CATHERINE HELEN SPENCE
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.
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
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
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