State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 44 Spring 1989

19

Georgiana McCrae: Stray Leaves from an Old Journal

Georgiana Huntly McCrae is now best remembered through Georgiana's Journal, an edition of her diaries edited by her grandson, Hugh McCrae. When she brought her family to Port Phillip in 1841 she was in her late thirties and had already lived a full life in Scotland. Georgiana was the natural daughter of the fifth Duke of Gordon; she had been well-educated, showing especial talent in music and painting, and in 1828 was living at Gordon Castle. The description which follows of her cousin “Perico” (Peter Charles Gordon, a member of the Spanish branch of the Gordon family) is taken from a volume entitled “Stray leaves from an old journal long since committed to the flames”. It, and the documents and illustrations by her son George Gordon McCrae and her grandson Hugh McCrae which follow, are drawn from a series of donations made to the Library by Georgiana's great-granddaughter, Lady Cowper, her husband Sir Norman Cowper and their children.

“Perico” Gordon — a watercolour by Georgina McCrae in a locket into the back of which some of Perico's hair has been woven.

8th February 1828
Perico took me, he on his pony & I on foot — to see Jean Cooper & her brother the blind piper. Jean took the prize last year for the best kept cottage in Kinethmont district — after she had shewn us every part of her “place” — we went “ben” — at Perico's bidding Joe played several favourite old airs, winding up at Perico's request with “Saw ye bonny Leslie?” While I seated on a low stool made a sketch of poor Joe.
On the way back we went to look for a good point of view for making a sketch of Gordon Hall, and I made a memorandum sketch for identifying the spot — then Perico took me to see the cause of a most discordant noise issuing from a neighbouring shed — this was where the splitters were working the circular saw — the foreman put in a plank & set the saw going & we had to watch its progress though nearly deafened and distracted by the shriek of the saw — it is wonderfully rapid work! Then turning by the high road, Perico pointed out to me some alterations and improvements he wishes “Jopp” to have made — he tells me that when his father succeeds to the estate, he will not come to Scotland, but remain in Spain to watch over his interests there, and that he himself is to have Gordon Hall and intends to live there — Having been educated in England (at Hinckley in Leicestershire) he prefers Great Britain to Spain, excepting always its winter climate.
At night — instead of “Aunt Fanny” — Mrs Madonald took me up to my room, to see the state of my fire — and seating herself at “the Inglenook” — began to tell me about her nephew — who had deputed her to tell me that “He wishes to lay himself at my feet!” — Spanish fashion — for, in Spain, no man may presume to offer himself until he has ascertained by means of a third person, that his offer will not be unwelcome — then she told me what a thoroughly amiable, pious (she & her husband are both R.C.) and honourable “Boy” Perico is — and then she left me “to my own meditations” — I had not given a direct answer though I would not conceal my agreeable surprise at her overture — and, as in duty bound — wrote to let her grace know of my good fortune!