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1. Chapter I Personal

THE active influences that bear upon the fortunes of a human life reach backwards in point of time to a past as mysterious as the most distant future. The mental beginnings of each individual life are shrouded in a mystery which no expert in any science or art can explain.

It is quite easy to invent terms under which guesses aimed at the unknown can be catalogued; but in the case of “heredity” and “environment,” as in every other case in which psychology is an element, the greater the penetration of science the more remote the prospect of a complete revelation becomes.

It is perfectly true that psychology, which is the science of the soul viewing the soul as a fact quite apart from its operations, has never had a fair chance. Physiology has had a better following, and has made great strides. But its final word is spoken, as to the nature of the soul—or mind—or life—call the sovereign lord of animated function what you will—when it points to the cellular substance within a man as the medium, for who can believe it to be the origin, of thought feeling and volition.




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Of all the delusions of which human ignorance is capable, one of the most common is that which gives a man full credit, or the entire blame, for what he is, or what he does. The line at which censure or praise should discriminate in summing up a man's good or evil deeds is always vague—it may become infinitely so when the effects of parentage are considered.

The view I am submitting brings no sort of comfort to me so far as my own origin is concerned. My father and mother were Christians whose outward professions were transcended by the nobility and beauty of their conduct in the family circle. They tempered the standards of principle and conduct by which their own lives were governed with boundless reserves of charity and compassion for those who fell short of their high ideals.

An industrious relative has compiled a chronology—the perfect accuracy of which I accept without investigation—which shows that I can claim descent from a shadowy sort of Scottish chieftain who flourished many centuries ago.

To come down to more recent times, and a humbler state, my grandmother, Jean Ronald, was the daughter of a Laird of Bennals, in Ayrshire, of whom Burns wrote:

“There's ane they ca' Jean I'll warrant ye've seen,
As bonie a lass or as braw, man;
But for sense and guid taste she'll vie wi' the best,
And a conduct that beautifies a', man.

The charms o' the min', the langer they shine
The more admiration they draw, man,
While peaches and cherries, and roses and lilies
They fade and wither awa, man.”




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Born in 1800, my father, John Reid, was the son of the John Reid, of The Burn, near Mauchline, who married Jean Ronald. Like ever so many Scottish farmers' sons, my father passed through a University course, and he became a minister of the Established Church. Scotland has no page of history brighter than that which records the spread of education, in the Lowlands at any rate, from the time of John Knox down to the present day. The wisdom which produced in England the Education Act of 1870 was practised in Scotland more than three centuries ago, and just before the Union with England each Scottish parish was compelled to support a school, and although the parish school was under the Kirk Session it is one of the glories of that time that the expiring Scots' Parliament established the schools on an undenominational basis.

It is not at all surprising to those who know anything of the human mind that, as successive generations passed through the parish schools and the secondary schools (established on a Parliamentary foundation in 1496), parental ambitions, aided by religious fervour, sent at least one son to the University, often at the expense of severe hardships. The success of Scotland's children at home and abroad would have been less remarkable, when remarkable at all, if the statesmen of England had begun in real earnest, a few centuries earlier than they did, to educate the children of the other parts of the British Isles.

In my father's days in Scotland the preparation of sermons was an arduous task. The preacher had to address a most critical audience, and was not allowed


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to refer to notes. Irrational though it might be, people expected such deliverances to be as carefully expressed as the last revise of a literary production. This involved two written sermons weekly, committed to memory, besides scrupulous attention to parochial duties.

No better evidence of my father's pulpit gifts could be adduced than this: after his ordination he received six “calls” to churches in various parts of Scotland, including one to Edinburgh.

Wisely closing his ears to more tempting openings, he accepted a call to Linlithgow. Many years afterwards my brother, Mr. H. R. Reid, founder and managing director of the Melbourne Shipping Company, visiting Linlithgow as the scene of our father's first charge, chanced to arrive on a day when the people were saying good-bye to Lord Hopetoun as the just-appointed Governor of Victoria. My brother was invited to the luncheon and made, as he could well do, a fine speech, which formed the beginning of a friendship with His Excellency, which later Lord Hopetoun extended to myself.

In 1843, when the Free Church was formed, a very interesting vacancy occurred in the pastorate of the Tron Kirk, Glasgow, owing to the retirement of Dr. Chalmers. My father was within two votes of succeeding that great man. He was known at the time as “Chalmers Secundus!”

I was born in Johnstone, near Paisley, in 1845, on February 25th. My name-father—English people say godfather—was the Member for Renfrewshire, Mr. George Houstoun. Two months after my birth my




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father accepted a call to the Oldham Street Church, Liverpool, which many of the leading Scottish ship-owners attended. He suffered frequently from bronchitis, and upon medical advice he emigrated to Australia, landing in Melbourne in May, 1852.

The family consisted of my mother, five sons—I being the youngest—and two daughters. I think it was well for us all that our chances in life were thus transferred to a new land containing so many resources, and offering so many advantages to those who could only inherit a good name.

The doctors proved true prophets, for the genial climate soon banished my father's ailment.

Voyaging to settle down in the Antipodes in those days was a most courageous step. There were no steamers in the trade save one—the Great Britain. Sailing ships were thought to make a fair passage if they crossed over in 120 days.

There is no land surface on the face of the globe —and that of Australia is so old that it basked in the sunshine before Europe and Asia emerged from primeval waters—which, before the arrival of the white man, had so few traces of human occupation as that vast island continent to which we voyaged. There were no traces of cultivation, or of industry, or of permanent dwellings.

This unbroken sterility of effort did not mean that the Australian blacks were weaklings, destitute of brains. On the contrary, they had many interesting, even complex laws, customs, and ceremonies. The environment of untravelled seas, cloudless skies, caressing warmth, and female serfdom, made




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the lot of the Australian black-fellow a paradise of sloth.

When the first anchor chain in Botany Bay rattled through the porthole of Captain Cook's Endeavour, a group of blacks on the adjacent rocks, instead of showing surprise or fear, eclipsed the stoicism of the North American Indian—even the self-possession of “a person of consequence” in London society—by the sublimely unconscious way in which they continued their culinary preparations, as if those strange voyagers and their ship were long-expected arrivals!

Cook hoisted the British flag there on April 20th, 1770. A few days before that great event the first collision between British troops and American citizens took place in Boston.

Was it blind chance that secured for the British Empire a new area of 3,000,000 square miles in the Southern just before losing 3,000,000 square miles in the Northern hemisphere?

If I were asked to name the most memorable twenty years in the history of the British people I should select the period from 1757 to 1776. In 1757 Clive founded our Eastern Empire on the fields of Plassy. In 1759 Wolfe founded our Western Empire on the heights of Abraham. In 1768 Arkwright set up a spinning machine that started our industrial greatness. In 1769 Napoleon was born. In the same year, a few months earlier, Wellington was born. In 1770 Cook planted our flag on a new continent larger than the United States are now, and many times larger than the American colonies which, in winning their independence, gave us a lesson that has had




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the happiest effect upon the subsequent growth and development of the British Empire.

The prevailing idea in England when we left was that the emigrant to an Australian colony was an exile who could never hope to see his native land again. Ignorance of the conditions of life on the island-continent is still dense at this end of the world; but then it was appalling. Only seven years of age, the voyage appeared to me to be a glorious, if most perilous, adventure. My dear mother, I well remember, felt all the pangs of a final separation from friends and home. Two years afterwards no power on earth could have torn her from her new life and her new friends! She found, as most others do, that Australia really is “a new Britannia in another world.” Wentworth's fine line, true then, is ever so much more true now.

The people of the British Isles seem to blend more readily their love for the old land with their love for the new lands which become their adopted homes than people of other nationalities. English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh do not find that the new sentiment supplants the old. Indeed, each seems to strengthen the other practically, as well as emotionally. There is nothing inconsistent in that. The feelings which make rivalries between neighbouring villages keenest ought to make national patriotism strongest. The cricketers of Muggleton and Dingley Dell, whom Charles Dickens has immortalised, were all the better patriots for England because each team fought against the other desperately in order to uphold the prestige and supremacy of the hamlet in which it lived.

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