Thursday, 6 July 2017

Sunday, 7th January 1838

I am not a vindictive man and not one to bear a grudge, but I must admit to a twinge of disappointment on hearing that Mr Fisher's race day was a complete success. 

As I say, not a vindictive man, but I was rather hoping that no-one would attend, the course would be reminiscent of a mountain goat track and the only horses that could be found were old nags that couldn't raise a canter and were in danger of keeling over dead after the first furlong. 

Instead I am told that more than eight hundred people attended for the two days, races were run, prizes were won, there was dancing and tasty refreshments to be had and all who were present seemed to think it was a delightful time and a credit to the organisers.

Which is quite annoying.

Most annoying of all is that Mrs Hindmarsh and the girls - ignoring my express wishes - attended on both days and are now full of how splendid a time it was.

"Oh Father! If only you could have seen how magnificent the horses were!"

"Oh Father! How clever Mr Fisher must be to have organised such a wonderful time!"

"Oh Father! If only you were able to do something as excellent as Mr Fisher has!"

Damnation! And against my express wishes!

But perhaps most annoying was the way Mrs Hindmarsh enjoyed the dancing and told me that "Mr Fisher presents a fine figure on the dance floor and appears so much more graceful than you do." 

So am I now to be judged according to the terpsichorean standards set by twinkle-toes Fisher, the dancing dandy? Be buggered!

One fly in the ointment that I have heard are the reports that there was a certain amount of petty crime at the race day. There were people who complained of pickpockets and items from the booths mysteriously disappeared into someone's pockets.

This comes as a surprise. The colony in the last year has been remarkably free of crime. When you considered that the combined and ramshackle forces of the Marines, William Williams and Bobby Hill and Sammy Smart the Sheriff have been sufficient to stop any crime wave you begin to realise that we do not seem to have any criminals that wish to try hard.

And truth to tell, most of the notable crimes we have had in the past year have either been caused by the Marines themselves (including one occasion when they were fighting amongst themselves and then attacked the police when they arrived) or by Members of the South Australian Company. We've had Sam Stephens' attempted murder trial - a place where Sammy lives will never be entirely free of crime - and Gilles and Gouger beating the tripe out of each other in the streets. Fisher threatened any number of people with legal action, usually for libel and slander, but other than that the courts have been kept busy (and the town entertained) mainly with petty arguments over livestock wandering onto other people's land and trees cut down when they were meant to be left.

So to suddenly hear of of a spate of robberies seems as surprising as it is disappointing. I expect that no more will come of it, but I will ask Sammy Smart to look into it.

Widow Harvey has been insufferable of late- even more insufferable than usual. Ever since I mentioned that we were building a new kitchen here at the Vice-Regal Palace I have heard nothing but the woman telling me what she will do in the new facility. As though a new oven was going to improve her skills! 

There is, however, a light on the horizon. It has been suggested by Mrs Hindmarsh (no less) that we could use another servant about the house to deal with odds and ends. If I could manage to find someone with a smattering of cooking skills then I might yet have a chance at food that is edible. We shall see.

I have had yet another letter from Mr George Milner Stephen.It appears that he is in fact the late Solicitor General's brother and also, it seems, cousin to the Under-Secretary for the Colonies. With such family I had high hopes of Mr Stephen. But his letter, which seems to spend a deal of term talking of Astrology leaves me doubtful. And Johnny has sent me clippings Hobart newspapers. One of which praises Mr Stephen as a man who "writes a fine hand and made good figures" but wonders how "a raw, inexperienced young man with neither educational qualifications or pretensions can advise a government on points of law. The other states:
It is not generally known that Mr. G. M. Stephen, although receiving salary as Clerk of the Supreme Court of Van Dieman's Land, has for a length of time been residing at Sydney, articled to his brother the late Mr Francis Stephen. The following motion, before the Supreme Court at Sydney, will astonish our readers not a little, and will tend to shew how convenient it is to draw a salary from the Government of one Colony, in order to be enabled to follow articles of clerkship in another!This job demands immediate investigation.
and then goes on to decribe how Mr Stephen, despite not meeting the Courts requirement of five year's service as a Clerk, applied to be articled as an attorney and tried to argue that there were "special circumstances" allowing him to take a shorter route, because he felt that he was "capable". 
I hope that we have not appointed the black sheep of the Stephen family.

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