Saturday, 25 April 2015

Sunday, 23rd July 1837

A  difficult week this week as I  decided - wrongly as it transpired - that the best way to get rid of all the remaining stock of pickled cabbage beer was to drink it up as quickly as was possible. Since I was unable to induce anyone else to touch the stuff it fell to me to finish it off. It took a deal of heavy work and intensive concentration, but eventually I polished off the remains of the barrel,

Sadly this meant that I spent the Council meeting this week feeling indisposed. In fact I have little recollection of the meeting at all and will need to peruse the written record in order to see if anything too ridiculous was either proposed or enacted by me or by one of the Council members.

Really, someone could have stuck an act to decree that all colonists paint their arses purple in front of me and I would have signed it. I may have done so already and just not know it yet.

They could have put the act in front of me I meant. Not an act decreeing that all colonists paint their arses purple in front of me. What a horrifying thought!

And God damn that greedy monkey Hack! A more money grubbing, parsimonious baboon I have never met!

Since arriving in February he has robbed the colonists blind with his exorbitant prices transporting from the Bay to the Town on his bullock dray and his stocks of stale weevilly flour that he brought with him from England for ninepence and now sells to all comers at prices that will line his pockets with gelt and leave all else poor. Greedy sod that he is.

And now he has upset most of the Colonists by undercutting them all in the tender process for the channel at the Port.

The Company wants a canal dug from what has become known as Tam O'Shanter Reach (after the ship of that name got stuck on a sandbar there due the Captain's utterly stupid incompetence) to the centre of Light's planned Port Town. Their notion is that a canal will make the loading and unloading of cargo all the easier. I think they see it as a test run for the canal from the Port to the River Torrens that Light and I suggested in a fit of prankish high spirits.

There were a number of tenders put forward, most of them saying that they could do the job for about the sum of six or seven hundred pounds or there abouts. Hack put in a tender of four hundred and twenty pounds and the  Company came in like the tide. Dangle a cheap price in front of them and stand by with the landing net, because they'll swallow that bait hook and line and all.

Brown I think it was had the good sense to ask the obvious question of  Hack: i.e. "How was it that every other tenderer couldn't see a way to do the job for less than nearly double what Hack said he could manage it for? If everyone else said seven hundred and Hack said four, where was Hack saving his money? Mightn't it be better to pay the extra and have a decent job of it done?"

Hack assured all that had ears to listen that his quote was the correct costing and all the others had padded theirs out with unnecessaries to line their pockets with government money - a thing not beyond the realm of possibility to be sure.

But I cannot help but feel that Fiddle Fingers Hack is playing the hat trick with us and quoting low in order to charge high. I fancy that once the job is done and he comes to settle up his accounts there will be a number of "onforeseen contingencies" and "unexpected adjustments" and the bill will blow out to exactly the same six or seven hundred pounds that all others tendered for. Of course, I may be wrong, but I am willing to wager that I am not. The Company has assured me that "they know what they are doing", and after I had recovered from a fit of uncontrolled laughter I took them at their word. I ceetainly would not take Hack at his.

The lovely Miss Gandy came to see me this week. She was accompanying Light up to town and she stopped by the Vice Regal Palace to see if Mrs Hindmarsh and I were at home. Since I try and let Mrs Hindmarsh out in public as little as possible, for fear of frightening children and horses, we were, indeed, at home and Miss Gandy spoke to the two of us at length regarding the situation of the natives.

It concerns her, as it does me, that we have arrived on what amounts to their estates without invitation or even a by your leave and propose to co-opt the lot for ourselves.

I am all too aware that the official position is that we are here to bring them to the light of Christianity and to give them the benefits of British society, but truly, when the best examples we have to offer of British Society are old Gilles, Fisher and Morphett and the Light of Christianity is held aloft by Charlie Howard then really I would hardly blame the natives if they told us to shove it where the monkey put the nuts.

Miss Gandy has made the admirable suggestion that we set aside some part of the plains solely for the use of the Natives. She says that the area of the plains far exceeds our use and it would be nothing but greed if we took it all for ouselves.

She had noticed on a map drawn by the Colonel that the Paddy Will Linger Lagoon forms the mouth of two of the streams the flow across the plain: the water course that runs from the foot of the Brown Hill and the Sturt River. With the line of the hills these two rivers form the edges of a large wedge shaped triangle across the Adelaide Plain.

"Would it not be of a goodness, Your Excellency, to gift this triangle in perpetuity to the Adelaide tribe and allow them to live there, undisturbed and in harmony with us?" said Mis Gandy.

Well yes, it probably would. And certainly my orders from England and the Letters Patent I carried with me from England would give support to such a notion.

But I suspect that all our upright pillars of British Society would see if they looked at such a plan would be a vast quantitiy of land that could be theirs if they don't go giving it away to a bunch of natives. When Miss Gandy says "it would be nothing but greed to take all the land for ouselves", she seems to be unaware that "nothing but greed" could be the motto on the family crest of many of our settlers.

But I have promised Miss Gandy that I will put forward her proposal and we will see what happens to it.  Nothing much, I suspect.

During the week Morphett came to see me and asked if I could direct Bromley "to instruct the natives and make them understand that the trees upon the Town Lands are private property and not to be cut down, or lopped, without the consent of the Proprietors." How Bromley is meant to perform this miracle upon people who seem to have little concept of "private property", ""town lands" or "consent of the propietors" is beyond my understanding. But if this is Morphett's attitude then I do not hold out much hope for Miss Gandy's proposal.

Mrs Hindmarsh invited Miss Gandy to stay to tea, which I thought remarkably civil of her, though perhaps hypocritical given the opinions Mrs Hindmarsh had given me the benefit of regarding Miss Gandy and her domestic arrangements with the Colonel.

Miss Gandy had the good sense to graciously decline her offer. Perhaps the qualities of the Vice Regal table are becoming known about town? Certainly when Mrs Hindmarsh rang for tea and Lucrezia appeared with what I took at first sight to be river pebbles, but which the mad poisoner assured me were scones, I understood Miss Gandy's reticence.

I was surprised to see that our scones were served with a dish of jam of some description. Since fruit of any sort is at a premium in the colony I expressed my interest in what was in the dish. Was it jam?

"Oh no bless you, ya rexellenncy," simpered the Widow. "There baint be no jam to be had here. But I find that if you mash up a bowl of sauerkraut with rather a lot of sugar it makes quite an acceptable substitute."

Is the world really so dark and terrible a place that there are people in the world so degraded in their moral sensibilities that sauerkraut and sugar could be considerd "acceptable". I weep for our future.