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Letters from Australia from Marian to Lionel and Cecily
The family emigrated to Australia in 1923 and Paul Montford died at the age of 70 in 1938 of Leukemia. The family returned to England soon after this.
In 1930 Adrian was 7, Bobby 13, Nina 17 and Marian was 48 years old.
Mr Dadswell, the 21 year old sculptor, referred to is Lyndon Raymond
Dadswell 1908-1986, a now well respect Australian Sculptor who trained
with Paul from
Undated – estimated 1928
Just read you very nice letter. Many thanks for it is so nice to get letters I have a picture of you at home in my mind but do send photo snaps of you all any time you have one. It keeps one in touch & the children cannot picture Peter & Joan now. Also I have not a decent photo of either you or Lionel. I’d like something even a little one. I do hope you are well its so awful to be feeling down with a family and I expect you find a girl requires as firm a hand as a boy. I do & Nina at 15 is at a difficult age. Bobby is a dream & such a help in the house, just as merry as ever growing fat & big now. She will go to school with Nina at the Girls Grammar School (fees 10 guineas a term & extras). Just is awful & they say all free education here.
There are State Schools rougher than our roughest & after 14 nothing much. Thank goodness we can afford it now and must do so. I fear they are not as great as Joan at the piano but Nina shows neat progress. I have an old Lipps Grand nearly paid off now. Very easy terms over 3 years for £70 altogether & just manage it. Any way we have scraped it out & are very glad it had made a lot of different to us. Many thanks for the Christmas presents – It is kind of you to think of us – Mine was a failure this year. All reopened at P.O. new custom regulations.
Now with much Love to you all Ever yours affectionately
20 Bruce Street Toorak
Undated but with above letter
I enclose a photo of Adrian in the garden as Pan ‘The funny little man with legs of goats & tiny horns’ as he acted in his school play. He proved himself. Paul modelled the horns & cast them in paper & I fixed them on with a wreath of flowers. We had to leave his hair long till the play was over. He’s very light golden brown colour but his eyelashes are black. Do you see his long chin? I think he will sing a bit. Paul took the photos He is just as lively & loving as Stanley was. One day we must come back to England & you will find him able to draw & describe a plan ! And he can use a pocket knife & pretty well every tool at the bench. Bobby is growing well now & Nina too – we are all interested in your house & improvements & you wrote a very nice letter indeed and gave me a good picture of you all.
Paul is very busy on the shrine of remembrance work – a very difficult task to do well & takes all his experience – The committee do not give him very good terms but its sure. We can see our way for a bit & hope to get ‘all clear’ by the end of the year.
I do not think there is much room here for professional men at all. The tendency is to put Australian born ( natives they call them now ) into all the best jobs & the English men are expected to break stones on the road & clear the bush. All the talk about a boy earning 25/- to 35/- & his keep (?) on a farm & saving enough to buy one is simply nonsense. For 2/10/0 a week cannot do more than buy his food & clothes & a farm does not pay without thousands of pounds spent on it for machinery.
The Indian Officers Settlement Scheme has proved a terrible ???liadegag & most officers are ruined altogether. So don’t believe what you read in papers propaganda.
The present is to buy a nice one each before school starts & something each will like to keep. I have not been able to get them out shopping yet.
Many thanks to you from all
Much love to you dear old boy & lots of love to you for the New Year.
20 Bruce Street Toorak Melbourne
( Bobby did her own card – not copied)
My Dear Cecily and Lionel
My best of good wishes to you for Christmas and the New Year. Sad I am, I have no photos of the family to send – it has been a busy time lately – I have been waiting to get them done, but you have our good thoughts to you all. I trust Cecily is quite strong now and will feel the benefit of the operation. I hear news of you from Letty to whom I naturally write frequently now she is the odd man out with Rex too. It has been a trying year for me for health I am having a better spell just now and trying to catch up work.
Paul is very busy and has a studio full of workers of different sorts. The girls are very well & enjoying their first tennis practice. I am letting Nina have lessons at school to create an enthusiasm – Bobbie picks things up more easily. I have a good gramophone – got in an auction sale very cheap but it’s a good model & I have some good records & they are getting know the different composers & like good stuff.
I get a lot of pleasure out of it & do not miss the music at home so much.
Adrian is getting stronger. He is a very energetic boy full of inventions & lots of friends – altogether we have had a better year & are gradually getting known – but you must not think I am settled for I don’t feel so at all. I think Paul does, most of ??? time work does that.
I have often wished I had some one of the family out here but I now what you would have gone through & I am glad you did not come.
People age quickly – girls are old at 24 & quite losing all their looks of youth & there is not the home life so much – though I suppose things have changed at home too.
If I wrote for a week I could not describe the difference – Its English but not the same – more noticeable than living in a foreign country where one expect differences.
There’s lots to like some of it suits but all English feel very keenly the tremendous way from home and I’ve general loneliness. Only when the children grow up in the country do they really settle. Its not the distance from England but from European ideas too.
I have the house in order now and a fairly good help but there’s a lot to arrange – We live in the flat upstairs & only have a drawing room downstairs – Paul is building a studio in the garden for the shine work Mr Dadswell from Sidney is doing 12 panels of the different services of the war. They are rather fine & Paul works on them in collaboration. He is only 21 very clever and a nice boy –
We have a young English Sculptor out now but he is very inexperienced & Paul is very let down by the Society of British Sculptors by their recommending him. Its too much the fashion in England I fear for people to think anything will do for Australia when we want the best out here for the prestige of England. One of the causes of ill feeling to "Pommies" is just this – and those that are good have a hard time. We have an English Studio man who is a carpentor and boat-builder by trade but who does odd jobs & lettering & the molds & is a weird lanky musical youth that fits in anywhere – also a boy to do the garden & errands & teas & cleaning who is a Tasmanian – and there are still a marble carver & an odd sculptor or friend or two & Oliver who has been 2 years here now – knocking around so the studio is full up. Paul has lots of work waiting & we only wish he had had a bit of it when we were in Geelong.
We shall be too hot to enjoy anything at Christmas but ices & our ideas of going to the sea are given up as we could not stand the heat & the hot winds & the sands. The car we have is Templar – an Orphan here as they call it- a very expensive American car Paul bought second hand & very little wear for £90. It takes us beautifully & for the first time I have seen something of the country round Melbourne. Very beautiful hills & plains – Rather ???paulfull grand & silent even so near the town. What it is like further in the bush I can’t tell – very lonesome. The tin roofs of the houses spoil the effects of the farms. No pretty red brick barns only corrugated iron everywhere.
The houses in the town are rather good domestic architecture nearly all bungalows but of cement – brick – tile etc now.
Melbourne with its million inhabitants spreads & spreads owing to the single floor houses & its divided into cities we should call boroughs. Hence the city of Praham is quite a short walk from Melbourne Town Hall & so on.
Lots of things are different – meal hours for instance – General run of people have "Tea" at 6 o’clock a sort of Yorkshire high tea called by the common people "Hot Tea" - Servants with very smart people have "Dinner" at 7 ( work after that) "Afternoon Tea" is at any old time Tea at 11oc is "Morning Tea"
"Early morning Tea" is at 7am & "Evening Tea" is at 10pm. Then they have Tea at Breakfast Lunch or Dinner & Tea altogether 7 times a day!
Then they all "Barrack" That is one Barrack for ones own class at school – for ones own school regiment etc & once they Barrack for you they stick like anything to you – certain people of note Barrack for Paul now – Hudson the Architect. ( Miss Phelps of Sutton is his Uncle)
Sir John Monash, some of the Judges –senators & doctors –so on. It runs through everything & the excitement at the Head of the River Public Schools Boat Race is enormous.
Note: Sir John Monash WW1 Commander of Australian Corps –well respected.
In business only a signed agreement counts - You are a fool to expect a verbal one to hold.
Every School other than the State School is denominational Presbyterian Methodist Catholic & Church of England & very strict in the fact. Terribly expensive Nina & Bobby are £10 each a term fees alone & extras & dinners & book ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? £30.
Then there music gym tennis & dancing so now this year I have given them a lot to make up for the years I’ve had so very little of everything.
It is difficult to realize prices I never do - & can’t reconcile myself to bought clothes. I buy one thing & am so horrified I dash home & make for myself again – though it tires me out. The poor & sick pay doctors 10/6 fee for a visit & medicine extra no reductions but the medical profession are jolly good really & do help fellow professionals a lot. They have us & been very kind generally.
Just now the Talkies are running not with the general accent & one hears girls in shops say good bye in exactly the American Tone – We hate it.
Australian is bad enough.
The roses have been perfectly wonderful this year masses of them but very little scent compared with the ones at home.
I would like to see you all to see how Peter and Joan shape. I guess Peter would have enjoyed mucking about in the studio & bench & workshop here.
Adrian uses his brains in place of strength & makes pulleys & levers do the heavy work for him. He still makes verses - & "sings" away in perfect rhythm & metre – an unconscious gift I cherish & encourage & won’t allow laughed at or exploited. I have a little collection of his "songs" but can’t always write them down as quickly as I hear him formulate them – in bed –at his bench or playing. I must end I think you will prefer this letter to a card so my best love to you both & to the children – I am you loving sister
Jan 15 1930
I was very pleased to get your letter. Thank you for the notes to the children. I let them spend it on something they want. Adrian is undecided between more mechano or more trains but he is very proud of possessing so much. Nina & Bobby are having holidays & have joined the tennis club. They don’t play very well but I hope it will do them a lot of good. They both swim a bit when we can get to the sea. Paul has a "Templar" car of course one of his second hand bargains & it goes very well but it is am "orphan" so we have to be careful of it. It is a great God send to me for I cannot walk much and used never to get out for weeks on end so getting depressed. Now I get little rides into the country which is near to the sea too. I am very glad you are doing well now. I have often been anxious for &thought of you and Cecily. I expect she needs a lot of care after her operation but she ought to feel the benefit later on. Of course I’d like to see Peter & Joan growing up. Nina is something of Peter’s build too – big & tall & getting on better at school. We are giving her another year till she is 17 at the Melbourne Church of England Girls Grammar School. Although Australia house boast Free Education the girls fees are £10 a term & dinners & stationary cost me £100 a year! With out fares dress & living at home. Boarding Schools are very expensive – Only the state schools / very good in some districts poor in most are free but parents have to pay for books & stationary even then. I reckon nearly everything here is half to three quarters as much again, some things double. Doctors fees are 10/6 a visit rich & poor alike! Public Hospitals charge 30/1 a week to £2-£3 a week X-rays extra & medicine extra ! (Private hospitals 7 - 10 - 12 guineas a week).
I am so pleased you did not come out here for your sake – for mine I am sorry I would have liked so much to have had you and Cecily near. What ever difficulties you have faced at home they would have been double here & among strangers always who have no knowledge of your people & past life- war service –??? enuiment etc - who look at you always as a ‘down & out’ to have come here. The saddest part of our life is the English people out here who have come in good faith – to walk the streets looking for jobs – Farming ! – well - If you have £4000 to lose & another £4000 after that to help you out & you have a decent bit of land. Did you hear of the Indian Officers Scheme after the war. It was a ghastly failure many are ruined & have returned – I came out with one Captain Best.
There are some that succeed, once an Englishmen gets a fooling he generally does after many heartbreaks & his wife’s broken health. There is an insurance agent (a mutual) he has got on & would not go back now. At present we are writing a letter on recommendation for an ex-officer RFA to get post of caretaker in a city office may help him. He had a good two months working in the wharves – I only tell you this that you may not encourage any one to come out without a job fixed & for Lord’s sake don’t believe in this "Little Brother" scheme. Its cruelty to children.
Note: This is referring to the Big Brother Movement which was part of the Juvenile Immigration that occurred between Federation and the Second World War.
Just a few weeks ago there were 5 boys around in the YMCA – in Melbourne – drifted in from the country looking for jobs in the City having had a little experience in the country doing the dirty work on an Australian Station – There are no farms as we know them – no one makes a home of a farm – when he has made some money on his station or has improved it he sells it & takes a bigger one ‘walk in walk out’ (its called that) furniture stock – as it stands then when he has bad luck he retires to Geelong perhaps- But he does not stay on the land. Only the very big station people go on holding them from father to son. Some are held by people who do not go near them but put managers in. Its all different to family life at home. At present the Mallee has had a drought for years & the people are mostly holding on because they are tied by the stores who have loaned them money to live on heavily & they must wait for good years to pay back.
Note: The Mallee is a sandy area in NW Victoria about 400 miles from Melbourne – problematic for agriculture
The women and children are brought ( by charities to Melbourne) on a holiday to the sea. The women suffer mostly – lack of water means no baths – not enough water to do proper washing & sand & dust in everything – water brought in trains and carts - & limited allowances – for years. They hang on in hopes for 3 years & retiring on the proceeds – A big gamble –
At present there is a run of strikes – The shipping over – now coal mines.
Labour Government is just in & will hold things up. For Paul who is strongly Labour at home, is not here and won’t vote for them – The labour party is very different here, very ignorant & self seeking – by the bye Voting is compulsory & if you don’t vote & show cause why you could not – you could be fined or imprisoned!
I suppose you think it is rather mean of me to write like his when we have got on – at last - & for how long ? – If an Australian Sculptor could do the work Paul would not get a job – as it is, part of the Shrine work has been give to a born Australian of 21 ! Certainly he is clever but with out Paul’s ‘collaboration’ daily hourly watching advice modelling design and guiding he would make a sorry mess of it.
Note: Lyndon Raymond Dadswell in his life did always recognise the immense contribution that Paul Montford made to his early training.
But the people would not stand for the sculpture being entirely done by an Englishman, as it is there are incessant criticisms against it – not because they don’t like it but because an Englishman cannot possibly understand Australian ideas & ideals etc etc.
Now to something more interesting – I hear from Margaret & Gerard they seem happy in their work - & the children are safer in the mountains now. Of course he is such a fanatical Christian it must help him a lot – Margaret is making a real study of India, but I am very sorry they have the children in any hotter place than this ( we had a day 107 in the shade)
However they are forced to take them home – I wonder if & when we shall go home Paul will never leave while he is so busy but he might be able later to have a time at home & do some work there & then bring it back – I live in hopes.
I have never heard from Ethel since just after I married, I wrote & wrote, but I am very grieved about her – about her divorce too – it seems all wrong, Edward was not that bad always & had lots of good points & after she had 5 children she could have done something for a working basis of family life, even if it became impossible surely she could have written to mother & father. Poor girl I get nightmares wondering about her – a woman of 50 now perhaps in distress – it hardly bears thinking of – The greatest tragedy of the family I call it. I am consoled about Rex - Lettie writes so well of him now & Mother did too. Those 5 months I stopped with the old people were very sad ones. Father especially was in real grief over Rex & Ethel too – but I am glad I did have those months with them.
Adrian is very like your Stanley, I am sure you would see it. He is like lightning, tiresome & loving & winsome – straight & truthful & has his slight figure, light brown hair & brown eyes. He is seven next moth – I can hardly believe it. He is much slighter than most of his boy friends but keeps up in games with them & fights them 3 at a time & boxes & wrestles like a warrior buthe can’t read yet ! But he can invent & contrive & recite & remembers well.
What I letter I am writing & just in the mood & my pen goes on. I think I told you about this old house belonging to Kent Hughees (Dr Eveington’s Partner - Dr James at Sanderstead is Dr.K.Hughes brother in law). It is quite a well known old house – two stories & the Ballroom is Paul’s Studio. We make a gallery of the drawing room – the kitchens are used for casting etc.
Upstairs we live in a private Flat – very nice & we all sleep out on the big balconies. That’s one of the best things here. You can sleep out all the year round.
There is quite a staff of men downstairs but we can be quite private up here. The whole costs £6/10/0 a week ! ( Takes some earning ) & that’s very cheap for here – What with the new studio built in the garden too its quite a collection of studios now & very interesting. All sorts of people come. The ex-Premier Sir William Macpherson is coming tomorrow to see a bust he has had done for the gallery of the public man here.
About Ned Dibdin – he is now one of the 3 judges on the Board for considering soldiers pensions & compensations – it’s a new affair & he goes all over the country trying difficult cases.
Note: Ned is, Edward John Dibdin (1886-1963) see comments for details.
He is much liked & is a Lieut Colonel of the Footscray ( a suburb of Melbourne ) Regiment.
Stuart Heseltine is a Captain – staff – Brigade Major Regular Army. He is a nice old chap I like him very much he has a boy of 19 – 6ft high & another 14 years old & heavy too. He is at the Boys Ch. Eng. Grammar School – a scholarship. Ned’s boy Tom is also there – a nice boy too. Ned has a daughter Muriel – very like Grace Dibdin when young & Stuart’s daughter Margaret is like Lily Heseltine only smaller. The beauty of the family is Tom Dibdin’s (Chief Engineer Port Prince ) daughter Dorothy, an artist & a very beautiful girl. Tom is the eldest Dibdin – clever & eratic but has a high position now.
The Dibdins here are so far I know
the eldest, & his wife Dutchy – very nice plump fair & forty & amiable & a lady & his daughter Dorothy 20 & Marjorie 7 & another daughter Geraldine about 22
You know him - & his wife Milly fat good looking common – good hearted & lazy & very difficult to deal with. His daughter Muriel 19 Pretty, gay practical amiable & a butterfly.
His son Tom – 16 big amiable good looking & dull
you know now made on the of the inspectors of the Aus. Bank of Commerce.
Arthur is very fat quiet & a good chap. Wife lady like, pretty & delicate – no children.
Big fat course amiable mother of 6 – married to Bob Wetherall – horrible fat daughter & good looking son – lives in Brisbane.
One Wetherell girl – a cousin of theirs is very clever & nice & pretty too..
There are others I have not seen yet all in Queensland – Willie Alice Rose Charles and another sister.
Uncle Lowes wife still alive in Rockhampton.
Now my dear I can’t write any more for you will be bored already & I am tired. Still I think you want to know what I think of things out here. I never really settle, no mothers who come out do – only the children grow up here & call it their home & they become Australian.
If I had known that – well, but we think of the people here as English overseas don’t we. I am lucky Paul has made a great fight & a great success. He is doing for Australia the thing she needs- Giving them an uplift of sincere art & you have only to go about & see the dreadful stuff to realize the need for something good & they like it good when they get it.
My dear love to you both & to Peter & Joan
From your loving sister
20 Bruce Street Toorak Melbourne
Nov 18 for Xmas 1930
My Dear Cecily and Lionel
My very best & dear wishes to you both for Christmas and the New Year.
I hope you hear my news from Let. sometimes – we go quietly on here in the same 20 Bruce St. & although I ought to be quite settled I fear I am still a stranger in the land. I suppose if I came home I might realize how Australian we all are but we ought to be grateful our paths are so easy just now in these doubtful times. Things are bad but so bad as perhaps reported in the papers – a big wool clip & wheat will make a lot of difference & and its been a wonderful year for both. But I would not advise it as a good time for anyone to come. But then it never is & somehow people who risk it do get on if they have a trade (craft I mean). ( They call a plumber & gasfitter here a tradesman). I don’t think inflation will come but I had to pay £5.8.9 for a £5 note, so that why I don’t buy things & send over. Also duty is very heavy & a new sales tax makes things more so I am putting by all I can for Adrian’s education but it is difficult. He is going to prep boys school after Xmas. He will be very athletic but not very muscular. He has improved a lot since the photograph which was taken soon after his operation. Bobby is still the dear cheery golden Bobby, & a great comfort to me. Nina is quite an enigma still, but certainly has a lot of talent & going to take up drawing seriously. She is awfully like Paul & the things that the things that annoy him are his own ways of course – I hope she gets more of his energy later.
He is a marvel, Healthy cheery & still does a long days work – 62 now & showing it more, getting very white but has a clear brown colour and no worries beyond getting the work done enough for it.
I may get a small cottage in the country soon but not certain – we really only live in the flat upstairs – the downstairs except for the drawing room for reception purposes we have only the living room bedrooms sleep out & small kitchen upstairs. I have a small room for a studio but its not like a house and garden to myself.
Its like living over a business all the time, never far from the job o& telephone. I am not grumbling , its an ideal arrangement & took a lot of thinking out & arrangement and costs £29 a month! Paul has a big studio and a small one, a casting room & kitchen bay and for men etc a big gallery for showing work (very necessary & impresses clients & committees – also a store room for the shrine and remembrance casts. (take a lot of room) & downstairs big cellar for storage & in the back of the house there is another studio built for Dadswell doing the 12 panels. Altogether a colony of artists –Later when he finishes next year I shall have it for my studio & Nina gets mine.
??? Joudney, the English sculptor we had from the RA Schools is a nice chap, not brilliant but steady and improving & is happy here. Paul is very happy, he has his work, good health, plenty of runs in his car ( Templar, old but swift & well made) & is made President of the Victorian Artists Society now & belongs to the T square club & goes & dines & argues with the architects and painters. The people don’t mind him so much & love his work everywhere & the papers put something in about him every week. I never can forget the old heartache of leaving home If only I had left all happier – seen Rex well , seen mother & Father more contented also perhaps when I am stronger I may get over it all.
note: Rex was in a state of paranoid depression after WW1
Then I’ve counted time here at first for 3 years – too much at my years & yet I do try to be very grateful – we have pulled through all so well. Nina has had 3 years in a grammar school – music gym games medical attention all we can give her – Bobby too - & Adrian now is on the road to being a fine boy mentally & physically so I cannot say its been a failure, can I.
Adrian is like Lionel for quickness & daring & energy ( & too for his sympathetic ways), like Rex for love of books, arguing, scientific interest & like Gus for his live of animals, carpentering & contriving engines and machinery – when he draws a model he’s like Paul & so intense – he has his powers of complete concentration on the job either ??? - he’s fond of figures or anything else but reading. He is most like Joe in looks – same solemn long face. Must end and write to others. Lately I was having a very bad run down attack & and could not think of you all with out getting homesick to do anything. Better now. I hope you all keep well and have a very Happy Christmas
Dear love to you both & to those big children, Peter and Joan, who will forget me soon – How much changed we are all I fear, but how much I’d like to see you all I can’t say. We do look forward to a trip home still
Ever your loving sister
Letter from Lionel A Dibdin to his Sister Marian in
10th June 1925
Father passed peacefully and painlessly on at 8.00 am yesterday after several days of unconsciousness and for a somewhat longer time of only occasional consciousness, when he spoke lovingly of you and Paul and yours.
Mother, Lettie, Rex and I were with him at the end when he did not rouse but just rested.
Mother is well & she & Lettie have & are standing the blow of his temporary loss bravely as she did during his life time, & we are all sure that his accident only hastened his inability to continue his active & useful life, as he has been failing during the past years & has now been spared the disappointment he would have felt later.
You know our faith, as his, & we yours so that whilst we are sorry for ourselves & you we are glad for him
I cannot do more than indicate this on paper but you know how our hearts go out to yours & that only the sure certainty of our souls reunion & communion enables us to "carry on" just as he wished & taught us.
Personally I feel that the conviction of his fuller knowledge of any future life will help me to be more worthy in the coming years of his memory & of the reunion later.
Marg & Gerald are here helping in every way & Cecily also.
There will be a service at All Souls West Dulwich Church on Friday at 11.30 & then Cremation at West Norwood & later the ashes will be taken with those of Gus & be placed in the grave at Carshalton Parish Church where the remains of little Stanley are.
God bless you & keep you.
20 Bruce Street Toorak
Note: Believed to be written in Feb 1933.
Seen is retrospect, this letter is so heart-rending, bearing in mind that within weeks of it being written Lionel and Cecil were to die. They may never have seen it. As in previous letters there is a strong yearning by Marian to return to England and to see Lionel and this is even reflected in the letter, written at the same time, from Adrian to his Uncle Lionel wishing he could see his work – one ten year old potential engineer to another 50 year old engineer.
My Dear Lionel
Good of you as usual to send the children at Christmas. Thank you my dear boy. They were especially pleased as time goes on & they can’t get home. We all want to – but now the shrine work as far as modelling goes there is less profit than expected & exchange makes things worse. For myself I’d sell up everything & risk starting again, better for the girls & Adrian I am sure but Paul has a lot of irons in the fire here & hopes that the work of finishing the shrine – Interior figures well yet to be done & later the Monash Memorial – or a Centenary Figure may come too - so he doesn’t think it wise to move – not much would make him though and he still means to return. There are some groups he is after he might bring home to do. That is my hope. We shall have a light time ahead now – till new work comes in. Meantime Nina is developing a really original vein of humorous drawing - & needs study of realities & hard long figure work as we both did - & Bobbie is working at dancing & elocution – music (voice tune & pitch) – she is very good & works very keen at her lessons & made quite a success in a small show her teacher (English birth ) put on in Melbourne.
Bobbie is most remarkably fair white skin & hair well below her waist of pure gold. She can do fine needle work & is good in the house. So don’t worry about her she will find a mate somewhere – she is full of wit & life I am sure she will do something one day – she is quite small still but very healthy & a fairy on her toes. Adrian is just my boy – he is very dearly writing to you. He is awfully backward in reading & spelling but very advanced in arithmetic & general subjects – most people say he is a born engineer & has a long side path pulled up at present into locks & canals & dykes which are filled with watery the hose & boats navigated – Remembering our youth I have not forgotten it & put up with the mud – because the landing stages & piers were too well made to be washed. He invents any little contraption he wants. Having a strong wire to a tall tree he hangs & slides down by a wooden handle as the Swiss do – on a reel.
That isn’t original but the method of sending up the handle by shooting it up to catch on a twisted wire so that when he climbs up the tree it is ready for use. He is very good with me but rather a trial to Paul. He is rather cheeky out of nervousness I think more than intention.
I am very interested in your estates – any room for a lady estate agent ? I think if all the things fail, I might be that - women seem to do well here at it. – understand what people want in a house. I am glad you are busy –you had a hard enough struggle after the war goodness knows. I have heard from Ethel at last – a long letter – seemed relieved to write but she must have an awfully sorrow to bear with all her children apart from loss to her. Joe wrote cheerfully but Ned Dibdin tells be the & years laws is superseded here – chiefly through his committees appeal & ex-soldiers do get the pensions after that time. We see Arthur Dibdin – he is a but pot in the Banks here, but quite genial & his wife nice – no children – seems an awful pity. Ned has two grown up – Stewart Heseltine & family live near & Dorothy Tom’s daughter is also in Melbourne – she visits Arthur but the others don’t mix at all but all come to see me.
I suppose you have followed the cricket mess up. People go quite crazy about it here & are very bitter but its only and expression of their real attitude to "Englishmen". They don’t like us & now have taken a great chance to show it. The Barracking is supposed to be good natured but there is an intense anti-English attitude – makes me hate the place.
If you have read anything of the treatment here of the Indian Officers Settlement Scheme you will know.. Did you know Wyatt ? At Australia house the biggest liar and cheat working. Hundreds of settlers have lost everything & are penniless – rotten land at enormous prices unfulfilled promises of stock – water – roads – loneliness drought sickness heat. They have had a big Royal Commission about it miles of evidence & it is generally being hushed up & not spoken of I have met some of the sufferers & also came out of the service with a fine a lot of British Officers one could meet.
God help the "little brothers" who come here – or any one for that matter. More are going home by every boat than are coming out In fact no new ones are coming to settle at all.
Very little of Australia is fit for white men less for white women – Where some of the Dibdins are in Queensland its awful & the girls are old hags at 25 compared to the English girls – thin & white & drawn faces thin lipped & ??? . The development of the Northern Territory means deterioration of the white race I am sure.
An English naval Officer told me 60 per cent of the diggers they boast of were English born – That of their "Sidney" crew they are so proud of there wasn’t an Australian on it or in it. There are jolly fine Australians of course but while we think of them as English overseas they consider themselves as a different race altogether – all but those who haven’t. The travelled people are the broader minded. I suppose I must be patient a bit longer 9½ years is long enough I believe the common people settle the best because they haven’t been used to much at home – may just live day to day & give up everything even writing home. The day I give up being homesick I may be more content & better but I will have lost the best part of me – Don’t think of ever coming here to settle – better be poor in England you are richer in everything that matters there – Perhaps I am all wrong but I have had a good time to think otherwise, as we have nearly been burnt out by a bush fire – just escaped our house & also had burglars in we are trying to let the cottage for 3 months while we see how things go.. Of course we have a big mortgage on it & pay interest as rent for it but we have so improved it it is worth a lot more now if we sell it as we may do yet. I would love to have Peter & Joan for a holiday there but I would not like them to stay long enough to become Australian. I hope the girls are English still – They don’t mix well with the young people – Bobbies friend next door is now not quite 15 but goes about to dances with boys & paints her face & is quite grown up. Bobby is not able to be friends with her – nothing in common ! & Beth is good class (!) Melbourne style.
??? I can’t ??? more - Adrian’s letter shall go as it is – he has tried hard & if he wants to rewrite it, it may not get done.
Do send me some photos of you all.
My love to you all ever your affectionate sister
Meant to write one to you and one to Cecily but have failed to get on with it. I hope to write Cecily soon Her letter was greatly appreciated. It keeps me in touch and less outcast – my love to her again.
I have found about 6 sl??? from the girls I hope they will finish soon.