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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.
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An Autobiography -by- Catherine Helen SpenceBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.