Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gordon, Adam Lindsay

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660877Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 22 — Gordon, Adam Lindsay1890Edward Carter Kersey Gonner

GORDON, ADAM LINDSAY (1833–1870), Australian poet, son of Captain Adam Gordon, was born in 1833 at Fayal in the Azores. He was educated at Cheltenham College, where his father was for some time professor of Hindustani, and after passing on to another school was for a short time at Woolwich, and afterwards kept some terms at Merton College, Oxford. After a somewhat stormy youth he left England on 7 Aug. 1853 for South Australia, where he joined the mounted police as a trooper. Leaving the police he became a horsebreaker, and in 1862 married a Miss Park. In 1864 he received some 7,000l. on his father's death, and in 1865 was elected to the colonial House of Assembly as a member for the district of Victoria. He was an occasional speaker in the house, but did not retain his seat long. In 1867 he migrated to Victoria and opened a livery stable at Ballarat. During this period of his life he was noted as an adventurous steeplechaser. In 1869 he went to Melbourne, and, with the desire of getting free from the associations of the turf, determined to settle at New Brighton. His first volume of poems, published in 1867, had achieved a considerable reputation, and there was every prospect that his succeeding years would be spent happily, when an unfortunate attempt to secure the reversion of the estate of Esselmont, in Scotland, ended in failure, and induced a return of his former morbid restlessness. In 1870 his second volume of poems was published, but, despite their success, on 24 June of the same year he committed suicide.

His chief works were the following:

  1. ‘Sea Spray and Smoke Drift,’ 1867.
  2. ‘Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes,’ 1870.
  3. ‘Ashtaroth: a Dramatic Lyric.’ A collected edition of his poems was published in 1880 under the editorship of Marcus Clarke.

Some additional poems, prose sketches, and his political speeches are printed in a memoir by Mr. J. H. Ross, entitled ‘Laureate of the Centaurs.’ As a poet he was vigorous and musical, but exhibited little true poetic originality.

[The Laureate of the Centaurs, a Memoir of Adam Lindsay Gordon, by J. Howlett Ross. 1888; Clarke's preface to his poems.]

E. C. K. G.