Lake Macquarie History

Letter from Richard Fennell to his sister-in-law Mary, 23rd November 1846

Lake George Ranges
23rd November, 1846

My dear sister,

I am sure it will be a source of gratification to yourself and William to hear that after manifold delays and perils among false carriers, the boxes containing, to us, a perfect mine of wealth, (and among the many, many valuables, believe me the letter from yourself far from being the least in estimation), have at length arrived. A slight history of their mishaps may not perhaps be uninteresting as a knock down argument for anyone on your side of the water who may say there is no necessity for rail roads in New South Wales. As I shall have no time to write to William this mail, and I think you are rather a business like little body, I send you a copy of the letter received from the parties to whom the boxes were consigned, who you will perceive mention another package of which in all other respects at present remains in most profound darkness.

"Sydney Town October 30th 1846

We received yours of the 23rd Inst. We will clear from the Trafalgar the package addressed to you. I have to inform you that both boxes you saw in the dinghy yet remain on the road with a large quantity of other goods having been left by the carrier owing to their cattle being killed. We despatched another carrier for the goods, and most strange to say he could not get them, and left the property at another place. Last week we despatched a third for him to deliver them to Goulburn. Wonderful to relate this man’s leg was broken by the dray wheel passing over it and they ultimately came on by another conveyance.

On making enquiries about your case with Trafalgar, there is no docket for it on the ship's manifest. Consequently it will have to be entered as foreign, and duty to be paid which will not amount to more than 30/- to 40/-. You will please write to us whether we shall forward the box to one of our stores, or if you will send an order for it by any person to be delivered to him.

Yours Truly
Benjamin Miner"

After all these, I obtained them safely in Goulburn 4 days since. I am now quite [able] to express the fullness of gratitude for the [boxes?] and the expensive proofs of kindness they contained. Proofs which I cannot help but feel I do not deserve. My language I know is inadequate to express the fullness of my feelings and must leave your own excellent hearts to fill the void. My dear sister you are happily situated in such a country as England, you can send forth your sympathy on the errands of love, mercy and benevolence sure of their returning like the dove to the ark, unscathed and bearing that peace and holy hope to your house that can only be known by the doer of good deeds, the possessor of that [charity?] that vaunteth not itself. But I have passed a long period of existence without a companion, no one who could understand me, no one I understand. I became a dark isolated man, turning a natural excess of enthusiasm into the reaches of my own bosom. I have several times endeavoured to improve myself by striving to teach others, but would only be met in this case as in all others pertaining to what was good, with sour ridicule or what was worse a look of unconscious amazement. Situated in this manner a man in time learns to compress his feelings he fears a fear of exposing delicate sensibilities to the touch of the heartless. It has only been since my marriage, I have allowed any of them to appear, and sorry am I to say that they are sadly tarnished and corroded from want of use but I have been running into one of my dark soliloquies which will tell you to put up with I dose him well with sometimes excellent narcotics.

My dear Mary, it would turn your usually quiet smile (and I can understand without seeing, what kind of smile it usually is) into a regular guffaw could you witness the shifts we have been at to stow away all our newly acquired wealth. So fearful was my old woman that the increase in our possessions should excite the cupidity of neighbours, she advised the most valuable commodities to be packed in the centre of the bin of wheat and she is yet engaged in packing and re-packing in all imaginable and unimaginable places, being most ably seconded by young Dick who manages to half unpack everything she has completed before she finishes the next. Such an uproar has never been in our little domicile since its establishment. I believe we shall be some months discovering the full extent of our riches as I am continually greeted with - "I do not think you saw this before Richard".

Among the other much esteemed presents allow me most particularly to thank yourself and my dear William for the proof and evidence of your sincere interest in our spiritual welfare, most highly will they be prized and devoutly perused I hope to edification. We required them much being without opportunity of religious intercourse and improvement in the wild bush, and but few religious books to help us to salvation, your kind and energetic fervour merits my warmest thanks showing as it does a true interest in our welfare.

Please tell William I will immediately set about collecting all the queer things, animal, vegetable, etc. etc. etc., I can find as I fear my clumsy fingers will make a sad mess of the [indecipherable] department at first, but he must take the will for the deed, and make the best of them. I was rather amused with his having collected 120 different species of snails. I imagine he was thus indefatigable to obtain your love and approbation on the always-at-home principle. I have never seen one of the little 'domesticals' since I came into this country which augers bad for the state of society, among which that class wanting the benefit of good example. I fear my collection will be tardy on completion having so little time to call my own.

My wife and little ones are, thank God, in excellent health, the eldest girl almost too quiet and gentle for this wild place but joyous of heart and amiable in disposition, she can read little sentences of short words, has [conquered?] nearly all Dr Watts hymns, the principal part of her church catechism. Next in order is your Dick, a most unmanageable young monkey for whom no mischief is too great, at continual war with everything - biped, quadruped. Between coaxing and bouncing he has got through his alphabet & knows odd verses of several hymns, but we cannot yet [get] entirely through any particular one. He is however a sweet disposition always ready to acknowledge his fault, then to amend, but I really think he has a natural propensity for devilment. The youngest is like all other babies made up of squalling, a good temper, no particular propensities developed.

Hoping to hear from you often my dear Mary,

Your affectionate brother
Rich Fennell

I entirely forgot to mention the delight of the kids with their wooden shoes. Dick made wonderful progress but the girl was awkward at first. I was sure to get a tumble if Dick could cause her to run after him to the immense delight and satisfaction of Master Hopeful. They are most excellent things and well suited, for our dirty location.

With again repeated wishes for health & wealth to you both in which my little half most cordially joins I, must again say

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