An Autobiography HTML version

I Visit Edinburgh And London
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