An Autobiography HTML version
will be. The whole system of taxation is wrong, it seems to me, and though, as a matter of
expediency, sometimes from conviction, many people advocate the opposite course, I
have long felt that taxation should not be imposed according to the ability to pay so much
as according to benefits received from the State. We are frequently warned against
expecting too much from Federation during its earlier stages, but experience teaches us
that, as with human beings, so with nations, a wrong or a right beginning is responsible to
a great extent for right or wrong development. I have the strongest hopes for the future of
Australia, but the people must never be allowed to forget that eternal vigilance, as in the
past, must still in the future be the price we must pay for our liberty. Later, Mr. Reid
presided at our Parliament House meeting, and afterwards entertained us at afternoon tea.
But one of our pleasantest memories was of a day spent with the great freetrader and Mrs.
Reid at their Strathfield home. I was anxious to hear Mr. Reid speak, and was glad when
the opportunity arose on the occasion of a no-confidence debate. But he was by no means
at his best, and it was not until I heard him in his famous freetrade speech on his first visit
to Adelaide that I realized how great an orator he was. At the close of the no-confidence
debate the triumphant remark of an admirer that "Adelaide couldn't produce a speaker
like that" showed me that a prophet sometimes hath honour, even in his own country.
Mr. Wise was a brilliant speaker, and a most cultured man, and a delightful talker. Of
Mrs. Parkes, then President of the Women's Liberal League, I saw much. She was a fine
speaker, and a very clear-headed thinker. Her organizing faculty was remarkable, and her
death a year or two ago was a distinct loss to her party. Her home life was a standing
example of the fallacy of the old idea that a woman who takes up public work must
necessarily neglect her family. Mrs. Barbara Baynton was a woman of a quite different
type, clever and emotional, as one would expect the author of the brilliant but tragic
"Bush Studies" to be. She was strongly opposed to Federation, as, indeed were large
numbers of clever people in New South Wales. Frank Fox (afterwards connected with
The Lone Hand), Bertram Stevens (author of "An Anthology of Australian Verse"),
Judge Backhouse (who was probably the only Socialist Judge on the Australian Bench),
were frequent visitors at Miss Scott's, and were all interesting people. An afternoon
meeting on effective voting was arranged at the Sydney University, I think, by Dr.
Anderson Stuart. We were charmed with the university and its beautiful surroundings.
Among the visitors that afternoon was Mrs. David, a charming and well-read woman,
whose book describing an expedition to Funafuti, is delightful. We afterwards dined with
her and Professor David, and spent a pleasant hour with them.
I was not neglectful of other reforms while on this campaign, and found time to interest
myself in the State children's work with which my friend, Mrs. Garran, was so intimately
connected. We went to Liverpool one day to visit the benevolent institution for men.
There were some hundreds of men there housed in a huge building reminiscent of the
early convict days. If not the whole, parts of it had been built by the convicts, and the
massive stone staircase suggested to our minds the horrors of convict settlement. I have
always resented the injury done to this new country by the foundation of penal
settlements, through which Botany Bay lost its natural connotation as a habitat for
wonderful flora, and became known only as a place where convicts were sent for three-