I can not say truthfully that I know what the coming year will bring, but I can certainly relate what the previous week has delivered.
Christmas morning the house was up bright and early for the giving of presents. With Johnny in Van Dieman's Land there was a space at the table, but the girls gave me some handkerchiefs that were suspiciously like the ones they gave me last year. I suspect they are going to my chest of drawers and doing their Christmas shopping there.
I gave a gift to my wife of some lace that had come in from Sydney and Mrs Hindmarsh gave me some new copies of books by Scott, including some short stories I have not read before and a new copy of Marmion, which is most welcome.
I need hardly add that Mrs Hindmarsh felt a need to give Widow Harvey and her lumpen chick a Christmas gift. She presented her with a carved wood Noah's Ark which the child promptly attempted to eat. Having discovered that it was inedible she quickly lost interest, but the Widow was delighted and played with it for much of the day. I noticed that one of the sheep was missing, so either it is lost or else the Harvey brat did indeed eat it and we won't see it again. Well, not for a day or two at any rate.
Then to church, where Howard chose as his sermon text that most festive of Christmas texts: Psalm 132 verses 6 - 8:
Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood. We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool. Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.Fully an hour and forty minutes of Charlie's finest which included a history of the Ark of the Covenant and its significance to the Jews which has, and this was the nub of the thing if I understand aright, a corresponding significance to how we as Christians should hold our Lord. The real point is that I have just explained in three lines what took Charlie more than an hour and I ask, was this time well spent?
As we left he told me that he considered this, the first Christmas sermon preached in the colony, to be of especial significance and promised to give me the original of his sermon notes so that they may be preserved. Having sat through it I might have thought the best thing to do would be to try and forget the whole experience, but it seems that Howard thinks "no".
Where does he find the time? He's at it every Sunday without fail, providing rest and slumber to all present, then at the Commemoration Dinner he gave two lengthy soporific speeches. The man is a single handed dullness industry!
Then to Christmas Dinner. The mad poisoner had promised "something quite like turkey" and I was expecting cockatoo. Instead, she produced the largest bird I have ever seen and announced "The emu is ready!" Unfortunately she had not considered if we were ready for the emu and sadly, it was not well received. It was clear that she had had difficulty fitting the thing into the oven with the result that one section was overdone and dry while the rest was close to raw. My wife tells me that the meat from the small intermediary zone betweenst the raw and the overcooked was quite tasty, but that zone was very small - just enough to serve three - and since I was the fourth to be served I made do with the dried out shoe leather.
Still, the dogs thought it was... well, Christmas. They made pigs of themselves over the leftovers and there were plenty of them.
The rest of the week was spent doing little but trying to avoid the heat. It has been most unpleasant, but at least it's a dry heat. If it was tropical the way it was in Java then I cannot imagine that we would survive.
The town had been abuzz with the news of our first horse race, to be held over the coming two days.
Fisher has had prepared a course on the flat by the river just west of his hut and a full card of races is promised. I am told that there will be booths for refreshments and dancing and clearly a crowd is expected. I will not be attending. I see no reason to patronise a venture organised by Fisher and his cronies and see my money going to line his pockets.
Of course Mrs Hindmarsh and the girls are keen as mustard to attend and I don't doubt that they will have their way. But I would not set foot near the place if my life depended on it.
I received a letter from Sir John Franklin in VDL and was most surprised. After Mann resigned as Advocate General, Jeffcott suggested as a replacement Alfred Stephen, late Crown Prosecutor in Hobart and I duly wrote to Franklin asking him to offer "Mr Stephen" the Mann's position.
It appears that Franklin, the damned fool did indeed offer the job to "Mr Stephen" and what's more, acting as my proxy, the damned fool signed "Mr Stephen" up as the new Advocate General for South Australia. What the damned fool didn't do was ensure that he had the correct "Mr Stephen" and as a result the new Advocate General is a Mr George Milner Stephen of whom I have never heard, although I have received a letter from him which includes the information that Mr Stephen "was awfully surprised to receive your excellent offer, as I profess to have no knowledge whatsoever of the law or even what the duties of an Advocate General might be!"
I suspect I have not heard the end of this.