|John James Murphy to Martin Murphy, 20 August 1865
|Argentina - Murphy
|Murphy, John James
|Haysland, Co. Wexford, Ireland
|advice, social commentary, family
|Flor del Uncalito
There is no subject before me that I can enter on to. That causes me more delicacy, or I may say more fear than the one which I am now about to write on. I feel a delicacy in the first place in offering an advice to those from whom I should rather seek one, and secondly a fear to disturbing your peace of mind by those continual suggestions of you coming out to this country, where perhaps it’s only myself alone imagine that happiness awaits you. But perhaps I may be one of that class of people that can see no fault, and imagine that our own career through life has been perfect, and should be an example to all others. However be that as it may, I pride myself with the fancy that I have profited myself by the experience I have had of both countries. And knowing as you do the truth of this statement, and the very great interest I take in all your welfare, may cause you to make your own calculations and admit to your consideration those of one that have your interest much at heart. Dear Brother Martin, its unnecessary to enter into any lengthened particulars with you, being a single man. Has no one to look after but yourself, and can at any time determine and proceed as circumstance suit best. But Brother James is very differently situated, and is now advanced to that stage of life, that causes him to look to the future for both his family and himself. This I am well aware has been his constant study, and his exertions has been unfatigued in promoting the comfort and happiness of his family. But Dear James, I know your desires and intentions are worthy of all our thanks, and merit the respect of every well thinking man. But what can these desires or intentions avail you if you are deprived of the means to execute them. This I cannot say that you are altogether deprived of, but it’s so limited, and must be so with every tenant farmer now a days, it must be painful to the mind of an honest minded man like yourself. Dear James, you have a large, helpless, young, & fine family about you, some of them advancing to that stage of life where care is necessary, and your expenses ardently to keep them respectable must be more extravagant than theretofore: a liberal education, one of the brightest diamonds in a young woman character should not be neglected. This will at least cost you about 20£ per year, for the same amount yearly they are educated here in the Sisters of Mercy’s school, as good as there is in any part of the globe. But mind you how hard it is to get 20£ at home towards in this country, and how much more difficult it is to have it to spare for these very important purposes. In this country the facility for educating children (and the means which is in the hands of every industrious man), are so much different to what it was a few years ago, that myself can scarcely believe it’s reality. The daughters of all the respectable Irish families born [in Argentina] and those who arrive to it young, are educated in the Convent, and I believe after a little time are yet more disposed to receive the veil than our young ladies at home. The degree of their education (I mean your family) or the expenses towards it may be limited according to circumstances, but after that they will arrive in succession to that age when other provisions may be necessary, and ask yourself how are you, or how will you be prepared to meet them. You have had trial enough this last ten of fifteen years of what can be made out of farming in Ireland, and have much disposed the landlords are to give you any chance of improving your present position. No to the contrary they are screwing down the tenants by every means they can. I need not mention the steps they take to do so, as it’s best known to you that feel it, but I may say that there are no year that pass, that do not add some new law or circumstance to those now existing, to cripple the tenant and make his position still more miserable than heretofore. It is a Blessing to many people at home (that can not do better by leaving) that they know no better, and imagine themselves as well off as their neighbours. But those that are differently situated, I consider them extremely blind to their own interest, by not leaving while they have means to do so, and while the country is still in a position to admit of them disposing to dispose of the little interests which the blood-hounds has not as yet deprived them of. I have just at this moment receive Brother Martin’s letter of 6th July, and before I proceed further with my letter I must first acknowledge the satisfaction it gives me to hear of all friends being well at home. I see also by it the prospect of bad crops, and the reduced price of stock this last season, and your remarks about Brother James as to him having fallen far short of his calculations in thinking he would be able [to] manage without this year with the amount realized out of the two places. But these calculations he may make year after year but he will as often be disappointed. I fear this circumstances bear me out in the view I have taken of your positions at home, and in great measure justify me in many remarks that I have made in the previous part of this letter. However these circumstances coming before me at this moment as they have done, will not induce me to say more than I would have done had I not seen them, as I wrote with the conviction that my calculations of tenant farmers at home was not out of the way. These are many causes which induce people to remain at home longer than they should. The fear, or rather shame they so foolishly entertain of being thought by those neighbours of being under the necessity to leave. But may I ask in what form do they profit by this foolish simplicity? In none whatever, but finally becomes caught in their own net. There is another class of people that entertain a prejudice to every thing foreign, and cannot believe anything real but what is within their own sphere of knowing. They cannot believe that happiness can be formed in any place but where themselves really are, though at the same time if they could but see their position as others do, they would fancy themselves the most miserable beings under Heaven. I am liberal enough to admit that happiness can be enjoyed in every position in life. But we must first make ourselves philosophers to do so, and cultivate the mind to that perfection which to individuals like us I fear would be the most difficult task I know of. This being wanting, we must replace it by something else, and the only thing I know, if that may be within our reach for seeking, is a comfortable and independent way of living. I do not mean that a man should seek or desire to raise himself to opulence. No, I only say a man might be happy and independent without having to overwork himself by mental and bod[i]ly labour. But if a man is obliged to have recourse to either of these means to make a living, and even in many cases with the people at home will fall far short of doing so. Now there is one thing I cannot venture to guess at, that is the price farms might bring by selling off now a days. However, one thousand pounds invested in this country will keep a man living comfortable. Even at interest, it will make about 110£ per year by putting it at one per cent, half the interest now paying, and sheep, though low, they, and the wool sold last year, paid double that interest on capital invested in the business.
Dear Friends, This is a long subject for a letter, and perhaps a simple one. However if it interests you no more than even affording you subject for conversation, I do not consider my labour lost. No to the contrary, I well remember how glad we used to be to get any letter from here (be it ever so simple) that would afford us a chance of criticising it’s merits. But I am now nearly done with this subject, and I wish you to consider it fully and deliberately, and report to me your opinions on it. I intend to sell half of the camp but there will enough remain for us all. Cousin James Murphy is likely reached home by now. He left here as if he had run away frightened of something. Scarcely any one know of his going. I never knew it till some days after he left. I was very much surprised at his not letting me know of his going. I believe that his brother Joe don’t even know whether he expects to come out again or not. He was the best man that we ever known in the country. I may thank himself, Nick Pierce, and Frank Doyle for saving my sheep during the drought of 1863, when brother Patt and family was sporting their figure in town, spending not their own money but mine. Brother William has a hard struggle to clear his place. I am assisting him all I can to do so. He has had the good luck of meeting with a very nice woman his wife. Her sister and brother are living with them. The Zíngara has left here better than a month ago. Katy Cormack expects out her sister. You will arrange her passage for her. As to the class of men you send out to me, you need not confine your choice to those brought up on a place of their own, as there are many of the servant boys just as good as they. My remarks on that point was merely from the belief that those brought up in places of their own has generally a little better thought of themselves, and has in general a delicacy (somewhat more than the others) in doing a mean act. There has some word came out here of Philip Lambert (Ballygelane), coming out to this country. Had he done so some three of four years ago, when he had something, it would have been better for him. Dear Brother, As to the course sister Margaret has taken (with regard to her declining to marry Philip Keating), I can give no opinion, as I should wish her to determine for herself, as it is herself the circumstance most interest[ed]. It is a serious business, and one that require serious conversation. We may give an opinion on the matter, but an advice is what the most wise man is not justified in doing. If it’s true as you [say] that she has declined for the present, yet she should remember the opportunity may not be long open to her choice, as Philip is so circumstanced that he is not likely to delay long without a wife. Her will is mine and nothing will give me more pleasure than to see that she pleases herself. In my previous letters I said a good deal about the money invested in the N. B., Liverpool. I believe I may now leave you to act according to the best of your own opinions, in conjunction with my remarks in the letters referred to. One thing I may say, that it is doing very little where it is. Had I it out here it would be otherwise. In case you determine in selling off the shares, I should wish that you and James to keep what you require to put you through the year, and in case any call should come on you for any amount afterwards shall with pleasure send it to you. And in the mean time the money could be making something handsome out here. Or in oth -er words, save me of it. Dear Friends, my time is exhausted. The shearing time is approaching. We are all very busy and in the best of health, thanks to God, and I hope this will find you all enjoying the same Blessing in the prayers of your sincere and affectionate brother, John Murphy. I am thankful to you and your informant for the note enclosed which will be attended too. J. M.
I get no news papers. Direct them to me as follows:
Sr. Dn. Juan Murphy
Flor del Uncalito