Monday, June 30, 2014

The McRae Letters continued..


This is the second letter in the series – Unfortunately we dont have Janes reply to Welsh’s last letter . The next letter we have is a couple of weeks later in November


Auckland 14 November 1887

Dear Jane,
Yours of the 9th to hand, and contents noted.  In reply, will say yes, am pleased that you received the beef in good condition. Sorry bacon proved fraud. Will forward some 'Canterbury' this trip..tested and proven good. Also chest tea of undoubted quality from a Mongolian importers in Quay Street  Will send along ( at some future time) fixings for Christmas. Information of needs in this respect acquired beforehand. Will make enquiries re “Norval” and be guided by your suggestions( as far as may be) re future shipment of goods.  My letters are still being illegally detained at Opua. Am sending along stamps and a preemptor order to the bungling official for their immediate release and dispatch to Auckland.  Failing in this, I will report his conduct at headquarters and see if such culpable neglect is  not punishable by the Department.
Sorry you did not act more advisedly in the matter. Much worry and bother might have been avoided all round and I would be in possession of my own long ago.   I look forward with extreme pleasure to the receipt of Amy's and Nellie's letters and can appreciate the love they send along, especially Amy's. As I know , it is genuine. It has the true metallic ring,, its existence is a reality.. an established fact.. a bygone conclusion,, returnable in time. But I grieve that you see fit to foreshadow your disgrace in the dear girl's future. And I despise the most remote thought of its realisation and cannot entertain it even for a moment. Though I am willing to admit that her moral bias has received a slight shock from evil example and improper tuition ( and this is equally applicable to Nellie). But time will certainly overcome this difficulty. And my pet will come out all right in the end..'top side up'. And don't you forget it. I may  not hazard an opinion, for good or evil, regarding Nellie, as my knowledge is altogether too limited. But from what little I know, I have learned to esteem her highly, and this is as far as I desire to extend.
Your complaint of feeling lonely in the bosom of your 'cheerful family' doth considerably surprise and grieve me. And if I might hazard the remark that my presence would aid in mitigating it, I would be most happy to give you a prolonged trial of it. And notwithstanding my taciturn and uncommunicative disposition, the result might justify experiment.  But unfortunately, I cannot even promise that Christmas will bring us nearer to each other, ,as city pastimes (at this season) are too attractive to be exchanged for the country.  Notwithstanding the coveted companionship of you and your worthy family, and the unremitting and unmerited kindness that ( I am certain) would be awarded me. But as I am sending along my good brother Hector's address, I am hopeful that you may secure his presence during the holidays. He is better qualified, by nature and art ( than I am) to impart tone and zest to social gatherings, no matter for what purpose assembled.. eating, drinking, dancing, singing..  What you please...  in the house or out of it. Tis all one to him. I am proud of the opinion you entertain concerning him as I know it is merited, and would as who is the young lady( to whom you refer)  as having a like opinion of him? If she is a good looker, amiable, unmarried and not too young, I might endevour to supplant him in her esteem, though not so worthy of her, by a long way. I have been instituting enquries at Hannaford's on the subject of a wife. There are numbers offering.. mostly too young.. and not quite up to my standard in other aspects.
I had a very pleasant time of it Fathers Day, with an excursion party to Governor Grey's Island home 'Kawau'. Started out per steamer 'Belling' at 8 a.m. And returned to town 9 p.m. All well.
Sorry to learn of your  mother's illness.. trust it will be of short duration.. remember me to all.
Yours very sincerely ,
PS “Norval” schooner not reported in. Will ship goods per “Clansman: viz 1 chest 5 ½ pound. Tea 12/6...16lb bacon@ 6 ½ d. 8.8
                                        1.1.2 freight not paid
Hector McRae, Hokaihau, Bay of Islands
( oh this is actually Okaihau)

Unfortunately we dont have the letter from Jane that Welsh refers to in this reply, however this letter does give some great insights into life in 19th Century New Zealand.
You will note that Welsh had sent Jane some bacon but it was clearly not of great quality.  Articles in NZ newspapers in the late 1880s elude to the fact that Canterbury bacon was consistently  of great quality, however bacon from other areas of the country, (especially Auckland) often was of dubious quality.

The “Norval” and the “Clansman” mentioned in this letter,  were two of the coastal steamers whic plied the waters and carried goods and passengers between Auckland and the Northern Regions. Travel by Steamer was the main form of transport between Auckland and the North.

It is of great interest to read that Jane felt  lonely. It is not surprising- Its clearly apparent that her husband is not living with her and she has several children to bring up alone. Her brother James Thompson Middlebrook did move to Opua around this time, he was newly married in 1887, however this marriage too was fraught with difficulties, so perhaps he was not much company for his elder sister either. It seems both Jane and Welsh at this point are toying with the idea of developing a relationship beyond that of brother and sister in law but the city life seems to have a greater pull for Welsh at this time. You will notice that Welsh is instrumental in this letter, in the introduction of Jane to his younger brother Hector, and we know that this introduction had great consequences in Jane’s live, as she went on to marry Hector 3 years later.

Welsh mentions that he has enquired at “Hannahords” re suitable women. Hannafords was a “Matrimonial Agency” in downtown Auckland.  A precursor to todays match making website,s Hannafords claimed to “ not only obtain ”life Partners” for gentlemen in town and country, but those who have suited themselves can have all the preliminaries  taken off their hands by addressing themselves to Hannafords Agency. They can then be married any day or hour that they like, without the least trouble on their part,everything being done for them”

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