An Autobiography HTML version

My dear mother died about 8 o'clock on the evening of December 8, 1887, quietly and
painlessly. With her death, which was an exceedingly great loss to me, practically ended
my quiet life of literary work. Henceforth I was free to devote my efforts to the fuller
public work for which I had so often longed, but which my mother's devotion to and
dependence on me rendered impossible. But I missed her untiring sympathy, for with all
her love for the old days and the old friends there was no movement for the advancement
of her adopted land that did not claim her devoted attention. But though I was now free to
take up public work, the long strain of my mother's illness and death had affected my
usually robust health, and I took things quietly. I had been asked by the University
Shakspeare Society to give a lecture on Donnelly's book, "The Great Cryptogram;" or
"Who Wrote Shakspeare's Plays?" and it was prepared during this period, and has
frequently been delivered since. October of the year following my mothers death found
me again in Melbourne, where I rejoiced in the renewal of a friendship with Mr. and Mrs.
Thomas Walker, the former of whom had been connected with the construction of the
overland railway. They were delightful literary people, and I had met them at the
hospitable house of the Barr-Smiths, and been introduced as "a literary lady." "Then
perhaps," said Mr. Walker, "you can give us the information we have long sought in vain-
-who wrote 'Clara Morrison?'" Their surprise at my "I did" was equalled by the pleasure I
felt at their kind appreciation of my book, and that meeting was the foundation of a
lifelong friendship. Before my visit closed I was summoned to Gippsland through the
death by accident of my dear sister Jessie--the widow of Andrew Murray, once editor of
The Argus--and the year 1888 ended as sadly for me as the previous one had done. The
following year saw the marriage of my nephew, Charles Wren of the E.S. and A. Bank, to
Miss Hall, of Melbourne. On his deciding to live on in the old home, I, with Ellen
Gregory, whom I had brought out in 1867 to reside with relations, but who has remained
to be the prop and mainstay of my old age--and Mrs. Hood and her three children, moved
to a smaller and more suitable house I had in another part of East Adelaide. A placid
flowing of the river of life for a year or two led on to my being elected, in 1892, President
of the Girls' Literary Society. This position I filled with joy to myself and, I hope, with
advantage to others, until some years later the society ceased to exist.
Crowded and interesting as my life had been hitherto, the best was yet to be. My
realization of Browning's beautiful line from "Rabbi Ben Ezra"--"The last of life, for
which the first was made," came when I saw opening before me possibilities for public
service undreamed of in my earlier years. For the advancement of effective voting I had
so far confined my efforts to the newspapers. My brother John had suggested the change
of name from proportional representation to effective voting as one more likely to catch
the popular ear, and I had proposed a modification of Hare's original plan of having one
huge electorate, and suggested instead the adoption of six-member districts. The State as
one electorate returning 42 members for the Assembly may be magnificent, and may also
be the pure essence of democracy, but it is neither commonsense nor practicable. "Why
not take effective voting to the people?" was suggested to me. No sooner said than done.
I had ballot papers prepared and leaflets printed, and I began the public campaign which
has gone on ever since. During a visit to Melbourne as a member of a charities
conference it was first discovered that I had some of the gifts of a public speaker. My