Archive for January 24th, 2018

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Recollections by Fidelia Savage Thornton Munkhouse Hill

Yes, South Australia! three years have elapsed
Of dreary banishment, since I became
In thee a sojourner; nor can I choose
But sometimes think on thee; and tho’ thou art
A fertile source of unavailing woe,
Thou dost awaken deepest interest still. —
Our voyage past, we anchor’d in that port
Of our New Colony, styled Holdfast Bay:
In part surrounded by the range sublime
Of mountains, with Mount Lofty in their centre: —
Beautiful mountains, which at even-tide
I oft have gazed upon with raptur’d sense,
Watching their rose-light hues, as fleeting fast
Like fairy shadows o’er their verdant sides
They mock’d the painter’s art, and to pourtray
Defied the utmost reach of poet’s skill! —
The new year open’d on a novel scene, —
New cares, new expectations, a new land! —

Then toil was cheer’d, and labour render’d light,
Privations welcom’d, every hardship brav’d,
In the blest anticipation of reward: —
(Which some indeed deserv’d, but ne’er obtain’d)
Some who unceasingly, had lent their aid,
And time, and information, to promote
The interests of the rising Colony —
Still flattering hope on the dark future smil’d,
Gilding each object with fallacious dyes,
And picturing pleasure, that was not to be!
They bore me to the future Capitol,
Ere yet ’twas more than desart — a few tents,
Scatter’d at intervals, ‘mid forest trees,
Marked the abode of men. ‘Twas a wide waste,
But beauteous in its wildness. — Park-like scenery
Burst on the astonish’d sight; for it did seem
As tho’ the hand of art, had nature aided,
Where the broad level walks — and verdant lawns,
And vistas grae’d that splendid wilderness!
‘Twas then they hail’d me as the first white lady
That ever yet had enter’d Adelaide. —
Cap time e’er teach me to forget the sound,
Or gratulations that assail’d me then,
And cheer’d me at the moment, or efface
The welcome bland of the distinguish’d one —
Who fix’d the site, and form’d the extensive plan
Of that young City? — He hath pass’d away
To the dark cheerless chambers of the tomb!
But Adelaide if crown’d with fortune, shall
To after age perpetuate his name! —

* * * * *

One tent was pitch’d upon the sloping bank
Of the stream Torrens, in whose lucid wave
Dipp’d flow’ring shrubs — the sweet mimosa there
Wav’d its rich blossoms to the perfum’d breeze,
High o’er our heads — amid the stately boughs.
Of the tall gum tree — birds of brightest hues
Or built their nests, or tun’d ‘their wood-notes wild,
Reposing on the rushes, fresh and cool,
Which a lov’d hand had for my comfort strew’d: —
This, this methought shall be my happy home!
Here may I dwell, and by experience prove,
That tents with love, yield more substantial bliss
Than Palaces without it, can bestow.

From: Hill, Fidelia S.T., Poems and Recollections of the Past, 2003, University of Sydney Library: Sydney, pp. 53-54.

Date: 1840

By: Fidelia Savage Thornton Munkhouse Hill (1794-1854)