For good undone, and gifts misspent, and resolutions vain, ’T is somewhat late to trouble. This I know— I should live the same life over, if I had to live again; And the chances are I go where most men go.
Adam Lindsay Gordon was born in the Azores on October 19, 1833, of an old Scottish family. His father was a retired army captain who later became professor of Oriental languages in Cheltenham College. The family moved to Madeira when he was a child, and then to Cheltenham, in 1840. Gordon spent a year in the newly founded college in 1841, from 1843 to 1847 was at school at Dumbleton and was then sent to the Royal Military College at Woolwich from 1848 to 1851. In 1852 he was sent to be educated at the Royal Grammar School in Worcester. The headmaster at the time, Canon Temple, recorded that Gordon had a "most extraordinary genius." But within four months of arrival he was already in trouble. His chief interest of horses led him to be almost imprisoned for stealing a horse to ride in the Worcester Steeplechase. Gordon was due to ride Lallah Rookh, a mare at a steeplechase meeting in Crowle. The owner of the horse had placed bets on him winning the race. However, the bailiffs seized the horse the night before the meeting and locked it in the stables at the Plough Inn, Worcester. Gordon stormed into the stables at the Plough Inn and led the mount away. He was prevented from racing, but the owner went on to race instead and actually won the event. Gordon was ordered to appear at Worcester Magistrates Court but was saved from being imprisoned by Tom Oliver of Worcester, who bailed him out of court. His name appears in the poem: Ye Wearie Wayfarer - Fytte II. It was during his time at Worcester that Gordon also had his first romance. He fell in love with Jane Brydges who lived in St. John's across the river from Worcester. Unfortunately Jane was not interested in Gordon. In despair of his son's waywardness, his father sent him to South Australia in 1853 where Gordon found he was excellently adapted to the lifestyle and opted to join the mounted police rather than present his letters of introduction. Two years later, when he was a travelling horse-breaker and trainer, he met J. E. Tenison Woods, a Roman Catholic missionary and naturalist, who encouraged Gordon in his writing. In 1862 Gordon at the age of 29 he married Maggie Park, 17, who had nursed him after an accident. Gordon came into £7000 after his father died in 1864. He bought some race horses, and in time became the best steeplechase rider in Australia. In 1864 he enhanced his reputation as a horseman by making what was to become a famous leap onto a ledge above the Blue Lake, Mount Gambier - commemorated in 1887 by an obelisk. He also entered the South Australian Parliament from Victoria in 1865 but resigned the next year. In 1867 he went to Mt. Gambier to live by writing and horse-training. He ran into debt from gambling, drinking and from borrowing heavily to finance a suit to sue for recovery of some ancestral lands in Scotland. In June 1870 he lost his suit. He saw his last book of verses through the press, but, burdened with money worries, the next day, June 24, 1870, shot himself.