Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Saturday, 8th October 1836

1:00pm This morning had a most interesting visit from Sir Graham Eden Hammond, Chief of the South American Naval Station. After an exchange of pleasantries he began by asking me about my visitor at the dance last night.

"Tell me Hindmarsh. Were you approached last night by a lady claiming to be Leopoldina Concepcion Iphigenia Branquinho?"

"I was, sir. Why do you say "claiming" to be Miss Branquinho? Is that not her name?"

Hammond chuckled. "Oh, it's one of her names all right. She has several others and is known by all of them to the British Government."

I nodded slowly. "So are you suggesting that she is not as she seems?"

Hammond chuckled. "Come now Hindmarsh, we are both men of the world. I think we both know what she seems to be and she is, I suspect, exactly that."

I chuckled with him, although I had no idea what he was talking about.

Hammond continued: "She is an agent of the common enemy of Portugal and England. I take it I do not need to name them?"

Here I was on safe ground. Take any two European countries at random - Naples and Wallachia, for example - and their common enemy will be the French.

"They have been interested in your Southern Australian lands for some time. If Flinders had not got in first then they would have set up a colony of their own tout suite. Been dark on us ever since!"

"But what has this to do with Miss Branquinho?"

Hammond grew deadly serious in an instant.

"This has everything to do with her. She is an agent of Government of our common enemy, answerable directly to their King himself. And there is nothing - and I stress: nothing she will not do to ensure that your colony is not established."

"But why?"

"If the southern coast is kept empty then there is room for a foothold for the Fre.... for our common enemy. Before you know it New South Wales will have them, with their contemptuous sneers and their overly rich sauces, at the gates of Sydney Cove."

I swallowed hard.

"Goodness me," I said in a voice that conveyed the depth of my true feelings.

"Just so," said Hammond, ominously.

We spent the rest of the morning devising a stratagem, but I do not look forward the 3:00, when this brazen Delilah will arrive.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Tuesday 4th October, 1836

Editors Note: On this day the Buffalo finally arrived in Rio de Janeiro, 3 days later than they might have without the detour towards the Cape. Over the following week the ship was restocked with fresh food, including fresh supplies ofthe Governor's hated sauerkraut,  and fresh water. The Hindmarshes are recorded as visiting the Museum, the Botanic Gardens and, as promised, went shopping. It was during this time that the Governor first made contact with a woman who would come to cause a disruption between Governor and Mrs Hindmarsh.

Most pleasant time ashore in Rio, marred only by a slight tiff when my wife got her heart set on two little donkeys that would "be so dear to us" in the new colony and, I am assured, "so useful".

I pointed out two objections to her buying these dear little useful donkeys. First, if we add donkeys to the cows, the pigs, the chickens, the dogs, the cats, the ducks, the geese and the turkeys on board already we would look less like a colony and more like a toy Noah's Ark. My second objection was that the Buffalo is not a large ship and if we try and make room for her donkeys we might have to throw several emigrants overboard, something with which my wife seems able to reconcile herself.  I have said "no" to the donkeys, but I suspect I have not heard the last of it.

After the pleasures of the past few days, this evening a most curious thing occurred.

The local Governor had thrown a supper for Mrs Hindmarsh, myself and some of the better class of passenger. During the evening there was entertainment in the form of a troupe of local dancers, followed by a festive collation of the local greasy, spicy food (though no sauerkraut thank God!)  and then dancing.

I am not, perhaps, the most naturally outgoing of social companions and soon found myself sitting alone in the drawing room while other members of the party danced on until all hours in the assembly room.

As I sat alone and, I thought, unnoticed, I heard a low, exotic voice at my ear.

" You are Governor 'indmarsh?"

I swung round on my chair to see who addressed me is such an aspirated fashion..

It was a raven haired beauty: her black eyes blazing like burning embers; her features containing more than a hint of gypsy; her mouth full, sensual and scarlet red.

She was a picture in old Spanish lace and her decolletage revealed, perhaps, more of her charms than might be acceptable in the best London salons. She carried a handpainted silk fan that she used to refreshing effect. I recognised her as one of the dancers who had performed earlier.

She spoke again.

"My name is Leopoldina Concepcion Iphigenia Branquinho. I am a dancer."

I told her that I had seen her dance the tarantella earlier and had enjoyed it greatly.

She smiled and flashed a dark eyed look at me. "Ah," she purred. "If that is so then you must see my fandango."

Severely, I told her that I was an English gentleman and such Latin liberality was not for me. She was silent for a moment, then spoke again.

"Governor 'indmarsh I must ask if you can 'elp me. It is of the imperitive that I leave Rio as soon as possible. I must leave the Empire of Brazil. I fear my life depends upon it."

"My dear woman," I said,  "I am sure you exaggerate. And besides, I am simply passing through this city on my way to a new colony. What could I do for you to help, even if your assertion proved to be true?"

She fluttered her long eyelashes at me in a provocative fashion.

"Oh Governor, if only my story was not true. How simple it would be then. But it is a story of dark desires, of forbidden love, strange lusts and hideous revenge. Also money. Oh, and of promises broken and vendettas sworn."

"Well," I said, "No doubt it is all terribly romantic and exciting, but really, there is little I can do, and I can hardly place myself in a position where my standing as Governor might be compromised...."

But before I could say more she threw herself at me, her arms around me, her heaving bosom pressed against my face.

"Governor 'indmarsh, do not say no to me! Do not condemn me to a fate worse than death itself! I implore you! I beg of you! I throw myself at your feet and grovel asking for your aid!"

And so saying she did just that! I was nonplussed.

"Please madam. Contain yourself. Literally so, in that dress. Arise from this recumbant position."

"I may only rise with your hands to assist me!"

I can take a hint as well as the next man and I helped her to her feet.

"Will you help me, Governor 'indmarsh? May this poor simple woman rely on the 'elp of an English milord?"

To get rid of the woman before I was discovered by my wife I said that there was little I could do there and then, but if she came to the villa where I was staying tomorrow at three, I might hear her story out and see if there was anything I could do. She seemed overjoyed.

"Oh thankyou, thankyou Governor. You may have saved my life tonight."

"Oh, surely not."

"And I will be grateful, Governor 'indmarsh." She gave me a meaning look. "Most grateful indeed!"

She fluttered her fan at me. What she was doing with her dango I was unable to see.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tuesday 27th September, 1836

Surprised to say that the expected storms and squalls from the direction of my wife's cabin did not eventuate.

I used my secret weapon and told my daughters how pretty it was and how good the shopping was in Rio de Janeiro. "Why, it's a paradise of shops, And I believe I can spare a little money for each of you," I said. Like lightening they sprang into action with Mrs Hindmarsh and within the hour she was reconciled to the idea.

She told me that I was "a saucy fellow" and that "it was only a whimsical notion" of hers to go to the Cape.

And it was with much relief that I was able to tell the ship's company that we were no longer heading for the Cape, but were stopping at Rio for provisions and time ashore.

Of course now everyone is complaining that by heading for the Cape before we turned for Rio we have lost time and will arrive in that port well after when we would have otherwise.

Damn them! They got what they wanted, I made sure of it and I still get a kick in the arse. Typical whining passengers. So much easier with the crew. You give and order and they do it. Passengers - you give an order and they'll argue you blue in the face,

On another note, my sister Anne seems to be spending rather a lot of time with the lower class passengers - particularly the single men. When I suggested that this might be seen as improper she told me not to be an old fuddy duddy and she was simply trying to keep their spirits up on the long voyage. Still....

And another thing - exactly how many barrels of that damned sauerkraut does the cook have in storage? Breakfast, lunch and dinner I get served the muck. I have let my displeasure be known.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Monday 26th September, 1836

Well, I am going to say here and now I am taking my life in my hands.

I am going to stand up to my wife.

Yesterday, being Sunday, I attended Divine Service, where Charlie Howard outdid himself by preaching on Dueteronomy 14:1 Ye are the children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. for more than an hour. The snoring could be heard above the wind.

After this I was heading back to my cabin when one of the emigrants approached me. She had with her her little child, perhaps about one year old.

"Look at my baby Governor," she said. "Look at his little face. How could you make my little baby suffer with not enough to eat, not enough to drink?"

"My dear woman," I said. "The decision has been made. There is nothing I can do."

But she was not to be put off.

"Yes there is Governor. You can change your mind."

And then her little child smiled at me. I realised what I must do.

"Madam," I said, "When your baby smiles at me we go to Rio!"

And then, as if as a sign, this morning one of the pigs gave birth to twelve piglets. The runt of the litter, whom I have named Wilbur, will not survive the voyage to the Cape. We must go to Rio to save Wilbur.

I will inform Mrs Hindmarsh this evening of my decision and expect the resulting storms to drive us back to the Isle of Wight.

Saturday 24th Sept, 1836

Well, who is not Mr Popular?

After a day of discussion yesterday with the Senior crew where we worked out the details of course and the rationing, this morning I gathered passengers, the crew and the emigrants together - well, we made the emigrants stand a way off, because the smell of cat's wee and dog poo was a bit strong - and announced that there had been a change of plan.

There was many a dark look and a muttering and a mumbling when I announced that we would not be going to Rio, but heading straight for the Cape.

There were even darker looks when I announced that everyone would be placed on short rations and half water in order to ensure that we would be able would make landfall without starving.

Stevenson, who fancies himself Tribune of the people, pushed forward eagerly and struck a pose.

"The people demand to know!" he cried. "What is the reason for this arbitrary decision? The people must be told!"

"All I can say," I told them, "is that Mrs Hindmarsh wishes it to be so."

And at that point the crew, the passengers, the emigrants turned and saw Mrs Hindmarsh, standing on the poop deck, staring down at them all, her impressive figure outlined against the sun. As one their faces paled and they quietly stole away.

Later in the day a group of the emigrants came to me and said, with real feeling, "Feel sorry for you, Guvnor. Nothing you can do, eh?"

One of them gave me a sympathetic pat on the back and, man to man, we slowly shook our heads as we wondered at the ways of the world.

And speaking of the ways of the world I note that my sister Anne has been spending an outlandish amount of time with the sailors on board. Apparently she enjoys their rough company. Not, I trust, too much. Perhaps it would be best if I counselled her a little.

Thursday 22nd September 1836

After my elation of yesterday today my wife had her revenge.

Our course is the usual one of Plymouth, Rio de Janeiro, the Cape and then South Australia. This allows for restocking the ship with fresh food and water and is an easy route to the new colony.

Mrs Hindmarsh has announced that she will not have me going to Rio. A libertine such as I am could not be trusted in the steamy fleshpots of Brazil. Her description of what she considered my likely behaviour amongst  the Portuguese beauties I will not sully these pages with, but the upshot is that either we go straight to the Cape or she will expose me for the seducer that I am.

Of course the whole thing is ridiculous and I told her so, but she presented me with a written statement that she tells me she intends to give to Mr Stevenson and Mr Fisher.

"Oh John," she intoned in her fruitiest dramatic voice, "if you have an ounce of feeling left for me then do not make me do this thing!"

Truth to tell I do not have an ounce of feeling left for her, but I cannot afford that newshound Stevenson to get wind of her ridiculous story. Lord knows what he might do with it. And so it is now my job to go and tell the crew and passengers that we will not be landing at Rio as they hoped and expected, but will all need to go onto short rations so that we might make landfall at the Cape.

I am certainly not looking forward to their response.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Wednesday 21st September

A red letter day today as my wife was proved wrong AND I WAS PROVEN RIGHT!

The bee hive that my wife insisted on bringing with us was today opened and every bee had died exactly as I predicted.

My first thought was to avoid rubbing salt into the wound by reminding her that I had told her this would happen, but my second thought was to think "To hell with it!" and I rubbed salt like the devil himself!

6th - 20th September 1836

Editors Note: After the adventure of the dog overboard the Buffalo sailed on towards the Equator. Hindmarsh's diary is filled with nautical records of winds, ship speeds, and navigational calculations. There are a few notes of interest.

8th September

More complaints from the emigrants. The cook, on my orders, has replaced cups of tea with cocoa and the lower classes are dissatisfied. I have explained to them that leaf tea was running short and that, naturally, the passengers of the better sort could not be expected to do without. This explanation seemed to satisfy them as they clearly know their place and may even take solace in the knowledge that their doing without will make the lives of their betters more comfortable,

10th September

I have more complaints from the whining emigrants. Apparently, because I have allowed my dogs the freedom of the ship, one or two ( or perhaps more) of the lower classes have received playful nips, especially from the wolf hounds and the otter hounds, and have found their clothing and shoes soiled with dog dirt. The better sort of passengers were complaining that their dogs must remain cooped up while my dogs are free to roam.

To the emigrants I replied that any nips and bites they received were not given in malice or in anger and so not to worry. As for the dog dirt I asked them to simply watch where they were treading. "Besides." I said, "as members of the lower classes I do not doubt that a bit of dirt and filth will make you feel at home."

To the better class of passenger I replied that if all the dogs were let out then we would decidely have fighting and I certainly did not wish my dogs to be injured.

I believe that they appreciated the reasonable nature of my reply.

 13th September

Mr Stevenson (arbiter of taste), Mr Fisher (part man, part rabbit) and Mr Jickling (tutor to Mr Fisher's litter) came to see me with a proposal for a Public Library in the new Colony, "for the improvement of the people."

I expressed my self of the opinion  that if the company aboard the Buffalo is a fair sample then the people could do with some improvement, but it will take a damned sight more than a few three volume novels in a Library to do it.

Well, good luck to them and no doubt they will stick to the idea like dogs with a bone.

Monday 5th September, 1836

A disaster averted today.

The voyage nearly ruined when Lion, my spaniel, fell overboard!

Imagine my horror when I was informed that he was last seen some ten minutes before the alarm was raised. I was frantic with grief and distress, but managed to pull myself together and come to action.

Fortunately the crew were magnificent and on my order, managed to turn the ship around - no easy task as a lumbering old merchant ship like the Buffalo hardly turns on a sixpence - and head back to retrieve the poor animal, who was shaken and damp but tremendously brave and had even started to swim after the ship!

Adams, my steward, whose job it was to care for the dogs was all apologies, but if the dog had drowned I need hardly say that his life would have been very miserable indeed! As it is I cannot understand how ten minutes passed before he noticed that Lion was missing. He says that he was fully occupied with Towser, who insists on biting his arms and legs continually in playful fun, but truth to tell, is the care of seven dogs really so hard?

I am most displeased with him.

Monday 8th August - Sunday 4th September 1836

Editors Note: Between these dates the crew and passengers of the Buffalo settled into the humdrum daily life on board ship. From time to time there were incidents that caused comment from the Governor.

Concerts were held in the Aft cabin, where a badly tuned piano had been placed.

Hindmarsh commented:

Another evening of caterwauling women and plinkety plonkety pianoforte. On the programme last night my son John played some "contemporary music". Hummel, (like that german arse Beethoven only worse, if such a thing is possible); some songs (allegedly) by Schubert ( Mary assured me it was poetic, which confirmed my opinion of Mary's common sense) and some God awful nonsense from a talentless buffoon called Chopin. If this is what passes for music nowadays then give me a jig or a hornpipe.

A Sunday School was started:

Charlie Howard has enlisted Mary and Jane to help him establish a Sunday School for the fifty or so children we have on board. My thought is that if people (like the Fishers for example) are fool enough to bring children on a voyage such as this then they should shift for themselves and look after their brats rather than expect me to provide them with entertainment. Still I can be satisfied that if my daughters are keys to the Sunday School running then it won't last and then the lazy sods of parents can have the responsibility back for themselves.

A sailor died.

One of the crew died either of drink or old age, I am not sure. As Captain I assured the men of my respect for the deceased and joined with them in lamenting his passing. Then Charlie Howard committed him to the deep. I must find out his name so I spell it correctly in the ship's log.

The Reverend Howard displayed new talents

As if people were not suffering enough thanks to Charlie Howard's interminable sermons he has recently begun subjecting the poor devils to the horrors of his violin playing. And by playing I mean that sound ensues when he holds his violin under his chin and scrapes it with his bow.

The man plays like a thing possessed. Sadly, he is just not possessed of any talent.

He tells me that he hopes to use popular music to attract people to religion, but when I say that I complimented him for his excellent playing of "Rule Britannia" and he told me he was playing "Greensleeves" then it is understandable when I opine that the people who gather around him when he sits by the bowsprit and plays are not there for religion, but to see why the cat is being strangled.

He also tells me that by he hopes to "connect with the youth", a phrase that, to the ears of this ex Cabin Boy, sounds particularly suspicious on the lips of a middle aged clergyman. When I demanded to know the name of the youth he was hoping to connect with he became most annoyed. It seems that the phrase is some nonsense the clergy say when a human being might say "get young people to come to divine service"

I think he needs to be watched. 

There were occasional diversions.

Mr Hutchinson today suddenly leapt overboard today and retrieved a log of pinewood covered in barnacles. Much admiration from all on board. Either we have all turned simpleton or we are all bored rigid if a bit of driftwood with a few barnacles stuck to it can be the sinecure of all eyes. Mind you, I have found myself looking at Mrs Hindmarsh with renewed interest of late, so perhaps we have at sea for a little too long.

There were complaints.

The emigrants have complained that having the pig pens, the dog kennels, the cow byre and the poultry coops on the deck directly above their sleeping quarters, which, it seems are still full of cats, makes for an uncomfortable atmosphere in the enclosed space between decks. Well, I did warn them to get rid of those cats.

The Reverend Mr Howard preached every Sunday.

Charlie Howard could bore for his country.

Undated Note

Editor's note: The following, which must date from about this time, is found on an unattached single leaf of paper inserted between the leaves of the diary.

For the past weeks my daughters have been amusing themselves with the production of a small ship's newspaper: "The Buffalo Telegraph". John, perhaps wisely, declined their entreaties to contribute. Sadly it seems that they have been amusing only themselves as this effusion, meant purely for the diversion of the ship's passengers, has been met with indifference bordering on derision.

Mr Stevenson, who clearly fancies himself as the next Coleridge or Pope or Johnson or perhaps a combination of all three has told me that he thought it "A dead failure with scarcely a redeeming point of intelligence or wit". He also felt it his duty to truth and the public interest to inform me that "Scraps from young ladies’ common place books do not become original by being fairly copied into a sheet of foolscap"

What this stupid arse Petronius Arbiter does not understand is that my daughters merely were being kind and acted for the amusement of all on a long and tedious journey.

I know they are talentless. I know they are bubble headed ninnies. I know only too well that Mary's passionate ode to her pony is not the stuff of great poetry. I know Jane's article entitled "Dreamiest Boys on the Buffalo" is worthless and her song "Bouncy Bouncy Dolphin" is not good. And the less said about Susan's Gothic romance "The Monk, The Maid and the Mirror on a Stick" the better.

But they are my talentless bubble headed ninnies and if it should come to my attention that Mr Stevenson has given public utterance  to his critical judgments then he will find himself walking bow legged and in need of a truss.

Worse, I may just let Mrs Hindmarsh know of the circumstances and then stand back while she deals with Mr Longinus Stevenson. Then we will see a dead failure without intelligence or wit.

Sunday 7th August

Editor's note: On 29th July the Buffalo encountered a great storm which drove it back to the Isle of Wight. Despite attempting to leave port no progress was made until the 3rd August when the ship finally got underway.

Most vexing day. Great seas with a rolling swell, meaning that many amongst us have come down with mal de mer.

As a consequence attendance was sparse at Divine Service this morning. It would have been even sparser if we had know that Charlie Howard was going to drone on for over an hour explicating the intricacies of Hebrews 3:16-17  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?  If Howard had preached to the Israelites it would have just seemed like forty years.

Then, to ice the cake, I sprained my ankle. When we were still at St Helen's I urged people to make every effort to get all cats off the ship. But did they? Of course not. As a result you can not move about the ship without getting one under foot. The emigrant's deck stinks of cat's piss. And of course I tripped over one as I came out of my cabin and this combined with the rolling of the ship was enough to send me to the deck, twisting my ankle.

To add insult to injury George Stevenson, that man of letters, had the nerve to tell me that I was not as young as I thought and as the years steal upon us, joints stiffen. I could loosen a few of his joints if he'd like me to.

Mrs Hindmarsh seemed most concerned that I had not hurt "Tinkle", the evil looking creature of Satan that she had, it seems, adopted as her own, perhaps as a familiar. If I get near him, be assured, we will know "whose carcase fell in the wilderness."

Thursday 28th July 1836

Editor's note: After three more days of preparation the Buffalo finally weighed anchor and set sail at daybreak on the 27th July.

Set sail this morning without Jeffcott. Word has been sent to us that he has fled the country!

Apparently some embarrassment over unpaid bills and debts and he has skipped to Paris or some such French place in order to avoid dealing with his creditors. He will, it appears, be making his own way out to the colony and will be keeping his travel arrangements a secret in order to outwit those he owes money.

Perhaps not the ideal start for the Chief legal mind of the new colony. He already holds the distinction of being the only Judge in British legal history to have stood trial accused of murder after that fighting a duel business in Exeter, so it would appear that we have a Judge who is well versed in the law from both sides of the bench.

No sooner got underway for the new colony when we had three couples approach the Padre about the need to get married.

What is wrong with these people? Would it have been so difficult to arrange this before we left? As it is we are finally underway, I have a ship to navigate, a crew to manage and these people are organising seating plans and choosing bridesmaids dresses. Be damned to them I say!

And what is particularly vexing is that amongst them is none other than Mary-Jane Murray, who is marrying one William Whittle, a labourer. This is treachery of the darkest order, that in future my breakfasts will be eaten by a bricklayer!

And yet I recognise the fine Italian hand of Mrs Hindmarsh behind all this. I do not believe that Mary-Jane - or Mrs Whittle as I now must call her, though the name sticks in my craw in a way her muffins never did - I say, I do not believe that Mrs Whittle even knew this bricklayer a month ago. I believe my wife has been playing Cupid. And if the thought of the figure of Mrs Hindmarsh swathed in silk gauze with tiny wings and a bow does not send chills down your spine then you are a braver man than I!

Of course Charlie Howard was in his element, fussing about with vows and advice. George Stevenson, like the hard hitting man of the press he imagines himself to be decided to raise questions about the legality of the marriages and I had to draft up a special licence as Governor to allow myself as Captain to marry the couples with the assistance of the Colonial Chaplain. Apparently Stevenson reasons that he has a great news story on his hands.

But what of news stories when human tragedy is playing out?  Can I not paraphrase Shakespeare and cry out with Shylock the Jew, "My breakfasts! Oh my breakfasts!"

After the weddings were solemnised Mrs Hindmarsh, twisting the knife in the wound she had salted, invited all the newlyweds back to our cabins for tea. I had to sit and watch William Whittle, the man who has popped in between my crumpets and my hopes, slurp tea from a saucer.

I do not know what food there was at this hellish party, but it was as ash in my mouth.

I am surrounded by infamy and can only cry "et tu Mrs Hindmarsh!"

Monday 25th July 1836

My damned wife and her shopping!

After her expedition to the Isle of Wight on Saturday there were, it seems, still a few things left on the island unpurchased, so she and my daughters decided to descend upon the unsuspecting people of the Isle and strip it bare of all goods that could be had for ready money. My son John was to go with them as a treat, or so my wife said, though an afternoon spent in the company of my wife and daughters when in a frenzy of shopping seems no treat to me.

I had the task of hoisting my wife and the girls into the bum boat for them to go ashore. I had the help of several strapping seamen for the not inconsiderable task of getting Mrs Hindmarsh lifted and settled. But when it came time for the girls to be placed in the boat I decided that I would do it myself (though the girls were keen for the sailors to hold them tight). Mary, and Jane were lifted and placed in the boat without difficulty and John was well able to get himself in unassisted. But when I lifted Susan one of the ropes gave way. Susan got a ducking and I fell from the side of the ship into the bum boat, receiving several bruises and a cut to my left knee.

Susan in tears and my wife fussing over her while the watching seamen showed all the signs of disrespect and  even mirth at my discomfort. When I told my wife of my injury she brushed me aside with a "Don't be a baby!" and ordered me to take Susan back aboard the Buffalo and get her dry and warm.

I pointed out that I had ship's business to attend to, with the supplies and drinking water coming aboard before we sail tomorrow and mightn't it be better if she attend to to Susan so that I could do my job as Captain and promptly got an earful about this being the last shopping trip she would be able to make for years and did I intend to spoil the last few simple pleasures she could manage?

"And besides," she said in as dramatic a fashion as possible, "after the hell you have put me through of late with the Housekeeper the least you owe me is a shopping trip!"

Dear me. Life is a trial.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sunday 24th July 1836

A miserable day. No sign of Jeffcott.

Rained and blew all morning, meaning that we were all stuck indoors. Much yelling and screaming from the Fisher cabins, where they all seem to be under each other's feet. Can't help feeling we are partly to blame.

Rain ceased in afternoon, but winds kept up a treat.

Bad weather and ship's business meant that Divine Service was unable to be held, which put the ship's chaplain, The Reverend Mr Howard into a sulk.

Sauerkraut served with dinner this evening, as it has been for the past three days. I know it prevents the scurvy, but I loathe it with a passion. Salty, slimy sauerkraut! Spare me!

Just after Mrs Hindmarsh and I had retired for the evening, we were disturbed by the sound of the Emigrants singing psalms and hymns. Dear me - piety is all very well, but there's a time and a place...

Fortunately, Charlie Howard, never one to let an opportunity pass, decided that the people needed him and hurried down to\deliver a sermon of extraordinary dullness on Zephaniah 2:8: "I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border." with the result that all were soon asleep.

Saturday 23rd July 1836

Traveled down yesterday and this morning to the Isle of Wight and boarded the HMS Buffalo, moored in the St Helen's Roads.

Somewhat nonplussed to read the ship's muster roll and see that I was listed as "Mrs John Hindmarsh". Probably a slip of the pen, but I suspect some prankish trick by one of the crew. When I pointed out the error to Mrs Hindmarsh she merely remarked that if I was Mrs John Hindmarsh then I might not spend so much time chasing the ladies. A calumny!

The whole thing seems even more ridiculous when I discovered that, with Mrs Hindmarsh's approval, Mary-Jane Murray is to accompany us on the voyage. In fact it is Mrs Hindmarsh who has arranged Mary-Jane's passage on the Buffalo. As we will be living on not much more than salt meat and sauerkraut - which I loathe with a passion - for the next six months the whole business of a decent breakfast becomes of no importance anyway, so perhaps Mrs Hindmarsh has arranged for Mary to be present on the voyage just to taunt me. Could she be that cruel? Well, yes, obviously.

Mrs Hindmarsh has provided me with a Steward - a manservant - called Adams, as she will not trust me with the choice of a housekeeper, saying "You will no doubt get some silly hussy ripe for your debauchery", a charge I utterly reject.

A slight contretemps when we arrived. The Fisher family had arrived before us and had taken the larger set of cabins, since there are only six of us and seemingly countless numbers of Fishers and their children (was the man cross bred with a rabbit?). "They didn't think", they said, "that we would have any objection to their having the larger cabins since they needed the room for their children." After a free exchange of views, in  which Mrs Hindmarsh made it clear what she thought of their opinions and that she did indeed have objections the Fishers quickly moved to the smaller accommodation.

Not, perhaps, the ideal start to a relationship with someone I will need to have a close working relationship with, but I am sure that Mr Fisher is not one to bear a grudge.

I expect to see Sir John Jeffcott join us on board presently. He will be travelling out with us before taking up the position of Judge for the colony and I expect to use the time available with him on the journey to plot out some legal aspects of the new settlement.

In the afternoon I needed to deal with ships business and also move the animals in. I have brought a number of animals to take to the new colony. The dogs, naturally; a cow; some pigs; some geese; ducks; several turkeys and, at Mrs Hindmarsh's insistence, a hive of bees.

I did try and explain to her that the one thing bees need are flowers, which are, strangely, in short supply on the open ocean. Her answer was to take a few pots of primulas and love in a mist. I have no intention of turning the Buffalo into a floating plant nursery. The last man mad enough to do that was Bligh with his breadfruit and I think we all know how that worked out.

Truth to tell, if Mr Fisher was cross bred with a rabbit then Mrs Hindmarsh was probably cross bred with a rhinoceros. So when the Fishers announced that they were going ashore to the Isle of Wight to stay the night "so they wouldn't be in anyone's way" (I detected a note of satire) her hide was thick enough to ignore the dark looks and mutterings when she announced that she would accompany them "for the shopping".

For the shopping? Where in God's name is there anywhere on the Isle of Wight to do shopping? I seem to remember going ashore there and having trouble finding anyone to sell me a pint of ale. Still, if there is anywhere to spend money on the Isle of Wight I am sure that Mrs Hindmarsh will search it out and double their yearly profit.

Besides, I am treading softly around Mrs Hindmarsh at present after the business with Mary-Jane, so if a shopping trip keeps her happy then who am I to say no?

Thursday, 21st July 1836

A trying day.

Mrs Hindmarsh noticed that I have been paying attention to Mary-Jane Murray of late. Well, what else would I do when her toast is so excellent? Only this morning she made a plate of devilled kidneys so fine that they could only be described as art. Her griddle cakes were of such a perfection as I never expect to meet again.

So naturally I have been giving her admiring glances, paying her compliments, doing little favors for her and giving her little gifts. And should I not? Should I risk losing her to some other household where she might gain these things and more? This is my breakfast we speak of and is not to be trifled with.

Now my wife seems to have misinterpreted this as a lessening of my affection for her.

As a result there has been much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth for the past two days. Need I say that the weeping and wailing were hers and the gnashing was mine? I have been called a Lothario, a Don Juan, a trifler with her affections. My daughters have been warned against cads and bounders such as I. This morning I had to listen to a lecture on my loose morals while my eggs were going cold!

I have put my foot down and demanded that she not upset Mary-Jane. I cannot risk having her feathers ruffled as well and getting a badly cooked sausage. This demand seems to have only added fuel to the fire and now my damn fool wife has demanded that either Mary-Jane leaves our service or Mrs Hindmarsh leaves me.

Well of course this is nonsense... I am not about to lose an excellent breakfast and I board the HMS Buffalo in two days. Obviousy Mrs Hindmarsh, in whatever mood, will be required to board it with me. So I will be enduring the frost and the squalls and carry on, doing as best I can to keep the silly old girl on an even keel.

Tuesday, 19th July 1836

Been so busy for the past few days I haven't had a chance to scratch myself let alone write in my diary.

Mrs Hindmarsh insists on packing, repacking, unpacking, packing again and then changing her mind and starting over with the result that we are no further advanced than what we were at the start. If she asks once more if I have packed enough handkerchiefs and clean underclothes I may leave her home. I'm beginning to understand why Cook made three long voyages.

My children are no better. John and Jane are at least showing some sense (it is generally agreed they take after my side of the family), but Susan and Mary are as bad as their mother. Mary has been in tears because she has been told she can't take her ponies. Susan is busy choosing which of her 400 romantic novels she'll pack and take with her.

Also coming with us on the voyage is my sister Anne.

Poor dear. Forty nine years old and never married or even been looked at to any great extent by a man. She is not, perhaps, the most attractive of women, but she is not entirely repellent and in a new colony such as South Australia single men are sure to be plentiful. I believe it is the case in Sydney that the number of single men far outweighs that of single women. And where numbers are high, standards are low, so we may yet get the old girl off our hands.

Mary-Anne Murray has turned out to be a superlative choice as housemaid. She knows exactly how to cook my breakfast. The eggs she cooks are firm, with a little bit of wobble but still runny in the centre. Her toast is golden brown all over so that when I cut it into soldiers to dip into my googy each soldier is exactly as crisp as it should be. She makes breakfast a joy each morning. I am considering putting a little something extra in her pay to ensure she doesn't leave.

I hear my wife calling and must avoid her.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Tuesday, 12 July 1836

The Voyage Out

At Court today to take my leave of His Majesty.

Ceremonies and obsequiousness, I am afraid.

Good King William is, I am afraid, "good" only in the sense that he isn't his damned pompous arse of a brother, the "late lamented" George IV. A tired, old dithering man who, I said at the time, looks like a man who would try and touch you for a shilling rather than a Sovereign.

King William IV

I thought this such a good joke that I repeated it several times during the day, each time to a look of disdain from Mrs Hindmarsh. She has, I am afraid, no sense of humour.

I must admit I spent most of my time at Court fascinated by the Queen's nose. What a hooter! If someone gave it to me turned upside down and full of farthings I wouldn't complain.
Queen Adelaide and her Nose

Duties done spent rest of day preparing for voyage. My wife, without my knowledge, has engaged a girl, Mary-Anne Murray, to act as servant and housekeeper for us on the voyage out. I shall have to trust in her judgement, although that has never been a successful plan in the past. We will see.


The recent discovery of the personal diary of John Hindmarsh, First Governor of the Colony of South Australia amongst a collection of papers related to the administration of Heligoland, lodged at the British Museum, offers new insights into the early settlement of this now prosperous State.

In this diary, clearly not meant for the public gaze, Hindmarsh records his day to day experience of the adventure of settlement and a series of remarkably frank observations regarding the early commissioners and settlers. In no other source do we see such a lively and insightful analysis of the process of establishing a colony, all told in Hindmarsh's acerbic and down to earth manner.

It must be stressed that this was Hindmarsh's personal diary, meant only for his own eyes and never intended for either circulation or publication. As such it contains views and comments of a sometimes surprising nature.

George Stevenson, writing in his journal on board the Buffalo, was of the opinion that "The Governor cannot write two sentences of grammar or common sense, that is the simple truth." But that "simple truth" is belied here, where the Governor regularly writes two or even three grammatical sentences. As in so much else Stevenson is shown to be wrong in his judgements.

Note on the text.

The early part of the diary (that covering the voyage out on board the Buffalo) has been severely edited for this edition. For days at a time the diary consists of the usual contents of a professional sailor's diary: observations of the winds, weather, tides and positions. An example drawn at random is given below:

Friday, Octr 14. Fresh breezes & hazy. Wind N.E.b N. Head S.E.b E. Set & in tgt sails occasionally. Noon. Do Wr. Miles run, 180 + 6854 = 7034. Lat. obs. 27E30′ So. Longe 39E26′ Wt. P.M. Do Wr.

While all of these entries will be included in a forthcoming full academic edition, in an edition for the general reader it has been felt that these entries will be of little interest and have been omitted.