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  ― v ―

EDITORS' PREFACE

Ralph Clark's journal is a very personal document — clearly not intended for publication. Yet it would not be unfair to suggest that had he lived long enough Clark would have made some attempt at transcribing his notes into a saleable book. Clark's desire to earn money and his impecunious circumstances become clear as one reads through his writings.

It is probable that the original journal comprised three notebooks the second of which has been lost. This could account for the period 11 March 1788 to 14 February 1790 apparently not recorded by Clark. The change of style beginning with the entry for 15 February 1790 affords some evidence that Clark might have just started using a new book.

Clark's letter book would then have made a fourth volume — copies of his official and semi-personal letters. We suspect that a few personal letters were pasted into the book sometime after Clark's death in 1794. We further suspect that there was another letterbook in which would be found copies of official letters written between his return to England in 1792 and his death. Admiralty and Marine Records at the Public Record Office in Kew, England, list a number of such letters. Is it too much to hope that some of the missing documents may yet come to light?

Whatever may have become of other documents, we know that the Mitchell Library purchased Clark's memorabilia at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1914. The Clark lot included the journal, letters and a small portrait of Mrs Clark (Betsey Alicia), all of which are reproduced in this work. There was also a typescript of the journal signed by F.A. Trevan, a great-nephew of Ralph Clark. It was F.A. Trevan who offered Clark's papers and the portrait for sale.

Clark's journal contains 312 pages of yellowing, unruled, thin diary paper 160mm wide and 197mm deep and written in ink. The diary pages are mounted on heavy cream paper by means of office sticky tape. This is unfortunate as not only are the last words of each


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line difficult — sometimes impossible — to read, but it is probable that the masked words will become illegible. The journal is listed under the Mitchell Library call number Z 1/27.

Clark's letterbook consists of the same heavy cream paper as the journal. The letters and various other pieces are mounted on the pages which are pencil-numbered to 122 with a score or so of blank pages at the back of the book. The letterbook is 245mm across, 275mm deep and 20mm thick. Mitchell Library call number Z/C 221.

The small oval portrait of Betsey Alicia which measures approximately 70mm × 50mm is delicately coloured and well preserved. Clark says it was “done by a limner” and seems to suggest that he and Betsey commissioned it when his departure for New South Wales was imminent (p.71). Two locks of hair (partly obscurred by the identification label) are pressed into the back of the portrait. We think the hair may have been young Ralph's (p.20).

Both the journal and letterbook are bound in brown hide with gold-ruled ridges along the spine and imprinted with two black outline waratah flowers. Inside and back covers are marbled in light brown and cream.

As Clark's journal and letters fall into three distinguishable parts, we have divided this publication as follows:

PART I. Ralph Clark's Journal, 9 March 1787 to 10 March 1788.

PART II. Ralph Clark's Journal, 15 February 1790 to 17 June 1792.

PART III. Ralph Clark's Letterbook.

As with our earlier publications in this series, we have modified the author's style and layout.note Clark left many blank spaces in his manuscript (e.g., convicts' first names); we have marked the spaces thus: [*]. Clark's inconsistent spelling also caused problems. Where we judged that the reader could make sense of it, albeit with some difficulty, we let the word stand (e.g., Spalms for Psalms). In some cases, especially where Clark wrote “the” instead of “they”, we have added missing letters or words (e.g., “the[y]”) in the hope of making the narrative easier to follow. But we have not gone too far with this practice for fear of losing Clark's originality. We have also punctuated Clark's writing with a series of double dashes ( —— ) so that the author's intention — or what we take to be his intention — will be more readily understood.

To assist readers and researchers we have set Clark's journal dates in the margin; they can thus be seen more easily than in the original. We have also added the year and a catchline at the top of each page. Although we have altered the arrangement of these details, Clark's method of expressing them — with all the inconsistencies — has been retained.

Occasionally in the journal Clark refers to an “orderly book”.


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As far as we know, this book has not been found. We are unable to say if it was a book kept by Clark or by the adjutant of marines. It could have been the Order Book which is listed at the Public Record Office as ADM 184/PL.

With one exception (see page 310) Clark appears to have made no sketches in his journal or letterbook. We have therefore included some illustrations to assist in explaining some of Clark's references.

Our cover picture, taken from The Founding of Australia by Algernon Talmage, R.A., shows the marines drawn up for the ceremonial toast to the success of the colony on 26 January 1788.

   Paul G. Fidlon

   R.J. Ryan

   March, 1981

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