completed two hundred miles. He arrived nearly dead
from exhaustion, and then took to the “Bush.” While in prison he had
forgotten all the English he had ever learned. Poor creature! it is easy
to realise how this child of nature suffered, caged up in stone walls,
under prison discipline; and no wonder to us now that he disliked
staying in the kitchen to take his meals, and would merely come to the
door for them.



CHAPTER VIII


Living in this Bush township afforded me an excellent opportunity of
seeing the manner of life led by the people in the far-away districts.
The houses were nearly all built of weatherboard or slabs, roofs of
thatch or shingle, our own house and the two inns alone being built of
brick. They were whitewashed outside and inside, and generally consisted
of two front rooms and two skillion rooms at the back; halls were
unknown, except in brick houses. The Crown commissioner’s cottage, with
the doctor’s and clerk of petty sessions were all of the “Bush” type of
architecture, not possessing any special beauty, though tolerably
comfortable within. When the wife of our clerk of petty sessions made up
her mind “to give a dance,” her husband demurred, “No room large
enough.” “Oh, but, John, you and the black servant can soon put one up;
and most likely some of our friends in the neighbourhood will assist;
now the shearing is over, they have very little to do.” She was right;
everybody was ready to assist. Thus a large room was soon added to the
cottage, and many dances were held therein. In those days colonial
girls were not particular about having waxed floors as they now are.
Cinderella dances would have been scoffed at, as in the “Bush” people
gladly ride thirty or forty miles for a dance, which always lasted until
daylight. Then dresses changed for riding habits, breakfast, and a
lovely ride home. Montefiores being surrounded by gold-fields, the
sterner sex preponderated. The gold commissioners, in their uniforms,
formed a lively contrast to the general civilian dress. In many
instances costumes were worn that could not be considered quite _en
règle_, as travellers did not always carry dress suits in their valise.
Gloves too often were not the best fitting; but these drawbacks mattered
little when youth and health led the way. Ladies were better off, as
white muslin and ribbons could always be purchased at the stores. We
were rather troubled about shoes and gloves, having small hands and
feet. I am almost afraid to state how many times our satin shoes were
re-covered and our gloves cleaned. We could always fall back on mittens,
being the two youngest ladies out in the district. It goes without
saying such dances were very delightful, and we received numbers of
bouquets. My brother did not look forward to these dissipations with the
same anticipation of delight as we did. “Oh, those merry days when we
were young!” How fresh they come back to my memory as I am writing this,
with a white world of snow outside our windows! Where are those many
dancers? So many, so many are “at rest.” A few only left, with children
and grandchildren around them. Strange to say, though the oldest
amongst us was under thirty, not half a dozen are living; most of them
died in the prime of life. This will appear singular to people in
England, where, judging from the obituary notices in the daily papers,
greater average of life is attained. We sometimes saw the gold escort
pass through the township, with the mounted troopers guarding the
precious freight. Bushranging was not uncommon then, therefore we were
ready to anticipate the escort being “stuck up.” What accounts of
hairbreadth escapes from capture were related! On one occasion, after
the capture of a gang of bushrangers, the owner of some stores was told
by one of the gang how nearly his stores were to being “stuck up” and
robbed by them. He asked the storekeeper, “Do you remember one evening,
just as your store was closing, three men coming in to look at some
saddles? Several were brought for us to choose from, and as you came in
from the back store it was arranged that one of us should ask you to
show us some straps that were hanging above your head. When you reached
up to do so we were to pinion your arms, knowing when you were
overpowered we should have little trouble with the others. While you
were free we knew it would not be a safe game. Well, you did not do as
we expected, but just passed through and entered the house; so our
little game was put a stop to, as we suspected you had recognised us,
and we made a hasty move, leaving the store, mounted, and rode off. It
was hard lines, as we knew you had been buying gold heavily that week.
We consoled ourselves, as we might be able to stick up the escort, and
have your gold with the rest.” Accounts of bushrangers “sticking up”
stations, travellers, and banks were very frequent, and it was very
difficult to follow them to their haunts and hiding-places amongst the
gullies and mountain gorges only known to themselves, as they were
wonderful bushmen, and only by the aid of black trackers could they be
followed. There was the greatest difficulty in cutting off their
retreat. The Australian women in many instances displayed great courage
and coolness when brought in contact with bushrangers. Mrs. K---- near
Bathurst was much praised; she was a young and beautiful woman, and when
their place was “stuck up” rode into town to obtain the money the
bushrangers insisted upon receiving before they would release her
husband and others. On another occasion, when they “stuck up” a station
and secured all the men, they made the ladies of the family provide
dinner, then play the piano, and dance with them; however, they did not
maltreat the women, and behaved themselves tolerably well, considering
the character of their visit.

A young man (who was a terrible boaster) was placed in a very ludicrous
position. He had been boasting in public of his courage, often saying
what he would do if those fellows the bushrangers dared to attack him.
“I always carry arms and my revolver handy when travelling, always
remembering that at any moment I may be called upon to ‘stand’ and
throw up my arms.” “Would you fire at them?” “Of course I would, if
there were a dozen of them.” This occurred in the billiard-room of an
hotel in one of the towns in the western district. A few weeks after
this boastful young Englishman was riding along a lonely bush road at
about 10 A.M. when suddenly the word “Stand” electrified him, and in an
instant a man seized his bridle; but, curious to relate, the revolver
was not brought into requisition, and it is questionable whether he had
presence of mind to think of it. He was mounted on a valuable horse
lately purchased; this, with his watch, revolver, and a few pounds, were
worth taking. His captor told him to “get off the horse, as he wanted
it,” then led him away from the road, covering him with his own
revolver; then said, “Give me your coat and hat; you can have mine
instead.” When he had got all that was worth having, the bushranger
coolly said, “I am old enough to be your father, so take my advice.
Never boast what you will do until you’ve tried it. You see that one man
is more than a match for you, no need for a dozen. Now sit upon that
stump while I ‘bail you up’” (which he very quickly did, with some rope
he took from the “swag” he carried). “Mind you sit here quietly until
sunset; then you can make as much noise as you like. I have some one to
let me know if you move. Now remember, if you play any tricks,” and then
placed his revolver too close to the young man’s ear to be pleasant. The
poor fellow remained there all day long, becoming more and more enraged
at his ignominious position, thinking of the cool, impudent rascal, and
determining to get away to give an alarm if possible. While trying to
free himself he heard a rustle near, and a piece of wood thrown at him,
to warn him that he was being watched. At last he fell asleep, and was
awakened by a voice calling out, “Why, mate, what’s up?” and saw two
rough-looking men by his side. They soon released him when he told them
his story, and found they were two station hands returning home from the
town. They had left the road to light a fire for their tea, which was
soon made, and the hungry, weary young fellow declared that “quart pot
tea” and damper were enjoyed by him with greater relish than the best
meal he had ever sat down to. He said as little as possible about his
captor, and described him very incorrectly, as he was not without some
misgivings that it might be a trap of the bushranger. He sat with them
till the sun set, and then started for the town, thanking them for
releasing him, and the tea. It was a lesson not to be forgotten, and he
always in after years told the story whenever he heard “new chums”
saying what they would do if this or that were to happen to them.

It is to be regretted that too many young men, when they go out from
England, have an idea their mission is to teach colonials, and to show
feelings of contempt for them; but this mistake has been lessened
considerably of late years, since communication with the mother country
has become more frequent and rapid, and the false ideas or impressions
of colonial people are being dispelled. For all this, only a few weeks
since I read an article in a daily paper teeming with false notions and
very unfair remarks upon the colonies and colonials. Even at this
present time young men leave England thinking “they can teach the
Australians a thing or two,” and when they find how mistaken they have
been, return disgusted with their want of success, besides lacking the
moral courage to acknowledge they have met their equals, and in many
instances their superiors; so in the worst spirit possible set about to
malign them. This class of traveller is well known, and their accounts
are certainly unreliable. Such men are unfitted for the life of a new
colony, or perhaps for any country. There is great want of good taste
and common sense, which has been instrumental in producing a far from
friendly feeling in the Australian youths; and is it to be wondered at
when such unfounded remarks are made on all that is dear to them? Is
there not very much that the Australian may well be proud of, and may we
not commend them for a spice of “blow”? It should be borne in mind that
these colonies have reached their present position in a century only,
and the majority of colonists would not disgrace any society in
England.



CHAPTER IX


I had been a long time at Montefiores before I succeeded in establishing
a Sunday School, but being without any service there for over two
months, determined on another effort. At this time a newly appointed
Crown commissioner and his wife came to reside here; the lady was a very
delightful person, who had travelled a great deal in India and
elsewhere. It struck me that it would be a great advantage to the cause
to gain her influence. I mentioned the subject to her, when she very
kindly undertook to call the clergyman’s attention to the advantage of
establishing a Sunday School for the welfare of the young people of the
district. She explained to him that permission was desired to hold the
school in the church, and to have charge of the key on those Sundays
when service was not held there; also that I did not expect or desire
any assistance from him, which was the real cause of his not acceding to
my request in the first instance; in fact he did not wish to devote any
of his time to it. Thus, through the kindly aid of this lady, the object
was gained, after vainly trying for it so long. He told her “that he was
sure I should not be able to get half a dozen children together,” as
there were so many Roman Catholics; however, he was mistaken, as I
commenced with eleven, and often had thirty. It was a source of much
comfort to have our Sundays spent in doing some good work, and with a
proper feeling that it was not kept as any other day. We divided our
children into three classes. When the clergyman held service in the
morning, I had the school in the afternoon, and _vice versa_; or when
the rivers were up, swollen by rains, always in the afternoon, and often
devoted two or three hours to the classes. After the usual church
lessons were finished, I would read them an interesting child’s book,
sometimes telling an Australian country story; and so the time passed
quickly by.

There were times when we found country life a little monotonous, as
there was not any girls’ society in the immediate neighbourhood, and the
intercourse with Sydney so difficult. Mails only twice a week, no
telegrams, little news, and not very many new books. Nanima was our
“oasis”; there we always found something to amuse, either the family
music, or a reading by one of the gentlemen. We spent many a hot
afternoon or evening at _Black House_, listening to Esther Summerson’s
unselfish life, poor Ricks beginning to save, Mr. Jarndyce’s east wind,
and Lady Dedlock’s punishment. _David Copperfield_, _Vanity Fair_, and
_Pendennis_ I first heard of there. As our friends were intellectual
people, the conversation after on the works that had been read brought
the characters to our minds as realities.

This station was equal in extent to some German duchies, covering many
thousand acres. It was the place of the district at that time. The
manager was the brother-in-law of the owner. I have met there several
members of very old English families; young men who had drifted to the
colony, younger sons and ne’er-do-wells, were sent out to “gain colonial
experience,” or in too many cases to die in the “Bush” while holding
some very subordinate position. One, the Hon. Mr. T----, was a
storekeeper on a station; another, a countess’s brother, was a
hut-keeper on our friend’s station; and Sir F. P---- was a trooper in
the gold escort; but all were received and treated as gentlemen, which
they still were, however poor. Mrs. Dunlop was the daughter of a retired
naval officer, and her husband, the manager, came of a good old Scotch
family. One of his superintendents was an admiral’s son, and relative of
one of our great wits and authors. This made our visits there very
agreeable, and this is not a single instance; there were many such homes
in the Australian colonies thirty-six years ago, and no doubt long
before.

The first break in our little circle was the removal of Mr. Richard and
family to a town near Sydney, where he had a much better appointment,
and was also near some relatives. Two ladies leaving the district was a
terrible loss, especially as their cottage was only a few minutes’ walk
from us. We had a dull time too, as several gentlemen were away from the
two nearest stations “overlanding,” i.e. taking sheep, cattle, and flour
to Melbourne; but we had plenty of resources in our household duties,
needlework, music, and reading. Still it was good news to learn that
“all were back again, and Bishop Barker was to pay his first pastoral
visit, and hold a confirmation.” We had heard our new bishop was a very
tall man, so doubts arose as to his being able to stand upright in
either pulpit or church. One of the tallest of our congregation found he
could not, so the flooring of the pulpit was removed, but the altar
could not be lowered, so the poor bishop had to stand with his head bent
downward all the time he was there. He was accompanied by his wife, who
by her graceful, kindly manner won all hearts, as did also the bishop. A
picnic, of course, was organised to visit the Wellington caves, when all
the gentlefolks of the surrounding country met. We had been to the caves
before with a private party, but this visit was quite a public affair,
and the caves were lighted up by numbers of torches, making the masses
of stalactites and stalagmites glisten like jewels, embedded in snow as
white as the country now lying before me. The caves are difficult of
access, but once within them they are very beautiful and repay the
trouble; however, they will not bear comparison with the caves at
Jenolan, much nearer to Sydney.

In the largest of the Wellington caves, which is of great height, and
named the cathedral, there is no difficulty in imagining a pulpit, and
at the side an opening leading to vestry, which it was necessary to
creep into. The bishop suggested, “You may explore that, being small. I
should never get out again.” I did go in, and was well repaid by the
lovely sight. Before leaving we all assembled in the centre cave and
sang the Old Hundredth Psalm. I never witnessed a more impressive scene,
or heard the grand old hymn to greater advantage than in this strange
place, some hundreds of feet under the earth’s crust, where pre-Adamite
creation once sported, as gigantic bones of animals have been found
there. This, the first visit of the bishop, afforded me special
pleasure. Our commissioner’s wife told him of my Sunday School, for
which he gave me earnest words of commendation and encouragement. I
replied, “It is the outcome of the early influence of my beloved
pastor.”

On the bishop’s return to Sydney, at a public breakfast, he mentioned
amongst other matters connected with his country visits, his
gratification at witnessing of so much being done in the lonely “Bush”
by the energy and kindness of private ladies, not only teaching but
establishing Sunday Schools. Mrs. Barker accompanied the bishop for many
years on all his journeys, which extended over many thousands of miles,
when travelling was attended by much hard work and discomfort. At this
time Mrs. Barker travelled in a buggy driven by their servant, while the
bishop, a good horseman, preferred riding.

At that time the diocese consisted of the whole of New South Wales;
since it has been divided into five bishoprics--Sydney, Newcastle,
Goulburn, Armidale, and Bathurst. We have also a Synod, composed of
clerical and lay members; but I do not think it has improved the
working of Church affairs, the clergymen being dependent for their
stipends on voluntary aid and assistance from the Church Society, an
arrangement which often placed them in a false position.

In the far-away, sparsely populated districts, in bad seasons, the poor
clergy have great difficulty in paying their way. But the time I am now
writing about, away from townships, if they saw a clergyman twice or
thrice a year, it was as much as they could expect. On these occasions
numbers came in from down the river, bringing children to be christened,
confirmed, and others to be married. Montefiores was quite gay for a few
days, in fact it was some weeks before we were restored to our usual
quiet, for after the bishop’s departure there was plenty to talk over.
Our blacksmith’s forge was a great meeting-place for the men folks, and
the blacksmith was a character with the bad habit of swearing terribly.
He had seen and talked to the bishop, whom he admired as being a good
horseman more than anything else, and in repeating his conversation with
him, used his usual strong language, and gave the bishop credit for
doing likewise. My brother said, “Now, Jack, you know his lordship never
said that.” “By ---- he did, and you are a ---- ---- to doubt me.”--“What!
do you mean to tell us, Jack,” drawled a haw-haw gentleman, “that the
head of the Church swore as you do.” “Oh, well, Mr. ----, you know what I
mean.” Returning one afternoon from our usual walk, we saw several
people standing about surrounded by groups of children. “What is the
matter, I wonder?” queried Louisa, when a well-known sound reached my
ear. Could it possibly be! Yes, it was the well-remembered voices of
Punch and Judy. Our brother met us at the door, laughing heartily. “Such
an excitement, girls! A show from the ‘Diggings’ to hold an indefinite
number of performances in the old shed there,” pointing to one close to
our garden fence. “May we go, Harry?” “I think not; the place will be
crowded; no seats; you would not like it.” But he took Louisa in to
witness the first performance of the well-known drama so familiar to
London children, and children of larger growth. We were much amused,
watching great bearded men going in and out all the evening, and the
shouts of laughter were infectious. One very old man told me next day,
“It made me feel a boy again, Miss, though I held my grandson in my
arms.” The next excitement was the news of the charge of the Gallant Six
Hundred at Balaklava, then the fall of Sevastopol. Everything that would
bear the explosion of powder was put into requisition, and a perfect
cannonade from guns, revolvers, and ancient pistols was kept up until
the store of ammunition was exhausted, while the smoke from bonfires
covered the township.

From what I have written my readers can only form an idea of the scenery
around Montefiores, which is really beautiful. Mountains, river, cleared
lands, forests of native apple, eucalypti, shee baks, kurragong, cedar,
and wattle trees of great height; acacias too were very plentiful. Wild
flowers were numerous, a cream clematis when in seed hanging with
threads like silver; several species of orchid, violets, purple and
white with purple spots, like their English sisters in form, but
scentless. The fringed violet peculiar to Australia, with ferns of many
kinds, made the “Bush” “a thing of beauty.” I have forgotten to mention
the quandong, a shrub bearing a fruit the size and colour of cherries.
The fruit is not unpleasant in flavour, but there is scarcely any of it,
the stone being very large in proportion and merely thinly covered with
fruit. The stones are valued, as they make up into pretty ornaments,
such as bracelets, necklets, chains, or the heads of scarf-pins.

I knew an Englishman who said one of the pleasures of life is to be in a
country where there is “plenty to kill,” so may quote him as an
authority that Australia is very satisfying in this respect. And he
certainly ought to have lived where I did thirty-five years ago, as in a
couple of hours’ ride he could have shot kangaroo, wallabi, opossum,
native dogs, and bagged wood and black duck, wild turkeys, pigeons, and
rabbits. The doctor had quantities of the latter on his ground, only ten
minutes’ walk from our house, so when fresh meat was not to be
had--which was very often the case in the summer--Harry would take his
gun, and in about an hour would bring back three or four. Then the river
gave sport the angler loved, as there were plenty of fish, especially
the fresh-water cod, some nearly three feet in length. Shrimps and small
crayfish could be caught with nets. The men had plenty to kill, and for
exercise and excitement, what could compare with a kangaroo drive or
mustering and branding of cattle?

Drafting sheep was very wearisome; the poor timid things were so
tiresome; only the shepherds and their dogs had any patience with them.
I have watched flocks of them crossing the river when it was quite low,
and yet in their fright many would be in danger of drowning. Cattle were
more easily managed; but, oh! the language of the bullock-drivers. I
heard a story of a clergyman reproving them for using such fearful
language. “They won’t go without, your reverence.” “Try them in as loud
a tone without oaths.” But no, they would not move. “You see, sir, they
understand that I mean them to go when I say ---- ----” And at the
familiar words the creatures did go. I liked to watch the bullock teams,
both in Sydney and the country, going slowly along with their immense
loads of wool bales, taking the golden fleece to the port; but until I
went to Montefiores had no idea of the labour, hardship, and risk often
run to life and limb ere they reached their destination. I have in
summer crossed the Macquarie River on stepping-stones without wetting my
feet, and in a few weeks it would be “a banker,” and no one could cross
it; then teams had to camp until it was down again.

I determined to pay Sydney a visit whenever a suitable escort presented
itself. Hearing of one soon, I left my brother’s house, to return to it
only as a visitor for the future, as he married in six months after, so
that I became a wanderer once more. This journey to Sydney was a most
disagreeable one, for I made it in the hottest season in one of the
dreadful coaches, full of passengers of all grades. Two Chinamen from
Wellington, one with his “Joss” carried carefully in his arms, which, as
the wretched vehicle gave a lurch, struck my shoulder. My escort
remonstrated, but the “Heathen Chinee,” “No savee.” We congratulated
ourselves when the celestial left us at Bathurst, but it was premature,
as a constable taking a prisoner to Sydney occupied the seats vacated by
the Chinamen. Travellers certainly did in those early days prove the old
adage, for when we drove up to the miserable inn, we found only one
apartment to shelter us during a terrible storm. So two ladies, a member
of Parliament, constable, prisoner, and others had to keep company in
it. As soon as the rough meal was over I returned to a verandah room, to
take a few hours’ rest on my rug. Again, on our way before daylight,
watching the sun rise on those mountain roads compensated somewhat for
the discomfort. The mountains emerged from a golden mist, infinitely
grand. The sun seemed to hang for a few minutes over some distant peak,
and the valleys to remain full of night’s veil of purple and gray, the
birds welcoming the advent of another day, and above all, the deep blue
of an Australian cloudless sky made one feel, “It is good to be here.”



CHAPTER X


Though only away from Sydney three years, on my journey down I saw many
improvements, and in Sydney felt, like “Rip Van Winkle,” surely I had
been at least twenty years asleep. Such numbers of new buildings,
streets formed, the shores of the harbour cultivated, new wharves, and
numerous houses and stores in course of construction; the harbour alive
with steamers, and ships coming and going. Numbers of shops in the main
streets, where formerly there were only a few. Surrey Hills, where I
first stayed, had become an extensive suburb, and the South Head Road,
now Oxford Street, was full of shops. Service for that parish was held
in Darlinghurst court-house. The barracks at Paddington were finished,
and Wooloomooloo much altered. It was evident that Sydney was becoming
the most important city in the Southern hemisphere, though now she must
share the laurels with Melbourne, the latter being laid out with system,
and wide thoroughfares with a view to the future. When Sydney was laid
out no one could have anticipated her present position, and the
consequence was a total disregard of anything like good main
thoroughfares or proper alignment of the buildings. A hundred years ago
such matters were not so much looked after as they are now. Nature,
however, has been lavish in her bounty, and the early colonists were
wise enough to make choice of the best site possible for the first
Australian city. One who has travelled much says, “It ought to be one of
the healthiest, cleanest, and best drained cities of the world, and the
harbour will always give it the pre-eminence and proud title of the
‘Queen City of the South.’”

Spending nearly four idle months in Sydney gave me many opportunities of
marking the great progress made in and around it. The Museum, Grammar
School, and St. Mary’s Cathedral were being enlarged or rebuilt;
churches and schools rising in the suburbs, Balmain and Pyrmont were
becoming populous places; the Botanic Gardens were enlarged.

I went to a garden party with my future sister at Graycliff, a pretty
place near Watson’s Bay, where there is a beautiful view of the harbour;
but it was very difficult to get at by land. It was a lovely day, and
the hostess being an intimate friend of Soph’s, I was able to ramble
about _con amore_, walking to Vaucluse and taking mental sketches of its
many beauties.

After my brother’s marriage I went to Penrith for a few weeks’ stay at
“Sara Cottage” situated in the one street of that very quiet town, like
an English village with its general store, an inn or two, a church, a
doctor’s house, and several cottages. No Bank or School of Arts then,
the bridge not finished, and very few well-to-do residents in the town,
Mr. Richard’s property being one of the best, and comparing favourably
in every respect with his wife’s first home at Montefiores. It gave me
great pleasure to share her delight in its beauty and comfort. While
there I had an invitation to spend a few days at Dunheved, a real
old-fashioned Australian cottage, with its verandahs kept from falling
by a wisteria with branches as thick as my arm. It was a mass of
blossoms in every shade of lavender, and the sweet perfume pervaded the
atmosphere. What a picture it all was, as we drove up, the mistress of
the house and her two fair daughters standing under the graceful canopy
to welcome me! She was an admiral’s daughter, and her husband, a naval
man, had settled some years before in this district; I think their
eldest son still owns the property. It was through his visiting
Montefiores just before I left that I had now the pleasure of meeting
his family. Afterwards his mother wrote to me occasionally, but
gradually the correspondence ceased, and place as well as people are now
only a memory.

I then went again to Sydney to stay with an old friend at Surrey Hills,
a native of the colony, well educated, refined and intellectual. Her
father was in the commissariat department, and during the Peninsular War
married a Spanish lady. Kate inherited some of her mother’s national
character, being proud and passionate; but she was a devoted daughter,
and sacrificed her prospects in life to her one brother. She was
another of the Rev. Horatio’s children who blessed his teaching, and
bore her cross willingly. At this time she had just lost her widowed
mother. I was glad to be free to visit her, and remained until Mr.
Horatio found another home for me at The Glebe, strange to say, only a
few minutes’ walk from my father’s old home. Hereford House was a very
different abode, being quite a mansion. The grounds surrounding it were
extensive, and kept in exquisite order by a scientific gardener and
assistants. The rosary was perfect, with walls and arches of climbers,
beds of standard roses of every hue, a shrubbery of camellias, datura,
durante, dentzia, stephanotis, gardenia, tecoma, more the size of trees
than shrubs; oleanders, pepper trees, and other tropical plants. Then
the conservatory, with tea, coffee, and spices in flower, as well as a
magnificent specimen of the pitcher plant. I had never seen such a
garden in Australia; thirty-two years ago there were few to equal it.
There was a fine garden at Toxteth Park full of flowers, but being
larger, was not so well kept or so varied. The Glebe was famous for its
floral treasures; being well sheltered from the sea air, they flourished
better than in many other situations near Sydney.

All the arrangements of Hereford House were in good taste; the owner, an
Englishman, and his pretty gentle wife, an Australian, treated their
children’s governess as a trusted friend. We had a pretty ante-room,
with French windows opening on to the garden, for study,--not with bare
walls and uncarpeted floor, too often considered good enough for a
schoolroom, but pictures, bookcase, and covered desks. As my eldest
pupil was nearly sixteen, teaching under such auspices was delightful
indeed. Amongst many visitors there, I met two young people with whom I
formed a friendship, to end only by the “Great Reaper’s scythe.” They
had been in the colony a year or two, when they met our mutual friends
travelling in the interior. James was an engineer of no mean ability,
having been appointed before he had reached his twenty-first birthday to
superintend some important engineering work in Spain. And at the time
the gold fever was at its height, he resigned an excellent appointment
in London to accompany a friend to Sydney in one of the large steamers
so frequently leaving for the New El Dorado, where he met a young Irish
lady travelling with some friends, hoping to meet a brother in
Melbourne, if not, to return to her family by the same steamer; but “Don
Cupid” stepped in, and there was no going back for Maria, as before they
arrived in Sydney she was James’s promised wife. Like two foolish young
people, they married at once, and might have realised the proverb “Marry
in haste” had not James’s very excellent testimonials and letters of
introduction soon procured him a Government appointment. His first work
was the superintendence of the construction of engineers’ workshops and
a dry dock at an island in Sydney Harbour, where they were residing in a
pretty cottage when I met them at Hereford House. When I used to
complain of the miserable accommodation of Bush inns, Maria would
remind me it was through that they met Mr. and Mrs. Woolley, who,
travelling with an invalid child, arrived at the best inn at Mittagong,
to find the only private sitting-room occupied by James and Maria, he
having been inspecting some iron-mines in the district. Of course they
offered the room, and from that time had become their intimate friends,
always welcome at Hereford House as long as his duties would permit them
to stay. They were an acquisition to our circle, he a fine handsome
fellow, who had seen a good deal of the world, and she as fascinating
and bright as young Irishwomen generally are.

How sorry we were when our friends left for a long sojourn in England,
the beautiful home broken up, the house and lovely garden left to
strangers! I felt more lonely than ever, after being nearly a year with
such a family, the mother like an elder sister, the children so
companionable. James and Maria made me pay them a visit at their island
home, which brightened me considerably. It was impossible to be
low-spirited there, for he was full of fun, and her housekeeping was a
constant source of amusement to us all. When anything was lost, she
would say, “Have you looked on the floor?” On one occasion, when some
friend sent them a basket of small aloes for the garden, she thought
they were Australian artichokes, and told their convict servant to
prepare them for dinner. She was a great favourite with every one,
kind-hearted and generous. James used to say “inconveniently generous
sometimes.” I remember an occasion when this was the case. A lady she
knew, who had seen better days, called on her in great distress; she had
been promised an appointment, and had been given several articles of
clothing, requisite to make her presentable to her employer in a
respectable manner, but, sad to say, her boots were terribly worn. “Why,
Mrs. ----, mine will fit you, so you need not cry about that.” At once a
pair was sent for, and that little difficulty arranged, forgetting she
was going out that afternoon with James and me. What a walk we had! He
kept asking, “Why she allowed her dress to sweep the roads? Look at Miss
L----, she holds hers up, why don’t you?” “You know, James, it tires
me.” “Well, I will hold it up for you.” “How absurd that will look!”
“Well, I shall go on first, for the dust is covering all of us.” I
whispered, “Tell him.” “I dare not; he will be so vexed; he has not
forgotten about the coat.” The coat meant that he had, at her urgent
request, consented to his wife’s giving away some worn clothes of his to
one of her numerous pensioners, and she in her impulsive way had given
away a nearly new coat. We arrived at our destination without discovery,
but unfortunately when leaving, one of our friend’s daughters remarked,
“You have forgotten to change your shoes, Mrs. ----” He looked, and we
were no sooner outside the house than I told him. He was such a
kind-hearted man, so did not say much, but suggested that “she should
always keep a pair in reserve,” and telling me “he would never be
surprised to find his wardrobe consisted only of the clothes he had on.”

One evening James and I were sitting in the verandah enjoying the cool
sea breeze after a fearful hot wind all day. Maria was playing and
singing in the drawing-room, when between one of her songs we heard the
sound of screaming from the opposite shore; we listened, but it ceased,
so Maria continued her music. As it was growing late and the moon
setting, we thought of retiring, when the sound of a boat approaching
the island--a very unusual and dangerous proceeding at that hour--roused
James, and seeing only a woman in the boat, he left us and went down to
the wharf near his cottage. The constable had seen the boat, and was
speaking to the occupant, warning her not to come nearer. “What do you
want at this hour of the night?” asked my friend. “Oh, sir,” answered a
girlish voice, “do, for God’s sake, come with me to the other side, or
murder will be done.” Here sobs stopped her utterance. Addressing the
girl, my friend asked, “Was it you I heard screaming some time ago?”
“Yes.” Turning to the constable, “Blake, it’s all right; I will go.”
“Thank you, sir,” said the girl. He ran back and told us he would not be
back for an hour or two, that Maria and I need not be uneasy. The girl
was evidently well accustomed to the use of the sculls, and made rapid
way to the opposite shore. By the time they landed the moon had set, and
heavy clouds rising from the south rendered the night dark and gloomy.
He followed the girl through the scrub, her light frock being the only
guide. At last they came to a small slab building, and a young man met
the girl. “Where have you been, Sarah?” “To Cockatoo Island for
assistance.” “No need for that; what a fool!” “But you told me to go.”
“Did I?” James here advanced, asking, “What does all this mean? what
dark work has been going on here?” “No dark work, sir, only a man in a
fit.” “That’s all nonsense; girls don’t risk a shot for that. Well, I am
here, and intend going into the house and seeing for myself, so lead the
way at once.” After a few whispered words with the girl, the young
fellow said, “Go in, Sarah, and see how he is now.” In a few minutes she
returned, saying, “I think he is asleep.” James followed his young guide
into a room, where, lying on a rough bush bedstead, was a man half
dressed. He stood looking down on the recumbent figure, and heard some
whispering in another room. Touching the man, he inquired, “Are you
awake?” “Who are you? You have come too late,” and a pair of keen gray
eyes were raised to his face. “Oh! I am a doctor.” “Are you? what do you
want here?” “I heard that some one was ill.” “Did you?” with a frown,
and looking towards the girl. “That’s what you say, is it? then I am
well now and out of danger.” The girl and young man stood like
sentinels, watching. “Can I help you in any way?” asked my friend
abruptly. “I suppose I have been brought out at this hour for a
purpose.” “Yes, we three agreed it would be better to have a witness,
but it is all settled without. They have got all they wanted, so will
let me rest in peace,” with a heavy sigh, turning round, as if to
intimate all was over. As the man evidently did not wish him to remain,
James followed the girl and young man out of the room, and when outside
said, “I am not at all satisfied with your conduct; who are the others
in the hut?” “There is no one.” “That is false; I heard voices. Have you
been bought since your sister left? Is that man your father?” “No,
brother.” “Why, he is years older than either of you.” Here the girl,
who James saw was much cowed and frightened, said, “He is our
stepbrother.” James stood considering for a minute, then said, “Well,
take me back to the island.” He was about to utter a warning as to the
steps he intended to take, but decided it would be imprudent and put
them on their guard. The young man said, “I will row you over, sir;
Sarah is too done up.” “I am quite agreeable, as long as I get back to
Cockatoo Island quickly.” He tried in vain to get the young man into
conversation on the way, but a laconic “Yes” or “No” was the extent of
his answers. The mystery of that night was never cleared up. My friend
tried to find the slab building, but it seemed to have disappeared. The
night had been so dark, and the bush so dense, as to preclude any
certainty as to the direction taken after leaving the boat. Even if he
had succeeded in finding the place, an investigation thirty years ago,
with such evidence, would have been difficult to carry through, when the
principal in the affair had evidently given in.

Sir William Denison was Governor of New South Wales at this time, and
taking great interest in my friend’s work at the island, often visited
it. The officers of Her Majesty’s ships found the cottage very pleasant
to spend the evenings at, for Maria, like many of her countrywomen, was
fascinating, full of life, and fond of society. She could sing and play
with expression, and was never put out if half a dozen came in when
three were only prepared for; she somehow so managed that you would
suppose her resources were inexhaustible. I really think this is a
peculiarity of the Irish, as I have known many with the same gift of
making the best of everything. It was a strange life for Maria on this
island, as there was only one other family to visit there.



CHAPTER XI


My next home was a perfect one in all respects, a comfortable new house
at Double Bay, the grounds extending to the beach, and the windows of
the principal rooms looking towards the harbour. Again my “lines were
cast in pleasant places.” Mr. and Mrs. Frederick had not been long from
home; the children were much younger than my former pupils, but, dear
little things, the youngest so very quick and affectionate. There were
very few houses near us, and we could, and did, wander about the rocks,
and spent many hours on the beach at the bottom of the garden. We used
to take long walks to gather wildflowers on Belle Vue Hill, at the back
of Sir Daniel Cooper’s estate, and as far as Tivoli. There were now many
beautiful places at Darling Point, Greenoaks, Mona, Mount Adelaide, and
others. Mr. Mort had at Greenoaks a small gallery of charming
water-colour pictures. There was also a picture gallery at Mona, chiefly
copies in oil from the old masters, which I had the bad taste not to
admire, preferring the pictures we had at Hurst. I have always felt what
a privilege it was to have Mrs. Frederick as a friend. She was so well
read, conscientious, true, and gentle. She had a beautiful voice and
excellent taste in music, and having been partially educated on the
Continent, could converse on many subjects I had only read of.
Unfortunately, being delicate, she was unable to enjoy the surroundings
of her beautiful home.

I had a very pretty schoolroom, abundance of books, and quantities of
toys amusing and instructive for my children. We occasionally spent
Sunday afternoon on the beach, where I taught them simple hymns or
composed various tales for their amusement. These children are mothers
now, and have reminded me of many of the tales which I had forgotten
long ago. I have had many solitary hours since those days; but few sad
ones, for memory calls back so much to brighten the present when youth
is past. The love and trust of children is a priceless treasure time can
never dim or take away. Holidays were a relaxation, and having so many
friends, I enjoyed them; but was always glad to return, and agreed with
my children in “being pleased when they were over.” They always met me
with caresses, declaring “They never wanted any more long holidays
without I stayed at home.” While at Hurst I had an invitation from an
old friend to a large picnic given by her brother and another squatter
visiting Sydney. It was a very grand affair. As it was held at Vaucluse,
Mrs. du Moulin called for me _en route_. Her brother knowing many
gentlemen now in Sydney from their stations, there would be no lack of
gentlemen.

The then Australian Gunter had _carte blanche_ for providing a
_recherché_ luncheon. A German band was engaged, boats provided for
those who liked the water, cricket for others, and dancing for all. It
was a lovely day in October, and I am certain never out of “Arcadia” did
nearly a hundred young people enjoy themselves more. The pretty girls
and handsome men made delightful partners, and time passed too quickly.

I had danced until even I was tired, so with my partner rested for a
while, when he told me the following story of the discovery of one of
the principal Victorian gold-fields. “We had been travelling overland
with cattle, and had camped earlier than usual, the heat being intense;
the stockmen were resting at a little distance, waiting until the cook
had the evening meal ready. My brother and I were lying on the grass
talking over the probabilities of making a good sale of our cattle when
we reached our destination, both a little down-hearted, as a few days
before we had heard several mobs of cattle had been seen on the road
bound for the same market.

“We were both smoking, and I with note-book and pencil jotting down
probable results of our hoped-for sales, while Donald pulled up tufts of
grass. Presently an exclamation made me look at him. The expression of
his face alarmed me. I thought he was ill; his pipe had fallen from his
fingers, and he held a tuft of grass in his hand. ‘Look, A----, at
this.’ ‘At what?’ I was for a second almost as astonished as he had
been. ‘Why, it is gold!’ ‘Yes, hush, keep quiet until after supper,
when the men are in their tent; we will examine the place.’ Which we
did, and found it was one of the richest fields yet discovered. We at
once decided for one of us to ride to the nearest town and take out
licenses for the party. In less than a month there were thousands of
people on the field. We never took a beast away, but sold them all for a
very large sum on the spot. Kept our claim, and each man made a small
fortune. We invested ours in a large station property, not caring for a
gold-digger’s life. Often has it occurred to me since what a little
matter gives the turn to fortune’s wheel, for it was the merest chance
took us in that direction, as it was only the breaking away of five of
our best cattle, and their taking the left instead of the right and
shortest road to the place we were bound for.” “I suppose you were much
excited by this discovery?” “Yes, but, Miss L----, almost the first
feeling that arose in my mind, ‘Is it for good or evil?’ One thing
comforted me; I could now give my mother a home suited to her, and
whatever happens to me, she will be well provided for.” The band
commencing a delightful waltz, we left our shady seat and were soon
dancing with the rest. I went into town with my friend and spent a
delightful musical evening at her house. Some time after this some
friends of Mrs. Woolley’s of Hereford House, who knew me there, invited
me to a ball at their house in Wooloomooloo. Mrs. Frederick said, “You
must go; I will send you in the carriage, and as Mrs. Joseph has
offered you a bed, we will call for you in the morning.” I started,
having told the coachman to drive to a house in William Street. When we
arrived at this place it was very quiet and dark. I jumped out, saying,
“This is the place.” But the coachman, having his doubts, suggested
waiting till I was in. When the servant opened the door I began to think
I had mistaken the date of the invitation, for there was no sign of a
party. A door opened and a gentleman came forward. “I fear I have made a
mistake; is this Mrs. Joseph’s?” “No; she lives in Victoria Street.”
“They have a ball there to-night?” “Yes; my son has just left for it.”
How I blessed the coachman’s forethought in waiting, and how my friends
laughed at my blunder when I met them at Victoria Street! The next
morning poor Richard, the coachman, could not find the cottage in
Rushcutter Bay, where I had spent the night, and had been over an hour
in finding me, so it was a chapter of accidents altogether. I met on
that occasion our present Agent-General and the beautiful girl he
married; and only a few mails ago saw in a paper the death of the lady
at whose house the ball took place. Her sister, at whose house I stayed
the night, has since become one of our leading women in Sydney society;
an Australian, clever, fascinating, and agreeable.

A sad catastrophe occurred at this time which cast a terrible shadow
over the beauty of our surroundings and our walks and visits to our
beach.

The wreck of the _Dunbar_ at the “Gap,” near the South Head, was a
terrible calamity. It was an awful night, when, with her living freight,
she went down outside the haven; the passengers thought they were
entering to meet their dear ones in a few short hours. The terrible wind
and rain prevented sleep at Hurst. I got up and read the greater part of
the night, for the house at times rocked with the force of the tempest.
In the morning the sun shone fitfully and the wind had decreased, the
white-crested waves I could see from my windows were the only evidence
of the fury of the storm now past. We had just gone into the
breakfast-room when some gentlemen called upon Mr. Frederick to inform
him there had been a terrible wreck at the South Head, and as some cases
with his firm’s brand had been seen, could he tell him the names of
vessels he expected consignments by? They feared it might be an emigrant
vessel just due. He was able to settle that question, as they never
shipped by emigrant ships, and mentioned the names of three vessels they
had cargo in, the _Dunbar_ being one; and in a few hours all doubt was
at an end, and it was then known to be that ill-fated ship full of
passengers, amongst them many colonists returning after a visit to their
Fatherland.

Only one man (a sailor) was saved, washed up by the waves between the
rocks, and lodged there. It was a most dangerous exploit to attempt the
rescue of that one poor creature from his perilous position; but many
brave fellows volunteered, and one was lowered by a rope to the rocks
beneath, where cruel breakers roared and dashed over both. At last they
were hauled safely up, and when able the rescued man told all he knew of
that most terrible night’s work. He was asleep at the time the vessel
struck; it must all have happened in a few moments from the time of
striking till she sank fathoms deep. But from what he related there can
be little doubt the captain had mistaken the South Head light for one
inside the harbour, and steered right on to the rocks beneath. Most of
the passengers were no doubt asleep, and many were crushed in their
berths. The lighthouse keeper reported that he heard the bark of a dog
above the roar of the tempest at the hour that they supposed so many
poor souls had gone to their last home. This dog had been picked up
either at Inkerman or Balaklava, and had been given to a lady on board.
So many people had friends or relatives on board, that it caused
universal sorrow. An emigrant vessel was wrecked inside the harbour
before our arrival in the colony. Soon after the loss of the _Dunbar_,
the _Catherine Adamson_ was wrecked on, I think, Bradley’s Head, but not
with so great a loss of life. For weeks after both wrecks the beaches
were strewed with flotsam, and it was heartrending to see many of the
things cast ashore, such as needlework half finished, with needles and
crochet hooks stuck in reels of cotton, most likely in use a few hours
previously; combs from some loved one’s hair; writing from another’s
hand, all still now--not even the poor consolation of seeing the loved
form again or its last resting-place. Many bodies recovered were so
terribly disfigured by the rocks as to be beyond the possibility of
identification. A young person at Hurst was to have been married to the
second officer of the _Dunbar_, and used to go to the morgue to identify
her lover day after day, but in vain. She would shake her head and say,
“No, Miss, it was not Jim; but some other woman’s loss I saw to-day.”
She had to leave us as her mind was evidently giving way. The constant
sound of the waves prevented her resting, so I advised her going into
the country. Strange to say, the one seaman rescued from the _Dunbar_
was appointed to the lifeboat at Newcastle, and was instrumental in
saving the one man from the steamer _Cawarra_, wrecked there.



CHAPTER XII


In December 185- we left Sydney to spend four months in Tasmania. I had
not been outside Sydney Heads since our arrival in 184-, and being a
good sailor enjoyed the short voyage. At this time Tasmania was the
principal health resort for the Australian colonies. Our New South Wales
railway was only completed as far as Penrith, so Mount Victoria,
Blackheath, and Katoomba on the western line; Bowral, Moss Vale, and
Sutton Forest on the southern line, were not thought of for that
purpose. Hobart Town, therefore, in the season was filled with wealthy
tourists from New South Wales and Victoria. Those who were not blessed
with too large a proportion of this world’s goods had to be content
without change, or be satisfied with Mauly Beach, Botany, and Coogee,
all very primitive as to hotels and lodging-houses then. And really, as
is the case with many other luxuries, we were just as well without this,
now considered a necessity. Nevertheless I was delighted at an
opportunity of visiting another colony. I heard a gentleman say, who had
travelled over most of the civilised portions of the globe, “that
Tasmania bore the palm for salubrity; its climate being neither too hot
nor too cold; its scenery charming, with splendid trees and ferns--in
fact, an earthly paradise.” It really appeared so to me, with the
English fruits and flowers. Its magnificent trees, hawthorn hedges, and
general appearance of cultivation reminded me of the land of my birth,
which I so longed to see again. The indigenous trees of Tasmania are
finer and more luxuriant in foliage than most of those on the Australian
continent; the huon pine is of immense height and girth; so is the
_Eucalyptus globulus_--Tasmanian blue gum--and many others.

Hobart Town is situated on the River Derwent; and with Mount Wellington
for a background is most picturesque, and certainly at that time struck
me as being beautifully clean.

The beaches, with one exception, being shingly, there was an absence of
that terrible sand and dust we were accustomed to in Sydney. The traffic
was considerably less also. There I saw a mail-coach of the old English
type leave for Launceston; and the roads are much better, while the air
is more delightful and exhilarating than in New South Wales or Victoria.
There were many pretty girls with fresh complexions, and the children
looked the picture of health. It struck one as being like a quiet
seaside town in England, and Mrs. Frederick and I enjoyed the change
very much.

The Domain and gardens were smaller than ours, but the Government House,
not quite finished at that time, appeared larger; we called there, as
also at the bishop’s at New Town, and left cards. We also attended the
opening of the Legislative Assembly; but as Mrs. Frederick was not equal
to much visiting, we merely went out during the daytime. As there had
been a terrible accident to one of a party attending a picnic on Mount
Wellington but recently, I did not accept an invitation “to ascend it.”
On the mountain there is a place called “The Ploughed Field,” consisting
of masses of rock scattered over the surface as though by an earthquake:
to stray alone in this place is most dangerous. On the occasion I have
referred to, a young man left the party, his friends thinking “he had
returned to Hobart Town by another route.” They “coo-eed” vigorously for
a time, and receiving no reply, wended their way home; however, finding
he had not returned, they went in search of him, but in vain. Some
considerable time after the body was found, with the legs fixed between
the rocks, not very far from where a search party had rested a few days
after he was lost.

As the house Mr. Frederick had taken had but a small garden, he arranged
for us to gather any fruit we required from an orchard near, where there
were quantities of red, white, and black currants, strawberries, and
cherries; later on plums of all kinds, apples and pears. In one garden
at New Town we often spent an afternoon.

We had numberless drives to many pretty spots, and along the Sandy Bay
road. I also went for a few days’ visit to a pretty place on the other
side of the river, the name of which has slipped my memory; it was the
residence of Captain Forster, a retired naval officer, and his wife,
such a dear old lady. We sometimes went fishing; but were far from
successful in this, though there were quantities of fine fish in the
Derwent, and scarcely a day passed while at Hobart without having some.
New Norfolk about this time was becoming famous for its salmon ponds, as
well as the surrounding scenery, which was indeed lovely. The ferns were
very beautiful, and in great variety; but I do not think the native
flowers were equal to those of New South Wales; perhaps it was past the
season, or I may have sought them in the wrong localities. One fact
struck me, after thunderstorms and rain the air became deliciously cool
and refreshing--so different from New South Wales, where in the summer
after rain it is generally steamy, close, and sultry, especially near
Sydney--and I am inclined to think that Tasmania will again rival many
of the health resorts the extended railway service has made accessible
in New South Wales, now that the sea voyage is so short between
Melbourne and Launceston.

My dear old friend, the Rev. W. H. Walsh, was on a visit at Bishop
Bromby’s, so we had the pleasure of seeing him occasionally; also Mrs.
Augustus of Graycliff, who was staying at Hobart Town for change, as she
had been seriously ill since I was at her garden party a few years back;
but she was still very beautiful. She and her sister were the two
handsomest women I ever met, tall, elegant in figure, and perfect in
face. The wife of one of our governors had an album of Australian
beauties, amongst them Mrs. Augustus and her sister, two nieces of my
Hereford House friends, and many others I had seen. I have photos of
many of the young people of the present day quite equal to any I have
met in England in face or figure, and without partiality, displaying
more expression and decidedly more winning manners. Certainly my means
of judging may have been limited, still I have been to many places of
amusement--to theatres, the Handel Festival, the Royal Academy, and
other exhibitions--walking and riding; but could not help remarking that
the one prevailing expression in the faces I have seen was supercilious,
and never once have I noticed the courtesy to elderly people I have been
accustomed to see in Australia. There appears to me in England a dread
of being natural for fear of “what people will think.”

Hobart Town was very quiet, though it was the height of the season; but
as the girls remarked, “What was the use of thinking of dances, picnics,
or any other amusement when there were neither partners nor escorts?”
there being so many ladies, and so very few of the sterner sex. The
arrival of the steamer from Sydney was an event which caused half the
population at least to wend their way to the wharf. The arrival of the
mail was another source of great excitement; we seemed to be so far
removed from Sydney then--almost as far away as England is from
Australia at the present time, when there is a weekly mail, and when we
can read a cablegram in this morning’s newspaper of the doings in the
colonies not a day ago.

We were to leave in the beginning of May, and by that time the weather
was really cold. Mount Wellington had already a little snow on its
summit, and furs were in requisition.

Our friend Mr. W. H. Walsh returned to Sydney with us, and when we
arrived at Twofold Bay, Maria and James came on board in the
custom-house officer’s boat to see me. They were out on horseback when
the steamer was signalled, and had only just time to ride down to the
boat before she pulled off from the shore. We were delighted to meet
again; they both thought Tasmania had benefited us considerably. They
told me, had they known in time when we were in the Bay before, I could
have gone to their cottage at Eden. “Yes,” said Maria, “and you would
not have thought it ugly then.” It was hard to say “Good-bye”; but we
all felt it would not be for long, as they hoped to be in Sydney again
soon.

We had enjoyed our four months’ stay; but how delightful it was to be
once more at “Hurst,” in our own rooms and with our own surroundings.
The feeling of being at home is enhanced by these changes, however well
conducted the lodging-house may be. We often laughed over our Hobart
Town experiences and at Mrs. Mills, the owner of the house where we
stayed, who would shut all the windows immediately we were out of the
house, which it was my mission to open immediately we returned. When her
cooking had not been quite satisfactory, and we had ordered things from
the pastry-cook’s, our dear old friend W. H. Walsh, desiring to please
her, praised some dish which it was high treason to have ordered from
outside. All these little matters we could now laugh at, being once more
at home, where life had charms not to be compassed elsewhere. Our old
pursuits gained value by the change, and the old walks and drives in
interest. The winter in New South Wales is very enjoyable from May until
November, and life is indeed worth living, after the heat, dust, and
mosquitoes, which are most trying.

Now after a year in England, without clear skies, much rain, fog, and
snow, I am bound to agree with many who say, “If I were once again in
Australia I would never return to this miserable climate.” I shake my
head, and call to mind the many discomforts of a hot, dry climate.

My old friends were about to return to the colony and I had promised to
go to them again, so my stay at Hurst was drawing to a close. It was a
wrench to leave the children I had learned to love; but they were so
young compared with others I had taught, and felt I was losing ground in
many branches; besides, I had promised. Unfortunately Mrs. Woolley had
decided on living in Sydney, so after remaining with them a few months,
I had to leave, as my health completely gave way, and an attack of
congestion of the lungs rendered me an idle woman for many months. This
gave me time to realise what had been accomplished during eighteen
years.



CHAPTER XIII


Sydney had now the University, with Dr. Woolley, a scholar of
reputation, at its head. There were also many private schools for young
men destined for the Church, with men like Mr. Baly, an Oxford man, and
Dr. Forrest of the King School, Parramatta, and Moore College at
Liverpool, to prepare them for it. Ladies’ schools were numerous; the
Misses Moore, Flower, Thompson and Cooksey were doing good work,
preparing young Australian women for their duties. The national school
system for the masses had not yet been introduced, which, I regret to
say, provides only a strictly secular education. A system which entirely
puts religion aside can only end in the repudiation of that
responsibility which raises mankind above the lower order of animal
creation. The first lesson to inculcate in every child is obedience to
God and His laws; obedience to man and his laws then becomes a part of
the child’s nature. Another grave objection to the national system is,
that it is not for the poorer class exclusively. Men with large incomes
send their children to the State schools, paying merely the same rates
as the poor man. Only imagine men with incomes of £800 a year sending
their children to these schools! Those whose incomes are sufficiently
large to enable them to be responsible for the cost of their children’s
education should not rely on State aid. These children are taught not
only reading, writing, and arithmetic, but languages, mathematics,
algebra, drawing, music, and drill, for a few pence per week. Some of
the parents may give their children a year or two at a private school to
finish them; but we venture to say the national school system has bent
the “twig” in such a way as to preclude almost any hope of straightening
it, except in very rare instances. Teachers too are fallible, and are
liable to show more interest in the well-to-do man’s child than in that
of the poor man. The Government schools have been the means of lifting
from the shoulders of thriving and even rich men the responsibility of
looking after the education of their children, and the poor man’s child
is educated in such a way that in nine cases out of ten he despises his
parents, and has gained the notion that honest labour is beneath him.
Where the parents are in good circumstances and pay proper attention to
the religious training of their children at home, they may not be
injured by the lack of it at school; but in the majority of cases the
good accomplished at home is neutralised at school. This applies to the
poor as well as the rich, only as the poor are often too wearied after
their day’s labour to give much attention to the religious education of
their children, how much more necessary is it in their case that it
should be attended to in school.

That there have always been different grades in society, that it is
necessary to the wellbeing of all that it should be so, and that these
grades should bear a numerical proportion to each other which can be
tolerably well fixed, history bears out. Does the system of education in
the national schools tend to keep up this healthy proportion, or does it
upset the social economy, in which large communities can only exist with
safety to the majority? Is it a healthy state when Jack considers
himself as good as his master, if not better? Yet this is the effect
produced by public school teaching--a system of levelling. By all means
let the State provide a sound, plain education for the children of those
whose means are too small to allow of their defraying the expense of it.
A certain period of attendance should be compulsory, and religious
instruction should not be neglected.

When every church had its day school, it was easy to get domestics, male
and female, plainly educated and well trained, or youths desirous of
learning a business. I know many homes in the colony now where the heads
of families were so educated, who are an example and blessing to all
around them, holding good positions and training their children wisely
and well.

The Roman Catholic Church is far wiser than the Protestant Church, as in
every town and country parish where a church is built there is a school
also. They know how necessary it is to sow the seed of religious belief
with their daily lessons. To my fellow-Protestants in New South Wales or
elsewhere I say, keep your church schools in every parish, and to what
nobler or better use could the wealthy devote a portion of their riches
than by the endowment of church schools? There cannot be a doubt that
good training in the early life of a people minimises the necessity for
asylums and gaols.

Many will consider my views on the national school question narrow, and
ask, Why should the poor children who are clever be deprived of
opportunities for cultivating their talents? My answer is, If there is
talent, it will, as it always has done, make a way for itself, and did
long before this system was thought of. Difficulties are to the talented
boy or girl incentives to the exertion necessary to overcome them, and
help to form the character. It would be well, after these qualities of
talent have developed, that the State should give aid in the way of
scholarships or otherwise.

After all, the knowledge acquired at such schools is very superficial;
too much is attempted, and the results prove without doubt, “A little
knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

We had several clever and eloquent men in the Sydney churches from Great
Britain and some educated in the colony--men who not only performed
their Sunday duties, but worked throughout the week without
intermission. Parishes then covered very much larger areas than they do
at present.

The Roman Catholic clergy, under their great and good head, Archbishop
Polding, had worked wonders for their flock. St. Mary’s Cathedral was at
this time a fine building, St. Patrick’s and others were commenced.
Presbyterian, Congregational, and Wesleyans, all had large and
well-filled chapels. The University was now finished, and the affiliated
colleges in prospect. Many new and extensive buildings in the principal
streets sprang up like magic; but the impetus given to advancement was
more especially noticeable in the suburbs. Randwick was now formed into
streets; the Destitute Children’s Asylum, founded by Dr. Cuthill, was
finished; the racecourse formed; Wooloomooloo nearly covered with
houses; William Street, where but a short time since there were only
private houses, was now being converted into a thoroughfare of shops;
Waverley and Surrey Hills were fast becoming populous neighbourhoods.
Cleveland House, which I remember surrounded by gardens and shrubberies,
and standing in its many acres of paddock, was being rapidly cut up; the
Redfern Railway Station and station yard were formed on a portion of it;
the Silent City close by still holds its silent warnings in the midst of
man’s progress, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.”

We had occasional visits from celebrities, such as Anna Bishop,
Catherine Hayes, G. W. Brooke, and others. Madame Bushelle, Carandini,
and Sara Flower were our own; the latter having been with us since 1852.
What a voice she had, and what a splendid teacher! I met her at her
brother’s a few weeks after her arrival in Australia, before she had
made her _début_ before a Sydney audience. Poor thing! what a sad end
was hers; but through years of work and privation she never lost her
voice. We had an excellent opera company which she joined--in which were
Squires, Madame Escott, Farquharson, Beaumont, with many others, as my
contemporaries will remember.

Lovers of music had a great treat about this time in a series of
concerts conducted by Lavenu, and held in the grand hall of our
University. The oratorios of the “Messiah,” “Creation,” “Moses in
Egypt,” and other works of the best composers were rendered in a
masterly manner. The choirs of the Sydney churches which joined with the
musical societies of Sydney, both vocal and instrumental, were most
efficient. The opera company supplied the leading solos, Sara Flower
being a host in herself--Mendelssohn’s music being her speciality, as
she made her first appearance in it at the Exeter Hall concerts. Her
grand contralto voice filled the hall, and many musical critics remarked
that no one ever had sung or ever could sing such music better. This
bringing together all the musical talent of Sydney was of inestimable
benefit to our young Australians, giving fresh impetus to their decided
taste for it.

The fine arts at this period had not made much headway; still, scattered
over the country, were many pictures of merit by colonial artists.
Architects were not numerous, but now there are several of great
ability. In criticising their works, people are apt to forget the
difficulties they have had to contend with, the absence of works of
renowned men, and the distance from the countries where the finest
models and examples are to be seen and studied. Some who have designed
works here have never had these advantages, never having been away from
their native land. Again I was with my old friends, James and Maria,
close to my father’s old home at Redfern; this visit was most thoroughly
enjoyed. One day we made a trip to Parramatta by train. I recalled my
girlhood as I saw the familiar streets and houses of this old town, with
its old-fashioned buildings without verandahs,--similar to those I pass
on the road in this Hampshire village,--the trim little gardens full of
flowers, the bricked kitchens, and old-world appearances. Parramatta is,
next to Sydney, the oldest town in Australia, and even now retains many
of its primitive features; the Domain or Park with its avenue of oaks;
its old-fashioned Government House; and its factory buildings still
left. There is some charming country round it, well cultivated, with
orchards, vineyards, and the splendid orangeries, with their golden
fruit. My title does not appear such a misnomer, taking into account the
many golden-hued flowers, rivers with beds of golden sand, nuggets of
gold and golden quartz--in fact, every touch of His, from glowing
sunrise to sunset, proclaims it such. We spent several afternoons on
board an American ship, which the captain and his young wife made their
home. Trade with America was now becoming extensive. This vessel only
carried cargo; but the saloon and cabins were fitted like a yacht’s.
When on board, I could see from her deck what a marvellous change had
taken place--the increase of wharves, the accommodation at the circular
quay much enlarged, and the greater number of ships. Balmain, Pyrmont,
and Wooloomooloo from the harbour appeared one mass of habitations;
North Shore still was country, and the wooded heights of Darling Point,
Edgecliff Road, and Woollahra remained partially free from vulgar bricks
and mortar.

How well I remember a dance we attended in Campbell Street, near the
Haymarket. Though there were cabs at this time, they were few in number,
but omnibuses plied through most of the principal suburbs. That week,
having been to a ball at Government House, Maria and I suggested, as
that had entailed considerable expense, we would go by the omnibus and
walk home by the railway works; so we started. Just as we entered our
friend’s hall, the Rev. Mr. Hose, acting warden of the University, met
us, reminding Maria she had promised him the first quadrille. “So I did;
take my cloak, Kate.” I did so; and being engaged for the same dance as
their _vis-à-vis_, hurried down just in time. The first figure ended,
and when Maria advanced for _L’été_, I saw my partner laughing. I looked
down, and there was Maria’s white satin boots with her goloshes over
them; I waited till she had finished the figure and then told her. No
one but an Irishwoman could have been so unconcerned. She stooped, took
them off, handed them to her partner, saying, “You see the consequence
of having a careful husband.” I felt it was a blessing the said husband
was at the other end of the room. We danced until nearly daylight, then
with the Rev. Mr. Hose we passed the Haymarket, just as the hay carts
were arriving. Nearly thirty years have passed since then, and Sydney
has now its “season” for fashionable people. Conventionality prevents
many social gatherings. Mrs. Grundy has found her way to the Antipodes,
interfering, as she always does, with that which is natural and innocent
by her verdict, “It is not considered good form.” Yet I trust our kind,
generous, and hearty Australian hospitality will never give in to her,
and become as fearful of her “What will people think or say” as they are
in England.



CHAPTER XIV


Another warning from the doctor determined me in leaving Sydney for a
visit to my brother. Tired of waiting for an escort, I started without;
James taking me to Parramatta by train, where I found the coaches now
much improved. A friend had promised to send a telegram to some friends
of my brother’s to meet me at Green Swamps, and take me to their
homestead at Macquarie Plains, where Mr. Henry, being in the
neighbourhood, would be my escort to Wellington. I was very glad of this
opportunity of rest, and breaking the coach journey. Crossing Bathurst
Plains in winter would be bitterly cold under most circumstances, and
especially so after being in the coach all day, yet the first part of
the journey from Parramatta was very pleasant. The winter in Australia
is delightful for travelling; my journeys hitherto had been during the
hottest time of the year, so I thoroughly enjoyed this one, free from
flies, dust, and heat. We had the advantage of a full moon, and were
able to enjoy the scenery. The Blue Mountains appeared more beautiful
than ever, so quiet and majestic, like another world, where toil and
turmoil are unknown. Then, when starting in the early morning, every
tree was jewelled with hoar-frost, till the warm rays of the sun turned
them into dripping fountains; but I was not sorry to learn we were
approaching the inn where I expected to meet Mr. East; but, alas! only
to meet disappointment instead, and I had to arrive in Bathurst alone,
with a very vague idea of where I should go for the night, thinking if I
can only get to the Royal Hotel, I must send a message to the Plains;
but seven years had changed Bathurst, which was now a busy place on a
Saturday night. After delivering our mails at the post-office, the coach
was driven into the yard of a public-house full of busy men. All
alighted, and I stood by the side of another female passenger wondering
what I should do, when a gentleman addressed me, “I hear you expected
friends from Macquarie Plains to meet you; I am driving past their
house, and will take you there with pleasure.” Hesitating as to what
answer to give to this offer from a perfect stranger, I heard a familiar
voice, turned and saw an old acquaintance; so thanking the unknown
gentleman, hastened after Mr. F----, who was much astonished at seeing
me there. My troubles were now over, as he looked after my luggage and
took me to a quiet hotel near, engaged a private room, and left me to
the rest I so much needed. Thoroughly worn out in mind and body, I had a
good cry before retiring for the night, and wondered whether telegrams
were an improvement on the old-fashioned method of communication by
letter. The next morning Mr. Henry arrived, he having called at
Macquarie Plains as arranged, and heard that Mr. Hall had sent word
where I was to be found. I was glad when we left for Frederick’s Valley,
where I remained for a week with Mr. Henry’s sister, and had many
pleasant drives in the neighbourhood; one to a deserted gold-field,
where a large quartz crushing machine was lying idle. This ugly mass of
iron had a peculiar fascination for my friend, who, kindly wishing to
share his pleasure with me, explained the use of various cranks and
wheels. I fear, in saying Yes, where it ought to have been No, I showed
my stupidity. He proposed my going to another part of the field, where
there was a pretty view of the valley, and where one might pick up some
specimens from amongst those heaps of quartz. The valley was pretty,
with a number of farms under cultivation; but English farmers would have
been surprised at the rough and ready style adopted, and the Australian
want of system; still crops were good, the virgin soil no doubt making
up for careless husbandry. The fields were divided by open rails or
cockatoo fences, _i.e._ branches and logs of trees laid on the ground
one across the other, with posts and slip rails in lieu of gates. The
cultivated land, not being divided by close hedges as at home, appeared
more extensive. I enjoyed this journey; and having been over the ground
before, could mark the progress that had been made. Orange was becoming
a large town, but Molong was still in a very primitive state. We passed
through Ironbarks diggings. What a place! Full of activity, few decent
houses, tents and huts predominating, though there were several inns,
but not comfortable for ladies. We stayed at one for an hour or two, and
found the grilled chicken, ham, eggs, bread, and tea were not to be
despised, though served on common delf plates placed on a deal table
guiltless of a cloth. What a life for men accustomed to the luxuries and
comforts of an English home I thought as I watched the groups of
diggers. Great heaps of quartz were scattered over the field, and the
roads are terribly dusty in dry weather and miry in wet.

Mr. Henry left me to speak with two rough-looking men standing by one of
the heaps of quartz, so I walked slowly on, musing on the phantasmagoria
we call life. When he overtook me, he said, “One of those men is an
earl’s son I met in Melbourne last summer. You would scarcely think so,
Kate?” “Yes; for I met a duke’s son in far worse plight a few years
ago.”

At one time I had occasion to cross Cleveland Paddocks twice or thrice a
week about one o’clock, and several times saw a young man leave the yard
of a cordial manufacturer at Redfern, where he washed bottles. It was
found out afterwards he was Lord F----, son of a duke. I should not have
noticed him; but one morning I dropped my handkerchief, which he saw
and, lifting his hat, returned it to me. Some time after, at the band in
the Domain, a friend introduced the same young man to me, whom I did not
recognise until he remarked: “I have met Miss L---- before.” “Have you?”
“Yes; one morning in Cleveland Paddocks.” He had drifted, like many
other human wrecks, to the golden shores of Australia to fill a
neglected grave. He received a regular allowance from home, which was
soon gambled away. While it lasted he lived with gentlemen; when
penniless, earned enough to keep body and soul together, anyhow,
anywhere. Poor young man! he was one of many I heard of then and since
who thought Australia a veritable “Tom Tiddler’s ground,” where picking
up gold and silver only required the exertion of stooping for it. It
certainly was picked up; but it required stalwart arms and steady
perseverance to wield the “picks,” and bear other hard work as well as
hard fare.

We had fine weather, so my second view of Wellington was under
favourable auspices; the township already showed signs of
progress--stores, an inn, court-house, and several pretty cottages were
now on that side the river. Montefiores was just the same, being on part
of the original Nanima estate, and still private property. My brother
had purchased the hotel there and converted it into large stores, with a
very convenient private house adjoining, fine garden, and orchard. The
former owner had planted the best fruit trees procurable in Sydney;
better peaches, figs, and nectarines I have never seen. The fences round
were covered with climbing roses of various kinds; there was a large bed
of violets and daisies just coming into flower. The vegetable garden was
most prolific--cauliflowers so large as to require a boiler to cook them
in; asparagus in great quantity, lettuces, onions, and in fact all
vegetables in profusion. Harry supplied half the township if they would
merely go for it; the same with fruit, and yet quantities were wasted.
Many changes had taken place during my absence. The Rev. Mr. Watson had
been advised to retire on his pension, and another clergyman appointed;
a young man, with his wife, now carried on the work most zealously still
in the old church, temporarily improved, as when the court-house was
finished in Wellington, it was intended that service should be held
there. My friends had left Nanima station, and now owned a steam mill
property near the river, and close to a pretty little place recently
built by Mr. Anthony, the clerk of petty sessions. Dr. Curtis had almost
given up practice, and a young M.D. and his wife, just from England,
lived in his cottage. Kind, genial Mr. Silva was the Crown commissioner
at Mount Arthur. The late owner of my brother’s property had built a
very nice house at the junction of the two rivers, appropriately called
the “Meeting of the Waters”; unfortunately he did not live long to enjoy
its many beauties. Gobolion was uninhabited, but the ground was being
cultivated by a wealthy squatter who had purchased another place a few
miles from Montefiores. During my visit we spent a day at the Holms, and
also went to a dance there, which, as an illustration of what young
people went through in those early times to attend such amusements, I
will describe. We were to leave my brother’s house at about six o’clock
in the evening, to arrive at our destination in time to dress. One
carriage contained three ladies, nurse, and infant, Mr. Henry driving; a
gig and single buggy contained others, and several gentlemen were on
horseback. All went on well for several miles, when flashes of lightning
and distant thunder warned us of an approaching storm, which at that
time of the year was very alarming. To make matters worse, we had to
turn into a bush road, with dense underwood, and trees meeting overhead.
A terrific peal of thunder and heavy rain frightened the horses, then
darkness fell like a dense cloud over us, and we had to stop till the
thunder became more distant, when some of the gentlemen dismounted and
led the horses, guided only by the lightning, along the track. We could
hear the “coo-ee” of the others who had taken a better road. After
nearly two hours we found ourselves at the house, wet and half-dead with
fright. We were the last to arrive, as the carriage, being large and
heavy, could not get through the bush roads as did those with single
horses. Our friends were almost afraid we had turned back, which my
brother had wished us to do.

Mrs. G---- suggested that we should take off our crinolines at once.
“There are only three hanging before the kitchen fire now, and by the
time you have had some refreshment and dressed so far, they will be
ready for you,” which they were. Not being strong, I felt “Let me lie
here in peace”; but I was soon refreshed, and a little after nine
o’clock was ready to laugh at our experiences in “going to a party.” We
danced till the first beams of sunrise fell on a picture hanging on the
drawing-room wall, when some one (I am sure it must have been a man)
drew up the blinds. What a transformation! Pretty women looked worn and
haggard, and the flowers sad, drooping, or dead. We did not want to see
more, but at once retired to change ball-dresses for more suitable
apparel. In an hour breakfast was ready, and after we started on a
delightful ride home, none the worse for our dance at the Holms. We had
other dances at Mount Arthur, and before I left also at “The Meeting of
the Waters.” I paid a visit to “The Mill Cottage” and nearly finished my
career. I went for a ride on Mrs. Anthony’s horse, a very spirited
animal, which threw me. My companion, Dr. Bohme, a German, living in the
neighbourhood, was terribly alarmed, till my laughing at the concern he
expressed so strangely, in German and broken English, convinced him I
was not seriously hurt. For some days I was not able to move without
dreadful pain. My friends were greatly troubled, as we were all going to
a dance at “The Meeting of the Waters,” where my brother and his family
were to meet us. “What shall we say about you to your brother? I dare
not tell him you went out on ‘Parson,’ as he told me on no account to
let you ride.” “I will go, and should I be unable to dance, must plead
headache.” What torture I went through to get ready! However, the drive
into Wellington did me good, and when I told Dr. Costerton “how stiff I
felt,” he advised, “Have this dance with me, and you will be all right.”
Before the evening was over all pain had left me, and my brother did not
hear of my unfortunate fall until years after.

Dubbo, a small township farther down the river, was increasing in size
and population. When we first went to the district it was not much
larger than Montefiores, but had made great progress, and was fast
becoming an important place. It is not so picturesque as Wellington, and
much hotter.

Before gold was discovered, living in the Dubbo district must have been
very trying. A lady living some distance below Dubbo told me they had to
keep their buggy and harness in a pit to prevent the extreme heat from
cracking them terribly. Butter could not be made, and meat had to be
cooked soon after the animal was killed. Vegetables and grass in the dry
seasons were not to be had. This state of things I could easily realise,
as one summer, while in Wellington, butter could not be had. That was an
exceptionally hot year throughout Australia, culminating in the
long-to-be-remembered “Black Thursday,” which was almost beyond
description. People died from the terrible heat, birds fell from the
trees dead, and all vegetation was scorched up, while bush fires added
to the misery. With us it ended in an awful thunderstorm, which cleared
the air, and we were able to breathe freely again.

As the country was opened up by clearing away the trees and undergrowth,
the climate became cooler. During my residence in Wellington and many
wanderings through dense scrub and bush roads, I never saw a snake, but
lizards and iguanas of all sizes; some were three feet in length, like
young crocodiles. Kangaroos we saw at a distance; I knew what they were
like, having seen some at the Zoological Gardens in the Regent’s Park. I
had also seen the dingo--the native dog of Australia--in England, as my
father had a puppy given to him by a friend from Sydney, which, when
full grown, was a nuisance to the neighbourhood.

The wallaby makes a pretty outdoor pet, and some people like the opossum
and native bear. The birds are very beautiful,--the Blue Mountain and
Lowrie parrots, Regent bird, brilliant scarlet and green king parrot,
leadbeater, and snow-white cockatoos. The galahs, with their delicate
gray and rose-pink plumage, are the prettiest parrots, and become
splendid talkers; the tiny budgeric gar, sometimes called the shell
parrot; honeysuckers, with yellow eyes, like animated jewels; the
butcher bird, crow, eagle, lyre bird, and the kookaburra, or laughing
jackass, are well known. The last-named are very useful, as they are
destroyers of snakes. A gentleman, travelling along a lonely mountain
road, heard this bird’s extraordinary Ha! ha! ha! following him for some
distance, until he came close to water and rocky ground, where he saw a
large snake basking in the sun. In an instant “Jack” swooped down,
caught the reptile by the back of the head, flew with it to a great
height and dropped it on the rock, then flew down and dashed it against
the stones till it was quite dead. These birds are met with all over the
country, and are still seen close to Sydney. Flying foxes, a species of
bat, are most destructive to fruit, knocking it off the trees and biting
pieces out of the ripest. Some writers have stated the Australian birds
do not sing. This is a mistake; they have not a continuous song like
many of the English birds, such as the lark and thrush, but they have
some very sweet notes, especially the bellbird, young magpies, and many
others, and enliven the bush with their songs. English sparrows are very
numerous everywhere in the colonies, and are surely the greediest, and
most impudent birds. My verandah flowers in Sydney were nearly ruined by
them; they would eat begonias and fuchsias while I was almost within
reach of them.

My stay in the country had quite restored me to health, and hearing from
a friend in Maitland of another appointment in the Hunter River
district, arranged to take it, and left in the autumn for Morpeth, once
more braving the perils and discomforts of the road to Bathurst by
coach. During a few days’ stay in that town, now quite an important
place, I went with a friend to witness the ceremony of consecrating the
new Roman Catholic Church. The grand service, with many priests in
gorgeous vestments, girls in bridal-like confirmation dresses, acolytes,
incense, music, and chanted prayers, all reminded me of early childhood
when I went with my maternal grandmother to her church in Spanish Place,
London. After a short visit to my friends in Cumberland Street, Sydney,
and promising to spend part of my Christmas holidays with them, I was
again on the wing.



CHAPTER XV


I had to leave by the steamer from the A. S. N. Company’s wharf at
night, and so missed seeing anything of the route until we arrived at
Newcastle, when I went on deck, anxious to get a view of the Hunter
River. As I expected, the scenery was totally different in character
from that of the Western district,--flat, but very pretty with very
luxuriant vegetation; many farms with fine pasture lands and orchards.
The vineyards too were a new feature to me. We stopped at several places
to land passengers, mails, and cargo, then proceeded to Morpeth, where
my journey ended, and in a short time I reached my future home, which
was at the house of Mr. Edward Close.

The trying ordeal of introducing myself to perfect strangers, being my
first experience of this position, was anything but pleasant. The house
was large, standing in extensive paddocks, and surrounded by flower
garden, shrubbery, and orchard. The members of the household were the
owner, a retired military man in his seventieth year, his eldest son,
wife, and their two little girls, Rosie and Susie. Rosie and Susie,
with the daughter of a friend near, were to be my pupils.

We were close to the Bishop of Newcastle’s residence and the church; for
walks we had no need to go beyond our own grounds. Morpeth was not
pretty, merely one long street with few buildings of any size; the
bishop’s house and Mr. Edward Close’s were the only two of any
importance in the place at the time I write of. The bishop living so
near was a great advantage, as he generally preached at our church on
Sunday evenings. Our clergyman was very wearying to listen to, and my
little pupils were terribly tried by his long sermons. Strange to say,
almost invariably the poorest preachers preach the longest sermons. My
dear little girls on such occasions showed their difference in
temperament. Susie would whisper very audibly, “When will Mr. W----
stop? I am so tired;” while Rosie with her earnest eyes listened
attentively. I once asked her what the sermon was about. “I don’t know,
Miss L----, but thought it must be good, as it is from the Bible.”

We lived a quiet uneventful life at Morpeth House. Mr. Edward Close
senior was without exception the most Christian-like man I ever knew; he
had lived in the district for years, and the only fault that could be
found in him during a long career was, “He was too good, too lenient to
the faults of others.” At the time I write of he had given up the
management of his estate to his eldest son, spending his mornings in
his flower garden, and after dinner reading in his study. Mrs. Edward
Close junior had been his ward, knowing no other father, as she once
told me, and certainly she was devotedly attached to him. Her husband
was a fine-looking man and enthusiastic volunteer, looking in his
uniform every inch a soldier. Both husband and wife were Australians.

Our evenings were spent in a way in every respect congenial to my taste;
Mr. Edward Close senior for years had read aloud to those in the house
who wished to listen. Mrs. Close and I with our work were always willing
to pass our time thus. The other day, in looking over a diary kept in
that year, I found a list of the books he read, amongst them being Lord
Dufferin’s _Letters from High Latitudes_, Farrar’s _Julian Home_, _The
Tent and the Caravan_, _The Crescent and the Cross_, _Life of Kitto_,
and _Life of the Duke of Wellington_, the last was most interesting, as
the reader had been an actor in many of the scenes described, and in
answer to our questions would place the book aside, and fight his
battles over again; the kind old face would then light up and the clear
eyes flash at the recollection of the days of his youth. Once I
remarked, “I cannot understand how you, Mr. Close, could have ever
wished to kill, when even the sport of shooting is distasteful to you.”
“I cannot understand myself now; but when once the word of command is
given, discipline and duty led us on, and afterwards excitement made the
animal nature forget all else but the desire to conquer. After the
battle to me was always terrible, and I used to think, ‘I can never
fight again.’ Yet I have always felt I could not have been an onlooker
only. War is a terrible necessity; but as long as the world lasts
inevitable. When I read the accounts of the Indian Mutiny, and heard
from the lips of those who witnessed them its horrors, I felt it was
indeed so.” This I could understand, remembering one amongst the many
tragedies. A girl I knew married a young officer visiting Sydney, and
soon afterwards left for India. They were at Meerut with his regiment
when the mutiny broke out, and tried to escape by the river; they were
seen from the shore and pursued. As all hope of getting away from their
pursuers was gone, he whispered a few words to his young wife, to which
she evidently agreed; then clasping his wife in his arms, jumped into
the river, and they were saved from the fate of many which they had
witnessed.

When Sir John and Lady Young paid their first visit to the Hunter River
district, they held a reception and a grand review of the volunteers. We
went of course. Maitland was _en fête_ with carriages of all
description, full of gaily-dressed ladies, and numbers of equestrians of
both sexes. Flags, triumphal arches, and our military made up quite an
imposing spectacle. Mr. Close sent her ladyship a basket of fruit,
amongst it the largest loquats I ever saw, so different from the usual
specimens to be purchased now; they were as large as hens’ eggs, with
very few seeds. Of late this fruit has been very much neglected; a
great pity, as when properly cultivated it is very delicious, and
coming at a season when we have so little fruit, is a great boon. I have
never seen it so fine anywhere as at Morpeth House, and excepting there
have not tasted bananas ripened on the trees, and by comparison those
brought from Queensland and Fiji are not so delicate in flavour.

Early in the spring I went with my pupils to visit a friend of the
family at Newcastle. It was a very pleasant change, especially as
Morpeth House was being painted, which had affected my health, and was
really the cause of our going. The kind old gentleman having noticed my
pale face and constant headache, asked Mr. Bolton to take us for a week
or two. It was a contrast to Morpeth--the town built on a rocky height,
and the streets a series of ascents. We were on one of the highest
points, so we had an excellent view of the glorious ocean with its
restless waves. We often wandered about the beach gathering shells and
seaweed.

One pet at Mr. Bolton’s caused much amusement, an Australian “native
companion,” a species of crane; a pretty tame bird with shaded gray
feathers and graceful neck. It would run races with the children’s arms
round its neck, up and down the garden paths, standing patiently by my
side when they were tired, and waiting for another start.

Newcastle was a busy place then. What must it be after more than a
quarter of a century’s progress I can only gather from the newspapers,
never having been there since, except in passing from the steamer to the
railway station. At Christmas, with Mrs. Close and the children, I went
to Sydney. What a journey! A crowded steamer with only one saloon for
the ladies and children; and every one was ill but the stewardess and
myself. The children were crying, and even Mrs. Close was indifferent to
her baby’s wailings. That night’s experience proved that nothing could
make me suffer from _mal de mer_. How glad we were to get on _terra
firma_ once more. Mrs. Close left me at my friend’s house in Cumberland
Street. What a home it was! The dear, gentle mother and her kind and
pretty daughters always ready to welcome their friends, especially those
without a home. I have often listened to that mother’s conversation, and
thought how innocent and unworldly she was. She had married young, and
was not a great reader, so that her mind was purity itself. Until her
husband’s death, she had never had to think for herself, and fortunately
her eldest daughter, a girl of twenty, had to a great extent taken the
husband’s place, sparing her mother business worries. In her widow’s
dress she looked so pretty and placid, sitting in her usual place by the
large dining-room window looking over the harbour. Always ready to
sympathise with the joys or sorrows of others, she now warmly welcomed
me. Ah me! that dear old home is now broken up, that good mother and
true friend “beyond the stars.” Her children have homes of their own,
only the eldest remaining unmarried; she, without the duties of a home,
takes upon herself those of many. Truly good and charitable, she has
been a “ministering angel” to many of those “we have with us always,”
and will be able to meet her beloved parents some day without a pang of
regret.

In town Mrs. Close had asked me to call on her at Campbell’s wharf,
where she was staying with a connection of her husband’s; so one
afternoon I called. She was out, but Mr. John received me, and, before I
could explain the reason of my visit, began, “Well, young lady, what do
you want a subscription for?” I looked astonished, and he continued, “Do
you know you are the third that has asked me for help to-day.” “But I
don’t want anything.” “Not want anything?” in a surprised tone. “Well,
then, you are very unlike my usual young lady visitors, for they
generally want something for a church, chapel, school, poor people, or
help of some kind. I have neither wife nor children, so am expected to
provide for other men’s.” When he heard my errand he laughed, and said,
“You are certain you do not want anything?” “Yes, quite certain, Mr.
John.” As I would not wait for Mrs. Close’s return, he escorted me to
the gate. This gentleman was the eldest of three brothers, old and
wealthy colonists, pillars of the Church of England, and true
philanthropists, highly respected and honourable men. The one I have
alluded to spent a fortune in doing good, and left a large sum to found
a church in one of the Pacific Islands. He and his brothers assisted in
forming a bishopric in the Southern district. They have all gone now to
reap an eternal reward for good work done here, leaving an honoured name
to their descendants.

Soon after our return to Morpeth, the sad news of our beloved Queen’s
loss, by the death of Prince Albert, reached us. A sad loss to her, her
family, and the nation of which we were part. Sympathy was sincere, and
in most homes it was felt almost as a family bereavement. Mr. Edward
Close senior was so much affected as to be almost unable to read the
usual daily prayer for the Royal family.

We had incessant rain for some time after our return to Morpeth, and
fears of floods were entertained, the district lying low, and most of
the farms near the banks of the river. One night, hearing the firing of
guns and people running about, I knew these fears were realised, and in
the morning heard that Mr. Edward Close junior with our men had been
rescuing persons from the roofs of houses and tree tops. It was
dangerous work, as often the boats would be nearly stove in by striking
against the buildings, fences, and tree stumps, or nearly upset by
floating debris. What a desolate scene it was, as viewed from our higher
ground, now full of stock rescued from the farms! Only the chimneys of
houses and the tops of high trees to mark where a few weeks ago stood
comfortable homes, orchards, and gardens. Poor people, what places to
return to when the water subsided; furniture and clothing soddened with
wet and mud; stock drowned and crops washed away! I remarked to Mr.
Edward Close senior, “They will never live in those places again.” “Yes,
Miss L----, in a few weeks you will see them quite comfortable again.”
Which was the case, for in less than two months, owing to the wonderful
power of the Southern sun, fresh crops were above the ground, the wooden
houses fresh whitewashed, and the soil richer and more productive than
ever, owing to the rich soil deposited. I went for a short visit to
Maitland at this time, and from Government Cottage on the hill saw more
of the effects of the flood than at Morpeth. Dead stock, produce,
furniture, and whole stacks of hay floated down the stream. Yet Mr. Day
said, “Floods in the Hunter were nothing to those in other districts,
where many lives would be sacrificed ere aid could be obtained.”



CHAPTER XVI


After twelve months’ residence in Morpeth I left for another visit to
Penrith, by this time a much busier place, as the then railway terminus
for the Western district. The bridge over the Nepean River was finished,
so we could cross without that extremely disagreeable ferry. We spent a
few weeks in the mountains, visiting Govett’s Leap, the waterfalls, and
other well-known spots, while others we explored on our own account. How
lovely it all was! What complete solitude in the gullies and mountain
paths! The mountains might well be named “Blue,” for at times they were
intensely so. One sunset there was most beautiful. We had spent the
afternoon collecting ferns, waratahs, and mountain moss, heedless of
time, when a heavy storm came on. Taking shelter under some rocks, we
watched the sun emerging from the rain-clouds; in an instant every peak
was touched with golden tints, and every valley filled by innumerable
rainbows; gradually golden tints faded into purple, clouds broke into
silver turrets, and along the horizon was a sea of palest green. My
companion whispered, “Can heaven be more beautiful?” We could not so
conceive it. The beauty of the scene seemed to make the question “Is
there a God?” impossible. If this cannot reach the poorest soul, what
can? We often took a drive to “St. Mary’s,” quite an English village in
appearance then, with its pretty church and “silent dead” around it. Not
silent, for the inscriptions over these last homes are often “sermons in
stones.” One always attracted me. It was to the memory of the son of a
well-known English house, who, travelling in search of health, gave up
the quest here, and died suddenly at the little village inn unknown, in
this lonely far-away land. Nurtured in luxury, and favoured with
exceptional advantages, he would seem to some safe from common dangers.
“The Universal Reaper” says no. This record proves in few words how vain
are man’s efforts. But his mother could not have desired a fairer
resting-place for her child than here, amidst the humbler graves covered
with green turf and shaded by many trees, and under, at night, the
emblem of that son’s salvation, “The Southern Cross.”

Now we had a bridge over the Nepean, Mrs. Richard would often suggest
drives to various farms on or near Emu Plains. She delighted in paying
visits to the farmers’ wives, some of whom had known her in childhood,
and would sit and listen with interest to the various details of “how
the brindle cow had another calf,” or “when another pig would be
killed,” or “the trouble these new-fangled fowls were, not being good
mothers, you know,” until we, who were sitting in the waggonette, felt
very tired and hot, wishing the good woman to stop this no doubt
all-important subject to her. Sometimes our selfish impatience was
punished by the kindly offer of “milk and seedcake,” or “any flowers and
fruit we could gather.”

The main street of Penrith was not much altered; the railway station not
being in it, the post-office was still at a general shop, but the
letters were delivered through a window at the end of the verandah,
which was used only for that purpose,--a much better plan than that
adopted in this English village where I am now staying, twenty-seven
years later, where they are delivered at a counter covered with the
usual goods of a country store, whence also telegrams are sent, letters
registered, and money orders issued, so that inquisitive persons
standing near can study their neighbours’ business.

The volunteer movement had fired the ambition of the young men of this
district to become soldiers. The son of a captain in the army was the
head of “our regiment,” Mr. Richard the lieutenant. A grand volunteer
ball was to be held in the hall, and several visitors from Sydney were
expected. The stores were very busy, and nothing but the army ball was
talked of. It was a most successful affair; not over select certainly,
the captain’s wife dancing with one of his men, their butcher’s son,
much to her husband’s amusement, who whispered, “Look at my wife; she
has not the vaguest idea who her partner is; the uniform does it, you
know.” I discovered this later in the evening, when Captain James
introduced a partner to me; the face was familiar, and during the first
figure of the quadrille I wondered where I had seen it. He did not
speak, but danced solemnly; but while waiting for the next figure, he
called me “Miss,” and appeared to know me, yet his style of dancing
proved he was not accustomed to ladies as partners, for he would put his
arm round my waist instead of taking hands. At last I discovered who he
was, when, thinking to pay me a compliment, he alluded to my feet. Yes,
he had served me with a pair of shoes a few days before. Captain James
declared he and Mrs. Richard’s brother knew the instant I found this out
by my manner to the poor young man. They were wrong, for I did my best
to place him at his ease by talking about the district. It was a very
pretty scene; nearly all the men in uniform, and several very pretty
girls. The room was gaily decorated with flags. An excellent supper was
provided by the ladies of the district, and we left about two o’clock;
but the dancing continued till daylight. Being the first affair of the
kind, it served as a topic of conversation for months, and the local
belles voted picnics and tea-meetings slow by comparison.

Again I wended my way to Sydney, to live with a friend who was a great
invalid, and undertake the management of the house and education of her
two children. We lived at Surrey Hills, close to the principal nursery
garden in Sydney, which was a very extensive property owned by a man
who came to the colony with Captain Wilson, R.A., grandfather of my
brother’s wife. The land, I think, was a grant from Government; it was a
sandy swamp, but eminently fitted for the use it was put to; beautiful
flowers and fine vegetables were grown at little outlay. At the time of
my brother’s marriage the owner of this extensive property was becoming
wealthy, and now it is worth many thousands. Much of it has been built
upon. Another very wealthy family in Sydney owe their first step to
riches to a similar source, their father having gone to the colony as
secretary to my sister-in-law’s grandfather, and acquired land. Captain
Wilson only left his children an honourable name; but as I have
previously remarked as a curious fact, the large grants of land made to,
or large areas purchased for a trifle by the early colonists, especially
military or naval men, are not owned by their descendants. The land,
apparently of little value, was sold by them to more business-like and
far-seeing men; sometimes almost given away.

Afterwards we left Surrey Hills for a house in town near to my first
home in the colony, and by doing so formed a close friendship with a
family in the neighbourhood; the head of that family was a clever
professional man, educated in England, who arrived in the colony when
such were few, and by ability and perseverance attained the position he
still so ably and honourably fills. A true Englishman of the old school,
straight in word and deed, kind and generous--in fact, an example in
every relation of life. If we had such men in our colonial parliaments,
how very differently they would be conducted, and the country governed;
but his professional and home duties during his early career occupied
the whole of his time, and now the state of political life is such that
good and honourable men often decline to enter the arena; however, he
uses his influence and talent in other channels for the benefit of his
adopted country.

When the volunteer movement commenced, he became captain of one of the
Sydney corps, entering into the various duties of the position with his
usual energy. To advance this patriotic movement he sacrificed many
precious evenings that otherwise would have been spent with his family
or in his well-stocked library. Of his wife it is impossible to speak
too highly; the best of mothers, sisters, and friends, she and her
sister are now the only two left near my own age of the intimate friends
of the “days that are no more.” Through these friends my life in
Elizabeth Street was passed in much happiness; their home was a
delightful one, well arranged, and as free from care as is possible;
their children were good and beautiful. In their carriage I had many
drives round Botany and Long Bays, Randwick, Waverley, Five Dock,
Burwood, and Homebush, thus gaining knowledge of the environs of Sydney.
Mrs. Dawson was one who really deserved a carriage; no one ever saw her
out driving alone. It was one of her greatest pleasures to take those
with her who were without such a luxury, just as it was a pleasure to
her husband to lend books from his library, or to welcome to his home
those who were not so well provided with this world’s goods. When I hear
people complain, “The world is very selfish,” I think of such as these
and others I have known in the limited sphere of colonial life, and
believe Charles Mackay is right in saying, “The world is what we make
it.”

We went for a change to Manly Beach this summer staying at the Lagoon, a
pretty little place on the ocean side. Thallie and I did not find fault
with the rooms being small, nor did we feel the want of piano, or books,
as we lived as much as we could out of doors, exploring rocks, beach,
and bush. Here were fairy nooks, silent beaches, all unknown to the
public, for Manly was not, as at present, a fashionable watering-place,
or inhabited by wealthy citizens. Two steamers were quite sufficient for
passenger traffic except on holidays. Lodging-houses, two or three
hotels, and small shops constituted “our village.” The view of the ocean
outside of the North Head is very fine. I used to sit on the beach,
watching the white-winged ships “come and go,” earnestly wishing I could
sail away to my “ain countrie,” that was hallowed by youthful
recollections into sacred ground, where the great and noble lived and
died. I am in that land now, learning over again that anticipation is
often illusive. Unfortunately we have had an unusually rainy season;
this, with fog, snow, and dull skies, by comparison with our sunny,
clear Australian weather, has considerably damped my patriotic ardour,
and has made me feel sometimes that before another winter I will go,
like the swallows, to a more genial clime. To compare England with the
Golden South would be folly; the two countries are so utterly unlike. In
the cities of one age has darkened, and progress improved and added to
the massive constructions of a wealthy nation’s palaces, churches, and
homes. The country too in summer is like a well-kept farm or garden,
rather too well kept, as where we live nearly every acre is private
property, nothing but the roads that you may walk on. Only the other day
a friend went (into what we call a paddock) to gather some wildflowers,
when she was ordered off by a man, and the flowers she had picked by the
public roadside taken from her. Thousands of acres covered with fern,
heath, and firs are kept to give pleasure only to the few. I cannot
understand this, as in Australia, except in grounds immediately
surrounding the houses or in a state of cultivation, few persons object
to sharing the beauties of nature with their kind. This closing up of
all the best features of English country spoils its charm, beautiful as
it is, when one can only view it by peeping through hedges or barred
gates. Who will wonder if I prefer the country where all who possess
land are willing to share the pleasures of it with others? How often
have we walked through pleasant grassy slopes instead of keeping the
dusty highway, resting when tired under the trees’ shade; if riding or
driving, taking down the slip-rails to avail ourselves of shady spots,
and this through the property of people we did not even know. One old
friend of ours at Burwood allows football and cricket-matches to be
played on his grounds without a murmur of disapproval. This is another
digression for which I must beg my readers’ pardon--another wandering
from the subject to many years later. Let me see what event happened at
this period. A new cricket ground was opened on what was only a few
years ago sandhill and swamp; the roads to it were, and are still,
through that terrible enemy of Sydney housekeepers, red dust and sand. A
visit to the ground (Albert) was a treat indeed, as the relatives and
friends of the knights of the “Willow” could also enjoy their Saturday
afternoons and holidays watching from the grand stand, or seated on the
grassy terraces, the prowess and skill of the players. Not being a judge
of the game, or specially interested in any of the players, one visit
was sufficient for me at that time. When I saw the place again, shrubs
and trees surrounded it. My English readers know how well our colonial
youths play their favourite game, having witnessed it on many a
well-fought field. In this as well as in all outdoor sports they are
proficient, and as time rolls on, year after year will bring them more
to the front intellectually. Steam now bridges the ocean. During the few
weeks spent on board our floating hotels on their way to the centre of
the empire and of intellectual culture they become more cosmopolitan in
their views every day. I know this to be the case, as last year we
experienced it on the P. and O. boat. We had Englishmen returning from a
tour in the colonies, Americans, a judge from India, a Chinese
lieutenant, two governors from English colonies, and some members of the
aristocracy, with a few colonials who had not been beyond their own
land. Before we left the steamer I could see what an impression had been
made upon our young people.

I will name a few Australians who in earlier days made their
mark with fewer advantages, compared with those of the present
generation--Wentworth, Dalley, Cowper, Windeyer, Stephen, Kendall,
Macarthur, Hamilton, Hume, and Kemmis; then Martin, Dowling, and others,
who, though not born in, were educated in the colonies, and this at a
time when it took months instead of weeks to learn what was going on
beyond the waves of the broad Pacific. Every young man who can afford it
would benefit by spending some time in the older parts of the world
before he settles down, that his views may be enlarged by learning what
class of men there are to compete with. It may be the want of such
extended competition that makes so many rest content in Australia, where
it is comparatively small. Much has been done during the last twenty
years to increase the number of our good men; and when some of our
present political charlatans, only greedy for place, patronage, and pay,
die out, I hope they will work with voice and pen for the real benefit
of the country. Our girls must not be forgotten; but so many have been
chosen by Englishmen, and transplanted into English homes, that their
qualities are better known. That they are equal in accomplishments,
love of literature, personal appearance, and all that makes woman the
light of home to their English sisters, I can truthfully state, having
seen three generations of them in their homes.



CHAPTER XVII


Once more I was meditating another flight into the country. My friend
had recovered, and was able to resume the care of her house and family.
Sydney never agreed with me, and I so much preferred a country life.
Fortunately hearing of an engagement in a family where I knew I should
be happy, I bade my friends farewell, and thought, “The world is all
before me where to choose; my peace of rest with Providence my guide.”
This journey of two hundred miles was begun under better auspices,
travelling by train to Penrith, remaining a night with my friends there,
who saw me the next morning comfortably seated in a good coach drawn by
fine horses, a turn-out for the road very different from that I had
hitherto known. The roads were in much better condition, and the inn
accommodation improved; but before we arrived at Bowenfels, my
anticipation of an uneventful journey was dispelled, as our respectable
vehicle was changed for a wreck of the old school, harness tied with
rope, horses not well broken in. The usual tomahawk and pieces of spare
rope handed in, recalled my first journey’s experiences. As I expected,
at every bit of rising ground the horses jibbed, the driver requesting
the passengers--a lady, a lame man, and myself--to get out. We did so,
and then went on again a few miles, with the same result, at least the
jibbing, as the driver got down to lead the horses this time. But as the
horses would not move, the driver called to the man on the box, “Hit the
nearest to you with your crutch.” He obeyed;--result, it kicked
furiously. “Jump out,” screamed the man, which we did at once. Men,
coach, and horses then disappeared. My companion showing signs of
hysterics, I scolded her, and suggested running down the hill to see
what had happened, dreading to look when we neared the spot where the
coach stood. Fortunately another hill had stopped the horses, and the
man had kept his hold of the reins. The driver’s left arm was broken and
one of the shafts, so we had to remain while the poor fellow went off
the road to a shepherd’s hut for assistance. Two men came, made a sling
for the driver’s arm, tied the shaft together with some of the rope, and
hammered at the wheels. It was a terribly anxious time, as the driver
asked us to watch the wheels in case they came off. However, at last we
arrived at the stage two hours behind time; the shaft was repaired, and
another driver got; but he being a stranger, the disabled man had to go
as far as Bowenfels. How earnestly I wished this pretty spot had been my
destination, being completely worn out with fatigue and fright. Fresh
passengers started with us--a young couple belonging to a _variété
troupe_ at Mudgee, whose merry chatter and too loudly expressed
astonishment at Australian travel amused me. They were only just out
from California, and described their experiences most graphically, as no
doubt they would those of the present trip, as well as that we had just
undergone, for my companion related the whole of it. I was rejoicing at
leaving them ten miles the Sydney side of Mudgee, it having been
arranged for Mr. Charles to send a buggy to meet me at a little inn near
the boundary of his estate. The mailman, however, said he was afraid our
being two hours late would prevent this; but as we drove into the inn
yard I saw the neat single buggy and man waiting. Now thankfully I bid
my travelling companions farewell, and sat too worn out to see anything
as we drove over grass and road to Broom. My last experience of coach
travelling in Australia had ended that night, leaving me stiff and
bruised for days. As I write this the sweet face of Mrs. Charles and her
cordial welcome is before me, as, bewildered by the lighted hall, she
took me by the hand and led me to my room, told me a warm bath was
ready, and she would send me in some tea. “You are tired, I can see.”
“Yes, and sore; look at my arm,” which was bruised with the iron of the
mail-coach. However the bath, delicate meal of chicken, and that panacea
for nervous troubles, tea, with some camphorated eau-de-Cologne, soon
soothed me to sleep, which lasted till late the next morning. When we
had become friends, Mrs. Charles told me I looked such a frail, delicate
creature that night, she felt inclined to take me in her arms and carry
me to my room. In fact, she had told her husband and three of his
brothers this when she returned to the drawing-room, adding, “She is
nearly killed with travelling in the horrid coach; her arms are black
with bruises. When will they have good coaches in Australia, I wonder?”

My new surroundings were quite different from any I had yet experienced
either in town or country. I was now on a sheep station, managed very
different from Nanima, and of much less extent, cleared and cultivated.
The house was an old one, partly surrounded by the shrubbery of
laurustines, lilacs, spiræa, and other flowering shrubs. At one end of
the verandah was a trellis of Isabella grape, covering many feet to an
enclosure at the back. The orchard was across a paddock in the front,
and growing close to the verandah at the back was a large orange tree, a
great rarity in the district. The hills in front, and the river at their
feet, with lands consisting of farms under cultivation, and so much land
cleared belonging to Broom, reminded me of places seen in England. We
were several miles from Mudgee, the road to which, through Burra estate,
owned by Mr. Charles’s brother, was a very pretty drive. Much of it was
tenanted by farmers, and at intervals groups of wattle, kurrajong,
willows, native apple, and other trees made charming vistas, with the
hills as background. I never tired of the drive to church on Sunday or
of shopping and paying visits during the week, particularly as our
carriage and pair of ponies were equal to any in Sydney.

Mudgee twenty-five years ago was a very good town, with churches,
banks, stores, a School of Arts or Mechanics’ Institute, and pretty
cottages; I certainly was surprised on my first visit to it. It was
situated two hundred miles from Sydney, over mountain roads in coaches
such as I have described, and only drays to bring everything from, and
wool and produce to, the city. No doubt, as several wealthy families had
settled and made homes in the immediate neighbourhood, their presence
tended to the somewhat rapid progress of this place. One family of three
brothers, each on separate properties, and several members of the family
I was with had properties in the district: these gentlemen all bearing
the same name, I had a difficulty in distinguishing brothers from
cousins.

Burra House had been Mr. Charles’s father’s first homestead in the
district, a very unpretentious bush house, now to be replaced by the
mansion his eldest son was building. When completed this was the largest
private residence near the town. Here he entertained the governor, the
bishop, and other distinguished visitors. I think his eldest son now
resides there, with the railway nearly “at his gates,” daily news from
Sydney, and friends able to run down for a few hours. But is it so
completely country life there now, with its characteristic freedom from
restraint, dress, and worry? When I remember Mudgee, we could dress
comfortably, drive a cart, and ride very rough-looking horses; and as
others did likewise, no unfavourable comments could be made.

Our household consisted of Mr. Charles, his young wife, her two
children, and two girls from a neighbouring estate to be educated with
Mr. Charles’s elder daughter. We seldom left Broom for exercise, as the
estate consisted of many acres, the river running through it, on the
opposite side of which were paddocks under cultivation. We had a rabbit
warren near, and many charming spots to visit on our side of the river;
communication with the other, when I first went there, was too risky for
my nerves. A fallen tree did not represent a bridge to me. Twice I
attempted it, and had ignominiously to sit down in the middle and allow
my pupils to lead me over, so I determined to wait until a proper
crossing-place was made for sheep-washing.

Our favourite walk was to a place I named “The Fairy Dell,” where we
often sat and watched “Bunny” at work and play. He has worked to some
purpose now in Australia, clearing all before him. How little the man
who first introduced the rodents thought what the result would be, or
how many thousands it would cost the Government and squatters to rid the
country of such pests! Not long after I left Broom, Mr. Charles had his
destroyed by burning them out of their holes. Hares will also become a
nuisance if not got rid of before making their way into the interior of
the country, where they can breed unmolested.

How many acclimatised prolific seed-bearing plants too have become as
bad, if not worse than those indigenous to the soil. Geraniums are grown
as hedges, pelargoniums grow three or four feet high in a couple of
years; clumps of heliotrope, gardenias, fuchsias, and Daphne thrive in
the open air and become large shrubs with thick stems; and such plants
as the sweet-briar will soon spread over uncultivated ground in the same
ratio. I have seen acres covered by it, with roots so embedded that it
required a team of bullocks to drag them out. Some early settler no
doubt rejoiced in having the sweet perfumed briar near his bush home to
remind him of the shady lanes of his native land. I never passed a hedge
of it in Parramatta without in imagination seeing a village near St.
Osyth Priory in Essex, where we passed many a summer’s day gathering the
crimson berries for necklaces to carry back to our London home, and felt
just as Australians will feel some day when they see the flowers of
their bright land blooming in hothouses in England. Childhood and youth
cast their glamour over the past. All is bright and fair in “Wonderland”
which the trail of the serpent has not touched. As I forgot in
Parramatta rain, fog, and gray-leaden skies, so will they forget hot
winds and droughts.

Life on such a sheep station as Broom was certainly an ideal one; we
enjoyed all the freedom of the country, with the advantages of being
near such a town as Mudgee and within reach of congenial society. As
usual, I was fortunate in this respect, meeting with a lady there, the
wife of a bank manager just from England, a delightful clever
woman--musical, well read, and well travelled. Her conversation was like
a fresh breeze from another world, a perfect revelation to me. At Broom
too we had Mr. Charles’s younger brother staying for months; he was a
cosmopolitan, had studied at Cambridge, and passed as a barrister in
Sydney, but was compelled through delicate health to live in the
country, and assisted in managing the out-station. He was somewhat of a
dilettante, played the cornet a little, painted a little, sang a little,
and read a great deal. His rooms were in a cottage across the courtyard,
and contained a curious collection of things bought during his travels,
amongst them part of an Egyptian mummy. Whoever the said mummy was in
the flesh, she would have been horrified at being kept in a large box,
in which music, books, paints, and numbers of other articles were stowed
away to clear the room. Mrs. Charles and I often amused ourselves
examining these treasures, and once when the owner was absent,
determined to tidy his two rooms, expecting thanks for the result of our
exercising of our organ of order, in bookcase, boxes, and drawers
presenting so different an aspect. But no; the ungrateful man only
grumbled, saying, “It will take a week before I can find anything; I
prefer my things mixed in a drawer or box, for then I am sure to find
them.” He was very fond of pets. One he waited on for a long time. Out
shooting on the mountains he discovered an eagle’s nest with eggs in it,
so calculating the time, went some weeks after, and watching the
parent-bird fly away, secured an eaglet, which grew to be a splendid
bird. Poor “Jupiter!” how we pitied it; chained to a post in the
grounds, he looked terribly melancholy. At last, to our delight, he
broke his chain and flew upwards; but not having full command of his
enormous wings, only went as far as the roof of the house, and with the
assistance of the men was recaptured. “Mulla,” my weekly pupils’ home,
was a relic of the past. It was one of the earliest bush houses, built
substantially in the same style as I see on these Hampshire
roads--bare-looking, with high small windows, narrow doorways, and
without verandahs. Mulla had one, but it was an addition since its
building; the garden in front too resembled those in this neighbourhood.
The owners of the property were natives of the colony, kind and
hospitable; I stayed there sometimes, occupying a quaint outside room.
The elder girls were excellent housekeepers, good daughters, and
sisters, all musical, and fond of reading, “my two girls” especially so.
The younger has since spent some time in India, and if the promise of
her girlhood is fulfilled, I am certain she has appreciated the contrast
with her quiet early home.



CHAPTER XVIII


When Christmas drew nigh, my brother drove over from Wellington to take
me back with him for my holidays. We had a very pleasant journey back
through Gulgong, passing on our way Messrs. Rouse’s properties,
Guntawang, Biragambil, and Beaudesert; all fine estates of these early
settlers in the district. Gulgong is now a thriving “golden township,”
with church, public school, and its own newspaper, and now, no doubt, a
very different hotel from the one we stayed at on this occasion. It was
during an election, and therefore full of “free and independents.” My
sleeping apartment was near a general room, and nearly all night one man
would give noisy utterance to his ideas on the capacities of various
candidates, interspersed with allusions to his family affairs; his
remarks were very personal, occasionally touching upon the private life
of the candidate he opposed. At last, wearied with the incessant
talking, I fell asleep, to be roused by the undertones of others who
disagreed with the chief orator, a man who ought to be in parliament
now, as the talents he possessed resemble those we have so many of in
our present Legislative Assembly. I have never heard a debate, or
rather wrangle there, but have read them, and had a great many
described. As this night’s experience at Gulgong, nearly a quarter of a
century ago, returns to my mind, I pity quiet and sensible men who have
to listen to such balderdash.

The town of Wellington was improving; court-house, hospital, stores, and
cottages were in course of erection, and Montefiores only a suburb.

The Mill Cottage and Bulla I visited, and saw how trees, vines, and
shrubs had grown. The same old friends were there, but not for long; and
my eyes rested on the well-known spots for the last time, as sixteen
years passed ere I saw the district again, strangers sitting beside the
hearths, and wandering through the bush, where the friends of my youth
had their homes. “Some had gone to lands far distant,” others to “The
Silent Land.”

We had a pleasant journey back to Broom through bush lands, past
Mitchell’s Creek, arriving at my home in time for tea. It was a great
drawback my being such a nervous horsewoman, as I lost many
opportunities of seeing such country as vehicles could not travel
through. It was very tantalising to watch young people starting off for
long rides. Australians of both sexes are veritable centaurs. Fearless
and graceful riders, they do not care for walking, and will spend an
hour in running a horse in, to ride on an errand they could have gone in
less time on foot. Girls brought up in the country will ride any kind of
horse over the roughest country. When I first went to Wellington I have
watched them leaving the town, their horses covered with parcels, and
often with a child in front of them. One girl “down the river” wanted to
take a small shoe trunk before her. The horses are often only partially
broken in, and back and shy frequently, but these young people stick on.
I suppose our horses are good, as the Indian market is partly supplied
from Australia. They are not equal in appearance to the English horses;
this struck me when in the west end of London; even the cab and omnibus
horses look better than ours.

The busy time for our gentlemen was approaching. Yards for drafting the
sheep had to be made, so Mrs. Charles suggested that we, with some of
the girls from Mulla, should picnic at the place over the river where
they were working. About eleven we started with the provisions for
lunch, which we were to cook at the place of meeting,--chops, steaks,
ham, ingredients for pancakes, with some cold provisions, which Mr.
James suggested, as he thought “we might burn or otherwise fail in our
cooking.” Tea was of course provided; beer and wine also. What a
glorious morning it was, and how busy we were,--not even a fire lighted
for us when we arrived at the place! Mr. Charles declared we had
undertaken to be gipsies, so should not be assisted. “As if we want
assistance,” was our proud rejoinder. “Mary, you collect some light
wood, while I select a good place for the fire.” This was done; but Mrs.
Charles was afterwards too busy unpacking baskets and case to notice
that Mary was waiting for further orders. At last the terrible truth
dawned on us,--we had forgotten the matches; and therefore, as Kate
said, “must demean ourselves by asking the gentlemen’s assistance.”
Little Louie suggested, “The blacks light a fire by rubbing two pieces
of wood together.” “Takes too long.” Mrs. Charles had left us and gone
towards two station hands who were felling trees for the yards,
returning with her charming face all aglow. “I have some matches, so
Charlie and Jim need not know we forgot ours.” We would not eat anything
that we had not cooked ourselves, though the patties, cold ham, and the
plum pudding, made by the French cook at Broom, looked very tempting.
Mr. Charles was very good and ate underdone steak and burnt pancakes
manfully; but Mr. James cruelly refused, saying, “Fried meat was too
indigestible, and he did not care for smoked mutton.” “Very well, then,
you must not have tea; that is sure to be smoky,” said saucy Kate. After
lunch they went back to work, and we scattered about getting flowers and
ferns, but were very glad to find on our return to the camp that Mr.
Charles had told one of the men to pack up our things,--all but meat,
bread, butter, and cake, and with tea ready to make as soon as we came
in sight. “It was a real picnic,” we all said, “and more enjoyable than
the usual affairs of the kind.”

Now sheep-washing and shearing were the chief business at Broom. The
gentlemen left at daylight, returning to an early breakfast. We finished
our usual home occupations as quickly as possible, wishing to spend part
of the afternoon watching the process, and a very pretty sight it was.
The home flocks were chiefly bred from imported sheep, famous for the
quality of their wool, which Mr. Charles had made arrangements for
getting up well. Yards were put up on one side of the river for the
unwashed sheep, and close to the bank large tanks filled with hot water
were placed, in which the sheep were first scoured, and then passed on
for two men to dip them several times in the river. A man stood ready to
drive them up the grassy bank into paddocks on the other side, when in a
day or two they looked like balls of snow, and were ready for the
shearing shed. This part of the work I soon tired of, as occasionally
the shears cut deeper than the wool; still it is wonderful watching
experienced men clip, clip, and then in a few minutes away the
frightened creature runs, shorn of its beautiful coat.

Very young lambs are not pretty I discovered at Broom, when Mr. Charles
brought in a motherless one, which, being of a valuable breed, he wished
to be brought up by hand. The parlour-maid undertook to feed it from a
bottle, and “Snow” consequently became a nuisance, following the girl
everywhere. It grew to be a very pretty creature,--an ideal “pet lamb”
which the children delighted to play with; but unfortunately “Snow” grew
very quickly, and one evening Mr. Charles said, “I must take ‘Snow’ to
Sam, who has the care of several others.” A tender farewell ensued, and
a few tears from Lilly, who was consoled by being told, “We will go and
see the pet soon,” which promise was fulfilled; but, alas, ungrateful
“Snow” had forgotten us, and not even biscuit would tempt it to leave
its friends!

When shearing was over, the young people persuaded Mrs. Charles to give
them a dance at Broom, which was followed by a grand ball at the School
of Arts in Mudgee, given by Mr. George to all classes. It reminded me of
tenants’ balls I had read of in county stories of the old country; some
of the farmers had lived on the property for years, and many of the
servants at Burra and Broom were of the third generation. One old man at
Broom had been in the family nearly fifty years; we used often on Sunday
afternoons to visit him at his hut, taking some delicacy for his evening
meal. He had been a tall, powerful man, but was now bent with the
“burden of many years.” I had been reading to him as usual, when after a
long pause he began talking of “the old country,”--the only subject he
ever seemed interested in--when he remarked in answer to some question
of mine, “You see, Miss, I was lagged very young, so can remember those
times well.” “What, Sam! were you sent to Australia?” was my shocked
question. “Yes, Miss,” in an apologetical tone; “but not for a very bad
crime; they called it poaching. You see, this is how it was. We lived in
a grand game country, miles and miles of heather and bracken alive with
wild things, always tempting us to snare ’em. My mother was dead, and
father married again, so no one cared much about me. One day a lot of
lads said to me, ‘Sam,’ says they, ‘we are going to Lord X----’s park
to-morrow night; will ’ee come?’ At first I said No, minding a promise I
made mother when I was a bit of a boy; but they persuaded me, so at last
I agreed to meet them at the cross roads. Well, I went; two of the lot
were well-known bad uns, I heard later on. The keepers had heard they
were skulking about the village, so set a trap for them, and we were all
caught. They said, as it was my first offence, I should have been let
off easy; but you see I had a tussle with one of the keepers and nearly
killed him. I could not help knocking him down, when he called me a
thief; so I was sent over the seas with the lot, and was assigned to
this family after a while, and have been in it ever since. Good masters,
all on ’em, Miss; the old gentleman as well as his sons,--good to their
men, bond or free.” Poor old Sam was right to be grateful; he was well
cared for to the end of his life, which was a long one--dying in his hut
amidst green pastures and country sounds. After the old man’s narrative,
Louie inquired, “Don’t you feel lonely, Sam?” “No, little Miss; I was a
shepherd for years, and often days after days only heard the sheep and
my dog’s voice.”



CHAPTER XIX


The second summer I spent at Broom was hotter than usual, owing to
extensive bush fires. The mountains in front of the house were a
magnificent sight. At night sometimes we would see the “fire king”
clearing all before him stealthily, leaving paths of flame as he went,
then surrounding a mighty tree, creeping from stem to branch, until
amidst a shower of sparks it fell into its “gold and scarlet
grave,”--these, with masses of undergrowth like beacon fires, making any
pyrotechnic display look poor by comparison.

I spent part of the Christmas holidays with Mrs. Blomfield at Eurund in
a very pretty house on the other side of Mudgee, visiting Wilber and the
Pipeclay diggings while there. We started early one morning for the
latter, well provided with luncheon baskets. After driving over very
indifferent roads through bush paddocks, we arrived at “the creek,”
where there were several parties of diggers washing gold on its banks.
“The first thing,” suggested one of our party, “for us to see is ‘Long
Tom’ at work,” pointing to a group of men; “there he is.” I had a dim
recollection of a nautical individual with the lugubrious addition of a
coffin in some drama, or perhaps one of the characters belonging to my
brother’s pasteboard theatre, and therefore thought, when we drove up to
this group, the man Mr. Blomfield spoke to was “Long Tom,” and a tired,
untidy woman sitting near Mrs. Long Tom. But no, I was wrong, for going
a little farther, we came upon a party consisting of four men, and the
real “Long Tom” or cradle, was a narrow trough filled with earth, into
which water flowed through a kind of funnel; the cradle was rocked, and
the gold washed from the earth fell into a tin dish. While we stood
watching, they got about half an ounce, as it was very rich on this
spot. The men’s clothes were a bright yellow, and no wonder, for the
water of the creek looked, as Mr. Blomfield said, “as though the late
Mr. Turner, R.A., had washed his brushes in it after painting a sunset.”
After seeing all that was to be seen here, we went on to New Pipeclay
diggings; an enormous rabbit-warren-like place, the huts scattered about
not very unlike hutches. Our carriage drew up to the side of a hole
surrounded by logs of wood, on the top of which was a windlass, where a
man stood every now and then answering some one below, whose voice
sounded very sepulchral. Presently the man above called out, “Dinner,”
and quickly drew his mate up like he would a bucket of water, very gruff
and pipe-clayey and slightly dazed by the light. We drove through the
principal street, the children--all of the prevailing terra-cotta
colour--staring at “the ladies.” No doubt dirt-pie-making was their
principal amusement, plenty of material lying about. Margie inquired of
her husband, “What would Jane think of this dirty place? the proverbial
peck of dirt must be eaten all at once, for everything is peppered with
the dust, and the water yellow with the clay. How dreadful for clean
muslins!” As there was not much to see at New Pipeclay, we determined to
drive four or five miles farther to “New Old Pipeclay.” Being in doubt,
we inquired the way of a digger, who, with the usual delightful
vagueness of that wandering class, directed us wrong, and we found
ourselves driving over a ploughed field. Start out, English farmer; as I
have said before, crops in Australia are not petted and protected as
with you. The owner of this, standing at his door, slowly advanced, and
then kindly took us to the nearest slip-rail. Evidently horses and
vehicles planting their autographs over his fields were everyday
occurrences, as he said nothing about it: he moved slowly, spoke little,
and his appearance generally gave one the idea that he was a stranger to
the order of the bath. He pointed out the nearest road, and then rested
against his boundary fence watching us, as much as to say, “What can
people like them want to go poking about diggings for, in this hot
weather too?” We found “New Old Pipeclay” more warren-like than the one
we had seen. Here we left the vehicles and watched four men working a
large claim, the gentlemen of our party entering into conversation with
those above, and then accepting an invitation to “go below.” We were all
invited, but Margie and I declined, and amused ourselves by picking up
specimens of quartz and crystals from the heaps around the claim. When
the gentlemen appeared, followed by more men, they were so delighted at
all they had seen that Margie and I regretted we had not braved the
dangers of windlass and dust; but it was too late now. As a consolation
one of the men gave us some large crystals, which a few years after
caused quite a sensation amongst my many Sydney friends. After giving
the diggers some money to “wash the pipeclay out of their throats,” we
started for home, driving through the place just as the men were leaving
off work. “We are driving over gold-mines, Jim,” said one of the
gentlemen. “Yes, and look at the miserable hovels the people live in who
are bringing it from the under world.” Hovels, indeed! More than one had
only a hole in the roof for a chimney; a few had casks fixed for the
purpose; but there was no attempt to keep the places neat. Yes, in two
or three were evidences of a woman’s home, in a rough railing covered
with creeping plants, or a show of curtains at the little windows. A
tidy female, watching from the open door of a hut, attracted one of our
friends; he rode up, asking, “Are we to take the right or left road.” On
her answering, we left him still talking. When he joined us again, he
said, “That is a countrywoman of yours, Miss L----; only a few years out
from Wales.” She says the dirt and muck here will drive her mad; but
her man is making a good pile. Digging for gold is better than digging
for iron in the old country; but when they have enough, they are going
back. Ah, that going back to the quiet peaceful village life! how few do
return; and if they do, are they the same innocent, contented country
folk, after living in such pandemoniums, as the early gold-fields too
often were? How many homes and lives were ruined by the lust for gold in
those early days of colonial life, only those who were living there can
know. How many wives and children were deserted the Destitute Children’s
Asylum at Randwick or the asylums for old men and women could answer.

The next winter was a very severe one in Mudgee, and I saw a real fall
of snow in Australia. A large party was given by the wealthy owner of
Havilah at the School of Arts; and Mrs. Robinson had kindly invited a
number of ladies to dress at “The Bank.” We had commenced this important
business when Mrs. Robinson, calling me, said, “Come here, Miss L----,
and look at the whitest dress you will see to-night.” I at once went to
the drawing-room window, at which my friend stood, and saw roads,
gardens, and roofs covered with snow. Our young friends were soon with
us admiring the wintry white; but the cold drove them back to the warm
rooms. I could not leave the window for some time, the “beautiful snow
recalled so much.” “Yes,” whispered my friend, putting her arm round me;
“I can understand and read your thoughts. This does bring back the dear
old country, which, with all its faults, is the one land to us.” It was
cold that night--bitterly so, as many felt who had to ride or drive many
miles home after the dance was over. The Agricultural Show was our next
amusement. It was a fine cool autumn, and we had several picnic parties
on the grounds. Viewing sheep, cattle, horses, and wool for the sterner
sex; vegetables, flowers, preserves, butter, etc., etc., for us ladies
to criticise, gave all a “good time.” These country meetings there were
very pleasant; everybody knew everybody; friendly greetings from high
and low drew the bonds of kindly, neighbourly feelings closer, as to a
certain extent all were equal. Farmer B----’s cattle and produce were
as good if not better than some of his wealthier neighbours’. The rich
Mrs. Robinson’s butter was beaten by that of a tenant’s wife. The poorer
could with truth and sincerity say of the richer, “How kind they are to
help us over any difficulty, or come to see us when sickness or sorrow
entered our humble homes!” Not many months after this their deep
sympathy was evinced with their richer neighbour, Mr. Charles, by one
humble mother coming forward in the hour of deepest need at Broom, when
the reaper Death claimed the young mother there.

My life had been full of changes, not untouched by sorrow and
bereavements, and this sudden ending of a young and energetic life was a
terrible experience. The three little children were left motherless; one
was only just able to ask for mamma: “When will she come home? I want
her.” The other two were unconscious of that want. How my heart ached
for them. After remaining at Broom until a connection of the family took
charge of the house and my pupils’ education, I left for Mulgoa, having
arranged with Mrs. James to meet her a few miles from Broom, as they
were travelling from their station. This journey was a very different
experience of Australian travel, for we drove in a comfortable
waggonette, making short stages, and stopping at quiet inns. We stayed
at Bowenfels one day, so I was able to judge what a pretty place it was,
with its two principal estates and farms. Many English trees flourish
there; indeed, all those I see every day in our garden here grew well.

I gazed now for the last time on the valleys and fern-covered slopes of
the Blue Mountains before “the iron horse” made them to a certain extent
lose their novelty. Yet who would complain, when progress gives pleasure
to thousands, where tens only were able to enjoy it?



CHAPTER XX


From Lapstone Hill I again saw the valley of the Grose, with the Nepean
River like a silver thread winding between banks and meadows fair. Emu
plains, with its many farms, nestling amidst the luxuriant autumn
foliage, formed a peaceful panorama. Mr. James kindly rested the horses,
allowing us to feast our eyes until the approach of a train reminded him
of progression, as he immediately remembered that we had some miles to
travel ere we reached Glenmore. However, the distance appeared less to
me, having so much to think of, past and future. We soon crossed the
bridge and drove through part of Penrith; then along the road to our
destination, which was so familiar to my companions and so strange to
me. One of the greatest trials of my life had been the inevitable
feeling of utter loneliness when first entering a family as a stranger,
where they were all so familiar, so bound up together by the ties of
home affection. My first impression of Glenmore was, “This place should
be called Florence, as it was, indeed, the home of flowers.” Hereford
House and others had been rich with “earth’s stars,” but not to compare
with the profusion and richness of bloom before me. The cottage at the
gate was covered with roses, honeysuckle, and the purple and white
maurandria. We drove between hawthorn hedges, with arched entrances to
orchard, vineyard, and orangery. The front of the house was literally a
carpet of flowers, as the gravelled sweep was covered with many coloured
portulacas and mignonette, which were allowed to grow and blossom during
the master’s and mistress’s absence. While the parents greeted their
elder children, I stood looking at the view before me. In the foreground
a large bed with trees and flowering shrubs, bordered by verbenas and
petunias of every hue; beyond croquet lawn, paddocks enclosed for
kangaroo and deer; then grassy slopes bounded by distant hills, clothed
from base to summit with foliage. The house was somewhat of the Italian
style, commodious, with large lofty rooms, double halls, and cool
passages; a long verandah covered with climbing plants on one side, into
which my room opened, and immediately in front of my window the opening
into the flower garden, which was always full of blossom, and showed
each season’s calendar written by Nature’s hand. The finest oak tree I
had seen for many a day was here, surrounded by a low hedge of
laurestines. Beyond this was the orangery, with the rich green of the
leafy trees, the snowy buds and blossoms then perfuming the air--a
veritable garden of the Hesperides. Fern Hill and Wimborne, the other
estates in “the valley,” were also in their different styles pleasant
country houses. The first was a modern mansion situated on rising
ground, with well-kept shrubberies, lawns, and vineyard. Wimborne had
many acres of cultivated land, parklike in extent. The house was large,
but more in the older colonial style of architecture. The owners of the
estates were related, so the picturesque church between Fern Hill and
Glenmore was like a private family chapel, as the congregation, with few
exceptions, consisted of the households of the three places. We had
service--conducted with great simplicity--alternately morning and
afternoon. It was pleasant to observe the family greetings in the porch
on Sundays. Sometimes we left Glenmore for walks in the neighbourhood.
One was an especial favourite--a deserted burial-place of an aboriginal
tribe on the banks of a creek. It was a very picturesque spot, thickly
wooded, with groups of trees with rude carvings on their trunks. I was
informed that they left their dead above ground, wrapped in rude
hammocks slung between trees, always selecting places near rivers or
creeks. Another object for long walks was the collecting of gum by the
children; at some seasons it literally poured down the trees. On seeing
this, I could understand the large deposits of Kauri gum dug out of the
ground in New Zealand, the accumulation of many years. Some mornings we
would go on a mushrooming expedition, our paddocks supplying us in great
profusion with these delicacies, so that our baskets were always well
filled.

The arrowroot grew plentifully at Glenmore, so Mrs. James had nearly a
hundredweight made one season. It was interesting to watch the process
of grinding the root into pulp, the cleansing of the muddy-looking wash
with many waters, until the sediment was a pure white, which is then
spread over calico and laid on the grass to dry.

For indoor amusements we had music, reading, and work. Mr. James had an
excellent library, and for modern literature a box from Maddock’s (our
Australian Mudie) kept us _au fait_ in the doings of the literary world.
Occasionally we had croquet parties on the lawn at Fern Hill, with
afternoon tea and claret cup. Playing at croquet, or watching the
graceful figures of our girls, and the elegant, genial hostess moving
amongst her guests, made a very pleasant diversion in the quiet home
life. Our household at Glenmore was a very happy one. Mrs. James, one of
the sweetest-tempered women I ever met, ruled her large family by love
and gentleness, and during three years’ residence under her roof I never
saw her angry or in any way ruffled, which, considering there were eight
children, from one to twenty years of age, at home, with three boys at
holiday time, was really wonderful. She had her two elder girls as
companions; I, my children, and one dear girl who rode over from Fern
Hill every day to join in our studies--clever, loving, little Lilly. How
we missed her when God gathered her for His garden of angels, and our
“happy valley” knew her only by the quiet grave which marked her
resting-place under the church’s shadow on the hill!

My long holidays were spent with various friends in Sydney. During one,
Sydney was _en fête_ in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh; this being the
first visit paid by a member of the Royal family to Australian shores.
James, Maria, and I watched the public reception from a stand in
Macquarie Street, and from our friend’s windows in Cumberland Street had
an excellent view of the naval reception and harbour illuminations.
Afterwards, when staying with Mrs. Frederick, I saw our Royal guest
driving past to Point Piper, and later on heard his kindly-natured
hostess speak of “the great interest he evinced in colonial life.” Does
His Royal Highness ever think of his first experiences of life in
Australia?--the dances, picnics, shooting-parties at Nepean Towers and
elsewhere? A friend related an anecdote of him which proved he was
really fond of animals. On one occasion he returned to the dining-room
to give his dog water instead of “leaving it to others,” as his host
suggested. I heard he had quite a menagerie on board. A young friend of
mine sent him a parrot, and handsome Mrs. E. K. C. an owl, which he
named after the donor. I am certain he has never received a more
heartfelt welcome than he did in his Royal mother’s “Golden South,”
which welcome was so terribly sullied by the maniac’s attempt on his
life. Australia will never forget the thrill of horror this caused
through the length and breadth of the land. The fair-faced youth to be
shot in our midst at a time when all classes met to greet him as a
friend and guest! This was my last glimpse of royalty, being an invalid
when the Prince of Wales’s sons visited Sydney, and during my year’s
residence in England. Still I hope ere my return to Australia to see Her
Majesty and members of the Royal family again. While at Glenmore I was
present at two weddings--Mr. James’s eldest daughter’s and her cousin’s
at Wim: both were very grand affairs. At ours there was a very large
family party; out of seventy guests there were only about ten not
connected by birth or marriage. Unfortunately the sun refused to shine
on our bride, so the grounds were not utilised; but the time passed
quickly, and an enjoyable dance finished the day. Miss Una was more
favoured a fortnight after, as she had a lovely day to bid farewell to
her childhood’s home, the youngest and last to leave. The extensive
grounds at Wim were thoroughly appreciated by cricket and croquet
players on this occasion.

During one of my visits to Sydney, I saw and heard of the man who
afterwards became famous as “the claimant” to the Tichborne estate; he
had just arrived from the country and was staying at the same hotel as
my brother. One afternoon, on calling there, in the hall I met this man
face to face. “Do you know who that is, K----?” “No; who is he?” “Well,
he says he is Sir Roger Tichborne.” That evening after dinner at our
friend’s the subject was alluded to, and on our host asking, “What do
you think of him, L----?” “What do I think? Why, he is no more Sir Roger
Tichborne than you are. No man, however unused for years to the society
or manners of gentlemen, could ever forget certain usages of his youth
as this man has, who cannot even spell the simplest words correctly.”
“That is nothing.” “Well, that may be; but if you saw this man often,
you would understand what I mean.” In after years, when I heard how the
impostor was believed in, I thought of this conversation. Of course at
the time I write of, the infamous scheme had only commenced, and the man
was off his guard and untutored.

My peaceful life at Glenmore had to cease, owing to bad health; a long
rest was imperative, so once more I had to avail myself of my friends’
kind offer to pay them a long visit at Oviedo Cottage, Petersham, where
as usual I was treated as a sister. One family--James’s oldest
friends--had a nice suburban house and grounds near to us. He had known
the owner from boyhood in England, and had been present at his marriage
to a young and very pretty girl, now the energetic and hospitable
mistress of Derry Vale, with a fine family to brighten their home. This
place, greatly enlarged since my first visit, was our last resting-place
in New South Wales. I also paid several visits to Parramatta, which
always interested me. Parramatta or Rose Hill, as it was first called,
is the oldest inland town in the colony, and the first harvest ever
gathered in New South Wales, one hundred years ago, was reaped there.
Old Government House still remains in the Inner Domain, or Parramatta
Park. This place, with its avenue of oaks, is like a scene from the old
country. The orchards are very numerous now, extending over an area of
four thousand acres, varying in size from fifty to a hundred acres each;
the orangeries cluster more thickly around Castle and Pennant Hills.
Here the vine was first planted, and grows luxuriantly--in fact, the
district seems adapted to every kind of fruit. Apples, pears, and plums
from the northern lands; oranges, grapes, peaches, and other fruits from
the southern lands of Europe flourish equally well. Alas! Parramatta has
one drawback--mosquitoes. These pests are found in all the districts on
the eastern side of the mountain range, and to some people make night
far from comfortable. I have known many, after living in the country a
quarter of a century, dread on this account the approach of summer.
Besides visiting Parramatta by steamboat and train, I have been by the
well-known road, scarcely altered since I travelled on it so many years
ago. Races were still held on the Homebush Course, and boating parties
on the river, now world renowned as the scene where our Australian
scullers have won their laurels. The trip by the steamer is very
agreeable, passing on the way up the river Five Dock, Hunter’s Hill,
Kissing Point--the latter now called Ryde; others renamed Greenwich,
Mortlake, etc.

I read an article the other day in an English paper on the fondness
Australians have of naming places after celebrated men; Gladstone was
one mentioned. I quite agree with the writer to a certain extent; still
is it not unwise to sneer at colonials, who wish by so doing to honour
their country by such names as Wellington, Gordon, Drake, Nelson, and
others? No doubt they have many absurd as well as commonplace names. But
are there none equally so near home? In my opinion the natives’ names
should have been retained and adopted. What could be more euphonious
than those we have still,--such as Ulladulla, Illawarra, Wollondilly,
Nanima, Eurunderie, Marulan, Moruya, Murrurundi, Merriwa, and hundreds
of others?

I had an excellent view from Point Piper of the _Flying Squadron_ that
visited Sydney. It was a fine sight, watching the ships under canvas
gliding on the intensely blue waters, under an equally blue sky, to
Middle Harbour.

We had flower shows in the gardens, cricket-matches in the Domain,
bazaars everywhere now. Our church school feasts were held in many spots
open to the public, and on the shores of the harbour, which later on,
when the train was available, were deserted for fresher fields.
Australia is certainly well adapted for outdoor amusements. Cricket and
tennis can be played almost all the year round, and picnics and garden
parties are practicable through about eight months. Holidays are spent
in the open air, as there are few places for day amusements under cover
like the Crystal Palace at Sydenham and others in England. Trains,
omnibuses, trams, and steamers swarm with well-dressed and happy-looking
people, all bent on enjoyment, while the city and suburbs are almost
deserted. I have often watched them, and thought this is really “a land
flowing with milk and honey.” No cruel winter, when men and women,
however willing, cannot find work. There seems to be no real want or
poverty. Surely such a land must become the home of millions!--this
sunny land, “a land of promise” for the overgrown population of cities
of the older world.

A sad bereavement made me leave Sydney for a time. Maria’s death caused
a terrible blank in my life, so hearing of an engagement to educate a
girl of sixteen, I left in the autumn for Singleton.



CHAPTER XXI


I left by steamer for Newcastle to meet the train by which I was to
travel as far as Singleton, where a carriage was to meet me. The country
we travelled through struck me as being flat and uninteresting compared
with the scenery of the mountains so well known to me. Singleton was a
well-laid-out town, already possessing several good buildings, a church,
large store, and public school. My destination--a large cattle farm some
miles out--was very unlike anything I had hitherto lived at, low and
flat; the house, however, was very comfortable and nicely furnished. My
own apartments were large, and certainly everything was suitable for our
requirements: bookcase and piano for study or amusement. My pupil, a
girl of sixteen, decidedly above the average in intelligence, promised
to be a pleasant companion. There was originality in her character.
Under judicious and wider training she was likely to develop into a
clever woman; but with present surroundings I used to think, “She will
grow hard, and perhaps sceptical.” Wombo was a large farm and station
for breeding from famous imported cattle. My pupil, the youngest of the
family, seemed quite an anomaly there. Though her mother was of good
natural ability, a long residence in such an isolated place had to a
certain extent dried up the early impressions of a visit to England and
life in Sydney. For the first time I saw there what splendid servants
the Chinese can be made. They had a cook equal to the best European I
ever met with; his dishes, bread, and butter the best of their kind; his
kitchen a picture of cleanliness, as he also was in person. A daughter
of his, about fourteen years of age, born on the place, was being
trained as a parlour-maid, and already waited at table quickly and well.
The cook had married a young emigrant girl from Somersetshire, who had
been housemaid at Wombo, and certainly in this union had the best of it;
she being an ignorant, lazy woman. She lived in what might have been
made a pretty, comfortable home; instead of which it was a miserable,
untidy, dirty hole, with numbers of children running about like
half-caste savages, unkempt, uncared for. Poor “Jimmy” occasionally
asked for half a day from the house, and then had a turn-out of his own.
Several times I tried to get his wife to speak of herself, or her early
home, but she seemed to have sunk into a state of apathy. She must have
been a fine-looking woman; indeed, her former mistress told me she was,
and could have married a white man. When she told her she was going to
marry the Chinese cook, her mistress had remonstrated with her, asking,
“What would your mother say to such a thing as your marrying a Chinese
heathen?” “I dunno; he’s as good as she; same God made ’em both.” Mrs.
Durham now thought Jimmy was the more to be pitied.

A most agreeable break in our usually monotonous life occurred soon
after my advent at Wombo in a visit from W. B. Dalley, who was an old
and intimate friend of the family, accompanied by a brother of Mrs.
Durham. They spent several days with us. It was a treat listening to the
conversation of these men at dinner in the evening; and afterwards Mr.
Dalley would come into my sanctum, have a chat, and read to Sophie and
me. He was certainly a man his country should honour; _was_, I have to
write, as lately I have heard he has joined the “great majority.” A more
courteous gentleman could not be; refined in taste, liberal in views on
all subjects, one of Australia’s most gifted sons. The fire of eloquence
had touched his lips, and his “silver speech” added beauty to the poems
he read to us, which would have given delight to the authors. I had just
been reading Longfellow’s _Hyperion_, and Bulwer’s _Pilgrims of the
Rhine_ to Sophie, from both of which he quoted long passages; then he
read several of Tennyson’s and Longfellow’s, and with two extracts from
the latter, “his especial favourites” he told us, I will close this poor
tribute to his memory--

    “Thus, O Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away,
    As he paced thy streets and courtyards, sang in thought his careless lay:
    Gathering from the pavement’s crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
    The nobility of labour,--the long pedigree of toil.”

    “Honour to those whose words or deeds
     Thus help us in our daily needs,
          And by their overflow
          Raise us from what is low!”

My health being still delicate, I found Wombo too bleak, so after a few
months left for Sydney, where I spent several months visiting friends.
Before returning I paid a visit to Morpeth by train, and found little
alteration there; the same long, quiet, grass-grown streets, the same
old houses. Altogether the northern district struck me as being far
behind the western in every respect, owing no doubt to the absence of
gold-fields in the immediate neighbourhood, as in the western and
southern districts. There were many fine estates, such as Duckenfield
and others, in this district; but East and West Maitland had not altered
since my visit to them nearly ten years before. I heard, after the
mining mania later on, when companies were formed to work old fields and
new ones were started, business brightened here, as elsewhere in the
colony.

On arriving in Sydney, diamonds were much talked about, owing to some
fine stones having been found, and it was stated one very large stone
was in Sydney, an Australian koh-i-noor. As the Mudgee district was said
to be the best diamond field, I remembered the crystals given to me at
Pipeclay diggings, some of which I had given to a friend. Staying at
Clarendon House in town, where there were so many visitors, my diamonds
caused quite a sensation, especially as one was as large as a pigeon’s
egg. How earnestly, listening to the opinions for and against their
being diamonds, did the gentle face of Mrs. Woolley brighten at the idea
of my being so fortunate; what books were examined on the subject! At
Mrs. Frederick’s too the same amount of interest was taken in them. One
friend tested a specimen by fire, and several windows suffered by
scratching on them. At last they were submitted to the best authority in
Sydney, whose verdict soon shattered the airy castles of my friends, and
my brief reign of having “great expectations” was over.

The different bands now played in the Botanic Gardens, a great
improvement on the former custom of playing in the Domain, as there were
so many shady seats for rest in the former, and flower-scented paths to
stroll in. The view from the gardens,--embracing as it does Government
House, Farm Cove, where H.M. ships and yachts lie at anchor, a large
expanse of the harbour, with the north shore in the distance--is one
that can scarcely be surpassed anywhere. We do not require glass houses
for winter gardens in “The Golden South.” All the year round tropical
plants and evergreens abound, and the sward is brilliantly green, though
it is necessary to state that the hot winds in summer are most
destructive to all kinds of vegetation. The camellias flower in the
winter. What beds of anemones, ranunculus, and pansies have I seen there
during the season we term winter, which is certainly not so cold as
spring in England! At times the long-continued sunshine tired me, and
made me long for grayer skies, especially as the air of Sydney is very
relaxing. The summers are longer there than in the country, where
cooler weather often begins in March and continues until October. In
many parts of the western and southern districts geraniums, heliotropes,
and all tropical shrubs have to be housed in winter; but even there the
weather is only cool, not cold. Our flower shows used to be looked
forward to as important events; now the agricultural shows share the
popularity. Only the principal nurserymen and florists, with a few
gardeners of wealthy residents, exhibit in Sydney, as the suburbs have
their local shows. During this visit to Clarendon House one of my
friend’s daughters was married; later on I saw two others of the same
family stand at the altar of the dear old church so full of memories of
the past. After the wedding was over, I went to my friends at
Humberstone, where I remained an ever welcome guest, until I heard of an
engagement in a family living near, the home of a widowed lady whose two
youngest girls were my pupils. I was very happy, being near many
friends, and having the society of an elder daughter of the house, and
her young companions--girls of seventeen or eighteen. Miss Mossman was
very bright and sang charmingly. Since those merry days she has married
well, holds a high position in society, and while in England was
presented at court. “The Grove” was a picturesque house, only a pleasant
walk from Petersham and Marrickville, half an hour’s drive from Sydney
or Burwood, and near two old estates, Annandale and Dobroyd. I am
reminded continually of the first by our avenue of pines here, as the
old trees at Annandale have been a landmark for years, no doubt to be
soon removed by decay or progress. Since the time I am writing about,
one portion of the estate has been built on, and is now a largely
populated suburb, just as many others have sprung up in a decade or two.
The Warren Estate, Hurstville, and Sutherland are instances enough of
the growth of the suburbs of Sydney in a few years.

I was glad to be constantly employed, for Death had been busy with his
scythe this year. My kind friends, Mrs. Frederick and Mrs. du Moulin,
left me sorrowing. Both being in delicate health for years, life was
perhaps wearisome to them, and those who mourned for them knew that they
had through life garnered above the “golden grain” of true charity.
Losing three such friends in two years was a great trial, and certainly
the best palliative for grief is the constant companionship of children.
It would be selfish to cast a shadow from it over their young lives;
their innocent hopes and confidences should never be darkened by the
losses time invariably brings. Wreathe his brow with flowers for them;
years will entwine the thorns only too soon. The dear old home in
Cumberland Street, with the kind hearts there, and the true friends at
Humberstone, ever ready to welcome me, with gentle Marian’s
companionship always willing to sympathise and cheer, were still left to
me.

I left the Grove, and after a short visit to Petersham went to
Clarendon House, where I remained until my marriage in September, the
kind, generous friend there treating me as a daughter, and her children
taking as much interest in my future as though I was one of themselves.
Again the old church was visited, and I stood at the altar, where as a
girl and woman I had so often knelt, and left many a burden of care and
sorrow. Now if it should come, I should not have to bear it alone. The
day was bright, and our drive to “Sans Souci” very charming; I had not
been in that direction for years, and never beyond Cook’s River dam.
Sans Souci was a favourite spot for the honeymoon, especially at this
season of the year, when visitors were few. We were the sole visitors,
except on one occasion, when the Rev. Mr. Pendrill (master of one of the
principal private schools in Sydney) brought a party of young men there
for the day. We were much amused at their evident desire to catch a
glimpse of the bride, thinking very likely she was young and fair. The
hotel being close to the water, we could wander amongst the rocks in one
direction, and in another stroll through the bush gathering wildflowers,
which at this season were to be found in profusion. The hotel was well
managed, and our stay there a peaceful and propitious commencement of a
new life to us both.



CHAPTER XXII


Our first home, being on the North Shore, gave me an opportunity of
seeing that hitherto to me unknown suburb which from its position made
it difficult to visit. After trying Milsom’s Point and Lavender Bay, we
decided on travelling _via_ Blue’s Point, as being equally near my
husband’s office and the dear old house in Cumberland Street, where I
was looked for every week at least, and often on Sunday. Our home was a
very nice cottage near “Berry’s Bay,” and from the grounds at the back a
beautiful view of the harbour, Parramatta River, and islands, with the
Blue Mountains in the distance. This I painted and sent to our brother
in England, it now hangs in his wife’s morning room. This with another
sketch of Sans Souci are the only two left out of many. The North Shore
is most picturesque, but the ascents are very steep, and the means for
locomotion few at this time; we found it very trying.

The views of the harbour, bays, and city from the heights are exquisite,
and now that there are plenty of vehicles and a tramway, the
difficulties of visiting this district are small. Houses are rising
rapidly and soon occupied. Near the shores of the harbour there are
several superior houses, with grounds extending to the water. The
Admiral of the station lives there, and also several leading men of the
colony. A bridge across the harbour has been promised by one of our
politicians; but this was during an electioneering contest, so it will
be understood that such promises by such men generally prove to be
words, idle words. When a bridge connects Sydney and the North Shore,
another city will spring up that will rival Sydney; but it is to be
hoped it will be better laid out, with the roads and streets of a
respectable width, with trees planted to shade the side walks. The land
towards Middle Harbour and in other directions will become valuable then
as suburban sites. The scenery here, as in other portions of the
harbour, is very beautiful. We engaged a boat at Pearl Bay and went some
distance up the harbour; one of the party, who had just returned from a
tour in Europe, remarked that it reminded him of parts of the Rhine,
only here there were no ancient castles immortalised by romantic
legends. We did see one solitary and dilapidated hut and a single figure
fishing from a rock. The scenery on the Hawkesbury River I consider far
more like the Rhine.

As the mistress of a house, the domestic problem had to be solved; and
with one or two exceptions, I have not found any difficulty in that
respect. My maids for thirteen years were colonials, from the age of
fifteen to twenty-four. Some required training; all were respectable
and well behaved, and are well married. It is the emigrants, principally
Irish, who give the most trouble to mistresses. They leave their own
country perfectly ignorant of their duties, with the idea of very high
wages and little to do, or that they will get married shortly after
landing. They soon grow discontented, and what they consider
independent; change from one place to another, and too often, poor
creatures, drift into the depths of degradation. We had but one
emigrant; she is a Scotch girl of the better class, who left “Bonnie
Scotland” five years ago with her family, and has been with us ever
since her arrival in the colony, leaving all her family in Australia, to
be our greatest comfort in what to me now is almost a foreign land. The
working classes in Australia are exceedingly well off, having high
wages, generally plenty of work, short hours, and plenty of time for
pleasure. Seventeen years ago wages were lower, but so were rents, and
provisions were cheaper,--meat at that time being twopence per pound,
and fruit almost given away. I have bought peaches, nectarines, and
apricots at twopence the dozen, while grapes could be had for a penny
the pound. Every year things are becoming dearer as the population
increases, but still there is plenty for all. Discontent and strikes
have increased the proportion of those requiring assistance at our
doors. There is a class who emigrate totally unfitted for a new country,
perhaps for any. To the credit of the colonies, be it said, that
whenever distress is made known assistance is forthcoming.

We have heard a great deal lately of the unemployed in Sydney, and the
Government (I think unwisely) finding work for them at the public
expense. Nearly two years ago, when a portion of the Southern and
Northern Junction Railway was open, I went with a friend to see the
country, passing through Concord, then over the bridge across Parramatta
River, until we came in sight of what we thought must be a volunteer
encampment, as under the trees there were several snowy tents pitched
and men clustered about. Presently we stopped at an impromptu platform,
and at once the train was met by several men, the officials from the
trucks throwing out loaves of bread, and lifting out whole sheep and
sides of beef. “What is it?” we inquired. “The week’s rations for the
unemployed who are clearing the bush at Hornsby and other places.” Out
of the crowd there we only noticed two men who looked really deserving.
One poor fellow was quite concerned at the rough treatment the bread
received, and lifted the loaves carefully, dusting the dirt off with his
ragged sleeve; at last he remonstrated, saying, “Don’t throw good food
about like that! Had you known the want of it, as I have in the old
country, you would be more careful of it.”

Up to this time we had not held any intercolonial exhibition; some
public men arranged for the erection of a spacious building in Prince
Alfred Park, Redfern, where exhibits from the adjoining colonies gave a
good idea of their progress as well as our own. It was well attended,
and brought numbers of people from the country and the other colonies.
In the grounds outside the building an agricultural show was
held,--implements, horses, sheep, cattle, poultry, dogs, and produce
showing to me the advance made in thirty years. This exhibition
building, the property of the city, has since been used for various
amusements,--concerts, meetings, balls, dinners, fancy fairs,--and the
winter before I left was converted into a skating rink, open to the
public night and day, excepting when engaged for private parties for
skating and afternoon tea.

The new buildings in Sydney are imposing structures, and as the value of
city property is rapidly increasing, the old houses are fast
disappearing, and others more lofty and of better design rise in their
places. Great expense has been gone to in the erection of public
offices, the University and its affiliated colleges, offices of
companies, banks, and private firms, mostly of sandstone of excellent
quality from the Pyrmont quarries.

About this time we lost our dear old friend in Cumberland Street, and
the home was broken up. James left for a responsible position in Western
Australia, and by regular correspondence kept us fully informed of all
that was going on there. From his description I gleaned that society
there was exactly as it had been in Sydney over thirty years ago,
consisting of Government officials, wealthy squatters, and a few
merchants. But the advantages of constant and quick communication with
the mother country and the more advanced colonies of Australia, with a
railway from Freemantle to Perth--the seat of Government,--made life
more pleasant. Western Australia will assist in absorbing the surplus of
population from older countries; part of it is well adapted for sheep
and cattle. In the northwestern portion there is the Fitzroy River,
falling into King Sound, which is about sixty miles long from the mouth
of the Fitzroy to the islands at its entrance from the ocean, and about
thirty miles wide in the broadest part; the river is two hundred and
forty miles in length, and flows through large tracts of good pasturage.
The timber is good,--the jarrah, pine, cajeput, cork-bark, acacia,
banksia, and eucalyptus--one variety of the latter peculiar to Western
Australia bearing a beautiful scarlet flower. The wildflowers are
somewhat different from New South Wales,--the desert pea and
everlastings of many colours, with others whose names are unknown to me.

Perth has a fine Government house, town-hall, and other public
buildings, better than Sydney could boast of when I first saw it, but
from James’s letters everything in the way of business was flat compared
to Sydney. I have forgotten to mention the pearl fishing industry. We
had some pearls sent to us which were large and of good colour; and when
mounted, they appear equal to any from other parts. Gold, lead, and coal
have been found there. Though containing the largest area of land of any
of the Australian colonies, and a climate varying from tropical to
temperate, there is much difficulty in exploring, as water is scarce in
many parts, and this retards settlement. Queensland in its northern
portion is similar in climate to the northern part of Western Australia,
and the former has for many years been famous for sheep. I have four
young friends settled in Queensland; one on a station a hundred miles
from post or telegraph office, another near a township; but the heat is
so great, she has to spend the summers with her mother, near Sydney;
another has a luxurious home near Rockhampton; but even there she soon
lost her youthful bloom. Yet it appears to be a healthy climate for men,
as these ladies’ husbands are all from home and enjoy good health. Their
wives are of the second generation of Australians; perhaps this is the
reason that they suffer from the climate more. Another brave girl friend
of mine by this time has gone as a bride to the borders of South
Australia, leaving mother, sisters, and large circle of friends, to make
a home for her husband there. She is a true Australian girl, an
accomplished musician, a champion tennis player; and better than all, an
excellent housekeeper. No one knows better than myself how deserving of
pity an English girl is who marries to go into bush life in the northern
portions of these colonies; however willing, her training has unfitted
her to rough it or to make the best of everything.

We were now living in Sydney in quite a new neighbourhood, at the top of
Elizabeth Street, where a Hunter Street tradesman had purchased the
lease of portion of Sir Daniel Cooper’s Waterloo estate, building
thereon rows of neat cottages and terraces of houses. The soil was
sandy and rather swampy in parts, with a thick layer of decayed
vegetable soil on the surface: this, when dug in and mixed with the
sand, formed a splendid soil for flowers. In less than a year we had
bushes of fuchsias, begonias, and pelargoniums, and the dividing fences
covered with dolichos, maurandria, and hoya. The street terminated in
sandhills. On the summit of the highest, “Mount Carmel,” stands the
Roman Catholic Church, which is built on the best sites for the purpose
in Sydney. At this church I heard Archbishop Vaughan preach, whose death
was an irreparable loss to his people. The lower part of the Waterloo
estate, towards Botany, was and is the “east end” of Sydney, chiefly
occupied by the lower classes; the vicious, idle, and worthless
congregate there. Of late years the Chinese have flocked to this
neighbourhood, which has not improved its cleanliness or morality.

Sydney at this time was supplied with water from the Lachlan and Botany
Swamps, considering the area, a wonderful watershed. Increased
population has rendered it necessary to construct other works, and the
Prospect dam closes in the waters of an enormous catchment area.

A very great mistake has been made in allowing any portion of the old
watershed to be built upon, or otherwise used till the works at Prospect
had received the severest test. Instead of this precaution (which would
strike all thinking men) being taken, a park has been formed, by filling
in the lower portions with any filth and refuse brought for the purpose,
which will pollute the water percolating through it to the lower
levels, and for years to come, especially during the extreme heat of
summer, will give off fever germs to the surrounding neighbourhood.
Certainly the Nepean works have not been sufficiently tested. Already
there are dangerous signs of the dam being faulty, and patching in such
works, I am informed, is of very little use, sometimes hastening the
mischief. There really was no necessity for this park being formed, as
Sydney is rich in parks (perhaps too rich),--Hyde, Moore, Prince Alfred,
Belmore, and Victoria, all of large areas, with the Domain and Botanical
Gardens. These ought to be sufficient, especially as every suburb is
getting a park of its own. Hyde Park, once the bare, ill-kept
racecourse, is now worthy of its name, with its green sward, fine avenue
of trees, and beds filled with flowers. Moore Park is the great
playground of the people, having a recreation ground. The Zoological
Gardens and Rifle butts are close by. It is also on the road to
Randwick, where the principal race meetings of the year are held.

Dr. Cuthill little thought the Asylum for Destitute Children he founded
there would so soon have in its vicinity such attractive residences.
Certainly a more healthy or suitable site could not have been chosen for
the little ones to grow and thrive in. I visited it many times when Mr.
May was superintendent, and the several hundred children there looked
well and happy. The earlier institutions for children were the Orphan
School, Parramatta, and the School of Industry, Sydney. Now we have an
Infants’ Home, Ashfield, in which a few charitable ladies take an
interest. I went there once with a friend, one of the committee, and saw
forty infants under two years of age; some in their cots asleep, others
toddling about the rooms. The institution is beautifully kept, so well
indeed that I thought, “These poor little mites are far better off than
those reared in many well-to-do homes.” New South Wales has always been
mindful of her sick and helpless, providing asylums for the aged, blind,
deaf, and dumb. There are hospitals in Sydney and in nearly every
country town. Lately a Sydney merchant left a large sum for a
convalescent home, and another more recently has given a valuable
property at Camden for a similar purpose. The situations of both will to
many sick and weary be a foretaste of that rest “that passeth man’s
understanding.”



CHAPTER XXIII


We lived for a time on the heights of Marrickville, our ground opening
on to bush, or what in England would be termed wood or forest-land,
leading to Cooks River, where there were vistas through which we could
see houses “bosomed high in tufted trees;” cleared land, and luxurious
foliage of pittosporum, lily-pilly, and other native trees: ferns too
were very plentiful. We were near old friends, and became intimate with
a family residing near us,--an Englishman, his wife, and five daughters;
the parents arrived in the colony in the early days. The father, a
university man, was master of a private school at Parramatta, and the
mother was the true type of an Englishwoman,--tall, handsome, and
clever, so it is needless to say the daughters of such parents were
agreeable, and became intimate friends of ours. Their mother has gone;
but her children live to show another generation of Australians the
results of a brave unselfish life. A little later we welcomed another
family to our home, as the introduction of a young gentlewoman who
brought letters from my husband’s family ended in a close friendship
with her relatives in Sydney, with whom she stayed a year.

Our little world in Australia was anticipating a great event, the
opening of the first International Exhibition. The site chosen for the
building was a “happy thought,” just inside the Domain gates, near the
principal streets of the city, and with a panorama of earth, sea, and
sky from every part of it, which few, if any exhibitions ever had
before. The building could not be said to be original in design: still
many said, “It was an exhibition in itself;” and certainly the site was
unique for beauty. When filled with our own and the products from many
lands, our anticipations of pleasure were fulfilled. The numerous courts
were always crowded day after day. The Italian, Austrian, and German
especially, so much so that we and others preferred visiting it early in
the morning, and having a quiet view of the sculpture and pictures,
including “St. Cecilia,” “Non Angli sed Angeli,” Meissonier’s marvellous
works, and other poetry of the brush; the china, glass, furniture,
jewellery, and silver, which it would be difficult to give any idea of
from mere description. Several talented musicians visited us, so every
day organ and pianoforte recitals, with concerts, gave pleasure and
instruction to the ear, as so much that was beautiful did to the eye.
The Queensland and island courts showed us much that was
interesting,--pine-apples growing in huge pots, sugar-cane, native
cloth, and many tinted shells; the Chinese and Japanese courts with
their quaint wonders and delicious tea; India with her rich gems and
stuffs,--all not only a pleasure but an educator. Week after week our
people visited this exhibition and the annexes in the grounds, where
machinery and other useful inventions were shown. Sydney was crowded
with visitors, and the first tramway was opened to bring many from the
railway station. From this time many improvements were made in our
shops, as numberless things that had been sent from home for the first
time as exhibits became common. At the end of this year ten years will
have passed since it was opened, and when I left Sydney it was still
talked of; nothing now remains of it except the lovely grounds where it
once stood. Will another ever rise in its place, like a phœnix? It was a
pity that it was destroyed; still, being built of perishable materials,
it would have been a never-ending expense to the country to keep it in
repair.

The last time I visited the building was to see “The Old English
Fayre,”--a very pretty sight. The centre was arranged as a street in the
olden time, with shops on either side with quaint old signs; the wares
were sold by ladies in costumes of the time; and certainly our
Australian beauties looked very fair.

When the Exhibition closed, almost every one felt, “What shall we do
with our afternoons?” For me this was soon answered. My husband’s health
failing, the doctor ordered change, and we left for a tour in the
Western district. This was my first journey by train over the Blue
Mountains. I did not enjoy it; in fact, when we wound our devious way
over the wonderful zigzag, I wished we were on the old road I had last
travelled, with all its discomforts attached to it. When near, terribly
near the edge of the precipices, I held my breath, and looking back on
the way we had come, said, “I wish we were safe at home.” My husband, to
reassure me, remarked, “The engineer-in-chief is in the next carriage,
so it is all right.” “What of that! clever as he is, he cannot prevent
accidents. Perhaps there is something wrong.” Just then we stopped, and
not at a station. “I am sure there is.” “No, nothing of importance,” as
the panting engine went on again. The worst was over when we reached
Hartley Vale, and by the time we reached Bathurst I was no longer
nervous. After dinner we left our hotel and walked through the town, so
altered and improved that I could scarcely recognise it. We inspected
the new block of public buildings, and after trying in vain to find the
cottage residence where I stayed nearly thirty years ago, returned to
the hotel, which we left next morning and took the train to Orange,
remaining there a week with our old friend Marian. We visited a young
friend, whose husband had the best brewery in the town, and inspected
the shops and numerous buildings erected since I drove through some
years previous. We were present at a cricket match and at the laying of
the foundation stone of a public school. Several speeches were made, the
best (and that is not saying much in praise) from an Australian orator,
whose voice is bad, and who never forgets one letter in the alphabet,
though often another, while speaking. We then left for Wellington, where
my brother met us at the railway station. If I had felt like Rip van
Winkle in Sydney after being absent three years, what did I feel now in
Wellington? Now I saw a busy little town with churches, banks, shops,
private residences, and hotels; a substantial road bridge over the
Macquarie, and another, an iron bridge, nearly finished, for the
railway. A few brick cottages in Montefiores was the only difference
there except at Gobolion, now a large comfortable cottage with gardens
and orchard. The children I had left were married, with children of
their own. Since our visit many other improvements had taken
place,--handsome bank buildings, a hall, where last winter they had a
skating rink, had been built, and a volunteer corps and a band founded.
The town is now a municipality, and the Corporation have an idea of
lighting it by electricity. This, for a small town two hundred miles
from Sydney, proves Australian progress. My niece, who has always taken
a great interest in Church affairs, Sunday school, and choir, and has
played the organ in the church for two years, had been presented with a
gold watch and handsome brooch.



CHAPTER XXIV


Our next excitement was the arrival of H.M.S. _Bacchante_ with the young
princes; but this I was too ill to join in. After this, our contingent
left for the Soudan, a matter already sufficiently described.

I had paid several visits to my dearest young friend at Darling Point,
where the child I loved so well was now a wife and mother, and the
mistress of a large household, fulfilling her life’s duties kindly and
well. Two visits with her and her generous husband to their country
house in the Southern district gave me an opportunity of seeing that
part of the country which is more like England; the trees are larger and
fuller in foliage, owing to the cooler climate. All the English trees,
fruits, and flowers flourish there. Bowral, Moss Vale, and Sutton Forest
present a cultivated appearance. There are many country houses belonging
to Sydney people, besides those of the permanent residents in the
neighbourhood. Erridge Park is my ideal of a country home, with its
acres of garden, orchard, and meadow land. My friend had his coursing
establishment here, his pretty cattle and dairy. The interior to the
house is in accordance with the exterior,--ornamental ceilings, dadoes
to walls, artistic furniture, and though in the country, water laid on
from a spring, and gas generated in a building in the garden.

While at Erridge Park we called on an old resident in the district, whom
we found busy preparing for a large family party of over seventy; she,
being the head, was looking forward to it with natural pleasure.
Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren hoped to meet in a few
days in their early home, a large residence with hundreds of acres
around it, once rented for a governor’s country house. In the earlier
days, no doubt, it was the home of a family corresponding with many I
knew in the Western district, such as the families of White, Windeyer,
Throsby, Campbell, Chisholm, Badgery, Gibson, Macarthur, and Manning.

We have now a permanent country residence at Moss Vale for our
governors, where Lord and Lady Carrington rest from their labours, and
escape some of the most trying weather of Sydney. I say rest, and surely
well earned, for though we have been favoured with some energetic
representatives of Her Majesty, we have never had one to equal the
present. From the arrival of His Excellency Lord Carrington to the
present time, he has indeed worked hard in fulfilling his duty to Her
Majesty and the colony, in which he has had the able co-operation of
Lady Carrington. It is not to the Government House receptions and
gaieties that I refer only, but to the interest shown in all public and
social gatherings, their kindly sympathy with the sorrows and
bereavements of all classes, as well as joining in the pleasures of the
humblest, from purchasing a doll at a bazaar to give to a poor little
girl, to visiting the Children’s Hospital, that they have won a place in
the hearts of the people, and long after they return to their home in
their native land, their names will be “household words” in “The Golden
South.”

I have been anticipating, as I should have devoted some space to a fancy
fair held at Government House during Lady Loftus’s reign. It was in aid
of Bishop Selwyn’s mission, and was highly successful; many ladies held
stalls filled with the work of fair hands. It was a very gay scene, as
most people were pleased to avail themselves of the opportunity of going
to Government House, if only to a bazaar. I heard that two thousand
pounds was the result, and was very glad, as I had taken great interest
in Bishop Selwyn and his work, begun by his father, whom I met and heard
preach at the dear old church, as I had also the Bishop of
Melanesia,--that martyr who, while on his Master’s work, was killed by
the natives, and his body sent adrift in a boat on the lonely sea. Such
men as these two and Commodore Goodenough are fine examples of those
devoting their lives to good work.

A bright idea for raising funds to assist in either building, paying off
the debt of a church, or other good purpose struck some residents at
Manly Beach. It was to have a show of wildflowers of the colony. This
quite original scheme was carried out with wonderful success, and took
numbers from Sydney to visit this “hall of flowers.”

I thought most of the varieties of native flowers were known to me,
being a favourite study, but did not think them well fitted for
decorative purposes, owing to the insignificance of their foliage; but
this show quite dispelled both illusions. Here were pillars wreathed
with waratahs, Keneydia’s purple bloom, native begonia, lily-pillies
entwined with ferns, at the end of the hall dado formed with native
roses (_Boronia serrulata_), blandfordia, flannel flower, or Australian
edelweis, epacris longiflora or native fuchsia, boronia pinnata, and
many others. An enormous group of staghorn ferns and rock-lilies formed
into Prince of Wales’s feathers reached the roof. The stalls were full
of flowers arranged as crosses, anchors, hearts; baskets of all sizes
filled with flowers and ferns, bouquets and wreaths of every hue; in
fact, such a display of Nature’s handiwork, unaided by cultivation, has
never before been seen in Australia or any other country, as with us the
wildflowers, with few exceptions, bloom at one season.

My health for some time prevented my visiting the country, or taking
part in the numerous social and public amusements. An occasional visit
to the theatre, where I heard all Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas; a
suburban concert, an amateur performance, sale of work, enlivened by
_tableaux vivants_ under the electric light, and visits to our nearest
friends, was all I could venture on; but my numerous young friends,
married and single, kept me posted up in all that was going on, so I
heard of Leidertafel concerts, receptions at Government House, at the
town-hall by the mayoress, tennis parties, at homes, and garden parties.

I was glad to have the opportunity of accompanying some friends to “The
Woman’s Concert,” held in the University Hall, entirely conducted by
ladies, and organised by two of the principal music teachers--Miss
Woolley and Miss Pedley; the latter having for some time instructed a
St. Cecilia choir of Sydney ladies, who at this concert were most
efficient and of great assistance in the rendering of part songs and
choruses. Several ladies played the organ, piano, and violin. The rather
critical audience were satisfied, and pronounced it a success. This
concert confirmed my opinion that Australians have a special talent for
music. Already the general public know this, with such performers as
Lucy Chambers, the Carandinis, Howsons, Fischers, Miss Sherwin, and
Armes Beaumont, with others whose names I forget.

Several quiet afternoons spent in our art gallery showed also that in
the sister art there will some day be evidences of no mean ability. I
have often sat and listened to the criticisms, and been astonished at
the quickness of our young people in finding the pictures which show the
most talent, and was very pleased to read in the account of the
Melbourne Exhibition many names of Australian aspirants to fame.

I must describe an excellent arrangement for suburban recreation at
Strathfield, where ground has been purchased and planted, several tennis
courts made in grass and asphalt, a bowling green, and gymnasium. The
latter is a building with verandahs, and rooms for billiards, chess, and
other games. This is supported by members living near, and a committee
of management elected. Living near, I was invited to spend many
afternoons watching the players, and meeting friends and taking
afternoon tea there. Occasionally tournaments were played, and prizes
presented by residents of the neighbourhood.

Our last opportunity of meeting friends at Strathfield was at a garden
party on Centennial Day, when a large party met for tennis, bowls, and
afternoon tea in our friends’ pretty grounds. Often since, we have
thought, how pleasant a farewell it was to a place full of kindly,
grateful memories. It was not indeed the only one, as a few weeks after
we had a similar pleasure at Darling Point, Humberstone, and Derry Vale,
the last, on the day before leaving, being full of old and valued
friends to bid us “Adieu.”

The most terrible ordeal which taxed my fortitude severely was while
standing on the deck of the steamer next morning, surrounded by old
friends and their children, known from their infancy. The whole week had
been a trying one, as day after day we had to “bid good-bye,” and this
was the end, “after years of friendship,” for me to think, “Good-bye on
earth, though not for ever.” Fortunately the officers of my husband’s
branch of the service thronged around us, and when the steamer got under
way, kept pace with us in their steam-launch to the “Heads,” cheering us
to the last. Gratification for a time kept me up, and having one beside
me all my own, and our faithful young friend and maid, who was and has
been our greatest comfort, made me determined to try and follow the
advice, “Look not mournfully into the past; it comes not back. Wisely
improve the present; it is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future
without fear, and a manly heart.”

At last I saw Melbourne, and was certainly surprised with its
appearance. No wonder the citizens are proud of it,--the wide streets
and splendid buildings, with a general air of importance. The tramways
looked small compared with our steam motors and vehicles, owing perhaps
to the width of the roads, as their buildings look better for the same
reason. Our post-office, for instance, if in Collins Street would appear
to better advantage than as it is, crowded up between George and Pitt
Streets. I was somewhat disappointed with the various shops we entered,
and the approach through Williamstown is very bad. They have not the
natural advantages of Sydney, but have displayed ingenuity in making the
best of the position.

We left Melbourne for Glenelg, South Australia, but were not able to
visit Adelaide. From photos the city appears attractive, and vast
strides have been made during half a century. My husband recollects it
when first settled, and Governor Hindmarsh and family were there. Then
it was merely a few straggling wooden buildings, though the streets were
laid out and properly pegged. Captain Hindmarsh, afterwards Admiral Sir
John Hindmarsh, after leaving South Australia, was appointed Governor of
Heligoland. He was a naval officer in Nelson’s time, and a very good
account of his naval career is given in James’s _Australia_.

Our next departure is for Albany, King George Sound, Western Australia.
This is a very important position as a coaling station, and should be
well protected by men and fortifications, as in time of war it would be
open to attack. Though the township is not large, it is a thriving
place, and the climate is lovely, in fact almost perpetual spring. The
coast scenery passed in reaching the anchorage is very picturesque, with
the sea dashing in foam upon the headlands.

The mails being on board, we shall soon take our farewell of Australia’s
shores, when Cape Leeuwin has been passed, and our course shaped for
Colombo. Of our trip and other places touched at beyond this point there
is no occasion to write, as they have been often and ably described.

In taking our farewell of “The Golden South,” hope still lingers with
us that we may yet see it again. If not--

              “And, when the stream
    Which overflowed the soul was passed away,
    A consciousness remained that it had left,
    Deposited upon the silent shore
    Of memory, images and precious thoughts
    That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.”


                                THE END


                _Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, _Edinburgh_





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