Thomas Macky to James MackyPer Enchantress, San Francisco
March 7th, 1850
My dear James
I wrote to you by the Inchinnan which sailed from here on the 26th February for Auckland direct. This goes by the Enchantress as she sails for Sydney this day.
Nothing of any importance has occurred since I last wrote. We are getting on with discharging. We have all the houses and everything but the lumber and bricks out. Were it not for having so few hands at discharging we would have all out now. However, I am determined he will not get a farthing for lay days. He has never wanted plenty of boats nor been kept back in any way by us.
I am sorry to say we have sold neither houses nor lumber as yet. I got a house put up on a bit of ground in the centre of the city yesterday. The ground belongs to a French house here and I am not charged any rent for it-- if they sell they are to have 10 per cent commission. I have no doubt we will be able to sell at a profit in the short time. I offer the house for $400, the lumber for $100 pm feet which price will leave some profit and I have no doubt I will get it.
I must only sell as I can-- one house at a time. By selling the lumber in small quantities we will get $150 pm for it. We must land and stack it and sell as we can. I dare say we might sell now if we were to sell at a loss, but I think it much better to wait for a short time than to do so, as, when Pearse goes back he will be able to put you in funds.
Everyone says this is the worst time to sell anything here. Money is very scarce and the people are just beginning to go to the mines. The fall is the best time here, plenty of gold coming from the mines and immense numbers of people here. I have sold, since Pearse left, the goods by the Chasely viz currants @ 25c per pound, bloater paste $4 per dozen. Horse shoes and nails (not wanted here at all as they do not shoe their mules in the summer) I sold for $50 for the lot. They all leave a profit as there will be no charges. The duty is not heavy. In sending goods here value everything low, that is easily managed here.
The goods that have been left unsold I try to sell but I never knew such perfectly humbugging fellows as Catton & Miller. I sold a lot to them one day, the mustard, some of the bottled fruits and the pickles. I went to get the goods and showed Miller Pearse's letter of authority to me. He said he did not know Captain Pearse in the matter at all, he must have an order from Catton. I went to Catton. He would not give me an order until I would make myself responsible to him for the commission and other charges upon them. I told him I would not pay commission upon any goods sold by myself. Besides, I heard him tell Captain Pearse in my presence, that there would be no other charges on them except storage. However, after hard fighting I got Miller to make the commission on goods sold by me 5 per cent. I could do nothing as the goods were in their hands.
Catton is getting into difficulties. Captain Dring (Pearse will tell you who he is) came down upon him for $5,000 the other day. He has left his large house and lives in a small one now. He is no man of business at all. He goes about as if he were asleep. I do not think they would sell these goods in 12 months. They never make any effort if anyone comes to enquire for anything. Perhaps they may tell them they have them. I sold the 23 boxes of candles at 30c per pound. The port wine, along with what is in the Pilgrim, is under offer to a person for $10 per dozen. I think he will take it. I can sell it in small quantities-- at any rate I sold a keg of honey for 45c per pound. These things all pay well but you must go round and sell. It does not do to wait until the people come to ask for it. The boots are very dull now but will improve as they are better adapted for summer wear. You can send by the Inchinnan plenty of pickles, loaf sugar, mustard, currants. The company's crushed sugar No 3 will pay well. Pork pays well but it must be good. Onions are now $1 per lb. Potatoes 18c per lb. and what will they be four months after this? They are getting scarce at the Sandwich Islands-- if you get them here in good order they will do well. Butter, if it is good and in small kegs-- it would not do at all in the kind of cask it comes from Sydney in. Everything in small packs is best. Many other little nick nacks that I cannot think of now will pay well here. I would not risk lumber again. I am afraid you cannot compete with the Americans; they get it round for one half the cost and get it much cheaper here. Besides, you can do nothing unless you have a place of your own to land it upon and the expense of landing labour, etc is frightful. I think Pearse should take a lot of coals and load with potatoes and small articles on top.
In a short time there will be ten steamers here for every one there is now. They will pay much better than lumber, depend on it. When we get the cargo all out and give the captain the balance of his charter money I will give you an account of sales and remit all I can. I have got some money to get for Captain Pearse, and I think I will be able to send you a good sum-- altogether we have not been at much expense for living so far, nor will be.
The Maria sailed on Sunday for Sydney. The Chaseley has got orders from home to go along the coast for a cargo and go home. The Mary is going to Vancouver Island for coals if they can get her out. No word of the Pembroke yet nor the Enterprise. If it were not to hear some news I would not care if they were not here for one month yet.
Unless something comes to alter my mind I will stop here until the Inchinnan comes back. It will take some time to get rid of all that is here now and I will do as much as will cover expenses. There is money to be made here at many things. I would only want a small schooner under the American flag to go up the river and take up sundry articles during the summer to the mines to make a nice thing of it. However, I must do something. Coombes wants to get back. The Maukin will go back in about three weeks. She has not got near out yet. Catton sold her lumber for $52 per metre. I have heard the Bostonian has gone to Auckland for potatoes. I will write by the Maukin and I hope to be able to make a good remittance by the Schooner.
Give my love to Anne, Lizzie, Sophia and the boys. I trust you are all well and happy. I have no time to give you more news. May God bless you all and believe me, dear James