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Title: Beale, Joseph Sr to Beale, Margaret, 1852
CollectionThe Earth between them: Joseph Beale's letters home to Ireland from Victoria (1852-1853) [E.Beale]
SenderBeale, Joseph Sr
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationroad worker
Sender Religionunknown
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
DestinationMountmellick, Co. Laois, Ireland
RecipientBeale, Margaret
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2118
Genrearrival, reality shock, the diggings, prospects, account of the Colony, local economy
TranscriptMelbourne 12 mo. 25th 1852.
[Chrismtas Day, 1852.]

My ever dearest Love,
Thro' favour of Divine Providence we landed in health and
safety here on the 16th inst, our voyage from the Cape was not
attended with any thing worth notice, but on our arrival here
we found ourselves amongst a new people—new according to
our ideas in every respect. We have read a deal of Australia,
but no book yer printed gives an idea of this Colony. I believe
every passenger was disappointed—situations were all filled—so
we concluded it better to take our tent 9 miles up the country
and work for the Govt. at 10/- per day, except Jas Kennedy
who gets 8/- paid every 6th day—thus we save £11.0.0 (eleven
Pds) a week allowing D. Kennedy £1.0.0 per week clear of his
food etc. In this Colony one must work, labour is the most
expensive item of expenditure. A number of first class passengers
are glad to mingle amongst us who have become working
men. We acknowledge them, do them an act of kindness,
but here every man is for himself.
We intend to purchase a horse and cart and work on the
roads. We can save (clear of expense) £o.0.0 (six Pds) per
week by a horse. It requires some interest to obtain the permission
but I have made friends in the Govt. Offices at Melbourne
and have the influence of the overseer of our workng
party and that of the adjoining party. They promise me to give me employm't for our dray. The cost here of outfit will
be about £100. We have a store established [at the Spring Gully
road camp] for the supply of 120 workmen, as well as ail passsing
strangers. Sh'd things continue as they are at present, which
is very doubtful, from the immense immigration, we shall be
able (if fav'd with health) to lay by in Bank £600 a year—
more is to be obtained by every industrious man, but he must
earn it. Thou wouldst scarcely know me were thou to meet me
on the road in my working dress—however I find education
commands respect amongst all, and that I am able to do a days
work as well as others with a shovell and pickaxe. We keep
together and when the day's work is over (at 6 o'ck) we have
our tea and take a walk in the woods or amuse ourselves as we
please independently. Many people live by digging gold but I
am satisfied with our present state of certainty—to the uncertainty
of gold-digging. Our tent as I before mentioned is about
9 miles from Melbourne on (he road to the "diggings". Many
people pitch their tents near ours. While at work there, or in the
even'g or early morn'g I have a chat with the diggers (I rise
before six, before any of our party is out of bed) and from all
I hear I believe working people can obtain a better return for
their labour by gold-digging than by any other mode of life,
but the hardships are considerable, and I am of opinion that
"a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" and so long as
we can lay by £11 pr. week as at present, and when we buy
a horse and cart £15, I am satisfied.
Many things offer here by which money is to be made, but
on reflection one thinks, if I make 15/- per diem by this undertaking, I must deduct 10/- for my own time, and 5/- per day
is nothing here. Here is plenty of money for labour, gentlemen
who are above working are tho't nothing about, diey spend to
their last shilling and are of no account, the really working man
is consider'd above all others. Luxuries arc extremely dear here,
amongst them are reckoned things which we never think of
buying viz. eggs 6d each, poultry (small) 12/- pr couple, geese
20/- each, butter 2/- pr lb, cabbages (mere leaves) fid pr head,
onions 1/- pr lb etc etc. Every child is useful in the Colony,
everyone that can pull up a weed cm earn their days keep,
but owing to the foolish laws of the country, one cannot obtain
an acre of land to build a house upon, unless the fee simple is
purchased say near Melbourne at a higher price than in the neighbourhood of London. If market gardeners were encouraged,
vegetables would be obtainable, but no one will reclaim
the forest unless the-y are secured for their labour. On reflection
I and the boys are well pleased at coming here. There is
an opening not obtainable in Ireland, nor in any country in
Europe, in fact it is too good to last long, but while we have
the opp[ortunit]y we will endeavour to make the most of it.
The working classes here are very rough, earn money easily and
spend it foolishly, but I manage them without any trouble. A
long sea voyage breaks one in well for new scenes and strange
occurrences, one is prepared for almost every thing, hard food,
hard bed, rough living in every way, so that a change from
shipboard to even this country style of living is a change for
the better-—In fine to describe this country as it is is impossible
—I would advise no one to come out but a man accustomed to
labour, all others are useless here.
So much for a dry letter, and now let me add a line for thee,
my beloved and most precious Marg't and my dearest children.
Josh and I are most anxious to have you here, but don't come
until we have a comfortable house ready for you. Tell Mary
Brophy [our old family nurse] Jos'h will pay for her passage
and [her daughter] Charlotte's to come with thee, their labour
is worth anything here, 7/- a dozen for washing clothes etc etc.
I shall write soon again and remit thee cash for all thy expenses,
and Oh when we meet, how happy and thankful shall I
be to have thee and all my precious children around me.

"Oh, let them haste to gladden and surprise
And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes."

Farewell my darling life, present my very dear love to my
dearest sister Mary and all her flock, kiss each of my beloved
children for me, and believe me to be thy ever fond, affectionate,
faithful and loving husband
Joseph Beale.

I am to pay D. Kennedy 20/- pr week, from this time for one
year and he is provisioned, the rem'r of his wages goes to us
and all James earns. Please to continue his wife's weekly allowance
and I will remit thee from him £5 in my next letter
and £5 to buy a dress for thyself—we are putting money together
to buy a horse, cart and tackling. I suppose all will cost
about £100 but we are to be paid £9 pr week, by Government
for one horse's work—when writing, direct thy letters to care
of Raleigh, Locke, Thorp & Co. Merch'ts Melbourne. Win.
Locke, the second in the firm, is an old friend of mine. He was
surprized when I accosted him, took me with him to his country
house, where I dined and spent the night. I also met Wm.
Robinson of Dublin at meeting, he and one friend with ourselves
and two strangers formed the silent meeting—no women
were present. Deb[ora]h Thompson does not attend meeting.
I have not seen her. She lives at Colltngwood, 2 miles from
this city. There are several towns around us of a larger size than
Mt Melick. When thou comest out bring as little luggage as
possible with thee. It is a great incumberance and care, greater
than its value here. Jas. Roach, who wrote to me from this
place, is since dead. Please inform his friends. Now for a list
of prices (the articles we use are comparatively cheap). We
sell tea at 2/- pr lb and buy it by the £ chest at 30/- best black
or about 1/5 pr lb, coffee 2/- bo't in quantity at 1/6, beef and
mutton 5d pr lb, by the carcase 3 ½ d or 4d. Flour £20 pr ton,
bread 18d per 4 lb loaf, a bakery here would pay well, or a
grocers shop. In fact money is spent in astonishing quantities.
Houses are very dear here. Our house at Barkmill [Monordreigh]
if placed here in a pretty good situation for business,
would bring £350 or £400 pr ann. [in rent]. We all wish my
dear William were with us, he could earn for us £200 a year
—Anything that requires labour is dear, vegetables enormously
so, for instance potatoes are 6d pr lb, green cabbages 6d each,
green peas something like ½ d each pea!! Cherries 5/- pr lb.
A gardener could do well, but he sh'd reckon his own time at 10/-
pr day. We feel quite independent, working as we are is not
in any degree consider’d degrading here, on the contrary, those
whose good wishes we might desire to cultivate, estimate us
more for doing as we are. We expect to be able to have a comfortable
residence for thee and the children about 8 months
hence but we should not incur any expense in a house until we hear from thee. Perhaps thou wilt come to me next 9th
month, to leave home early in 6th month. If you call at the
Cape of G'd Hope, be sure to ask for a letter for thyself from
me. The Post Office at Cape Town is just by the Botanic Gardens,
walk on thro' a shaded walk of oak trees ab't 100 yards,
and thou wilt see the Governor's house on one side (the left)
and the entrance to the botanic gardens on the right. There
is no charge to strangers.
We find everything diff't here from Ireland (yet we all like
the Colony and people), instead of begging work, workmen
are begged for. A man asked D. Kennedy to work for him, he
said he was engaged, and the man offered a sovereign to Dan
if he would find a workman for him. Thou wouldst be surprised
to see, as is an every day case here a common dressed
man (no better than Tom Carny at home) ask another what
he would drink, throw down 8/- for a bottle of Champaigne
and drink it off, and then treat his neighbour to another bottle.
Copper is seldom used, if thou buys 8d worth and pays 1/- thou
gets a lb sugar or something else for change. Butter we dont
use, it is too dear, 2/- pr lb, neither bacon 2/3, nor milk 1/- a
quart. With ones family to assist, plenty of cash can be made
and we can enjoy life with each other. Remember me to all
enquiring friends. Dont encourage any one to come out for
everything depends on whether one works or not and not to
be above doing whatever is to be done. If Charlotte Brophy
comes with thee and her mother she can do very well here, she
will probably soon get a good match and if so her passage
money will be repaid to us cheerfully.
I think thou had better not tell anyone that we are doing
well, except our own immediate friends. I found no use from
letters of introduction and never delivered one, but a letter
from an influential person to the Gov'r here would be very
useful. A common letter of introduction to him would be worth
nothing, but a particular letter asking him to assist me as an
old friend [member of the Society of Friends] would be of great
service. Once more farewell, my dearest earthly tie, to look
forward for so many months before we meet appears a very
long time and a great privation indeed, but when thou comes
here thou wilt, I am fully persuaded, have plenty, yea, abundance
of every thing without care on thy part—be sure thou
and the children come as first class passengers, Mary and Charlotte as second, and they can be with you during the day and
have the same food as first class. It would be imprudent for
me to go tor thee on the boys' acc't and loss of time, which is
loss of money here, though I sh'd be delighted to do so for my
own gratification and to assist thee on the voyage out. However
thou will enjoy the voyage after a week or so.