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- AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 3/32 -


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


AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 3/32

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