Thomas Macky to Catherine Cochrane26 February, 1849
My dearest Kitty
It is with feeling of no ordinary kind that I now sit down to write to you with the recollection of the many happy hours I have spent in your society which it is difficult to believe will ever return, when unknown to many we sat together for hours talking of what? No matter, they were happy hours at least to me, and it is now I feel the reality when I have no kind friend to tell all my joys and cares. But why should I despair, heretofore God has ordered all things well for us, and I know He will yet grant me my petition and bring you in safety to this land.
I arrived here on the 15th January after a long but very pleasant passage, 126 days; of the passage I need not say much. Suffice it to say that it really came up to my expectations. The time passed away rapidly and I am sure there as not an individual on board who would not say the same. We left the English Channel on the 12th September and got along well for 12 days; (but I had better say something of my fellow passengers). In the fore cabin, where I was, there were besides myself nine passengers, three young men, a married couple, a very funny old woman and two young ladies. In the chief cabin, a place adjoining ours, there were ten passengers, made up of two young ladies and one old maid, an old man of 84 years of age and some others. In the poop cabin which is raised off the main deck the same as the cabin of the steamers at home, there were sixteen passengers, five of whom were children. The Rev Mr Panton, (the minister for the Presbyterian church in Auckland) his wife, two children and sister, and three other families, they were all agreeable and nothing but harmony and goodwill among us all. You need not be afraid to trust yourself in a ship. I am fully convinced you will enjoy the passage well.
I mentioned that we had got along well for 12 days after we set out. On the 27th of September when we were off the Cape Verde Isles, it began to blow a regular gale and continued for two days. The sea was magnificent, running mountains high. There were times when the ship was in a kind of valley, the water high above her on each side and it was indeed awfully grand. After that we had fine weather all the way. We crossed the line on Sunday the 22nd of October, I have known it as warm at home as it was there. South of the line we had delightful weather, particularly the nights were very beautiful, the stars more brilliant than ever I saw them and the sky without a cloud. Nothing of any importance occurred during the remainder of the passage except one night off the Cape of Good Hope we lost all our topmasts but we had new one up in two days after, and it was a bit of variety for us.
My set of chessmen was of great use to me to pass away an hour: one of the passengers played very well, we had some long games.
I had very good health all the way, not the least seasick after the first week and then only occasionally. I might not have taken any extra provisions with me, we had an abundant supply from the ship. But pleasant as the passage was, it was a joyful sight to all, the morning we first came in sight of the North Cape of New Zealand. Everyone was up that morning at five o'clock. We were three days from that to Auckland, the sail along the coast was very pleasant. It is a very pretty coast, thickly wooded to the water's edge and we were sometimes within gun-shot of it.
The entrance to Auckland Harbour is beautiful, sailing among a whole host of little islands. There were three large ships and a whole lot of small craft in the harbour and the place has altogether a business look about it.
I got a truly kind and generous welcome from James and Ann. Jimmy could scarcely believe I was come at all for a long time. He is just the same kind-hearted happy person he ever was. I knew him at once, the first sight of him brought him altogether to my mind. Ann is greatly changed for the better. She is an excellent housekeeper, has everything very comfortable without extravagance. We have got a whole houseful of children, the last one is a little boy, which makes three boys and two girls, and a very stirring, noisy lot they are. Lizzy plays pretty well on the piano, her dad bought her a very fine one. No want for anything of the good things of this life. James does an excellent business, altogether wholesale and very extensive. He is respected by all here.
I have been kept as busy as I can be ever since I came. I like the place right well, it is a delightful climate, everyone is healthy and everything that is planted grows with great luxuriance. There is no doubt it will become as fine a country as is in the world. The houses are nearly all built with wood but are very comfortable and there are a great many beautiful cottages and gardens in the suburbs, with plenty of fruit. There are peaches in abundance and grapes and oranges grow in great luxuriance. The country in the immediate neighborhood of Auckland is rather barren looking, nothing growing on it but fern and a little shrub resembling heath, called tea tree. The land has just the appearance of our mountains at home only it is low and flat.
We have very fine potatoes here, James has them growing on his land, I think better than I ever saw at home. This is the country for the Irish, I wish we had some millions of them here and a better governor than our present one as he is too fond of making money for himself and keeps the land at a very high price.
I hardly know what to say about my father and mother coming here, they would have a good many difficulties to encounter before they would get settled in a place and there is nowhere within eight miles of Auckland where we can get land to buy, but I will explain all to them and leave them to judge.
Your cradle quilt is greatly admired here, Ann requests me to give you her best thanks for it and longs to be able to thank you in person.
I attend Mr Panton's house of worship, he preaches in the court house as the new church is not near finished. It will be a very large house, larger than Mr McClure's in Derry. Mr Panton is a very good preacher, and I have every reason to believe, a very good man. He preached every Sunday during our passage out. The greater part of the people here are Presbyterians. I went to the Methodist chapel one evening but I must say I think there is not the same liberality to other denominations as there is at home. They have got a very good chapel and a pretty good attendance.
There is a church erecting here for the natives. They are a fine people, I think, superior in every respect to a good many of the people in Ireland. They bring vegetables, fruit, potatoes etc to Auckland for sale. They pitch their tents on the beach just before our store and every night they assemble for worship. One of them, generally the Rangatira, (or chief) reads a chapter in the Bible in their own language, then they all sing a psalm and the chief prays. It is a very interesting sight and might make professing Christians ashamed.
I do not know as yet what salary I am to receive. Captain Dacre, the gentleman whom James was with in Sydney and who is still partner with him, has been here for the last three months, he will be here for a month yet and before he goes I expect to know. However, I am not afraid to leave that to themselves, everyone is well paid here. We have two porters in the store at 25/- per week each.
My dear Kitty, you said when I left you would not make an engagement for longer than one year; I do not like to ask James for money for a little longer, besides, when I have sufficient to pay your passage, before you would be here, I should again have as much as would arrange a comfortable place for us. If I had a neat house, a garden, and you out here it would be the height of my ambition, and I trust with God's blessing we may live many happy days together. There is a very good society here, no pride, everyone is agreeable. I am sure you will like this place, everyone here likes it and says nothing would induce them to go home again.
I am afraid there is little hope of James going home, indeed I do not know how he could leave the place and his family so long, but perhaps there may be someone going to come back again. Mr Sims, a young man who was in business here, left this for home about a month before I came. He is from Castlefin and is coming out again with a stock of goods, but if there should be no one do not be afraid to come, you will be treated with every attention on board and nothing to annoy the most delicate feelings, (or else it will differ very far from the Duke of Portland).
Oh my dear Kitty, how I long to hear from you. I trust I will have a letter come by the next ship and hear that you are happy and well. Remember me to all when you write. I enclose this to Rebecca as I don't know where to find you; if you are in Carnshanagh, remember me kindly to Bell. When you are coming out you will require a servant with you, I will send you sufficient for all. Bring whom you like.
I have now been here five weeks, I would have written sooner but expecting a vessel going home from this. I will send this on the brig Maukin to Sydney. I will write again in about a month. I must now bid you good-bye and may Almighty God bless you and bring you in safety to this place is the prayer of
Your every affectionate
Rev John Macky
Burnfoot, Londonderry, Ireland