An Autobiography HTML version
her life. She survived her husband and all her children, and had just lost the youngest, the
posthumous boy. For them and for the family of a brother she had carried on the
strenuous literary work--fiction, biography, criticism, and history--and when she died at
the age of 69 she had not completed the history of a great publishing house--that of
Blackwood. Her life tallies with mine on many points, but it is not till I have completed
my 84 years that her sad narrative impels me to set down what appears noteworthy in a
life which was begun in similar circumstances, but which was spent mainly in Australia.
The loss of memory which I see in many who are younger than myself makes me feel
that while I can recollect I should fix the events and the ideals of my life by pen and ink.
Like Mrs. Oliphant, I was born (three years earlier) in the south of Scotland. Like her I
had an adrnirable mother but she lost hers at the age of 60, while I kept mine till she was
nearly 97. Like Mrs. Oliphant, I was captivated by the stand made by the Free Church as
a protest against patronage, and like her I shook off the shackles of the narrow Calvinism
of Presbyterianism, and emerged into more light and liberty. But unlike Mrs. Oliphant, I
have from my earliest youth taken an interest in politics, and although I have not written
the tenth part of what she has done, I have within the last 20 years addressed many
audiences in Australia and America, and have preached over 100 sermons. My personal
influence has been exercised through the voice more strongly than by the pen, and in the
growth and development of South Australia, to which I came with my parents and
brothers and sisters when I was just 14, and the province not three years old, there have
been opportunities for usefulness which might not have offered if I had remained in
Melrose, in Sir Walter Scott's country.