Writing Lines 9

Letter fragment (I left. Mr Brewer took charge of my three important baskets), undated 

I left. Mr Brewer took charge of my three important baskets much to my relief and carried them down to the saloon. Mr Brewer came on with D. McKellar.

The first thing we did was to choose our cabins. There were two ladies’ cabins with six berths in each. Mrs Des Voeux, Freddy & myself with two other passengers & the stewardess occupied one cabin. It was a very small room choked up with boxes & carpet bags. You may fancy how awkward it was, in the morning we were obliged to get up one after the other. The first thing we did was to put the children to bed and then we went up on deck for the odour of the cabin was intolerable. I never could make out what it was, oil or paint. When I went down to the cabin again the vessel was fairly on her way. The dreadful noise and motion of the screw soon made me feel very angry disgusted and ill. I went to bed to prevent myself from being sick. In bed it was not much better, the vessel seemed to be an immense churn & I a lump of butter continually thumped about in it while the waves splashed like gallons of buttermilk.

But to get up the next morning was no easy matter. It was an effort to dress myself & then to dress Freddy and help Mrs Des Voeux who although not sick was worse than useless with her lame arm & leg. Freddy & I at last managed to crawl upon deck and then down again to breakfast. It was a very nice salon with paintings & mirrors and couches of crimson velvet. The breakfast was quite a sumptuous repast & most tempting to anyone with an appetite, everything so clean & such nice silver and china, the waiters so attentive and throughout the voyage the fare was equally good. I was told one day that we were fortunate in having Mr Clark on board (the agent or manager of the New Zealand steamers) for that the master, cooks & in fact everyone was on their best behaviour whenever he was there. Mr Clark was very much liked by all the passengers he was so gentlemanly and obliging. But to return to the breakfast. Freddy & myself forced ourselves to eat one egg each of which we soon repented. It was several days before we ceased to think eating a dreadful nuisance. After the first day I was not sick but I could not get over a feeling of faintness during the whole voyage. Miss Tyhurst was a very bad sailor, Mrs Richardson was quite ill, Jane was pretty well. Mrs Des Voeux & Mrs King were very well. You could not have helped smiling could you have seen us, sitting on deck in the most forlorn attitudes feeling unspeakably miserable, unable to [manuscript breaks off]

MS copy of letter to unknown recipient. Undated. Begins and breaks off mid-sentence. Copying date unknown. Puke Ariki. ARC2002-190. Fascicle 1, pp. [27]-[28].

The two pages form the back cover of Fascicle 1, which has lost one or more of its internal signatures. The fragment is likely to be another family letter, sent from Sydney or Hobart Mar-apr 1861.

Taranaki Herald 16 Mar 1861: 2. Shipping Intelligence.
March 12. — I.C.R.M.S.S. Victory, 501 tons, Toogood, from the Southern Settlements.
March 12.— I.C.R.M.S.S. Victory, Toogood, for Sydney. Passengers— C. C. DesVoeux, Esq., Mrs Des Voeux and child, Mrs Richardson, Mrs W. C. King and 2 children, Miss Tyhurst, Miss Harris, Miss Penwarden.

Taranaki Herald 16 Mar 1861: 2. Continuation of Journal of Events. Tuesday, March 12. — The I.C.R.M.S. Victory arrived at 2 p.m. from Nelson and the Southern Settlements. […] The Victory with the homeward mails, and several passengers from this port, left for Sydney at about 9 p.m.

The first thing we did was to choose our cabins.
Neither the passenger list nor Emily’s itemising of cabin occupants mentions Charlotte Des Voeux, aged five. Charlotte does however appear on the Sydney-Hobart passenger list (see below), suggesting that the family picked her up in Sydney.

It was a very nice salon with paintings & mirrors and couches of crimson velvet
ICRMSS Victory joined the Inter Colonial Steam Ship fleet in 1860. She ran aground north of Port Chalmers in July 1861 and was scrapped. See Lyttelton Times 10 July 1861: 4.

Miss Tyhurst was a very bad sailor, Mrs Richardson was quite ill, Jane was pretty well
Miss Jane Penwarden and Miss Tyhurst appear to be assisting Mrs King and Mrs Richardson.

The Des Voeux party left Sydney for Hobart 8 Apr 1861. Charles and Catherine Des Voeux and their children lived in Hobart at 138 Macquarie St and in Holbrook Place, South Hobart, until 1874, when the family moved permanently to England.

The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania) 12 Apr 1861: 2. Shipping, Hobart Town. April 11: arrived the Tasmania of the TSN co, screw steamer, Captain Clinch, from Sydney on the 8th inst., via Twofold Bay on the 9th. Passengers: Cabin, Mr and Mrs and Miss and Master Des Voeux, Miss Harris, Mrs King and infant, Miss A. King, Mrs Richardson and Miss Penwarden.