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An Autobiography

amused and a little alarmed when he said he was glad to get information from such a
good authority. I had to disclaim such knowledge; but he said he knew I was observant
and thoughtful, and what I had seen I had seen well. He was particularly earnest about
woman's suffrage, and Miss Taylor, his stepdaughter, said she thought he had made a
mistake in asking for the vote for single women only and widows with property and
wives who had a separate estate; it would have been more logical to have asked for the
vote on the same terms as were extended to men. The great man said meekly--"Well,
perhaps I have made a mistake, but I thought with a property qualification the beginning
would awake less antagonism." He said to me that if I was not to return to London till
January we were not likely to meet again. He walked with me bareheaded to the gate, and
it was farewell for both.
Wise man as Mill was he did not foresee that his greatest object, the enfranchisement of
women, would be carried at the antipodes long before there was victory either in England
or America. When I received, in 1869 from the publisher, Mr. Mill's last book, "The
Subjection of Women," I wrote thanking him for the gift. The reply was as follows:--
"Avignon, November 28, 1869--Dear Madam--Your letter of August 16 has been sent to
me here. The copy of my little book was intended for you, and I had much pleasure in
offering it. The movement against women's disabilities generally, and for the suffrage in
particular, has made great progress in England since you were last there. It is likely, I
think, to be successful in the colonies later than in England, because the want of equality
in social advantages between women and men is less felt in the colonies owing, perhaps,
to women's having less need of other occupations than those of married life--I am, dear
Madam, yours very truly, J. S. Mill." I have always held that, though the Pilgrim Fathers
ignored the right of the Pilgrim Mothers to the credit of founding the American States--
although these women had to take their full share of the toils and hardships and perils of
pioneer and frontier life, and had in addition to put up with the Pilgrim Fathers
themselves--Australian colonization was carried out by men who were conscious of the
service of their helpmates, and grateful for it. In New Zealand and South Australia,
founded on the Wakefield system, where the sexes were almost equal in number, and the
immigration was mainly that of families, the first great triumphs for the political
enfranchisement of women were won, and through South Australia the women of the
Commonwealth obtained the Federal vote for both Houses: whereas even in the sparsely
inhabited western states in the United States which have obtained the State vote the
Federal vote is withheld from them. But Mill died in 1873, 20 years before New Zealand
or Colorado obtained woman's suffrage.
In treating of my one interview with Mr. Mill I have carried the narrative down to 1869.
With regard to my single meeting with George Eliot, I have to begin in 1865, and
conclude even later. Before I left England Mr. Williams, of Smith, Elder, & Co., offered
me an introduction to George Henry Lewes, and I expressed the hope that it might also
include an introduction to George Eliot, whose works I so admired. Mr. Lewes being
away from home when I called, I requested that the introductory letter of Mr. Williams
should be taken to George Eliot herself. She received me in the big Priory drawing room,
with the grand piano, where she held her receptions and musical evenings; but she asked
me if I had any business relating to the article which Mr. Williams had mentioned, and I
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