Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Better for Girls Now

Blanche Mitchell was the youngest child of Thomas, who surveyed the streets of my town, naming them after old compatriots from the Peninsula wars of 1809, (whatever they were).

Born about 100 years before me, she lived in the massive, impressive "Carthona", Darling Point, which her immensely successful father had built for him. Her diary records the privileges and pleasures of being an elite darling in the colony.

Unfortunately, Thomas Mitchell died prematurely, leaving his finances in disarray: Carthona was sold, and the family moved to Woolloomooloo.

Blanche knew the way the system worked. She no longer had a dowry, so she had no prospects of marriage. She and her mother were still received socially, but all the young officers and such that she met needed a wife with an income. They could not marry her, and she knew it. Her life was blighted., and again, her diary records her realistic understanding of this.

How cruel, to grow up in a life of such privilege and happiness, to not only have this all taken away from you by your father's death, when you are 12 years old, but to have the expectation and hope of a happy future sliced from you as well. Blanche died when she was only 26 years old.
I think of her like William Allingham's poem:

"They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead from sorrow."

As far as I can see, none of Thomas Mitchell's six children had any living descendants.
Tragedy. It's just a word, unless it's your word.

Today is the 20th anniversary of my husband's death. He did not leave us in this position. I prefer "rest in the light" to "rest in peace." Vale Phillip: much beloved.

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