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The Yorick Despatches - Part VII

Malcolm B Duncan, lawyer, independent politician and causer of much amusement has been rootling in the Mitchell Library again. The result - another, long awaited instalment from that fine upstanding cleric Dr Yorick. For those who have not yet caught up with the Yorick Despatches, here are the links:

The Yorick Despatches
The Yorick Despatches: pt 2
The Yorick Despatches - Part 3
The Yorick Despatches - part IV
The Yorick Despatches - Part V
The Yorick Despatches - Part VI


The Yorick Despatches


Well, as I reported earlier, the Yorick papers are more engrossing all the time. These are the replies to his despatch of October 1807. Rum stuff. Once I have deciphered the new code he started using late in December I hope to reveal an on-the-spot account to the events of 26 January 1808 – or might he just have turned a Bligh eye?


    Shandy Hall

    Brother Jack,

    World in turmoil. Something called the peninsular. Had a pen once. Chap called Wellesley just back from India has some insane notion about marching up a Hill. Probably thinks he’s the Duke of York.

    Trim still lives and, expecting a new assault, is out sodding on the bowling green again.

    Gout still gripes.

    Have you thought about sheep lately? Thanks to our late Father, been running some myself. Funny how the almighty gives kind weather during shearing.

    Have to go – baillifs.


    Lambeth Walk

    30 xi 07

    My pet,

    The Farmer has decided to cut the Commodore loose. Do what you must to save yourself.

    Maturin sails with the tide and carries despatches.

    Destroy this before you read it.


Well, obviously, Yorick didn’t always follow instructions bless him but I wonder how much has been lost. Might ask Blainey next time I see him. Yorick didn’t take much time in replying and the mail must clearly have been going overland probably to and from Batavia.

23 xii 07 Anno Domini

My Lord Archbishop,

I took as my text on the 19th of December in the Year Of Our Most Gracious Lord, 1807, according to the Book of Common Prayer for morningsong Isaiah 51Verse 1: “Hearken to me ye that follow after righteousness” and said: “And I say unto you, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah: God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.”

Your Grace has no idea how hard this living is. Most of the recently arrived Irish rebels thought I was talking about one of their own and one had the temerity to ask who Shaun was. It is Pell in a handbasket if your Grace will forgive my little witticism.

Of course, I was following the wind which is anything but tempered at present.

Mrs Putland has the sheets changed daily and lambs are about the sum of what the wretch Macarthur cares about. I pity his wife for whom no wind is tempered. Dining with them is always an eructive experience.

His Excellency, as he now styles himself, is more unbearable than ever and holds daily audiences in his bedchamber. I fear, Your Grace, that Patterson will smoke him out.

Yet that is not to the point. My sermon was a Phillip to Macarthur. Things build towards a head Your Grace and all is in peril. Our plans may be as lost as Salamanca.

But to purpose My Lord Archbishop. It is, as they say here, a rum thing this Colony and I have grave fears. There is an air of mutiny about and some mad Scot goes marching about playing The De’ils ‘I the Kitchen on some instrument of war that were better banned in my view. Not, of course, Your Grace, that it is for one in such humble position as I find myself to have a view. Although the addition of a further living - Bishop of Van Deiman’s Land perhaps - could afford a slightly better view.

The Porpoise is to the purpose and Bligh is often aboard checking powder and shot. Most of the members of the Rum Corps are simply shot and little powdered. Only yesterday His Excellency gazetted a new ordinance for ordnance. Each day, a full shot is proposed for 1 of the afternoon and today it struck Pinchgut much to the consternation of the prisoner chained there. Fellow called Selkirk, said to be writing a memoir of his travells or travails or somesuch nonsense.

The Plan is deeply imperiled, Your Grace and the Farmer must be informed. I know not whether this can reach you before doom strikes, but, with the Grace God has given us, I shall do my best. Hence, the placatory sermon. Macarthur and his fellow brutes are too ignorant ever to have read Isaiah but they do warm to sheep.

Funds, Your Grace, are low and there is much favour to curry. The Witenagemot was a complete disaster and His Excellency has gazetted a removal of the right of £5 copyholders to vote. This has enraged Turnbull who has the only rotten borough in the Colony: Sarum-by-sea (two if by land). The times bode ill and that well-clapped rouge Boswell is defending a recalcitrant convict – Sarah someone. That must make the Farmer well pleased as Boswell has never won a case in his life. It would be a fine literary conceit to collect his memoirs and title them Boswell for the Defence or even Bourne to the Gallows. But I digress and am indulging my more mordant wit when I should be indulging things besides. The times Your Grace are grim and the Reaper stalks. I must to further intelligence but cannot leave off without thanking Your Grace for the kind gift of the shortbread. It is a wonder what a lengthy sea voyage will do for pastry.

In Christ,

I remain,

My Lord Archbishop,

Your most obedient humble servant,

Jo. Yorick DD efq.


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Beware of archbishops sending gifts

Was it really shortbread, or hard tack? Hard lines for Dr Yorick, in any event.

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