Section 5: August-November 1886
August 15th [Sunday]. It is high time that I attended to this much neglected diary. On opening the first page just now I was surprised to find that it is more than a year since I commenced to write it, the retrospect is not encouraging. I am older certainly but I cannot say that I am wiser, happier, richer, stronger, better or any good adjective of comparative or superlative degree. The last month has been very trying mentally & physically to both Frances & myself. Ellen has been so seriously ill that we have had to turn the drawing-room into a bedroom for her, so that a good fire may be kept up both night & day. Frances also has had to sleep in the same room to attend to Ellen at night, it is not so tiring as when she was upstairs. Frances takes the entire care of Ellen besides housework & cooking, seeing visitors & a heap of other things. I also do housework etc., teaching morning & afternoon drawing class, & struggling between times to finish some piece of painting. How we should have got on at all I cannot tell but for the kindness of friends, they have kept us supplied with wine, brandy, porter, eggs, soup, jellies & many other things. We could never have got such good wine as we have had given us nor all this season could we have so many fresh eggs, soup & jellies. Of course Frances could have made them but it needs no explaining that it is much more convenient to have them made for you. Perhaps one of the kindest acts was Mrs A. Moore offering to take Ellen’s music pupils until she was stronger again. But instead of seven only three are learning this quarter, beside three other pupils who have not been able to return this quarter. Had Ellen been ever so rich, she could not have had more attention and genuine kindness, or careful nursing. Mrs Moore said to Frances, ‘I cannot conceive how you do so much & keep everything about Ellen & the room so beautifully clean & dainty looking.’
The number of visitors we have had to enquire for her or to sit with her is astonishing. The Dr said, ‘Oh, when people are very ill, crowds of people come, but when they are getting better & would be glad to see them they drop off.’ However they have not yet begun to drop off. Mrs Suter has been three times, & others came over & over again. Ellen has quite a reception every afternoon, they keep her amused & cheerful & Frances also. Dr Cressey put a placard up over the mantelpiece the other day, that visitors were to discourage Miss Harris from talking. Yesterday old Mrs Dodson asked if the Dr had been that day. ‘No,’ said Ellen, ‘that would be much too expensive a pleasure, too many visits will ruin me.’
‘Never mind my dear,’ said she, ‘you just tell him that when you are well you will return his visits.’
We keep our spirits up with little jests & jokes for, ‘A merry heart goes all the day, a sad one tires at a mile-a’ & we have need to keep up all the day, for what would happen if either of us knocked up I cannot imagine. Last Sunday I was obliged to stay in bed all day, my back was so bad & this evening Frances is quite knocked up.
Mr F. Smith has been in Nelson for about three weeks, it was a great relief to me to see him looking well & recovered from that dreadful snowstorm, he seems just the same. The other day he was standing on a pair of steps to drive in some screws of a shelf for me, so he remarked in a grave tone, ‘I suppose you mount these steps when you put in the highlights of your pictures.’
Sept 5th [Sunday]. Ellen has not yet been out of her room, she appears to me just the same, sometimes worse, today much better. Spring has quite come so we may hope that she will improve, but I fear she will never be strong again.
Spring flowers are abundant & lovely. I have never seen before such large violets, the cold winter must have agreed with the plants. E. gets plenty of flowers brought to her. Last week I took up some plants all in flower & made a little garden in a tin for her: violets, primroses, daffodils, narcissus, daisies. I told her that as she could not come out to see the garden, the garden had come in to see her.
Sept 5th. Ellen still has a great many visitors, this afternoon Miss Worsley, Mr J. Gully, Sen., Mrs Wright, Mrs Greenfield & Mr & Mrs Levien.
A fortnight ago I received a letter from Mrs Stone, there was also a letter from Mr & Mrs Stone for Ellen. Mr Stone sent her a list of oil colours for figures. To me Mrs Stone wrote, ‘At last we fulfil our promise & send you a picture from Mr Stone & a plaque from myself.’ After waiting a week I received the case containing the presents. A most lovely flower and still life study. Since the Melbourne Exhibition I have never seen anything half so lovely, it is handsomely framed also, which was a great relief to me as I did not know how to afford a frame. Mr Gully admires it very much & says at the least it is worth ten guineas. The plaque from Mrs Stone is very handsome. I am delighted with my presents, it seems so odd to me for anyone to send me such lovely & costly things.
Mrs Greenfield had not heard of my presents, so someone drew her attention to the picture. ‘What,’ she said, ‘something Miss Harris has done?’
‘Oh,’ said Mr Gully, ‘only a present from one of Miss Harris’s gentleman friends.’
‘Then it is not your painting,’ said Mrs G.
‘No,’ I replied, ‘I do not pretend to do anything like that.’
‘But you do pretend to,’ said Mr Gully.
‘Oh no,’ I replied, ‘not so good.’
‘Well, but you do,’ he said.
‘Then perhaps it is only a pretence after all,’ at which they all roared.
Talking of presents, on Friday F. had tea at the Gullys’ and played whist in the evening. When she came away Mrs G. gave her a fowl for Ellen. Saturday morning Ellen received 5 pounds from C. D. to spend on wine or anything she required, she was to be sure not to stint herself in anything. In the afternoon Mrs Moore sent some little cakes for her tea. After tea when Frances’ two gentleman pupils for the waltz came, F. S. brought a dozen oranges for Ellen & Mr F. asked Frances to accept five pounds of butter, his sister’s making. The sister is an accomplished butter maker, for the butter is beautiful. If we can only make Miss Fendall do the new waltz as well, it will be a great pleasure for her. While we were teaching the waltz Mrs White brought in a custard pudding for E.
Without being able to waltz it is really not worthwhile going to balls & parties. Mr Fendall & Frank Smith were very wise in coming to us to learn the waltz before the Spinsters’ grand ball (a return for the Bachelors’ Ball). F. S. can now waltz beautifully, it is a pleasure to dance with him. Mr F. is not nearly so good but then he has not been learning half the time. I wish now I could go to the ball, but it would not do for us both to leave.
Monday 6th. I got up earlier this morning & did a little gardening, it is so lovely in the morning, I wish I could always get up early, but it makes me so tired before school is over, & now I have three new pupils I find the teaching almost too wearying.
22nd [Wednesday]. I got up early this morning & gave the dining room a good sweeping. I made an extra neat toilet. I had a strong presentiment that some stranger would call, I saw the name of De Vaux in the list of arrivals & I wondered if it was Des Voeux. However, about eleven a.m. Frances came into School & asked if I would go in for a few minutes as Mrs Birch Brown had called to see me. I had no idea she was in Nelson, I was very pleased, she & Mr Brown are here for a few days. She said I looked so well & so young (for my age of course), she did not remember Frances & said, ‘I did not know you had an older sister. I thought it was you at first & only that you had altered. I suppose she is years older.’
‘No,’ I replied, ‘she is years younger.’ I cannot make it out why Frances, who has not the worry that I have, should look older, but people so often ask if Frances is not the eldest that I am quite used to it.
Just after Mrs Brown came, Mrs Gully came, she brought two bottles of good port wine for Ellen. Her son Hugh came from Wellington yesterday, he has had rheumatic fever very badly & has come for change. He brought over a case of port wine & he told his mother that she might take two bottles for Ellen. About 12 o’clock Major Atkinson called to see us. In the afternoon Frances went to see Mrs Atkinson.
23rd. Dr Cressey called to see Ellen. He is anxious she should go out a little now, & also that she should go away for a little change, & strange to say a few hours after his visit Mrs Gillam came to see Ellen & also to ask her to stay with them as soon as she was well enough. She had intended to ask her before she got so ill but left it too late.
24th. Ellen wrote to ask Dr Cressey’s permission to go, so he came in soon after, saying, ‘I’m no scribe so I come to prescribe.’ He did not know Mrs Gillam but had met Mr Gillam at the Club, but after satisfying himself that it would be a nice house to go to he gave his consent, so if fine she will go on Wednesday.
26th, Sunday. Ellen walked as far as the Scotch Church. Sunday evening the last service was held at Christ Church. Frances & I went, the church was crowded. After the service, some hymns were sung by the Choir & those who cared to stay. We stayed & a great many others. Mr Smith, who had tea with us & came in after Church, told Ellen that all the wicked people went out of Church & the good ones stayed & as he did not think himself good enough to stay he went out also. But we came out after him & took him back, for which he was very glad.
In the afternoon I intended going to see Mrs Gillam, but went out with Miss Worsley to the Botanical Reserve to hear the Band play. There were a great number of people there. We went a little way up the hill, the scene was lovely, trees with their fresh green & orchards in bloom. Mr Worsley & Mr Smith came. I went to the top of the Zig Zag with Mr Worsley, I felt such a longing for fresh pure air.
27th. Did too much yesterday, hardly slept all night my head ached so. This morning I went up to the church at 9 a.m. to get a hassock. The workmen had already done a great deal towards dismantling the place.
Tomorrow break up school for a week’s holiday & glad enough of the rest I shall be. The next quarter will be equally trying for Ellen will not be able to teach in the school again. If she can teach music it will be all she can do. If I can get through this next quarter without breaking down. Next year so many of the boys will be going to the Bishop’s School, very few will be left & that will not suit my pocket. I do not know what we shall do, & yet a vague hope that somehow next year will be more fortunate has buoyed us up this trying season. I am down in the dumps. I thought Mr S. would bring us tickets for the concert this evening & now it is too late.
I forgot to mention before that the Spinsters’ Ball was a great success. Mr S. & Mr F. both enjoyed it immensely thanks to having learnt to waltz. Frances enjoyed it also, she had seventeen dances.
I have to get up early tomorrow to make out the School accounts. I cannot do it now, my head aches so much. The holidays will be spent mostly in turning out the house to give it a good cleaning. I would like to have had the week for painting & visiting but fate seems against me.
I do not know why I have never written anything about the Colonial & Indian Exhibition. My things are admired & noticed very much evidently, but I seem to derive no benefit from it, so it has a dash of disappointment in it.
17th October [Sunday]. Nearly three weeks since I wrote the last, not that I had nothing to write, far from it, but I have been much too busy; housework, painting & school in never ending routine.
We gave ourselves one holiday, I got up a picnic to get some clematis, our party consisted of Mrs S. B. White, Miss Branfill, Clara Wright, Myra Mabin, Frances & self. I almost forgot Lily Burton. The ladies were to go at eleven a.m. & the gentlemen to follow at two p.m. as they could not come before. They were Mr Redgrave, Mr Worsley, Mr F. Smith, Emerson Mabin & Lee Buckeridge. F. Smith came in the morning to say that as he could not come to carry the billy he would send a carriage to take it as far as the foot of the Spur, so he sent one that held us all. It made the day much more enjoyable as we were not so fatigued as at other times.
Ellen is still at Mrs Gillam’s. She does not get better very fast. I have been paying bills this last week; I had enough, all but two pounds (which Frances gave me), for the housekeeping expenses, so they will all be paid this week I hope. There would have been money enough had not three children, owing to illness, been obliged to stay away from school. That is the worst of our school. I never know what we may or may not have at the end of the quarter. However I am most thankful that I have been able to pay all the bills, they would have been much heavier if our friends had not sent so many things for Ellen.
For some month or more I have been most unwillingly & painfully convinced that I have got heart disease. My heart seems always uneasy, the least little thing sets it beating more or less violently, & then I suffer so much from violent flushing, the blood seems to rush to my head & I feel so hot that I want the doors & windows open. Then in a few minutes my head & face are wet with a cold perspiration. This happens several times during the day. I cannot find out the reason nor can I do anything to prevent it.
I do not say a word to anyone about what I feel, because I know I want rest from work & anxieties & that is just what I cannot have. I must try & struggle on until Christmas.
Last week John Wilson, eldest son of Joseph Wilson, Dr Wilson’s grandson, died suddenly in Wellington. He had had rheumatic fever but was getting better. Poor fellow to die so young when he had every prospect of a long & happy life, he was doing so well, & was to have been married at Christmas. I scarcely knew Jack Wilson since he grew up but it made me feel very sad as my thoughts went back to that other Wilson his uncle, poor James. Alas, life has much sorrow.
Wednesday, 17th November. Ellen came home a week ago, she is much better but a long way from being well. On Monday she began again with her music pupils, it will be something if she can go on with them, but she will not be able to teach in the school again. I have had a tiring day. School in the morning & five pupils for painting in the afternoon. Mrs Harris took her first lesson.
Strive with all my might, I cannot get on with my own paintings. I often get up at six o’clock, but there are so many household affairs that must be done. Washing, ironing, sweeping, dusting, gardening & sewing, both mending & making for I never put anything out or have any help in my sewing. It did not matter before but now I have so much teaching I feel it very hard. One good thing I am thankful for: I feel a good deal better than a month ago.
Frances & I have been very gay for us this month. We have been to two At Homes at Mrs Arthur Atkinson’s, both of which we enjoyed very much indeed, met plenty of fashionable people there, lots of beautiful dresses, but felt at our ease on that score as our own dresses were comme il faut.
Went out to Bishopdale one Saturday morning & took a sketch of the fan palm, had dinner there. Saw some most beautiful coral which the Bishop has just brought from Fiji. The Bishop showed me his sketch book, he has a facile pencil. I was longing for a little bit of blossom of the palm to paint when the Bishop offered me a piece. So on Monday morning he sent me a large piece, a piece of which I have painted & made a longer sketch of the rest. I am now waiting for a leaf to finish the picture.
On the 9th of November [Tuesday] we had a very enjoyable picnic. Mr Smith & Mr Worsley sent their cabs for the ladies & baskets, both going & returning to the Glen. Those two seemed to have put their heads together to think of everything they possibly could. One evening they came in to say that we were not to take any milk because they had engaged a dairy to supply us with milk & cream. We had our lunch at the Glen, then most of us climbed up the Bullock’s Spur onto the Tram Line. One young lady had never climbed a hill in her life before. She afterwards said she had never enjoyed a picnic so much.
Lillie Burton, Mr Redgrave, Mr Worsley & I climbed up to the top of the Fringe Hill, it was very steep. Lillie got on famously but I had to rest every three or four minutes. I felt as if I could hardly breathe & my legs ached so I could not move, but after a little rest I was always able to go on again. Long before we reached the top the view was lovely & extensive. There were lots of tiny wild flowers all the way up but near the top was a great deal of moss, with little white violets growing up between the short green moss. On the top the trees, shrubs & ferns were very beautiful. I hope they will never be destroyed by man or any other animal.
Mr Worsley found another way down, a longer but more gentle descent, a lovely pathway through the manuka, grass & shrubs. He was quite laden with all the treasures we had gathered. He said he hardly knew which it would be best to take, what we had picked or the top of the Fringe itself.
Coming down for a short way it was rather steep & the wind was blowing so we could hardly stand. I had had face-ache for nearly ten days & I kept wondering whether it would make it worse. But instead it blew it all away completely & I have not had it since. I was very tired for days after & yet now I am quite ready to go again.
On the 5th [Friday] Frances & I went to Mrs A. Atkinson’s second At Home. On the 13th [Saturday] F. & I went to an At Home at Bishopdale, the afternoon was quite perfect for a garden party which made it most enjoyable as the Bishopdale grounds are getting very beautiful.
15th. Went to see Mrs Hardcastle, to see if she would give me a little more instruction in wood engraving. I am sorry to say she is going away at Christmas. She said, ‘I was thinking of you today as I packed up the engraving tools,’ but when I told her what I came for she at once said she would unpack them. So I went on Tuesday evening & again on Thursday evening when we printed off an initial letter, the first time I have ever seen anything of the kind done.
19th [Friday]. The Bishop brought me two leaves of the fan palm, so now I must do my utmost to make my picture a success.
20th, Saturday. Worked very hard all the morning until eleven a.m., then spent two hours sketching in the fan palm leaves. Had my drawing class from two until four, then went with Frances to Mrs Gillam’s. Mr Smith wanted to photograph us all. He has had a fancy to learn photography lately, he brought us some very pretty views he had taken. He took us three times in groups. I am very curious to see how we look.
By the last mail Dr Cressey had a letter from one of his sisters in which she says she had been to the N.Z. Court of the Exhibition where she had seen some very beautiful screens painted by a Miss Harris of Nelson. The Ex. is now closed, I wonder what will become of my things. Whether any of them will be sold. By the same mail Ellen received a long letter from Mrs Taylor, she is quite well again, also a short letter from Dr Taylor & ditto for me & a paper. The letter as follows:
Dear Miss Harris,
I hope now I have spelt your present name correctly, all are liable to mistake, ‘To err is mortal,’ so please forgive all that is past. I hope you will get the large Catalogue safe by Mrs B., it is for yourself as an Exhibitor, if you have not seen one it will be an interesting amusement for you to look over it. Some of the furniture from N.Z. I see some from our old friend in Hardy Street is very fine but it seems to be marked at a high price & I have not noticed that any of it is sold tho’ we have been there a dozen times. Half the Exhibits are marked as sold & were so early. Those from India are very rich & I am told cheap, for the Indians went in for business & sold at the prices anyone could buy at by orders to India. There is an idea started by the Prince of Wales to make the present Exbn. permanent as a memorial of the 50 years of his Mother’s reign. I have no doubt it will be done, & some day you & yours may see some of the products tho’ of course the most recherché will be removed. The Exbn. has been a great success, no previous one has had so many visitors. Now dear Miss Harris I must conclude by wishing you a Merry Christmas as well as a happy finish to the year for you all.
Ever yours truly,
I think it is so kind of him to write to us so often when he has so many others to write to. My present name indeed, does he think I am ever likely to change it at my age. I trow not. ‘What never.’
Ellen received a letter from Mary Paddon, she is at last going to be married to a Professor of Music named Shube whom she has known a long time. She says he has marvellous talent both as performer & composer & as times go makes a pretty fair income. She says, ‘I have only been once to the Exbn.,’ & that, ‘After receiving your letter I saw all Emily’s things & think all the paintings beautiful.’
One day this week Dr Boor came at Dr Cressey’s request to examine Ellen & have a consultation about her state of health. After the consultation Dr Boor said to her, ‘I have a very good account to give you. You have had very grave threatenings but they have passed off & there is no disease left. You will have to be very careful & in January leave Nelson for a change.’ He also said she had some good points, getting fat was a very good sign indeed. If she had not got fat it would have been very bad for her. It would be impossible to say what a relief it is to know for certain that her lungs are not actually diseased, that the danger has passed off.
Ellen has been so seriously ill that we have had to turn the drawing-room into a bedroom for her
Ellen is tubercular and the cold winter conditions have worsened her symptoms. Two doctors attend her July-November, Dr Cressey and Dr Boor. They prescribe bed rest, an invalid diet and later some limited exercise. The community rallies to supply the Harrises with delicacies and medicinal wine and brandy for Ellen. Frances nurses her and continues teaching adult dancing pupils. Neighbour Mrs Sarah Moore teaches Ellen’s music pupils while she is ill. Emily, besides doing her share of the housework, teaches school in the morning and has drawing pupils in the afternoon. Her struggle to keep the school afloat is a persistent theme in this section of the diary.
Dr Cressey put a placard up over the mantelpiece
George Henry Cressey (1854-1922) was an English surgeon who had premises in Collingwood Street, Nelson, and was the Cressey of Hudson & Cressey surgeons in Nile-Street in the 1880s and 1890s. He applied for New Zealand medical registration early in 1886:
I, George Henry Cressey, late of London, England, now residing in Nelson, the Provincial District of Nelson, hereby give notice that I have deposited with the Registrar of the Nelson District the necessary proofs of my having obtained the degrees of Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Member of the Royal college of Surgeons of England’ and intend to apply to be registered under the New Zealand Medical Act one month from the date hereof. George Henry Cressey, Nelson, 12 February, 1886. (NZ Gazette 18 Feb 1886)
CRESSEY has taken Rooms at Mrs Vickerman’s, Collingwood street, where he may be consulted every evening between 6 and 8 o’clock, and at the Surgery of Messrs. HUDSON & CRESSEY, Nile street every morning, from 9 to 11 o’clock. (Nelson Evening Mail 15 Feb 1886: 2)
Yesterday old Mrs Dodson asked if the Dr had been that day
Ann Dodson, née Dainty (1815-1899) was the wife of Joseph Reid Dodson (c.1812-1890), a local brewer and the first mayor of Nelson. The Dodsons arrived in Nelson in 1854 and JR Dodson bought into Hooper and Company, his first brewing business. (The Prow)
‘a merry heart goes all the day, a sad one tires at a mile’
William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, sc. iii: ‘A merry heart goes all the day, your sad tires in a mile-a.’
Mr F. Smith has been in Nelson for about three weeks
Emily refers to the survey party headed by Frank Stephenson Smith that lost two members in the back country during a snowstorm in June. See section 4.
To me Mrs Stone wrote, ‘At last we fulfil our promise & send you a picture […]’
John W Stone and his wife Louise were resident in New South Wales in the 1880s and 1890s. They also lived for a time in Nelson. Both were working artists and exhibited with the Art Society of New South Wales and the Academy of Arts (Australia). Reviews often noted the quality of their still lifes and flower studies. One such notice appeared a few months before Emily’s diary entry:
‘Still Life’ (11) by Mr. John W. Stone is one of the most attractive pictures in this section, by reason of its perfect drawing and rich coloring. The most prominent object is a splendid blue satin curtain, with wonderful broken lights in its sheen; but there are also a tall china jar, a glass vase, a copper dish, a gorgeous silk scarf, a gold cup, some camellias and some grapes, all beautifully painted. (Daily Telegraph [Sydney, NSW] 17 Apr 1886: 5)
Louise Stone’s work also attracted admiration:
Mrs. Stone sends four paintings — ‘Fruit Blossom,’ the lightly-tinted petals, the brown stems, thrown into good relief by the well-drawn sky, and two birds sipping the earliest sweets giving life to the picture. (134) ‘An Orange Branch’ is a capital study of colour, too high to catch the attention of hasty visitors, but well worth inspection. (142) ‘Winter Flowers in Italy,’ an artistic group; and (266) ‘Iris,’ a small but naturally-drawn and finely-coloured painting. This lady displays cultured taste and skill: her contributions are all good. (Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 19 Sept 1891: 638)
The Stones also presented John Gully with a painting. An exhibition review in Nelson the following year noted: ‘Two works by Mr Stone, recently a resident in Nelson, were much admired, being exhibited by Mr John Gully and Miss Harris.’ (Nelson Evening Mail 22 Apr 1887: 2)
Mrs Greenfield had not heard of my presents
Emma Bessie Greenfield, née Knyvett (1832-1911) married Alfred Greenfield (1829-1920) in New Zealand in 1857. Alfred Greenfield had a long and distinguished career in the public service, starting in Nelson in 1864:
He soon became Provincial Secretary and Provincial Treasurer, Immigration Secretary, Sheriff, Commissioner of Crown Lands, Provincial Auditor, Agent for the Crown under The Westland and Nelson Coal Fields Act, 1871, Justice of the Peace, Warden of the Nelson South-West Goldfields, Stipendiary Magistrate; a member of the Board of Education to represent the Provincial Government; Provincial Auditor of Road Board Accounts; member of the Hospital Board of Management; Judge of Assessment Court; Commissioner of Crown Lands for Nelson, Commissioner under Land Claimants’ Ordinance; Stipendiary Magistrate at Clyde, Thames; four times relieving S.M. at Wellington; Warden Westport and Palmerston North; Chairman Wardens’ Conference re Amendments to the Mining Act; Chairman Nelson School Commissioners. While chairman he was largely instrumental in starting the Girls’ College. (Nelson Evening Mail 1 June 1920: 5)
Saturday morning Ellen received 5 [pounds] from C.D.
These initials have not been identified.
If we can only make Miss Fendall do the new waltz
Charles Donald Fendall of Drumduan was a son of Walpole Cheshyre and Lucy Hyacinth Fendall of Canterbury. In 1886 he was unmarried and perhaps had one of his five sisters (the expert butter-maker) living with him. He was married the following year and a son was born to the Fendalls in 1888:
MARRIAGE. Fendall-Bonnington. On 24th August, at All Saints’, Nelson, by the Rev. A. K. Watson, assisted by the Rev. A. C. Wright, Charles Donald, second son of W. C. Fendall, Esq.. of South Canterbury, N.Z., to Georgina Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the late Joseph Bonnington, of Nelson. (Nelson Evening Mail 25 Aug 1887: 2)
BIRTH. Fendall— On 21st August, at Drumduan, Nelson, the wife of C. D. Fendall of a son. (Colonist 22 Aug 1888: 3)
I had a strong presentiment that some stranger would call
Emily refers to her former employer Charles Champagne Des Voeux (1826-1914) who continued to visit New Zealand in the 1860s to take care of his business interests after the family removed from New Plymouth to Hobart with Emily in 1861. Des Voeux encouraged Emily’s poetry writing and seems to have been a fair-minded employer. By 1886 he and his family had been resident in England for 12 years. See ‘Writing Lines’ and ‘Des Voeux Chronology.’
Mrs Birch Brown had called to see me
Elizabeth Birch, née Wilson (1837-1926?) married John Thomas Brown in Motueka in 1882 (Nelson Evening Mail 20 July 1882: 2). She was the sister of James Upfill Wilson (1834-1878), with whom Emily appears to have had a romantic connection in the early 1870s. James Wilson was born in Chichester, Sussex and came with his family to Nelson in 1842. He died 7 Dec 1878 in the Nelson Lunatic Asylum and was buried in Motueka Cemetery. His death certificate notes a coronial jury verdict of general paralysis as cause of death.
Mrs Gully came […] her son Hugh came from Wellington
Hugh Gully (1854-1907) was a Wellington barrister. He was a younger son of John and Jane Gully, born in New Zealand after the family emigrated from England in 1852. The rheumatic fever he is recovering from in 1886 foreshadows his early death from influenza. (Manawatu Standard 25 Nov 1907: 5)
About 12 o’clock Major Atkinson called to see us
Harry Albert Atkinson (1831-1892), farmer, soldier, politician, social reformer and premier, emigrated from England with his brother Arthur, his married sister Emily and other members of the Richmond family in 1853. The Richmonds and Atkinsons farmed in New Plymouth at Hurworth on Carrington RD and became prominent in local and national politics. Harry married Amelia Jane Skinner in 1856 and the couple had four children before Amelia’s early death in 1865. The following year Harry married his cousin Annie Smith and had three more children with her. Harry Atkinson had been promoted major in the Taranaki Militia during the conflicts of the 1860s. He represented New Plymouth in provincial and then national government from the 1850s through 1870s, becoming premier in 1876. He was colonial treasurer in various governments for 10 years between 1875 and 1891, through most of the worst years of the country’s long depression. He was premier three times more after 1877; from 25 September 1883 to 16 August 1884, for a week at the end of August 1884, and from 8 October 1887 until 24 January 1891 (DNZB). In 1886, on his visit to Nelson with Annie, Harry is still Major Atkinson. He was knighted in 1888 and when Emily records meeting the couple again in 1890 they are Sir Harry and Lady Atkinson. See section 12.
Sunday evening the last service was held at [Christ Church]
Nelson’s cathedral church enters on an extension project that will run until its reopening and consecration by Bishop Andrew Suter 16 Feb 1887 (The Prow). See section 4.
but went out with Miss Worsley to the Botanical Reserve
Emily and the Worsleys spend the afternoon at the Reserve and later climb Botanical Hill:
The Botanical Reserve was set aside by the New Zealand Company in 1858 for public use. The area comprises two distinct parts, the playing field on the corner of Milton and Hardy Streets and Botanical Hill with its forested area behind and Branford Park, stretching alongside the Maitai River. The total area is approximately 12 hectares.
The Reserve’s playing field was originally used for a variety of activities including cricket, rugby, public dances, fetes and band performances. The Reserve was the site of the first Rugby match played in New Zealand on the 14th May 1870 between Nelson College and Nelson Rugby Football Club.
The top of Botanical Hill is reached by a moderately easy track, commonly referred to as the “zigzag”, winding up the southwest face. The monument at the top is meant to designate that Botanical Hill is the geographical centre of New Zealand. In the early days of European settlement in New Zealand, independent surveyors made isolated surveys that were not connected up. In the 1870s, it was decided to connect these up by a geodetic survey (one that takes into account the curvature of the earth) and John Spence Browning, the Chief Surveyor for Nelson was the only surveyor with the practical experience to do the job. Because he was located in Nelson he was instructed to begin the job here and to extend the survey south to the West Coast.
Spence Browning used the top of the hill as a central survey point for doing this first geodetic survey of New Zealand, combining the earlier isolated surveys. Later it was connected up to surveys from Canterbury. Using the triangulation method to make the survey, Browning took the easily accessible Zig Zag track to the summit of the Botanical Hill and made this the starting point for the apex of his first set of triangles. The base line for the triangle was laid out in what is now Rutherford Street, between Examiner St and Haven Road. Botanical Hill was from that time on known as the Centre of New Zealand, because these first surveys radiated out from the first survey point in the South Island, located at the top of the Hill. (The Prow)
Next year so many of the boys will be going to the Bishop’s School
An earlier Church of England school for boys and girls operated on the site in Nile St 1844-1854. A second iteration, where Edwin Harris was drawing master for over 20 years, enrolled only boys:
The Anglican church began another Nelson school venture in 1860. Bishop Edmund Hobhouse was providing education for children at his establishment in The Wood. The teacher, TA Bowden, suggested using the former schoolroom to solve overcrowding problems. After repairs, it reopened in September 1860 as the Bishop’s School. A wooden room was added at the front in 1863. The schoolroom was effectively rebuilt in 1881, with a wing across its street frontage. The new building was of timber, although original bricks were used in the porch and west wall. The interior features elegant arched roof beams. Bishop’s School closed in December 1895, but the building had many subsequent uses. (The Prow)
See also Edwin Harris’s representation of the Bishop’s School in 1885, perhaps intended as a study for lithographic reproduction (Cranstone sketchbook 52).
I do not know why I have never written anything about the Colonial & Indian Exhibition
Field-Dodgson notes Emily’s work in the catalogue of New Zealand exhibits in London: ‘Two Painted Screens. Painted Fan. Two Table-tops, painted with flowers. Screen painted with New Zealand Flowers. Mantle Drape worked in Silk.’ (36). She continues:
It is interesting to note that all of Harris’s works, except the mantle drape, were classified in the conventional art categories of ‘oil paintings’ and ‘various paintings and drawings’, as decorated items such as these were not usually accorded an artistic status. Throughout the exhibition, the majority of pictures, drawings and photographs were physically separated from the various colonial courts and placed on display in the Royal Albert Hall. This separation was not popular with visitors, and was widely criticised in the media. The reviewer for the New Zealand Mail noted that it was ‘ … an error of judgement to place them out of the way up here, and hardly fair to the owners and artists who exhibited them’ while the New Zealand Herald concluded that ‘ … many visitors fail to learn that there are many pictures on view at all in a locality so remote from the principal centres of interest.’ Harris’s works were not displayed in the Royal Albert Hall, they remained in the New Zealand Court alongside works by other women artists (37).
The New Zealand Herald correspondent, reviewing fancy work exhibited in the New Zealand court, approved of Emily’s decorative work:
While dealing with a branch of art which requires a delicate training of the eye, and an equally careful manipulation of the hand, special reference may be made to three classes of exhibits which attract a great deal of attention from visitors, especially of the fair sex. The first is a group of cushions, bracket drapes, and a fan by Miss H. Tripp, exemplifying the delicate art of painting on satin. The subjects depicted are festoons of some of the most beautiful indigenous flowers of the colony, enlivened by the brilliant plumage of winged denizens of the New Zealand forests. In the same case there is a mantel drape with scarlet kowhai flowers most artistically designed and worked in silk by Miss Emily C. Harris, of Nelson, and a pair of painted shells by Miss Isa Outhwaite, of Auckland, representing characteristic scenery of the neighbourhood. Much taste and artistic merit is shown in all the three separate exhibits, and they have a distinct New Zealand character about them from the fact that the flora and fauna and scenery of the country have been brought into play in three separate branches of art which the fair daughters of New Zealand would do well to study and develop in their highest grades. The materials for exquisite natural designs for artistic work of this character are abundant in the colony, while the study itself would be of a nature eminently calculated to afford an attractive and useful education for the mind. (NZ Herald 21 July 1886: 5)
For some month or more I have been most unwillingly & painfully convinced
Emily describes classic symptoms of menopause but does not recognise them. A month later she reports some easing of the symptoms.
Last week, John Wilson, eldest son of Joseph Wilson, Dr Wilson’s grandson, died suddenly
Nelson Evening Mail 11 Oct 1886: 2:
Many of our readers will hear with great regret of the death of Mr John Wilson, of the firm Rawson and Wilson, dentists, which took place at Wellington on Saturday morning and was the result of a severe attack of rheumatic fever which he experienced in Blenheim, and was followed by a relapse in Wellington. The deceased gentleman, who was a general favourite, was a rapidly rising member of his profession, in which he promised to take high rank.
He was the eldest son of Mr Joseph Wilson of Motueka, and grandson of the late Dr Wilson, who is well remembered by all the earlier Nelson settlers.
News of the death of John Sinclair Wilson (1861-1886) prompts Emily’s memory of his uncle James Upfill Wilson and probably of his sister Elizabeth Birch Brown’s recent visit to Nelson. This is the first of two references Emily makes to a sorrowful connection with James Wilson whom she met in Motueka in the early 1870s when John (Jack) Wilson was a boy. See section 10 and ‘James Upfill Wilson’ (9 Apr 2020).
Mrs Harris took her first lesson
There is no earlier mention of Mrs Harris, who is unlikely to be related to Emily.
We have been to two At Homes at Mrs Arthur Atkinson’s
Arthur Samuel Atkinson (1833-1902) and Jane Maria Richmond (1824-1914) were married in New Plymouth in 1854 after emigrating from England the previous year. They were part of the Richmond Atkinson enclave at Hurworth before the war of 1860-61 and relocated to Nelson in 1868 with their children Edith, Ruth, Arthur and Mabel. Arthur trained as a lawyer with his brother-in-law William Richmond and went into partnership with Charles Yates Fell in 1871. Maria, an energetic proponent of female education, started a school for her children and their Richmond cousins in her own home in the 1870s. The Atkinsons lived at Fairfield House on Trafalgar St and when Nelson College for Girls opened in 1883, Fairfield became an open house for college staff. In 1921 Ruth Atkinson donated two Edwin Harris watercolours to the recently established Taranaki Museum, one of which depicts the Harris residence on Frankley Rd in New Plymouth (Puke Ariki. A65.916). The other is one of several representations of the view from Marsland Hill 3 August 1860 (Puke Ariki. A65.883).
The Bishop showed me his sketch book, he has a facile pencil
Bishop Andrew Suter’s interest in art led him to establish the Bishopdale Sketching Club in 1889. Local historian June E Neale notes: ‘A collector of works of art, he was an enthusiastic artist and a portfolio bought by the Art Society in 1913 contains some of his sketches and watercolours’ (1). Emily’s oil painting and sketches of the fan palm blossom and leaf from Bishopdale have not been recovered.
Lillie Burton, Mr Redgrave, Mr Worsley & I climbed up to the top of the Fringe Hill
Fringed Hill (793m) overlooks Brook Valley and central Nelson. The hill and its surrounding trails are still a popular destination: ‘Fringed Hill Road is a public forestry road that gives access to the hill summit and the challenging MTB tracks Black Diamond Ridge, FDH and Te Ara Koa. The 5.5 km climb to the summit is grueling, but well worth it for the views and downhill fun on offer.’ (Nelson Trails)
Went to see Mrs Hardcastle, to see if she would give me a little more instruction in wood engraving
Charlotte Hardcastle was widowed in January 1886 when her husband Edward, aged 49, died in their home at Nile St East after a period of illness which had forced him to leave his position as resident magistrate and Wellington district judge in 1884. See section 1. Edward Hardcastle’s death certificate notes cause of death as Tabes Dorsalis (a degenerative disease of the nerves in the spinal column, the result of untreated syphilis). The Hardcastle’s children, Edward Edgington and Kathleen, were 16 and 14. Emily believes that Mrs Hardcastle intends leaving Nelson at the end of the year, but area directories for 1887-1888 retain her name. Photographs of a Mrs Hardcastle and a Master Hardcastle in the Tyree Studio Collection at Nelson Provincial Museum (20952, 20953, 20679) are likely to be portraits of Charlotte and her son.
Mr Smith wanted to photograph us all
Frank Stephenson Smith became a member of the Nelson Camera Club and contributed to its first exhibition in February 1890. See section 11.
I hope you will get the large Catalogue safe by Mrs B.
Mrs B has not been identified.
Ellen received a letter from Mary Paddon
Mary Mountjoy Paddon (1849-1925) was the daughter of Sarah Harris’s sister Ann Mountjoy Paddon (1808-1887. She lived in London with her widowed mother, who was the keeper of family letters from New Zealand from 1866 until her house was cleared for sale circa 1887. Mary Paddon kept some of Sarah Harris’s letters and had them transcribed and sent to New Zealand in 1922. See ‘The Family Songbook’ 6, 10, 11 and Coda. Her engagement to the professor of music did not eventuate in marriage.
One day this week Dr Boor came at Dr Cressey’s request to examine Ellen
Cressey calls in his colleague and partner Dr Leonard Boor, longtime resident medical officer at Nelson Hospital, for a second opinion.. Dr Boor checks the accuracy and nomenclature of Emily’s botanical drawings for the book project of 1888-1890. See section 8.
Section 1: August 1885
Section 2: September-November 1885
Section 3: January-March 1886
Section 4: March-July 1886
Section 5: August-November 1886: You Are Here
Section 6: August-December 1888
Section 7: January 1889
Section 8: February-August 1889
Section 9: September-October 1889
Section 10: November-December 1889
Section 11: January-February 1890
Section 12: August 1890-February 1891