An Autobiography HTML version

intervals made it impossible to see anything beyond, except an occasional gate,
reminding me of Mrs. Browning's--
And between the hedgerows green,
How we wandered--I and you;
With the bowery tops shut in,
And the gates that showed the view.
--we saw the homestead known as "Mrs. Poyser's Farm," as it answers so perfectly to the
description in "Adam Bede." I was taken to see Mrs. Cash, a younger friend of George
Eliot, and took tea with two most interesting, old ladies--one 82, and the other 80--who
had befriended the famous authoress when she was poor and stood almost alone. How I
grudged the thousands of acres of beautiful agricultural land given up to shooting and
hunting! We in Australia have no idea of the extent to which field sports enter into the
rural life of England. People excused this love of sport to me on the ground that it is as a
safety valve for the energy of idle men. Besides, said one, hunting leads, at any rate, to an
appreciation of Nature; but I thought it a queer appreciation of Nature that would lead
keen fox hunters to complain of the "stinking" violets that throw the hounds off the scent
of the fox. I saw Ascot and Epsom, but fortunately not on a race day. A horse race I have
never seen. George Moore's realistic novel "Esther Waters" does not overstate the extent
to which betting demoralizes not only the wealthier, but all classes. There is a great
pauper school in Sutton, where from 1,600 to 1,800 children are reared and educated. On
Derby Day the children go to the side of the railroad, and catch the coppers and silver
coins thrown to them by the passengers, and these are gathered together to give the
children their yearly treat. But this association in the children's minds of their annual
pleasure with Derby Day must, I often think, have a demoralizing tendency.
While in London I slipped in trying to avoid being run down by an omnibus and
dislocated my right shoulder. I was fortunate in being the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Petherick
at the time. I can never be sufficiently grateful to them for their care of and kindness to
me. Only last year I went to Melbourne to meet them both again. It was the occasion of
the presentation to the Federal Government of the Petherick Library, and I went over to
sign and to witness the splendid deed of gift.
I have left almost to the last of the account of my English visit all mention of the
Baconians I met and from whom I gained valuable information in corroboration of the
Baconian authorship. In some circles I found that, to suggest that Shakspeare did not
write the plays and poems was equal to throwing a bombshell among them. As a
Baconian I received an invitation to a picnic at the beautiful country house of Mr. Edwin
Lawrence, with whom I had a pleasant talk. The house was built on a part of a royal
forest, in which firs and pines were planted at the time of the great Napoleonic wars when
timber could not be got from the Baltic and England had to trust to her own hearts of oak
and her own growth of pine for masts and planks. Mr. Lawrence had written pamphlets
and essays on the Baconian theory, and I found my knowledge of the subject expanding
and growing under his intelligent talk. His wife's father (J. Benjamin Smith) had taught
Cobden the ethics of free trade. It was through the kind liberality of Miss Florence