Farmer John Would PARKER looks a rather gloomy character in the photographs I posted of him just over a week ago. He possibly made a habit of hiding his light under a bushel.
This is the “envelope” containing a letter John wrote to his mother, on or about his fifteenth birthday.
Here are a few lines of its contents –
The cost of a postage stamp for your thoughts Mrs Parker, regarding your son’s penmanship. The execution is not perfect – there are three blemishes at least – but I would be surprised if any teen today could match the elegance of this hand, even if they had a mind to try.
Here is a full transcription of the letter, with the above passage highlighted.
Louth, May 6th 1845
Although this is the third letter that I have written to you, I think I have not told you how I am going on with my studies. I have got as far as Decimals in accounts, and in a very few days we shall commence Mensuration. I am learning poetry for practice in parsing and English Grammar. In Geography, I have learnt England and Wales; and I am now learning Scotland. In dictation exercises, I am writing a course of lessons on Natural Science, and I find them very interesting and full of useful information. We have begun surveying, and we are now taking a survey in Stewton Parish, and a very pretty plan it will be, when it is finished.
What a miserable Fair day it was! We had a half holiday and I went to my sister’s to dine, where I enjoyed myself very much.
About the time of the Fair, we went one evening to see an exhibition of Mechanical views, with which we were much entertained, especially with the last, which was the representation of a storm at sea. Shortly afterwards, we had another treat in an exhibition at the Mansion-house, consisting partly of beautiful dissolving views, of cities, ruins, remarkable buildings, etc. and partly of objects, wonderfully magnified by a powerful microscope with an oxy-hydrogen light. By this means we saw the animalculæ in the water, and insects of the size of a flea magnified to the size of a sheep.
P.S. Mr & Mrs Rogers desire their kind regards to you all.
The sister he mentions was probably Sarah Elizabeth, aged 22 in 1845.
With the letter, Peter sent a photograph of John’s widow, Jane Maria née CORTIS, in the sunlit garden of her home in Manly, New South Wales. She was sixty-five years old when she died in 1911 and may not have been long for this earth when the picture was taken.