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The death of George Bell, 1852, and Sarah Bell diary, Hobart Town, 1853

Sarah Bell, née Danby (1803–85), was born in London, England. After migrating to New South Wales, she married George Bell at Bullhill, near Liverpool, New South Wales, in 1834. The couple had three children—Sarah Jane (1836), Walter Stephen (1837) and Anne Danby (1839)—before relocating in Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land, in 1839 in order to operate a school. Anne Danby Bell died in Launceston in January 1840, but the couple had their youngest child, George Renison Bell, at Bothwell later that year. Sarah’s husband, George Bell, died in Hobart Town in 1852. In her 1853 diary Sarah’s discusses her transcription of extracts from her late husband’s coded diaries and her writing of her own life story. At a time when she had no income of her own other than an annual remittance from her family in England, she hoped to sell the combined life stories to make some money.

The death of George Bell 29 November 1852

[Frederick Mackie diary 2 December 1852: ‘Attended this morning the funeral of George Bell. The burial ground is on the outskirts of town, and it having been very wet the day before the road was so muddy that it was with some difficulty that we could get there, as the mud was remarkably adhesive. It is this I suppose, which renders it so unfavourable for the growth of grass. A hearse could not be obtained, a neat light waggon, or break was therefore hired, but the road was so exceedingly bad that it set fast. The coffin was then taken out and laid across Hy Propsting’s open carriage, and although it arrived at the ground after the appointed time, the grave was not ready, and we had to stand about a whole hour before the grave was finished. One of our Friends had to take off his coat and set to work himself, or it would not have been accomplished at all. The soil is a tenacious clay, filled with large stones and boulders which indeed abound in every direction and some of the embryo streets are almost choked up with these boulders, large and small. About 20 or 30 individuals were present, a few of them were strangers, principally Geo Bell’s fellow clerks. It was very much to their credit, and speaks very much of the respect in which GB was held that they have offered gratuitously to do his work for three months that the family may have the benefit of his salary for that time. The burial ground is about ½ an acre of ground, nicely walled in about half a mile from the meeting house. We had a solemnizing time around the grave, and a few words were said. We then retired to the meeting house, and then after the meeting for worship, their monthly meeting was held.’[1]

[From minutes of Hobart Society of Friends meeting 7 April 1853: ‘A Burial note has been brought in for George Bell, a member of this meeting who died on the twenty ninth of the Eleventh month 1852 and was interred in Friends’ Burial ground at Hobart Town on the second of Twelfth month following.’ S1A1, Minutes of monthly meetings held at Hobart and Kelvedon, Van Diemen’s Land, 1833‒57, University of Tasmania Library, Rare & Special Collections,, accessed 11 June 2016]

Sarah Bell 1853 diary

1st of 1st mo/1853

Gracious God my afflictions are known unto thee. Yet in Infinite mercy thou hast thou spared me to behold the beginning of another year. Also in Infinite mercy thou has removed my dear & precious husband from me, & taken to dwell with thee in Paradise. Oh Lord my God! be graciously pleased to prepare me to follow after him & if such is thy Holy will O Lord grant that we may meet together in thy kingdom in Glory for my dear Redeemer’s sake. & Oh be with me & comfort me in my low state & keep me from murmuring & repining, knowing that thou dost all things well, & grant that thy may indeed be a new year unto me.

3rd Rose this morning far from well endeavored to raise my thoughts in thanksgiving & praise unto the God of my life. The two dear friends Robert Lindsay & Frederick Macey [sic] took tea with us, in the afternoon we had a precious opportunity in the evening. R Lindsay delivered a most beautiful address to my dear S Jane & then had something to say by way of encouragement to me, Frederick Macey’s last words were ‘Trust in the Lord & do good, & verily thou shalt be fed’. After that RL concluded with prayer. Dear little Catherine Freeman was present, she wept nearly all the time.

[Frederick Mackie diary 4 January 1853: ‘Last evening took tea with Sarah Bell and her three children. By the death of her husband she is left nearly destitute. She contemplates keeping a school for her maintenance. Her own children have been tenderly brought up and their own hearts appear as well prepared soil, softened with the dews of divine grace in which the seed of the kingdom may spring up.’[2]]

4th Very poorly all day, look upon me O My God & heal my backsliding. I do not know what to do with Walter he is so impetuous that I can scarcely manage him at all. O Lord restrain him & lead him in the right path & be graciously pleased to bless him with meek and quiet spirit which in thy sight is of great price.

4th [sic] Rose very ill this morning from severe headache Lord look upon my affliction & y pain, & heal me for the Redeemer’s sake. Katherine F went home this afternoon to meet the two dear friends R SM FM who were invited to take tea at Thomas Freeman’s.

5. [In margin: ‘Squally’] George & Kate gathering currants. I made pudding stewed currants had a bad headache all day felt a little better towards evening. Kate went home to meet the two dear friends at her Father’s house.

6 [In margin: ‘Fair & mild’] Rose somewhat better this morning for which I desire to be truly thankful. Sent a letter to the monthly meeting of friends expressing my sense of their kindness in the concern manifested for our present & future welfare, showing them at the same time my desire to commit myself & all my sins [?] unreservedly to Him & Him only, who is too wise to err too good to be unkind & who only knows what is best for us.

7. [In margin: ‘Beautiful day’] Rose this morning renewed in body & soul, earnestly desiring to walk worthy [of] my high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Oh that I may be enabled as to walk even as He walked.

George went to OBriens bridge. Walter & George made up their quarrel, which indeed was all about nothing. I earnestly pray that they may be enabled to walk together in love for Jesus Christ’s sake.

8 [In margin: ‘Warm this day. Rain’] Laid awoke as usual, for a long time ere it was really daylight. I find it an excellent opportunity for meditation & prayer. Oh that my mind were more wholly given up to the Lord & that every thought were brought captive to the obedience of Christ, instead of which I am frequently betrayed into angry temper which distresses me sadly.

9. [In margin: ‘This day has been showery’] Meditated prayed & rose as usual the two boys & myself usually breakfast about ½ past 7 then we read & endeavor [?] in silence & stillness to worship God in spirit & in truth. Our dear Sarah Jane is generally awake before the reading which she can hear in her own room. George has been at home all day, Walter went to meeting alone, he said R Lindsay preached for some time. I was glad to find how much he could remember of his discourse. TF wept much. After the meeting was over RL & F [?] shook hands with W & said that it was not likely I should see them again but they would remember me.

10. [In margin: ‘Showery all day’] Rose this morning in rather [sic] spirits than sometimes, dear George is still very poorly & remained in bed to break fast. He rose about ten & went up the hill for Fern accompanied by Catherine it had been agreed that he should … [?]… & go to Dr Crooke at 2 o’clock & bring some oil with him, but when he was about starting he said he felt so much better that he did not think he needed to call on the Dr so wishing to encourage him to hope for the best, I assented to his not calling, but by the time he returned he felt much worse at which I was sorry, he was obliged to go to bed early & I had to put a bottle of hot water to his feet they were so cold. Charlotte Reynolds called & took tea with us, after which I walked a little way with her on her way home.

12 [In margin: ‘Cloudy with a few drops rain’] Had a better night last night. Walter came home complaining much of a pain in the chest & head went to bed early & felt better in the morning. I have this day commenced continuing copying my dear husband’s journal continued from page 45 in the year 32. Whether I shall be able ever to finish what he has begun I know not but feel I must endeavor.

13. Last evening T Freeman came up & took tea with us. He said his principal reason for coming was to tell me that Henry Elliot wanted a boy & perhaps I might think it worth while for George to make trial. I said I was much obliged to him but that a friend had offered to send G to school &, that I thought I ought to accept of such a liberal offer, more especially as George required much more education & instruction in everything, & that he was altogether too young, however I could think of it. & so I did think of it & went down to Dr Officer this morning who feels that George requires to go to school now more than at any period & so it was settled for him to go next week when the school opens. I received a letter from T Walton called on R Nutt & had a talk with him.

20th I fear that it will be impossible for me to keep a regular journal, much as I wish to do so, having numerous duties to perform. My dear SJ still laid by & likely to be so. The two boys out all day, so that I have no assistance, added to which, I have the melancholy task to perform, of perusing all my late dear husband [sic] journals, which is small [sic], & closely written, from the time of our first acquaintance & copying all that shd be copied [sic], leaving out that which might be useless; which indeed he began to do himself, but as not permitted to complete it. I also desire to write the history of my own life, which for some time past, may [?] I may say for years, I think has been required of me, however, God only knows what is best, my I be kept willing & obedient.

This day George is gone to school where I hope he may be able to continue.

30th of first mo [In margin: ‘this day has been windy, & the two previous days cold & wet’], went to meeting to day for the first time since my dear husband’s death, I felt much overcome, H Propsting drove me up to Thomas Freeman’s where I dined to Victoria [?] Parkers whom I found much distressed about her dear departed. Jane, took tea with her left at 6. called on Robert A Mather, rested awhile & proceeded on my way till I came to A Murdoch where I called & rested a little & the home, found all right. Feeling fatigued, I lay down on sofa.

31st. [In margin: ‘This day has been fine’] I cannot help being much distressed at times when thinking about my dear George, & as I am much engaged in going over his journal, copying that which may be useful to those left behind, I am necessarily led amongst the scenes of bye gone days & reflections both painful & pleasing brought much into action still it is my duty to do what I can, Time is short & eternity is at hand. O that I may be more watchful & more vigilant, lest the enemy should gain the advantage over me.

17th of 3rd mo. 53. This day has been one of toil & fatigue JG Francis the agent for Fallenstein is determined we shall leave our present dwelling & young Frederick Piguenit will not quit our old cottage on the Crescent, which would be decidedly the cheapest & best place we could remove to, & altho SJ knee may be quietly progressing, Yet at the same time, she is no better able to walk, than she was 2 years or 4 years ago. What is to be done with us, or where are we to go, I know not, I pray to be rightly directed. Oh heavenly Father look upon my affliction & my sorrow.

14th of 9 mo 53 In looking over this long neglected journal, I find that I commenced copying my late dear hus [sic] journal on the 12th of First mo 53, but finding that I could not go regularly forward, after the tenth of 12 mo 34 I think it should be called making extracts, separating between the precious, & the vile. Thro mercy I was enabled to continue the work, rising early & sometimes working late, until 10th of 12 mo 34 (which was our wedding day) & which I accomplished by the 4th of 3 mo 53 & then I commenced a brief account of my own life, & carried it on ‘till the period above alluded to, & then continued our duplicate history; sometimes in my own words, with references to my dear husband’s journals, & at others, making extracts from his, quoting his words. And now; how shall I express the thankfulness I feel, to find that I have brought the whole to a conclusion on the 13th of 9 mo 53 (my dear Walter’s birth day of 16). Introducing dear GB into his new situation, in the office of Josiah Spode, the then Superintendent of Convicts; & which situation he held until it pleased our heavenly Parent, to remove him from Time, into Eternity.

It is now nearly 10 mos since my dear husband departed this life, & it is wonderful how we have been provided for. If any one had told me that we would be fed & clothed in the manner we have been, I should have thought they were beside themselves. My dear husband’s prayer hath indeed been answered & his expectations fulfilled ‘My Jesus will bless you, my Jesus will provide for us; He hath tempered the wind to the shorn lamb. May He still continue his Fatherly care over us; for the means hitherto employed, will soon come to an end. May it please thee Oh my Father! to replenish our store, & to enable us to want in faith nothing doubting; for thy Fatherly care is the same, yesterday today, & forever. For Thou are of one mind & none can turn thee.

16 [In margin: ‘Showery all day’] My dear SJ’s leg improves very, very slowly the only perceptible improvement since our removal up here, being that she is able to bed the knee a little without pain, but the other leg is so weak, & at times painful, that she cannot support herself on her crutches & move about a little as she might otherwise do, but we are thankful that she can rise once a day & sit for about an hour by the fire without much fatigue. Hitherto I have heard nothing from home, that could throw any light on the future. I know that time present is all we have to do with; still I cannot help feeling anxious sometimes, because all is going out, & nothing coming in; Still I know the Lord! that thou art as able to provide as thou has been, & that the widow & the Fatherless are thy peculiar care. Grant that I may not be of a doubtful mind, but rather that I may remember Thy goodness of old for Jesus Christ’s sake.

17th This day week I wrote to Hugh McColl, having received a paper from Melbourne, which I suspect came from him; called the Banner; which bids fair to be an excellent periodical, & calculated to do much good. In my letter, I informed H McColl, how I had been engaged copying selections from my late dear husband’s journal, & of my views as to whether it might not be published for the benefit of the family, craving his advice; which I hope to receive ere long. My health is becoming every day more uncertain & I feel a poor feeble creature. Heavenly Father! do thou assist me with Thy counsel & advice, & enable me to follow the leadings, & guidings, of Thy Holy Spirit, & then I shall be sure not to go astray. & Oh! grant that I may experience, Thy ways to be ways of pleasantness, & all Thy paths, Peace.

19. Walter saw a garden chair for sale, which we thought might suit SJ to be drawn about in. The lowest price 8 pounds, a coach maker who examined it, said it was cheap, the springs & wheels alone being worth that; so we bought it knowing that it would fetch its value if it should not answer our expectations Dr Crookes met the boys as they were bringing it home, & he said the man had sold it to him for a lady with a bad ankle, for £7 10. He also feared any jarring which might arrive from the motion of the wheels might irritate the knee, & produce mischief, but we had better try it, & then we should be able to judge. This speech of the Dr does not seem to agree with the messages he has sent us by W lately, requiring her to walk when she is unable to stand, & he saying that the limb was free from disease.

26. The whole of the 24th I felt very ill, so much so; that I could not get up all day. In the evening Walter brought me word home, that Doctor Agnew’s dear little girl, aged 3½, died of scarlet fever on the 22nd. I pray that this affliction may be sanctified to the bereaved parents. This morning I sent a short sympathizing note to the afflicted mother.

About a fortnight ago, I sent the 4 first copies of my dear husband’s journal to Louisa Agnew; for her perusal, intending at the time to let her have the whole, & to give me her opinion of them. She proposed showing them to two pious friends of hers, to ascertain their views with respect to publishing them. I have since rather regretted this; as some parts are of too delicate & sacred a nature to come before the public eye. I have had a double motive, to do good, & to receive good, & I fear that I cannot have acted with a single eye to the glory of God. Oh my God! if I have erred, do thou in tender mercy shew me the error of my way, & enable me to retrace my steps; & grant that no evil may come of that which I have done.

Lord increase my faith, for it is the fear of want, that has induced me to think of getting money by them, as well as the belief, that there is much that is calculated to do good to others. Still I know Oh Lord! That thy ways are not as our ways, & nor thy thoughts, as our thoughts. Thou requirest not the use of any instrument to do good, Thou also requirest that we, the creation of a day; should not hide our candle under a bushel, & Thou hast bidden us to do good, & to communicate to others.

29 This day ten mos my dear husband breathed his last. Oh heavenly Father look upon my affliction & my sorrow; & purify me from all sin; strengthen me by thy mighty power in the man & grant that I may love thee more, so that I may at last dwell with thee in Glory & join my dear husband in singing praise unto Thee, & unto the Lamb forever & ever.

4th of tenth mo. On the 30th of last mo I received a return letter of my dear husband’s from the dead letter office which he had sent to Hugh McColl about this time last year, & to day I have received a second paper called the Banner from him at Melbourne. I also heard yesterday for the first time of the death of Rebecca Harbroe’s dear little boy; to whom I have written a sympathizing letter; & pray that it may be blest unto them. I have likewise written A Murdoch requesting her remarks about S Jane.

11th. On the 8 A Murray came to see us, she & I had a long talk. I thought some things she said were uncalled for in one so much younger than myself, & whose path in life has been so smooth to what mine has (altho I am sure she meant it for the best). Still I could not help weeping.

On the 9th which was First day Dr Crooke came up after long promising to do so. He seemed much grieved to see that SJ had made no further progress in walking; I felt distressed on his examining her legs to see how her calves had wasted away & how short & stunted they were, while the upper part of her body had grown so much; he says it all arises from her not using them as he directed, & if she went on in that way she would certainly be a cripple for life. He requested her to let him see how she walked, after she had done so, he assured her that, such kind of walking would never do. He wished to know why she had not exerted herself, & tried to use her legs more? She replied she could not. Why could she not? was the next question, because she felt no power, & sometimes pain, & she was afraid of inuring both her legs. Then it was fear that prevented her he found, & yet there was no cause for it. He seemed vexed, yet kind; & begged her not to think him harsh while he assured her that, the only way for her to receive power was in using them, in spite of all pain, & fears of every kind. He then recommended rubbing, & for her to walk a little 3 times a day, extending her walk each period, & he would see her again in about a week. Walter drew her out in the chair & she said she felt better.

On the 10th she commenced without any hesitation; & I trust she will continue. She has been a heavy burden to me, & trial to us all. Her power to endure, is surprising to every body, but her apathy & want of energy, is not generally known. She is retiring in her disposition, seldom expressing her feelings, so that it is difficult to know what passes within but to judge from the outward one would think that, she never reflected upon the necessity there is for her to be up, & doing; seeming how much our way is hedged up on her account, may the All mighty bless her, with an increase of faith; so that she may act, instead of reason about the consequences, & oh heavenly Father! So Thou be pleased to support me, & make all my way plain befor [sic] me, & grant that patience may have her perfect work.

13th. On the 11th my dear SJ came out as she had the day previous, but felt more pain in the knee (we call the well knee) than she did at first & in the night it became swollen & inflamed. This does not surprise me, but still it grieves me, & shakes my confidence. So that it appears doubtful to my mind as to whether she will recover the use of her limbs. Oh! Lord look upon my afflictions & my sorrow, & enable me more willingly, cheerfully & unreservedly to submit to thy holy will in all things.

On the 12th there was no improvement, & today she is much the same.

14th Dr Agnew has visited SJ to day, & seeing her knee in a swollen state, said it would be imprudent to increase the use of it while in that state, said it would be imprudent to increase the use of it while in that state. May we each be imbued with patience from on High.

17th. This day 3 years ago we left Lansdowne Crescent. The lease of the house we had lived in for 7 years previously was not out yet, we were obliged to leave on account of my dear husband’s inability to ascent the hill from his increased affection of the lungs. Dear sufferer! He is [g]one ‘Where the weary are at rest”. What a short time has passed since then, & yet how many changes have taken place! What may  be the next scene God only knows; yet is He too wise to err, too good to be unkind. Oh! dear God, be graciously pleased to bear & answer prayer; remember me in this my low state, make crooked places straight, & rough places plain before me; bless us dear Lord as a family before thee, & bless us individually & Oh! be graciously pleased to hear & answer the last prayer of my dear dying husband.

20th The whole of the night of the 17th & the next day I was suffering from severe headache. On the morning of the 19th Dr Crooke was up with his men on the hill & looked in upon us, SJ’s leg was not then swollen, as it had been the two days previous. He says she must just continue persevering & not mind it; & possibly it may not continue to trouble her as it has done.

On the 19th I felt so low & depressed both in body & mind, that I felt as if I could no longer endure the momentous [?] life I am now leading; so I was enabled to make a great effort, & set off to visit Rebecca Harbroe, the Piguenits, & our old house on the crescent: going by the creek & over the hill visiting at Poulteney’s by the way. The last few days have been unseasonally warm, which takes a great effect upon people after so much could & wet. I felt tired by the time I reached the creek, & was glad to avail myself of a seat upon a stone, enjoying the scenery round about, while listening to the roar of the waters. After a while I proceeded onwards, & upwards, & by the time I arrived at the top of the hill behind the house where Thomas & Jane Mason used to live, I was glad of another rest upon a large stone. The extensive view of the town harbour & shipping, beside Sandy Bay, & the opposite side of the country, seemed as fresh to me as if I had never seen them before, & had I not been weary, & warm, I should doubtless have felt invigorated; as it was I was pleased. Between 11 & 12 I reached Poulteney’s, & to my surprise found they had just received an addition to their family, a baby boy, which makes their tenth child, 9 of whom are living. After resting awhile & partaking of some refreshment, I proceeded on to Harbroe’s & there also to my no small astonishment, I found a new little stranger, a boy too, what a mercy! it seems as tho’ it were given to make up for the dear on they have lost. Poor Rebecca! she sadly fights against God, in not endeavoring to submit to His Divine will. Who is indeed too wise to err, too good to be unkind. I remained for nearly 3 hours & I hope the time was not unprofitably spent. After taking my leave of R & her dear children, I crossed over the crescent, & went to Piguenit’s. I was kindly received by them; they took me to our old house, & showed me over it, & the garden. What old associations were here recalled to view remembrances of bye gone days, of happiness & sorrow, every thing seemed to vividly portrayed before me that I would fair have lingered but it could not be, so taking one last look at a spot so much endeared to us all, I began to retrace my steps homewards, which I was favoured to reach between 6 & 7, & found all well. Altogether I felt better for my journey (tho weary;) it is nearly 3 years since I last saw the old places but I hope it will not be so long before I visit them again. I feel my back ache today, but yet I do not feel overdone nearly as much, as I have done with walking only into Town.

22nd. I saw Dr Crooke yesterday, & he said he would speak to the lady about taking the chair, as it will be better for SJ to walk outside &, rest on any common chair. Afterwards I went to Dr Agnews & had a long conversation with his dear wife. Then to Phyneas [Phineas] Moss’s, who were all pretty well. From thence to George Walkers & was kindly received by himself & wife I remained to dinner. I was better pleased with them than I have been for a long time, & altogether have reason to be thankful that I had courage to go. Taking farewell of them, I crossed over to Margaret McLaughton’s by whom I was heartily welcomed. As the afternoon turned out very warm, I staid till sun set & enjoyed a long & interesting conversation with her. It was quite dark by the time I reached home, the two boys had been long looking out for me, & were quite glad when I made my appearance. Walter brought me a welcome letter from Hugh McColl of Melbourne. He cannot give me any decide answer to my letter but hopes to be able to do ere long. I think I need not look forward to anything turning out to our advantage in that quarter. God only knows what is best for us, may we be enabled to wait in patience & hope.

27th. On the 24th I dined with Elizabeth Crooke, but the Dr did not come home to dinner. In the afternoon I went & called on Mrs Conolan, she behaved very kindly. Afterwards on T Freeman who informed me, that his wife would be under the necessity of going to Richmond without visiting SJ. I felt sorry, knowing that SJ counted so upon seeing her. I made arrangements to pay her a farewell visit the next day, which I was permitted to do; & had a sweet opportunity with her. Little Catherine returned with me, she was to pass one night with us, perhaps it may be the last we may be permitted to spend together. Yesterday afternoon she took leave of us all, & George escorted her home he staid to tea; & then he took his leave of his dear friend, & ours, Catherines mama [sic]. What changes have taken place lately!

29th. How times flies! It is 11 mos to day since my dear George departed this life, & here we are, near the spot in which he left us, hitherto we have been provided for, I may say almost miraculously. Here I raise my Ebenezer,

For hither by thy help I’m come,

And I hope by Thy good pleasure;

Safely to arrive at home.

The two boys started off early this morning, to the Retreat, 5 miles down Sandy Bay road, with the garden chair to Mrs Fenton’s, one of her daughters about the age of our Sarah Jane, having sprained her ankle, similar to SJ’s knee; the boys were very weary when they reached the end of their journey. They were invited to stop & breakfast, which indeed they much needed. It was 11 oclock when George returned home & Walter was equally late at his office, but B Conolan kindly excused him. I sincerely hope dear SJ will be favored to increase in strength, since it appears absolutely necessary that she should walk, so as to recover the use, of her at present almost powerless muscles.

2nd of 11th mo. Yesterday I went to town I called upon Tryphena Mather, who has a new little son about 11 days old. She is doing very well. I then went to Anne Mather’s & dined there, & had a long talk with her about our present, & future prospects. I long now to hear from my dear friends at home. If I could but hear from Hugh McColl of Melbourne, it would afford me some satisfaction. Oh Lord! I beseech thee direct my steps, make all my way plain before me, suffer me not to stray from thee, by following the advice so frequently offered to me, by those who while they mean well yet look too much to the outward appearance; but Thou Oh my God lookest on the heart. Thous hast been with me in 6 [?] troubles, he pleased not to forsake me in the 7th for Jesus’s sake. On First day the 30th I went to meeting for the first time for the last 4 mos. it always affects me to see my dear husband’s vacant seat. I hope I shall not be kept away so long any more. I felt very tired before I reached the meeting house, was much worse when I arrived at home. I dined with Esther & Robert Mather, & returned home by the creek, being obliged to rest several times by the way.

I have at last filled this book, & shall soon have been 12 mos a widow; the end of the year /53 will soon come to an end [sic]. Lord help me!

“What may be my future lot,

Well I know concerns me not;

This should set my heart at rest;

What the Lord ordains, is best.” yes. [sic]

Sarah Bell diary book 4


4th of 11th month 1853. My dear Sarah Jane is progressing steadily tho slowly, I am encouraged to hope that the Almighty may bless the means used to her final recovery, if consistent with His holy will.

No news from home yet, I feel weary of waiting so long. Hobart Town is sadly neglected, the arrivals from Great Britain are few, & far between, this may account in some measure for the delay. I pray Oh Lord that thou mayst support me, & direct my wandering feet into the right path; I know not what is before me, but all things are known unto thee; be graciously pleased to prepare me for all that Thou hast prepared for me, for Jesus Christ’s sake.

6th First day. Passed a restless night. Found my throat sore towards morning, with a dry husky cough. Oh heavenly Father! Vouchsafe to keep me this day without sin; bless, Oh! bless my dear children with submission to Thy Divine will, & me also; & with conformity to the image of Thy dear Son. Grant Oh Lord! that the words of our mouths, & the meditations of our hearts, may be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord our strength & our Redeemer. Look especially upon poor Sarah Jane, & sanctify Thy afflictive dispensation to her.

9th. Dr Agnew paid us a visit, & vaccinated SJ he was pleased to find her improved, & begs of her to take courage, & hope on. I have one of my severe headaches.

11th My severe headache continued the whole of that day, & part of the next; but abated considerably towards night. I find that I have another attack of Influenza, my throat is sore, accompanied with fever. Poor Sarah Jane is affected in the same way, & each of the boys have had a slight attack. What a mysterious disease is this Influenza! Nothing can be more delightful than the weather is now.

Yesterday I received a very kind letter from Elizabeth Fenton, enclosing a check from her husband Capt Fenton, for the £8 for the garden chair. This day is the election day; & Walter having part of a holiday he & George have gone over to the Retreat, with a reply from me, to E Fenton. May they be happy.

13th. First day. At home as usual with SJ. The two boys have gone to meeting. Neither SJ nor myself have yet got over influenza. Walter & George have just returned after dining with Sarah Crouch. The meeting was tolerably full but silent. May it not have been a silent meeting in spirit. Oh Heavenly Father, look down upon us if it please thee & bless us as a family before thee, grant that we may hear thy in speaking voice in the secret recesses of our hearts, & that we may walk together in love & unity as a family before thou.

18th. On the 14th I went to S Crouches she kindly sending half way for me, & accompanying me home in the Phaeton, driven by poor Marston, who does not appear to me, to be long for this world. The result of my visit will appear by & bye, as nothing can be decided with respect to our future destination until I receive letters either from England or Melbourne. I trust my patience may not be much longer tried if it please God, for hope deferred, maketh the heart sick.

On 3rd day I had another of my severe headaches, & a renewed attack of Influenza. SJ W & G are also poorly. Robina Frazer, & W Murdoch are both ill with scarlet fever. Also two of Victoria Parkers children.

21st. Dear Anne Murray has now taken the fever, thro attending on her brother; how wonderful are the ways of Him who doeth all things well.

The weather is dry & fine, yet Influenza & scarlet fever are prevailing fearfully.

23. Had an interview with GW Walker, respecting where I had better pitch my tent, since I find I cannot do anything in the way of gaining a livelihood where we now dwell. As he wished to set my mind at rest upon that subject, he said that he might venture to inform me, that Friends had taken my case into consideration & that they had something in view to propose to me shortly, respecting teaching their children; if they could agree upon the matter, & then a dwelling would be provided for me. Thou knowest Oh Thou teacher of hearts! that I do earnestly desire to be directed & guided by Thy counsel & wisdom; be pleased to make me willing to accept what may be offered unto me, provided it be but right in thy sight. Oh forgive me for desiring this, or that, Thou knowest I have many fears, in entering again upon a path, in which I have more than once failed thro bodily infirmity. The assistance that my dear SJ may be able to render me, cannot be much. Thou, & Thou, only Oh Lord! knowest what is best for me; mould me according to Thy will, prepare me for whatever thou hast prepared for me; Oh give unto me the hearing ear, & understanding heart, that I may hear Thy small still voice, & when I hear obey. I know that I am wholly unworthy, the least of Thy mercies; but I cannot tell which way to go. May I but hear a voice behind me saying This is the way, walk ye in it.

25th. I should have noted down that on the 18th I received an affectionate letter from my dear brother Charles, in reply to the one I wrote to him announcing the death of my beloved husband. But not a word does he mentioned respecting Sarah Propsting, altho the vessel she sailed in, arrived in London more than two mos previous to his writing. I am quite at a loss to conjecture the reason. She is expected to return to Hobart by the same ship. My brother says, that “Others have written home”, but I have not received any, excepting the one I have elsewhere noticed from my dear sister Anne. In reference to our own returning, or rather I should say my returning to England with my children, he remarks that he cannot advise me either way, but enquires how far do I think it would be right, to risk the future prospects of my dear boys, by removing them from a land where there are greater facilities for their well being, to one in which, a livelihood is scarcely to be gained & from which thousands are flocking to our shores.

27th. First day the two dear boys are gone to meeting, & are to dine with the Walkers. After which they are to take a letter for me to Elizabeth Fenton’s. It is a delightful walk for them, their temporary residence being situated about 5 miles down Sandy Bay road, called the retreat; on account of poor Miss Fenton’s sad affliction which confines her to her couch the same as my poor dear girl.

28th Yesterday the boys returned from their visit about 9 o’clock, they were very kindly received by E Fenton who returned me a note in reply to the one I sent to her.

This afternoon our friend Jane Bailey paid us her long desired visit. She has not heard anything of her husband for the last two years.

29th It is 12 mos to day since my dear husband departed this life. May the anniversary of this mournful event be blest to my soul. Lord prepare me to follow him; & grant that I may be ready, when thou requirest my soul of me. This morning I was too ill to rise to breakfast having a severe headache accompanied with fever & a strong desire to vomit. Father look upon me & help me for the Redeemer’s sake.

30th. I have this day received the last [?] of money, kindly collected by our friend H Rodd. How little did my dear husband think in his life time, that Henry Rodd, would have proven the friend that he has done, to his bereaved widow & fatherless children! how true is it that our heavenly Parent, hath the hearts of all people at his command, inclining them to fulfil his holy will; when they donot [sic] resist Him.

I earnestly pray that some way open up for us, & that we may never be permitted to want the necessaries of life.

2nd This day 12 mos my dearest husband’s remains, were committed to the silent grave, from which there is no repentance.

Oh death! where is thy sting? Heavenly Parent! grant that I may be ready, when Thou shalt require my soul of me, that I may dwell with Thee in Paradise.

Then fragrant flowers immortal bloom

And joys supreme are given

Beyond the confines of the tomb

Appears the dawn of Heaven.

Oh glorious hour! Oh blest abode!

May I be with, & like my God;

And flesh, & sin, no more control,

The sacred pleasures of my soul.

3rd. This day is the commencement of the Yearly Meeting of Friends. I had hoped to have been present, but I am suffering so much from Influenza, as to render me quite unfit for the least exertion, either, mentally or bodily.

Heavenly Father look upon me, & help me for the dear Redeemer’s sake; & prepare e for whatever may be in the womb of Thy providence; so that I may not bring disgrace upon Thee.

The two dear expected Friends Robert Lindsey & Frederick Mackie have not arrived; which is a cause of sorrow to some, & I am among the number.

Be graciously pleased if consistent with Thy holy will Oh Lord, to bring them safely into Port.

5th. First day. The two dear Friends arrived safely yesterday morning, after having been exposed to much boisterous weather. Poor Robert Lindsey is so unwell that he has been obliged to keep his bed since, Frederick Mackie has stood it out better. Most earnestly do I hope that our dear RL, may not be sick unto death; but God only knows what is best for us. The two boys went to meeting, I had hoped to have gone myself this afternoon but the day has been so intensely hot, that I dared not venture. Gracious Father! my weaknesses are known unto thee, Oh grant that my soul may not suffer loss, for Jesus’ sake Amen.

9th. Second & Third days were stormy, 4th day was fine & warm & I was induced to try & go to the yearly meeting which had been put off on account of R Lindsay’s indisposition. It was an affecting time to me & I think I may add profitable also. After the meeting was over, I went by invitation & dined with Anne & Henry Propsting, stayed with her during the afternoon, & after tea walked home with Walter. I felt very tired, & for sometime could not sleep, but towards morning I slept & felt much refreshed. There being another meeting on fifth day, I was enabled to attend it also, to my soul’s benefit. I called on my dear friend Widow Parker & learned to my surprise that her youngest child Emma was no more. She had been removed just when they thot her recovering from the scarlet fever, by dropsy, it appears that she was quite aware that the end was near, & frequently said that she was not afraid to die; saying that Jesus had invited little children to come unto Him, & she felt assured that he would receive her. The last 4 hours she did nothing but scream, she said she was not in pain, but she could not help it & then sweetly departed, aged 11 yrs.

This morning I went early to GW Walker’s & breakfasted there. Had a long talk with him & the two friends RL & FM about birthright membership &c.

12th. A severe headache came on in the afternoon of the 7th day, so that I was obliged to go to bed by 5 oclock. I couldnot [sic] sleep thro’ the night, & was no better on first day morning; towards the afternoon I felt somewhat relieved & rose about 4 PM. The two boys both went to meeting in the afternoon. I slept better during the night & felt much relieved this morning, rose to breakfast, but was soon glad to lay down on the Sofa; still I have not had a return during the day.

22nd. I have been unable to write any thing in this book until to day.

On the 14th inst I felt not recovered from my headache, when at early dawn, I was roused by my neighbour entreating me to come in to a poor woman, who had given birth to an infant, & neither Dr nor nurse were within reach. I said I never undertook such a case in my life, but I would certainly be with her as quickly as possible, thro mercy I was enabled to do all that was required, & the Mother & the baby have done well; for which I desire to praise God seeing that their lives in a manner of speaking were entrusted to my charge. I have attended to them, both every day since. After the bustle of the morning was over, my head became very bad, in the afternoon the two dear Friends RL & FM came up to tea, I was grieved that I could not attend to them as I wished to do. We had a precious quiet opportunity in the evening, & RL spoke very encouragingly to us.

Continuing very poorly & having so much to do with the mother, & the baby, I scarcely know how the time has passed. On First day afternoon, I was favoured to go to meeting, & on 3rd day I had an interview with GWW Anne Mather, Anna Maria Mather, & Robert Andrew Mather, who all seem desirous that I should undertake the instruction of Friends children, & live I the Meeting house, which I am very willing to do; but there are some approving spirits, altho who they are I know not. We have this day had a visit from our kind friend Dr Agnew, who has vaccinated George & myself.

28. On First day the boys went to meeting & dined with the Propstings, it being Christmas day (as it is called [)]. In the afternoon our old neighbour James Livingstone paid us a visit for the first time since our removal. Walter had two days holiday, the 26th & 27th.

No letters nor papers have yet arrived altho many Vessels have come into the harbour.

29th It is 13 mos to day since my dearest George departed this life. How time flies! Oh Lord prepare me to depart & to be with thee which is far better; & yet at the same time bless me with resignation to thy Divine will, so that whether I live or die I may be thine.

Into thy hands Oh Lord, do I desire to commit my spirit, save me for thy mercies sake.

31st. The last day of the old year. Lord what is man that thou art mindful of him, & the son of man that Thou visitist him.

This day the boys received a letter from their two cousins, the sons of my dear sister Anne, Walter from Stephen William & George from James Bamber.

[1] Frederick Mackie, Traveller under concern: the Quaker journal of Frederick Mackie on his tour of the Australasian colonies 1852–1855 (ed. Mary Nicholls), 1973, p.50.

[2] Frederick Mackie, Traveller under concern, p.64.