Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9

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Ms 35, 1894

Diary/Letter to S. N. Haskell

Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

August 27, 1894

This manuscript is published in entirety in 13MR 355-358.

Emily, May and myself drove four miles in a two-wheeled trap, which was drawn by a large horse. We went in search of oranges, which grow in this locality without receiving cultivation. This soil produces the best oranges we have eaten since coming to this country. They are not as sour as those we have procured in Granville and in other localities. They are very nice when picked from the tree and eaten fresh. They are juicy and refreshing. We paid three pence, or six cents in American money, per dozen. We went into a field, or paddock as it is called here, and came to a house that sits far back from the road, and in the background was a forest of thickly growing trees. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 1

On making known our errand, we were directed to go on to another house beyond; but we could not drive the horse and carriage any farther. A ravine had to be crossed, and Emily and May walked a log to cross it. I was left seated in the two-wheeled carriage. I watched them until they disappeared from my sight in the thick woods. I began to get anxious for their return, for they were absent for some time, and I was thankful to see them coming through the woods. Emily was carrying all the oranges she could manage, and May had her hand full of ferns. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 2

After going through the woods they found a clearing of several acres of land. On this place they found the oranges which were reputed to be the best in the community. Upon testing them, we were convinced of their excellence. In this out-of-the-way place they found a pretty location, and people who were communicative and courteous. A pleasant-faced, white-haired, aged lady stated that they had lived there thirty-two years. She said that when her husband was alive he had kept the farm in good condition, but that since his death her son had neglected the work, and the farm did not look as it used to, for her son took no interest in farming. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 3

We should judge that the general difficulty with farming here is a lack of interest. There is plenty of idleness, numerous holidays which are improved in following many kinds of objectionable amusements. The people are interested in horse racing and card playing, in smoking and drinking, and this kind of employment benefits neither themselves nor others. They pass away their time in this way, and the lands are neglected. But if the soil was cultivated, it would produce excellent fruit. Because of the slack, slipshod way the landholders cultivate their farms, nothing flourishes as it should, and the impression made upon those who view the land is that it is too poor to yield a good crop. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 4

I have been anxious that the land should be taken in hand and thoroughly worked. Even the orange trees are left to grow up amid the grass as wild trees grow. But where such immense trees flourish as flourish here, many of them growing up perfectly straight toward heaven, I am convinced that with the blessing of God, with diligence and faithfulness in working the land, farmers might produce gratifying results, and in return for the labor put forth they might reap a good harvest. I have thought of the many families who are crowded in our large cities, and I have thought how pleased I would be if some of them would come to this place and put forth their energies in clearing the land, and in subduing and cultivating the soil. This place is very restful to me. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 5

Sabbath, August 25, we all went out on the school land, and made ourselves comfortable in the woods. I had my folding chair, Brother Lawrence made a seat for his wife, and Brother Tucker and others seated themselves on the four rugs on the ground. I read two articles to them in which they seemed much interested. We then sang a hymn and had a season of prayer. After we had eaten some oranges we returned home. We all had a good appetite for our dinner. We enjoyed being on the school land amid the trees and the beautiful things of nature. I love to be in the groves where I can hear the birds sing. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 6

On Sunday, August 26, Brother Lawrence took us in the trap, and we drove over a good share of the school land in order to obtain a more extensive view of the grounds. In some places the roads were very rough; but I kept thinking, Let the cart jolt, it is a change of exercise, it will do me good. I enjoyed the trip and we were out roughing it nearly all day. We came home at dark. I was much pleased with the ground. We walked over one farm where the land had been cleared, and which joined the school land. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 7

We examined the way in which they work the land, and found that the plough had been put in only to about the depth of six inches. An intelligent American farmer would not regard this as a faithful way of working the land. Those who work in this cheap, superficial way cannot expect to receive anything out of harmony with their method, but in accordance with it. Of this forty acres only a portion of it had been cleared. We saw that during the previous year corn had been raised. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 8

There were fruit trees on the farm, and the peach trees were so full of blossoms that they looked like immense bouquets. First-class lemons grow here. There are some lemons already on the trees, but it is a wonder that they have any trees at all. In order to clear the ground of weeds, they set fire to the underbrush, and from the appearance I should suppose that they had left the fire to run, for several of their fruitful lemon trees were so burned that they will probably die. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 9

The more I see the school property the more I am amazed at the cheap price at which it has been purchased. When the board want to go back on this purchase, I pledge myself to secure the land. I will settle it with poor families; I will have missionary families come out from America and do the best kind of missionary work in educating the people as to how to till the soil and make it productive. I have planned what can be raised in different places. I have said, “Here can be alfalfa, there can be strawberries, here can be sweet corn and common corn, and this ground will raise good potatoes, while that will raise good fruit of all kinds.” So in imagination I have all the different places in flourishing condition. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 10

No one needs to have regret in reference to this land, for with proper working it will surprise the people in this section of the country. All the regret I have is that we have not money to take in sections of the land that would extend the ground. I have not one doubt in reference to the securing of this land. If the Lord prospers those who occupy it and who cultivate it, as we believe He will, we shall see a change that will surprise all who look upon it. I can hardly endure the thought that time is passing, and that the work of clearing the land is delayed. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 11

I have walked over the most of the O’Leary land. It has been cultivated and should be included in the school land. Someone should be at work upon it, cultivating it. If it could be purchased for any reasonable sum, I would not object to securing the place as a home for myself, if it was thought advisable to do so. No time should be lost in cultivating the land. In the dream you have heard me relate, words were spoken of land which I was looking at, and after deep ploughing and thorough cultivating, it brought forth a bountiful harvest. Having had this matter presented to me at different times, I am more than ever convinced that this is the right location for the school. Since I have been here for a few days and have an opportunity to investigate, I feel more sure than at my first visit that this is the right place. I think any land which I have seen will produce some kind of a crop. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 12

We cannot expect to find Eden, the Garden of God, in this sin-desecrated earth. There will always be something to mar the most desirable place; but we do see in this land, if not faultless, a favorable place for the location of our school. These grounds will furnish the very best of gymnasiums for our young men, and for our teachers as well. Those who educate the youth in book knowledge need physical exercise to strengthen the muscles as much as do our students. Our teachers need to educate far more from nature than they do. Nature is God’s great school, and on these grounds resources are found for acquiring greater knowledge of the wonderful works of God. Advantages procured by locating in this place are not presented to the teachers in such abundance in other places. Here is God’s great farm. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 13

My mind is filled with awe as I look at these giant trees, and consider the fact that this is God’s great forest garden which His own hand has planted and cared for in promoting the growth o trees, shrubs, and beautiful ferns. God’s own work is seen in the streams of water on either side of the land purchased for the school. On these clear, deep waters both men and women may exercise their muscles in working the oar. The youth who have been accustomed to do nothing but amuse themselves and spend money on their holidays, may here find plenty of good work in rowing boats to transport wood from the country to the cities. From the smooth waters of the river they may row into the beautiful waters of the lake which are smooth as glass. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 14

I felt my heart bound with gratitude when I considered that in the providence of God the land was in our possession. The climate has marked advantages over the climate of Victoria, and I long to shout the high praises of God for so favorable a situation. John, the greatest prophet that has ever been delegated to bear a startling message to the world, obtained his education in the wilderness. The scenery of nature was before him as an open book, and God was his teacher. The flattering temptations that come to those who are crowded in the cities did not reach John in the wilderness. His eyes rested upon scenes that were pure and natural, and revealed the character of God to his soul, so that he looked up from nature to nature’s God. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 15

Although these lands are secluded, yet they are perfectly accessible, possessing rare advantages for exporting and importing all that is necessary. Newcastle is within twenty miles, and Sydney is reached by traveling two and three quarters hours on the cars. 9LtMs, Ms 35, 1894, par. 16