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Frank Leward: Memorials

Frank to Bampton

page 178

Frank to Bampton.

Sydney, New South Wales, April 1849.

Dear old Bampton I feel more like myself again and more nearly happy than I have for years. Im writing from one of the most beautiful places in the world I should think. From the Heads to Sydney you are surrounded by jolly looking country. I don't know what the Bay of Naples is like Ive been reading about lately, but I dont believe it can be more beautiful than this. There are bays running up from the river all the way along and they are beginning to build houses among the green tropical looking trees all about and the jolly air and blue sky and fine weather is splendid. There are the most tremendous lot of jelly fish you ever saw in the water. Its a flourishing place and before fifty years are past I expect all these hills and bays will be page 179covered with villas and houses. Now I must tell you how I come to be here. I was sold up at last. After Johnson left as as I think I told you I had to go on by myself. I paid Johnson £1000 besides what he put in and got it from the Bank. The improvements we had made were really worth more than double that. Then a drought came for once in a way it didn't rain up there for ever so long and the grass dried up and then the sheep died and the corn went off and the Maoris were starving and went off with a lot of the cattle that were left and the bank heard of it and got frightened and sent to say I must pay off my mortgage about £4000. So I went and saw the manager who put on a very long face and said his directiors had told him to get the money at once, or do something or other a word I forget but I daresay you know. I hadn't had a good laugh these seven years or more but I really did laugh out loud right in his face. I fancy he thought my losses had turned my head he didn't know the relief I felt when I knew it had actually come and what I had been looking out for for some time was going to happen and I was going to be let off leading the life I had lead the last seven years through no fault of my own. It was like what I fancy a prisoner feels when he is let out of prison. So they took the place and when the drought's over and places go up the beastly bank will make a lot out of it. God bless them I look on them as the best friends I have had for a long time. Johnson when he heard about it came to Wellington. He is doing very well down in the South and offered to help me pay off page 180the mortgage but I said no thank you Ive done with New Zealand in this world. He even wanted to return the thousand which was very good of him for a thousand to him stands for double that to most people hes awfully fond of it. Hes a very good sort of fellow though and will some day be a rich man out here.

The Bank gave me £60 to go on with and after a bit when I had seen my men and boys were all right I joined a ship getting up a crew and cargo for California. I suppose you've heard all about the rush of people there. They say they are starving in the midst of gold. You can get pretty nearly anything you like for corn or potatoes or any mortal thing to eat. I joined as first mate of this old hulk the Sandfly they call her. You know Ive no right to go first mate but you can go as anything you like to California. The Captain is an old fellow and must have been a smart sailor in his day and a gentleman hes been dead drunk the whole way so far and hes drunk now below and Ive had to take charge of the old tub. We've a rum lot of sailors thieves from all parts and we've called in here to get some more.

Our cargo is peculiar, rice from India and rum from Demerara via Hobart Town potatoes from the Huon in Van Diemens Land corn from New Zealand live stock and anything else we can get here.

We put in at Aukland and Bishop Selwyn came on board to say good-bye. What a good man that is. I was a little sorry to leave some of the people I had got to know at Wellington but the Bishop seems to belong to an old lot at home and like a sort of link with a life page 181I might have led. He came to see me off at five in the morning and went a little way with us. Even our crew blaguards as they are gave him three cheers as he went off in the pilot boat its wonderful how the lowest blaguards in the world respect a thorough bred gentleman. While we were going down the bay he went up to the bosun the only respectable sailor weve got who was at the wheel and asked him how the wind was. The simple old ass has a tremendous respect for any sort of parson he was in the navy once but he had never spoken to a Bishop before and got as red as fire and didn't know what to call him, he knew the Chaplain was your reverence but he didn't know what a Bishop was so he gave him the highest title he could and stammered out "Sou sou West my Lord Jesus Christ" to the great astonishment and horror of the good Bishop. I soon forgot saying good-bye when I was once more at sea. By Jove how jolly to feel yourself afloat knocked about by the waves and going right ahead with the breeze. I almost forgot the bothers I had had in New Zealand when the fresh spray and the jolly wind came bang in my face and we scudded on the old tub creaking like anything. I felt something like what we felt when we first left England when I and old Jones ran away. I wish he was here I often wonder where he is now poor old Jones. Say what you like old man this is better than farming or law either, and I bid farewell to New Zealand I hope for ever. It will be a great place in time but not for me. Some latin lines I learnt by heart at Upton came back to me as we stood out from Aukland page 182from Horace arn't they about Teucer and Salamis, Cras ingens iterabimus aequor and auspice Tevcro and all that and founding a new home somewhere else. That reminded me I had tried and failed and I wasn't sorry I had failed. Now old man good-bye we are off again for California in a day or two in the meanwhile I have my time pretty well taken up looking after the old man and the sailors. Ive got the Italian books you sent and mean to go at them if we are becalmed in the tropics. I will write again from San Francisco.

Dont forget my request in my last letter I cant hear anything Yours

F. Leward.