State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 19 April 1977

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Manuscripts: Excerpts from The Letters of Dr. David Henry Wilsone, Squatter, 1839–1841

In 1975 the La Trobe Library acquired at a Sotheby auction thirty-six letters of Dr. D. H. Wilsone (1791–1841) of Glasgow, an early Port Phillip pastoralist. The following excerpts are from letters to his brother in Glasgow. Dr. Wilsone died shortly after writing the last letter in this series.
My Dear George. Having written you at length on the 16th February in explanation of the reasons that had convinced me of the propriety of changing the scene of our abode and establishing ourselves here, I will not at present say more than that I think we will have no cause to repent our proceedings, and that with the helping of God on our exertions, we may look forward to a fair remuneration. I will now copy the account of stock we alongst with Mr. Mackenzie have taken with an excellent run of great extent, from Mr. Simpson, (one of the magistrates here) the name of the run is Upper Wearabee station, others call it the upper river station, having a good command of water, and on the purchasing of which we have been very much congratulated, it is 55 miles from this town, and understand that a good bullock road extends all the way, joining the Port Jackson main road, so that we have communication with the capital also; having only arrived on the 9th Inst. I have not been yet up, but Mr. Campbell arrived on the 10th with our dray and team, we expect to leave this early tomorrow and must be as brief as possible now, my time being fully occupied to prepare for the Bush, but when I get fairly set or fixed there I will then be minute in description and write all those I could not write to during the voyage, being unable from sickness to do anything but try and lay as quiet as I could in my narrow berth as a very tempestuous sea would allow me to do.
Copy of Stock on the Wearabee upper station run, delivered over to us on the 1st of March.
Ewes Lambs
Home Stead 334 at 25/- £417 10 0
Home Stead 144 at 10/- £72 0 0
Lower Station 614 at 25/- £767 10 0
Lower Station 12 at 10/- £6 0 0
Lower Station 720 at 25/- £900 0 0
Lamb Station 712 at 15/- £534 0 0
720 at 8/- £288 0 0
30 Rams at $3 £90 0 0
127 Wethers at 14/3 £90 9 9
£3, 165 9 9
All crack stock
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Amount brought up £3,165 9 9
6 Prime Bullocks ℃ good dray £110 0 0
Wool Shed £20 0 0
Store £9 0 0, Hut £12 £21 0 0
Wool press, Ropes ℃c. £. £7 15 0
2 Tarpaulins £8 0 0
1 Boiler £3 0 0
3 Casks £1 10 0
Stock Yard 16 0
Bows. Yokes £c. £4 0 0; 3 chains 42/-d £6 2 0
Hurdles 363.=5. Bars at 2/6d £45 7 6
D° D° 71.=4. Bars at 1/3d £4 8 9
Utensils & Stores as pr inventory £21 5 6 249 4 9
£3,414 14 6
of which £1,500 is paid, we have signed a bond for £1,665 bearing interest at the rate of 10pr cent payable half yearly, having three years to pay it, the rest will be paid viz. £249.4.9 in May. We are considered exceedingly fortunate in thus getting ourselves located so well; but we have been obliged to go beyond our tether to gain it; and to enable us to have the full advantage our lands possess, Mr. Simpson and all the best informed settlers round this have urged exceedingly the priority of adding to our stock, 50 or 60 cows and a few Bulls which would cost us about £600 more which could be well and cheaply purchased at present in Sydney. Of this however we will consider a little more — the Colonies advantages are great, and should we judge it wise to do so, I may be induced to draw on you and I feel confident that you will aid our views, when so much advantage will accrue to us from it, and if you allow it to be a loan we will pay you 10 per cent until it is all paid back, if I could explain and show you how much this will facilitate our business, I am sure you, or any of our good brothers in Law would never scruple to do so; indeed I am satisfied that any one having the command of money here, or coming out with from 6000 to 12000 pounds would in a few years make a rapid fortune.
I cannot express to you the anxiety I feel now that we are fairly entered on our labours, and God grant that we may be successful, I often wish I had an hours conversation & lay all our views before you for advice and approbation, but since that is impossible I will with the blessing of God do and act to the very best of my judgement and ability in whatever we engage in. I should mention that Mr. Simpson has been most successful in all his stocks, and has realized a handsome fortune, & has behaved most handsomely to us … have had no time to write to any other than yourself, often when I wished to have done so but the heat of the tent (118°) and the flies by day, the fleas by night put all possibility of doing so out of the question, the only thing we could do was to pace the sea shore until the stars shone out & then the air cooled, & weary and exhausted we laid down on our hammocks and bedding on the floor or reeds in the tent to sleep if we could, fortunately I could stand a good deal of biting, but the rest were not so lucky and many a sleepless night was passed; these days are now over & as this is a much cooler place and hope we all will like it better …
I am too young a resident here to know exactly what kind of provisions you could send out to us, bye & bye I may request the favour of your doing something of the kind, but not at present, as we get on well enough with chops & damper, damper & chops with tea to breakfast, dinner, & supper, which forms all our variety for table. Since I came here my mind has been kept quite in a state
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of anxiety & uneasiness owing to the amount of our purchases and the responsibility incurred by being obliged to sign a bond for £1,000 payable by Campbell & I, & £500 by Mackenzie, being his proportion of the stock he did not pay, we have three years to repay it paying interest at the rate of 10 pr cent pr anm which we trust to be able to do should sheep keep up the value they now are at, we are safe & by most believed to rise £2 2 0 pr head ere long; since we purchased, stock, has risen considerably, so that we cannot lose any thing; we had to pay cash for all the extra materials attached to the station amounting to a good sum, and to lay in a good stock of provisions for our own & mens use for the winter, & fortunately we did so, as flour has risen from £20 the ton about 6 weeks ago to £50 owing to the long drought & consequent short crops at Sydney & bad crops in Van diemans land likely to be high for 4 or 6 months to come — have had to purchase 2 horses for riding, & they are indispensible in this country, and very dear to boot costing us £60 each, altogether nearly requiring all our money; so that your letter came in good time by enabling me although at a severe sacrifice to meet your wishes by making over to you four of my agricultural sections, which I am sure will in 2 or 3 years turn out a good investment for you & nothing would have induced me to part with them, but to you; It seems fated to me that whatever I try & likely to succeed in is by some unforseen event obliged to be parted with; in this case it became necessary to retire a bill Mackenzie and Campbell had granted in part payment, which is now for £200 & we have no other sum to pay until septr when we pay the half yearly interest of the bond, and to pay for 10 rams to put to our young ewe flock, those with the mens wages (none under £30 pr annum & rations besides require us to have always some cash on hand), which after one to 2 years will be easily managed & we hope a good deal of our debt paid off besides; since we entered to our stock we have sold 1598 Ibs. lambs wool at 1/4d pr Ib. 1/3rd cash, 2 thirds bills, one for 3 months, the other for 6 months, (such is the way of doing business) and our wool and increase next season will bring us in a good sum we hope.
After maturely weighing all these circumstances I came to the determination to draw on you for the Sections & as much more as will by the blessing of God keep all right until we begin to reap the benefit of our purchases, & feel assured that you will not be backward, in at the present state of our affairs of aiding us so far, having still 2 more sections you are perfectly safe with the advance, and as Mr. Mackenzie is obliged to go to Adelaide I have given him the necessary powers to have the four sections transferred to you and the care of them to Mr. John Russell (who formerly was a ward of ‘Williams’) to let them as a dairy farm, the best & safest way of leasing at present for 2 years, to give you time to let me know if you have any other plan to manage the property, the sections form a square, finely wooded, soil good and water is to be got all the year round nearly in hurtle Vale where you boundaries extend to; I have written three letters to accompany the bills advising you, & two letters to Miss Melhuish, Gray & Co. London, so that I trust all will go well with us all. Forbes told me that there would be about £150 more money to come out to Campbell what has become of it. As to my Rio business my dear George you will arrange in the best way you can, if I am spared no ultimate loss will be, that you may rest assured of; The way this country is populated will unfit it for a long period to follow your advice to follow the Highland society in giving premiums for stock, every settler here seems to get wrapped up in self, and to get money, honestly if you can, but get money, seems the ruling passion amongst them. To my surprise yesterday on calling on the Comissioner & Native protector for our district (Geelong one) to sell him a mare, I found him to be the Youngest son of Mr. Sievewright of Edinburgh, very much altered and improved, he only left the army about 8 months ago, but had little time to speak to him, he was quite delighted to meet me, & enquired for you all, and our Cousins (tell them so). I am very well pleased as he will be useful I hope in keeping the Natives from us, & they
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are becoming very impertinent and frequently most troublesome, from the injudicious lenity almost on all occasions shown to them by the Government, making them suppose that they may injure the whites with impunity. I am sorry that it will not be in my power to be of any use to either Robt Struthers or Dr. Duncan, both of whom have arrived safe at Adelaide, I have heard from Robt he and Mr. K. I. are quite well, but no plans detailed for his future occupation. The first time you see Dr. Anderson tell him to tell Dr. Panton that I dined with a Niece of his yesterday, who is married to Mr. Skene Craig our agent here & who bought our wool, also post master here, very few of the people I know here & have no wish to cultivate their aquaintance. You seem to write in rather a desponding way about the security of property in Britain, should a revolution take place I shudder to think of the scenes that may be enacted, ere peace and good government be again established, God grant that you may be preserved from danger, & should circumstances so require, so long as I have a roof over my head you are sure of a home & most hearty welcome, there is a very bad spirit amongst all classes of labourers & stock servants here, & with a few exceptions of highlanders and low country shepards, an extraordinary vitiation of morals or principle is prevalent, being mostly all free convicts or ticket men they are up to all manner of black guardism and cannot for one minute be trusted, so that I do not see that any settler can ever wish to make this country his permanent abode. I wrote you on my arrival here about Black Cattle, which would indeed be highly advantageous to us, but under all the circumstances we are pleased we must give up the idea in the mean time; a couple of cows will be not only a great saving to us in flour, but a source of profit by selling to our servants the milk and butter we can spare & may be induced to purchase 2 or 3 to be sure of keeping them in milk. Mr. Macfarlane, Mr. Dutton's partner, begs me to request you to tell the principal that he is well, & begs to be most kindly remembered to him, I should think he must be making a fortune fast, having already realized a large sum, tell Allan Jenkins Father that his son is quite well & contented & that he hopes to hear from him soon & address the letter to my care here, I forgot to tell you the name of our head quarters, it is Upper Wirrobbee Station there are three branches of it, ours is the West & principal Branch, although at present there is no running water, only pools or ponds as they are called from which we get our water and sheep watered. The Yara, Yara is the only running stream that I hear of in this part of the country, the town of Melbourne being built on the banks of it. There is a great sameness in the foliage here almost to tire you & but little of the wood is useful except for fire wood, plants and seeds I will be able bye & bye to send you, but in the meantime I see nothing worth the trouble, I have seen a number of new insects & some moths, some of them really pretty others ugly enough, at this season there are lots of a large species of gnat or clegg, nearly as large as the gadfly with you, that bite and sting you abominably, and the large blue fly are quite in thousands rendering it very difficult to keep meat from them & their larva. I write Mary just now, & you can either read or show this one to sisterhood & brotherhood, I will write Jean soon, you can inform Sir W. Hooker of my change of residence, and in my opinion total unfitness, for his Son to settle in either place, where he must depend on his practice to live by, as I have no time to write him now. To Anna & your dear children offer my kindest love & high satisfaction to learn that she has so well got the better of sad accident she met with & trust to hear continued good accounts, tell Mr. Pearson I will write him soon, to all the rest of our dear Brothers and Sisters with their families give my love & affection, & kindest good wishes & remembrances to all our esteemed friends, & now conclude in the hope that in my next I will be able to give you good accounts of all proceedings here & that I may hear the like from you, I ever am
My Dear George
Your affecte Brother
David Henry Wilsone
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23 May 1839
… Since I wrote you we have got the management of Dr. Wilkie & Mr. Gardeners sheep for two years, getting the third of the Wool, & of the increase for 3 droppings, as we found that we could at the same expence keep them with our own flocks, and if they bred well will make a handsome profit to us on the termination of the 2 years, they are lambing now & will again twice ere we give them over to them, and we have some expectation to get the charge of another flock adjoining from Mr. Simpson on the same terms, which will keep us fully employed having 2200 of our own 1215 ewes ought to lamb at present and are doing so very fairly. 600 12 month e. lambs will come into play next year, and lamb which will tell well, God being propitious to us our own flock will not be considerable, and the new flock we have the charge of being 1000, & the other we expect, has as many, so that with Gods blessing we hope to fight through our difficulties & do ourselves some good …
9 September 1839
… indeed I may fairly say that the winter here is just as cold wet & stormy as your one having had five inches of snow on the ground around us for four days and occasional smart frost during the night; for 30 days past we have scarcely had a fair day, and is now raining severely & likely to continue from the appearance of the sky, causing our branch of the Wirrobbie to be highly flooded, and afraid that our hut would have been undermined & carried away by the flood, but think now that we are safe … I expect that we will have a regular fight with the natives as they are becoming very troublesome & bold; the fools of protectors have informed them that we dare not meddle with them, or if we did we would be hanged, they stole from us five fine ewe lambs & since then all our servants are armed and are advised to shoot any one they see attempt it again or touch them, we are well off by many around us, & soon a regular affair will settle the business and clear our part of the country of these regular cannibals; just ere the family that generally lives near us left or rather ran away the leader Ounjeet told Mr. Howe & I that it was in consequence of some of his tribe having killed 3 men and 2 lubras of the Goulburn tribe that the women had been cut in pieces, & brought to the Ginns of his tribe, that his Lubra & or wife had a thigh & leg for her share & that she had smeared herself all over with the fat & that the meat was [?] (or very good & fat) & just as good as bull ganno or mutton; this very man had killed his own child last year and ate her with his Ghinn or wife. The same occurred at Mr. Whites station six miles from this as he saw part of the child carried by them for a future meal, and this last month Ounjeet offered to show us the limbs of the murdered women, they are a race not fit to live, & I believe quite irreclaimable …
14 October 1839
… Our Commissioner — Gisborne has arrived and affects to call attending business to be in his office 1 hour for 3 days in the week, Mr. Steiglitz lately called to pay his squatting license, met him just coming out and he would not return, although only a little past 10 a.m. damn all such whig puppies say I & W. jobs into the bargain, which this is; it was clearly understood that the license was to be done away on paying one penny per sheep & three pence for each horse & cow or Bullock per annum instead of which this whipper snapper claims both under a severe penalty, and we must yield to this infamous tax, if matters go on this disgraceful manner Great Britain will soon have to whistle on her thumb for this Colony, as instead of being protected & encouraged, every enactment that can be devised is made use of to annoy us; what kind of chap our Commandant as Latrobe is designated I know not, but learn he has unlimited powers to sell land, the consequence will be that whenever he sees or by his spies learns of any good station (although fully occupied & license etc. paid) he will shove it into the market to give the Sydney speculators the benefit of banishing us further inland, as he well knows no one who would command sufficient capital would ever squat & that, we can only afford to purchase stock, effectually preventing us buying runs for the sheep, & in this country the runs must be extensive & watered also,
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now if your calculate 12000 acres at 11/-per acre (the size of a run which will keep four flocks simply) and the certainty of your being obliged to start for more land whenever your flocks get to six flocks of 700 each, & that will be in 2 years, there is another outlay & probably at a great distance from your purchased one, & the worst is that 3/4ths of the sheep land is fit for nothing else & never will increase in value like agricultural farms; & if you had some idea of the injustice done us would Sydney ever have been what it now is had these blasted laws been held over their heads, & they now do not pay these taxes, it is only applicable to the Port Phillip district, and we can have no voice in the Legislative council at Sydney (not being represented, all being nominated in Sydney and vicinity) to enable us to defend our rights and privileges as British free subjects. If there was to be a war with America I would not be in the least surprised to see her capture this colony & I do not think there would be any opposition to them gaining it did she try it …
31 October 1839
I had wrote you on the 8th & 14th of this month and now write again to answer 2 more I have received since as there are several things I do not like to let pass unanswered, and hope soon to receive all your letters here instead of coming by Adelaide as heretofore, as by this time you will long have known our having kept it, and am not sure but that on Mr. Campbells return from the Broken River 200 miles N.N.E. from this but that we will be obliged to leave this, with our flocks etc. in consequence of the government at Sydney taking the advantage of all the good runs to sell them, now that so many are looking after sheep & their runs, & ours are too good not to escape, we hope at all events to be able to let it for a good sum until that occurs, but it would never do with our stock to be warned away, & it may be in the wrong season; shd we get as much as will pay our expenses to our new run, which I suspect will be up towards the snowy mountains (to secure plenty of water) we will be well off and in good luck, & hope we will succeed in doing so; most likely I will have to write you again ere starting, but if not still address to me at W. Macarthur's at the Bank Melbourne where we will be sure to get them, our new station will be I believe about 190 or 200 miles from the settlement, which is a great draw back, but, we must be if possible where we will be able to remain unmolested for 8 or 10 years to come, should we be permitted to see it, permitting our flocks and herds to range to unlimited extent & must just put our trust in God to be unmolested by the Natives, who do not bear a good character in the vicinity. I have received a long letter from H. Cooper of date 29th May & will answer it the first opportunity, and trust that he & Mr. Buchanan will do well, W. Brown had a very high opinion of the latter & it was from his recommendation that I wish to ship our wool when we can do so, but what I do not expect will be for a year or two yet … it is something extraordinary that in every instance that I have made an attempt to mend my little patrimony has turned out ruinous to me; it makes me quite frightened to look forward, whether I may be successful in my present undertaking or not; although; I have some forboding that I will not be permitted to see an increase of our flocks as would enable me to return to Scotland again, & it gives me no uneasiness, as I have seen enough of life to be weary of it, to explain, I have had a succession of feverish attacks with bowel complaint that has reduced me much in strength and capability of exertion; still I fight on to the best of my power & if it please God that I live, well, but if not, I trust I will be enabled to meet whatever he may see fit for me to suffer, be not alarmed as my system is still free of any diseased action, & this may wear away under the treatment I am on and longer accustomed to this climate, but it is but right to state what I have, as these attacks have been more or less frequent since April last, & be assured I will leave nothing untried to recover myself if it please God to bless me with renewed health & and remedies I use for that purpose …
… It has pleased Almighty God to give a check to the Dysentery, but not for three days after I wrote you, at the time I was swollen up to the Navel, with a constant feeling of fainting with great oppression over
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my chest, with almost entire prostration of strength; every medicine I tried seemed of no use, and the first thing that seemed to alter, or form a crisis was severe retching for part of these 3 days and nights, since which, there is a decided verification of all bad symptoms, but leaving me deplorably weak; the swelling is gradually subsiding, & by the blessing of God I trust what remains of the disease will gradually subside & that I may yet get strong; my good friends here have been very attentive and kind to me, & so far as things could be obtained in this out of the way place, had all that was useful, food I could take none for 5 or near 6 days after that, only rice water. This has been hanging about me a long time and made me look forward with considerable apprehension, but always c/d keep it in check, until the 24th or 5th of Jany when it fairly upset me and since then been little or none out of bed; Oh dear George it took all my manhood to bear up under it; a hut is not the place to undergo severe diseases in; you were all often in my mind, & often wished I cd have seen you once more & had the benefit of a Clergyman, but these were vain thoughts, I did what I could for myself by reading when able & by prayer when unable & God be blessed he has heard them & relieved me, & I cd fain hope permanently so …
18 June 1840
… I will commence with our sheep, as I am sorry to write they have been not so fortunate for us as we had every reason to expect; our autumn had been very wet and cold compared with the former season so that when our sheep began to lamb in April & May we lost a great many lambs from the cold & wet, and from some unaccountable cause we lost above 40 of the finest ewes you ever saw; they would lamb quite easily, soon after they got on their legs, then hang their heads, in a few hours their milk left them and in this comatic state died in about 10 or 12 hours, we tried every remedy we could devise, all to no effect, then changed their feed to a poorer pasture and succeeded in arresting the disease; we opened them & found nothing wrong, but all were very fat, this was unfortunate, but worse remains. In consequence of the wet cold weather the scab broke out in an alarming manner, & in flocks it had never before shown itself in, obliging us to dress them with a solution of Corrisive Sublimate, spirits of Tar & tobacco water; the weather changed to frost succeeded by rain during the day, which seems to have caused the Mercury to act as a poison as we lost near 200 of as fine 15 month ewes as you wd like to see, we are not singular, as nearly all around us have from similar causes lost severely, (it was to save our wool we used the Mercury) since we have tried I believe successfully a mixture of train oil brown soap with a little water boiled together, conjoined with tobacco water & Spirits of Tar. Otter & I after considering well have determined to divide our risk of failure and purchase steers & heifers, as our run will answer very well for them & by breaking in the steers for the dray sell them for a good profit here, & can always sell our heifers after one or 2 calves to advantage, there by diminishing our risk with sheep & at less expence & may God grant us success, as we have acted to best of our ability and must leave the result to him who can give us all things. Another reason for our doing this is from the alarming accounts we have received from the Goulburn of the number of sheep dying from Catarrh, several gentlemen having lost nearly all they possessed & that is not more than 100 miles from us & is a most infectious disease. Our oats and potatoes having turned out well we are going to plant & sow double the quantity this season which will save us flour, which is still very high here. Our fowls are thriving well & increasing fast so that soon we will be able to sell them, getting here easily 7/-d to 7/6d for each fowl, Duck 15/-d to 16/-d pr couple geese £1 0 0 each these last we can scarcely produce but will try some of the ships to get them.
We have been successful in killing a number of Dingoes, who are a great plague to us & difficult to get within shot. Money is expected to be very scarce here from the large amounts the government sales of land have taken from this to Sydney; Wages are still on the rise tea and sugar ditto so that you may well suppose our profits must be but little for a year to come, but we are doing all in our power to save as much as possible, and live as economically as we possibly can,
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and Oh! my dearest George I trust & hope God will prosper us & enable us to meet all our engagements; what you write about asking time from Simpson wd be useless as from what we know of the gentleman we must be prepared to pay him out and out, he is now promoted to be our principal Police Magistrate and is much liked for his decision and legal acuteness, & he is equally sharp in business …
26 June 1840
… i cd almost turn radical here myself, & we are doing all we can to get this district made an independant one, & if we succeed we will I hope progress very fast indeed, we are now in an iniquitous manner taxed for a licence to squat £10 for every sheep 1 penny every 6 month lamb 1/2d every cow or bullock. I think it is -/3d pence each horse D a most infamous whig transaction & I believe totally unconstitutional & contrary to law, no other colony being taxed for agricultural stock; so that instead of promoting or seconding our exertion to stock and enrich the Colony by our Capital and industry everything is done to cramp our prospects & narrow our means of extension, & consequent wealth accruing to or in the Colony …
30 August 1840
… In my last I hinted the probability of my deciding on resuming my profession once more, both as a means of adding to our income, and being obliged to reside here for the restoration, & I wod hope permanent stability of my health, I returned to our station about the end of June to consult Otter about the propriety of the measure, & take steps accordingly. He keenly urged me to take immediate arrangements to return to town & commerce, and have acted up to his wishes, having returned & began business on the 22nd of July as a Consulting Physician with I am thankful to state the full and flattering anxiously expressed satisfaction at my coming here & that I shd have the benefit of every case they could throw in my way; there are no less than 14 Medical men who settled here all of whom but 2 will support me & will hope I shall be successful, up to this date I have been (considering this is the healthy season) pretty well occupied, & as fees are good, I expect in a year or two, God willing and enabling me, to realize a pretty fair income. We have the prospect of having an hospital built here, in which the patients will pay board and those that can their medicines, I have offered to become Physician to it & have been requested to become Consulting Dr. to it when finished, which I will accept, so that you will see I will leave no stone unturned by which I can add to our means & capital. Houses are very difficult to procure so great is the demand only at exhorbitant rent; I have after mature deliberation decided on renting with Ronald Fletcher an exceedingly well situated house in Bourke Street; one half is filled up as his Wine & Spirit Store (in which business he is doing I believe the best business by far here) my part of the house is by itself & a separate door on which my name is, with a very comfortable room, & accommodation in another for Otter when he comes here, which will save all Inn bills, (no light matter here) We mess together most comfortably, & spend all the time I am at home in my own room reading or writing & get on quietly and pleasantly, & I would fain look forward to a successful issue to my endeavours. To give you some idea of rental here, a literal [?] will easily be let for £2 pr week & no furniture in it, Servants Wages are very high and they are very saucy besides. Our rent is £250. Mr. Fetcher pays £100 for his store & we divide the house half £75 each. We have a Mr. Williamson (one of the most amiable gentlemen I have met with for long, by profession an Engineer & surveyor & has an excellent trade of it here; his Father was Colonel Williamson many years inspecting field officer for Invernesshire & adjacent district, a highly respectable officer living near to Inverness) 22nd Septr since writing the above Mr. Fletcher has disposed of his business & our lease to another party at which I am pleased as I did not like the idea of a lease & now am free, and have been looking about for another house a difficult matter, & have only been able to get the offer of one belonging to Mr. Peter Ferrie at the rental of £150 per annum, containing 4 rooms; but in a good situation, and I believe we 3 will divide it amongst us & by living together
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will save expences greatly, I trust that it will be all setted to night. If I had the command of capital here (& for which I would thankfully give from 8 to 9 pr cent pr annum) I could in the space of a few years realize a very handsome sum, by purchasing Town & Suburban allotments, here, at Williamstown, Geelong, and at Portland bay, as well as purchasing farm sections in these various places, many, many offers have been made to me, by which I could have gained a large profit in 6 or 10 months after the purchase, which I can only regret as I have no ability to enter the market & can I presume expect no aid from Scotland from the state the money market has been in, tis hard but I must just be contented to remain longer here & fight a protracted battle & trust that God will prosper us. The Blacks have been very annoying to us, having attacked our stations 2 times within the last 6 weeks & succeeded in carrying away guns, pistols, clothing, bedding, & provisions. Our people gave them chase, but they succeeded in getting away. This is allowing to the disgraceful manner we have been treated by the Governor of N.S. Wales & Protectors of the Blacks, a parcel of regular humbugs; in fact we are left totally unprotected, when we have paid so dearly to have been so by mounted police, & the consequence must rest on their heads, as we have all united to defend to the utmost our properties & woe betide the blasted race when they are caught injuring us; a considerable number of murders have been comitted by them on our shephards, but men, & several stockholders also; & they will have it dearly paid back to them without any mistake; do not believe any statements you may see in the papers regarding them and their injuries, there is not one word of truth in them, & written purposely by designing people to keep up a false sympathy for them, in order that they may be benifitted by keeping up a most expensive pernicious, and useless system of protectorates …
20 May 1841
… I will go over yours, & reply to each, & then add in what a miserable state we are in; in this colony at present, indeed, I see little before us but ruin, my former letters will have prepared you in part for this as I have long forseen it. I recd your letters pr Ariadne & N. papers for all which many, many thanks. Regarding your wish to sell the property I made over to you I cannot without a power of Attorney from you do so, at any rate in the meantime no land can be safely sold there, all is confusion and ruin but I have no doubt but that if we or you are spared for 3 years you will get a handsome return for it: so yours and mine may rest in peace for a time. To purchase wool here would require a very large capital & a thourough knowledge of business in a way we never cod manage so that must be given up for good & for all; I wish to God we may be enabled to keep our feet as it is, jogging on the best way we can, for many, many will be ruined in the awful changes that have taken place in our markets, Sheep have fallen from 30/-d to 6/-d pr head, even then no market & we do not know who to trust, Cattle, Heifers & Steers from £15 to £4 & £4 10. Bullocks broke in 8 months ago was at £42 pr pair now £12. to 14 a high price even this still wages and provisions are high: & the land sales are playing the devil with us, taking all the cash from the colony. God knows what will become of us, if ever a man was created to ruin a young colony Gipps is the man, & he will succeed; there will be 111,000 acres more land in the market soon for sale at £1. pr acre, which if people be mad enough, will carry away as much cash; and no stock is thought of in any way, as this is all for speculation to sell again, None of any good & kind friends ever expected me to recover from that severe illness, & I am very sorry to write I think it has ruined my health, I have had several severe illnesses since, & at present am very, very weak, with swollen limbs yet I bear up, and fight my way, which so far as my medical accts go will testify; still I cannot hide from myself that I may soon be called from this weary world …
20 July 1841
… Any person with loose capital could easily, by buying & selling, have tripled it within the last 18 months, & we could only look on & regret our inability to do anything; but now I suspect much less can or will be
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made, the mania having subsided, the change to an uniform rate for land, & special surveys, the exhaustion of money & credit, consequent on mad speculations, is causing the whole of this Colony to be shaken to its foundation, & ruin many, & has been the immediate cause of all our difficulties, & the low markets at home aiding and abetting to increase our prospects of danger to us was truly appaling, in spite of our [?] we had to ship our wool to Britain being only 1/-d pr Ib. advance & none would buy out & out, but I trust we will be no loser by it although much to our inconvenience until we receive our remittances. There is some hopes that we are to have a New Governor, and that this colony is to be made independant, & separated from the Sydney government a thing most devoutely to be wished by us all.
Your observations regarding the natives & Mr. Shenly's remarks are all gammon & humbug, & exhibit ignorance as to what has been attempted fifty years ago with signal failure; & as to our usurping their territory, why, could you define it, they have none, but migrate from place to place as fancy dictates & never will become stationary, we have practical experience, you theoretical flourishes, & may the Lord have mercy if ever they can suppose that you are in their power, that pseudo Philanthrophy you express would meet the contempt of every well informed settler here; at all events blame our immaculate whigs for selling their ideal property & putting them nolens volens under British law, not us, who have to pay to government for all we occupy, taxing our flocks & herds besides, so no more squeamish trash on this subject; you may tell nephew Charles that he would be an exceeding expert Nimrod to kill as much game, or fish as would feed him for one meal daily, there being no game near us, & fish? where would you fish for them, in the mud holes I suppose where you would have a good opportunity of studying the sublime & beautiful & learning that good virtue patience besides, he would become a good Papist in as far as abstinence & fasting would benefit him, & trusting to the country to provide ways and means for him to live on, this is no Utopian country you may take my honest word for it. You forget that Government holds the right to all minerals, Coals &c. found on or in the land, & that they can either work the mines for their own benefit, or lease it out to those who choose to risk it for working as they see best for their own interest.
When you ask if I read the Service & a Sermon to our men, at the Station, (it was not the want of will) but the thing is impossible, every one must be away with their flocks by Day light, & not to return until just before sunset when they dine &, wearied enough, go to their beds soon after it, I have noticed our Scotch Shepards take their Bibles out with them, & the Hutkeepers have enough to do in their absence to get all prepared for them in the evening, shifting the Hurdles is a labourious work & on our ground must be done every day; in truth there is no cessation from labour, however much it is to be regretted, & no one does so more than I do, but the nature of the country, & dangers we are surrounded with, demand constant active steady attention, else our sheep would be lost to a certainty, this is one reason why I wish to prevent any young unthinking fellows to be sent out here as, they soon lose all regard to religion & learn too many bad habits besides, which will stick to them throughout life …
24 July 1841
You wish to know the length and breadth of our Stations, a most difficult matter even to guess at, as we are often obliged to change our flocks from one run to another, as circumstances require & the size of the flocks that the country will keep, & supply of water certain for their drinking, after our Wool Season is over I will be better enabled to give you a minuter detail, we have three Stations on the Wirrobbee, & one black one, beyond which is a densley wooded country & thin of grass, except during the winter, in Summer like a desert, but it saves our feed for summer on our other Stations, I should think we have above 8 or near nine miles along the various Water holes; our Cattle pasture is higher up amongst the mountains, being better suited for them, but there are two runs some in betwixt us & the Station …