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Title: An Autobiography

Author: Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910)

Release Date: July, 2003 [Etext# 4220]
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This etext was prepared by Col Choat colchoat@gutenberg.net.au




This etext was prepared by Col Choat colchoat@gutenberg.net.au


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spence, Catherine Helen (1825-1910)
An Autobiography




CONTENTS


CHAPTER I.     EARLY LIFE IN SCOTLAND.
CHAPTER II.    TOWARDS AUSTRALIA.
CHAPTER III.   A BEGINNING AT SEVENTEEN
CHAPTER IV.    LOVERS AND FRIENDS.
CHAPTER V.     NOVELS AND A POLITICAL INSPIRATION.
CHAPTER VI.    A TRIP TO ENGLAND.
CHAPTER VII.   MELROSE REVISITED.
CHAPTER VIII.  I VISIT EDINBURGH AND LONDON.
CHAPTER IX.    MEETING WITH J. S. MILL AND GEORGE ELIOT.
CHAPTER X.     RETURN FROM THE OLD COUNTRY.
CHAPTER XI     WARDS OF THE STATE.
CHAPTER XII.   PREACHING, FRIENDS, AND WRITING.
CHAPTER XIII.  MY WORK FOR EDUCATION.
CHAPTER XIV.   SPECULATION, CHARITY, AND A BOOK.
CHAPTER XV.    JOURNALISM AND POLITICS.
CHAPTER XVI.   SORROW AND CHANGE.
CHAPTER XVII.  IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA.
CHAPTER XVIII. BRITAIN, THE CONTINENT, AND HOME AGAIN.
CHAPTER XIX.   PROGRESS OF EFFECTIVE VOTING.
CHAPTER XX.    WIDENING INTERESTS.
CHAPTER XXI    PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION AND FEDERATION.
CHAPTER XXII.  A VISIT TO NEW SOUTH WALES.
CHAPTER XXIII. MORE PUBLIC WORK.
CHAPTER XXIV.  THE EIGHTIETH MILESTONE AND THE END.





CHAPTER I.



EARLY LIFE IN SCOTLAND.


Sitting down at the age of eighty-four to give an account of my life, I
feel that it connects itself naturally with the growth and development
of the province of South Australia, to which I came with my family in
the year 1839, before it was quite three years old. But there is much
truth in Wordsworth's line, "the child is father of the man," and no
less is the mother of the woman; and I must go back to Scotland for the
roots of my character and Ideals. I account myself well-born, for My
father and my mother loved each other. I consider myself well
descended, going back for many generations on both sides of intelligent
and respectable people. I think I was well brought up, for my father
and mother were of one mind regarding the care of the family. I count
myself well educated, for the admirable woman at the head of the school
which I attended from the age of four and a half till I was thirteen
and a half, was a born teacher in advance of her own times. In fact.
like my own dear mother, Sarah Phin was a New Woman without knowing it.
The phrase was not known in the thirties.

I was born on October 31, 1825, the fifth of a family of eight born to
David Spence and Helen Brodie, in the romantic village of Melrose, on
the silvery Tweed, close to the three picturesque peaks of the Eildon
Hills. which Michael Scott's familiar spirit split up from one mountain
mass in a single night, according to the legend. It was indeed poetic
ground. It was Sir Walter Scott's ground. Abbotsford was within two
miles of Melrose, and one of my earliest recollections was seeing the
long procession which followed his body to the family vault at Dryburgh
Abbey. There was not a local note in "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" or
in the novels. "The Monastery" and "The Abbot," with which I was not
familiar before I entered my teens. There was not a hill or a burn or a
glen that had not a song or a proverb, or a legend about it. Yarrow
braes were not far off. The broom of the Cowdenknowes was still nearer,
and my mother knew the words as well as the tunes of the minstrelsy of
the Scottish Border. But as all readers of the life of Scott know, he
was a Tory, loving the past with loyal affection, and shrinking from
any change. My father, who was a lawyer (a writer as it was called),
and his father who was a country practitioner, were reformers, and so
it happened that they never came into personal relations with the man
they admired above all men in Scotland. It was the Tory doctor who
attended to his health, and the Tory writer who was consulted about his
affairs.

I look back to a happy childhood. The many anxieties which reached both
my parents were quite unknown to the children till the crisis in 1839.
I do not know that I appreciated the beauty of the village I lived in
so much with my own bodily eyes as through the songs and the
literature, which were current talk. The old Abbey, with its 'prentice
window, and its wonders in stonecarving, that Scott had written about
and Washington Irving marvelled at--"Here lies the race of the House
of Yair" as a tombstone--had a grand roll in it. In the churchyard of
the old Abbey my people on the Spence side lay buried. In the square or
market place there no longer stood the great tree described in The
Monastery as standing just after Flodden Field, where the flowers of
the forest had been cut down by the English; but in the centre stood
the cross with steps up to it, and close to the cross was the well,
to which twice a day the maids went to draw water for the house until
I was nine years old, when we had pipes and taps laid on. The cross
was the place for any public speaking, and I recalled, when I was
recovering from the measles, the maid in whose charge I was, wrapped
me in a shawl and took me with her to hear a gentleman from Edinburgh
speak in favour of reform to a crowd gathered round. He said that the
Tories had found a new name--they called themselves Conservatives because
it sounded better. For his part he thought conserves were pickles,
and he hoped all the Tories would soon find themselves in a pretty pickle.
There were such shouts of laughter that I saw this was a great joke.

We had gasworks in Melrose when I was 10 or 11, and a great joy to us
children the wonderful light was. I recollect the first lucifer
matches, and the wonder of them. My brother John had got 6d. from a
visiting, uncle as a reward for buying him snuff to fill his cousin's
silver snuffbox, and he spent the money in buying a box of lucifers,
with the piece of sandpaper doubled, through which each match was to be
smartly drawn, and he took all of us and some of his friends to the
orchard, we called the wilderness, at the back of my grandfather
Spence's house. and lighted each of the 50 matches, and we considered
it a great exhibition. 'MY grandfather (old Dr. Spence) died before the
era of lucifer matches. He used to get up early and strike a fire with
flint and steel to boil the kettle and make a cup of tea to give to his
wife in bed. He did it for his first wife (Janet Park), who was
delicate, and he did the same for his second wife until her last fatal
illness. It was a wonderful thing for a man to do in those days. He
would not call the maid; he said young things wanted plenty of sleep.
He had been a navy doctor, and was very intelligent. He trusted much to
Nature and not too much to drugs. On the Sunday of the great annular
eclipse of the sun in 1835, which was my brother John's eleventh
birthday, he had a large double tooth extracted--not by a dentist, and
gas was then unknown or any other anaesthetic, so he did not enjoy the
eclipse as other people did. It took place in the afternoon, and there
was no afternoon church.

In summer we had two services--one in the forenoon and one in the
afternoon. In winter we had two services at one sitting, which was a
thing astonishing to English visitors. The first was generally called a
lecture--a reading with comments, of a passage of Scriture--a dozen
verses or more--and the second a regularly built sermon, with three or
four heads, and some particulars, and a practical summing up.

Prices and cost of living had fallen since my mother had married in
1815, three months after the battle of Waterloo. At that time tea cost
8/0 a lb., loaf sugar, 1/4, and brown sugar 11 1/2d. Bread and meat were
then still at war prices, and calico was no cheaper than linen. and
that was dear. She paid 3/6 a yard for fine calico to make petticoats.
Other garments were of what was called home made linen. White cotton
stockings at 4/9, and thinner at 3/9 each; silk stockings at 11/6. I
know she paid 36/ for a yard of Brussels net to make caps of. It was a
new thing to have net made in the loom. When a woman married she must
wear caps at least in the morning. In 1838 my mother bought a chest of
tea (84 lb.) for 20 pounds, a trifle under 5/0 a lb.; the retail price was
6/0--it was a great saving; and up to the time of our departure brown
sugar cost 7 1/2d., and loaf sugar 10d. It is no wonder that these
things were accounted luxuries. When a decent Scotch couple in South
Australia went out to a station in the country in the forties and
received their stores, the wife sat down at her quarter-chest of tea
and gazed at her bag of sugar, and fairly wept to think of her old
mother across the ocean, who had such difficulty in buying an ounce of
tea and a pound of sugar. My mother even saw an old woman buy 1/4oz. of
tea and pay 11/2d. for it, and another woman buy 1/4lb. of meat.

We kept three maids. The cook got 8 pounds a year, the housemaid 7 pounds,
and the nursemaid 6 pounds, paid half-yearly, but the summer half-year was
much better paid than the winter, because there was the outwork in the
fields, weeding and hoeing turnips and potatoes, and haymaking. The
winter work in the house was heavier on account of the fires and the
grate cleaning, but the wages were less. My mother gave the top wages
in the district, and was considerate to her maids, but I blush yet to
think how poorly those good women who made the comfort of my early home
were paid for their labours. You could get a washerwoman for a
shilling or 1/6 a day, but you must give her a glass of whisky as well
as her food. You could get a sewing girl for a shilling or less,
without the whisky. And yet cheap as sewing was it was the pride of the
middle-elms women of those days that they did it all themselves at
home. Half of the time of girls' schools was given to sewing when
mother was taught. Nearly two hours a day was devoted to it in my time.

A glass of whisky in Scotland in the thirties cost less than a cup of
tea. I recollect my father getting a large cask of whisky direct from
the distillery which cost 6/6 a gallon, duty paid. A bottle of inferior
whisky could be bought at the grocer's for a shilling. It is surprising
how much alcoholic beverages entered into the daily life, the business,
and the pleasures of the people in those days. No bargain could be made
without them. Christenings, weddings, funerals--all called for the
pouring out of strong drink. If a lady called, the port and sherry
decanters were produced, and the cake basket. If a gentleman, probably
it was the spirit decanter. After the 3 o'clock dinner there was whisky
and hot water and sugar, and generally the came after the 10 o'clock
supper. Drinking habits were very prevalent among men, and were not in
any way disgraceful, unless excessive. But there was less drinking
among women than there is now, because public opinion was strongly
against it. Without being abstainers, they were temperate. With the
same heredity and the same environment, you would see all the brothers
pretty hard drinkers and all the sisters quite straight. Such is the
effect of public opinion. Nothing else has been so powerful in changing
these customs as the cheapening of tea and coffee and cocca, but
especially tea.

My brothers went to the parish school, one of the best in the county.
The endowment from the tiends or tithes, extorted by John Knox from the
Lords of the congregations, who had seized on the church lands, was
more meagre for the schoolmasters than for the clergy. I think Mr.
Thomas Murray had only 33 pounds in Money, a schoolhouse, and a residence
and garden. and he had to make up a livelihood from school fees, which
began at 2/ a quarter for reading, 3/6 when writing was taught, and 51
for arithmetic. Latin, I think, cost 10/6 a quarter, but it included
English. Mr. Murray adopted a phonic system of teaching reading, not so
complete as the late Mr. Hartley formulated for our South Australian
schools, and was most successful with it. He not only used maps, but he
had blank maps-a great innovation. My mother was only taught geography
during the years in which she was "finished" in Edinburgh, and never
saw a map then. She felt interested in geography when her children were
learning it. No boy in Mr. Murray's school was allowed to be idle;
every spare minute was given to arithmetic. In the parish school boys
of all classes were taught. Sir David Brewster's sons went to it; but
there were fewer girls, partly because no needlework was taught there,
and needlework was of supreme importance. Mr. Murray was session clerk,
for which he received 5 pounds a year. On Saturday afternoons he might do
land measuring, like Goldsmith's schoolmaster in "The Deserted
Village"--

    Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
    And even the rumour ran that he could gauge.

My mother felt that her children were receiving a much better education
than she had had. The education seemed to begin after she left school.
Her father united with six other tenant farmers in buying the third
edition of "The Encyclopedia Briannica," seven for the price of six.
Probably it was only in East Lothian that seven such purchasers could
be found, and my mother studied it well, as also the unabridged
Johnson's Dictionary in two volumes. She learned the Greek letters, so
that she could read the derivations, but went no further. She saw the
fallacy of Mr. Pitt's sinking fund when her father believed in it. To
borrow more than was needed so as to put aside part on compound
interest, would make the price of money rise. And why should not
private people adopt the same way of getting rid of debts? The father
said it would not do for them at all--it was only practicable for a
nation. The things I recollect of the life in the village of Melrose,
of 700 inhabitants, have been talked over with my mother. and many
embodied in a little MS. volume of reminiscences of her life. I hold
more from her than from my father; but. as he was an unlucky
speculator, I inherit from him Hope, which is invaluable to a social or
political reformer. School holidays were only a rarity in harvest time
for the parish school. At Miss Phin's we had. besides, a week at
Christmas. The boys had only New Year's Day. Saturday was only a
half-holiday. We all had a holiday for Queen Victoria's coronation, and
I went with a number of school fellows to see Abbotsford, not for the
first time in my life.

Two mail coaches--the Blucher and the Chevy Chase--ran through
Melrose every day. People went to the post office for their letters,
and paid for them on delivery. My two elder sisters--Agnes, who died
of consumption at the age of 16, and Jessie, afterwards Mrs. Andrew
Murray, of Adelaide and Melbourne, went to boarding school with their
aunt, Mary Spence, lit Upper Wooden, halfway between Jedburgh and
Kelso. Roxburghshire is rich in old monasteries. The border lands were
more safe in the hands of the church than under feudal lords engaged in
perpetual fighting, and the vassals of the abbeys had generally
speaking, a more secure existence. Kelso. Jedburgh, and Dryburgh Abbeys
lay in fertile districts, and I fancy that when these came into the
hands of the Lords of the congregation, the vassals looked back with
regret on the old times. I was not sent to Wooden, but kept at home,
and I went to a dayschool called by the very popish name of St. Mary's
Convent, though it was quite sufficiently Protestant. My mother had the
greatest confidence in the lady who was at the head of it. She had been
a governess in good situations, and had taught herself Latin, so that
she might fit the boys of the family to take a good place in the
Edinburgh High School. She discovered that she had an incurable
disease, a form of dropsy, which compelled her to lie down for some
time every day, and this she considered she could not do as a
governess. So she determined to risk her savings, and start a boarding
and day school in Melrose, a beautiful and healthy neighbourhood, and
with the aid of a governess, impart what was then considered the
education of a gentlewoman to the girls in the neighbourhood. She took
with her her old mother, and a sister who managed the housekeeping, and
taught the pupils all kinds of plain and fancy needlework. She
succeeded, and she lived till the year 1866, although most of her
teaching was done from her sofa. When my mother was asked what it was
that made Phin so successful, and so esteemed, she said it was her
commonsense. The governesses were well enough, but the invalid old lady
was the life and soul of the school. There were about 14 boarders, and
nearly as many day scholars there, so long as there was no competition.
When that came there was a falling off, but my young sister Mary and I
were faithful till the day when after nine years at the same school, I
went with Jessie to Wooden, to Aunt Mary's, to hear there that my
father was ruined, and had to leave Melrose and Scotland for ever, and
that we must all go to Australia. That was in April, 1839.

As I said, I had a very happy childhood. The death of my eldest sister
at 16, and of my youngest sister at two years old, did not sink into
the mind of a child as it did into that of my parents, and although
they were seriously alarmed about my health when I was 12 years old,
when I developed symptoms similar to those of Agnes at the same age, I
was not il1 enough to get at all alarmed. I was annoyed at having to
stay away from school for three months. When the collapse came Jessie
had a dear friend of some years' standing, and I had one whom had
known only for some months, but I had spent a month with her in
Edinburgh at Christmas, 1838, and we exchanged letters weekly through
the box which came from Edinburgh with my brother John's, washing. It
was too expensive for us to write by the post. Well, neither of our
friends wrote a word to us. With regard to mine it was not to he
wondered at much--she was only 13--but the other was more surprising.
It was not till 1865 that an old woman told me that when Miss F. B.
came to return some books and music to her to give to my aunt in
Melrose, "she just sat in the chair and cried as if her heart would
break." She was not quite a free agent. Very few single women were free
agents in 1839. We were hopelessly ruined, our place would know us no
more.

The only long holidays I had in the year I spent at Thornton Loch, in
East Lothian, 40 miles away. I did not know that my father was a heavy
speculator in foreign wheat, and I thought his keen interest in the
market in Mark lane was on account of the Thornton Loch crops, in which
first my grandfather and afterwards the three Maiden aunts were deeply
concerned. My mother's father, John Brodie, was one of the most
enterprising agriculturists in the most advanced district of Great
Britain. He won a prize of two silver salvers from the Highland
Society for having the largest area of drilled wheat sown. He was
called up twice to London to give evidence before Parliamentary
committees on the corn laws, and he naturally approved of them,
because, with three large farms held on 19 years' leases at war prices,
the influx of cheap wheat from abroad would mean ruin. He proved that
he paid 6,000 pounds a year for these three farms--two he worked himself,
the third was for his eldest son; but he was liable for the rent. On
his first London trip, my aunt Margaret accompanied him, and on his
second he took my mother. That was in the year 1814, and both of them
noted from the postchaise that farming was not up to what was done in
East Lothian.

My grandfather Brodie was a speculating man, and he lost nearly all his
savings through starting, along with others, an East Lothian Bank,
because the local banker had been ill used by the British Linen
Company. He put in only 1,000 pounds; but was liable for all, and, as many
of his fellow shareholders were defaulters, it cost 15,000 pounds before
all was over, and if it had not been that he left the farm in the capable
hands of Aunt Margaret, there would have been little or nothing left for
the family. When he had a stroke of paralysis he wanted to turn over
Thornton Loch, the only farm he then had, to his eldest son, but there
were three daughters, and one of them said she would like to carry it
on, and she did so. She was the most successful farmer in the country
for 30 years, and then she transferred it to a nephew. The capacity for
business of my Aunt Margaret, the wit and charm of my brilliant Aunt
Mary, and the sound judgment and accurate memory of my own dear mother,
showed me early that women were fit to share in the work of this world,
and that to make the world pleasant for men was not their only mission.
My father's sister Mary was also a remarkable and saintly woman, though
I do not think she was such a born teacher as Miss Phin. When my father
was a little boy, not 12 years old, an uncle from Jamaica came home for
a visit. He saw his sister Janet a dying woman, with a number of
delicate-looking children, and he offered to take David with him and
treat him like his own son. No objections were made. The uncle was
supposed to be well-to-do, and he was unmarried, but he took fever and
died, and was found to be not rich but insolvent. The boy could read
and write, and he got something to do on a plantation till his father
sent money to pay his passage home. He must have been supposed to be
worth something, for he got a cask of rum for his wages, which was
shipped home, and when the duty had been paid was drunk in the doctor's
household. But the boy had been away only 21 months, and he returned to
find his mother dead. and two or three little brothers and sisters dead
and buried, and his father married again to his mother's cousin,
Katherine Swanston, an old maid of 45, who, however, two years
afterwards was the mother of a fine big daughter, so that Aunt Helen
Park's scheme for getting the money for her sister's children failed.
In spite of my father's strong wish to be a farmer, and not a writer or
attorney, there was no capital to start a farm upon, so he was
indentured to Mr. Erskine, and after some years began business in
Melrose for himself, and married Lelen Brodie. His elder brother John
went as a surgeon in the Royal Navy--before he was twenty-one. The
demand for surgeons was great during the war time. He was made a
Freemason before the set age, because in case of capture friends from
the fraternity might be of great use. He did not like his original
profession, especially when after the peace he must be a country
practitioner like his father, at every one's beck and call, so he was
articled to his brother, and lived in the house till he married and
settled at Earlston, five miles off. Uncle John Spence was a scholarly
man, shy but kindly, who gave to us children most of the books we
possessed. They were not in such abundance as children read nowadays,
but they were read and re-read.

In these early readings the Calvinistic teaching of the church and the
shorter catechism was supported and exemplified. The only secular books
to counteract them were the "Evenings at Home" and Miss Edgeworth's
"Tales for Young and Old!" The only cloud on my young life was the
gloomy religion, which made me doubt of my own salvation and despair of
the salvation of any but a very small proportion of the people in the
world. Thus the character of God appeared unlovely, and it was wicked
not to love God; and this was my condemnation. I had learned the
shorter catechism with the proofs from Scripture, and I understood the
meaning of the dogmatic theology. Watts's hymns were much more easy to
learn, but the doctrine was the same. There was no getting away
from the feeling that the world was under a curse ever since that
unlucky appleeating in the garden of Eden. Why, oh! why had not the
sentence of death been carried out at once, and a new start made with
more prudent people? The school in which as a day scholar I passed nine
years of my life was more literary than many which were more
pretentious. Needlework was of supreme importance, certainly, but
during the hour and a half every day, Saturday's half-holiday not
excepted, which was given to it by the whole school at once (odd
half-hours were also put in), the best readers took turns about to
read. some book selected by Miss Phin. We were thus trained to pay
attention. History, biography, adventures, descriptions, and story
books were read. Any questions or criticisms about our sewing,
knitting, netting, &c., were carried on in a low voice, and we learned
to work well and quickly, and good reading aloud was cultivated. First
one brother and then another had gone to Edinburgh for higher education
than could be had at Melrose Parish School, and I wanted to go to a
certain institution, the first of the kind, for advanced teaching for
girls, which had a high reputation. I was a very ambitious girl at 13.
I wanted to be a teacher first, and a great writer afterwards. The
qualifications for a teacher would help me to rise to literary fame, so
I obtained from my father a promise that I should go to Edinburgh next
year; but he could not keep it. He was a ruined man.




CHAPTER II.



TOWARDS AUSTRALIA.


Although my mother's family had lost heavily by him, her mother gave us
500 pounds to make a start in South Australia. An 80-acre section was
built for 80 pounds, and this entitled us to the steerage passage of four
adults. This helped for my elder sister and two brothers (my younger
brother David was left for his education with his aunts in Scotland), but
we had to have another female, so we took with us a servant girl--most
ridiculous, it seems now. I was under the statutory age of 15. The
difference between steerage and intermediate fares had to be made up,
and we sailed from Greenock in July, 1839, in the barque Palmyra, 400
tons, bound for Adelaide, Port Phillip, and Sydney. The Palmyra was
advertised to carry a cow and an experienced surgeon. Intermediate
passengers had no more advantage of the cow than steerage folks, and
except for the privacy of separate cabins and a pound of white biscuit
per family weekly, we fared exactly as the other immigrants did, though
the cost was double. Twice a week we had either fresh meat or tinned
meat, generally soup and boudle, and the biscuit seemed half bran, and
sometimes it was mouldy. But our mother thought it was very good for us
to endure hardship, and so it was.

There were 150 passengers, mostly South Australian immigrants, in the
little ship. The first and second class passengers were bound for Port
Philip and Sydney in greater proportion than for Adelaide There was in
the saloon the youthful William Milne, and in the intermediate was Miss
Disher, his future wife. He became President of the Legislative
Council, and was knighted. There was my brother, J. B. Spence, who also
sat in the Council, and was at one time Chief Secretary. There was
George Melrose, a successful South Australian pastoralist; there was my
father's valued clerk, Thomas Laidlaw, who was long in the Legislative
Council of New South Wales and the leading man in the town of Yass.
"Honest Torn of Yass" was his soubriquet. Bound for Melbourne there
were Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, of Melrose, and Charles Williamson, from
Hawick, who founded a great business house in Collins Street. There were
Langs from Selkirk, and McHaffies, who became pastoralists. Our next
cabin mate, who brougut out a horse, had the Richmond punt when there
was no bridge there. All the young men were reading a thick book
brought out by the Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge about sheep,
but they could dance in the evenings to the strains of Mr. Duncan's
violin, and although I was not 14, I was in request as a partner, as
ladies were scarce. Jessie Spence and Eliza Disher, who were grown up,
were the belles of the Palmyra. Of all the passengers in the ship the
young doctor, John Logan Campbell, has had the most distinguished
career. Next to Sir George Grey he has had most to do with the
development of New Zealand. He is now called the Grand Old Man of
Auckland. He had his twenty-first birthday, this experienced surgeon(!)
in the same week as I had my fourteenth, while the Palmyra was
lying off Holdfast Bay (now Glenelg) before we could get to the old
Port Adelaide to discharge. My brother saw him in 1883, but I have not
set eye on him since that week in 1839. We have corresponded frequently
since my brother's death. In his book "Poenama," written for his
children, there is a picture of the Palmyra, with an account of the
voyage and the only sensational incident in it. We had a collision in
the Irish Sea, and our foremast was broken, so that we had to return to
Greenock for repairs, and then obtained the concession of white biscuit
for the second class for one day in the week. Sir John Campbell's gift
of a beautiful park to the citizens of Auckland was made while my
brother John was alive. Just recently he has given money and plans for
building and equipping the first free kindergarten in Auckland--perhaps
in New Zealand--and as this includes a training college for
the students it is very complete. These Palmyra passengers have made
their mark on the history of Australia and New Zealand. It is
surprising what a fine class of people immigrated to Australia in these
days to face all the troubles of a new country.

The first issue of The Register was printed in London, and gave
a glowing account of the province that was to be--its climate, its
resources, the sound principles on which it was founded. It is
sometimes counted as a reproach that South Australia was founded by
doctrinaires and that we retain traces of our origin; to me it is our
glory. In the land laws and the immigration laws it struck out a new
path, and sought to found a new community where the sexes should be
equal, and where land, labour, and capital should work harmoniously
together. Land was not to be given away in huge grants, as had been
done in New South Wales and Western Australia, to people with influence
or position, but was to be sold at the high price of 20/ an acre. The
price should be not too high to bring out people to work on the land.
The Western Australian settlers had been wellnigh starved, because
there was no labour to give real value to the paper or parchment deeds.
The cheapest fare third class was from 17 pounds to 20 pounds, and the
family immigration, which is the best, was quite out of the reach of those
who were needed. The immigrants were not bound to work for any special
individual or company, unless by special contract voluntarily made.
They were often in better circumstances after the lapse of a few years
than the landbuyers, and, in the old days, the owner of an 80-acre
section worked harder and for longer hours than any hired man would do,
or could be expected to do.

In the South Australian Public Library there is a curious record--the
minutes and proceedings of the South Australian Literary Society, in
the years 1831-5. As the province was non-existent at that time, this
cultivation of literature seems premature, but the members, 40 in
number, were its founders, and pending the passage of the Bill by the
Imperial Parliament, they met fortnightly in London to discuss its
prospects, and to read papers on exploration and on matters of future
development and government. The first paper was on education for the
new land, and was read by Richard Davies Hanson. The South Australian
Company and Mr. George Fife Angas came to the rescue by buying a
considerable area of land and making up the amount of capital which was
required. It is interesting to note that the casting vote in the House
of Lords which decided that the province of South Australia should come
into existence was given by the Duke of Wellington. Adelaide was to
have been called Wellington, but somehow the Queen Consort's name
carried the day. The name of the conquerer of Waterloo is immortalized
in the capital of the Dominion of New Zealand, in the North Island,
which, like South Australia, was founded on the Wakefield principle of
selling land for money to be applied for immigration. The 40 signatures
in the records of the South Australian Literary Society are most
interesting to an old colonist like myself, and the names of many of
them are perpetuated in those of our rivers and our streets:--Torrens,
Wright, Brown, Gilbert, Gouger, Hanson, Kingston, Wakefield, Morphett,
Childers, Hill (Rowland), Stephens, Mawn, Furniss, Symonds. The second
issue of The Register was printed in Adelaide. It was also The
Government Gazette. It gave the proclamation of the province, which was
made under the historic gum tree near Holdfast Bay, now Glenelg. It
also records the sales of the town acres which had not been allotted to
the purchasers of preliminary sections. These were of 134 acres, and a
town acre, at the price of 12/6 an acre. This was a temptation to
invest at the very first, because afterwards the price was 20/ an acre,
without any city lot. From this cheap investment came the frequent
lamentation, "Why did not I buy Waterhouse's corner for 12/6?" But
there was more than 12/6 needed. The investment was of 80 pounds, which
secured the ownership of the corner block facing King William street
and Rundle street, and besides 134 acres of valuable suburban land.

There were connected with The Register from the earliest days the
enterprising head of the house. Robert Thomas, who must have been well
aided by his intelligent wife. The sons and daughters took their place
in colonial society. Mr. George Stevenson left the staff of The Globe
and Traveller, a good old London Paper, to try his fortunes in the new
Province founded on the Wakefield principle, as Private Secretary to
the first Governor (Capt. John Hindmarsh, R.N.). It is matter of
history how the Governor and the Commissioner of Lands differed and
quarrelled, the latter having the money and the former the power of
government, and it was soon found that Mr. Stevenson could wield a
trenchant pen. He had been on the "Traveller" branch of the London
paper what would be called now a travelling correspondent. The Governor
was replaced by Col. Gawler, and Mr. Stevenson went on The
Register as editor. Mrs. Stevenson was a clever woman, and could help
her husband. She knew Charles Dickens, and still better, the family of
Hogarth, into which he married. My father and mother were surprised to
find so good a paper and so well printed in the infant city. Then there
were A. H. Davis, of the Reedbeds, and Nathaniel Hailes, who wrote
under the cognomen of "Timothy Short," who had been publisher and
bookseller. There was first Samuel Stephens, who came out in the first
ship for the South Australian Company, and married a fellow passenger,
Charlotte Hudson Beare, and died two years after, and then Edward.
manager of the South Australian Bank, and later, John Stephens who
founded The Weekly Observer, and afterwards bought The Register. These
all belonged to a literary family.

People came out on the smallest of salaries with big families--H. T.
H. Beare on 100 pounds a year as architect, for the South Australian
Company, and he had 18 children by two wives. I do not know what salary
Mr. William Giles came out on with nine children and a young second wife,
but I am sure it was less than 300 pounds. His family in all counted 21.
But things were bad in the old country before the great lift given by
railways, and freetrade, which made England the carrier for the world;
and the possibilities of the new country were shown in that first issue
of The Register in London in the highest colours. Not too high by any
means in the light of what has been accomplished in 73 years, but there
was a long row to hoe first, and few of the pioneers reaped the prizes.
But, in spite of hardships and poverty and struggle, the early colonial
life was interesting, and perhaps no city of its size at the time
contained as large a population of intelligent and educated people as
Adelaide.

Mrs. Oliphant, writing in 1885 at the age of 57, says that reading the
"Life of George Eliot" made her think of an autobiography, and this was
written at the saddest crisis of her life. She survived her husband and
all her children, and had just lost the youngest, the posthumous boy.
For them and for the family of a brother she had carried on the
strenuous literary work--fiction, biography, criticism, and history--and
when she died at the age of 69 she had not completed the history of
a great publishing house--that of Blackwood. Her life tallies with
mine on many points, but it is not till I have completed my 84 years
that her sad narrative impels me to set down what appears noteworthy in
a life which was begun in similar circumstances, but which was spent
mainly in Australia. The loss of memory which I see in many who are
younger than myself makes me feel that while I can recollect I should
fix the events and the ideals of my life by pen and ink. Like Mrs.
Oliphant, I was born (three years earlier) in the south of Scotland.
Like her I had an adrnirable mother but she lost hers at the age of 60,
while I kept mine till she was nearly 97. Like Mrs. Oliphant, I was
captivated by the stand made by the Free Church as a protest against
patronage, and like her I shook off the shackles of the narrow
Calvinism of Presbyterianism, and emerged into more light and liberty.
But unlike Mrs. Oliphant, I have from my earliest youth taken an
interest in politics, and although I have not written the tenth part of
what she has done, I have within the last 20 years addressed many
audiences in Australia and America, and have preached over 100 sermons.
My personal influence has been exercised through the voice more
strongly than by the pen, and in the growth and development of South
Australia, to which I came with my parents and brothers and sisters
when I was just 14, and the province not three years old, there have
been opportunities for usefulness which might not have offered if I had
remained in Melrose, in Sir Walter Scott's country.




CHAPTER III.



A BEGINNING AT SEVENTEEN


Perhaps my turn for economics was partly inherited from my mother, and
emphasized by my father having been an unlucky speculator in foreign
wheat, tempted thereto by the sliding scale, which varied from 33/ a
quarter, when wheat was as cheap as it was in 1837, to 1/ a quarter,
when it was 70/ in 1839. It was supposed that my father had made his
fortune when he took his wheat out of bond but losses and deterioration
during seven years, and interest on borrowed money--credit having been
strained to the utmost--brought ruin and insolvency, and he had to go
to South Australia, followed by his wife and family soon after. It
seems strange that this disaster should be the culmination of the
peace, after the long Napoleonic war. When my father married in 1815 he
showed he was making 600 pounds a year, with 2,000 pounds book debts, as a
writer or attorney and as agent for a bank. But the business fell off, the
book debts could not be collected; the bank called up the advances; and
for 24 years there was a struggle. My mother would not have her dowry of
1,500 pounds and other money left by an aunt settled on herself--neither
her father nor herself approved of it--the wife's fortune should come
and go with her husband's. My father first speculated in hops and lost
heavily. He took up unlucky people, whom other business men had
drained. I suppose he caught at straws. He had the gentlest of
manners--"the politest man in Melrose," the old shoemaker called him. My
paternal grandfather was Dr. William Spence, of Melrose. His father was
minister of the Established Church at Cockburn's Path, Berwickshire.
His grandfather was a small landed proprietor, but he had to sell
Spence's mains, and the name was changed to Chirnside. So (as my father
used to say) he was sprung from the tail of the gentry; while my mother
was descended from the head of the commonalty. The Brodies had been
tenant farmers in East Lothian for six or seven generations, though
they originally came from the north. My grandfather Brodie thought
abrogation of the Corn Laws meant ruin for the farmers, who had taken
19 years' leases at war prices. But during the war times both landlords
and farmers coined money, while the labourers had high prices for food
and very little increase in their wages. I recollect both grandfathers
well, and through the accurate memory of my mother t can tell how
middle-class people in lowland Scotland lived and dressed and
travelled, entertained visitors. and worshipped God. She told me of the
"dear years" 1799 and 1800, and what a terrible thing a bad crop was,
when the foreign ports were closed by Napoleon. She told me that but
for the shortlived Peace of Amiens she never heard of anything but war
till the Battle of Waterloo settled it three months before her
marriage. From her own intimate relations with her grandmother,
Margaret Fernie Brodie, who was born in 1736, and died in 1817, she
knew how two generations before her people lived and thought. So that I
have a grasp on the past which many might envy, and yet the present and
the future are even more to me, as they were to my mother. On her death
in 1887 I wrote a quatrain for her memorial, and which those who knew
her considered appropriate--

    HELEN BRODIE SPENCE
    Born at Whittingham, Scotland, 1791.
    Died at College Town, Adelaide, South Australia, 1887.

    Half a long life 'mid Scotland's heaths and pines,
    And half among our South Australian vines;
    Though loving reverence bound her to the past,
    Eager for truth and progress to the last.

Although my mother had the greatest love for Sir Walter Scott, and the
highest appreciation of his poems and novels, she never liked Melrose.
She liked Australia better after a while. Indeed, when we arrived in
November, 1839, to a country so hot, so dry, so new, we felt like the
good old founder of The Adelaide Register, Robert Thomas, when he came
to the land described in his own paper as "flowing with milk and
honey." Dropped anchor at Holdfast Bay. "When I saw the place at which
we were to land I felt inclined to go and cut my throat." When we sat
down on a log in Light square, waiting till my father brought
the key of the wooden house In Gilles street, in spite of the dignity
of my 14 years just attained, I had a good cry. There had been such a
drought that they had a dearth, almost a famine. People like ourselves
with 80 acre land orders were frightened to attempt cultivation in an
unknown climate, with seed wheat at 25/ a bushel or more, and stuck to
the town. We lived a month in Gilles street, then we bought a large
marquee, and pitched it on Brownhill Creek, above where Mitcham now
stands, bought 15 cows and a pony and cart, and sold the milk in town
at 1/ a quart. But how little milk the cows gave in those days! After
seven months' encamping, in which the family lived chiefly on rice--the
only cheap food, of which we bought a ton--we came with our herd
to West terrace, Adelaide. My father got the position of Town Clerk at
150 pounds a year twelve months after our arrival, and kept it till the
muncipal corporation was ended, as the City of Adelaide was too poor to
maintain the machinery; but 75 pounds was the rent of the house and yards.
We sold the cows, and my brothers went farming, and we took cheaper
quarters in Halifax street.

The Town Clerkship, however, was the means of giving me a lesson in
electoral methods. Into the Municipal Bill, drawn up under the
superintendence of Rowland Hill (afterward the great post office
reformer, but then the Secretary of the Colonization Commissioner for
South Australia), he had introduced a clause providing for proportional
representation at the option of the ratepayers. The twentieth part of
the Adelaide ratepayers by uniting their votes upon one man instead of
voting for 18, could on the day before the ordinary election appear and
declare this their intention, and he would be a Councillor on their
votes. In the first election, November, 1840, two such quorums elected
two Councillors. The workmen in Borrow and Goodear's building elected
their foreman, and another quorum of citizens elected Mr. William
Senden; and this was the first quota representation in the world. My
father explained this unique provision to me at the time, and showed
its bearings for minority representation.

After the break up of the municipality and the loss of his income my
father lost health and spirits. The brothers did not succeed in the
country. My sister had married Andrew Murray, an apparently prosperous
man, in 1841, but the protecting of the Government bills bought for
remitting to England, and other causes, brought down every mercantile
firm in Adelaide except A. L. Elder, who had not been long established;
and Murray & Greig came down too. Mr. Murray was a ready writer, and
got work on The South Australian, the newspaper which supported Capt.
Grey's policy of retrenchment and stoppage of public works; so, with a
small salary, he managed to live. When I left Scotland I brought with
me a letter of recommendation from my teacher, Miss Sarah Phin,
concerning my qualifications and my turn for teaching. I don't know if
it really did me any good, for the suspicious look and the question
about how old I was at the time embarrassed me. Of course I was only 13
1/2 and probably my teacher over-estimated me a little, but here is,
the letter, yellow with the dust of over 70 years.


Melrose. June 20, 1839.

My dearest Catherine--Our mutual friend, Mrs. Duncan, told me that you
were not to sail for Australia till next month, and I have been
thinking if my poor testimonial to your worth and abilities could be of
any service to you I ought to give it but how can I trust myself?--for
could any one read what I feel my heart dictates it would be thought
absurd. You were always one of the greatest ornaments of my school,
best girl and the best scholar, and from the time you could put three
letters together you have evinced a turn for teacing--so clear-headed
and so patient, and so thoroughly upright in word and deed, and your
knowledge of the Scriptures equal to that of many students of Divinity,
so should you ever become a teacher you have nothing to fear. You will
be able to undertake both the useful and the ornamental branches of
education--French, Italian, and Music you thoroughly understand. I
feel conscious that you will succeed. Please to remember me to your
excellent mother, and with love to Miss Spence and my darling Mary,
believe me, my beloved Catherine, your affectionate friend and teacher.
Sarah Phin.


My knowledge of music was not great, even in those days, but I could
teach beginners for two or three years with fair success. We thought
that my mother and the two eldest girls could start a school, and
brought out with us a good selection of schoolbooks, bought from Oliver
J. Boyd. Edinburgh, superior to the English books obtainable here,
which we used up in time; but we dared not launch out into such a
venture in 1840, and my sister Jessie had no desire to teach at all.
The years at Brownhill Creek and West terrace were the most
unhappy of my life. I suffered from the want of some intellectual
activity, and from the sense of frustrated ambition and religious
despair. The few books we had, or which we could borrow, I read over
and over again. Aikin's "British Poets," a gift from Uncle John Spence,
and Goldsmith's complete works, a school prize of my brother William's,
were thoroughly mastered, and the Waverley novels down to "Quentin
Durward" were well absorbed. I read in Chambers's Journal of daily
governesses getting a shilling an hour, and I told my friend, Mrs.
Haining, that I would go out for 6d. an hour. Although she disliked
that way of putting it, it was really on that basis that I had made my
beginning when I reached the age of 17. In the meantime I had taught my
younger sister Mary (afterwards Mrs. W. J. Wren) all I knew, and in the
columns of The South Australian I wrote an occasional letter or a few
verses. Through Mr. George Tinline we made the acquaintance of Mrs.
Samuel Stephens her brother, Thomas Hudson Beare, and his family, who
had all come out in the Duke of York, and lived six months on Kangaroo
Island before South Australia was proclaimed a British province. I have
been mixed up so much with this family that it is often supposed that
they were relatives, but it was not so. Samuel Stephens had died from
an accident two years after his marriage to a lady much older and much
richer than himself, and she was living on two acres in North Adelaide,
bought with her money at the first sale of city lands in 1837, and Mr.
Tinline boarded with her till his marriage. The nephews, and especially
the nieces, of the old lady interested me--Lucy, the eldest, a
handsome girl, was about two years younger than myself; Arabella, about
the age of my sister Mary; Elizabeth, the baby Beare, who was the first
white person to set foot on South Australian soil after the foundation
of the province, died from a burning accident when quite young. The
only survivor of that first family now is William L. Beare (84), held
in honour as one of our earliest pioneers. By a second marriage there
were nine more children. Several died young, but some still survive.

It was not till 1843 that I went as a daily governess at the rate of
6d. an hour, and gave two hours five days a week to the families of the
Postmaster-General, the Surveyor-General, and the Private Secretary.
Thus I earned three guineas a month. I don't recollect taking holidays,
except a week at Christmas. I enjoyed the work, and I was proud of the
payment. My mother said she never felt the bitterness of poverty after
I began to earn money, and the shyness which, in spite of all her
instructions and encouragement, I had felt with all strangers,
disappeared when I felt independent. When a girl is very poor, and
feels herself badly dressed, she cannot help being shy, especially if
she has a good deal of Scotch pride. I think mother felt more sorry for
me in those early days than for the others, because I was so ambitious,
and took religious difficulties so hard. How old I felt at 17. Indeed,
at 14 I felt quite grown up. In 1843 I felt I had begun the career in
Australia that I had anticipated in Scotland. I was trusted to teach
little girls, and they interested me, each individual with a
difference. I had seen things I had written in print. If I was one of
the oldest in feeling of the young folk in South Australia in my teens,
I am the youngest woman in feeling in my eighties; so I have had
abundant compensation.




CHAPTER IV.



LOVERS AND FRIENDS.


It is always supposed that thoughts of love and marriage are the chief
concerns in a girl's life, but it was not the case with me. I had only
two offers of marriage in my life, and I refused both. The first might
have been accepted if it had not been for the Calvinistic creed that
made me shrink from the possibility of bringing children into the world
with so little chance of eternal salvation, so I said. "No" to a very
clever young man, with whom I had argued on many points, and with whom,
if I had married him, I should have argued till one of us died! I was
17, and had just begun to earn money. I told him why I had refused him,
and that it was final. In six weeks he was engaged to another woman. My
second offer was made to me when I was 23 by a man aged 55, with three
children. He was an artist, whose second wife and several children had
been murdered by the Maoris near Wanganui during the Maori insurrection
of the forties, and he had come to Adelaide with the three survivors.
The massacre of that family was only one of the terrible tragedies of
that time, but it was not the less shocking. The Maoris had never been
known to kill a woman, and when the house was attacked, Mr. Gilfillan
got out of a back window to call the soldiers to their help. Though
struck on the back of the head and the neck and scarred for life--owing
to which he was always compelled to wear his hair long--he succeeded
in his mission. His wife put her own two children through the
window, and they toddled off hand in hand until they met their father
returning with the soldiers. The eldest daughter, a girl of 13, escaped
with a neighbour's child, a baby in arms. She was seen by the Maoris,
struck on the forehead with a stone axe, and left unconscious. The
crying of the baby roused her, and she went to the cowyard and milked a
cow to get milk for the hungry child, and there she was found by the
soldiers. She was queer in her ways and thoughts afterwards, and, it
was said, always remained 13 years old. She died in November last, aged
74. Her stepmother and the baby and her own brother and sister were
murdered one by one as they tried to escape by the same window that had
led the rest of the family to safety. One of the toddling survivors
still lives in New Zealand. Now, these are all the chances of marriage
I have had in my life. Dickens, in "David Copperfield," speaks of an
old maid who keeps the remembrance of some one who might have made her
an offer, the shadowy Pidger, in her heart until her death. I cannot
forget these two men. I am constantly meeting with the children,
grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of the first. As for the
other, Andrew Murray gave me a fine landscape painted by John A.
Gilfillan as a slight acknowledgment of services rendered to his
newspaper when he left it to go to Melbourne, and it hangs up in my
sitting room for all to see. Mr. Gilfillan had a commission to paint
"The Landing of Capt. Cook" with the help of Portraits and miniatures
of the principal personages, and some sketches of his of Adelaide in
1849 are in the Adelaide Art Gallery. If the number of lovers has been
few, no woman in Australia has been richer in friends. This narrative
will show what good friends--men as well as women--have helped me and
sympathized in my work and my aims. I believe that if I had been in
love, especially if I had been disappointed in love, my novels would
have been stronger and more interesting; but I kept a watch over
myself, which I felt I knew I needed, for I was both imaginative and
affectionate. I did not want to give my heart away. I did not desire a
love disappointment, even for the sake of experience. I was 30 years
old before the dark veil of religious despondency was completely lifted
from my soul, and by that time I felt myself booked for a single life.
People married young if they married at all in those days. The single
aunts put on caps at 30 as a sort of signal that they accepted their
fate; and, although I did not do so, I felt a good deal the same.

I went on with daily teaching for some years, during which my father's
health declined, but before his death two things had happened to cheer
him. My brother John left Myponga and came to town, and obtained
a clerkship in the South Australian Bank at 100 pounds a year. It was
whilst occupying a position in the bank that he had some slight connection
with the notorious Capt. Starlight, afterwards the hero of "Robbery
Under Arms," for through his hands much of the stolen money passed. In
1900, when Mrs. Young and I were leaving Melbourne on our visit to
Sydney, we were introduced to "Rolf Boldrewood," the author of that
well-known story. His grave face lit up with a smile when my friend
referred to the author of her son's hero. "Ah!" and he shook his head
slowly. "I'm not quite sure about the wisdom of making heroes of such
sorry stuff," he replied. I thought I could do better with a school. I
was 20, and my sister Mary nearly 16, and my mother could help. My
school opened in May, 1846, a month before my father's death, and he
thought that our difficulties were over. My younger brother, David
Wauchope, had been left behind for his education with the three maiden
aunts, but he came out about the end of that year, and began life in
the office of the Burra Mine at a small salary. My eldest brother
William, was not successful in the country, and went to Western
Australia for some years, and later to New Zealand, where he died in
his eightieth year, soon after the death of my brother John in his
seventy-ninth, leaving me the only survivor of eight born and of six
who grew to full age. My eldest sister Agnes died of consumption at the
age of 16; and, as my father's mother and four of his brothers and
sisters had died of this malady, it was supposed to be in the family.
The only time I was kept out of school during the nine years at Miss
Phin's was when I was 12 when I had a cough and suppuration of the
glands of the neck. As this was the way in which Agnes's illness had
begun, my parents were alarmed, though I had no idea of it. I was
leeched and blistered and drugged; I was put into flannel for the only
time in my life; I was sent away for change of air; but no one could
discover that the cough was from the lungs. It passed away with the
cold weather, and I cannot say that I have had any illness since. My
father died of decline, but, if he had been more fortunate, I think he
would have lived much longer. Probably my mother's life was prolonged
beyond that of a long-lived family by her coming to Australia in middle
life; and if I ever had any tendency to consumption, the climate must
have helped me. There were no special precautions against infection in
those days: but no other member of the family took it. and the alarm
about me was three years after Agnes's death.

But to go on to those early days of the forties. There were two
families with whom we were intimate. Mr. George Tinline (who had been
clerk to my fathers' old friend, Williarn Rutherford, of Jedburgh), who
was in the bank of South Australia when in 1839, my father went to put
our small funds in safety, introduced us to a beautiful young widow,
Mrs. Sharpe, and her sisters Eliza and Harriet, and her brother, John
Taylor. Harriet afterwards married Edward Stirling, a close friend of
my brother-in-law, Andrew Murray, and I was a great deal interested in
the Stirlings and their eight children. Mr. William Bakewell, of
Bartley & Bakewell, solicitors, married Jane Warren of Springfield,
Barossa, and I was a familiar friend of their five children. In one
house I was "Miss Spence, the storyteller," in the other "Miss Spence,
the teller of tales!" Some of the tales appeared long after as
Christmas stories in The Adelaide Observer, but my young hearers
preferred the oral narrative, with appropriate gestures and emphasis,
and had no scruple about making faces, to anything printed in books. I
took great liberties with what I had read and sometimes invented all.
It was a part of their education, probably--certainly, it was a part
of mine, and it gave me a command of language which helped me when I
became a public speaker. My brother-in-law's newspaper furnished an
occasional opportunity to me, though no doubt he considered that he
could fill his twice-a-week journal without my help. He was, however,
helpful in other ways. He was one of the subscribers to a Reading Club,
and through him I had access to newspapers and magazines. The South
Australian Institute was a treasure to the family. I recollect a
newcomer being astonished at my sister Mary having read Macaulay's
History. "Why, it was only just out when I left England," said he.
"Well, it did not take longer to come out than you did," was her reply.
We were all omnivorous readers, and the old-fashioned accomplishment of
reading aloud was cultivated by both brothers and sisters. I was the
only one who could translate French at sight, thanks to Miss Phin's
giving me so much of Racine and Moliere and other good French authors
in my school days.

But more important than all this was the fact that we took hold
of the growth and development of South Australia, and identified
ourselves with it. Nothing is insignificant in the history of a young
community, and--above all--nothing seems impossible. I had learned what
wealth was, and a great deal about production and exchange for myself
in the early history of South Australia--of the value of machinery, of
roads and bridges, and of ports for transport and export. I had seen
the 4-lb. loaf at 4/ and at 4d. I had seen Adelaide the dearest and the
cheapest place to live in. I had seen money orders for 2/6, and even
for 6d., current when gold and silver were very scarce. Even before the
discovery of copper South Australia had turned the corner. We had gone
on the land and become primary producers, and before the gold
discoveries in Victoria revolutionized Australia and attracted our male
population across the border, the Central State was the only one which
had a large surplus of wheat and hay to send to the goldfields.

Edward Wilson of The Argus, riding overland to Adelaide about 1848, was
amazed to see from Willunga onward fenced and cultivated farms, with
decent homesteads and machinery up to date. The Ridley stripper enabled
our people to reap and thresh the corn when hands were all too few for
the sickle. He said he felt as if the garden of Paradise must have been
in King William street and that the earliest difference in the world--that
between Cain and Abel--was about the advantages of the 80-acre
system. Australia generally had already to realize the fact that the
pastoral industry was not enough for its development, and South
Australia had seemed to solve the problem through the doctrinaire
founders, of family immigration, small estates, and the development of
agnculture, horticulture, and viticulture. We owed a great deal in the
latter branches to our German settlers--sent out originally by Mr. G.
F. Angas, whose interest was aroused by their suffering persecution for
religious dissent--who saw that Australia had a better climate than
that of the Fatherland. We owed much to Mr. George Stevenson, who was
an enthusiastic gardener and fruitgrower, and lectured on these
subjects, but the contrast between the environs of Adelaide and those
of Sydney and Melbourne were striking, and Mr. Wilson never lost an
opportunity of calling on the Victorian Legislature and the Victorian
public to develop their own wonderful resources. When you take gold out
of the ground there is less gold to win. When you grow golden grain or
ruddy grapes this year you may expect as much and as good next year. My
brother David went with the thousands to buy their fortunes at the
diggings, but my brother John stuck to the Bank of South Australia. My
brother-in-law's subscribers and his printers had gone off and left him
woefully embarrassed. He went to Melbourne. My friend John Taylor left
his sheep in the wilderness and came to Adelaide to the aid of The
Register. He had been engaged to Sophia Stephens, who died, and her
father John Stephens also died soon after; and Mr. Taylor shouldered
the management of the paper until the time of stress was over.

When Andrew Murray obtained employment on The Argus as commercial
editor, he left his twice-a-week newspaper in the charge of Mr. W. W.
Whitridge, my brother John, and myself. If anything was needed to be
written on State aid to religion I was to do it, as Mr. Whitridge was
opposed to it. This lasted three months. The next quarter there were no
funds for the editor. so John and I carried it on, and then let it die.
At that time I believed in State aid, which had been abolished by the
first elected Parliament of South Australia, although that Parliament
consisted of one-third nominees pledged to vote for its continuance.




CHAPTER V.



NOVELS AND A POLITICAL INSPIRATION.


It was the experience of a depopulated province which led me to write
my first book, "Clara Morison--A Tale of South Australia during the
Gold Fever." I entrusted the M.S. to my friend John Taylor, with whom I
had just had the only tiff in my life. He, through his connection with
The Register, knew that I was writing in The South Australian, trying
to keep it alive, till Mr. Murray decided to let it go, and he told
this to other people. At a subscription ball to which my brother John
took me and my younger sister Mary, she found she had been pointed out
and talked of as the lady who wrote for the newspapers. I did not like
it even to be supposed of myself, but Mary was indignant, and I wrote
an injured letter to my friend. He apologized, and said he thought I
would be proud of doing disinterested work, and he was sorry the
mistake had been made regarding the sister who did it. Of course, I
forgave him. He was the last man in the world to give pain to anyone,
and I highly admired him for his disinterested work on The Register. He
reluctantly accepted 1,000 pounds when the paper was sold. He must have
lost much more through neglect of his own affairs at such a critical time.
He was taking a holiday with his sister Eliza in England and France,
where the beautiful widowed sister was settled as Madam Dubois, and I
asked him to take "Clara Morison" to Smith, Elder & Co.'s, in London,
and to say nothing to anybody about it; but before it was placed he
had to return to Adelaide, and in pursuance of my wishes, left it with
my other good friend, Mr. Bakewell, who also happened to be visiting
England with his family at the time--1853-4. I had an idea that, as
there was so much interest in Australia and its gold, I might get 100
pounds for the novel. Mr. Bakewell wrote a preface from which I extract a
passage:--"The writer's aim seems to have been to present some picture
of the state of society in South Australia in the years 1851-2, when
the discovery of gold in the neighbouring province of Victoria took
place. At this time, the population of South Australia numbered between
seventy and eighty thousand souls, the greater part of whom were
remarkable for their intelligence, their industry, and their
enterprise, which, in the instance of the Burra Burra, and other copper
mines had met with such signal success. When it became known that gold
in vast quantities could be found within 300 miles of their own
territory, they could not remain unmoved. The exodus was almost
complete, and entirely without parallel. In those days there was no
King in Israel, and every woman did what was right in her own sight."
Another reason I had for writing the book. Thackeray had written about
an emigrant vessel taking a lot of women to Australia, as if these were
all to be gentlemen's wives--as if there was such a scarcity of
educated women there, that anything wearing petticoats had the prospect
of a great rise in position. I had hoped that Smith, Elder, & Co. would
publish my book, but their reader--Mr. Williams, who discovered
Charlotte Bronte's genius when she sent them "The Professor," and told
her she could write a better, which she did ("Jane Eyre")--wrote a
similiar letter to me, declining "Clara Morison," as he had declined
"The Professor," but saying I could do better. J. W. Parker & Son
published it in 1854, as one of the two-volume series, of which "The
Heir of Redcliffe" had been most successful. The price was to be 40
pounds; but, as it was too long for the series, I was charged 10 pounds
for abridging it. It was very fairly received and reviewed. I think I
liked best Frederick Sinnett's notice in The Argus--that it was the work
of an observant woman--a novelist who happened to live in Australia, but
who did not labour to bring in bushrangers and convicts, and specially
Australian features. While I was waiting to hear the fate of my first
book, I began to write a second, "Tender and True," of which Mr.
Williams thought better, and recommended it to Smith, Elder, and Co.,
who published it in two volumes in 1856, and gave me 20 pounds for the
copyright. This is the only one of my books that went through more than
one edition. There were two or three large editions issued, but I never
got a penny more. I was told that nothing could be made out of shilling
editions; but that book was well reviewed and now and then I have met
elderly people who read the cheap edition and liked it. The motif of the
book was the jealousy which husbands are apt to feel of their wives'
relations. As if the most desirable wife was an amiable orphan--if an
heiress, so much the better. But the domestic virtues which make a
happy home for the husband are best fostered in a centre where brothers
and sisters have to give and take; and a good daughter and sister is
likely to make a good wife and mother. I have read quite recently that
the jokes against the mother-in-law which are so many and so bitter in
English and American journalism are worn out, and have practically
ceased; but Dickens and Thackeray set the fashion, and it lasted a long
time.

While "Clara Morison" was making her debut, I paid my first visit to
Melbourne. I went with Mr. and Mrs. Stirling in a French ship consigned
to him, and we were 12 days on the way, suffering from the limited
ideas that the captain of a French merchantman had of the appetites of
Australians at sea. I intended to pay a six weeks' visit to my sister
and her family, but she was so unwell that I stayed for eight months. I
found that Melbourne in the beginning of 1854 was a very expensive
place to live in, and consequently a very inhospitable place. Mr.
Murray's salary sounded a good one, 500 pounds a year, but it did not get
much comfort. His sister was housekeeper at Charles Williamson & Co.'s,
and that was the only place where I could take off my bonnet and have a
meal. From the windows I watched the procession that welcomed Sir
Charles Hotham, the first Governor of the separated colony of Victoria.
He was received with rejoicing, but he utterly failed to satisfy the
people. He thought anything was good enough for them. One festivity I
was invited to--a ball given on the opening of the new offices of The
Argus in Collins street--and there I met Mr. Edward Wilson, a most
interesting personality, the giver of the entertainment. He was then
vigorously championing the unlocking of the land and the developing of
other resources of Victoria than the gold. It had surprised him when he
travelled overland to Adelaide to see from Willunga 30 miles of
enclosed and cultivated farms, and it surprised me to see sheepruns
close to Melbourne. With a better rainfall and equally good soil,
Victoria had neither the farms nor the vineyards nor the orchards nor
the gardens that had sprung up under the 80-acre section and
immigration systems of South Australia. It had been an outlying portion
of New South Wales, neglected and exploited for pastoral settlement
only. The city, however, had been well planned, like that of Adelaide,
but the suburbs were allowed to grow anyhow. In Adelaide the belt of
park lands kept the city apart from all suburbs. Andrew Murray was as
keen for the development of Victoria agriculturally and industrially as
Mr. Wilson, and they worked together heartily. Owing to the state of my
sister's health I was much occupied with her and her children; but in
August she was well, and I returned with Mr. Taylor and his sister in
the steamer Bosphorus, when it touched at Melbourne on the way home. He
brought me 30 pounds for my book, and the assurance that it would be out
soon, and that I should have six copies to give to my friends. Novel
writing had not been to me a lucrative occupation. I had given up
teaching altogether at the age of 25, and I felt that, though Australia
was to be a great country, there was no market for literary work, and
the handicap of distance from the reading world was great.

My younger sister married in 1855 William J. Wren, then an articled
clerk in Bartley & Bakewell's office, and afterwards a partner with the
present Sir James Boucaut. Mr. Wren's health was indifferent, and
caused us much anxiety. My brother John married Jessie Cumming in 1858,
and they were spared together for many years. As the Wrens went on a
long voyage to Hongkong and back for the sake of my brother-in-law's
health, my mother and I had the charge of their little boy. But in that
year, 1859, my mind received its strongest political inspiration, and
the reform of the electoral system became the foremost object of my
life. John Stuart Mill's advocacy of Thomas Hare's system of
proportional representation brought back to my mind Rowland Hill's
clause in the Adelaide Municipal Bill with wider and larger issues. It
also showed me how democratic government could be made real, and safe,
and progressive. I confess that at first I was struck chiefly by its
conservative side, and I saw that its application would prevent
the political association, which corresponded roughly with the modern
Labour Party, from returning five out of six members of the Assembly
for the City of Adelaide. But for blunders on ballot papers the whole
ticket of six would have been elected. They also elected the three
members for Burra, and Clare. I had then no footing on the Adelaide
press, but I was Adelaide correspondent for The Melbourne Argus--that
is to say, my brother was the correspondent, but I wrote the letters--he
furnished the news. I read Mill's article one Monday night, and
wrote what was meant for a leader on Tuesday morning, and went to read
it to my brother at breakfast time, and posted it forthwith. I knew The
Argus had been dissatisfied with the recent elections, and fancied that
the editor would hail with joy the new idea; but I received the reply
that The Argus was committed to the representation of majorities; and,
though the idea was ingenious, he did not even offer to print it as a
letter. About two years later Mr. Lavington Glyde, M.P., brought
forward in the Assembly Mr. Fawcett's abstract of Hare's great scheme,
and I seized the opportunity of writing a series of letters to The
Register, signed by my initials. Mr. Glyde, seeing the House did not
like his suggestions, dropped the matter, but I did not. I was no
longer correspondent to The Argus--the telegraph stopped that
altogether. My wonderful maiden aunts made up to me and my mother the
50 pounds a year that I had received as correspondent, and did as much for
their brother, Alexander Brodie, of Morphett Vale, from 1,000 pounds they
had sent to invest in South Australia. It was as easy to get 10 per cent.
then as to get 4 per cent. now; indeed I think the money earned 12 per
cent. at first. My brother John was accountant to the South Australian
Railways, then not a very great department--I think the line stretched
as far as Kapunda to the north from Port Adelaide. He was as much
captivated by Mr. Hare's idea as I was, and he said that if I would
write a pamphlet he would pay for the printing of 1,000 copies, to be
sent to all the members of Parliament and other leading people in city
and country. I called my pamphlet "A Plea for Pure Democracy," and when
writing it I felt the democratic strength of the position as I had not
felt it in reading Hare's own book. It cost my brother 15 pounds, but he
never grudged it.

While the pamphlet was in the press, I heard of the dangerous illness
of my friend Lucy Anne Duval (nee Beare), one of the original
passengers in the Duke of York, the first ship which arrived here. I
went to consult Mr. Taylor and Mr. Stirling at their office. I saw only
Mr. Stirling. I said, "I should like to go and nurse her," and he said.
"If you will go, I'll pay your expenses;" and I went and stayed with
her for three weeks, till she died, and left five children, three of
them quite young. There were Duvals in England in good circumstances,
and I wrote pleading for the three little ones, though every one said
it was quite useless; but an uncle by marriage was touched, and sent
100 pounds a year for the benefit of the three children, and I was
constituted the guardian. The youngest died within two years, but the
allowance was not decreased, and I was able to get some schooling for
an elder boy. This was my first guardianship.

My pamphlet did not set the Torrens on fire. It did not convert The
Register, but Mr. Fred Sinnett, who was conducting The Telegraph, was
much impressed, especially as he had the greatest reverence for John
Stuart Mill, and thought him a safe man to follow. I had another novel
under way at the time, and Mr. Sinnett thought it would help The
Telegraph to bring it out as a serial story in the weekly edition; and
I seized my opportunity to bring in Mr. Hare and proportional
representation. In England Mr. Hare, Mr. Mill, Rowland Hill, and his
brother, and Professor Craik, all considered my "Plea for Pure
Democracy" the best argument from the popular side that had appeared. I
got the kindest of letters from them, and my brother considered my
labour and his money well spent. Professor Craik, writing to Miss
Florence Davenport Hill about the "Plea for Pure Democracy," says--"It
is really a pity that the pamphlet should not be reproduced in this
country--modified, of course, to the slight extent that would be
necessary. It is really a very remarkable piece of exposition--the
best for popular effect by far on this subject that has come in my way.
I rejoice to hear that there is a chance of Mr. Hare's plan being
adopted in South Australia." I may be allowed to observe that there is
still a chance, but not yet a reality. My aunts at Thornton Loch were
applied to by my English admirers to see if they would be at the
cost of an English edition; but, though they were goodness itself to
our material needs, they thought it was throwing money away to bring
out a pamphlet on an unpopular subject that would not sell. Why, even
in South Australia, though the price was marked at one shilling, not a
single shilling had been paid for a single copy; and in South Australia
I was known! Not so well known, however. I wrote under initials only,
and many thought my letters and pamphlets were the work of Charles
Simeon Hare, one of the tallest talkers in South Australia, who said
Mr. Thomas Hare was his cousin. My novels were anonymous up to the
third, which was not then written. If my name would have done the cause
any good it would have been given, but it was too obscure then.

The original title of my third book was "Uphill Work," and it took up
the woman question as it appeared to me at the time--the difficulty of
a woman earning a livelihood, even when she had as much ability,
industry, and perseverance as a man. My friend Mrs. Graham, who had
been receiving 100 pounds a year and many presents and much consideration
from the Alstons, of Charles Williamson & Co., had to return to
Scotland to cheer her father's last years. After his death she became
housekeeper to the Crichton Asylum for the Insane, with 600 or 700
patients, at a salary of 30 pounds a year. This started me on the story of
two girls educated well and soundly by an eccentric uncle, but not
accomplished in the showy branches, who, fearing that the elder and
favourite niece would marry a young neighbour, and that the other might
be a confirmed invalid, disinherited them, and left his estate to a
natural son with a strict proviso against his marrying either of his
cousins. In that case the property was to go to a benevolent
institution named. Jane Melville applied for the situation of housekeeper
to this institution at 30 pounds a year, but was refused because
she was too young and inexperienced. After all sorts of disappointments
she took a situation to go out to Australia, and her sister accompanied
her as a lady's maid in the same family. You may wonder how I brought
in proportional representation, but I managed it. I think, on the
whole, it is a stronger book than either of the others. The volume has
two interesting associations, one which connects it with Mrs. Oliphant.
My friend Mrs. Graham knew I had sent it to England for publication,
and when she read the anonymous "Doctor's Family" she was sure it was
mine, and was delighted with it. When I read of the brave Australian
girl Nettie, taking on herself the burden of the flabby sister and her
worthless husband and their children, I wished that I had written such
a capital story. In a subsequent tale of Mrs. Oliphant's, "In Trust," a
father disinherits the elder girl from a fear of an unworthy marriage,
but he leaves a letter to be opened when Rosy is 21, which--should
Anne not marry Cosmo Douglas--restores her to her own mother's
fortune, which was in his power. There was no saving clause in my book.
The nieces were left only 20 pounds a year each. Mr. Williams did not
think "Uphill Work" as good as "Tender and True," and it was hung up till
circumstances most unexpectedly brought me to England, and I tried
Bentley, and found that his reader approved, but wished me to change
the name, as the first critic would say it was uphill work to read it.
Then let it be "Mr. Haliburton's Will." That would clash with
"Mrs Haliburton's Troubles." So the name was changed to Hogarth,
and the title became "Mr. Hogarth's Will." It was well reviewed, and I
got 35 pounds as my half-share of the profits on a three-volume edition,
besides 50 pounds from The Telegraph. But the book was to have more effect
in unexpected quarters than I could imagine. When staying with my aunts in
Scotland I had a letter from Mr. Edward Wilson's secretary, saying that
he had wished to write an article for The Fortnightly on "The
Representation of Classes," which was his cure for the excesses of
democracy; but, as he could not see, and his doctor had forbidden him
even to dictate, he had reluctantly abandoned the idea. He had,
however, heard that I was in Scotland, and, though my idea was
different from his, he believed that I could write the article from
some letters reprinted from The Argus and a few hints from himself, and
that I could adapt them to English conditions. I gladly undertook the
work, and satisfied Mr. Wilson. Just before I left for Australia I went
to Mr. Wilson's, and we went through the proofs together. Mr. Wilson,
being a wealthy man, did not ask any payment from The Fortnightly. but
he gave me 10 pounds and thanked me for stepping in to his assistance when
he needed it. He said that my novel had been the subject of a great
deal of discussion in his house. I asked, "Why?" He replied, "The uncle
and the nieces, of course." I thought no more of it till the death of
Mr. Wilson revealed that he had left his estate to the charities of
Melbourne. Then my brother told me that when he was in England in 1877
Mr. Wilson had told him that it was seldom that a novel had any influence
over a man's conduct, but that reading his sister's novel had set him
thinking, and had made him alter his will. He did not think it to the
advantage of his nieces to be made rich, and he would leave his money to
Victoria and Melbourne, where he had made it. I was the innocent cause of
disappointing the nieces, for I think I made it clear that the uncle
did very wrongly. But when I see 5,000 pounds a year distributed among
Melbourne charities, and larger gifts for the building of a new
hospital, I cannot help thinking that these are the results of Mr.
Wilson reading "Mr. Hogarth's Will" and it may be that other similar
trusts are the results of Mr. Wilson's action.

Another literary success I had during that visit to England. I went to
Smith, Elder, & Co. to ask if I could not get anything for the shilling
edition of "Tender and True," and was answered in the negative; but I
had not talked ten minutes with Mr. Williams before he said that if I
would put these ideas into shape, he thought he could get an article
accepted by The Cornhill Magazine. "An Australian's Impressions of
England" was approved by the editor, and appeared in The Cornhill for
January 1866, and for that I received 12 pounds, the best-paid work I had
ever had up to that time. The Saturday Review said of "Mr. Hogarth's
Will" that there was no haziness about money matters in it such as is
too common among lady writers. Mr. Bentley advised me to give my name,
and not to sell my copyright; but the latter has been of no value to
me; 500 copies of a three-volume novel exhausted the likely demand. I
got 12 copies to give to friends, and one copy I gave to Mr. Hare. His
daughters were a little amused to see their father in a novel, and as
the book was in the circulating library their friends and acquaintances
used to ask, "Is that really your papa that it is intended for?" I did
not at the time think of facing anybody in England, but I had been both
amused and annoyed with the portraits I was supposed to have drawn from
real people in and about Adelaide--often people I had never seen and
had not beard of. "But Harris is Ellis to the life," said my old Aunt
Brodie of Morphett Vale. "Miss Withing is my sister-in-law," said
another. Neither of these people had I seen. Of course, Mr. Reginald
was Mr. John Taylor, the only squatter I knew, but I myself was not
identified with my heroine Clara Morison. I was Margaret Elliott, the
girl who was studying law with her brother Gilbert; but my brother and
my cousin Louisa Brodie were supposed to be figuring in my book as
lovers. In a small society it was easy to affix the characteristics to
some one whom it was possible the author might have met; but I shrank
from the idea that I was capable of "taking off" people of my
acquaintance, and for many reasons would have liked if the book had not
been known to be mine in South Australia. There must, however, have
been some lifelike presentment of my characters, or they could not have
been recognised. About this time I read and appreciated Jane Austen's
novels--those exquisite miniatures, which no doubt her contemporaries
identified without much interest. Her circle was as narrow as
mine--indeed, narrower. She was the daughter of a clergyman in the
country. She represented well-to-do grownup people, and them alone. The
humour of servants, the sallies of children, the machinations of villains,
the tricks of rascals, are not on her canvas; but she differentiated among
equals with a firm hand, and with a constant ripple of amusement. The
life I led had more breadth and wider interests. The life of Miss
Austen's heroines, though delightful to read about, would have been
deadly dull to endure. So great a charm have Jane Austen's books had
for me that I have made a practice of reading them through regularly
once a year.

As we grew to love South Australia, we felt that we were in an
expanding society, still feeling the bond to the motherland, but eager
to develop a perfect society, in the land of our adoption.




CHAPTER VI.



A TRIP TO ENGLAND.


I have gone on with the story of my three first novels consecutively,
anticipating the current history of myself and South Australia. There
were three great steps taken in the development of Australia. The first
was when McArthur introduced the merino sheep; the second when
Hargreaves and others discovered gold; and the latest when cold-storage
was introduced to make perishable products available for the European
markets. The second step created a sudden revolution; but the others
were gradual, and the area of alluvial diggings in Victoria made
thousands of men without capital or machinery rush to try their
fortunes--first from the adjacent colonies, and afterwards from the
ends of the earth. Law and order were kept on the goldfields of Mount
Alexander, Bendigo, and Ballarat by means of a strong body of police,
and the high licence fees for claims paid for their services, so that
nothing like the scenes recorded of the Californian diggings could be
permitted. But for the time ordinary industries were paralysed.
Shepherds left their flocks, farmers their land, clerks their desks,
and artisans their trades. Melbourne grew apace in spite of the highest
wages known being exacted by masons and carpenters. Pastoralists
thought ruin stared them in the face till they found what a market the
goldfields offered for their surplus stock. Our South Australian
farmers left their holdings in the hands of their wives and children
too young to take with them, but almost all of them returned to grow
grain and produce to send to Victoria. It was astonishing what the
women had done during their absence. The fences were kept repaired and
the stock attended to, the grapes gathered, and the wine made. In these
days it was not so easy to get 80 acres or more in Victoria; so, with
what the farmers brought from their labours on the goldfields, they
extended their holdings and improved their homes. For many years the
prices in Melbourne regulated prices in Adelaide, but when the land was
unlocked and the Victorian soil and climate were found to be as good as
ours it was Mark lane that fixed prices over all Australia for primary
products. After the return of most of the diggers there was a great
deal of marrying and giving in marriage. The miners who had left the
Burra for goldseeking gradually came back, and the nine remarkable
copper mines of Moonta and Wallaroo attracted the Cornishmen, who
preferred steady wages and homes to the diminishing chances of Ballarat
and Bendigo where machinery and deep sinking demanded capital, and the
miners were paid by the week. These new copper mines were found in the
Crown leases held by Capt. (afterwards Sir Walter) Hughes. He had been
well dealt with by Elder, Smith, & Co., and gave them the opportunity
of supporting him. At that time my friends Edward Stirling and John
Taylor were partners in that firm, and they shared in the success. Mr.
Bakewell belonged to the legal firm which did their business, so that
my greatest friends seemed to be in it. I think my brother John
profited less by the great advance of South Australia than he deserved
for sticking to the Bank of South Australia. He got small rises in his
salary, but the cost of living was so enhanced that at the end of seven
years it did not buy much more than the 100 pounds he had begun with. My
eldest maiden aunt died, and left to her brother and sister in South
Australia all she had in her power. My mother bought a brick cottage in
Pulteney street and a Burra share with her legacy--both excellent
investments--and my brother left the bank and went into the aerated
water business with James Hamilton Parr.

We made the acquaintance of the family of Mrs. Francis Clark, of
Hazelwood, Burnside. She was the only sister of five clever brothers--
Matthew Davenport, Rowland, Edwin, Arthur, and Frederick Hill. Rowland
is best known, but all were remarkable men. She was so like my mother
in her sound judgment, accurate observation, and kind heart, that I was
drawn to her at once. But it was Miss Clark who sought an
introduction to me at a ball, because her uncle Rowland had written to
her that "Clara Morison," the new novel, was a capital story of South
Australian life. She was the first person to seek me out on account of
literary work, and I was grateful to her. I think all the brothers Hill
wrote books, and Rosamond and Florence Davenport Hill had just
published "Our Exemplars." My friendship with Miss Clark led to much
work together, and the introduction was a great widening of interests
for me. There were four sons and three daughters--Miss Clark and
Howard were the most literary, but all had great ability and
intelligence. They were Unitarians, and W. J. Wren, my brother-in-law,
was also a Unitarian, and had been one of the 12 Adelaide citizens who
invited out a minister and guaranteed his salary. I was led to hear
what the Rev. J. Crawford Woods had to say for that faith, and told my
old minister (Rev. Robert Haining) that for three months I would hear
him in the morning and Mr. Woods in the evening, and read nothing but
the Bible as my guide; and by that time I would decide. I had been
induced to go to the Sacrament at 17, with much heart searching, but
when I was 25 I said I could not continue a communicant, as I was not a
converted Christian. This step greatly surprised both Mr. and Mrs.
Haining, as I did not propose to leave the church. The result of my
three months' enquiry was that I became a convinced Unitarian, and the
cloud was lifted from the universe. I think I have been a most cheerful
person ever since. My mother was not in any way distressed, though she
never separated from the church of her fathers. My brother was as
completely converted as I was, and he was happy in finding a wife like
minded. My sister, Mrs. Wren, also was satisfied with the new faith; so
that she and her husband saw eye to eye. It was a very live
congregation in those early days. We liked our pastor, and we admired
his wife, and there were a number of interesting and clever people who
went to the Wakefield Street Church.

It was rather remarkable that my sister's husband and my brother's wife
arrived on the same day in two different ships--one in the Anglier
from England, and the other in the Three Bells from Glasgow--in 1851;
but I did not make the acquaintance of either till 1854 and 1855.
Jessie Cumming and Mary Spence shook hands and formed a friendship over
Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus." My brother-in-law (W. J. Wren) had fine
literary tastes, especially for poetry. The first gift to his wife
after marriage was Elizabeth Browning's poems in two volumes and Robert
Browning's "Plays and Dramatic Lyrics" in two volumes, and Mary and I
delighted in them all. In those days I considered my sister Mary and my
sister-in-law the most brilliant conversationalists I knew. My elder
sister, Mrs. Murray, also talked very well--so much so that her
husband's friends and visitors fancied she must write a lot of his
articles; but none of the three ladies went beyond writing good
letters. I think all of them were keener of sight than I was--more
observant of features, dress, and manners; but I took in more by the
ear. As Sir Walter Scott says, "Speak that I may know thee." To my
mind, dialogue is more important for a novel than description; and, if
you have a firm grasp of your characters, the dialogue will be true.
With me the main difficulty was the plot; and I was careful that this
should not be merely possible, but probable. I have heard scores of
people say that they have got good plots in their heads, and when
pressed to tell them they proved to be only incidents. You need much
more than an incident, or even two or three, with which to make a book.
But when I found my plot the story seemed to write itself, and the
actors to fit in.

When the development of the Moonta Mine made some of my friends rich
they were also liberal. Edward Stirling said that if I wanted a trip to
England I should have it at his cost, but it seemed impossible. After
the death of Mr. Wren my mother and I went to live with my sister, and
put two small incomes together, so as to be able to bring up and
educate her two children, a boy and a girl. My brother John had left
the railway, and for nine years had been Official Assignee and Curator
of Intestate Estates; and in 1863 he had been appointed manager of the
new Adelaide branch of the English, Scottish, and Australian Bank. My
friend, Mr. Taylor, had helped well to get the position for one he
thought the fittest man in the city. He had lost his wife, Miss Mary
Ann Dutton when on a visit to England, and at this time was engaged to
Miss Harriet McDermott. His sisters both were very cold about the
engagement. They did not like second marriages at all, and
considered it a disrespect to the first wife's memory, even though a
decent interval had elapsed. When he wrote to me about it I took quite
a different view. He said it was the kindest and the wisest letter I
had ever written in my life, and he knew I had loved his late wife very
much. He came to thank me, and to tell me that he had always wished
that I should be in England at the time he was there, and that he was
going in a P. & 0. boat immediately after his marriage. Although Mr.
Stirling had promised to pay my passage, I hesitated about going. There
were my mother, who was 72, and my guardianship of the Duvals to think
about. I had also undertaken the oversight of old Mrs. Stephens, the
widow of one of the early proprietors of The Register. These objections
were all overruled. I still hesitated. "I cannot go unless I have money
to spend," I urged. "Let me do that," was the generous reply.--"I have
left you 500 pounds in my will. Let me have the pleasure of giving you
something while I live." I was not too proud to owe that memorable
visit to England to my two good friends. John Taylor had put into my
hands on board the Goolwa, in which I sailed, a draft for 200 pounds for
my spending money, and in the new will he made after his marriage he
bequeathed me 300 pounds. I said "Goodby" to him, with good wishes for his
health and happiness. I never saw him again. He took a sickly looking
child on his knee when crossing the Isthmus of Suez--there was no
canal in 1864--to relieve a weary mother. The child had smallpox, and
my friend took it and died of it. He was being buried beside his first
wife at Brighton when the Goolwa sailed up the Channel after a passage
of 14 weeks--as long as that of the Palmyra 25 years before--and the
first news we heard was that Miss Taylor had lost a brother, the
children a favourite uncle, and I, a friend. It was a sad household,
but the Bakewells were in London on business connected with some claims
of discovery of the Moonta Mines, and they took me to their house in
Palace Gardens. Kensington, till I could arrange to go to my aunt's in
Scotland. All our plans about seeing people and places together were,
of course, at an end. I was to go "a lone hand." Mrs. Taylor had a
posthumous son, who never has set foot in Australia. She married a
second time, an English clergyman named Knight, and had several sons,
but she has never revisited Adelaide, although she has many relatives
here. So the friend who loved Australia, and was eager to do his duty
by it--who thoroughly approved of the Hare system of representation,
and thought I did well to take it up, was snatched away in the prime of
life. I wonder if there is any one alive now to whom his memory is as
precious. The Register files may preserve some of his work.

At Palace Gardens the Bakewell family were settled in a furnished house
belonging to Col. Palmer, one of the founders of South Australia,
though never a resident. Palmer place, North Adelaide, bears his name.
Thackeray's house we had to pass when we went out of the street in the
direction of the city. His death had occurred in the previous year. I
had an engagement with Miss Julia Wedgwood, through an introduction
given by Miss Sophia Sinnett, an artist sister of Frederick Sinnett's.
I was called for and sent home. I was not introduced to the family. It
was a fine large house with men servants and much style. Miss Wedgwood,
who was deaf, used an ear trumpet very cleverly. I found her as
delightful as Miss Sinnett had represented her to be, and I discovered
that Miss Sinnett had been governess to her younger sisters, but that
there was real regard for her. I don't know that I ever spent a more
delightful evening. She had just had Browning's "Dramatis Personae,"
and we read together "Rabbi Ben Ezira" and "Prospice." She knew about
the Hare scheme of representation, supported by Mill and Fawcett and
Craik. She was a good writer, with a fine critical faculty. Everything
signed by her name in magazines or reviews was thenceforward
interesting to me. I promised her a copy of my "Plea for Pure
Democracy," which she accepted and appreciated. By the father's side
she was a granddaughter of Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of British
pottery as a fine art. Her mother was a daughter of Sir James
Mackintosh. Mrs. Wedgwood was so much pleased with my pamphlet that she
wanted to be introduced to me, and when I returned to London I had the
pleasure of making her acquaintance. Miss Wedgwood gave me a
beautifully bound copy of "Men and Women," of which she had a
duplicate, which I cherish in remembrance of her.

During my stay I was visited by Mr. Hare. I had to face up to
the people I had written to with no idea of any personal communication,
and I must confess that I felt I must talk well to retain their good
opinion. I promised to pay a visit to the Hares when I came to London
for the season. He was a widower with eight children, whom he had
educated with the help of a governess, but he was the main factor in
their training. The two eldest daughters were married--Mrs. Andrews,
the eldest, had helped him in his calculations for his great book on
"Representation." His second daughter was artistic, and was married to
John Westlake, an eminent lawyer, great in international law, a pupil
of Colenso, who was then in London, and who was the best-abused man in
the church. Another visitor was George Cowan, a great friend of my late
brother-in-law, Mr. W. J. Wren, who wrote to him till his death, when
the pen was taken up by my sister Mary till her death, and then I
corresponded with him till his death. He came to London a raw Scotch
lad. and met Mr. Wren at the Whittington Club. Both loved books and
poetry, and both were struggling to improve themselves on small
salaries. George Cowan had been entrusted with the printed slips of
"Uphill Work," and had tried it at two publishers without success. I
had to delay any operations till I returned to London, and promised to
visit the Cowans there.




CHAPTER VII.



MELROSE REVISITED.


Jack Bakewell and Edward Lancelot Stirling went to see me off by the
night train to Dunbar Station, five miles from Thornton-Loch, and I
got there in time for breakfast. The old house was just the same except
for an oriel window in the drawing room looking out on the North Sea.
and the rocks which lay between it and Colhandy path (where my
great-grandfather Spence had preached and his wife had preferred
Wesley), and Chirnside, or Spence's Mains in the same direction. All
the beautiful gardens, the farm village, where about 80 souls lived,
the fields and bridges were just as I remembered them. My aunt Margaret
was no longer the vigorous business-like woman whom I recollected
riding or driving in her little gig an over the farm of 800 English
acres which my great-grandfather had rented since 1811. Not the Miss
Thompson whom I had introduced into "Uphill Work." She had had a severe
stroke of paralysis, and was a prisoner to the house, only being lifted
from her bed to be dressed, and to sit in a wheeled chair and be taken
round the garden on fine days. The vigorous intellect was somewhat
clouded, and the power of speech also; but she retained her memory. She
was always at work with her needle (for her hands were not affected)
for the London children, grandnieces, and nephews who called her
grandmamma, for she had had the care of their Parents during 11 years
of her brother Alexander's widowhood. But Aunt Margaret could play a
capital game of whist--long whist. I could see that she missed it much
on Sunday. It was her only relaxation. She had given up the farm to
James Brodie, who had married her cousin Jane, the eldest of the two
children she had mothered, and he had to come to the farm once or twice
a week, having a still larger farm of his own in East Lothian, and a
stock farm in Berwickshire also to look after. The son of the old farm
steward, John Burnet, was James Brodie's steward, and I think the farm
was well managed, but not so profitable as in old times. Aunt Mary
said, in her own characteristic way, "she always knew that her sister
was a clever woman, but that the cleverest thing she had done was
taking up farming and carrying it on for 30 years when it was
profitable, and turning it over when it began to fall off." But she
turned it over handsomely, and did not interfere in the management. My
Aunt Mary deserves a chapter for herself. She was my beau ideal of what
a maiden aunt should be, though why she was never married puzzles more
than me. Between my mother and her there was a love passing the love of
sisters--my father liked her better than his own sisters. When my
letter announcing my probable visit reached her she misread it, and
thought it was Helen herself who was to come; and when she found out
her mistake she shed many tears. I was all very well in my way, but I
was not Helen. It was not the practice in old times to blazon an
engagement, or to tell of an offer that had been declined; but my
mother firmly believed that her sister Mary, the cleverest and, as she
thought, the handsomest of the five sisters, had never in her life had
an offer of marriage, although she had a love disappointment at 30. She
had fixed her affections on a brilliant but not really worthy man, and
she had to tear him out of her heart with considerable difficulty. It
cost her a severe illness, out of which she emerged with what she
believed to be a change of heart. She was a converted Christian. I
myself don't think there was so much change. She was always a noble,
generous woman, but she found great happiness in religion. Aunt Mary's
disappointment made her most sympathetic to all love stories, and
without any disappointment at all, I think I may say the same of
myself. She was very popular with the young friends of her youngest
brother, who might have experienced calf love; so very real, but so
very ineffectual. One of these said to her:--"Oh, Miss Mary, you're just
a delight, you are so witty." Another, when she spoke of some man who
talked such delightful nonsense, said, "If you would only come to
Branxholme I'd talk nonsense to you the haill (whole) day."

When I arrived at the old home I found Aunt Mary vigorously rubbing her
hand and wrist (she had slipped downstairs in a neighbour's house, and
broken her arm, and had to drive home before she could have it set). No
one from the neighbour's house went to accompany her; no one came to
enquire; no message was sent. When she recovered so far as to be able
to be out, she met at Dunbar the gentleman and lady also driving in
their conveyance. They greeted each other, and aunt could not resist
the temptation to say:--"I am so glad to see you, and so glad that you
have spoken to me, for I thought you were so offended at my taking the
liberty of breaking my arm in your house that you did not mean to speak
to me again." This little expression of what the French call malice,
not the English meaning, was the only instance I can recollect of Aunt
Mary's not putting the kindest construction on everybody's words and
actions. But when I think of the love that Aunt Mary gathered to
herself from brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends--it
seems as if the happiest wife and mother of a large family could not
reckon up as rich stores of affection. She was the unfailing
correspondent of those members of the family who were separated by land
and ocean from the old home, the link that often bound these together,
the most tolerant to their failings, the most liberal in her aid--full
of suggestions, as well as of sympathy. Now, in my Aunt Margaret's
enfeebled state, she was the head of the house and the director of all
things. Although she had differed from the then two single sisters and
the family generally at the time of the disruption of the Church of
Scotland, and gone over to the Free Church, the more intensely
Calvinistic of the two, though accepting the same standards--the
Westminster Confession and the Shorter Catechism--all the harsher
features fell off the living texture of her faith like cold water off a
duck's back. From natural preference she chose for her devotions those
parts of the Bible which I selected with deliberate intention. She
wondered to find so much spiritual kinship with me, when I built on
such a different foundation. When I suggested that the 109th Psalm,
which she read as the allotted portion in "Fletcher's Family
Devotions," was not fit to be read in a Christian household, she said
meekly--"You are quite right, I shall mark it, and never read it
again."

My mother always thought me like her sister Mary, and when I asked Mr.
Taylor if he saw any resemblance between us, he said, with cruel
candour--"Oh, no. Your Aunt Mary is a very handsome woman." But in ways
and manners, both my sister Mary and myself had considerable
resemblances to our mother's favourite sister; and I can see traces of
it in my own nieces. There can be no direct descent from maiden aunts,
though the working ants and bees do not inherit their industrious
habits from either male or female parents, but from their maiden aunts.
Galton's theory, that potentialities not utilized by individuals or by
their direct descendants may miss a generation or two, opens a wide
field of thought, and collaterals may draw from the original source
what was never suspected. And the Brodies intermarried in such a way as
to shock modern ideas. When my father was asked if a certain Mr.
Dudgeon, of Leith, was related to him, he said--"He is my mother's
cousin and my stepmother's cousin, and my father-in-law's cousin, and
my mother-in-law's cousin." Except for Spences and Wauchopes there was
not a relative of my father that was not related to my mother.
Grandfather Brodie married his cousin, and Grandfather Spence married
his late wife, Janet Parks cousin Katherine Swanston. I cannot see that
these close marriages produced degenerates, either physical or mental,
in the case of my own family.

Of the twelve months I spent in the old country, I spent six with the
dear old aunts. How proud Aunt Mary was of my third novel, with the
sketch of Aunt Margaret in it, of the Cornhill article, and the request
from Mr. Wilson to write for The Fortnightly. I introduced her to new
books and especially to new poets; she had never heard of Browning and
Jean Ingelow. She was so much cleverer than her neighbours that I often
wondered how she could put up with them. How conservative these farmers
and farmers' wives and daughters were, to be sure. These big tenants
considered themselves quite superior to tradesmen, even to merchants,
unless they were in a big way. There was infinitely more difference
between their standard of living and that of their labourers than
between theirs and that of the aristocratic landlords. James Barnet,
the farm steward, said to me--"you have brought down the price
of wheat with your Australian grain, and you do big things in wool, but
you can never touch us in meat." This was quite true in 1865. I
expected to see some improvement in the farm hamlet, but the houses
built by the landlord were still very poor and bare. The wages had
risen a little since 1839, but not much. The wheaten loaf was cheaper,
and so was tea and sugar, but the poor were still living on porridge
and bannocks of barley and pease meal instead of tea and white bread.
It was questionable if they were as well nourished. There were 100
souls living on the farms of Thornton and Thornton Loch.

A short visit from Mrs. Graham to me at Thornton Loch opened up to Aunt
Mary some of my treasures of memory. She asked me to recite "Brother in
the Lane," Hood's "Tale of a Trumpet," "Locksley Hall." "The Pied
Piper," and Jean Ingelow's "Songs of Seven." She made me promise to go
to see her, and find out how much she had to do for her magnificent
salary of 30 pounds a year; but she impressed Aunt Mary much. Mrs. Graham
had found that the Kirkbeen folks, among whom she lived, were more
impressed by the six months' experiences of two maiden ladies, who had
gone to Valparaiso to join a brother who died, than with her fresh and
racy descriptions of four young Australian colonies. She had seen
Melbourne from 1852 to 1855--a wonderful growth and development. The
only idea the ladies from Valparaiso formed about Australia was that it
was hot and must be Roman Catholic, and consequently the Sabbath must
be desecrated. It was in vain that my friend spoke of the Scots Church
and Dr. Cairns's Church. Heat and Roman Catholicism were inseparably
connected in their minds.

Visiting Uncle and Aunt Handyside and grown-up cousins, whom I left
children, I saw a lot of good farming and the easy circumstances which
I always associated with tenants' holdings in East Lothian. Next farm
to Fenton was Fentonbarns, a Show place, which was held by George Hope,
a cousin of my grandmother's He was an exceptional man--a radical, a
freetrader, and a Unitarian. Cobden died that year. Uncle Handyside was
surprised that George Hope did not go into mourning for him. John
Bright still lived, and he was the bete noire of the Conservatives in
that era; and the abolition of the corn laws was held to be the cause
of the agricultural ditress--not the high rent of agricultural land.
George Hope was a striking personality. When my friend J. C. Woods was
minister at St. Mark's Unitarian Church, Edinburgh, Mr. Hope used to be
called the Bishop, though he lived 16 miles off. When the first Mrs.
Woods died, leaving an infant son, it was Mrs. Hope who cared for it
till it could go to his relatives in Ireland. Later he stood for
Parliament himself. In the paper I wrote over the name of Edward Wilson
for The Fortnightly I noted how the House of Commons represented the
people--or misrepresented them. The House consisted of peers and sons
of peers, military and naval officers, bankers, brewers, and
landownership was represented enormously, but there were only two
tenant farmers in the House. It was years after my return to Australia
that I heard of his unsuccessful candidature, and that when he sought
to take another lease of Fentonbarns, he was told that under no
circumstances would his offer be entertained. Fentonbarns had been
farmed by, three generations of Hopes for 100 years, and to no owner by
parchment titles could it have been more dear. George Hope's friend,
Russell, of The Scotsman, fulminated against the injustice of refusing
a lease to the foremost agriculturist in Scotland--and when you say
that you may say of the United Kingdom--because the tenant held
certain political opinions and had the courage to express them. My
uncle Handyside, however, always maintained that his neighbour was the
most honourable man in business that he knew, and far from being an
atheist or even a deist, he had family prayers, and on the occasion of
a death in the family, the funeral service was most impressive. He was
one of the salt of the earth, and the atmosphere was clearer around him
for his presence.

But I must give some space to my visit to Melrose, my childhood's home.
My father's half-sister Janet Reid was alive and though her two sons
were, one at St. Kitts and the other at Grand Canary, she lived with an
old husband and her only daughter in Melrose still.. I can never forget
the look of tender pity cast on me as I was sitting in our old seat in
church, looking at seats filled by another generation. The
paterfamilias, so wonderfully like his father of 1839, and sons and
daughters, sitting in the place of uncles and aunts settled
elsewhere. They grieved that I had been banished from the romantic
associations and the high civilization of Melrose to rough it in the
wilds, while my heart was full of thankfulness that I had moved to the
wider spaces and the more varied activities of a new and progressive
colony. My dear old teacher was still alive, though the school had been
closed for many years. She lived at St. Mary's with her elder sister,
who had taught me sewing and had done the housekeeping, but she herself
was almost blind, and a girl came every day to read to her for two or
three hours. She told me what a good thing it was that she knew all the
Psalms in the prose version by heart, for in the sleepless nights which
accompany old age so often they were such a comfort to her in the night
watches. I had sent her my two novels when they were published, "Clara
Morison" and "Tender and True." She would have been glad if they had
been more distinctly religious in tone. Indeed, the novel I began at 19
would have suited her better, but my brother's insistence on reading it
every day as I wrote it somehow made me see what poor stuff it was, and
I did not go far with it. But Miss Phin was, on the whole, pleased with
my progress, and glad that I was able to go to see her and talk of old
times. How very small the village of Melrose looked! How little
changed! The distances to the neighbouring villages of Darnick and
Newstead, and across the Tweed to Gattonsville, seemed so shrunken. It
was not so far to Abbotsford as to Norwood. The very Golden Hills
looked lower than my childish recollection of them. Aunt Janet Reid
rejoiced over me sufficiently. "You are not like your mother in the
face, but, oh, Katie, you are like dear Mrs. David in your ways. How I
was determined to hate her when she came to Melrose first. I was not 13
and she was taking away the best of my brothers, the one that I liked
best; but it did not take long before I was as fond of her as of David
himself."

I also had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Murray, the parish
schoolmaster. who taught my three brothers, then retired, living with
his daughter, Louisa, an old schoolfellow at Miss Phin's. There was an
absurd idea current in 1865 that all visiting Australians were rich and
I could not disabuse people of that notion. Of all the two families of
Brodies and Spences who came out in 1839 there was only my brother John
who could be called successful. He was then manager of the Adelaide
branch of the English, Scottish, and Australian Bank. If it had not
been for help from the wonderful aunts from time to time both families
would have been stranded. I had the greatest faith in the future of
Australia, but I felt that for such gifts as I possessed there was no
market at home. Possibly I should have tried literature earlier if I
had remained in Scotland, but I am not at all sure that I could have
succeeded as well. For the first time in my life I had as much money as
I wanted. I am surprised now that I spent that 200 pounds when I had so
much hospitality. In fact, except for a week in Paris, I never had any
hotel expenses. I had got the money to enjoy it and I did. This was what
my friend wished. I made a few presents. I bought some to take home with
me. I spent money on dress freely, so as to present a proper appearance
when visiting. I was liberal with veils, though I hate the practice. To
a woman who had to look on both sides of a shilling since 1839 this
experience was new and delightful. Among other people I went to see was
Mrs. C----. the widow of the Tory writer and branch bank manager, who
was my father's successful rival. He was not speculative like my
father. He was a keen business man and had a great hunger for land.

On the gravestones around Melrose Abbey are many names with the
avocation added--John Smith, builder; William Hogg, mason--but many
with the word portioner. They were small proprietors, but they were not
distinguished for the careful cultivation which in France is known as
"LA PETITE CULTURE." No; the portions were most carelessly handled, and
in almost every instance they were "bonded" or mortgaged. I recollect
in old days these portioners used to make moonlight, flittings and
disappear, or they sold off their holdings openly and went to America,
meaning the United States. The tendency was to buy up these portions,
and a considerable estate could be built up by any shrewd man who had
money, or the command of it. Before we left Melrose in 1839, Mr. C----
had possession of a good deal of land. When he died he left property of
the value of 90,000 pounds, an unheard-of estate for a country writer
before the era of freetrade and general expansion. He had asked so much
revenue from the railway company when the plan was to cut through the
gardens we as children used to play in, that the company made a
deviation and left the garden severely alone. The eldest daughter had
married a landed proprietor, the second was single, the third married
to a wealthy man in the west, the fourth the richest widow in Scotland.
One son had land, and the other son land, and another business
training. All was material success, and I am sure I did not grudge it
to them, but when I took stock of real things I had not the least
glimmering of a wish to exchange. One generally desires a little more
money than one has; but even that may cost too much. I think my dear
old Aunt Reid felt that the Spences had gone down in my father's
terrible smash in 1839, and the C---- family had steadily gone up, and
she was pleased that a niece from Australia, who had written two books
and a wonderful pamphlet, and, more important still in the eyes of Mrs.
Grundy, had money to spend and to give, was staying with her in
Melrose, and wearing good and well made clothes. Old servants--the old
laundress--old schoolfellows were visited. My father's old clerk,
Allan Freer, had a good business in Melrose, though not equal to that
of the Tory firm. I think the portioners were all sold out before he
could enter the field, and the fate of these Melrose people has
thoroughly emphasized for me the importance of having our South
Australian workmen's blocks, the glory of Mr. Cotton's life, maintained
always on the same footing of perpetual lease dependent on residence.
If the small owner has the freehold, he is tempted to mortgage it, and
then in most instances the land is lost to him, and added to the
possessions of the man who has money. With a perpetual lease, there is
the same security of tenure as in the freehold--indeed, there is more
security, because he cannot mortgage. I did not see the land question
as clearly on this 1865 visit, as I did later; but the extinction of
the old portioners and the wealth acquired by the moneyed man of
Melrose gave me cause for thinking.




CHAPTER VIII.



I VISIT EDINBURGH AND LONDON.


A visit to Glasgow and to the relatives of my sister-in-law opened out
a different vista to me. This was a great manufacturing and commercial
city, which had far outgrown Edinburgh in population and wealth; but
the Edinburgh people still boasted of being the Athens of the north,
the ancient capital with the grandest historic associations. In Glasgow
I fell in with David Murray and his wife (of D. & W. Murray Adelaide)--not
quite so important a personage as be became later. Not a relative
of mine; but a family connection, for his brother William married Helen
Cumming, Mrs. J. B. Spence's sister. David Murray was always a great
collector of paintings, and especially of prints, which last he left to
the Adelaide Art Gallery. He was a close friend of my brother John's
until the death of the latter. One always enjoys meeting with Adelaide
people in other lands, and comparing the most recent items of news. I
went to Dumfries according to promise, and spent many days with my old
friend Mrs. Graham, but stayed the night always with her sister, Mrs.
Maxwell, wife of a printer and bookseller in the town. Dumfries was
full of Burns's relies and memorials. Mr. Gilfillan had taken the
likeness of Mrs. Burns and her granddaughter when he was a young man,
and Mrs. Maxwell corresponded with the grandaughter. It was also full
of associations with Carlyle. His youngest sister, Jean the Craw, as
she was called on account of her dark hair and complexion was Mrs.
Aitkin, a neighbour and close friend of Mrs. Maxwell. I was taken to
see her, and I suppose introduced as a sort of author, and she
regretted much that this summer Tom was not coming to visit her at
Dumfries. She was a brisk, cheery person, with some clever daughters,
who were friends of the Maxwell girls. When the Froude memorials came
out no one was more indignant than Jean the Craw--"Tom and his wife
always understood each other. They were not unhappy, though after her
death he reproached himself for some things."

I found that my friend had just as much to do from morning to night as
she could do, and I hoped with a great hope that "Uphill Work" would be
published, and all the world would see how badly capable and
industrious women were paid. I fancied that a three-volume novel would
be read, marked, and inwardly digested by everybody! But Mrs. Graharn
was appreciated by the matron, the doctors, and by the people of
Dumfries, as she had not been in the village of Kirkbeen. Her
picturesque descriptions of life in the various colonies interested
home-staying folk, for she had the keenest observing faculties. There
was an old cousin of Uncle Handyside's who always turned the
conversation on to Russia, where he had visited successful brothers;
but his talk was not incisive. My cousin Agnes asked me when I supposed
this visit was paid, and I said a few years ago, probably, when she
laughed and said--"Nicol Handyside spent six weeks in Russia 30 years
ago, and he has been talking about it ever since." One visit I paid in
Edinburgh to an old lady from Melrose, who lived with a married
daughter. She had always been very deaf, and the daughter was out. With
great difficulty I got her to see by my card that my name was Spence.
"Are you Jessie Spence?" I shook my head. "No; Katie." "Are you Mary
Spence?" Another headshake, "No; I am Katie." "Then who are you?" She
could understand the negative by the headshaking, but not anything
else. I wanted a piece of paper or a slate badly, but the daughter came
in and made her mother understand that I was the middle Spence girl,
and then the old lady said, "It is a very hot country you come from,"
her only idea apparently of wonderful Australia. And to think that in
times long past some intriguing aunts tried very hard to arrange a
marriage between my father and the deaf young lady who had about 600
pounds a year in land in and near Melrose. She might have been my mother!
The idea was appalling! None of her children inherited the deafness, and
they took a fair proportion of good looks from their father, for the
mother was exceedingly homely. A brightlooking grandson was on
the rug looking through a bound volume of Punch, as my nephew in
Australia loved to do. The two mothers were school companions and
playmates.

My return to London introduced me to a wider range of society. I had
admissions to the Ladies' Gallery of the House of Commons from Sir
Charles Dilke, Professor Pearson's friend, and I had invitations to
stay for longer or shorter periods with people various in means, in
tastes, and in interests. To Mr. Hare I was especially drawn, and I
should have liked to join him and his family in their yearly walking
tour, which was to be through the Tyrol and Venice; but Aunt Mary
protested for two good and sufficient reasons. The first was that I
could not walk 16 or 20 miles a day, even in the mountains, which Katie
Hare said was so much easier than on the plains; and the second was
that to take six weeks out of my visit to the old country was a great
deal too much. If it could have done any good to proportional
representation I might have stood out; but it could not. For that I
have since travelled thousands of miles by sea and by land; and, though
not on foot, I have undergone much bodily fatigue and mental strain,
but in these early days of the movement it had only entered the
academic stage. My "Plea for Pure Democracy" had been written at a
white heat of enthusiasm. I do not think I ever before or since reached
a higher level. I took this reform more boldly than Mr. Mill, who
sought by giving extra votes for property and university degrees or
learned professions to cheek the too great advance of democracy. I was
prepared to trust the people; and Mr. Hare was also confident that, if
all the people were equitably represented in Parliament, the good would
be stronger than the evil. The wise would be more effectual than the
foolish. I do not think any one whom I met took the matter up so
passionately as I did; and I had a feeling that in our new colonies the
reform would meet with less obstruction than in old countries bound by
precedent and prejudiced by vested interests. Parliament was the
preserve of the wealthy in the United Kingdom. There was no property
qualification for the candidate in South Australia, and we had manhood
suffrage.

South Australia was the first community to give the secret ballot for
political elections. It had dispensed with Grand Juries. It had not
required a member of either House to stand a new election if he
accepted Ministerial office. Every elected man was eligible for office.
South Australia had been founded by doctrinaires, and occasionally a
cheap sneer had been levelled at it on that account; but, to my mind,
that was better than the haphazard way in which other colonies grew.
When I visited Sir Rowland Hill he was recognised as the great post
office reformer. To me he was also one of the founders of our province,
and the first pioneer of quota representation. When I met Matthew
Davenport Hill I respected him because he tried to keep delinquent boys
out of gaol, and promoted the establishment of reform schools; but I
also was grateful to him for suggesting to his brother the park lands
which surround Adelaide, and give us both beauty and health. To Col.
Light, who laid out the city so well, we owe the many open spaces and
squares; but he did not originate the idea of the park lands. Much of
the work of Mr. Davenport Hill and of his brother Frederick I took up
later with their niece (Miss C. E. Clark), and their ideas have been
probably more thoroughly carried out in South Australia than anywhere
else; but in 1865 I was learning a great deal that bore fruit
afterwards.

I fear it would make this narrative too long if I went into detail
about the interesting people I met. Florence and Rossamund Davenport
Hill introduced me to Miss Frances Power Cobbe, whose "Intuitive
Morals" I admired so much. At Sir Rowland Hill's I met Sir Walter
Crofter, a prison reformer; Mr. Wells, Editor of "All the Year Round;"
Charles Knight, who had done so much for good and cheap literature;
Madame Bodichon (formerly Barbara Smith), the great friend and
correspondent of George Eliot, who was interesting to me because by
introducing the Australian eucalyptus to Algeria she had made an
unhealthy marshy country quite salubrious. She had a salon, where I met
very clever men and women--English and French--and which made me wish
for such things in Adelaide. The kindness and hospitality that were
shown to me--an absolute stranger--by all sorts of people were
surprising. Mr. and Mrs. Westlake took me on Sunday to see Bishop
Colenso. He showed me the photo of the enquiring Zulu who made him
doubt the literal truth of the early books of the Bible, and
presented me with the people's edition of his work on the Pentateuch.

In all my travels and visits I saw little of the theatre or concert
room, and some of the candid confessions of Mrs. Oliphant might stand
for my own. I had read so many plays before I saw one that the
unreality of much of the acted drama impressed me unfavourably. The
asides in particular seemed impossible, and I think the more carefully
the pieces are put on the stage the more critical I become concerning
their probability; and when I hear the praise of the beautiful and
expensive theatrical wardrobes which, in the case of actresses seem to
set the fashion for the wealthy and well-born, I feel that it is a
costly means of making the story more unlikely. I seem to lose the
identity of the heroine who in two hours wears three or four different
toilettes complete. As Mrs. Oliphant did not identify the "nobody in
white tights" who rendered from "Twelfth Night" the lovely lines
beginning "That strain again; it had a dying fall" with the Orsino she
had imagined when reading the play, so I, who knew "She Stoops to
Conquer" almost by heart, was disappointed when I saw it on the stage.
I was taken to the opera once by Mr. and Mrs. Bakewell, and heard Patti
in "Don Giovanni," at Covent Garden, but opera of all kinds is wasted
on me. I liked some of the familiar airs and choruses, but all opera
needs far more make-believe than I am capable of. It is a pity that I
am so insensible to the youngest and the most progressive of the fine
arts. I am, however, in the good company of Mrs. Oliphant, who,
speaking of the musical parties in Eton, where she lived so long, for
the education of tier boys, writes in words that suit me perfectly: "In
one of these friends' houses a family quartet played what were rather
new and terrible to me--long sonatas and concerted pieces which filled
my soul with dismay. It is a dreadful confession to make, and proceeds
from want of education and instruction, but I fear any appreciation of
music I have is purely literary. I love a song and a 'tune;' the
humblest fiddler has sometimes given me the greatest pleasure, and
sometimes gone to my heart; but music, properly so called, the only
music that many of my friends would listen to, is to me a wonder and a
mystery. My mind wanders through adagios and andantes, gaping, longing
to understand. Will no one tell me what it means? I want to find the
old unhappy far off things which Wordsworth imagined in the Gaelic song
of the 'Highland Lass.' I feel out of it, uneasy, thinking all the time
what a poor creature I must be. I remember the mother of the sonata
players approaching me with beaming countenance on the occasion of one
of these performances, expecting the compliment which I faltered forth,
doing my best not to look insincere. 'And I have this every evening of
my life,' cried the triumphant mother. 'Good heavens, and you have
survived it all' was my internal response." But the worst thing is when
you do not expect a musical evening and this superior music is sprung
on you. Mrs. Webster and I were once invited to meet some very
interesting people, some of the best conversationalists in Melbourne,
and we were given high-class music instead, and scarcely could a remark
be exchanged when a warning finger was held up and silence insisted on.
I could not sing, but sometimes I attempted to hum a tune. I recollect
during my first visit to Melbourne, my little nephew Johnnie, delighted
in the rhymes and poems which I recited; but one day when I was ironing
I began to sing, and he burst out with "Don't sing, auntie; let me hear
the voice of your words." So for my own delectation I began
Wordsworth's "Leechgatherer"--

    There was a roaring in the wind all night,
    The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
    But now the sun is rising calm and bright.
    The birds are singing in the distant woods;
    Over his own sweet voice the stock dove broods.
    The jay makes answer as the magpie chatters,
    And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

"Oh, that's pretty, auntie; say it again," I said it again, and yet
again, at his request, till he could almost repeat it. And he was not
quite 4 years old. He is still alive, and has not become a poet, which
was what I expected in those early days. He could repeat great screeds
of Browning's "Pied Piper of Hamelin," which was his especial
favourite. Music has often cheated me of what is to me the keenest
pleasure in life. Like Samuel Johnson, I enjoy greatly "good talk,"
though I never took such a dominant part in it. There are two kinds of
people who reduce me to something like silence--those who know too
little and those who know too much. My brother-in-law's friend, Mr.
Cowan, was a great talker, and a good one, but he scarcely
allowed me a fair share. He was also an admirable correspondent.

One predominant talker I met at Mr. Edwin Hill's--William Ellis, a
special friend of the Hills, and a noteworthy man. One needs to look
back 60 years to become conscious of how much English education was in
the hands of the church. Not only the public schools and the university
were overshadowed by the Established Church, but what schools were
accessible to the poor were a sort of appanage to the rectory, and the
teachers were bound to work for the good of the church and the
convenience of the incumbent. The commercial schools, which were
independent of the church, to which Non-conformists sent their boys,
were satirised by Dickens, and they deserved the satire. The masters
were generally incompetent, and the assistant teachers or ushers were
the most miserable in regard to payment and status. William Ellis
expended large sums of money, and almost all his leisure, in
establishing secular schools that were good for something. He called
them Birkbeck schools, thus doing honour to the founder of mechanics'
institutes, and perhaps the founder of the first of these schools; and
he taught what he called social science in them himself. He was the
Senor Ferrer of England; and, though he escaped martyrdom in the more
enlightened country he was looked on suspiciously by those who
considered education that was not founded on revealed religion and
permeated by its doctrines as dangerous and revolutionary.

But there was one great personage who saw the value of those teachings
on things that make for human happiness and intellectual freedom. and
that was the Prince Consort. He asked William Ellis to give some
lessons to the eldest of the Royal children--the Princess Victoria,
Prince Edward (our present King), and Prince Alfred, afterwards Duke of
Saxe-Coburg. Mr. Ellis said all three were intelligent, and Princess
Victoria exceptionally so. What a tragedy it was--more so than that of
many an epic or drama--that the Princess Royal and the husband of her
choice, who had educated themselves and each other to take the reins of
the German Empire, and had drawn up so many Plans for the betterment of
the general conditions of the people, should, on their accession to
power, have met death standing on the steps of the throne; and that
only a powerless widow should have been left without much authority
over her masterful son. But my firm belief is that in many of the
excellent things that the Kaiser William has done for his people, he is
working on the plans that had been committed to writing by the Crown
Prince and Princess. Her father's memory was so dear to the Crown
Princess that anything he had suggested to her was cherished all her
life; and I do not doubt that these early lessons on the right relation
of human beings to each other--the social science which regards human
happiness as depending on justice and toleration--is even now bearing
fruit in the Fatherland. Shortsighted mortals see the immediate
failures, but in the larger eye of the Infinite and the Eternal there
is always progress towards better things from every honest attempt to
remedy injustice, and to increase knowledge.

I arranged for a week in Paris with my young friends, Rosa and Symonds
Clark, of Hazelwood, and we travelled as far as Paris with the Hare
family, who went on to the Tyrol. We enjoyed the week. Louis Napoleon
appeared then to be quite secure on his throne, and we saw the fetes
and illuminations for his birthday. What a day and night of rain it
was! But the thousands of people, joyful and good-humoured under
umbrellas or without them--gave us a favourable impression of Parisian
crowds. In London I had been with Mr. Cowan in the crush to the
theatre. It was contrary to his principles to book seats, and I never
was so frightened in my life. I thought a London crowd rough and
merciless. I was the only one of the party who could speak any French,
and I spoke it badly, and had great difficulty in following French
conversations; but we got into a hotel where no English was spoken, and
managed to pull through. But we did not know a soul, and I think we did
not learn so much from our week's sightseeing as we should have done if
Miss Katie Hare had stayed the week with us.

I then paid a visit to Birmingham, and spent a week at the sittings of
the British Association. By subscribing a guinea I was made an
Associate, and some of the sessions were very interesting, but much too
deep for me. I sat out a lecture on the Higher Mathematics, by
Professor Henry Smith, to whom Professor Pearson gave me an
introduction, in hopes that I might visit Oxford; but he was going
abroad, and I could not go to Oxford if I knew nobody--especially
alone. I went, however, to Carr's Lane Chapel, where a humble friend
had begged me to go, because there she had been converted, and there
the Rev. R. W. Dale happened to preach on "Where prayer was wont to be
made." He said that consecration was not due to a Bishop or to any
ecclesiastical ceremony, but to the devout prayers and praise of the
faithful souls within it--that thousands over Scotland and England,
and others in America, Australia, and New Zealand, look back to words
which they had heard and praises and prayers in which they had joined
as the holiest times in their lives. I thought of my good Mrs. Ludlow,
and thanked God for her. When Mr. Cowan took me to the church in Essex
place where he and his friend Wren used to hear Mr. W. J. Fox, M.P. for
Oldham, preach, a stranger, a young American, was there. I found out
afterwards be was Moncure Conway, and he gave us a most striking
discourse. There was going on in Birmingham at this time a controversy
between the old Unitarians and the new. In the Church of the Messiah
the old ministers gave a series of sermons on the absolute truth of the
New Testament miracles. The Old Testament he was quite willing to give
up, but he pinned his faith on those wrought by Christ and His
apostles. Some of the congregation told me they had never thought of
doubting them before, but the more Mr. B. defended them as the bulwarks
of Christianity, the more they felt that our religion rested on other
foundations. I saw a good deal of the industrial life of Birmingham,
and had a sight of the Black Country by day and by night. Joseph
Chamberlain was then a young man; I believe he was a Sunday school
teacher. The Unitarian Sunday Schools taught writing and arithmetic as
well as reading. In the terrible lack of national day schools many of
the poor had no teaching at all but what was given on Sundays, and no
time on other days of the week to learn anything. I could not help
contrasting the provision made by the parish schools of Scotland out of
the beggarly funds or tithes given for church and schools out of the
spoils of the Ancient Church by the Lords of the Congregation.
Education was not free, but it was cheap, and it was general. Scotchmen
made their way all over the world better than Englishmen mainly because
they were better educated. The Sunday school was not so much needed,
and was much later in establishing itself in Scotland. Good Hannah More
taught girls to read the Bible under a spreading tree in her garden
because no church would give her a place to teach in. "If girls were
taught to read where would we get servants?" It was an early cry.




CHAPTER IX.



MEETING WITH J. S. MILL AND GEORGE ELIOT.


I leave to the last of my experiences in the old world in 1865-6 my
interviews with John Stuart Mill and George Eliot. Stuart Mill's wife
was the sister of Arthur and of Alfred Hardy, of Adelaide, and the
former had given to me a copy of the first edition of Mill's "Political
Economy," with the original dedication to Mrs. John Taylor, who
afterwards became Mill's wife, which did not appear in subsequent
editions; but, as he had two gift copies of the same edition, Mr. Hardy
sent it on to me with his almost illegible handwriting:--"To Miss
Spence from the author, not, indeed, directly, but in the confidence
felt by the presenter that in so doing he is fulfilling the wish of the
author--viz., circulating his opinions, more especially in such quarters
as the present, where they will be accurately considered and tested." I
had also seen the dedication to Harriet Mill's beloved memory of the
noble book on "Liberty." Of her own individual work there was only one
specimen extant--an article on the "Enfranchisement of women,"
included in Mill's collected essays--very good, certainly, but not so
overpoweringly excellent as I expected. Of course, it was an early
advocacy of the rights of women, or rather a revival of Mary
Wollstoneeraft's grand vindication of the rights of the sex; and this
was a reform which Mill himself took up more warmly than proportional
representation, and advocated for years before Mr. Hare's revelation.
For myself, I considered electoral reform on the Hare system of more
value than the enfranchisement of women, and was not eager for the
doubling of the electors in number, especially as the new voters would
probably be more ignorant and more apathetic than the old. I was
accounted a weak-kneed sister by those who worked primarily for woman
suffrage, although I was as much convinced as they were that I was
entitled to a vote, and hoped that I might be able to exercise it
before I was too feeble to hobble to the poll. I have unfortunately
lost the letter Mr. Mill wrote to me about my letters to The Register,
and my "Plea for Pure Democracy," but it gave him great pleasure to see
that a new idea both of the theory and practice of politics had been
taken up and expanded by a woman, and one from that Australian colony,
of which he had watched and aided the beginnings, as is seen by the
name of Mill terrace, North Adelaide, to-day. Indeed, both Hare and
Mill told me their first converts were women; and I felt that the
absolute disinterestedness of my "Plea," which was not for myself, but
only that the men who were supposed to represent me at the polling
booth should be equitably represented themselves, lent weight to my
arguments. I have no axe to grind--no political party to serve; so
that it was not until the movement for the enfranchisement of women
grew too strong to be neglected that I took hold of it at all; and I do
not claim any credit for its success in South Australia and the
Commonwealth, further than this--that by my writings and my spoken
addresses I showed that one woman had a steady grasp on politics and on
sociology. In 1865, when I was in England, Mr. Mill. was permanently
resident at Avignon, where his wife died, but he had to come to England
to canvass for a seat in Parliament for Westminster as an Independent
member, believed at that time to be an advanced Radical, but known to
be a philosopher, and an economist of the highest rank in English
literature. I had only one opportunity of seeing him personally, and I
did not get so much out of him as I expected--he was so eager to know
how the colony and colonial people were developing. He asked me about
property in land and taxation, and the relations between employers and
employes, and I was a little amused and a little alarmed when he said
he was glad to get information from such a good authority. I had to
disclaim such knowledge; but he said he knew I was observant and
thoughtful, and what I had seen I had seen well. He was particularly
earnest about woman's suffrage, and Miss Taylor, his stepdaughter, said
she thought he had made a mistake in asking for the vote for single women
only and widows with property and wives who had a separate estate; it
would have been more logical to have asked for the vote on the same terms
as were extended to men. The great man said meekly--"Well, perhaps I have
made a mistake, but I thought with a property qualification the beginning
would awake less antagonism." He said to me that if I was not to return to
London till January we were not likely to meet again. He walked with me
bareheaded to the gate, and it was farewell for both.

Wise man as Mill was he did not foresee that his greatest object, the
enfranchisement of women, would be carried at the antipodes long before
there was victory either in England or America. When I received, in
1869 from the publisher, Mr. Mill's last book, "The Subjection of
Women," I wrote thanking him for the gift. The reply was as follows:--
"Avignon, November 28, 1869--Dear Madam--Your letter of August 16 has
been sent to me here. The copy of my little book was intended for you,
and I had much pleasure in offering it. The movement against women's
disabilities generally, and for the suffrage in particular, has made
great progress in England since you were last there. It is likely, I
think, to be successful in the colonies later than in England, because
the want of equality in social advantages between women and men is less
felt in the colonies owing, perhaps, to women's having less need of
other occupations than those of married life--I am, dear Madam, yours
very truly, J. S. Mill." I have always held that, though the Pilgrim
Fathers ignored the right of the Pilgrim Mothers to the credit of
founding the American States--although these women had to take their
full share of the toils and hardships and perils of pioneer and
frontier life, and had in addition to put up with the Pilgrim Fathers
themselves--Australian colonization was carried out by men who were
conscious of the service of their helpmates, and grateful for it. In
New Zealand and South Australia, founded on the Wakefield system, where
the sexes were almost equal in number, and the immigration was mainly
that of families, the first great triumphs for the political
enfranchisement of women were won, and through South Australia the
women of the Commonwealth obtained the Federal vote for both Houses:
whereas even in the sparsely inhabited western states in the United
States which have obtained the State vote the Federal vote is withheld
from them. But Mill died in 1873, 20 years before New Zealand or
Colorado obtained woman's suffrage.

In treating of my one interview with Mr. Mill I have carried the
narrative down to 1869. With regard to my single meeting with George
Eliot, I have to begin in 1865, and conclude even later. Before I left
England Mr. Williams, of Smith, Elder, & Co., offered me an
introduction to George Henry Lewes, and I expressed the hope that it
might also include an introduction to George Eliot, whose works I so
admired. Mr. Lewes being away from home when I called, I requested that
the introductory letter of Mr. Williams should be taken to George Eliot
herself. She received me in the big Priory drawing room, with the grand
piano, where she held her receptions and musical evenings; but she
asked me if I had any business relating to the article which Mr.
Williams had mentioned, and I had to confess that I had none. For once
I felt myself at fault. I did not get on with George Eliot. She said
she was not well, and she did not look well. That strong pale face,
where the features were those of Dante or Savanarola, did not soften as
Mill's had done. The voice, which was singularly musical and
impressive, touched me--I am more susceptible to voices than to
features or complexion--but no subject that I started seemed to fall
in with her ideas, and she started none in which I could follow her
lead pleasantly. It was a short interview, and it was a failure. I felt
I had been looked on as an inquisitive Australian desiring an interview
upon any pretext; and indeed, next day I had a letter from Mr.
Williams, in which he told me that, but for the idea that I had some
business arrangement to speak of, she would not have seen me at all. So
I wrote to Mr. Williams that, as I had been received by mistake, I
should never mention the interview; but that impertinent curiosity was
not at all my motive in going that unlucky day to The Priory.

Years passed by. I read everything, poetry and prose, that came from
George Eliot's pen, and was so strong an admirer of her that Mr. W. L.
Whitham, who took charge of the Unitarian Church while our pastor (Mr.
Woods) had a long furlough in England, asked me to lecture on her works
to his Mutual Improvement Society, and I undertook the task with joy.
Mr. H. G. Turner asked for the MS. to publish in the second number of
The Melbourne Review, a very promising quarterly for politics and
literature. I thought that, if I sent the review to George Eliot with a
note it might clear me from the suspicion of being a mere vulgar
lionhunter. Her answer was as follows:--"The Priory, North Bank,
Regent's Park, September 4, 1876. Dear Madam--Owing to an absence of
some months, it was only the other day that I read your kind letter of
April 17; and, although I have long been obliged to give up answering
the majority of letters addressed to me, I felt much pleased that you
had given me an opportunity of answering one from you; for I have
always remembered your visit with a regretful feeling that I had
probably caused you some pain by a rather unwise effort to give you a
reception which the state of my health at the moment made altogether
blundering and infelicitous. The mistake was all on my side, and you
were not in the least to blame. I also remember that your studies have
been of a serious kind, such as were likely to render a judgment on
fiction and poetry, or, as the Germans, with better classification,
say, in 'DICHTUNG' in general, quite other than the superficial
haphazard remarks of which reviews are generally made. You will all the
better understand that I have made it a rule not to read writing about
myself. I am exceptionally sensitive and liable to discouragement; and
to read much remark about my doings would have as depressing an effect
on me as staring in a mirror--perhaps, I may say, of defective glass.
But my husband looks at all the numerous articles that are forwarded to
me, and kindly keeps them out of my way--only on rare occasions
reading to me a passage which he thinks will comfort me by its evidence
of unusual insight or sympathy. Yesterday he read your article in The
Melbourne Review, and said at the end--'This is an excellently written
article, which would do credit to any English periodical' adding the
very uncommon testimony, 'I shall keep this.' Then he told me of some
passages in it which gratified me by that comprehension of my meaning--
that laying of the finger on the right spot--which is more precious
than praise, and forthwith he went to lay The Melbourne Review in the
drawer he assigns to any writing about me that gives him pleasure. For
he feels on my behalf more than I feel on my own, at least in matters
of this kind. If you come to England again when I happen to be in town
I hope that you will give me the pleasure of seeing you under happier
auspices than those of your former visit.--I am, dear madam, yours
sincerely, M. G. Lewes." The receipt of this kind and candid letter
gave me much pleasure; and, although on the strength of that, I cannot
boast of being a correspendent of that great woman, I was able to say
that I had seen and talked with her, and that she considered me a
competent critic of her work. Mrs. Oliphant says that George Eliot's
life impelled her to make an involuntary confession--"How have I been
handicapped in life? Should I have done better if I had been kept, like
her, in a mental green-house and taken care of? I have always had to
think of other people and to plan everything for my own pleasure, it is
true, very often, but always in subjection to the necessity which bound
me to them. To bring up the boys--my own and Frank's--for the service
of God was better than to write a fine novel, if it had been in my
power to do so." The heart knows its own bitterness. There might have
been some points in which George Eliot might have envied Mrs. Oliphant.




CHAPTER X.



RETURN FROM THE OLD COUNTRY.


Before leaving Scotland I arranged that my friend, Mrs. Graham of the
strenuous life and 30 pounds a year, should undertake the care of my
aunts, to their mutual satisfaction. My last days in England were spent in
either a thick London fog or an equally undesirable Scotch mist, which
shrouded everything in obscurity, and made me long for the sunny skies
and the clear atmosphere of Australia. I told my friends that in my
country it either rained or let it alone. Indeed, the latest news from
all Australia was that it had let it alone very badly, and that the
overstocking of stations during the preceding good seasons had led to
enormous losses. Sheepfarmers made such large profits in good seasons
that they were apt to calculate that it was worth while to run the risk
of drought; but experience has shown that overstocking does not really
pay. The making of dams, the private and public provision of water in
the underground reservoirs by artesian bores, and the facilities for
travelling stock by such ways have all lessened the risks which the
pioneer pastoralists ran bravely in the old days. An Australian drought
can never be as disastrous in the twentieth century as it was in 1866;
and South Australia, the Central State, has from the first been a
pioneer in development as well as in exploration. The hum of the
reaping machine first awoke the echoes in our wheatfields. The
stump-jumping plough and the mullenicer which beats down the scrub or
low bush so that it can be burnt, were South Australian inventions,
copied elsewhere, which have turned land accounted worthless into
prolific wheat fields.

If South Australia was the first of the States to exhaust her
agricultural soil, she was the first to restore it by means of
fertilizers and the seed drill. When I see the drilled wheat fields I
recollect my grandfather's two silver salvers--the Prizes from the
Highland Society for having the largest area of drilled wheat in
Scotland--and when I see the grand crops on the Adelaide Plains I
recall the opinion that, with anything like a decent rainfall, that
soil could grow anything. In 1866 the northern areas had not been
opened. The farmers were continuing the process of exhausting the land
by growing wheat--wheat--wheat, with the only variety wheaten hay. I
recollect James Burnet's amazement when I said that our horses were fed
on wheaten hay. "What a waste of the great possibilities of a grain
harvest!" He was doubtful when I said that with plenty of wheaten hay
the horses needed no corn. South Australia, except about Mount Gambier,
does not grow oats, though Victoria depends on oaten hay. The British
agriculturist thinks that meadow hay is the natural forage for horses
and cattle, and for winter turnips are the standby. It was a little
amusing to me that I could speak with some authority to skilled and
experienced agriculturists, who felt our rivalry at Mark lane, but who
did not dream that with the third great move of Australia towards the
markets of the world through cold storage we could send beef, mutton,
lamb, poultry, eggs, and all kinds of fruit to the consumers of Europe,
and especially of England and its metropolis. I did not see it, any
more than the people to whom I talked. I still thought that for meat
and all perishable commodities the distance was an insuperable
obstacle, and that, except for live stock from America, or canned meat
from Australia, the United Kingdom would continue self-supporting on
these lines.

I returned to Australia, when this island continent was in the grip of
one of the most severe and protracted droughts in its history. The war
between Prussia and Austria had begun and ended; the failure of Overend
and Gurney and others brought commercial disaster; and my brother, with
other bankers, had anxious days and sleepless nights. Some rich men
became richer; many poor men went down altogether. Our recovery was
slow but sure. In the meantime I found life at home very dull after my
interesting experiences abroad. There was nothing to do for
proportional representation except to write an occasional letter to the
press. So I started another novel, which was published serially in The
Observer. Mr. George Bentley, who published it subsequently in
book form, changed its title from "Hugh Lindsay's Guest" to "The
Author's Daughter." But my development as a public speaker was more
important than the publication of a fourth novel. Much had been written
on the subject of public speaking by men, but so far nothing concerning
the capacities of women in that direction. And yet I think all teachers
will agree that girls in the aggregate excel boys in their powers of
expression, whether in writing, or in speech, though boys may surpass
them in such studies as arithmetic and mathematics. Yet law and custom
have put a bridle on the tongue of women, and of the innumerable
proverbs relating to the sex, the most cynical are those relating to
her use of language. Her only qualification for public speaking in old
days was that she could scold, and our ancestors imposed a salutary
cheek on this by the ducking stool in public, and sticks no thicker
than the thumb for marital correction in private. The writer of the
Proverbs alludes to the perpetual dropping of a woman's tongue as an
intolerable nuisance, and declares that it is better to live on the
housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house. A later writer,
describing the virtuous woman, said that on her lips is the law of
kindness, and after all this is the real feminine characteristic. As
daughter, sister, wife, and mother--what does not the world owe to the
gracious words, the loving counsel, the ready sympathy which she
expresses? Until recent years, however, these feminine Rifts have been
strictly kept for home consumption. and only exercised for the woman's
family and a limited circle of friends. In 1825, when I first opened my
eyes on the world, there were indeed women who displayed an interest in
public affairs. My own mother not only felt the keenest solicitude
regarding the passing of the Reform Bill, but she took up her pen, and
with two letters to the local press, under the signature of "Grizel
Plowter," showed the advantages of the proposed measure. But public
speaking was absolutely out of the question for women, and though I was
the most ambitious of girls, my desire was to write a great book--not
at all to sway an audience. When I returned from my first visit to
England in 1866, I was asked by the committee of the South Australian
Institute to write a lecture on my impressions of England, different
from the article which had appeared in The Cornhill Magazine under that
title, but neither the committee nor myself thought of the possibility
of my delivering it. My good friend, the late Mr. John Howard Clark,
Editor of The Register, kindly offered to read it. I did not go to hear
it, but I was told that he had difficulty in reading my manuscript, and
that, though he was a beautiful reader, it was not very satisfactory.
So I mentally resolved that if I was again asked I should offer to read
my own MS. Five years afterwards I was asked for two literary lectures
by the same committee, and I chose as my subjects the works of
Elizabeth Browning and those of her husband, Robert Browning. Now, I
consider that the main thing for a lecturer is to be heard, and a
rising young lawyer (now our Chief Justice) kindly offered to take the
back seat, and promised to raise his hand if he could not hear. It was
not raised once, so I felt satisfied. I began by saying that I undertook
the work for two reasons--first, to make my audience more
familiar with the writings of two poets very dear to me; and second, to
make easier henceforward for any woman who felt she had something to
say to stand up and say it. I felt very nervous, and as if my knees
were giving way; but I did not show any nervousness. I read the
lecture, but most of the quotations I recited from memory. Not having
had any lessons in elocution, I trusted to my natural voice, and felt
that in this new role the less gesticulation I used the better. Whether
the advice of Demosthenes is rightlv translated or not--first
requisite, action; second, action; third, action--I am sure that
English word does not express the requisite for women. I should rather
call it earnestness--a conviction that what you say is worth saying,
and worth saying to the audience before you. I had a lesson on the
danger of overaction from hearing a gentleman recite in public "The
dream of Eugene Aram," in which he went through all the movements of
killing and burying the murdered man. When a tale is crystallized into
a poem it does not require the action of a drama. However little action
I may use I never speak in public with gloves on. They interfere with
the natural eloquence of the hand. After these lectures I occasionally
was asked to give others on literary subjects.

At this time I began to study Latin with my nephew, a boy of 14. He was
then an orphan, my youngest and beloved sister Mary having
recently died and left her two children to my care. My teacher thought
me the more apt pupil, but it was really due more to my command of
English than to my knowledge of Latin that I was able to get at the
meaning of Virgil and Horace. When it came to Latin composition I was
no better than the boy of 14. Before the death of my sister the family
invested in land in Trinity street, College Town, and built a house.
Mother had planned the house she moved into when I was six months old,
and she delighted in the task, though she said it seemed absurd to
build a house in her seventy-ninth year. But she lived in it from
January, 1870, till December, 1887, and her youngest daughter lived in
it for only ten months. Before that time I had embarked with my friend,
Miss Clark, on one of the greatest enterprises of my life--one which
led to so much that my friends are apt to say that, if I am recollected
at all, it will be in connection with the children of the State and not
with electoral reform. But I maintain now, as I maintained then, that
the main object of my life is proportional representation, or, to use
my brother John's term, effective voting.




CHAPTER XI



WARDS OF THE STATE.


In a little book which the State Children's Council requested me to
write as a memorial of the great work of Miss C. E. Clark on her
retirement at the age of 80, I have given an account of the movement
from the beginning down to 1907, which had its origin in South
Australia under the leadership of Miss Clark. When I was on my way cut
from England, Miss Clark wrote a letter to The Register, suggesting
that the destitute, neglected, or orphaned children should be removed
from the Destitute Asylum and placed in natural homes with respectable
people; but the great wave which came over England about that time for
building industrial schools and reformatories affected South Australia
also, and the idea was that, though the children should be removed from
the older inmates, it should be to an institution. Land was bought and
plans were drawn up for an industrial school at Magill, five miles from
Adelaide, when Miss Clark came to me and asked me to help her to take a
different course. She enlisted Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Colton and Mrs.
(afterwards Lady) Davenport in the cause, and we arranged for a
deputation to the Minister; Howard Clark, Neville Blyth, and Mr. C. B.
Young joined us. We offered to find country homes and provide lady
visitors, but our request was simply scouted. As we did not offer to
bear any of the cost it would be absurd to give us any share in the
administration. Children would only be given homes for the sake of the
money paid, and Oliver Twist's was held up as the sort of
apprenticeship likely to be secured for pauper children. So we had to
play the waiting game. The school built to accommodate 230 children was
on four floors, though there was 40 acres of good land. It was so
popular that, though only 130 went in at first, in two years it was so
full that there was talk of adding a wing. This was our opportunity,
and the same men and women went on another deputation, and this time we
prevailed, and were allowed to place out the overflow as an experiment;
and not only the Boarding-out Committee, but the official heads of the
Destitute Department, were surprised and delighted with the good homes
we secured for 5/ a week, and with the improvement in health, in
intelligence, and in happiness that resulted from putting children into
natural homes. What distinguishes work for children in Australia from
what is done elsewhere is that it is national, and not philanthropic.
The State is in loco-parentis, and sees that what the child needs are a
home and a mother--that, if the home and the mother are good, the
child shall he kept there; but that vigilant inspection is needed,
voluntary or official--better to have both. Gradually the Magill
School was emptied, and the children were scattered. Up to the age of
13 the home was subsidized, but when by the education law the child was
free from school attendance, and went to service, the supervision
continued until the age of 18 was reached. For nearly 14 years, from
1872 to 1886, the Boarding-out Society pursued its modest labours as
auxiliary to the Destitute Board. Our volunteer visitors reported in
duplicate--one copy for the official board, and one for the unofficial
committee. When the method was inaugurated, Mr. T. S. Reed. Chairman of
the Board, was completely won over. We had nothing to do with the
reformatories. except that our visitors went to see those placed out at
service in their neighbourhood.

Our success attracted attention elsewhere. The late Dr. Andrew Garran,
who was on The Register when I went to England, had moved to Sydney in
my absence, and was on the staff of The Sydney Morning Herald. When
Miss Clark went to England in 1877, after her mother`s death, Dr.
Garran wrote to me for some account of our methods. and of their
success, physical, moral, and financial. Dr. Garran came out with Mr.
G. F. Angas and the Australian Constitution in 1851 in search of health
and work, both of which he found here. The first pages of my four
volumes of newspaper cuttings are filled with two long articles, "The
Children of the State," and this started the movement in New South
Wales, led by Mrs. Garran, nee Sabine, and Mrs. Jefferis wife of the
leading Congregational minister, moved from Adelaide to Sydney.
Professor Henry Pearson asked me a year or two later to give similar
information to The Melbourne Age. Subsequently I wrote on this subject,
by request, to Queensland, New Zealand, and I think also Tasmania,
where we were imitated first, but where there are still to be found
children of the State in institutions. In Victoria and New South Wales
a vigorous policy emptied these buildings, which were used for other
public purposes, and the children were dispersed. The innovation which
at first was scouted as utopian, next suspected as leading to neglect,
or even unkindness--for people would only take these children for what
they could make out of them--was found to be so beneficial that nobody
in Australia would like to return to the barrack home or the barrack
school. If the inspection had been from the first merely official,
public opinion would have been suspicious and sceptical, but when
ladies saw the children in these homes, and watched how the dull faces
brightened, and the languid limbs became alert after a few weeks of
ordinary life--when the cheeks became rosier, and the eyes had new
light in them; when they saw that the foster parents took pride in
their progress at school, and made them handy about the house, as they
could never be at an institution, where everything is done at the sound
of a bell or the stroke of a clock--these ladies testified to what
they knew, and the public believed in them. In other English-speaking
countries boarding-out in families is sometimes permitted; but here,
under the Southern Cross, it is the law of the land that children shall
not be brought up in institutions, but in homes: that the child whose
parent is the State shall have as good schooling as the child who has
parents and guardians; that every child shall have, not the discipline
of routine and redtape, but free and cheerful environment of ordinary
life, preferably in the country--going to school with other young
fellow citizens, going to church with the family in which he is placed,
having the ordinary ditties, the ordinary difficulties, the ordinary
pleasures of common life; but guarded from injustice, neglect, and
cruelty by effective and kindly supervision. This movement, originated
in South Australia, and with all its far-reaching developments and
expansions, is due to the initiative of one woman of whom the State is
justly proud--Miss Caroline Emily Clark.

Even while we were only a Boarding-out Committee, it was found
necessary to have one paid inspector; but there was great
dissatisfaction with the Boys' Reformatory which had been located in an
old leaky hulk, where the boys could learn neither seamanship nor
anything else--and with some other details of the management of the
destitute poor, and a commission with the Chief Justice as Chairman,
was appointed to make enquiries and suggest reforms. The result was the
separation of the young from the old absolutely; and a new body, the
State Children's Council, of 12 men and women of nearly equal
proportions, had authority over the reformatories, as well as what was
called the industrial school, which was to be reduced to a mere
receiving home, and all the children placed out, either on subsidy or
at service. Most of the old committee were appointed; but, to my great
joy, Dr. Edward C. Stirling and Mr. James Smith, the most enlightened
man on the Destitute Board, were among the new members. We had a paid
stall, with a most able secretary--Mr. J. B. Whiting.

Dr. Stirling was unanimously voted in as President, and we felt we
began our new duties under the most promising auspices. But, alas, in
two years there was so much friction between the council and the
Ministry that we all resigned in a body, except Mrs. Colton (who was in
England) and Mrs. Farr. We were fighting the battle of the unpaid
boards, and we were so strong in the public estimation that we might
have won the victory. The Government had relieved children on the
petition of parents, contrary to the strong recommendation of the
council. Although the commission had declared that the reformatory boys
should be removed at once from the hulk Fitzjames, they were still kept
there, and the only offer of accommodation given was to share the
Magill Industrial School with the reformatory girls. Now, this the
council would not hear of, for we felt that the Government plans for
separate entrances and separate staircases were absolutely futile and
ridiculous for keeping apart these two dangerous classes in a single
building. The Government gave way on the point of providing a separate
building for the reformatory girls; and the committee, with the
exception of Dr. Stirling and Mr. James Smith--our two strongest
members--were reappointed. The official staff was increased by the
appointment of clerks and inspectors, many of them women, who have
always given every satisfaction, and who justify the claim made
that women's work is conscientious and thorough.

More departments were gradually added to our sphere of action. The
separate trial of juvenile delinquents was strongly advocated by the
council. Miss Clark and Mr. C. H. Goode were particularly keen on the
introduction of Children's Courts. In this reform South Australia led
the world, and in the new Act of 1896, after six years of tentative
work, it became compulsory to try offenders under 18 at the Children's
Court in the city and suburbs, and in the Magistrate's room in the
country. The methods of organization and control vary in the different
States of the Commonwealth, but on one point the six are all agreed--
that dependent and delinquent children are a national asset and a
national responsibility, and any forward step anywhere has every chance
of being copied. The result of Children's Courts and probation has been
that, while the population of the State has greatly increased, the
committals to the Gaol and for penal servitude have steadily decreased,
and the Boys' Reformatory has been reduced to one-third of the number
in earlier days. There are, of course, many factors in all directions
of social betterment, but the substitution of homes for institutions,
and of probation carefully watched for summary punishment, are, in my
opinion, the largest factors in, this State. The affection between
children and their foster parents is often lifelong; and we see
thousands who were taken from bad parents and evil environments taking
their place in the industrial world, and filling it well. The movement
in South Australia initiated by Miss Clark spread from State to State,
and the happy thought of the President and Secretary of the Council
that I should write an account of "Boarding-out and its Developments"
as a memorial of her great work bore fruit in the legislation of the
United Kingdom itself. A letter I received from Mr. Herbert Samuel,
then Under-Secretary of State in the British Government, was
gratifying, both to the council and to me:--"Home Office, Whitehall,
S.W., August 5, 1907. Dear Madam--I have just read your little book on
'State Children in Australia;' and, although a stranger to you, would
venture to write to thank you for the very valuable contribution you
have made to the literature on the subject. The present Government in
England are already engaged in promoting the more kindly and more
effective methods of dealing with destitute, neglected, or delinquent
children, which are already so widely adopted in South Australia. We
are passing through Parliament this year a Bill to enable a system of
probation officers, both paid and voluntary, to be established
throughout the country, for dealing not indeed with child offenders
alone, but with adult offenders also, who may be properly amenable to
that treatment. And next year we propose to introduce a comprehensive
Children's Bill, which has been entrusted to my charge, in which we
hope to be able to include some of the reforms you have at heart. In
the preparation of that Bill the experience of your colony and the
account of it which you have published will be of no small assistance.
Yours sincerely, Herbert Samuel."

Another department of our work for the protection of infant life, and
this we took over from the Destitute Board, where some unique
provisions had been initiated by Mr. James Smith. The Destitute Asylum
was the last refuge of the old and incapacitated poor, but it never
opened its doors to the able bodied. In the Union Workhouse in England
room is always found for friendless and penniless to come there for
confinement, who leave as soon as they are physically strong enough to
take their burden--their little baby--in their arms and face the
world again. In Adelaide these women were in 1868 divided into two
classes, one for girls who had made their first slip--girls weak, but
very rarely wicked--so as to separate them, from women who came for a
second or third time, who were cared for with their infants in the
general asylum. Mr. James Smith obtained in 1881 legislation to empower
the Destitute Board to make every woman sign an agreement to remain
with her infant, giving it the natural nourishment, for six months. This
has saved many infant lives, and has encouraged maternal affection. The
Destitute Board kept in its hands the issuing of licences, and
appointed a lady to visit the babies till they were two years old, and
did good work; but when that department was properly turned over to the
State Children's Council there was even more vigilance exercised, and
the death rate among these babies, often handicapped before birth, and
always artificially fed after, was reduced to something less than the
average of all babies. We have been fortunate in our chief inspectress
of babies. Her character has uplifted the licensed foster mothers, and
the two combined have raised the real mothers. It is surprising how few
such babies are thrown on the State. The department does not pay
any board or find any clothing for these infants. It, however, pays for
supervision and pays for a lady doctor, so that there need he no excuse
for not calling in medical assistance if it is felt to be needed.
Occasionally a visitor from other States or from England is allowed as
a great favour to see, not picked cases, but the ordinary run, of the
homes of foster mothers, and the question, "Where and how do you get
such women?" is asked. We have weeded out the inferiors, and our
instructions with regard to feeding and care are so definite, and found
to be so sound, that the women take a pride in the health and the
beauty of the little ones; and besides they keep up the love of the
real mother by the care they give them. A recent Act has raised the age
of supervision of illegitimate babies from two to seven years, and this
has necessitated the appointment of an additional inspectress. In South
Australia baby farming has been extinguished. and in the other States
legislation on similar lines has been won, and they are in process of
gradually weeding out bad and doubtful foster mothers. And the foster
fathers are often as fond of the babies as their wives--and as
softhearted. "Did you see that the poor girl had on broken boots this
weather?" said he. "Yes, it's a Pity; but we are poor folks ourselves--we
can't help it," said she. "Let her off the 6/ for a fortnight, so as
she can get a pair of sound boots for her feet, we'll worry through
without it." And they did. The extreme solicitude of the State
Children's Department, as carried out by its zealous officers, for the
life and the wellbeing of their babies serves them in Public
extenuation, and the children are often so pretty and engaging that
they win love all round. A grown-up son in the home was very fond of
little Lily. "Mother will you get Lily a cream coat. such as I see
other babies wearing, and I will pay for it."

A most pathetic story I can tell of a girl respectably connected in the
country, who had been cast off in disgrace, and came to town to take a
place, committing her infant to a good foster mother. When he was old
enough to move about, and was just trying to walk, the mother was taken
dangerously ill to the Adelaide Hospital. The foster mother thought the
girl's father should be sent for, and wrote to him giving her own
address, but not disclosing her connection with the patient. The father
of the girl came, and was told that he had better be accompanied by his
informant, who could prepare the sick woman for the interview. The
little boy was running about, and the old man took him on his knee
while the woman got ready to go out. "You must come with us, Sonny,"
said she. "I can't leave you alone in the house." "A very fine little
chap. Your youngest, I suppose. I can see he is a great pet." "No,"
said the woman slowly, "he is not my son, he is your grandson." "Good
God, my grandson," Then, clasping the little fellow to his heart, he
said, "I'll never part with him!" The mother recovered, and was taken
home with her child and forgiven. Such is often the work of the good
foster mother. In all the successes of the irresponsible committee and
of the responsible State Children's Council the greatest factor has
been the character of the good women who have been mothers to the
little ones. The fears that only self-interest could induce them to
take on the neglected and uncontrollable children were not borne out by
experience, and in the ease of these babies not really illegitimate--it
is the parents who deserve that title, no infant can--the mother's
instinct came out very strong. At a conference of workers among
dependent children, held in Adelaide in May, 1909, when all six States
were represented, a Western Australian representative said that the
average family home was not so good for its natural circle that it
could be depended on for strangers; but our answer was that, both for
the children of the State and for the babies who were not State
children, we insisted on something better than the average home, and
through our inspection we sought to improve it still further. We have
not reached perfection by any means. When we begin to think we have, we
are sure to fall back. Another good office the State Children's
Department fills is that of advice gratis. One of the most striking
chapters in Gen. Booth's "Darkest England" dealt with the helplessness
of the poor and the ignorant in the face of difficulties, of injustice,
and of extortion. When I was in Chicago in 1893 I saw that the first
university settlement, that of Hull House, presided over by Miss Jane
Addams (St. Jane some of her friends call her) was the centre to is
which the poor American, German, Italian, or other alien went for
advice as well as practical help. A word in season was often of more
value than dollars. To be told what to do or what not to do at a
crisis when decision is so important may be salvation for the pocket or
for the character.




CHAPTER XII.



PREACHING, FRIENDS, AND WRITING.


My life now became more interesting and varied. A wider field for my
journalistic capabilities was open to me, and I also took part in the
growth of education, both spiritual and secular. The main promoters of
the ambitious literary periodical The Melbourne Review, to which I
became a contributor, were Mr. Henry Gyles Turner (the banker), Mr.
Alexander Sutherland, M.A. (author of "The History of Australia" and
several other books), and A. Patchett Martin (the litterateur). It
lived for nine years, and produced a good deal of creditable writing,
but it never was able to pay its contributors, because it never
attained such a circulation as would attract advertisements. The
reviews and magazines of the present day depend on advertisements. They
cheapen the price so as to gain a circulation, which advertisers cater
for. I think my second article was on the death of Sir Richard Hanson
(one of the original South Australian Literary Society, which met in
London before South Australia existed). At the time of his death he was
Chief Justice. He was the author of two books of Biblical criticism--
"The Jesus of History" and "Paul and the Primitive Church"--and I
undertook to deal with his life and work. About that time there was one
of those periodic outbursts of Imperialism in the Australian colonies--not
popular or general, but among politicians--on the question of how
the colonies could obtain practical recognition in the Legislature of
the United Kingdom. Each of the colonies felt that Downing street
inadequately represented its claims and its aspirations, and there were
several articles in "The Melbourne Review" suggesting that these
colonies should be allowed to send members to the House of Commons.
This, I felt, would be inadmissible; for, unless we were prepared to
bear our share of the burdens, we had no right to sit in the taxing
Assembly of the United Kingdom. The only House in which the colonies,
small or great, could be represented was the House of Lords; and it
appeared to me that, with a reformed House of Lords, this would be
quite practicable. An article in Fraser's Magazine, "Why not the Lords,
too?" had struck me much, and the lines on which it ran greatly
resemble those laid down by Lord Rosebery for lessening in number and
improving in character the unwieldy hereditary House of Peers; but
neither that writer nor Lord Rosebery grasped the idea that I made
prominent in an article I wrote for The Review, which was that the
reduction of the peers to 200, or any other number ought to be made on
the principle of proportional representation, because otherwise the
majority of the peers, being Conservative, an election on ordinary
lines would result in a selection of the most extreme Conservatives in
the body. My mother had pointed out to me that the 16 representative
Scottish peers elected by those who have not a seat as British peers,
for the duration of each Parliament, were the most Tory of the Tories,
and that the same could be said of the 28 representative peers for
Ireland elected for life. So, though the House of Lords contains a
respectable minority of Liberals, under no system of exclusively
majority representation could any of them be chosen among the 200. I
had the same idea of life peers to be added from the ranks of the
professions, of science, and of literature, unburdened by the weight
and cost of an hereditary title, that Lord Rosebery has; and into such
a body I thought that representatives of the great self-governing
colonies could enter, so that information about our resources, our
politics, and our sociology might be available, and might permeate the
press. But, greatly to my surprise, my article was sent back, but was
afterwards accepted by Fraser's Magazine. This was better for me, for
what would have been published for nothing in The Melbourne Review
brought me 8/15/0 from a good English magazine. I continued to write
for this review, until it ceased to exist, in 1885, literary and
political articles. The former included a second one on "George Eliot's
Life and Work," and one on "Honore de Balzac," which many of my friends
thought my best literary effort.

It was through Miss Martha Turner that I was introduced to her
brother and to The Melbourne Review. She was at that time pastor of the
Unitarian Church in Melbourne. She had during the long illness of the
Rev. Mr. Higginson helped her brother with the services. At first she
wrote sermons for him to deliver, but on some occasions when he was
indisposed she read her own compositions. Fine reader as Mr. H. G.
Turner is he did not come up to her, and especially he could not equal
her in the presentment of her own thoughts. The congregation on the
death of Mr. Higginson asked Miss Turner to accept the pastorate. She
said she could conduct the services, but she absolutely declined to do
the pastoral duties--visiting especially. She was licensed to conduct
marriage services and baptized (or, as we call it, consecrated)
children to the service of Almighty God and to the service of man.
During the absence of our pastor for a long holiday in England Mr. C.
L. Whitham afterwards an education inspector, took his place for two
years, and he arranged for an exchange of three weeks with Miss Turner.
She is the first woman I ever heard in the pulpit. I was thrilled by
her exquisite voice, by her earnestness, and by her reverence. I felt
as I had never felt before that if women are excluded from the
Christian pulpit you shut out more than half of the devoutness that is
in the world. Reading George Eliot's description of Dinah Morris
preaching Methodisim on the green at Hayslope had prepared me in a
measure, but when I heard a highly educated and exceptionally able
woman conducting the services all through, and especially reading the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments with so much intelligence that
they seemed to take on new meaning, I felt how much the world had been
losing for so many centuries. She twice exchanged with Adelaide--the
second time when Mr. Woods had returned--and it was the beginning to
me of a close friendship.

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest flattery; and when a similar
opportunity was offered to me during an illness of Mr. Woods, when no
layman was available, I was first asked to read a sermon of Martineau's
and then I suggested that I might give something of my own. My first
original sermon was on "Enoch and Columbus," and my second on "Content,
discontent, and uncontent." I suppose I have preached more than a
hundred times, in my life, mostly in the Wakefield Street pulpit; but
in Melbourne and Sydney I am always asked for help; and when I went to
America in 1893-4 I was offered seven pulpits--one in Toronto, Canada,
and six in the United States. The preparation of my sermons--for,
after the first one I delivered, they were always original--has always
been a joy and delight to me, for I prefer that my subjects as well as
their treatment shall be as humanly helpful as it is possible to make
them. In Sydney particularly I have preached to fine audiences. On one
occasion I remember preaching in a large hall, as the Unitarian Church
could not have held the congregation. It was during the campaign that
Mrs. Young and I conducted in Sydney--in 1900, and we had spent the
day--a delightful one--with the present Sir George and Lady Reid at
their beautiful home at Strathfield, and returned in time to take the
evening service at Sydney. I spoke on the advantages of international
peace, and illustrated my discourse with arguments, drawn from the
South African War, which was then in progress. I seized the opportunity
afforded me of speaking some plain home truths on the matter. I was
afterwards referred to by The Sydney Bulletin as "the gallant little
old lady who had more moral courage in her little finger than all the
Sydney ministers had in their combined anatomies." For one of my
sermons I wrote an original parable which pleased my friends so much
that I include it in the account of my life's work. "And it came to
pass after the five days of Creation which were periods of unknown
length of time that God took the soul, the naked soul, with which He
was to endow the highest of his creatures--into Eden to look with him
on the work which He had accomplished. And the Soul could see, could
hear, could understand, though there were neither eyes, nor ears, nor
limbs, nor bodily organs, to do its bidding. And God said, 'Soul, thou
shalt have a body as these creatures, that thou seest around thee have.
Thou art to be king, and rule over them all. Thy mission is to subdue
the earth, and make it fruitful and more beautiful than it is even now,
in thus its dawn. Which of all these living creatures wouldst thou
resemble ?' And the Soul looked, and the Soul listened, and the Soul
understood. The beauty of the birds first attracted him and their songs
were sweet, and their loving care of their young called forth a
response in the Prophetic Soul. But the sweet singers could not subdue
the earth--nay, even the strongest voice could not. Then the Soul
gazed on the lion in his strength; on the deer in his beauty. He saw
the large-eyed bull with the cow by his side, licking her calf. The
stately horse, the huge elephant, the ungainly camel--could any of
these subdue the earth? He looked down, and they made it shake with
their heavy tread, but the Soul knew that the earth could not be
subdued by them. Then he saw a pair of monkeys climbing a tree--the
female had a little one in her arms. Where the bird had wings, and the
beasts four legs planted on the ground, the monkeys had arms, and, at
the end of each, hands, with five fingers; they gathered nuts and
cracked them, and picked out the kernels, throwing the shells away--the
mother caressed her young one with gentle fingers. The Soul saw
also the larger ape with its almost upright form. 'Ah!' sighed the
Soul, 'they are not beautiful like the other creatures, neither are
they so strong as many of them. But their forelimbs, with hands and
fingers to grasp with, are what I need to subdue the earth, for they
will be the servants who can best obey my will. Let me stand upright
and gaze upward, and this is the body that I choose.' And God said, 'Soul,
thou hast chosen well, Thou shalt be larger and stronger than these
creatures thou seest thou shalt stand upright, and look upward and
onward. And the Soul can create beauty for itself, when it shines
through the body.' And it was so, and Adam stood erect and gave names
to all other creatures."

In the seventies the old education system, or want of system, was
broken up, and a complete department of public instruction was
constructed. Mr. J. A. Hartley, head master of Prince Alfred College,
was placed at the head of it, and a vigorous policy was adopted. When
the Misses Davenport Hill came out to visit aunt and cousins, I visited
with them and Miss Clark the Grote Street Model School, and I was
delighted with the new administration. I hoped that the instruction of
the children of the people would attract the poor gentlewomen who were
so badly paid as governesses in families or in schools; but my hope has
not been at all adequately fulfilled. The Register had been most
earnest in its desire for a better system of public education. The late
Mr. John Howard Clark, its then editor, wanted some articles on the
education of girls, and he applied to me to do them, and I wrote two
leading articles on the subject, and another on the "Ladder of
Learning." from the elementary school to the university, as exemplified
in my native country where ambitious lads cultivated literature on a
little oatmeal. For an Adelaide University was in the air, and took
form owing to the benefactions of Capt. (afterwards Sir Walter Watson)
Hughes, and Mr. (afterwards Sir Thomas) Elder. But the opposition to
Mr. Hartley, which set in soon after his appointment, and his supposed
drastic methods and autocratic attitude, continued. I did not knew Mr.
Hartley personally, but I knew he had been an admirable head teacher,
and the most valuable member of the Education Board which preceded the
revolution. I knew, too, that the old school teachers were far inferior
to what were needed for the new work, and that you cannot make an
omelette without breaking eggs. A letter which I wrote to Mr. Hartley,
saying that I desired to help him in any way in my power, led to a
friendship which lasted till his lamented death in 1896. I fancied at
the time that my aid did him good, but I think now that the opposition
had spent its force before I put in my oar by some letters to the
press. South Australians became afterwards appreciative of the work
done by Mr. Hartley, and proud of the good position this State took in
matters educational among the sister States under the Southern Cross.

It was due to Mrs. Webster's second visit to Adelaide to exchange with
Mr. Woods that I made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. E. Barr Smith.
They went to the church and were shown into my seat, and Mrs. Smith
asked me to bring the eloquent preacher to Torrens Park to dine there.
I discovered that they had long wanted to know me, but I was out of
society. I recollect afterwards going to the office to see Mr. Smith on
some business or other, when he was out, and meeting Mr. Elder instead.
He pressed on me the duty of going to see Mrs. Black, a lady from
Edinburgh, who had come out with her sons and daughter. Mr. Barr Smith
came in, and his brother-in-law said, "I have just been telling Miss
Spence she should go and call on the Blacks." "Tom," said Mr. Barr
Smith, "we have been just 20 years making the acquaintance of Miss
Spence. About the year 1899 Miss Spence will be dropping in on
the Blacks." What a house Torrens Park was for books. There was no
other customer of the book shops equal to the Torrens Park family. Rich
men and women often buy books for themselves, and for rare old books
they will give big prices; but the Barr Smiths bought books in sixes
and in dozens for the joy of giving them where they would be
appreciated. On my literary side Mrs. Barr Smith, a keen critic
herself, fitted in with me admirably, and what I owed to her in the way
of books for about 10 years cannot be put on paper, and in my
journalistic work she delighted. Other friendships, both literary and
personal, were formed in the decade which started the elementary
schools and the University. The first Hughes professor of English
literature was the Rev. John Davidson of Chalmers Church, married to
Harriet, daughter of Hugh Miller, the self-taught ecologist and
journalist.

On the day of the inauguration of the University the Davidsons asked
Miss Clark and myself to go with them, and there I met Miss Catherine
Mackay (now Mrs. Fred Martin), from Mount Gambier. I at first thought
her the daughter of a wealthy squatter of the south-east, but when I
found she was a litterateur trying to make a living by her pen,
bringing out a serial tale, "Bohemian Born," and writing occasional
articles, I drew to her at once. So long as the serial tale lasted she
could hold her own; but no one can make a living at occasional articles
in Australia, and she became a clerk in the Education Office, but still
cultivated literature in her leisure hours. She has published two
novels--"An Australian Girl" and "The Silent Sea"--which so good a
judge as F. W. H. Myers pronounced to be on the highest level ever
reached in Australian fiction, and in that opinion I heartily concur. I
take a very humble second place beside her, but in the seventies I
wrote "Gathered In," which I believed to be my best novel--the novel
into which I put the most of myself, the only novel I wrote with tears
of emotion. Mrs. Oliphant says that Jeanie Deans is more real to her
than any of her own creations, and probably it is the same with me,
except for this one work. From an old diary of the fifties, when my
first novels were written I take this extract:--"Queer that I who have
such a distinct idea of what I approve in flesh-and-blood men should
only achieve in pen and ink a set of impossible people, with an absurd
muddy expression of gloom, instead of sublime depth as I intended. Men
novelists' women are as impossible creations as my men, but there is
this difference--their productions satisfy them, mine fail to satisfy
me." But in my last novel--still unpublished--felt quite satisfied
that I had at last achieved my ambition to create characters that stood
out distinctly and real. Miss Clark took the MS. to England, but she
could not get either Bentley or Smith Elder, or Macmillan to accept it.

On the death of Mr. John Howard Clark, which took place at this time,
Mr. John Harvey Finlayson was left to edit The Register, and I became a
regular outside contributor to The Register and The Observer. He
desired to keep up and if possible improve the literary side of the
papers, and felt that the loss of Mr. Clark might be in some measure
made up if I give myself wholeheartedly to the work. Leading articles
were to be written at my own risk. If they suited the policy of the
paper they would be accepted, otherwise not. What a glorious opening
for my ambition and for my literary proclivities came to me in July,
1878, when I was in my fifty-third year! Many leading articles were
rejected, but not one literary or social article. Generally these last
appeared in both daily and weekly papers. I recollect the second
original social article I wrote was on "Equality as an influence on
society and manners," suggested by Matthew Arnold. The much-travelled
Smythe, then, I think, touring with Charles Clark, wrote to Mr.
Finlayson from Wallaroo thus:--"In this dead-alive place, where one
might fire a mitrailleuse down the principal street without hurting
anybody, I read this delightful article in yesterday's Register. When
we come again to Adelaide, and we collect a few choice spirits, be sure
to invite the writer of this article to join us." I felt as if the
round woman had got at last into the round hole which fitted her; and
in my little study, with my books and my pigeon holes, and my dear old
mother sitting with her knitting on her rocking chair at the low
window, I had the knowledge that she was interested in all I did. I
generally read the MS to her before it went to the office. What is more
remarkable, perhaps, is that the excellent maid who was with us for 12
years, picked out everything of mine that was in the papers and
read it. A series of papers called "Some Social Aspects of Early
Colonial Life" I contributed under the pseudonym of "A Colonist of
1839." From 1878 till 1893, when I went round the world via America, I
held the position of outside contributor on the oldest newspaper in the
State, and for these 14 years I had great latitude. My friend Dr.
Garran, then editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, accepted reviews and
articles from me. Sometimes I reviewed the same books for both, but I
wrote the articles differently, and made different quotations, so that
I scarcely think any one could detect the same hand in them; but
generally they were different books and different subjects, which I
treated. I tried The Australasian with a short story, "Afloat and
Ashore," and with a social article on "Wealth, Waste, and Want." I
contributed to The Melbourne Review, and later to The Victorian Review,
which began by paying well, but filtered out gradually. I found
journalism a better paying business for me than novel writing, and I
delighted in the breadth of the canvas on which I could draw my
sketches of books and of life. I believe that my work on newspapers and
reviews is more characteristic of me, and intrinsically better work
than what I have done in fiction; but when I began to wield the pen,
the novel was the line of least resistance. When I was introduced in
1894 to Mrs. Croly, the oldest woman journalist in the United States,
as an Australian journalist, I found that her work, though good ehough,
was essentially woman's work, dress, fashions, functions, with
educational and social outlooks from the feminine point of view. My
work might show the bias of sex, but it dealt with the larger questions
which were common to humanity; and when I recall the causes which I
furthered, and which in some instances I started, I feel inclined to
magnify the office of the anonymous contributor to the daily press. And
I acknowledge not only the kindness of friends who put some of the best
new books in my way, but the large-minded tolerance of the Editors of
The Register, who gave me such a free hand in the treatment of books,
of men, and of public questions.




CHAPTER XIII.



MY WORK FOR EDUCATION.


I was the first woman appointed on a Board of Advice under the
Education Department, and found the work interesting. The powers of the
board were limited to an expenditure of 5 pounds for repairs without
applying to the department and to interviewing the parents of children who
had failed to attend the prescribed number of days, as well as those who
pleaded poverty as an exewe for the non-payment of fees. I always felt
that the school fees were a heavy burden on the poor, and rejoiced
accordingly when free education was introduced into South Australia.
This was the second State to adopt this great reform, Victoria
preceding it by a few years. I objected to the payment of fees on
another ground. I felt they bore heavily on the innocent children
themselves through the notion of caste which was created in the minds
of those who paid fees to the detriment of their less fortunate school
companions. And again, education that is compulsory should be free.
Other women have since become members of School Boards. but I was the
pioneer of that branch of public work for women in this State. It is a
privilege that American women have been fighting for for many years--to
vote for and to be eligible to sit on School Boards. In many of the
States this has been won to their great advantage. In this present year
of 1910 Mrs. Ella, Flagg Young, at the age of 65, has been elected by
the Chigago Board, Director of the Education of that great city of over
two millions of inhabitants at a salary of 2,000 pounds a year, with a
male university professor as an assistant. At an age when we in South
Australia are commanding our teachers to retire, in Chicago, which is
said by Foster Fraser to cashier men at 40, this elderly woman has
entered into her great power.

It is characteristic of me that I like to do thoroughly what I
undertake to do at all, and when, on one ocasion I had not received the
usual summons to attend a board meeting, I complained of the omission
to the Chairman. "I do not want," I said, "to be a merely ornamental
member of this board. I want to go to all the meetings." He replied,
courteously, "It is the last thing that we would say of you, Miss
Spence, that you are ornamental!" It was half a minute before he
discovered that he had put his disclaimer in rather a different form
from what he had intended, and he joined in the burst of laughter which
followed. Another amusing contretemps occurred when the same gentleman
and I were visiting the parents who had pleaded for exemption from the
payment of fees. At one house there was a grown-up daughter who had
that morning left the service of the gentleman's mother--a fact
enlarged upon by my companion during the morning's drive. "Why is your
eldest daughter out of a place?" was the first question he put to the
woman. "She might be earning good wages, and be able to help you pay
the fees." "Oh!" came the unexpected reply, "she had to leave old
Mrs. ---- this morning; she was that mean there was no living in the house
with her!" Knowing her interlocutor only as the man in authority, the
unfortunate woman scarcely advanced her cause by her plain speaking,
and I was probably the only member of the trio who appreciated the
situation. I am sure many people who were poorer than this mother paid
the fees rather than suffer the indignity of such cross-questioning by
the school visitors and the board--an unfortunate necessity of the
system, which disappeared with the abolition of school fees.

It had been suggested by the Minister of Education of that period that
the children attending the State schools should be instructed in the
duties of citizenship, and that they should be taught something of the
laws under which they lived, and I was commissioned to write a short
and pithy statement of the case. It was to be simple enough for
intelligent children in the fourth class; 11 or 12--it was to lead
from the known to the unknown--it might include the elements of
political economy and sociology--it might make use of familiar
illustrations from the experience of a new country--but it must not be
long. It was not very easy to satisfy myself and Mr. Hartley--who was
a severe critic--but when the book of 120 pages was completed
he was satisfied. A preface I wrote for the second edition--the first
5,000 copies being insufficient for the requirements of the schools--will
give some idea of the plan of the work:--"In writing this little
book, I have aimed less at symmetrical perfection than at simplicity of
diction, and such arrangement as would lead from the known to the
unknown, by which the older children in our public schools might learn
not only the actual facts about the laws they live under, but also some
of the principles which underlie all law." The reprinting gave me an
opportunity to reply to my critics that "political economy, trades
unions, insurance companies, and newspapers" were outside the scope of
the laws we live under. But I thought that in a new State where the
optional duties of the Government are so numerous, it was of great
importance for the young citizen to understand economic principles. As
conduct is the greater part of life, and morality, not only the bond of
social union, but the main source of individual happiness, I took the
ethical part of the subject first, and tried to explain that education
was of no value unless it was used for good purposes. As without some
wealth, civilization was impossible, I next sought to show that
national and individual wealth depends on the security that is given by
law, and on the industry and the thrift which that security encourages.
Land tenure is of the first importance in colonial prosperity, and
consideration of the land revenue and the limitations as to its
expenditure led me to the necessity for taxation and the various modes
of levying it. Taxation led me to the power which imposes, collects,
and expends it. This involved a consideration of those representative
institutions which make the Government at once the master and the
servant of the people. Under this Government our persons and our
prosperity are protected by a system of criminal, civil, and insolvent
law--each considered in its place. Although not absolutely included in
the laws we live under, I considered that providence, and its various
outlets in banks, savings banks, joint stock companies, friendly
societies, and trades unions, were matters too important to be left
unnoticed; and also those influences which shape character quite as
much as statute laws--public opinion, the newspaper, and amusements.
As the use of my little book was restricted solely to school hours, my
hope that the parents might be helped and encouraged by its teaching
was doomed to disappointment. But the children of 30 years ago, when
"The Laws We Live Under" was first published, are the men and women of
to-day, and who shall say but that among them are to be found some at
least worthy and true citizens, who owe to my little book their first
inspiration to "hitch their wagon to a star." Last year an enthusiastic
young Swedish teacher and journalist was so taken with this South
Australian little handbook of civics that he urged on me the duty of
bringing it up to date, and embracing women's suffrage, the relations
of the States to the Commonwealth, as well as the industrial
legislation which is in many ways peculiar to Australia, but although
those in authority were sympathetic no steps have been taken for its
reproduction. Identified as I had been for so many years with
elementary education in South Australia, my mind was well prepared
to applaud the movement in favour of the higher education of poorer
children of both sexes by the foundation of bursaries and scholarships,
and the opening up of the avenues of learning to women by admitting them
to University degrees. Victoria was the first to take this step, and all
over the Commonwealth the example has been followed. I am, however,
somewhat disappointed that University women are not more generally
progressive in their ideas. They have won something which I should have
been very glad of, but which was quite out of reach. All opportunities
ought to be considered as opportunities for service. As my brother David
regarded the possession of honours and wealth as demanding sacrifice for
the common good, so I regarded special knowledge and special culture as
means for advancing the culture of all. It is said to be human nature
when special privileges or special gifts are used only for egoistic
ends; but the complete development of the human being demands that
altruistic ideas should also be cultivated. We see that in China an
aristocracy of letters--for it is through passing difficult
examinations in old literature that the ruling classes are appointed--is
no protection to the poor and ignorant from oppression or
degradation. It is true that the classics in China are very old, but so
are the literatures of Greece and Rome, on which so many university
degrees are founded; and it ought to be impressed upon all seekers
after academic honours that personal advantage is not the be-all
and end-all of their pursuits. In our democratic Commonwealth, although
there are some lower titles bestowed by the Sovereign on colonists more
or less distinguished, these are not hereditary, so that an aristocracy
is not hereditary. There may be an upper class, based on landed estate
or one on business success, or one on learning, but all tend to become
conservative as conservatism is understood in Australia. Safety is
maintained by the free rise from the lower to the higher. But all the
openings to higher education offered in high school and university do
not tempt the working man's children who want to earn wages as soon as
the law lets them go to work. Nor do they tempt their parents to their
large share of the sacrifice which young Scotch lads and even American
lads make to get through advanced studies. The higher education is
still a sort of preserve of the well-to-do, and when one thinks of how
greatly this is valued it seems a pity that it is not open to the
talents, to the industry, to the enthusiasm of all the young of both
sexes. But one exception I must make to the aloofness of people with
degrees and professions from the preventible evils of the world, and
that is in the profession that is the longest and the most exacting--the
medical profession. The women doctors whom I have met in Adelaide,
Melbourne, and Sydney have a keen sense of their responsibility to the
less fortunate. That probably is because medicine as now understood and
practised is the most modern of the learned professions, and is more
human than engineering, which is also modern. It takes us into the
homes of the poor more intimately than even the clergyman, and it
offers remedies and palliatives as well as advice. The law is little
studied by women in Australia, but in the United States there are
probably a thousand or more legal practitioners. It is the profession
that I should have chosen when I was young if it had been in any way
feasible. I had no bent for the medical profession, and still less for
what every one thinks the most womanly of avocations--that of the
trained nurse. I could nurse my own relatives more or less well, but
did not distinguish myself in that way, and I could not devote myself
to strangers. The manner in which penniless young men become lawyers in
the United States seems impossible in Australia. Judge Lindsay, son of
a ruined southern family, studied law and delivered newspapers in the
morning, worked in a lawyer's office through the day, and acted as
janitor at night. The course appears to be shorter, and probably less
Latin and Greek were required in a western State than here. But during the
long vacation in summer, students go as waiters in big hotels at seaside
or other health resorts, or take up some other seasonal trade. All the
Columbian guards at the Chicago Exhibition were students. They kept order,
they gave directions, they wheeled invalids in bath chairs, and they
earned all that was needed, for their next winter's course. In the long
high school holidays youths and maidens who are poor and ambitious work
for money. I have seen fairly well-paid professors who went back to the
father's farm and worked hard all harvest time--and students always
did so. It appears easier in America to get a job for three months'
vacation than in England or Australia, and the most surprising thing
about an American is his versatility. Teaching is with most American
men only a step to something better, so that almost all elementary and
the far greater proportion of high school teaching is in the hands of
women. In Australia our male teachers have to spend so many years
before they are fully equipped that they rarely leave the profession.
The only check on the supply is that the course is so long and
laborious that the youth prefers an easy clerkship. Women, in spite of
the chance of marriage, enter the profession in the United States in
greater numbers, and as the scale of salaries is by no means equal pay
for equal work, except in New York, money is saved by employing women.
I think that it is the student of arts (that English title which is as
vague and unmeaning as the Scottish one of humanities)--student of
ancient classical literature--who, whether man or woman, has least
perception of the modern spirit or sympathy with the sorrows of the
world. With all honour to the classical authors, there are two things
in which they were deficient--the spirit of broad humanity and the
sense of humour. All ancient literature is grave--nay, sad. It is also
aristocratic for learning was the possession of the few. While writing
this narrative I came upon a notable thing done by Miss Crystal
Eastman, a member of the New York Bar, and Secretary of the State
Commission on Employers' Liability. It is difficult for us to
understand how so many good things are blocked, not only in the
Federal Government, but in the separate States, by the written
constitutions. In Great Britain the Constitution consists of unwritten
principles embodied either in Parliamentary statutes or in the common
law, and yields to any Act which Parliament may pass, and the judiciary
can impose no veto on it. This is one reason why England is so far
ahead of the United States in labour legislation. Miss Eastman was the
principal speaker at the annual meeting in January, 1910, of the New
York State Bar Association. She is a trained economic investigator as
well as a lawyer, and her masterly analysis of conditions under the
present liability law held close attention, and carried conviction to
many present that a radical change was necessary. The recommendations
for the statute were to make limited compensation for all accidents,
except those wilfully caused by the victim, compulsory on all
employers. With regard to dangerous occupations the person who profits
by them should bear the greatest share of the loss through accident. As
for the constitutionality of such legislation Miss Eastman said--"If
our State Constitution cannot be interpreted so as to recognise such an
idea of justice then I think we should amend our Constitution. I see no
reason why we should stand in such awe of a document which expressly
provides for its own revision every ten years." The evils against which
this brave woman lawyer contends are real and grievous. Working people
in America who suffer from injury are unmercifully exploited by the
ambulance-chasing lawyers. Casualty insurance companies are said to be
weary of being diverted from their regular business to become a mere
fighting force in the Courts to prevent the injured or the dependents
from getting any compensation. The long-suffering public is becoming aware
that the taxpayers are compelled to bear the burden of supporting the
pitifully great multitude of incapacitated or rendered dependent
because of industrial accident or occupational diseases. Employers
insure their liability, and the poor man has to fight an insurance
company, and at present reform is blocked on the plea that it is
unconstitutional. There are difficulties even in Australia, and to
enquire into such difficulties would be good work for women lawyers.




CHAPTER XIV.



SPECULATION, CHARITY, AND A BOOK.


In the meantime my family history went on. My nephew was sent to the
Northern Territory to take over the branch of the English and Scottish
Bank at Palmerston, and he took his sister from school to go with him
and stay three months in the tropics. He was only 21 at the time. Four
years after he went to inspect the branch, and took his sister with him
again. I think she loved Port Darwin more than he did, and she always
stood up for the climate. South Australia did a great work in building,
unaided by any other Australian State, the telegraph line from Port
Darwin to Adelaide. and at one time it was believed that rich
goldfields were to be opened in this great empty land, which the
British Government had handed over to South Australia, because Stuart
had been the first to cross the island continent, and the handful of
South Australian colonists bad connected telegraphically the north and
the south. The telegraph building had been contracted for by Darwent
and Dalwood, and my brother, through the South Australian Bank, was
helping to finance them. That was in 1876-7. This was the first, but
not the last by any means, of enterprises which contractors were not
able to carry out in this State, either from taking a big enterprise at
too low a rate or from lack of financial backing. The Government, as in
the recent cases of the Pinnaroo Railway and the Outer Harbour, had to
complete the halfdone work as the direct employer of labour and the
direct purchaser of materials. A great furore for goldmining in the
Northern Territory arose, and people in England bought city allotments
in Palmerston, which was expected to become the queen city of North
Australia, Port Darwin is no whit behind Sydney Harbour in beauty and
capacity. The navies of the world could ride safely in its waters. A
railway of 150 miles in length, the first section of the great
transcontinental line, which was to extend from Palmerston to Port
Augusta, was built to connect Pine Creek, where there was gold to be
found, with the seaboard. South Australia was more than ever a misnomer
for this State. Victoria lay more to the south than our province, and
now that we stretched far inside the tropics the name seemed
ridiculous. My friend Miss Sinnett suggested Centralia as the
appropriate name for the State, which by this gift was really the
central State; but in the present crisis, when South Australia finds
the task of keeping the Northern Territory white too arduous and too
costly, and is offering it on handsome terms to the Commonwealth,
Centralia might not continue to be appropriate. Our northern possession
has cost South Australia much. The sums of money sunk in prospecting
for gold and other metals have been enormous, and at present there are
more Chinese there than Europeans. In the early days, when the Wrens
were there, Eleanor was surprised when their wonderful Chinese cook
came to her and said, "Missie, I go along a gaol to-morrow. You take Ah
Kei. He do all light till I go out!" The cook had been tried and
condemned for larceny, but he was allowed to retain his situation till
the last hour. Instead of being kept in gaol pending his trial he
earned his wages and did his work. He had no desire to escape. He liked
Palmerston and the bank, and he went back to the latter when released.
He was an incorrigible thief, and got into trouble again; but as a cook
he was superlative.

That decade of the eighties was a most speculative time all over
Australia and New Zealand. I was glad that leaving the English and
Scottish Bank enabled my brother to go into political and official
life, but it also allowed him to speculate far beyond what he could
have done if he had been manager of a bank. Everybody speculated--in
mines, in land, and in leases. I was earning by my pen a very decent
income, and I spent it, sometimes wisely and sometimes foolishly. I
could be liberal to church and to good causes. I was able to keep a
dear little State child at school for two years after the regulation
age, and I was amply repaid by seeing her afterwards an honoured
wife and mother, able to assist her children and their companions with
their lessons. I helped some lame dogs over the stile. One among them
was a young American of brilliant scholastic attainments, who was the
victim of hereditary alcoholism. His mother, a saintly and noble
prohibitionist worker, whom I afterwards met in America, had heard of
me, and wrote asking me to keep a watchful eye on her boy. This I did
for about 12 months, and found him employment. He held a science
degree, and was an authority on mineralogy, metallurgy, and kindred
subjects. During this speculative period he persuaded me to plunge
(rather wildly for me) in mining shares. I plunged to the extent of
500 pounds, and I owe it to the good sense and practical ability of my
nephew that I lost no more heavily than I did, for he paid 100 pounds to
let me off my bargain.

My protege continued to visit me weekly, and we wrote to one another
once a week or oftener. The books I lent to him I know to this day by
their colour and the smell of tobacco. I wrote to his mother regularly,
and consulted with his good friend, Mr. Waterhouse, over what was best
to be done. One bad outburst he had when he had got some money through
me to pay off liabilities. I recollect his penitent, despairing
confession, with the reference to Edwin Arnold's poem

    He who died at Azun gave
    This to those who dug his grave.

The time came when I felt I could hold him no longer, although that
escapade was forgiven, and I determined to send him to his mother--not
without misgivings about what she might have still to suffer. He wrote
to me occasionally. His health was never good, and I attribute the
craving for drink and excitement a good deal to physical causes; but at
the same time I am sure that he could have withstood it by a more
resolute will. The will is the character--it is the real man. When
people say that the first thing in education is to break the will, they
make a radical mistake. Train the will to work according to the
dictates of an enlightened conscience, for it is all we have to trust
to for the stability of character. My poor lad called me his Australian
mother. When I saw his real mother, I wondered more and more what sort
of a husband she had, or what atavism Edward drew from to produce a
character so unlike hers. I heard nothing from herself of what she went
through, but from her friends I gathered that he had several outbreaks,
and cost her far more than she could afford. She paid everything that
he owed in Adelaide, except her debt to me, but that I was repaid after
her death in 1905, and she always felt that I had been a true friend to
her wayward son. I recollect one day my friend coming on his weekly
visit with a face of woe to tell me he had seen a man in dirt and rags,
with half a shirt, who had been well acquainted with Charles Dickens
and other notables in London. My friend had fed him and clothed him,
but he wanted to return to England to rich friends. I wrote to a few
good folk, and we raised the money and sent the wastrel to the old
country. How grateful he appeared to be, especially to the kind people
who had taken him in; but he never wrote a line. We never heard from
him again. Years afterwards I wrote to his brother-in-law, asking where
the object of our charity now was, if he were still alive. The reply
was that his ingratitude did not surprise the writer--that he was a
hopeless drunkard, a remittance man, whom the family had to ship off as
soon as possible when our ill-judged kindness sent him to England. At
that time he was in Canada, but it was not worth while to give any
address. When Mr. Bowyear started the Charity Organization Society in
Adelaide, he said I was no good as a visitor; I was too credulous, and
had not half enough of the detective in me. But I had not much faith in
this remittance man.

I have been strongly tempted to omit altogether the next book which I
wrote; but, as this is to be a sincere narrative of my life and its
work, I must pierce the veil of anonymity and own up to "An Agnostic's
Progress." I had been impressed with the very different difficulties
the soul of man has to encounter nowadays from those so triumphantly
overcome by Christian in the great work of John Bunyan in the first
part of "The Pilgrim's Progress." He cannot now get out of the Slough
of Despond by planting his foot on the stepping stones of the Promises.
He cannot, like Hopeful, pluck from his bosom the Key of Promise which
opens every lock in Doubting Castle when the two pilgrims are shut in
it by Giant Despair, when they are caught trespassing on his grounds.
Even assured Christians, we know, may occasionally trespass on these
grounds of doubt; but the weapons of modern warfare are not of the
seventeenth century. The Interpreter's House in the old allegory
dealt only with things found in the Bible, the only channel of
revelation to John Bunyan. To the modern pilgrim God reveals Himself in
Nature, in art, in literature, and in history. The Interpreter's Hand
had to do with all these things. Vanity Fair is not a place through
which all pilgrims must pass as quickly as possible, shutting their
eyes and stopping their ears so that they should neither see nor hear
the wicked things that are done and said there. Vanity Fair is the
world in which we all have to live and do our work well, or neglect it.
Pope and Pagan are not the old giants who used to devour pilgrims, but
who can now only gnash their teeth at them in impotent rage. They are
live forces, quite active, and with agents and supporters alert to
capture souls. Of all the influences which affected for evil my young
life I perhaps resented most Mrs. Sherwood's "Infant's Progress." There
were three children in it going from the City of Destruction to the
Celestial City by the route laid down by John Bunyan; but they were
handicapped even more severely than the good Christian himself with his
heavy burden--for that fell off his back at the first sight of the
Cross and Him who was nailed to it, accepted by the eye of Faith as the
one Sacrifice for the sins of the world--for the three little ones,
Humble Mind, Playful, and Peace, were accompanied always and everywhere
by an imp called Inbred Sin, who never ceased to tempt them to evil.

The doctrine of innate human depravity is one of the most paralysing
dogmas that human fear invented or priestcraft encouraged. I did not
think of publishing "An Agnostic's Progress" at first. I wrote it to
relieve my own mind. I wanted to satisfy myself that reverent agnostics
were by no means materialists; that man's nature might or might not be
consciously immortal, but it was spiritual; that in the duties which
lay before each of us towards ourselves and towards our
fellow-creatures, there was scope for spiritual energy and spiritual
emotion. I was penetrated by Browning's great idea expressed over and
over again--the expansion of Paul's dictum that faith is not
certainty, but a belief without sufficient proof, a belief which leads
to right action and to self-sacrifice. Of the 70 years of life which
one might hope to live and work in, I had no mean idea. I asked in the
newspaper, "Is life so short?" and answered. "No." I expanded and
spiritualized the idea in a sermon. and I again answered emphatically
"No." I saw the continuation and the expansion of true ideas by
succeeding generations. To the question put sometimes peevishly, "Is
life worth living?" I replied with equal emphasis, "Yes." My mother
told me of old times. I recalled half a century of progress, and I
hoped the forward movement would continue. I read the manuscript of "An
Agnostic's Progress" to Mr. and Mrs. Barr Smith, and they thought so
well of it that they offered to take it to England on one of their many
visits to the old country, where they had no doubt it would find a
publisher. Trubner's reader reported most favourably of the book, and
we thought there was an immediate prospect of its publication; but Mr.
Trubner died, and the matter was not taken up by his successor, and my
friends did what I had expressly said they were not to do, and had it
printed and published at their own expense. There were many printer's
errors in it, but it was on the whole well reviewed, though it did not
sell well. The Spectator joined issue with me on the point that it is
only through the wicket gate of Doubt that we can come to any faith
that is of value; but I am satisfied that I took the right stand there.
My mother was in no way disquieted or disturbed by my writing the book,
and few of my friends read it or knew about it. I still appeared so
engrossed with work on The Register and The Observer that my time was
quite well enough accounted for. I tried for a prize of 100 pounds offered
by The Sydney Mail with a novel called "Handfasted," but was not
successful, for the judge feared that it was calculated to loosen the
marriage tie--it was too socialistic and consequently dangerous.




CHAPTER XV.



JOURNALISM AND POLITICS.


In reviewing books I took the keenest Interest in the "Carlyle
Biographies and Letters," because my mother recollected Jeanie Welch as
a child, and her father was called in always for my grandfather
Brodie's illnesses. I was also absorbed in the "Life and Letters of
George Eliot." The Barr Smiths gave me the "Life and Letters of
Balzac," and many of his books in French, which led me to write both
for The Register and for The Melbourne Review. I also wrote "A last
word," which was lost by The Centennial in Sydney when it died out. It
was also from Mrs. Barr Smith that I got so many of the works of
Alphonse Daudet in French, which enabled me to give a rejoinder to
Marcus Clark's assertion that Balzac was a French Dickens. Indeed,
looking through my shelves, I see so many books which suggested
articles and criticisms which were her gifts that I always connect her
with my journalistic career.

Many people have consulted me about publishing poems, novels, and
essays. As I was known to have actually got books published in England,
and to be a professional journalist and reviewer, I dare say some of
those who applied to me for encouragement thought I was actuated by
literary jealousy; but people are apt to think they have a plot when
they have only an incident, or two or three incidents; and many who can
write clever and even brilliant letters have no idea of the
construction of a story that will arrest and sustain the reader's
attention. The people who consulted me all wanted money for their work.
They had such excellent uses for money. They had too little. They were
neither willing nor able to bear the cost of publication, and it was
absolutely necessary that their work should be good enough for a
business man to undertake it. I am often surprised that I found English
publishers myself, and the handicap of distance and other things is
even greater now. If stories are excessively Australian, they lose the
sympathies of the bulk of the public. If they are mildly Australian,
the work is thought to lack distinctiveness. Great genius can overcome
these things, but great genius is rare everywhere. Except for my friend
Miss Mackay (Mrs. F. Martin), I know no Australian novelist of genius,
and her work is only too rare in fiction. Mrs. Cross reaches her
highest level in "The Masked Man." but she does not keep it up, though
she writes well and pleasantly. Of course poetry does not pay anywhere
until a great reputation is made. Poetry must be its own exceeding
great reward. And yet I agree with Charles Kingsley that if you wish to
cultivate a really good prose style you should begin with verse. In my
teens I wrote rhymes and tried to write sonnets. I encouraged writing
games among my young people, and it is surprising how much cleverness
could be developed. I can write verses with ease, but very rarely could
I rise to poetry; and therefore I fear I was not encouraging to the
budding Australian poet.

There was a column quite outside of The Register to which I liked to
contribute for love. That was "The Riddler," which appeared in The
Observer and in The Evening Journal on Saturdays. It brought me in
contact with Mr. William Holden, long the oldest journalist in South
Australia, who revelled in statistical returns and algebraical problems
and earth measurements, but who also appreciated a good charade or
double acrostic. I used to give some of the ingredients for his
"Christmas Mince Pie," and wrote many riddles of various sorts. My
charades were not so elegant as some arranged by Miss Clark, and not so
easily found out; and my double acrostics were not so subtle as those
given in competition nowadays, but they were in the eighties reckoned
excellent. My fame had reached the ears of Mrs. Alfred Watts (nee
Giles), who spent her early colonial life on Kangaroo Island, and she
asked me to write some double acrostics for the poor incurables. I
stared at her in amazement. "We want to be quite well to tackle double
acrostics and to have access to books. Does not Punch speak of the
titled lady, eager to win a guinea prize, who gave seven volumes of
Carlyle's works to seven upper servants, and asked each to search one
to find a certain quotation?" "Oh," said Mrs. Watts, "I don't
mean for the incurables to amuse themselves with. I mean for the
benefit of the home."

In the end I prepared a book of charades and double acrostics, for the
printing and binding of which Mrs. Watts paid. It was entitled "Silver
Wattle," and the proceeds from the sale of this little book went to
help the funds of the home. For a second volume issued for the same
purpose Mrs. Strawbridge wrote some poems, Mrs. H. M. Davidson a
translation of Victor Huge, Miss Clark her beautiful "Flowers of
Greece," and her niece some pretty verses, which, combined with the
double acrostics, and acting charades supplied by me, made an
attractive volume. Mrs. Watts had something of a literary turn, which
found expression in "Memories of Early Days in South Australia," a book
printed for private circulation among her family and intimate friends.
Dealing with the years between 1837 and 1845 it was very interesting to
old colonists, particularly when they were able to identify the people
mentioned, sometimes by initials and sometimes by pseudonyms. The
author was herself an incurable invalid from an accident shortly after
her marriage, and felt keenly for all the inmates of the Fullarton
Home.

In 1877 my brother John--with whom I had never quarrelled in my life,
and who helped and encouraged me in everything that I did--retired
from the English, Scottish, and Australian Bank, and decided to contest
a seat for the Legislative Council. It was the last occasion on which
the Council was elected with the State as one district. Although he
announced his candidature only the night before nomination day, and did
not address a single meeting, he was elected third on the poll. He
afterwards became the Chief Secretary, and later Commissioner of Public
Works. He was an excellent worker on committees, and was full of ideas
and suggestions. Although not a good speaker, he rejoiced in my
standing on platform or in pulpit. He was nearly as democratic as I
was; and when he invented the phrase "effective voting" it was from the
sense that true democracy demanded not merely a chance, but a
certainty, that the vote given at the poll should be effective for some
one. My brother David inherited all the Conservatism of the Brodies for
generations back. Greatly interested in all abtruse problems and
abstract questions he had various schemes for the regeneration of
mankind. Two opposing theories concerning the working of bi-cameral
Legislatures supplied me with material for a Review article. One theory
was intensely Conservative, and emanated from my brother David, who was
a poor man. The other was held by the richest man of my acquaintance,
and was distinctly Liberal. My brother argued that the Upper House
should have the power to tax its own constituents, and was utterly
opposed to any extension of the franchise. My rich friend objected to
the limited franchise, and desired to have the State proclaimed one
electorate with proportional representation as a safeguard against
unwise legislation and as a means to assist reforms. The great blot, he
considered, on Australian Constitutions was the representation by
districts, especially for the House that controlled the public purse.
If districts were to be tolerated at all, they should be represented by
men who had a longer tenure of office than our Assembly's three years,
and who did not have so often to ask for votes, which frequently
depended on a railway or a jetty or a Rabbit Bill. So long as a
Government depends for its existence on the support of local
representatives it is tempted to spend public money to gratify them.
Both men were Freetraders, and both believed strongly in the justice of
land values taxation.

My friend the late Professor Pearson had entered into active political
life in Melbourne, and was a regular writer for The Age. Perhaps no
other man underwent more obloquy from his old friends for taking the
side of Graham Berry, especially as he was a Freetrader, and the
popular party was Protectionist. He justified his action by saying that
a mistake in the fiscal policy of a country should not prevent a real
Democrat from siding with the party which opposed monopoly, especially
in land. He saw in "LATIFUNDIA"--huge estates--the ruin of the Roman
Empire, and its prevalence in the United Kingdom was the greatest
danger ahead of it. In these young countries the tendency to build up
large holdings was naturally fostered by what was the earliest of our
industries. Sheepfarming is not greatly pursued in the United States or
Canada, because of the rigorous winter--but Australia is the favourite
home of the merino sheep. Originally there was no need to buy land, or
even to pay rent to the Government for it; the land had no value
till settlement gave it. The squatter leased it on easy terms, and
bought it only when it had sufficient value to be desired by
agriculturists or by selectors who posed as agriculturists. When he
bought it he generally complained of the price these selectors
compelled him to pay, but it was then secure; and, with the growth of
population and the railroads and other improvements, these enforced
purchasers, even in 1877, had built up vast estates in single hands in
every State in Australia. In The Melbourne Review for April, 1877,
Professor Pearson sketched a plan of land taxation, which was
afterwards carried out, in which the area of land held was the test for
graduated taxation. Henry George had not then declared his gospel; and,
although I felt that there was something very faulty in the scheme, I
did not declare in my article on the subject that an acre in Collins
street might be of more value than 50,000 acres of pastoral land 500
miles from the seaboard, and was therefore more fitly liable to
taxation for the advantage of the whole community, who had given to
that acre this exceptional value. I did not declare it because I did
not believe it. But I thought that the end aimed at--the breaking up
of large estates--could be better and more safely effected, though not
so quickly, by a change in the incidence of succession duties.

Some time after I saw a single copy of Henry George's "Progress and
Poverty" on Robertson's shelves, and bought it, and it was I who after
reading this book opened in the three most important Australian
colonies the question of the taxation of land values. An article I
wrote went into The Register, and Mr. Liston, of Kapunda, read it, and
spoke of it at a farmers' meeting. I had then a commission from The
Sydney Morning Herald to write on any important subject, and I wrote on
this. It appeared, like a previous article on Howell's "Conflicts of
Capital and Labour," as an unsigned article. A new review, The
Victorian, had been started by Mortimer Franlyn, which paid
contributors; and, now that I was a professional journalist, I thought
myself entitled to ask remuneration. I sent to the new periodical,
published in Melbourne, a fuller treatment of the book than had been
given to the two newspapers, under the title of "A Californian
Political Economist." This fell into the hands of Henry George himself,
in a reading room in San Francisco, and he wrote an acknowledgment of
it to me. In South Australia the first tax on unimproved land values
was imposed. It was small--only a halfpenny in the pound, but without
any exemption; and its imposition was encouraged by the fact that we
had had bad seasons and a falling revenue. The income tax in England
was originally a war tax, and they say that if there is not a war the
United States will never be able to impose an income tax. The separate
States have not the power to impose such a tax. Henry George said to me
in his home in New York:--"I wonder at you, with your zeal and
enthusiasm, and your power of speaking, devoting yourself to such a
small matter as proportional representation, when you see the great
land question before you." I replied that to me it was not a small
matter. I cannot, however, write my autobiography without giving
prominence to the fact that I was the pioneer in Australia in this as
in the other matter of proportional representation.




CHAPTER XVI.



SORROW AND CHANGE.


In the long and cheerful life of my dear mother there at last came a
change. At 94 she fell and broke her wrist. The local doctor (a
stranger), who was called in, not knowing her wonderful constitution,
was averse from setting the wrist, and said that she would never be
able to use the hand. But I insisted, and in six, weeks she was able to
resume her knitting, and never felt any ill effects. At 95 she had a
fall, apparently without cause, and was never able to stand again. She
had to stay in bed for the last 13 months of her life, with a gradual
decay of the faculties which had previously been so keen. My mother
wanted me with her always. Her talk was all of times far back in her
life--not of Melrose, where she had lived for 25 years, but of
Scoryhall (pronounced Scole), where she had lived as a girl. I had been
shown through the house by my aunt Handyside in 1865, and I could
follow her mind wanderings and answer her questions. As she suffered so
little pain it was difficult for my mother to realize the seriousness
of her illness; and, tiring of her bedroom, she begged to be taken to
the study, where, with her reading and knitting, she had spent so many
happy hours while I did my writing. Delighted though she was at the
change, a return to her bed--as to all invalids--was a comfort, and
she never left it again. Miss Goodham--an English nurse and a charming
woman, who has since remained a friend and correspondent of the
family--was sent to help us for a few days at the last. Another sorrow
came to us at this time in the loss of my ward's husband, and Rose
Hood--nee Duval--returned to live near me with her three small children.
Her commercial training enabled her to take a position as clerk in the
State Children's Department, which she retained until her death. The
little ones were very sweet and good, but the supervision of them
during the day added a somewhat heavy responsibility to our already
overburdened household. In these days, when one hears so much of the
worthlessness of servants, it is a joy to remember how our faithful
maid--we kept only one for that large house--at her own request, did
all the laundry work for the family of five, and all through the three
years of Eleanor's illness waited on her with untiring devotion.

An amusing episode which would have delighted the heart of my dear
friend Judge Lindsay occurred about this time. The fruit from our
orange trees which grew along the wall bordering an adjoining paddock
was an irresistible temptation to wandering juveniles, and many and
grievous were the depredations. Patience, long drawn out, at last gave
way, and when the milkman caught two delinquents one Saturday afternoon
with bulging blouses of forbidden fruit it became necessary to make an
example of some one. The trouble was to devise a fitting punishment. A
Police Court, I had always maintained, was no place for children;
corporal punishment was out of the question; and the culprits stood
tremblingly awaiting their fate till a young doctor present suggested a
dose of Gregory's powder. His lawyer friend acquiesced, and Gregory's
powder it was. A moment's hesitation and the nauseous draught was
swallowed to the accompaniment of openly expressed sympathy, one dear
old lady remarking, "Poor children and not so much as a taste of
sugar." Probably, however, the unkindest cut of all was the carrying
away by the milkman of the stolen fruit! The cure was swift and
effective; and ever after the youth of the district, like the Pharisee
of old, passed by on the other side.

My dear mother died about 8 o'clock on the evening of December 8, 1887,
quietly and painlessly. With her death, which was an exceedingly great
loss to me, practically ended my quiet life of literary work.
Henceforth I was free to devote my efforts to the fuller public work
for which I had so often longed, but which my mother's devotion to and
dependence on me rendered impossible. But I missed her untiring
sympathy, for with all her love for the old days and the old friends
there was no movement for the advancement of her adopted land that did
not claim her devoted attention. But though I was now free to take up
public work, the long strain of my mother's illness and death
had affected my usually robust health, and I took things quietly. I had
been asked by the University Shakspeare Society to give a lecture on
Donnelly's book, "The Great Cryptogram;" or "Who Wrote Shakspeare's
Plays?" and it was prepared during this period, and has frequently been
delivered since. October of the year following my mothers death found
me again in Melbourne, where I rejoiced in the renewal of a friendship
with Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Walker, the former of whom had been connected
with the construction of the overland railway. They were delightful
literary people, and I had met them at the hospitable house of the
Barr-Smiths, and been introduced as "a literary lady." "Then perhaps,"
said Mr. Walker, "you can give us the information we have long sought
in vain--who wrote 'Clara Morrison?'" Their surprise at my "I
did" was equalled by the pleasure I felt at their kind appreciation of
my book, and that meeting was the foundation of a lifelong friendship.
Before my visit closed I was summoned to Gippsland through the death by
accident of my dear sister Jessie--the widow of Andrew Murray, once
editor of The Argus--and the year 1888 ended as sadly for me as the
previous one had done. The following year saw the marriage of my
nephew, Charles Wren of the E.S. and A. Bank, to Miss Hall, of
Melbourne. On his deciding to live on in the old home, I, with Ellen
Gregory, whom I had brought out in 1867 to reside with relations, but
who has remained to be the prop and mainstay of my old age--and Mrs.
Hood and her three children, moved to a smaller and more suitable house
I had in another part of East Adelaide. A placid flowing of the river
of life for a year or two led on to my being elected, in 1892,
President of the Girls' Literary Society. This position I filled with
joy to myself and, I hope, with advantage to others, until some years
later the society ceased to exist.

Crowded and interesting as my life had been hitherto, the best was yet
to be. My realization of Browning's beautiful line from "Rabbi Ben
Ezra"--"The last of life, for which the first was made," came when I saw
opening before me possibilities for public service undreamed of in my
earlier years. For the advancement of effective voting I had so far
confined my efforts to the newspapers. My brother John had suggested
the change of name from proportional representation to effective voting
as one more likely to catch the popular ear, and I had proposed a
modification of Hare's original plan of having one huge electorate, and
suggested instead the adoption of six-member districts. The State as
one electorate returning 42 members for the Assembly may be
magnificent, and may also be the pure essence of democracy, but it is
neither commonsense nor practicable. "Why not take effective voting to
the people?" was suggested to me. No sooner said than done. I had
ballot papers prepared and leaflets printed, and I began the public
campaign which has gone on ever since. During a visit to Melbourne as a
member of a charities conference it was first discovered that I had
some of the gifts of a public speaker. My friend, the Rev. Charles
Strong, had invited me to lecture before his working men's club at
Collingwood, and I chose as my subject "Effective Voting."

When on my return Mr. Barr Smith, who had long grasped the principle of
justice underlying effective voting, and was eager for its adoption,
offered to finance a lecturing tour through the State, I jumped at the
offer. There was the opportunity for which I had been waiting for
years. I got up at unearthly hours to catch trains, and sometimes
succeeded only through the timely lifts of kindly drivers. Once I went
in a carrier's van, because I had missed the early morning cars. I
travelled thousands of miles in all weathers to carry to the people the
gospel of electoral reform. Disappointments were frequent, and
sometimes disheartening; but the silver lining of every cloud turned up
somewhere, and I look back on that first lecturing tour as a time of
the sowing of good seed, the harvest of which is now beginning to
ripen. I had no advance agents to announce my arrival, and at one town
in the north I found nobody at the station to meet me. I spent the most
miserable two and a half hours of my life waiting Micawber-like for
something to turn up; and it turned up in the person of the village
blacksmith. I spoke to him, and explained my mission to the town. He
had heard nothing of any meeting. Incidentally I discovered that my
correspondent was in Adelaide, and had evidently forgotten all about my
coming. "Well," I said to the blacksmith, "if you can get together a
dozen intelligent men I will explain effective voting to them." He
looked at me with a dumbfounded air, and then burst out, "Good
G--, madam, there are not three intelligent men in the town." But the
old order has changed, and in 1909 Mrs. Young addressed an enthusiastic
audience of 150 in the same town and on the same subject. The town,
moreover, is in a Parliamentary district, in which every candidate at
the recent general election--and there were seven of them--supported
effective voting. Far down in the south I went to a little village
containing seven churches, which accounted (said the local doctor) for
the extreme backwardness of its inhabitants. "They have so many church
affairs to attend to that there is no time to think of anything else."
At the close of this lecturing tour The Register undertook the public
count through its columns, which did so much to bring the reform before
the people of South Australia. Public interest was well aroused on the
matter before my long projected trip to America took shape. "Come and
teach us how to vote," my American friends had been writing to me for
years; but I felt that it was a big order for a little woman of 68 to
undertake the conversion to electoral reform of 60 millions of the most
conceited people in the world. Still I went. I left Adelaide bound for
America on April 4, 1893, as a Government Commissioner and delegate to
the Great World's Fair Congresses in Chicago.

In Melbourne and Sydney on my way to the boat for San Francisco I found
work to do. Melbourne was in the throes of the great financial panic,
when bank after bank closed its doors; but the people went to church as
usual. I preached in the Unitarian Church on the Sunday, and lectured
in Dr. Strong's Australian Church on Monday. In Sydney Miss Rose Scott
had arranged a drawing-room meeting for a lecture on effective voting.
A strong convert I made on that occasion was Mr. (afterwards Sr.)
Walker. A few delightful hours I spent at his charming house on the
harbour with his family, and was taken by them to see many beauty
spots. Those last delightful days in Sydney left me with pleasant
Australian memories to carry over the Pacific. When the boat sailed on
April 17, the rain came down in torrents. Some interesting missionaries
were on board. One of them, the venerable Dr. Brown, who had been for
30 years labouring in the Pacific, introduced me to Sir John Thurston.
Mr. Newell was returning to Samoa after a two years' holiday in
England. He talked much, and well about his work. He had 104 students
to whom he was returning. He explained that they became missionaries to
other more benighted and less civilized islands, where their knowledge
of the traditions and customs of South Sea Islanders made them
invaluable as propagandists. The writings of Robert Louis Stevenson,
had prepared me to find in the Samoans a handsome and stalwart race,
with many amiable traits, and I was not disappointed. The beauty of the
scenery appealed to me strongly, and I doubt whether "the light that
never was on sea or land" could have rivalled the magic charm of the
one sunrise we saw at Samoa. During the voyage I managed to get in one
lecture, and many talks on effective voting. Had I been superstitious
my arrival in San Francisco on Friday, May 12, might have boded ill for
the success of my mission, but I was no sooner ashore than my friend
Alfred Cridge took me in charge, and the first few days were a whirl of
meetings, addresses and interviews.




CHAPTER XVII.



IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA.


Alfred Cridge, who reminded me so much of my brother David that I felt
at home with him immediately, had prepared the way for my lectures on
effective voting in San Francisco. He was an even greater enthusiast
than I. "America needs the reform more than Australia," he used to say.
But if America needs effective voting to check corruption, Australia
needs it just as much to prevent the degradation of political life in
the Commonwealth and States to the level of American politics. My
lectures in San Francisco, as elsewhere in America, were well attended,
and even better received. Party politics had crushed out the best
elements of political life, and to be independent of either party gave
a candidate, as an agent told Judge Lindsay when he was contesting the
governorship of Colorado, "as much chance as a snowball would have in
hell." So that reformers everywhere were eager to hear of a system of
voting that would free the electors from the tyranny of parties, and at
the same time render a candidate independent of the votes of heckling
minorities, and dependent only on the votes of the men who believed in
him and his politics. I met men and women interested in public
affairs--some of them well known, others most worthy to be known, and all
willing to lend the weight of their character and intelligence to the
betterment of human conditions at home and abroad. Among these were
Judge Maguire, a leader of the Bar in San Francisco and a member of the
State Legislature, who had fought trusts, "grafters," and "boodlers"
through the whole of his public career, and Mr. James Barry, proprietor
of The Star.

"You come from Australia, the home of the secret ballot?" was the
greeting I often received, and that really was my passport to the
hearts of reformers all over America. From all sides I heard that it
was to the energy and zeal of the Singletaxers in the various States--a
well-organized and compact body--that the adoption of the secret
ballot was due. To that celebrated journalist, poetess, and economic
writer, Charlotte Perkins Stetson, who was a cultured Bostonian, living
in San Francisco, I owed one of the best women's meetings I ever
addressed. The subject was "State children and the compulsory clauses
in our Education Act," and everywhere in the States people were
interested in the splendid work of our State Children's Department and
educational methods. Intelligence and not wealth I found to be the
passport to social life among the Americans I met. At a social evening
ladies as well as their escorts were expected to remove bonnets and
mantles in the hall, instead of being invited into a private room as in
Australia--a custom I thought curious until usage made it familiar.
The homeliness and unostentatiousness of the middle class American were
captivating. My interests have always been in people and in the things
that make for human happiness or misery rather than in the beauties of
Nature, art, or architecture. I want to know how the people live, what
wages are, what the amount of comfort they can buy; how the people are
fed, taught, and amused; how the burden of taxation falls; how justice
is executed; how much or how little liberty the people enjoy. And these
things I learned to a great extent from my social intercourse with
those cultured reformers of America. Among these people I had not the
depressing feeling of immensity and hugeness which marred my enjoyment
when I arrived at New York. My literary lectures on the Brownings and
George Eliot were much appreciated, especially in the East, where I
found paying audiences in the fall or autumn of the year. These
lectures have been delivered many times in Australia; and, as the
result of the Browning lecture given in the Unitarian Schoolroom in
Wakefield street, Adelaide, I received from the pen of Mr. J. B. Mather
a clever epigram. The room was large and sparsely filled, and to the
modest back seat taken by my friend my voice scarcely penetrated. So he
amused himself and me by writing:

    I have no doubt that words of sense
    Are falling from the lips of Spence.
    Alas! that Echo should be drowning
    Both words of Spence and sense of Browning.

I found the Brownings far better appreciated in America than in
England, especially by American women. In spite of the fact that The
San Francisco Chronicle had interviewed me favourably on my arrival,
and that I knew personally some of the leading people on The Examiner,
neither paper would report my lectures on effective voting. The Star,
however, quite made up for the deficiencies of the other papers, and
did all it could to help me and the cause. While in San Francisco I
wrote an essay on "Electoral Reform" for a Toronto competition, in
which the first prize was $500. Mr. Cridge was also a competitor; but,
although many essays were sent in, for some reason the prize was never
awarded, and we had our trouble for nothing. On my way to Chicago I
stayed at a mining town to lecture on effective voting. I found the
hostess of the tiny hotel a brilliant pianist and a perfect linguist,
and she quoted poetry--her own and other people's--by the yard. A
lady I journeyed with told me that she had been travelling for seven
years with her husband and "Chambers's Encyclopedia." I thought they
used the encyclopaedia as a guide book until, in a sort of postscript
to our conversation, I discovered the husband to be a book agent,
better known in America as a "book fiend."

Nobody had ever seen anything like the World's Fair. My friend
Dr. Bayard Holmes of Chigago, whose acquaintance I made through missing
a suburban train, expressed a common feeling when he said he could weep
at the thought that it was all to be destroyed--that the creation
evolved from the best brains of America should be dissolved. Much of
our human toil is lost and wasted, and much of our work is more
ephemeral than we think; but this was a conscious creation of hundreds
of beautiful buildings for a six months' existence. Nowhere else except
in America could the thing have been done, and nowhere else in America
but in Chicago. At the Congress of Charity and correction I found every
one interested in Australia's work for destitute children. It was
difficult for Miss Windeyer, of Sydney, and myself--the only
Australians present--to put ourselves in the place of many who
believed in institutions where children of low physique, low morals,
and low intelligence are massed together, fed, washed, drilled, taught
by rule, never individualized, and never mothered. I spoke from pulpits
in Chicago and Indianopolis on the subject, and was urged to plead with
the Governor of the latter State to use his influence to have at least
tiny mites of six years of age removed from the reformatory, which was
under the very walls of the gaol. But he was obdurate to my pleadings
and arguments, as he had been to those of the State workers. He
maintained that these tiny waifs of six were incorrigible, and were
better in institutions than in homes. The most interesting woman I met
at the conference was the Rev. Mrs. Anna Garlin Spencer, pastor of Bell
Street Chapel, Providence. I visited her at home, in that retreat of
Baptists, Quakers, and others from the hard persecution of the New
England Orthodoxy, the founders of which had left England in search of
freedom to worship God. Her husband was the Unitarian minister of
another congregation in the same town. At the meetings arranged by Mrs.
Spencer, Professor Andrews, one of the Behring Sea arbitrators, and
Professor Wilson were present; and they invited me to speak on
effective voting at the Brunn University.

In Philadelphia I addressed seven meetings on the same subject. At six
of them an editor of a little reform paper was present. For two years
he had lived on brown bread and dried apples, in order that he could
save enough to buy a newspaper plant for the advocacy of reforms. In
his little paper he replied to the critics, who assured me that it was
no use worrying, as everything would come right in time. "Time only
brings wonders," he wrote, "when good and great men and women rise up
to move the world along. Time itself brings only decay and death. The
truth is 'Nothing will come right unless those who feel they have the
truth speak, and Work, and strain as if on them alone rested the
destinies of the world.'" I went to see a celebrated man, George W.
Childs, who had made a fortune out of The Philadelphia Ledger, and who
was one of the best employers in the States. He knew everybody, not
only in America but in Europe; and his room was a museum of gifts from
great folks all over the world. But, best of all, he, with his devoted
friend Anthony Drexel, had founded the Drexel Institute, which was
their magnificent educational legacy to the historic town. I saw the
Liberty Bell in Chicago--the bell that rang out the Declaration of
Independence. and cracked soon after--which is cherished by all
good Americans. It had had a triumphant progress to and from the
World's Fair, and I was present when once again it was safely landed in
Independence Hall, Philadelphia. I think the Americans liked me,
because I thought their traditions reputably old, and did not, like
European visitors, call everything crude and new. The great war in
America strengthened the Federal bond, while it loosened the attachment
to the special Satte in which the United States citizen lives.
Railroads and telegraphs have done much to make Americans homogeneous,
and the school system grapples bravely with the greater task of
Americanizing the children of foreigners, who arrive in such vast
numbers. Canada allowed the inhabitants of lower Canada to keep their
language, their laws, and their denominational schools; and the
consequence is that these Canadian-British subjects are more French
than the French, more conservative than the Tories, and more Catholic
than Irish or Italians. Education is absolutely free in America up to
the age of 18; but I never heard an American complain of being taxed to
educate other people's children. In Auburn I met Harriet Tribman,
called the "Moses of her people"--an old black woman who could neither
read nor write, but who had escaped from slavery when young, and had
made 19 journeys south, and been instrumental in the escape of 300
slaves. To listen to her was to be transferred to the pages of "Uncle
Tom's Cabin." Her language was just that of Tom and old Jeff. A pious
Christian, she was full of good works still. Her shanty was a refuge
for the sick, blind, and maimed of her own people. I went all over
Harvard University under the guidance of Professor Ashley, to whom our
Chief Justice had given me a letter of introduction. He got up a
drawing-room meeting for me, at which I met Dr. Gordon Ames, pastor of
the Unitarian Church of the Disciples. He invited me to preach his
thanksgiving service for him on the following Thursday, which I was
delighted to do. Mrs. Ames was the factory inspector of women and
children in Massachusetts, and was probably the wisest woman I met in
my travels. She spoke to me of the evils of stimulating the religious
sentiment too young, and said that the hushed awe with which most
people spoke of God and His constant presence filled a child's mind
with fear.

She related an experience with her own child, who on going to bed had
asked if God was in the room. The child was told that God was always
besides us. After being left in darkness the child was heard sobbing,
and a return to the nursery elicited the confession, "Oh, mamma, I
can't bear to be left with no one but God." Better the simple
anthropomorphism which makes God like the good father, the generous
uncle, the indulgent grandfather, or the strong elder brother.

Such ideas as these of God were held by the heroines of the following
stories:--A little girl, a niece of the beloved Bishop Brooks, had done
wrong, and was told to confess her sin to God before she slept, and to
beg His forgiveness. When asked next day whether she had obeyed the
command, she said--"Oh, yes! I told God all about it, and God said,
'Don't mention it, Miss Brooks.'" A similar injunction was laid upon a
child brought up by a very severe and rather unjust aunt. Her reply
when asked if she had confessed her sin was "I told God what I had
done, and what you thought about it, and I just left it to Him." The
response of a third American girl (who was somewhat of a "pickle" and
had been reared among a number of boys) to the enquiry whether she had
asked forgiveness for a wrong done was--"Oh, yes; I told God exactly
what I had done, and He said, 'Great Scot, Elsie Murray, I know 500
little girls worse than you.'" To me this was a much healthier state of
mind than setting children weeping for their sins, as I have done
myself.

On my second visit to Boston I spent three weeks with the family of
William, Lloyd Garrison, son of the famous Abolitionist. The Chief
Justice had given me a letter of introduction to him, and I found him a
true-hearted humanitarian, as devoted to the gospel of single tax as
his father had been to that of anti-slavery. They lived in a beautiful
house in Brookline, on a terrace built by an enterprising man who had
made his money in New South Wales. Forty-two houses were perfectly and
equally warmed by one great furnace, and all the public rooms of the
ground floor, dining, and drawing rooms, library, and hall were
connected by folding doors, nearly always open, which gave a feeling of
space I never experienced elsewhere. Electric lighting and bells all
over the house, hot and cold baths, lifts, the most complete laundry
arrangements, and cupboards everywhere ensured the maximum of
comfort with the minimum of labour. But in this house I began to be a
little ashamed of being so narrow in my views on the coloured question.
Mr. Garrison, animated with the spirit of the true brotherhood of man,
was an advocate of the heathen Chinee, and was continually speaking of
the goodness of the negro and coloured and yellow races, and of the
injustice and rapacity of the white Caucasians. I saw the files of his
father's paper, The Liberator, from its beginning in 1831 till its
close, when the victory was won in 1865. Of the time spent in the
Lloyd-Garrison household "nothing now is left but a majestic memory,"
which has been kept green by the periodical letters received from this
noble man up till the time of his death last year. He showed me the
monument erected to the memory of his father in Boston in the town
where years before the great abolitionist had been stoned by the mob.
Only recently it rejoiced my heart to know that a memorial to Lloyd
Garrison the younger had been unveiled in Boston, his native city; at
the same time that a similar honour was paid to his venerated leader,
"the prophet of San Francisco."

I account it one of the greatest privileges of my visit to America that
Mrs. Garrison introduced me to Oliver Wendell Holmes, and by
appointment I had an hour and a half's chat with him in the last year
of his long life. He was the only survivor of a famous band of New
England writers, Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorn, Bryant, Lowell,
Whittier, and Whitman were dead. His memory was failing, and he forgot
some of his own characters; but Elsie Venner he remembered perfectly
and he woke to full animation when I objected to the fatalism of
heredity as being about as paralysing to effort as the fatalism of
Calvinism. As a medical man (and we are apt to forget the physician in
the author) he took strong views of heredity. As a worker among our
destitute children, I considered environment the greater factor of the
two, and spoke of children of the most worth less parents who had
turned out well when placed early in respectable and kindly homes.
Before I left, the author presented me with an autograph copy of one of
his books--a much-prized gift. He was reading Cotton Mather's
"Memorabilia," not for theology, but for gossip. It was the only
chronicle of the small beer of current events in the days of the witch
persecutions, and the expulsion of the Quakers, Baptists, and other
schismatics. I have often felt proud that of all the famous men I have
mentioned in this connection there was only one not a Unitarian, and
that was Whittier, the Quaker poet of abolition; and his theology was
of the mildest.

Another notable man with whom I had three hours' talk was Charles
Dudley Warner, the humorous writer. I am not partial to American
humorists generally, but the delicate and subtle humour of Dudley
Warner I always appreciated. In our talk I saw his serious side, for he
was keen on introducing the indeterminate sentence into his own State,
on the lines of the Elmira and Concord Reformatories. He told me that
he never talked in train: but during the three hours' journey to New
York neither of us opened the books with which we had provided
ourselves, and we each talked of our separate interests, and enjoyed
the talk right through. Mrs. Harriet Beeclier Stowe I saw, but her
memory was completely gone. With Julia Ward Howe, the writer of "The
Battle Hymn of the Republic" I spent a happy time. She had been the
President of the New England Women's Club for 25 years, and was a
charming and interesting woman. I was said to be very like her, and,
indeed was often accosted by her name; but I think probably the reason
was partly my cap, for Howe always wears one, and few other American
ladies do. Whenever I was with her I was haunted by the beautiful lines
from the closing verse of the "Battle Hymn"--

    In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born, across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
    As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
    While God is marching on.

At her house I met many distinguished women. Mrs. J. F. Fields, the
widow of the well-known author-publisher; Madame Blaine Bentzam, a
writer for French reviews; Miss Sarah Ortne Jewett, one of the most
charming of New England write is, and others.

My best work in Canada was the conversion to effective voting of my
good friend Robert Tyson. For years now he has done yeoman service in
the cause, and has corresponded with workers all over the world
on the question of electoral reform. I visited Toronto, at the
invitation of Mr. William Howland, with whom I had corresponded for
years. I was invited to dinner with his father, Sir William Howland,
who was the first Lieutenant-Governor of Toronto after the federation
of the Dominion. I found it very difficult to remember the names of the
many interesting people I met there, although I could recollect the
things they spoke about. Mr. Howland took me on with him to an evening
garden party--quite a novel form of entertainment for me--where there
were other interesting people. One of these, a lady artist who had
travelled all round the world, took me on the next afternoon to an
at-home at Professor Goldwin Smith's. In a talk I had with this notable
man he spoke of his strong desire that Canada should become absorbed in
the States; but the feeling in Canada was adverse to such a change.
Still, you found Canadians everywhere, for many more men were educated
than could find careers in the Dominion. Sir Sandford Fleming, the most
ardent proportionalist in Canada, left Toronto on his trip to New
Zealand and Australia shortly after I arrived there. I spent a few
hours with him, and owed a great deal of my success in the Dominion to
his influence. I felt that I had done much good in Canada, and my time
was so occupied that the only thing I missed was leisure.

Much of the time in New York was spent in interviews with the various
papers. I had a delightful few days at the house of Henry George, and
both he and his wife did everything in their power to make my visit
pleasant. Indeed, everywhere in America I received the greatest
kindness and consideration. I had been 11 months in the States and
Canada, and lived the strenuous life to the utmost. I had delivered
over 100 lectures, travelled thousands of miles, and met the most
interesting people in the world. I felt many regrets on parting with
friends, comrades, sympathizers, and fellow-workers. When I reflected
that on my arrival in San Francisco I knew only two persons in America
in the flesh, and only two more through correspondence, and was able to
look back on the hundreds of people who had personally interested me,
it seemed as if there was some animal magnetism in the world, and that
affinities were drawn together as if by magic.




CHAPTER XVIII.



BRITAIN, THE CONTINENT, AND HOME AGAIN.


I went by steamer to Glasgow, as I found the fares by that route
cheaper than to Liverpool. Municipal work in that city was then
attracting world-wide attention, and I enquired into the methods of
taxation and the management of public works, much to my advantage. The
co-operative works at Shields Hall were another source of interest to
me. At Peterborough I stayed with Mr. Hare's daughter, Katie, who had
married Canon Clayton. Never before did I breathe such an
ecclesiastical atmosphere as in that ancient canonry, part of the old
monastery, said to be 600 years old. While there I spoke to the Guild
of Co-operative Women on "Australia." In Edinburgh I had a drawing-room
meeting at the house of Mrs. Muir Dowie, daughter of Robert
Chambers and mother of Minnie Muriel Dowie, who wrote "Through the
Carpathians," and another at the Fabian Society, both on effective
voting. Mrs. Dowie and Priscilla Bright McLaren, sister of John Bright,
were both keen on the suffrage, and most interesting women. I had been
so much associated with the suffragists in America, with the veteran
Susan B. Anthony at their head, that English workers in the cause gave
me a warm welcome.

London under the municipal guidance of the County Council was very
different from the London I had visited 29 years earlier. Perhaps
Glasgow and Birmingham have gone further in municipalizing monopolies
than Londoners have, but the vastness of the scale on which London
moves makes it more interesting. Cr. Peter Burt, of Glasgow, had worked
hard to add publichouses to the list of things under municipal
ownership and regulation, and I have always been glad to see the
increasing attention paid to the Scandinavian methods of dealing with
the drink traffic. I have deplored the division among temperance
workers, which makes the prohibitionists hold aloof from this reform,
when their aid would at least enable the experiment to be tried. But in
spite of all hindrances the world moves on towards better things. It is
not now a voice crying in the wilderness. There are many thousands of
wise, brave, devoted men and women possessed with the enthusiasm of
humanity in every civilized country, and they must prevail. Professor
and Mrs. Westlake, the latter of whom was Mr. Hare's eldest daughter,
arranged a most successful drawing-room meeting for me at their home,
the River House, Chelsea, at which Mr. Arthur Balfour spoke. While he
thought effective voting probably suitable for America and Australia,
he scarcely saw the necessity for it in England. Party leaders so
seldom do like to try it on themselves, but many of them are prepared
to experiment on "the other fellow." In this State we find members of
the Assembly anxious to try effective voting on the Legislative
Council, Federal members on the State House, and vice versa. Other
speakers who supported me were Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury), Leonard
(now Lord) Courtney, Mr. Westlake, and Sir John Hall, of New Zealand.
The flourishing condition of the Proportional Representation Society in
England at present is due to the earnestness of the lastnamed
gentlemen, and its extremely able hon. secretary (Mr. John H.
Humphreys).

A few days were spent with Miss Jane Hume Clapperton, author of
"Scientific Meliorism," and we had an interesting time visiting George
Eliot's haunts and friends. Through the Warwickshire lanes--where the
high hedges and the great trees at regular intervals made it impossible
to see anything beyond, except an occasional gate, reminding me of Mrs.
Browning's--

    And between the hedgerows green,
    How we wandered--I and you;
    With the bowery tops shut in,
    And the gates that showed the view.

--we saw the homestead known as "Mrs. Poyser's Farm," as it answers so
perfectly to the description in "Adam Bede." I was taken to see Mrs.
Cash, a younger friend of George Eliot, and took tea with two most
interesting, old ladies--one 82, and the other 80--who had befriended
the famous authoress when she was poor and stood almost alone. How I
grudged the thousands of acres of beautiful agricultural land
given up to shooting and hunting! We in Australia have no idea of the
extent to which field sports enter into the rural life of England.
People excused this love of sport to me on the ground that it is as a
safety valve for the energy of idle men. Besides, said one, hunting
leads, at any rate, to an appreciation of Nature; but I thought it a
queer appreciation of Nature that would lead keen fox hunters to
complain of the "stinking" violets that throw the hounds off the scent
of the fox. I saw Ascot and Epsom, but fortunately not on a race day. A
horse race I have never seen. George Moore's realistic novel "Esther
Waters" does not overstate the extent to which betting demoralizes not
only the wealthier, but all classes. There is a great pauper school in
Sutton, where from 1,600 to 1,800 children are reared and educated. On
Derby Day the children go to the side of the railroad, and catch the
coppers and silver coins thrown to them by the passengers, and these
are gathered together to give the children their yearly treat. But this
association in the children's minds of their annual pleasure with Derby
Day must, I often think, have a demoralizing tendency.

While in London I slipped in trying to avoid being run down by an
omnibus and dislocated my right shoulder. I was fortunate in being the
guest of Mr. and Mrs. Petherick at the time. I can never be
sufficiently grateful to them for their care of and kindness to me.
Only last year I went to Melbourne to meet them both again. It was the
occasion of the presentation to the Federal Government of the Petherick
Library, and I went over to sign and to witness the splendid deed of
gift.

I have left almost to the last of the account of my English visit all
mention of the Baconians I met and from whom I gained valuable
information in corroboration of the Baconian authorship. In some
circles I found that, to suggest that Shakspeare did not write the
plays and poems was equal to throwing a bombshell among them. As a
Baconian I received an invitation to a picnic at the beautiful country
house of Mr. Edwin Lawrence, with whom I had a pleasant talk. The house
was built on a part of a royal forest, in which firs and pines were
planted at the time of the great Napoleonic wars when timber could not
be got from the Baltic and England had to trust to her own hearts of
oak and her own growth of pine for masts and planks. Mr. Lawrence had
written pamphlets and essays on the Baconian theory, and I found my
knowledge of the subject expanding and growing under his intelligent
talk. His wife's father (J. Benjamin Smith) had taught Cobden the
ethics of free trade. It was through the kind liberality of Miss
Florence Davenport Hill that a pamphlet, recording the speeches and
results of the voting at River House, Chelsea, was printed and
circulated. When I visited Miss Hill and her sister and found them as
eager for social and political reform as they had been 29 years
earlier, I had another proof of the eternal youth which large and high
interests keep within us in spite of advancing years. Miss Davenport
Hill had been a member of the London School Board for 15 years, and was
reelected after I left England. Years of her life had been devoted to
work for the children of the State, and she was a member of the Board
of Guardians for the populous union of St. Pancras. Everyone
acknowledged the great good that the admission of women to those boards
had done. I spent a pleasant time at Toynbee Hall, a University centre,
in the poorest part of London, founded by men. Canon and Mrs. Barrett
were intensely interested in South Australian work for State children.
Similar University centres which I visited in America, like Hull House,
in Chicago, were founded by women graduates. Mrs. Fawcett I met several
times, but Mrs. Garrett Anderson only once. When the suffrage was
granted to the women of South Australia I received a letter of
congratulation from Dr. Helen Blackburn, one of the first women to take
a medical degree. Nowadays women doctors are accepted as part of our
daily life, and it is to these brave pioneers of the women's cause,
Drs. Elizabeth Blackwell, Helen Rackburn, Garrett Anderson, and other
like noble souls, that the social and political prestige of women has
advanced so tremendously all over the English-speaking world. It only
remains now for a few women, full of the enthusiasm of humanity and
gifted with the power of public speaking, to gain another and important
step for the womanhood of the world in the direction of economic
freedom. Before leaving England I was gratified at receiving a
cheque from Mrs. Westlake, contributed by the English proportionalists,
to help me in the cause. This was the second gift of the kind I had
received, for my friends in San Francisco had already helped me
financially on my way to reform. Socially I liked the atmosphere of
America better than that of England, but politically England was
infinitely more advanced. Steadily and surely a safer democracy seems
to be evolving in the old country than in the Transatlantic Republic. I
left England at the end of September, 1894.

My intended visit to Paris was cancelled through the death a short time
before of the only friend I wished to meet there, the Baroness
Blaze-de-Bury, and I went straight through to Bale. I made a detour to
Zurich, where I hoped to see people interested in proportional
representation who could speak English. An interesting fellow-worker in
the cause was Herr Karl Burkli, to whom I suggested the idea of
lecturing with ballots. The oldest advocate of proportional
representation on the Continent, M. Ernest Naville, I met at Geneva. In
that tiny republic in the heart of Europe, which is the home of
experimental legislation, I found effective voting already established
in four cantons, and the effect in these cantons had been so good (said
Ernest Naville) "that it is only a matter of time to see all the Swiss
cantons and the Swiss Federation adopt it." In Zurich Herr Burkli was
delighted that they had introduced progressive taxation into the
canton, but the effect had been to drive away the wealthy people who
came in search of quiet and healthy residence. Progressive taxation has
not by any means proved the unmixed blessing which so many of its
advocates claim it to be. In New Zealand, we are told, on the best
authority, that land monopoly and land jobbery were never so rampant in
the Dominion as since the introduction of the progressive land tax. One
wondered how the three million Swiss people lived on their little
territory, so much occupied by barren mountain, and lakes which supply
only a few fish. My Zurich friends told me that it was by their
unremitting industry and exceptional thrift, but others said that the
foreign visitors who go to the recreation ground of Europe circulate so
much money that instead of the prayer "Give us this day our daily
bread" the Swiss people ask, "Send us this day one foreigner."

In Italy I saw the most intense culture in the world--no pleasure
grounds or deer parks for the wealthy. The whole country looked like a
garden with trellised vines and laden trees. Italian wine was grown,
principally for home consumption, and that was immense. Prohibitionists
would speak to deaf ears there. Wine was not a luxury, but a necessity
of life. It made the poor fare of dry bread and polenta (maize
porridge) go down more pleasantly. It was the greater abundance of
fruit and wine that caused the Italian poorer classes to look healthier
than the German. In Germany, which taxed itself to give cheap beet
sugar to the British consumer, the people paid 6d. a lb. for the little
they could afford to use; and in Italy it was nearly 8d.--a source of
revenue to the Governments, but prohibitive to the poor. There were no
sweet shops in Italy. England only could afford such luxuries. I
visited at Siena a home for deaf mutes, and found that each child had
wine at two of its daily meals--about a pint a day. It was the
light-red wine of the country, with little alcohol in it; but those who
warn us against looking on the wine when it is red will be shocked to
hear of these little ones drinking it like milk. Those, however, who
live in Italy say that not once a year do they see any one drunk in the
streets.

I reached South Australia on December 12, 1894, after an absence of 20
months. I found the women's suffrage movement wavering in the balance.
It had apparently come with a rush--as unexpected as it was welcome to
those whose strenuous exertions at last seemed likely to be crowned
with success. Though sympathetic to the cause, I had always been
regarded as a weakkneed sister by the real workers. I had failed to see
the advantage of having a vote that might leave me after an election a
disfranchised voter, instead of an unenfranchised woman. People talk of
citizens being disfranchised for the Legislative Council when they
really mean that they are unenfranchised. You can scarcely be
disfranchised if you have never been enfranchised; and I have regarded
the enfranchisement of the people on the roll as more important for the
time being than adding new names to the rolls. This would only tend to
increase the disproportion between the representative and the
represented. But I rejoiced when the Women's Suffrage Bill was carried,
for I believe that women have thought more and accepted the
responsibilities of voting to a greater extent than was ever
expected of them. During the week I was accorded a welcome home in the
old Academy of Music, Rundle street, where I listened with
embarrassment to the avalanche of eulogium that overwhelmed me. "What a
good thing it is, Miss Spence, that you have only one idea," a
gentleman once said to me on my country tour. He wished thus to express
his feeling concerning my singleness of purpose towards effective
voting. But at this welcome home I felt that others realized what I had
often said myself. It is really because I have so many ideas for making
life better, wiser, and pleasanter all of which effective voting will
aid--that I seem so absorbed in the one reform. My opinions on other
matters I give for what they are worth--for discussion, for acceptance
or rejection. My opinions on equitable representation I hold
absolutely, subject to criticism of methods but impregnable as to
principle.




CHAPTER XIX.



PROGRESS OF EFFECTIVE VOTING.


My journalistic work after my return was neither so regular nor so
profitable as before I left Adelaide. The bank failures had affected me
rather badly, and financially my outlook was anything but rosy in the
year 1895. There was, however, plenty of public work open to me, and,
in addition to the many lectures I gave in various parts of the State
on effective voting, I became a member of the Hospital Commission,
appointed that year by the Kingston Government to enquire into the
trouble at the Adelaide Hospital. That same year saw a decided step
taken in connection with effective voting, and in July a league was
formed, which has been in existence ever since. I was appointed the
first President, my brother John became secretary pro tem, and Mr. A.
W. Piper the first treasurer. I felt at last that the reform was taking
definite shape, and looked hopefully to its future. The following year
was especially interesting to the women of South Australia, and,
indeed, to suffragists all over the world, for at the general election
of 1896 women, for the first time in Australia, had the right to vote.
New Zealand had preceded us with this reform, but the first election in
this State found many women voters fairly well equipped to accept their
responsibilities as citizens of the State. But in the full realization
by the majority of women of their whole duties of citizenship I have
been distinctly disappointed. Not that they have been on the whole less
patriotic and less zealous than men voters; but, like their brothers,
they have allowed their interest in public affairs to stop short at the
act of voting, as if the right to vote were the beginning and the end
of political life. There has been too great a tendency on the part of
women to allow reform work--particularly women's branches of it--to
be done by a few disinterested and public-spirited women. Not only is
the home the centre of woman's sphere, as it should be, but in too many
cases it is permitted to be its limitation. The larger social life has
been ignored, and women have consequently failed to have the effect on
public life of which their political privilege is capable.

At the close of a second lecturing tour through the State, during which
I visited and spoke at most of the village settlements, I received an
invitation from the Women's Land Reform League to attend a social
gathering at the residence of Miss Sutherland, Clark street, Norwood.
The occasion was my seventy-first birthday, and my friends had chosen
that day (October 31, 1896) to mark their appreciation of my public
services. There were about 30 of the members present, all interesting
by reason of their zealous care for the welfare of the State. Their
President (Mrs. C. Proud) presented me, on behalf of the members, with
a lady's handbag, ornamented with a silver plate, bearing my name, the
date of the presentation, and the name of the cause for which I stood.
From that day the little bag has been the inseparable companion of all
my wanderings, and a constant reminder of the many kind friends who,
with me, had realized that "love of country is one of the loftiest
virtues which the Almighty has planted in the human heart." That
association was the first in South Australia to place effective voting
on its platform.

My long comradeship with Mrs. A. H. Young began before the close of the
year. A disfranchised voter at her first election, she was driven
farther afield than the present inadequate system of voting to look for
a just electoral method. She found it in effective voting, and from
that time devoted herself to the cause. Early in 1897 Mrs. Young was
appointed the first honorary secretary of the league. January of the
same year found us stirred to action by the success of Sir Edward
Braddon's first Bill for proportional representation in Tasmania.
Though limited in its application to the two chief cities of the island
State, the experiment was wholly successful. We had our first large
public meeting in the Co-operative Hall in January, and carried a
resolution protesting against the use of the block vote for the Federal
Convention elections. A deputation to the acting Premier
(Mr.--afterwards Sir Frederick--Holder) was arranged for the next
morning. But we were disappointed in the result of our mission,
for Mr. Holder pointed out that the Enabling Act distinctly provided
for every elector having 10 votes, and effective voting meant a single
transferable vote. I had written and telegraphed to the Hon. C. C.
Kingston when the Enabling Act was being drafted to beg him to consider
effective voting as the basis of election; but he did not see it then,
nor did he ever see it. In spite, however, of the short sightedness of
party leaders, events began to move quickly.

Our disappointment over the maintenance of the block vote for the
election of 10 delegates to the Federal Convention led to my brother
John's suggestion that I should become a candidate. Startling as the
suggestion was, so many of my friends supported it that I agreed to do
so. I maintained that the fundamental necessity of a democratic
Constitution such as we hoped would evolve from the combined efforts of
the ablest men in the Australian States was a just system of
representation and it was as the advocate of effective voting that I
took my stand. My personal observation in the United States and Canada
had impressed me with the dangers inseparable from the election of
Federal Legislatures by local majorities--sometimes by minorities--where
money and influence could be employed, particularly where a line
in a tariff spelt a fortune to a section of the people, in the
manipulation of the floating vote. Parties may boast of their voting
strength and their compactness, but their voting strength under the
present system of voting is only as strong as its weakest link,
discordant or discontented minorities, will permit it to be. The
stronger a party is in the Legislature the more is expected from it by
every little section of voters to whom it owes its victory at the
polls. The impelling force of responsibility which makes all
Governments "go slow" creates the greatest discontent among impatient
followers of the rank and file, and where a few votes may turn the
scale at any general election a Government is often compelled to choose
between yielding to the demands of its more clamorous followers at the
expense of the general taxpayer or submitting to a Ministerial defeat.

As much as we may talk of democracy in Australia, we are far from
realizing a truly democratic ideal. A State in a pure democracy draws
no nice and invidious distinctions between man and man. She disclaims
the right of favouring either property, education, talent, or virtue.
She conceives that all alike have an interest in good government, and
that all who form the community, of full age and untainted by crime,
should have a right to their share in the representation. She allows
education to exert its legitimate power through the press; talent in
every department of business, property in its social and material
advantages; virtue and religion to influence public opinion and the
public conscience. But she views all men as politically equal, and
rightly so, if the equality is to be as real in operation as in theory.
If the equality is actual in the representation of the citizens--truth
and virtue, being stronger than error and vice, and wisdom being
greater than folly, when a fair field is offered--the higher qualities
subdue the lower and make themselves felt in every department of the
State. But if the representation from defective machinery is not equal,
the balance is overthrown, and neither education, talent, nor virtue
can work through public opinion so as to have any beneficial influence
on politics. We know that in despotisms and oligarchies, where the
majority are unrepresented and the few extinguish the many,
independence of thought is crushed down, talent is bribed to do service
to tyranny, education is confined to a privileged class and denied to
the people, property is sometimes pillaged and sometimes flattered, and
even virtue is degraded by lowering its field and making subservience
appear to be patience and loyalty, and religion is not unfrequently
made the handmaid of oppression. Taxes fall heavily on the poor for the
benefit of the rich, and the only check proceeds from the fear of
rebellion. When, on the other hand, the majority extinguishes the
minority, the evil effects are not so apparent. The body oppressed is
smaller and generally wealthier, with many social advantages to draw
off attention from the political injustice under which they suffer; but
there is the same want of sympathy between class and class, moral
courage is rare, talent is perverted, genius is overlooked, education
is general, but superficial, and press and Pulpit often timid in
exposing or denouncing popular errors. An average standard of virtue is
all that is aimed at, and when no higher mark is set up there is great
fear of falling below the average. Therefore it is incumbent on all
States to look well to it that their representative systems really
secure the political equality they all profess to give, for
until that is done democracy has had no fair trial.

In framing a new constitution the opportunity arose for laying the
foundation of just representation, and, had I been elected, my first
and last thought would have been given to the claims of the whole
people to electoral justice. But the 7,500 votes which I received left
me far enough from the lucky 10. Had Mr. Kingston not asserted both
publicly and privately that, if elected, I could not constitutionally
take my seat, I might have done better. There were rumours even that my
nomination paper would be rejected. But to obviate this, Mrs. Young,
who got it filled in, was careful to see that no name was on it that
had no right there, and its presentation was delayed till five minutes
before the hour of noon, in order that no time would be left to upset
its validity. From a press cutting on the declaration of the poll I
cull this item of news--"Several unexpected candidates were announced,
but the only nomination which evoked any expressions of approval was
that of Miss Spence." I was the first woman in Australia to seek
election in a political contest. From the two main party lists I was,
of course, excluded, but in the list of the "10 best men" selected by a
Liberal organization my name appeared. When the list was taken to the
printer--who, I think, happened to be the late Federal member, Mr.
James Hutchison--he objected to the heading of the "10 best men," as
one of them was a woman. He suggested that my name should be dropped,
and a man's put in its place. "You can't say Miss Spence is one of the
'10 best men.' Take her name out." "Not say she's one of the '10 best
men?'" the Liberal organizer objected, "Why she's the best man of the
lot." I had not expected to be elected, but I did expect that my
candidature would help effective voting, and I am sure it did. Later
the league arranged a deputation to Mr. Kingston, to beg him to use his
influence for the adoption of the principle in time for the first
Federal elections. We foresaw, and prophesied what has actually
occurred--the monopoly of representation by one party in the Senate,
and the consequent disfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters
throughout the Commonwealth. But, as before, Mr. Kingston declined to
see the writing on the wall. The Hon. D. M. Charleston was successful
in carrying through the Legislative Council a motion in favour of its
application to Federal elections, but Mr. Wynn in the Lower House had a
harder row to hoe, and a division was never taken.

Mrs. Young and I spent a pleasant evening at Government House in July
of the same year, as Sir Fowell and Lady Buxton had expressed a desire
to understand the system. In addition to a large house partry, several
prominent citizens were present, and all were greatly interested. On
leaving at 11 o'clock we found the gate closed against us, as the
porter was evidently unaware that visitors were being entertained. We
were amused at the indignation of the London-bred butler, who, on
coming to our rescue, cried with a perfect Cockney accent, "Gyte, gyte,
yer don't lock gytes till visitors is off." This was a memorable year
in the annals of our cause, for on his election to fill an
extraordinary vacancy for North Adelaide Mr. Glynn promised to
introduce effective voting into the House. This he did in July by
tabling a motion for the adoption of the principle, and we were pleased
to find in Mr. Batchelor, now the Minister for External Affairs in the
Federal Government, a stanch supporter. Among the many politicians who
have blown hot and cold on the reform as occasion arose, Mr. Batchelor
has steadily and consistently remained a supporter of what he terms
"the only system that makes majority rule possible."

When Mrs. Young and I began our work together the question was
frequently asked why women alone were working for effective voting? The
answer was simple. There were few men with leisure in South Australia,
and, if there were, the leisured man was scarcely likely to take up
reform work. When I first seized hold of this reform women as platform
speakers were unheard of. Indeed, the prejudice was so strong against
women in public life that although I wrote the letters to The Melbourne
Argus it was my brother John who was nominally the correspondent. So
for 30 years I wrote anonymously to the press on this subject. I waited
for some man to come forward and do the platform work for me. We women
are accused of waiting and waiting for the coming man, but often he
doesn't come at all; and oftener still, when he does come, we should be
a great deal better without him. In this case he did not come at all,
and I started to do the work myself; and, just because I was a woman
working singlehanded in the cause, Mrs. Young joined me in the
crusade against inequitable representation. For many years, however,
the cause has counted to its credit men speakers and demonstrators of
ability and talent all over the State, who are carrying the gospel of
representative reform into every camp, both friendly and hostile.

It was said of Gibbon when his autobiography was published that he did
not know the difference between himself and the Roman Empire. I have
sometimes thought that the same charge might be levelled against me
with regard to effective voting; but association with a reform for half
a century sometimes makes it difficult to separate the interests of the
person from the interests of the cause. Following on my return from
America effective voting played a larger part than ever in my life. I
had come back cheered by the earnestness and enthusiasm of American
reformers, and I found the people of my adopted country more than ever
prepared to listen to my teaching. Parties had become more clearly
defined, and the results of our system of education were beginning to
tell, I think, in the increased interest taken by individuals as well
as by societies in social and economic questions. I found interesting
people everywhere, in every mode of life, and in every class of
society. My friends sometimes accused me of judging people's
intelligence by the interest they took in effective voting; but,
although this may have been true to a certain extent, it was not wholly
correct. Certainly I felt more drawn to effective voters, but there are
friendships I value highly into which my special reform work never
enters. Just as the more recent years of my life have been coloured by
the growth of the movement which means more to me than anything else in
the world, so must the remaining chapters of this narrative bear the
imprint of its influence.




CHAPTER XX.



WIDENING INTERESTS.


During this period my work on the State Children's Council continued,
and I never found time hang heavily on my hands; so that when Mr.
Kingston met me one day later in the year, and told me he particularly
wished me to accept an appointment as a member of the Destitute Board,
I hesitated. "I am too old," I objected. "No, no, Miss Spence," he
replied laughingly, "it is only we who grow old--you have the gift of
perpetual youth." But I was nearly 72, and at any rate I thought I
should first consult my friends. I found them all eager that I should
accept the position. I had agitated long and often for the appointment
of women on all public boards, particularly where both sexes came under
treatment, and I accepted the post. Although often I have found the
work tiring, I have never regretted the step I took in joining the
board. Experience has emphasized my early desire that two women at
least should occupy positions on it. I hope that future Governments
will rectify the mistake of past years by utilizing to a greater extent
the valuable aid of capable and sympathetic women in a branch of public
work for which they are peculiarly fitted. Early in my career as a
member of the board I found grave defects in the daily bill of fare,
and set myself to the task of remedying them as far as lay in my power.
For 30 years the same kind of soup, day in and day out, followed by the
eternal and evergreen cabbage as a vegetable, in season and out of
season, found its way to the table. My own tastes and mode of life were
simplicity personified, but my stomach revolted against a dietary as
unvaried as it was unappetizing. An old servant who heard that I
attended the Destitute Asylum every week was loud in her lamentations
that "poor dear Miss Spence was so reduced that she had to go to the
Destitute every week for rations!" My thankfulness that she had
misconceived the position stirred me to leave no stone unturned for the
betterment of the destitute bill of fare. I was successful, and the
varied diet now enjoyed bears witness to the humanitarian views of all
the members of the board, who were as anxious to help in the reform as
I was. My heart has always gone out to the poor old folk whose faces
bear the impress of long years of strenuous toil and who at the close
of life at least should find a haven of restfulness and peace in the
State for whose advancement they have laboured in the past.

She was a witty woman who divided autobiographies into two classes...
autobiographies and ought-not-to-biographies--but I am sure she never
attempted to write one herself. There is so much in one's life that
looms large from a personal point of view about which other people
would care little, and the difficulty often arises, not so much about
what to put in as what to leave out.

How much my personal interests had widened during my absence from home
could be gauged somewhat by the enormous increase in my correspondence
after my return. American, Canadian, English, and Continental
correspondents have kept me for many years well informed on reform and
kindred subjects; and the letters I have received, and the replies they
have drawn from me, go far to make me doubt the accuracy of the
accepted belief that "letter writing has become a lost art." A full
mind with a facile pen makes letter writing a joy, and both of these
attributes I think I may fairly claim. My correspondence with Alfred
Cridge was kept up till his death a few years ago, and his son,
following worthily in the footsteps of a noble father, has taken up the
broken threads of the lifework of my friend, and is doing his utmost to
carry it to a successful issue. My love of reading, which has been a
characteristic feature of my life, found full scope for expression in
the piles of books which reached us from all parts of the world. It has
always been my desire to keep abreast of current literature, and this,
by means of my book club and other sources, I was able to do. Sometimes
my friends from abroad sent me copies of their own publications, Dr.
Bayard Holmes invariably forwarding to me a presentation copy of his
most valuable treatises on medical subjects. Mrs. Stetson's poems and
economic writings have always proved a source of inspiration to me, and I
have distributed her books wherever I have thought they would be
appreciated. Just at this time my financial position became brighter.
I was fortunate in being able to dispose of my two properties in East
Adelaide, and the purchasing of an annuity freed me entirely from money
and domestic worries. Perhaps the greatest joy of all was that I was once
more able to follow my charitable inclinations by giving that little mite
which, coming opportunely, gladdens the heart of the disconsolate widow or
smoothes the path of the struggling worker. Giving up my home entirely,
I went to live with my dear friend Mrs. Baker, at Osmond terrace,
where, perhaps, I spent the most restful period of a somewhat eventful
life.

The inauguration of a Criminological Society in Adelaide was a welcome
sign to me of the growing public interest in methods of prison
discipline and treatment. I was one of the foundation members of the
society, and attended every meeting during its short existence. My one
contribution to the lectures delivered under its auspices was on
"Heredity and Environment." This was a subject in which I had long been
interested, holding the view that environment had more to do with the
building up of character than heredity had to do with its decadence.
How much or how little truth there is in the cynical observation that
the only believers in heredity nowadays are the fathers of very clever
sons I am not prepared to say. I do say, however, that with the cruel
and hopeless law of heredity as laid down by Zola and Ibsen I have
little sympathy. According to these pessimists, who ride heredity to
death, we inherit only the vices, the weaknesses, and the diseases of
our ancestors. If this, however, were really the case, the world would
be growing worse and not better, as it assuredly is, with every
succeeding generation. The contrary view taken of the matter by Ibsen's
fellowcountryman, Bjornsen, appears to me to be so much more
commonsense and humanizing. He holds that if we know that our ancestors
drank and gambled to excess, or were violent-tempered or immoral, we
can quite easily avoid the pitfall, knowing it to be there. Too readily
wrongdoers are prepared to lay their failings at the door of ancestors,
society, or some other blamable source, instead of attributing them, as
they should do, to their own selfish and weak indulgence and lack of
self-control. Heredity, though an enormous factor in our constitution,
need not be regarded as an over-mastering fate, for each human being
has an almost limitless parentage to draw upon. Each child has both a
father and a mother, and two grandparents on both sides, increasing as
one goes back. But, besides drawing on a much wider ancestry than the
immediate parents, we have more than we inherit, or where could the law
of progress operate? Each generation, each child who is born, comes
into a slightly different world, fed by more experience, blown upon by
fresh influences. And each individual comes into the world, not with a
body merely, but with a soul; and this soul is susceptible to
impressions, not only from the outer material world but from the other
souls also impressed by the old and the new, by the material and the
ideal.

"The History of the Jukes" is continually cited as proving the power
and force of heredity. Most people who read the book through, however,
instead of merely accepting allusions one-sided and defective to it,
see clearly that it forms the strongest argument for change of
environment that ever was brought forward. The assumed name of Jukes is
given to the descendants of a worthless woman who emigrated to America
upwards of a century and a half ago, and from whom hundreds of
criminals, paupers, and prostitutes have descended. But how were the
Jukes' descendants dealt with during this period? No helping hand
removed the children from their vicious and criminal surroundings known
as one of the crime-cradles of the State of New York. Neither church
nor school took them under its protecting care. Born and reared in the
haunts of vice and crime, nothing but viciousness and criminality could
be expected as a result. Without going, so far as a wellknown ex-member
of our State Legislature, whose antagonism to the humanitarian
treatment of prisoners led him to the belief that "there wasn't nothin'
in 'erry-ditty,' it was all tommy rot," I still hold to the belief that
environment plays the larger part in the formation of character. Every
phase of criminal reform is, I candidly admit, dealing with effects
rather than causes. Effects, however, must be dealt with, and
the more humanely they are dealt with the better for society at large.
So long as society shuts its eyes to the social conditions under which
the masses of the people live, move, and have their being as tending
towards lowering rather than uplifting the individual and the
community, the supply of cases for criminal treatment will
unfortunately show little tendency to decrease. The work before
reformers of the world is to prevent the creation of criminals by
changing the environment of those with criminal tendencies as well as
to seek to alleviate the resulting disease by methods of criminal
reform.

Many interesting lectures were given by prominent citizens under the
auspices of the society, which did a great deal to awaken the public
conscience on the important question of criminal reform. The Rev. J.
Day Thompson, who was then in the zenith of his intellectual power and
a noble supporter of all things that tended to the uplifting of
humanity, dealt with the land question in relation to crime. He gave a
telling illustration of his point--which I thought equally applicable
to the question of environment in relation to prison reform--that no
permanent good could result from social legislation until society
recognised and dealt with the root of the social evil, the land
question. "In a lunatic asylum," he said, "it is the custom to test the
sanity of patients by giving them a ladle with which to empty a tub of
water standing under a running tap. 'How do you decide?' the warder was
asked. 'Why, them as isn't idiots stops the tap.'" It was the Rev. J.
Day Thompson who first called me the "Grand Old Woman" of South
Australia. When he left Adelaide for the wider sphere of service open
to him in England I felt that we had lost one of the most cultured and
able men who had ever come among us, and one whom no community could
lose without being distinctly the poorer for his absence.

Just at this time the visit of Dr. and Mrs. Mills created a little
excitement in certain circles. Their lectures on Christian science,
both public and private, were wonderfully well attended, and I missed
few of them. I have all my life endeavoured to keep an open mind on
these questions, and have been prepared to accept new ideas and new
modes of thought. But, although I found much that was charming in the
lectures that swayed the minds of so many of my friends, I found little
to convince me that Christian scientists were right and the rest of the
world wrong in their interpretation of the meaning of life. So far as
the cultivation of will power, as it is called, is concerned, I have no
quarrel with those who maintain that a power of self-control is the
basis of human happiness. So far as the will can be trained to obey
only those instincts that tend to the growth and maintenance of
self-respect--to prevent the subordination of our better feelings to
the overpowering effects of passion, greed, or injustice--it must help
to the development of one of the primary necessities of a sane
existence. When, however, the same agency is brought to bear on the
treatment of diseases in any shape or form I find my faith wavering.
Though there may be more things in earth and heaven than are dreamed of
in my philosophy, I was not prepared to follow the teachings set before
us by the interpreters of this belief, whose visit had made an
interesting break in the lives of many people. Truth I find everywhere
expressed, goodness in all things; but I neither look for nor expect
perfection in any one thing the world has ever produced. "Tell me where
God is," a somewhat, cynical sceptic asked of a child. "Tell me where
He is not," replied the child; and the same thing applies to goodness.
Do not tell me where goodness is, but point out to, me, if you can,
where it is not. It is for each one to find out for himself where the
right path lies, and to follow it with all his strength of mind and of
purpose. Pippa's song, "God's in His heaven-all's right with the
world," does not mean that the time has come for us to lay down our
arms in the battle of right against wrong. No! no; it is an inspiration
for us to gird our loins afresh, to "right the wrongs that need
resistance;" for, God being in His heaven, and the world itself being
right, makes it so much easier to correct mistakes that are due to
human agencies and shortcomings only.

I found time to spend a pleasant week at Victor Harbour with my
friends, Mr. and Mrs. John Wyles. I remember one day being asked
whether I was not sorry I never married. "No," I replied, "for,
although I often envy my friends the happiness they find in their
children, I have never envied them their husbands." I think we must
have been in a frivolous mood; for a lady visitor, who was present,
capped my remark with the statement that she was quite sure Miss
Spence was thankful that when she died she would not be described as
the "relic" of any man. It was the same lady who on another occasion,
when one of the juvenile members of the party asked whether poets had
to pay for poetical licence, wittily replied, "No, my dear, but their
readers do!" Although so much of my time has been spent in public work,
I have by no means neglected or despised the social side of life.
Visits to my friends have always been delightful to me, and I have felt
as much interested in the domestic virtues of my many acquaintances as
I have been an admirer of their grasp of literature, politics, or any
branch of the arts or sciences in which they have been interested. This
seaside visit had been a welcome break in a year that had brought me a
new occupation as a member of the Destitute Board, had given me the
experience of a political campaign, had witnessed the framing of the
Constitution for the Commonwealth 'neath the Southern Cross, and had
seen effective voting advance from the academic stage into the realm of
practical politics. During the year Mrs. Young and I addressed together
26 meetings on this subject. One of the most interesting was at the
Blind School, North Adelaide. The keenness with which this audience
gripped every detail of the explanation showed us how splendidly they
had risen above their affliction. I was reminded of Helen Keller, the
American girl, who at the age of 21 months had lost sight and hearing,
and whom I had met in Chicago during my American visit, just before she
took her degree at Harvard University.

To all peacelovers the years from 1898 to 1901 were shadowed by the
South African war. The din of battle was in our ears only to a less
degree than in those of our kinsmen in the mother country. War has
always been abhorrent to me, and there was the additional objection to
my mind in the case of the South African war in that it was altogether
unjustified. Froude's chapters on South Africa had impressed me on the
publication of his book "Oceana," after his visit here in the
seventies. His indictment of England for her treatment of the Boers
from the earliest days of her occupation of Cape Colony was too
powerful to be ignored. I felt it to be impossible that so great a
historian as Froude should make such grave charges on insufficient
evidence. The annexation of 1877, so bitterly condemned by him,
followed by the treaty of peace of 1881, with its famous "suzerainty"
clause, was, I think, but a stepping stone to the war which was said to
have embittered the last years of the life of Queen Victoria. The one
voice raised in protest against the annexation of 1877 in the British
House of Commons was that of Mr. Leonard (now Lord) Courtney. Not
afraid to stand alone, though all the world were against him, the war
at the close of the century found Leonard Courtney again taking his
stand against the majority of his countrymen, and this time it cost him
his Parliamentary seat. I have often felt proud that the leadership of
proportional representation in England should have fallen into the
hands of so morally courageous a man as Leonard Courtney has invariably
proved himself to be.

We are apt to pride ourselves on the advance we have made in our
civilization; but our self-glorification received a rude shock at the
feelings of intolerance and race hatred that the war brought forth.
Freedom of speech became the monopoly of those who supported the war,
and the person who dared to express an opinion which differed from that
of the majority needed a great deal more than the ordinary allowance of
moral courage. Unfortunately the intolerance so characteristic of that
period is a feature, to a greater or lesser extent, of every
Parliamentary election in the Commonwealth. The clause in the Federal
Electoral Act which makes disturbance of a political meeting a penal
offence is a curious reflection on a so-called democratic community.
But, though its justification can scarcely be denied even by the
partisans of the noisier elements in a political crowd, its existence
must be deplored by every right-minded and truehearted citizen. In
Miss Rose Scott I found a sympathizer on this question of the war; and
one of the best speeches I ever heard her make was on Peace and
Arbitration. "Mafeking Day" was celebrated while we were in Sydney, and
I remember how we three--Miss Scott, Mrs. Young, and I--remained
indoors the whole day, at the charming home of our hostess, on Point
Piper road. The black band of death and desolation was too apparent for
us to feel that we could face the almost ribald excesses of that day. I
felt the war far less keenly than did my two friends; but it was bad
even for me. No one called, and the only companions of our
chosen solitude were the books we all loved so much, and

    The secret sympathy,
    The silver link, the silken tie,
    Which heart to heart and mind to mind,
    In body and in soul can bind.

I had hoped that the Women's National Council, a branch of which was
formed in Adelaide a few years later, would have made a great deal of
the question of peace and arbitration, just as other branches have done
all over the world; and when the Peace Society was inaugurated a short
time ago I was glad to be able to express my sympathy with the movement
by becoming a member. As I was returning from a lecturing tour in the
south during this time, an old Scotch farm-wife came into the carriage
where I had been knitting in solitude. She was a woman of strong
feelings, and was bitterly opposed to the war. We chatted on the
subject for a time, getting along famously, until she discovered that I
was Miss Spence. "But you are a Unitarian!" she protested in a shocked
tone. I admitted the fact. "Oh, Miss Spence," she went on, "how can you
be so wicked as to deny the divinity of Christ?" I explained to her
what Unitarianism was, but she held dubiously aloof for a time. Then we
talked of other things. She told me of many family affairs, and when
she left me at the station she said, "All, well, Miss Spence, I've
learned something this morning, and that is that a Unitarian can be
just as good and honest as other folk."




CHAPTER XXI



PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION AND FEDERATION.


In the debates of the Federal Convention I was naturally much
interested. Many times I regretted my failure to win a seat when I saw
how, in spite of warnings against, and years of lamentable experience
of, a vicious system of voting, the members of the Convention went
calmly on their way, accepting as a matter of course the crude and
haphazard methods known to them, the unscientific system of voting so
dear to the heart of the "middling" politician and the party intriguer.
I believe Mr. Glynn alone raised his voice in favour of proportional
representation, in the Convention, as he has done consistently in every
representative assembly of which he has been a member. Instead of
seeing to it that the foundations of the Commonwealth were "broad based
upon the people's will" by the adoption of effective voting, and thus
maintaining the necessary connection between the representative and the
represented, these thinkers for the people at the very outset of
federation sowed the seeds of future discontent and Federal apathy.
Faced with disfranchisement for three or six years, possibly for ever--so
long as the present system of voting remains--it is unreasonable to
expect from the people as a whole that interest in the national
well-being which alone can lead to the safety of a progressive nation.

Proportional representation was for long talked of as a device for
representing minorities. It is only in recent years that the real scope
of the reform has been recognised. By no other means than the adoption
of the single transferable vote can the rule of the majority obtain.
The fundamental principle of proportional representation is that
majorities must rule, but that minorities shall be adequately
represented. An intelligent minority of representatives has great
weight and influence. Its voice can be heard. It can fully and truly
express the views of the voters it represents. It can watch the
majority and keep it straight. These clear rights of the minority are
denied by the use of the multiple vote. It has also been asked--Can a
Government be as strong as it needs to be when--besides the organized
Ministerial party and the recogonised Opposition--there may be a
larger number of independent members than at present who may vote
either way? It is quite possible for a Government to be too strong, and
this is especially dangerous in Australia, where there are so many of
what are known as optional functions of government undertaken and
administered by the Ministry of the day, resting on a majority in the
Legislature. To maintain this ascendancy concessions are made to the
personal interests of members or to local or class interests of their
constituencies at the cost of the whole country.

When introducing proportional representation into the Belgian Chamber
the Prime Minister (M. Bernhaert) spoke well and forcibly on the
subject of a strong Government:--


I, who have the honour of speaking to you to-day in the name of the
Government and who have at my back the strongest majority that was ever
known in Belgium, owe it to truth to say that our opinions have not a
corresponding preponderance in the country; and I believe that, if that
majority were always correctly expressed, we should gain in stability
what we might lose in apparent strength. Gentlemen, in the actual state
of things, to whom belongs the Government of the country? It belongs to
some two or three thousand electors, who assuredly are neither the best
nor the most intelligent, who turn the scale at each of our scrutin de
liste elections. I see to the right and to the left two large
armies--Catholics and Liberals--of force almost equal, whom nothing would
tempt to desert their standard, who serve it with devotion and from
conviction. Well, these great armies do not count, or scarcely count.
On the day of battle it is as if they do not exist. What counts, what
decides, what triumphs, is another body of electors altogether--a
floating body too often swayed by their passions, by their prejudices;
or, worse still, by their interests. These are our masters, and
according as they veer from right to left, or from left to right, the
Government of the country changes, and its history takes a new
direction. Gentlemen, is it well that it should be so? Is it well that
this country should be at the mercy of such contemptible elements as
these?


How often have I longed to see a Premier in this, my adopted country,
rise to such fervid heights of patriotism as this?

M. Bernhaert is right. It is the party Government that is essentially
the weak Government. It cannot afford to estrange or offend any
one who commands votes. It is said that every prominent politician in
the British House of Commons is being perpetually tempted and tormented
by his friends not to be honest, and perpetually assailed by his
enemies in order to be made to appear to be dishonest. The Opposition
is prepared to trip up the Ministry at every step. It exaggerates
mistakes, misreprerents motives, and combats measures which it believes
to be good, if these are brought forward by its opponents. It bullies
in public and undermines in secret. It is always ready to step into the
shoes of the Ministry, to undergo similar treatment. This is the sort
of strength which is supposed to be imperilled if the nation were
equitably represented in the Legislature. In the present state of the
world, especially in the Australian States, where the functions of
government have multiplied and are multiplying, it is of the first
importance that the administration should be watched from all sides,
and not merely from the point of view of those who wish to sit on the
Treasury benches. The right function of the Opposition is to see that
the Government does the work of the country well. The actual practice
of the Opposition is to try to prevent it from doing the country's work
at all. In order that government should be honest, intelligent, and
economical, it needs helpful criticism rather than unqualified
opposition; and this criticism may be expected from the less compact
and more independent ranks in a legislative body which truly represents
all the people. Party discipline, which is almost inevitable in the
present struggle for ascendancy or defeat, is the most undemocratic
agency in the world. It is rather by liberating all votes and allowing
them to group themselves according to conviction that a real government
of the people by the people can be secured. When I look back on the
intention of the framers of the Commonwealth Constitution to create in
the Senate a States' rights House I am amazed at the remoteness of the
intention from the achievement. The Senate is as much a party House as
is the House of Representatives. Nothing, perhaps, describes the
position better than the epigrammatic if somewhat triumphant statement
of a Labour Senator some time ago. "The Senate was supposed to be a
place where the radical legislation of the Lower Chamber could be
cooled off, but they had found that the saucer was hotter than the cup."

The long illness and death of my ward, Mrs. Hood, once more gave to my
life a new direction. History was repeating itself. Just as 40 years
earlier Mrs. Hood and her brothers had been left in my charge on the
death of their mother, so once again a dying mother begged me to accept
the guardianship of her three orphan children. Verging as they were on
the threshold of manhood and womanhood, they scarcely needed the care
and attention due to smaller children, but I realized I think to the
full, what so many parents have realized--that the responsibilities
for the training of children of an older growth are greater and more
burdensome than the physical care of the infant. The family belongings
were gathered in from the four quarters of the globe to which they had
been scattered on my giving up housekeeping, and we again began a
family life in Kent Town. Soon after we had settled, the motion in
charge of the Hon. D. M. Charleston in favour of the adoption of
proportional representation for Federal elections was carried to a
successful issue in the Legislative Council. The Hon. A. A. Kirkpatrick
suggested the advisableness of preparing a Bill at this stage. A motion
simply affirming a principle, he said, was not likely to carry the
cause much further, as it left the question of the application of the
principle too much an open one. The league, he thought, should have
something definite to put before candidates, so that a definite answer
could be obtained from them. In New Zealand, Mr. O'Regan, a well-known
solicitor, had also introduced into the House of Representatives during
1898 a Bill for the adoption of effective voting. Unfortunately members
had become wedded to single electorates, and when a change was made it
was to second ballots--a system of voting which has for long been
discredited on the Continent. In France, it was stated in the debates
on electoral reform in 1909, for 20 years, under second ballots, only
once had a majority outside been represented by a majority inside the
Chamber, and the average representation for the two decades had
amounted to only 45 per cent. of the voters. Writing to me after the
New Zealand elections in 1909, the Hon. George Fowlds (Minister of
Education), who has long supported effective voting, said, "The only
result of the second ballot system in New Zealand has been to
strengthen the movement in favour of proportional representation." And
Mr. Paul, a Labour member in the Dominion, is making every effort to
have effective voting included in the platform of the New
Zealand Labour Party. Further encouragement to continue our work came
when Belgium adopted the principle of proportional representation in
1898.

The closing year of the century found the Effective Voting League in
the thick of its first election campaign. There is little doubt that
the best time for advancing a political reform is during an election,
and it was interesting to note how many candidates came to our support.
We had an interesting meeting at Parliament House for members just
about that time. An opponent of the reform, who was present, complained
that we were late in beginning our meeting. "We always begin punctually
under the present system," he remarked. "Yes," some one replied, "but
we always finish so badly." "Oh, I always finish well enough," was the
pert rejoinder; "I generally come out on top." "Ah," retorted the
other, "I was thinking of the electors." But the doubter did not come
out on top at a subsequent election, and his defeat was probably the
means of his discovering defects in the old system that no number of
successes would have led him into acknowledging. From the two or three
members who had supported Mr. Glynn in the previous Parliament we
increased our advocates in the Assembly during the campaign to 14. The
agitation had been very persistent among the electors, and their
approval of the reform was reflected in the minds of their
representatives. We inaugurated during that year the series of
citizens' meetings convened by the Mayors of the city and suburbs,
which has been so successful a feature of our long campaign for
electoral justice, and at the present time very few of the mayoral
chairs are occupied by men who are not keen supporters of effective
voting.

The Hon. Theodore Bruce's connection with the reform dates from that
year, when he presided at a meeting in the Adelaide Town Hall during
the temporary absence of the Mayor. A consistent supporter of effective
voting from that time, it was only natural that when in May, 1909, the
candidature of Mr. Bruce (who was then and is now a Vice-President of
the league). for a seat in the Legislative Council, gave us an
opportunity for working for his return, against a candidate who had
stated that he was not satisfied with the working of the system of
effective voting, we availed ourselves of it. So much has been written
and said about the attitude of the league with regard to Parliamentary
candidates that, as its President, I feel that I ought to take this
opportunity of stating our reasons for that attitude. From its
inception the league has declined to recognise parties in a contest at
all. Its sole concern has been, and must be to support effective
voters, to whatever party they may belong. To secure the just
representation of the whole electorate of whatever size, is the work of
the Effective Voting League, and, whatever the individual opinions of
the members may be, as an official body they cannot help any candidate
who opposes the reform for which they stand.

I remember meeting at a political meeting during a subsequent general
election a lady whom I had known as an almost rabid Kingstonian. But
the party had failed to find a position for her son in the Civil
Service, although their own sons were in that way satisfactorily
provided for. So she had thrown in her lot with the other side, which
at the time happened to gain a few seats, and the lady was quite sure
that her influence had won the day for her former opponents. Leaning
forward to whisper as if her next remark were too delicate for the ears
of a gentleman sitting near, she said, "Do you know, I don't believe
the Premier has any backbone!" I laughed, and said that I thought most
people held the same belief. To my amusement and astonishment she then
asked quite seriously, "Do you think that is why he stoops so much?"
There was no doubt in her mind that the missing back bone had reference
to the physical and not to the moral malformation of the gentleman in
question.




CHAPTER XXII.



A VISIT TO NEW SOUTH WALES.


Early in the year 1900 the Hon. B. R. Wise, then Attorney-General of
New South Wales, suggested a campaign for effective voting in the
mother State, with the object of educating the people, so that
effective voting might be applied for the first Federal elections. Mrs.
Young and I left Adelaide on May 10 of that year to inaugurate the
movement in New South Wales. During the few hours spent in Melbourne
Professor Nanson, the Victorian leader of the reform, with another
earnest worker (Mr. Bowditch), called on us, and we had a pleasant talk
over the proposed campaign. The power of The Age had already been felt,
when, at the convention election, the 10 successful candidates were
nominees of that paper, and at that time it was a sturdy opponent of
proportional representation. The Argus, on the other hand, had done
yeoman service in the advocacy of the reform from the time that
Tasmania had so successfully experimented with the system. As we were
going straight through to Sydney, we were able only to suggest
arrangements for a possible campaign on our return. Our Sydney visit
lasted eight weeks, during which time we addressed between 20 and 30
public meetings. Our welcome to the harbour city was most enthusiastic,
and our first meeting, held in the Protestant Hall, on the Wednesday
after our arrival, with the Attorney-General in the chair, was packed.
The greatest interest was shown in the counting of the 387 votes taken
at the meeting. Miss Rose Scott, however, had paved the way for the
successful public meeting by a reception at her house on the previous
Monday, at which we met Mr. Wise, Sir William McMillan, Mr. (afterwards
Sr. Walker), Mr. (now Sir A. J.) Gould, Mr. Bruce Smith, Mr. W.
Holman, and several other prominent citizens. The reform was taken up
earnestly by most of these gentlemen. Sir William McMillan was
appointed the first President of the league, which was formed before we
left Sydney. During the first week of our visit we dined with Dr. and
Mrs. Garran, who. with their son (Mr. Robert Garran, C.M.G., afterwards
the collaborateur of Sir John Quick in the compilation of the
"Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth"), were keen
supporters of effective voting. Among the host of well-known people who
came after dinner to meet us was Mr. (now Sir) George Reid, with whom
we had an interesting talk over the much-discussed "Yes-No" Policy. We
had both opposed the Bill on its first appeal to the people, and seized
the occasion to thank Mr. Reid for his share in delaying the measure.
"You think the Bill as amended an improvement?" he asked. "Probably,"
replied Mrs. Young, "but as I didn't think the improvement great enough,
I voted against it both times." But I had not done so, and my vote on the
second occasion was in favour of the Bill.

But, as Mr. Reid admitted, the dislike of most reformers for federation
was natural enough, for it was only to be expected that "reforms would
be difficult to get with such a huge, unwieldy mass" to be moved before
they could be won. And experience has proved the correctness of the
view expressed. Anything in the nature of a real reform, judging from
the experience of the past, will take a long time to bring about. I am
convinced that had not South Australia already adopted the principle of
the all-round land tax, the progressive form would have been the only
one suggested or heard of from either party. Politicians are so apt to
take the line of least resistance, and when thousands of votes of small
landowners are to be won through the advocacy of an exemption,
exemptions there will be. The whole system of taxation is wrong, it
seems to me, and though, as a matter of expediency, sometimes from
conviction, many people advocate the opposite course, I have long felt
that taxation should not be imposed according to the ability to pay so
much as according to benefits received from the State. We are
frequently warned against expecting too much from Federation during its
earlier stages, but experience teaches us that, as with human beings,
so with nations, a wrong or a right beginning is responsible to a great
extent for right or wrong development. I have the strongest
hopes for the future of Australia, but the people must never be allowed
to forget that eternal vigilance, as in the past, must still in the
future be the price we must pay for our liberty. Later, Mr. Reid
presided at our Parliament House meeting, and afterwards entertained us
at afternoon tea. But one of our pleasantest memories was of a day
spent with the great freetrader and Mrs. Reid at their Strathfield
home. I was anxious to hear Mr. Reid speak, and was glad when the
opportunity arose on the occasion of a no-confidence debate. But he was
by no means at his best, and it was not until I heard him in his famous
freetrade speech on his first visit to Adelaide that I realized how
great an orator he was. At the close of the no-confidence debate the
triumphant remark of an admirer that "Adelaide couldn't produce a
speaker like that" showed me that a prophet sometimes hath honour, even
in his own country.

Mr. Wise was a brilliant speaker, and a most cultured man, and a
delightful talker. Of Mrs. Parkes, then President of the Women's
Liberal League, I saw much. She was a fine speaker, and a very
clear-headed thinker. Her organizing faculty was remarkable, and her
death a year or two ago was a distinct loss to her party. Her home life
was a standing example of the fallacy of the old idea that a woman who
takes up public work must necessarily neglect her family. Mrs. Barbara
Baynton was a woman of a quite different type, clever and emotional, as
one would expect the author of the brilliant but tragic "Bush Studies"
to be. She was strongly opposed to Federation, as, indeed were large
numbers of clever people in New South Wales. Frank Fox (afterwards
connected with The Lone Hand), Bertram Stevens (author of "An Anthology
of Australian Verse"), Judge Backhouse (who was probably the only
Socialist Judge on the Australian Bench), were frequent visitors at
Miss Scott's, and were all interesting people. An afternoon meeting on
effective voting was arranged at the Sydney University, I think, by Dr.
Anderson Stuart. We were charmed with the university and its beautiful
surroundings. Among the visitors that afternoon was Mrs. David, a
charming and well-read woman, whose book describing an expedition to
Funafuti, is delightful. We afterwards dined with her and Professor
David, and spent a pleasant hour with them.

I was not neglectful of other reforms while on this campaign, and found
time to interest myself in the State children's work with which my
friend, Mrs. Garran, was so intimately connected. We went to Liverpool
one day to visit the benevolent institution for men. There were some
hundreds of men there housed in a huge building reminiscent of the
early convict days. If not the whole, parts of it had been built by the
convicts, and the massive stone staircase suggested to our minds the
horrors of convict settlement. I have always resented the injury done
to this new country by the foundation of penal settlements, through
which Botany Bay lost its natural connotation as a habitat for
wonderful flora, and became known only as a place where convicts were
sent for three-quarters of a century. Barrington's couplet, written as
a prologue at the opening of the Playhouse, Sydney, in 1796, to a play
given by convicts--

    True patriots we, for be it understood
    We left our country for our country's good--

was clever, but untrue. All experience proves that while it is a
terrible injury to a new country to be settled by convicts, it is a
real injury also to the people from whom they are sent, to shovel out
of sight all their failures, and neither try to lessen their numbers
nor to reclaim them to orderly civil life. It was not till Australia
refused any longer to receive convicts, as Virginia had previously
done, that serious efforts were made to amend the criminal code of
England, or to use reformatory methods first with young and afterwards
with older offenders. Another pleasant trip was one we took to
Parramatta. The Government launch was courteously placed at our
disposal to visit the Parramatta Home for Women, where also we found
some comfortable homes for old couples. The separation of old people
who would prefer to spend the last years of their life together is I
consider, an outrage on society. One of my chief desires has been to
establish such homes for destitute couples in South Australia, and to
every woman who may be appointed as a member of the Destitute Board in
future I appeal to do her utmost to change our methods of treatment
with regard to old couples, so that to the curse of poverty may not be
added the cruelty of enforced separation. Women in New South Wales were
striving for the franchise at that time, and we had the pleasure of
speaking at one of their big meetings. And what fine public
meetings they had in Sydney! People there seemed to take a greater
interest in politics than here, and crowded attendances were frequent
at political meetings, even when there was no election to stir them up.
It was a Sydney lady who produced this amusing Limerick in my honour:--

    There was a Grand Dame of Australia
    Who proved the block system a failure.
    She taught creatures in coats
    What to do with their votes,
    This Effective Grand Dame of Australia!

The third line will perhaps preclude the necessity for pointing out
that the author was an ardent suffragist! To an enlightened woman also
was probably due the retort to a gentleman's statement that "Miss
Spence was a good man lost," that, "On the contrary she thought she was
a good woman saved." "In what way?" he asked. "Saved for the benefit of
her country, instead of having her energies restricted to the
advantages of one home," was the reply. And for this I have sometimes
felt very thankful myself that I have been free to devote what gifts I
possess to what I consider best for the advantage and the uplifting of
humanity. Before leaving Sydney I tried once more to find a publisher
for "Gathered In," but was assured that the only novels worth
publishing in Australia were sporting or political novels.

I was in my seventy-fifth year at the time of this visit, but the joy
of being enabled to extend the influence of our reform to other States
was so great that the years rolled back and left me as full of life and
vigour and zeal as I had ever been. Our work had by no means been
confined to the city and suburbs, as we spoke at a few country towns as
well. At Albury, where we stopped on our way back to Victoria, we were
greeted by a crowded and enthusiastic audience in the fine hall of the
Mechanics' Institute. We had passed through a snowstorm just before
reaching Albury, and the country was very beautiful in the afternoon,
when our friends drove us through the district. The Murray was in
flood, and the "water, water everywhere" sparkling in the winter
sunshine, with the snowcapped Australian Alps in the background, made
an exquisite picture. Albury was the only town we visited in our
travels which still retained the old custom of the town crier. Sitting
in the room of the hotel after dinner, we were startled at hearing our
names and our mission proclaimed to the world at large, to the
accompaniment t of a clanging bell and introduced by the old-fashioned
formula, "Oyez! oyez! oyez!" Our work in Victoria was limited, but
included a delightful trip to Castlemaine. We were impressed with the
fine Mechanics' Hall of that town, in which we spoke to a large
audience. But a few years later the splendid building, with many others
in the town, was razed to the ground by a disastrous cyclone. Returning
from Castlemaine, we had an amusing experience in the train. I had laid
aside my knitting, which is the usual companion of my travels, to teach
Mrs. Young the game of "Patience," but at one of the stations a foreign
gentleman entered the carriage, when we immediately put aside the
cards. After chatting awhile, he expressed regret that he had been the
cause of the banishment of our cards, and "Would the ladies not kindly
tell him his fortune also?" He was as much amused as we were when we
explained that we were reformers and not fortune tellers. I have been a
great lover of card games all my life; patience in solitude. and
cribbage, whist, and bridge have been the almost invariable
accompaniments of my evenings spent at home or with my friends. Reading
and knitting were often indulged in, but patience was a change and a
rest and relief to the mind. I have always had the idea that card games
are an excellent incentive to the memory. We had an afternoon meeting
in the Melbourne Town Hall to inaugurate a league in Victoria, at which
Dr. Barrett, the Rev. Dr. Bevan, Professor Nanson, and I were the
principal speakers. Just recently I wrote to the Victorian Minister who
had charge of the Preferential Voting Bill in the Victorian Parliament
to ask him to consider the merits of effective voting; but, like most
other politicians, the Minister did not find the time opportune for
considering the question of electoral justice for all parties. I
remained in Victoria to spend a month with my family and friends after
Mrs. Young returned to Adelaide. The death of my dear brother John,
whose sympathy and help had always meant so much to me, shortly after
my return, followed by that of my brother William in New Zealand, left
me the sole survivor of the generation which had sailed from Scotland
in 1839.




CHAPTER XXIII.



MORE PUBLIC WORK.


For the co-operative movement I had always felt the keenest sympathy. I
saw in it the liberation of the small wage-earner from the toils of the
middlemen. I thought moreover that the incentive to thrift so strongly
encouraged by co-operative societies would be a tremendous gain to the
community as well as to the individual. How many people owe a
comfortable old age to the delight of seeing their first small profits
in a co-operative concern, or their savings in a building society
accumulating steadily and surely, if but slowly? And I have always had
a disposition to encourage anything that would tend to lighten the
burden of the worker. So that when in 1901 Mrs. Agnes Milne placed
before me a suggestion for the formation of a women's co-operative
clothing factory, I was glad to do what I could to further an extension
in South Australia of the movement, which, from its inception in older
countries, had made so strong an appeal to my reason. A band of women
workers were prepared to associate for the mutual benefit of the
operatives in the shirtmaking and clothing trades. Under the title of
the South Australian Co-operative Clothing Company, Limited, they
proposed to take over and carry on a small private factory, owned by
one of themselves, which had found it difficult to compete against
large firms working with the latest machinery. I was sure of finding
many sympathizers among my friends, and was successful in disposing of
a fair number of shares. The movement had already gained support from
thinking working women, and by the time we were ready to form ourselves
into a company we were hopeful of success. I was appointed, and have
since remained the first President of the board of directors; and,
unless prevented by illness or absence from the State, I have never
failed to be present at all meetings. The introduction of Wages Boards
added to the keen competition between merchants, had made the task of
carrying on successfully most difficult, but we hoped that as the idea
gained publicity we should benefit proportionately. It was a great blow
to us, when at the close of the first year we were able to declare a
dividend of 1/ a share, the merchants closed down upon us and reduced
their payments by 6d. or 9d. per dozen. But in spite of drawbacks we
have maintained the struggle successfully, though sometimes at
disheartening cost to the workers and officials of the society. I feel,
however, that the reward of success due to this plucky band of women
workers will come in the near future, for at no other time probably has
the position looked more hopeful than during the present year.

During this same year the Effective Voting League made a new departure
in its propaganda work by inviting Sir Edward Braddon to address a
meeting in the Adelaide Town Hall. As Premier of Tasmania, Sir Edward
had inaugurated the reform in the gallant little island State, and he
was able to speak with authority on the practicability and the justice
of effective voting. His visit was followed a year later by one from
Sr. Keating, another enthusiastic Tasmanian supporter, whose lecture
inspired South Australian workers to even greater efforts, and carried
conviction to the minds of many waverers. At that meeting we first
introduced the successful method of explanation by means of limelight
slides. The idea of explaining the whole system by pictures had seemed
impossible, but every step of the counting can be shown so simply and
clearly by this means as to make an understanding of the system a
certainty. To the majority of people an appeal to reason and
understanding is made much more easily through the eye than through the
ear. The year 1902 saw an advance in the Parliamentary agitation of the
reform, when the Hon. Joseph (now Senator) Vardon introduced a Bill for
the first time into the Legislative Council. The measure had been
excellently prepared by Mr. J. H. Vaughan, LL.B., with the assistance
of the members of the executive of the Effective Voting League, among
whom were Messrs. Crawford Vaughan and E. A. Anstey. The Bill sought to
apply effective voting to existing electoral districts, which,
though not nearly so satisfactory as larger districts, nevertheless
made the application of effective voting possible. With the enlargement
of the district on the alteration of the Constitution subsequent to
federation becoming an accomplished fact, the league was unanimous in
its desire to seek the line of least resistance by avoiding a change in
the Constitution that an alteration in electoral boundaries would have
necessitated.

To Mr. Vardon, when he was a candidate for Legislative honours in 1900
the usual questions were sent from the league; but, as he had not
studied the question he declined to pledge himself to support the
reform. Realizing, however, the necessity of enquiring into all public
matters, he decided to study the Hare system, but the league declined
to support him without a written pledge. Still he was elected, and
immediately afterwards studied effective voting, became convinced of
its justice, and has remained a devoted advocate. Our experience with
legislators had usually been of the opposite nature. Pledged adherents
to effective voting during an election campaign, as members they no
longer saw the necessity for a change in a method of voting which had
placed them safely in Parliament; but in Mr. Vardon we found a man
whose conversion to effective voting was a matter of principle, and not
a question of gathering votes. That was why the league selected him as
its Parliamentary advocate when effective voting first took definite
shape in the form of a Bill. When, later, Mr. E. H. Coombe, M.P., took
charge of the Bill in the Assembly although the growth in public
opinion in favour of effective voting had been surprising, the
coalition between the Liberal and Labour parties strengthened their
combined position and weakened the allegiance of their elected members
to a reform which would probably affect their vested interests in the
Legislature. Mr. Coombe had not been an easy convert to proportional
representation. He had attended my first lecture at Gawler, but saw
difficulties in the way of accepting the Hare system as propounded by
me. His experiments were interesting. Assuming a constituency of 100
electors with 10 members, he filled in 60 Conservative and 40 Liberal
voting papers. The proportion of members to each party should be six
Conservatives and four Liberals, and when he found that by no amount of
manipulation could this result be altered he became a convert to
effective voting. His able advocacy of the reform is too well known to
need further reference; but I should like now to thank those members,
including Mr. K. W. Duncan, who have in turn led the crusade for
righteous representation in both Houses of Parliament, for of them may
it truly be said that the interests of the people as a whole were their
first consideration. Before I left for America I saw the growing power
and strength of the Labour Party. I rejoiced that a new star had arisen
in the political firmament. I looked to it as a party that would
support every cause that tended towards righteousness. I expected it,
as a reform party, to take up effective voting, because effective
voting was a reform. I hoped that a party whose motto was "Trust the
people" would have adopted a reform by means of which alone it would be
possible for the people to gain control over its Legislature and its
Government. Alas! for human hopes that depend on parties for their
realization! As time after time I have seen defections from the ranks
of proportionalists, and people have said to me:--"Give it up, Miss
Spence. Why trouble longer? Human nature is too bad," I have answered,
"No; these politicians are but the ephemeral creations of a day or a
month, or a year; this reform is for all time. and must prevail, and I
will never give it up."

During my many visits to Melbourne and Sydney I had been much impressed
with the influence and the power for good of the local branches of the
world-famed National Council of Women. I had long hoped for the
establishment of a branch in South Australia, and was delighted to fall
in with a suggestion made by the Countess of Aberdeen
(Vice-President-at-large of the International Council), through Lady
Cockburn, that a council should be formed in South Australia. The
inaugural meeting in September, 1902, was splendidly attended, and it
was on a resolution moved by me that the council came into existence.
Lady Way was the first President, and I was one of the Vice-Presidents.
I gave several addresses, and in 1904 contributed a paper on
"Epileptics." In dealing with this subject I owed much to the
splendid help I received from my dear friend Miss Alice Henry, of
Victoria, now in Chicago, whose writings on epileptics and
weak-minded children have contributed largely to the awakening of the
public conscience to a sense of duty towards these social weaklings. In
1905 I contributed a paper to the quinquennial meeting of the
International Council of Women, held at Berlin, on the laws relating to
women and children in South Australia, and gave an account of the
philanthropic institutions of the State, with special reference to the
State Children's Council and Juvenile Courts. The work of the National
Council in this State was disappointing to many earnest women, who had
hoped to find in it a means for the social, political, and
philanthropic education of the women of South Australia. Had the
council been formed before we had obtained the vote there would
probably have been more cohesion and a greater sustained effort to make
it a useful body. But as it was there was so apparent a disinclination
to touch "live" subjects that interest in the meetings dwindled, and in
1906 I resigned my position on the executive in order to have more time
to spare for other public work.

A problem which was occasioning the State Children's Council much
anxious thought was how to deal effectively with the ever-increasing
number of the "children of the streets". Boys and girls alike, who
should either be at school or engaged at some useful occupation, were
roaming the streets and parks, uncontrolled and sometimes
uncontrollable. We recognised that their condition was one of moral
peril, and graduation to criminality from these nurseries of crime so
frequently occurred that State interference seemed absolutely
imperative to save the neglected unfortunates for a worthier
citizenship. It is much easier and far more economical to save the
child than to punish the criminal. One of the most effective means of
clearing the streets would be to raise the compulsory age for school
attendance up to the time of employment. That truancy was to a great
extent responsible for these juvenile delinquents was proved by the
fact that more then one-half of the lads sent to Magill had committed
the crimes for which they were first convicted while truanting.
Moreover, an improvement was noticed immediately on the amendment of
the compulsory attendance clauses in the Education Act. Truancy--the
wicket gate of the road to ruin in youth--should be barred as
effectively as possible, and the best way to bar it is to make every
day a compulsory school day, unless the excuse for absence be
abundantly sufficient. Another aspect of the neglected children
problem, which Federal action alone will solve, is in dealing with
cases of neglect by desertion. At present each State is put to great
trouble and expense through defaulting parents. Federal legislation
would render it possible to have an order for payment made in one State
collected and remitted by an officer in another State. By this means
thousands of pounds a year could be saved to the various States, and
many a child prevented from becoming a burden to the people at large.
These are some of the problems awaiting solution and the women of South
Australia will do well to make the salvation of these neglected waifs a
personal care and responsibility. Perhaps no other work of the State
Children's Council has more practically shown their appreciation of the
capabilities of the children under their care than the establishment of
the State children's advancement fund. This is to enable State children
who show any aptitude, to pursue their education through the
continuation schools to the University. To private subscriptions for
this purpose the Government have added a subsidy of 50 pounds, and already
some children are availing themselves of this splendid opportunity to
rise in the world. The longer I live the prouder I feel that I have
been enabled to assist in this splendid work for the benefit of
humanity.

The years as they passed left me with wider interests in, deeper
sympathies with, and greater knowledge of the world and its people.
Each year found "one thing worth beginning, one thread of life worth
spinning." The pleasure I derived from the more extended intellectual
activity of my later years was due largely to my association with a
band of cultured and earnest women interested in social, political, and
other public questions--women who, seeing "the tides of things," desired
so to direct them that each wave of progress should carry the
people to a higher place on the sands of life. To the outside world
little is known of the beginnings and endings of social movements,
which, taken separately, perhaps appear of small consequence, but which
in the aggregate count for a great deal in what is popularly known as
the forward movement. To such as these belonged an interesting
association of women, which, meeting at first informally, grew
eventually into a useful organization for the intellectual and
moral development of those who were fortunate enough to be associated
with it. This was the "Social Students' Society," of which Miss A. L.
Tomkinson was the secretary and I the first President. One of the
addresses I gave was on "Education," and among others whose addresses
helped us considerably was the Director of Education (Mr. A. Williams).
Speakers from all parties addressed the association, and while the
society existed a good deal of educational work was done. Much interest
was taken in the question of public playgrounds for children, and we
succeeded in interesting the City Council in the movement; but, owing
to lack of funds, the scheme for the time being was left in abeyance.

In the agitation for the public ownership of the tramways, I was glad
to take a share. The private ownership of monopolies is indefensible,
and my American experiences of the injustice of the system strengthened
my resolve to do my utmost to prevent the growth of the evil in South
Australia. My attitude on the question alienated a number of friends,
both from me personally and from effective voting, so intolerant had
people become of any opposition to their own opinions. The result of
the referendum was disappointing, and, I shall always consider, a grave
reflection on a democratic community which permits a referendum to be
taken under a system of plural voting which makes the whole proceeding
a farce. But the citizens of Adelaide have need to be grateful to the
patriotic zeal of those who, led by the late Cornelius Proud fought for
the public ownership of the tramways.

These years of activity were crossed by sickness and sorrow. For the
first time in a long life, which had already extended almost a decade
beyond the allotted span, I became seriously ill. To be thus laid low
by sickness was a deep affliction to one of my active temperament; but,
if sickness brings trouble, it often brings joy in the tender care and
appreciation of hosts of friends, and this joy I realized to the
fullest extent. The following year (1904) was darkened by the tragic
death of my ward, and once more my home was broken up, and with Miss
Gregory I went to live with my good friends Mr. and Mrs. Quilty, in
North Norwood. From then on my life has flowed easily and pleasantly,
marred only by the sadness of farewells of many old friends and
comrades on my life's journey, who one by one have passed "through
Nature to eternity."

Much as I have written during the past 40 years, it was reserved for my
old age to discover within me the power of poetical expression. I had
rhymed in my youth and translated French verse. but until I wrote my
one sonnet, poetry had been an untried field. The one-sided pessimistic
pictures that Australian poets and writers present are false in the
impression they make on the outside world and on ourselves. They lead
us to forget the beauty and the brightness of the world we live in.
What we need is, as Matthew Arnold says of life, "to see Australia
steadily and see it whole." It is not wise to allow the "deadbeat"--the
remittance man, the gaunt shepherd with his starving flocks and
herds, the free selector on an arid patch, the drink shanty where the
rouseabouts and shearers knock down their cheques, the race meeting
where high and low, rich and poor, are filled with the gambler's ill
luck--fill the foreground of the picture of Australian life. These
reflections led me to a protest, in the form of a sonnet published in
The Register some years ago:--

    When will some new Australian poet rise
    To all the height and glory of his theme?
    Nor on the sombre side for ever dream
    Our hare, baked plains, our pitiless blue skies,
    'Neath which the haggard busbman strains his eyes
    To find some waterhole or hidden stream
    To save himself and flocks in want extreme!
    This is not all Australia! Let us prize
    Our grand inheritance! Had sunny Greece
    More light, more glow, more freedom, or more mirth?
    Ours are wide vistas bathed in purest air--
    Youth's outdoor pleasures, Age's indoor peace--
    Where could we find a fairer home on earth
    Which we ourselves are free to make more fair?

Just as years before my interest had been kindled in the establishment
of our system of State education, and later in the University and
higher education, so more recently has the inauguration of the Froebel
system of kindergarten training appealed most strongly to my reason and
judgment. There was a time in the history of education, long after the
necessity for expert teaching in primary and secondary schools had been
recognised, when the training of the infant mind was left to the least
skilled assistant on the staff of a school. With the late Mr. J. A.
Hartley, whose theory was that the earliest beginnings of
education needed even greater skill in the teacher than the higher
branches, I had long regarded the policy as mistaken; but modern
educationists have changed all that, and the training of tiny mites of
two or three summers and upwards is regarded as of equal importance
with that of children of a larger growth. South Australia owes its free
kindergarten to the personal initiative and private munificence of the
Rev. Bertram Hawker, youngest son of the late Hon. G. C. Hawker. I had
already met, and admired the kindergarten work of, Miss Newton when in
Sydney, and was delighted when she accepted Mr. Hawker's invitation to
inaugurate the system in Adelaide. Indeed, the time of her stay here
during September, 1905, might well have been regarded as a special
visitation of educational experts, for, in addition to Miss Newton, the
directors of education from New South Wales and Victoria (Messrs. G. H.
Knibbs and F. Tate) took part in the celebrations. Many interesting
meetings led up to the formation of the Kindergarten Union. My niece,
Mrs. J. P. Morice, was appointed hon. secretary, and I became one of
the Vice-Presidents. On joining the union I was proud of the fact that
I was the first member to pay a subscription. The free kindergarten has
come to South Australia to stay, and is fast growing into an integral
part of our system of education. I have rejoiced in the progress of the
movement, and feel that the future will witness the realization of my
ideal of a ladder that will reach from the kindergarten to the
University, as outlined in articles I wrote for The Register at that
time.




CHAPTER XXIV.



THE EIGHTIETH MILESTONE AND THE END.


On October 31, 1905, I celebrated my eightieth birthday. Twelve months
earlier, writing to a friend, I said:--"I entered my eightieth year on
Monday, and I enjoy life as much as I did at 18; indeed, in many
respects I enjoy it more." The birthday gathering took place in the
schoolroom of the Unitarian Church, the church to which I had owed so
much happiness through the lifting of the dark shadows of my earlier
religious beliefs. Surrounded by friends who had taken their share in
the development of my beloved State, I realized one of the happiest
times of my life. I had hoped that the celebration would have helped
the cause of effective voting, which had been predominant in my mind
since 1859. By my interests and work in so many other directions--in
literature, journalism, education, philanthropy, and religion--which
had been testified to by so many notable people on that occasion, I
hoped to prove that I was not a mere faddist, who could be led away by
a chimerical fantasy. I wanted the world to understand that I was a
clear-brained, commonsense woman of the world, whose views on effective
voting and other political questions were as worthy of credence as her
work in other directions had been worthy of acceptance. The greetings
of my many friends from all parts of the Commonwealth on that day
brought so much joy to me that there was little wonder I was able to
conclude my birthday poem "Australian spring" with the lines:--

    With eighty winters o'er my head,
    Within my heart there's Spring.

Full as my life was with its immediate interests, the growth and
development of the outside world claimed a good share of my attention.
The heated controversies in the motherland over the preachings and
teaching of the Rev. R. J. Campbell found their echo here, and I was
glad to be able to support in pulpit and newspaper the stand made by t
he courageous London preacher of modern thought. How changed the
outlook of the world from my childhood's days, when Sunday was a day of
strict theological habit, from which no departure could be permitted!
The laxity of modern life, by comparison is, I think, somewhat
appalling. We have made the mistake of breaking away from old beliefs
and convictions without replacing them with something better. We do not
make as much, or as good, use of our Sundays as we might do. There is a
medium between the rigid Sabbatarianism of our ancestors and the
absolute waste of the day of rest in mere pleasure and frivolity. All
the world is deploring the secularizing of Sunday. Not only is
churchgoing perfunctory or absent, but in all ranks of life there is a
disposition to make it a day of rest and amusement--sometimes the
amusement rather than the rest. Sunday, the Sabbath, as Alex McLaren
pointed out to me, is not a day taken from us, but a day given to us.
"Behold, I have given you the Sabbath!" For what? For rest for man and
beast, but also to be a milestone in our upward and onward progress--a
day for not only wearing best clothes, but for reading our best books
and thinking our best thoughts. I have often grieved at the small
congregations in other churches no less than in my own, and the grief
was aggravated by the knowledge that those who were absent from church
were not necessarily otherwise well employed. I derived so much
pleasure from the excellent and cultured sermons of my friend the Rev.
John Reid during his term of office here that I regretted the fact that
others who might gain equally from them were not there to hear them. I
would like to see among the young people a finer conception of the
duties of citizenship, which, if not finding expression in church
attendance, may develop in some way that will be noble and useful to
society.

In the meantime the work of the Effective Voting League had been rather
at a standstill. Mrs. Young's illness had caused her resignation, and
until she again took up the work nothing further was done to help Mr.
Coombe in his Parliamentary agitation. In 1908, however, we began a
vigorous campaign, and towards the close of the year the propaganda
work was being carried into all parts of the State. Although I was then
83, I travelled to Petersburg to lecture to a good audience. On
the same night Mrs. Young addressed a fine gathering at Mount Gambier,
and from that time the work has gone on unceasingly. The last great
effort was made through the newspaper ballot of September, 1909, when a
public count of about 10,000 votes was completed with all explanations
during the evening. The difficulties that were supposed to stand in the
way of a general acceptance of effective voting have been entirely
swept away. Tasmania and South Africa have successfully demonstrated
the practicability, no less than the justice, of the system. Now we get
to the bedrock of the objections raised to its adoption, and we find
that they exist only in the minds of the politicians themselves; but
the people have faith in effective voting, and I believe the time to he
near when they will demand equitable representation in every
Legislature in the world. The movement has gone too far to be checked,
and the electoral unrest which is so common all over the world will
eventually find expression in the best of all electoral systems, which
I claim to be effective voting.

Among the many friends I had made in the other States there was none I
admired more for her public spiritedness than Miss Vida Goldstein. I
have been associated with her on many platforms and in many branches of
work. Her versatility is great, but there is little doubt that her
chief work lies in helping women and children. Her life is practically
spent in battling for her sex. Although I was the first woman in
Australia to become a Parliamentary candidate, Miss Goldstein has since
exceeded my achievement by a second candidature for the Senate. It was
during her visit here last May-June as a delegate to the State
Children's Congress that she inaugurated the Women's Non-party
Political Association, which is apparently a growing force. In a
general way the aims of the society bear a strong resemblance to those
of the social students' society, many of its members having also
belonged to the earlier association. It was a hopeful sign to me that
it included among its members people of all political views working
chiefly in the interests of women and children. Of this Society also I
became the first President, and the fact that on its platform was
included proportional representation was an incentive for me to work
for it. The education of women on public and social questions, so that
they will be able to work side by side with the opposite sex for the
public good will, I think, help in the solution of social problems that
are now obstacles in the path of progress. In addition to other
literary work for the year 1909 I was asked by Miss Alice Henry to
revise my book on State children in order to make it acceptable and
applicable to American conditions. It was a big undertaking, but I
think successful. The book, as originally written had already done good
work in Western Australia, where the conditions of infant mortality
were extremely alarming, and in England also; and there is ample scope
for such a work in America, which is still far behind even the most
backward Australian State in its care for dependent children.

As a President of three societies, a Vice-President of two others, a
member of two of the most important boards in the State for the care of
the destitute, the deserted, and the dependent, with a correspondence
that touches on many parts of the Empire, and two continents besides,
with my faculty for the appreciation of good literature still
unimpaired, with my domestic interests so dear to me, and my constant
knitting for the infants under the care of the State Inspector--I find
my life as an octogenarian more varied in its occupations and interests
than ever before. Looking back from the progressive heights of 1910
through the long vista of years, numbering upwards of four-fifths of a
century, I rejoice at the progress the world has made. Side by side
with the development of my State my life has slowly unfolded itself. My
connection with many of the reforms to which is due this development
has been intimate, and (I think I am justified in saying) oftentimes
helpful. While other States of the Commonwealth and the Dominion of New
Zealand have made remarkable progress, none has eclipsed the rapid
growth of the State to which the steps of my family were directed in
1839. Its growth has been more remarkable, because it has been
primarily due to its initiation of many social and political reforms
which have since been adopted by other and older countries. "Australia,
lead us further," is the cry of reformers in America. We have led in so
many things, and though America may claim the honour of being the
birthplace of the more modern theory of land values taxation, I rejoice
that South Australia was the first country in the world with
the courage and the foresight to adopt the tax on land values without
exemption. That she is still lagging behind Tasmania and South Africa
in the adoption of effective voting, as the only scientific system of
electoral reform, is the sorrow of my old age. The fact that South
Australia has been the happy hunting ground of the faddist has
frequently been urged as a reproach against this State. Its more
patriotic citizens will rejoice in the truth of the statement, and
their prayer will probably be that not fewer but more advanced thinkers
will arise to carry this glorious inheritance beneath the Southern
Cross to higher and nobler heights of physical and human development
than civilization has yet dreamed of or achieved. The Utopia of
yesterday is the possession of today, and opens the way to the Utopia
of to-morrow. The haunting horror of older civilizations--divorcing
the people from their natural inheritance in the soil, and filling the
towns with myriads of human souls dragged down by poverty, misery, and
crime--is already casting its shadow over the future of Australia; but
there is hope in the fact that a new generation has arisen untrammelled
by tradition, which, having the experience of older countries before
it, and benefiting from the advantages of the freer life and the
greater opportunities afforded by a new country, gives promise of
ultimately finding the solution of the hitherto unsolved problem of
making country life as attractive to the masses as that of the towns
and cities. As time goes on the effect of education must tell, and the
generations that are to come will be more enlightened and more
altruistic, and the tendency of the world will be more and more, even
as it is now, towards higher and nobler conceptions of human happiness.
I have lived through a glorious age of progress. Born in "the wonderful
century," I have watched the growth of the movement for the uplifting
of the masses, from the Reform Bill of 1832 to the demands for adult
suffrage. As a member of a church which allows women to speak in the
pulpit, a citizen of a State which gives womanhood a vote for the
Assembly, a citizen of a Commonwealth which fully enfranchises me for
both Senate and Representatives, and a member of a community which was
foremost in conferring University degrees on women, I have benefited
from the advancement of the educational and political status of women
for which the Victorian era will probably stand unrivalled in the annals
of the world's history. I have lived through the period of repressed
childhood, and witnessed the dawn of a new era which has made the
dwellers in youth's "golden age" the most important factor in human
development. I have watched the growth of Adelaide from the condition
of a scattered hamlet to that of one of the finest cities in the
southern hemisphere; I have seen the evolution of South Australia from
a province to an important State in a great Commonwealth. All through
my life I have tried to live up to the best that was in me, and I
should like to be remembered as one who never swerved in her efforts to
do her duty alike to herself and her fellow-citizens. Mistakes I have
made, as all are liable to do, but I have done my best. And when life
has closed for me, let those who knew me best speak and think of me as
One who never turned her back, but marched breast forward,

    Never doubted clouds would break,
    Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
    Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
    Sleep to wake.
    No nobler epitaph would I desire.




End of Project Gutenberg's Etext An Autobiography, by Catherine Helen Spence