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- AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 10/32 -


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


AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 10/32

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