Letter (WCP6098.7050)



January 3rd 1841

Dearest dear Fanny

Will you accuse me of having forgotten you! not without cause certainly for I appeared strangely negligent but the date of this will show that my intention was not so bad, when I received your welcome letter in September 1840 which was conveyed to me by a fellow passenger, the Wilsons1 having come out in the ship with us. I deferred writing to you till I went to Sydney hoping to send my letter by dearest Mrs Dumaresq2who was going to sail for England3 in Jany but I found it was quite impossible to write whilst dear Aunt Sophy4 and her precious children were about me there was so much to be done that from six o’clock in the morning until frequently two in the morning (or night, whichever you like best) we were so busily engaged that I had no time for writing at all even to my Aunt5[.] I only seized a few moments after they had embarked to send two or three lines to my Aunt. since [sic] that time we have been incessantly visiting and one trifle has arisen after another to prevent my writing to my dear friend. Can you dear Fanny forgive me[?] I will fancy that you do — or else I could not continue my letter. Our bright sunny days of felicity are passed but a storm has not succeeded only a calm tranquil current is bearing us on our journey through life and though in our precious Mrs. Dumaresq we lost that which was dearest to us in this Colony we still have another Mrs Dumaresq6 [2] and many kind dear friends indeed we seem rich in friends, they may prove only summer ones but we are not disposed to think so — and enjoy the blessings we are constantly receiving with grateful hearts. We have been traversing the length and breadth of the land making many new acquaintances and being told we are seeing different places but the whole country is so much alike that I almost doubt it[,] and if it were not for assertions of those on whose veracity I can rely[,] I should imagine we had been traversing a circle of about 20 miles in extent — the same everlasting woods greet the eye[,] the same shadowless trees and ridges of hills meet the eye in every point[.] [T]he neighbourhood of Sydney is certainly beautiful anywhere whence you can view Port Jackson which is perfect I think as far as scenery is concerned and nautical men admire its capabilities as a harbour. Our dear friends Captain7 and Mrs Dumaresq otherwise "Uncle Willy" and ["]Aunt Susy" an abbreviation for Susan, have bought a place close to the sea which when finished is to be quite a gem of a place its natural beauties being very great and their taste will make it superb — We spent a few very pleasant weeks with Sir Maurice O’Connell’s8 family soon after the departure of Mrs Henry Dumaresq and were much delighted with them[.] [I]t served to remove one of my prejudices that none of the name of O’Connell could be agreeable but we have ample proof that these though relations [3] of the notorious Dan’s9 are most fascinating[.] [F]rom them we went to a place called Belmont 40 miles from Sydney thence to Mulgoa whence we were summoned by Mary’s10 receiving an invitation to be bridesmaid to a young lady at Port Stephens so we once more revisited Sydney and Mary’s preparations being now completed she started off accompanied by Uncle Willy whilst I remained to keep Mrs W[illiam] Dumaresq company as she was not very well. Port Stephens is about 24 hours journey from Sydney[,] at least if you happen to have fair wind for the first part of the distance has to be performed in a steam boat which leaves Sydney about 8 in the evening and ought to arrive at Raymond Terrace by the same hour in the morning where we have to change our mode of travelling for any vehicle we can borrow for there are none there to be hired and after jolting over 36 miles of what in this country is called a road but of which you can form no idea in England[.] Mary arrived at her destination Boorell [Booral] House11 whence she started the following day to Stroud12 to join the Bride elect. The wedding took place on the day appointed and Mary once more returned to Boorell where I joined her in about five weeks since which time we have made minor digressions Boorell still being our headquarters[.] [W]e purpose [sic] remaining here some weeks perhaps months longer and then revisiting Sydney where we have three months engagements [4] at least[.] [B]y the beginning of 1842 should we live as long we shall be bending our steps towards Scone where Mr. Morse13 resides and then pleasure a long long adieu. I do not mean gaiety for I hate it and have got into a serious scrape by refusing an invitation to a ball at Government House14 the result will be no more invitations from that quarter which will be no disappointment to me as I should hardly like to dance in the presence of my Uncle’s15 portrait which looks to me so much as if it belonged to olden times that it makes me melancholy. There is besides such an expression of pain over the face that I could cry when I look at it.

Having given you this long account of our doings and wanderings I think it is time to enquire what you have been at in your nice cottage which we once fondly hoped to share[.] [D]o you still occupy yourself in trying to impart ideas to those who have none and do your Papa16 and Mama17 still reside with you[?] [W]hat are all your brothers18 doing[?] [T]ell me all about you all for every thing around you interests us and I fancy I know them all[.] [C]ertainly it is only in imagination but our greatest pleasures are frequently in fancy — we are neither of us married or likely [.] [T]here is no lack of gentlemen in the colony but they appear to me to be the refuse of English society. Some are belonging to good families but those generally speaking must have been sent here to be out of the way — at all events [end of page, no signature]

Wilson, Thomas (1787-1863). ARW's uncle; solicitor and author, emigrated to Australia 1838; his wife Martha (née Greenell) (1790-1858). ARW's aunt; sister of ARW's mother. The Wilsons brought 5 of their 8 children to Australia.
Dumaresq (née Butler-Danvers), Elizabeth Sophia (1801-1877). British wife of Henry Dumaresq (1792-1838).
Elizabeth Sophia Dumaresq was widowed in 1838 and returned to England with her children in 1841. See Gray, N. 1966. Dumaresq, Henry (1792-1838). Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dumaresq-henry-2003/text2447> [accessed 16 June 2020].
See endnote 2 above.
"Aunt" unidentified.
Dumaresq (née McLeay), Christiana Susan (1799-1866). British-born wife of William John Dumaresq; daughter of the colonial secretary for New South Wales, Alexander McLeay.
Dumaresq, William John (1793–1868). British-born civil engineer and politician in New South Wales, Australia.
O'Connell, Maurice Charles (1768-1848) Irish-born army commander (lieutenant-general) of the forces in New South Wales, Australia.
O'Connell, Daniel (1775-1847). Irish nationalist leader; known as the Liberator.
"Mary" unidentified.
Booral House, built in 1831, was one of three company residences for the Australian Agricultural Company in Port Stephens, NSW. See NSW Government. 2020. Booral House. NSW Government, Office of Environment & Heritage. <https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=1650203> [accessed 17 June 2020].
Stroud could be referring to Australian Agricultural Company's second town and extensive farm, established in 1827 or Stroud House, another company residence occupied by the Commissioner Phillip Parker King (1791-1856). See NSW Government. 2020. Stroud House. NSW Government, Office of Environment & Heritage. <https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5060873> [accessed 17 June 2020].
Morse, John (c. 1789-1852). First chaplain of the Church of St. Luke, Scone, NSW, Australia.
The First Government House was the New South Wales Governor's residence in Sydney (1788-1845). See Australian Government. 2020. National Heritage Places - First Government House. Australian Government. Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Site<https://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national/first-government-house> [accessed 17 June 2020].
"Uncle" unidentified.
Wallace, Thomas Vere (1771-1843). Father of ARW.
Wallace (née Greenell), Mary Ann (1792-1868). Mother of ARW.
ARW, William Greenell Wallace (1809-1845), John Wallace (1818-1895) & Herbert Edward ("Edward") Wallace (1829-1851).

Envelope (WCP6098.7051)

Unposted envelope inscribed in ARW's hand: "To Fanny | Letter from Australia | July 1845 from Anne D. Rees. | 1840 Anne Reed? | 1841. no name "; annotated in pencil in the hand of W. G. Wallace: "2 given to Brummell Nov 1941". [Envelope (WCP6098.7051)]

Please cite as “WCP6098,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 23 May 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP6098