About the Book
Gordon had fallen in love with Jane Bridges, a girl of 17 who was able to tell the story 60 years afterwards to his biographers. Gordon did not declare his love until he came to say good-bye to her before leaving for Australia on 7 August 1853. "With characteristic recklessness he offered to sacrifice the passage he had taken to Australia, and all his father's plans for giving him a fresh start in life, if she would tell him not to go, or promise to be his wife, or even give him some hope." This Miss Bridges could not do, though she liked the shy handsome boy and remembered him with affection to the end of a long life. It was the one romance of Gordon's life. That Gordon realized his conduct had fallen much below what it might have been can be seen in his poems ... "To my Sister", written three days before he left England, and "Early Adieux", evidently written about the same time.
Gordon was just over 20 years old when he arrived at Adelaide on 14 November 1853. He immediately obtained a position in the South Australian mounted police and was stationed at Mount Gambier and Penola. On 4 November 1855 he resigned from the force and took up horse-breaking in the south-eastern district of South Australia. The interest in horse-racing which he had shown as a youth in England was continued in Australia, and in a letter written in November 1854 he mentioned that he had a horse for the steeplechase at the next meeting. In 1857 he met the Rev. Julian Tenison Woods who lent him books and talked poetry with him. He then had the reputation of being "a good steady lad and a splendid horseman". In this year his father died and he also lost his mother about two years later. From her estate he received £6944-18-1 on 26 October 1861. He was making a reputation as a rider over hurdles, and several times either won or was placed in local hurdle races and steeplechases. On 20 October 1862 he married Margaret Park, then a girl of 17.
About the Author
Adam Lindsay Gordon
Gordon was born at Fayal in the Azores, son of Captain Adam Durnford Gordon who had married his first cousin, Harriet Gordon, both of whom were descended from Adam of Gordon of the ballad. Captain Gordon, who had retired from the Bengal cavalry and taught Hindustani, was then staying at the Azores for the sake of his wife's health. After living on the island of Madeira, they went to England and lived at Cheltenham in 1840. Gordon was sent to Cheltenham College in 1841 when he was only seven, but after he had been there a year he was sent to a school kept by the Rev. Samuel Ollis Garrard in Gloucestershire. He attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in 1848, where he was a contemporary and friend of Charles George Gordon (no relation, later 'Gordon of Khartoum') and Thomas Bland Strange (later known as 'Gunner Jingo'). There Gordon appears to have been good at sports, but not studious and certainly undisciplined — and like Richard Henry Horne, he was asked to leave. Gordon was again admitted a pupil at Cheltenham College. He was not there for long - he appears to have left in the middle of 1852 - but the story that he was expelled from Cheltenham is without foundation. Then Gordon was sent to the Royal Grammar School Worcester in 1852. Gordon began to lead a wild and aimless life, contracted debts, and was a great anxiety to his father, who at last decided that his son should go to Australia and make a fresh start in 1853 to join the mounted police with a letter of introduction to the Governor.
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