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- AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 20/32 -


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


AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 20/32

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