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An Autobiography

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.
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