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ADAM LINDSAY GORDON. '
A TALK WITH HIS WIDOW.
(Bv onr Sneciol Reporter.)
Although Adam Lindsay Gordon, the greatest of Australian poets and the roost famous, died in June, 1870, his widow Bur vives. She is a pleasant-loolriug and cheerful lady. Although barely 5 ft. high she is ?well proportioned and alert. Gordon was 6 ft. high, although ihe only 6caled 10J stone. Hiayridow carries her years extremely well, and iniglit reasonably be taken from her appearance to be 20 years younger than the calendar proves her to be. She was born in G-Jasgow, and came out to .South Australia as an infant. Her father was Mr. Alexander Park, who wihen lie landed
originally in Victoria carried on a baker e bupinesa In Melbourne, hut shortly after wards crossed the border and accepted an engagement on the station of the late Mr. W. Butehineon, near Eobe. It was at that .salubrious seaside resort aibout the year 1863 that Miss Maggie Park first met Gordon, who was then residing at Mount Gambier, but who travelled all over the South-East with Ihis racehorses. Mr. David Mack, caretaker of the Government Ofliccs, relates that when !he entered tlio mounted police 30 years ago Sergeant Campbell, iwho \\&s then in charge of the Adelaide barracks, and who wa« a comrade of Gordon's when lie joined the force fehoi'tly after his arrival in thi« city in No vember. ifiKJ. told him t/hat the rooet was
the most fearless horseman ihe ever saw. When he was given a summons to deliver Or a warrant to serve Gordon scorned to travel on the road. He went straight across country, and put his unschooled troop horse at the 'barrack yard fence and the posts and rails ? round park lands with as much sang froid as though he were mounted on the most expert steeplechaser. lie was sent to Mount ? Gambier as a police trooper, a-nd his horsemanship there wsa as reckless as it hod been in the city. The discipline of the police was not con genial to liim, and foe resigned after about two years' service. He then gave himself ovei1 entirely to 'his horses, and he loved to tackle the fiercest buekjumper which came in his way. His delight was to ride at headlong pace in ' steeplechases or hurdle events. He would not compete on the flat. He had many bad falls, and an accident of a particularly serious nature occurred to him at Ro'be just after he met Miss Park. She herself was a daring ' hftrcpwnman ftnri fiVio «*nthii£ia*9+.K-nliv R(\
mired the firm seat and the intrepid riding of Gordon. When lie was injured she tenderly nursed him, and soon after lie ?was convalescent lie asked her to marry him. Gordon and His Child, Wife. 'I was just 18 years when wevwere mar ried,' said the lady in an interview on March 2i2. 'Mr. Gordon was then riding horses at JRobe, and among the best re membered of them were Cadger, Viking, and Ingleside. In the well-known picture in which he is seen clearing a big fence, the horse is Viking. We were married in 1SC4, and I first met him about 12 monts before that. I stayed with Mr. Bradshaw '¥oung then sergeant of police at Mount Gambier, for a little while before the wedding, which took place at the residence of the Rev. John Donn, a Presbyterian Minister, who performed ihe ceremony. Mr. Gordon and I lived for a- time in Mount Gambier. Shortly after our marriage Mr. John Rid dofih induced my husband (he had just pre viously inherited about £7,000 from his mother) to stand for Parliament. He took little interest in political affairs, but he consented to the invitation, and he started on his election campaign. He had many ' friends in the district, and. on March 1, 1865, he was returned at the head of the poll, with Mr. John Riddoch as his col league.' Poetry and Poltics.
The defeated candidate on the occasion, it may be mentioned, was the late Hon. Randolph Stow, then Attorney-General, and afterwards a judge. The election created the utmost interest. Among the gentlemen who canvassed the district for Gordon and Riddoch was Mr. J. H. Mack (father of Mr. David Mack). The consti tuency of Victoria then, as now, included the whole of the country between the River Murray and the Victorian border, and there was a wide area to be travelled over. Mr. W. Trainor, the well-known cross country rider; who had long been an inti mate companion, rode with Gordon during
buc gxt-aird J/ai M VL Ilia cict-Kivji u(i;ini;iAUt and they often had to camp out at night, for settlement was not so thick nor were thj means of communication so facile ae they are to-day. Instead of thinking of serious public affairs, however, Gordon was as usual scribbling poetry most of the time. He used to throw one. leg over the saddle while he was riding, in order to rest his paper upon it, and 'while he was engaged in composition it was no good speaking to him. He would give no reply. At the best, of times he was uncommunicative, but under Buch oircumstanccs he was deaf to outside affairs. There were stirring times during the struggle, but they were the result of the enthusiasm of Gordon's friends. When the counting was over, and Gordon was ac
coiaca me poet ui uuiiur av me jilwi ui poll, Penola, where he was especially popu lar, gave itsalf over to revelry. The Home at Dingley Dell. 'While we were living at Mount Gam bier,' the lady went on, 'we often visited Dingley Dell, a pretty little cottage in a beautiful portion near Port McDonnell, which Mr. Gordon had bought. There was a nice piece of laud there, but he did no farming, although he kept racehorses at the place. We made a summer residence of the little cottage, which is now so well known as a tourist resort. We stopped there a week or two at a time, and then returned to Mount Gambier^ w« l*'i
liked the place, Because of the attractive ness of its Burroundings. 'Just before the sitting of Parliament foegah on March 8l, 1865, we removed to Adelaide, and took a house, formerly oc cupied by a doctor, -in what is now Pen zance-street, Jfew Glenelg, and we con tinued to live there until Mr. Gordon grew tired of Parliament,' and resigned. * The building has long since disappeared. There were scarcely any houses at Glenelg then, and he travelled backwards and forwards to Adelaide by coach. He soon became weary of public life. He waB too ' quiet and reserved for that kind of existence, and the necessity of attending regularly at the sittings of the Asspmbly was very 'iksoine. He stood it until November 10. 1866, and then he resigned, and we went back to Robe. We stayed for some time with Mr. Bradshaw Young, whojhen had charge of the gaol at Eobe. Mr. Gordon always retained his love for horses. He never betted, and he never rode for money, but he trained and raced horses, and that is an expensive pastime. When he lost a race he lost money also.
The Death of his. Daughter. ''Prom Xtobe we went to Ballarat, and Mr. Gordon bought Craig's livery stables, which were adjacent to the well-known hotel. He rode a little also, but not much at that .time. It was while he was at Ballarat that his heaviest misfortunes occurred. He had a bad fall from a young horse which he waa riding, and he was so seriously injured that he was confined to his bed for many weeks. While he was lying: ill his 'babv daughter, who had been christened Annie Lindsay Gordon, and was then 10 months old. died. He
was passionately fond of her, and this had a great effect upon his spirits. She lies buried In a cemetery near Lake Wen douree, and there is a marble slab over her'grave? but there is nothing in the in scription to tell that she was his daughter. About this time, too, the stables were burnt down, and several valuable horses and a number of vehicles were lost in the flames. The death of his child was a great blow, for he had a very affectionate nature. He was always too good to others, and he never thought enough of himself. Yes, if he had a fault, it was that he was too good, too open-handed, and too generous. Death at Brighton. 'The sorrow which visited us at Ballarat caused Mr. Gordon to leave that city. We went to Brighton, about eight miles from Melbourne, where he had resided for IS ?Jionths, when on June 23. 1870, the end came. After Mr. Gordon was dead Mr. John Riddoch, of Yallum Park, who «had always been his greatest friend, came over to Brighton and brought me back to the South-East with him. My husband wa«. always a welcome guest at Yallum Park, and the family had many of his manuscripts. He often drew sketches or wrote poetry for the young ladies there He used to go out in the paddocks to com pose poetry. 'Sea Spray and Smoke Drift,' 'Ashtaroth,' and 'Bush Ballads and Gal
oping Rhymes were all published just be fore his death. I had the copyrights of all the books, but I sold them about 30 years ago for a very small sum, much less than they were worth, and since then 1 have had no advantage from the sale of the books. I have often regretted parting with the rights, but it is too late to trouble about that now. The reviews of the poems, which were very favorable, were published in the Melbourne papers before Mr. Gordon died.' A Loving Husband. Asked to eav what' manner of man the
poet was, the widow replied: — 'I didn't take much notice of his poetry,' and she confessed that she felt more interest in his horses and his riding. 'He never spoke much of his family,' she went on. 'Indeed, he did not speak aiuch about anything. Ha was very reticent, and he did not like any one prying into his affairs. He was of a happy disposition, however, and a most loving and considerate husband. He wrote to his relatives in England often, and espe cinlly to his uncles, and he sent our photo graphs to them when we .were marriel. He thought he ought to have had the Bssle mont estate jn Scotland, but the property was locked up in the Chancery Court, and he did not get the money he considered was due to him. He believed he was the heir, but the court decided that there was a cousin before him. He had intended to go to England, but this disappointment stopped him. He was 'a gentleman rider' always, and he never took money for hi*
services. Tuie horses he owned which I remeuiber best were Cadger, Viking. Ingle side, Modesty, Prince Rupert, and Ballarat. Although he jva-s so nearsighted he always competed in steeples or hurdles, and never rode in flat races. He was well to do when we were married, but he lost money in racing. The melancholy and depression from which lie suffered at the end were caused by a succession of bad falls, his baby's death, and the lose of his property. While we were at Brighton he was writing poetry every evening, and in spare moments during the day. It was always the same wherever we were.'
The Joy of Horsemanship. Mrs. Gordon and her husband both fol lowed the hounds. at the hunts in Mel bourne, and her favorite mount was a horse named Johnny Raw. Gordon kept tho hounds at Ballarat for a year. 'I followed wherever he went,' she said proudly, 'and I never had a fall, although he had a good many, because of his defect of vision. Once while we. were hunting at Ballarat his horse slipped on the crumbling bank of a creek, and both horse and rider fell into the stieani. Mr. Gordon was nearly drowned. T aot over all right and wondered where he had pone to. He could not see, and had to trust to his horse to take off at the proper distance. He had many bad falls, both in the hunting field and while racing, but he had many good wins also. He was always ready to do what he could to help others, and it was he who rod« from the wreck of the Admiella ta the nearest township, just as he describes in his poem 'The Ride from the Wreck.' '
Gordon's Leap. Questioned as to the famous leap across the fence protecting the road traflic from a descent of 150 ft. into the Blue Lake, near Mount Gambier, the lady said: — 'I gene rally went out with him' when he was rid ing, but I was not with him that day. It was a 'pounding1 exhibition. The party had been challenged to jump all the ob stacles he cleared. Up till that jump the 'other riders had done as well as he did. When he came to the spot now marked by an obelisk, erected in 1887. he, in a spirit of emulation, cleared the fence on the ndff-a el the lake and then jumped out again. He must almost hav-i turned his horse in the air. for the landing was very narrow. No one followed him in that Ion.'.). I cannot remember the name of the horse he rode on that occasion, nor who was with him.' Air. Bradsliaw Young
was one of the party, and he saw Gordon leap^back into the road, although he did not see the first jump. However, there was no way to get -the horee in except -y jumping, and his attention, had only been distracted for a minute.' % A Wonderful Woman. Tlirec years after Gordon's death his widow- married Mr. Peter Lowe, and she and her present husband are now living on a farm, which forms part of the old Oannawigra station, near Borderto-wn, which once belonged to Mr. George Rid och. Mrs. Lowe is very popular in the South-East, and she lias the reputation of -eingan energetic and enterprising woman, le nas seven sons and daughters living. She is still a great lover of horses. Mr. David Mack lias known her/ all his life. About 37 years ago he was riding with her after kangaroos on the Yallum Park estate, when his horse put its foot in a wombat lole and came down heavily.1 He broke his shoulder and sustained other serious in uries but' small-as she ie, Mrs. Lowe got him home. 'She saved my life on that occasion, I reckon,' said Mr. Mack yes terday, and he added, 'I have frequently feen her and her husband riding in Yal um Park from Monbulla, an out-station formerly belonging to Mr. T. Scott, on Mr. Riddoch s station, each. of them carrying
one or tneir twin children on the saddle bow in front of them. All the sons and daughters.' he went on, 'are expert pipe players. Miss Jessie Lowe was the frrsl tady pipp player in South Australia. fihe is married and is living in the Soutb Eaet.' Mr. Mack claims to be the youngest man living who has seen Gordon ride. His memory of the poet is that he was a sil»nt man, very nearsighted. He saw Gordon ride at Penola In 1868 and 1869. He also saw Gordon mount a pony imported by Mr. John Riddoch and exhibited at the Penola Show. The horse had bucked every one off who had attempted to sit him, but Gordon mounted it barebacked and stuck to the animal despite all its violent efforts to dislodge him. Gordon's Tree.
Mr._Mack, to whose introduction I was indebted for my meeting with Mrs. Lowe, who came to Adelaide with her husband for the Autumn Show, and is returning next week, well remembers 'Gordon's tree' at Yallum Pai-k. Here it is believed 'The Sick Stockrider,' 'Wolf and Hound,' and 'The Ride from the Wreck' were written. It was a gnarled old gurutree that stood in a paddock not far from the house. After breakfast he would climb up to a natural armchair formed by a crooked limb. There he would fill his clay pipe, and while he smoked he would scribble with pencil on a paper spread on a branch', or sometimes resting on his hat. While he was so engaged meal-times would come and go without his taking any notice. That was about a year before the poet's death.
A New Life of Gordon. Mrs. Lowe states that her Eon, Mr. Wil liam Lowe, has for some time been collect ing materials for a life of the poet Gordon, which he intends to publish. He has many of the poet's manuscripts, some of poems not yet published. AH her children have learnt Gordon's poems and love them. She has had repeated requests for information concerning Gordon. Let ters have come to her from all over the Empire, but she has hitherto declined to
respond to the invitations. .Naturally she has reserved all her reminiscences for her son's book, which, she.-h'aj's, will, contain a faithful story- of Gordon's career in Australia, and of his literary work. Mr. Wililam Lowe lives with his parents on the farm near Bordertown. Another of her sons resides at Renmark, and her twit daughters' wore recently married. Longing to See the Grave. 'I Tiave never seen the grave of Mr. Gordon,' she said, 'since he was laid in it nearly 42 years ago. Photographs of his monument have been sent to me, and messages on the anniversary of his death, telling of visits to the spot by his ad mirers. He is now more popular than. ever. I have a great desire to go to Brighton aiid see the grave again.'