For it was a grand life
Mabel Phyllis Hardy (1890-1977) was the granddaughter of Arthur Hardy, and oldest daughter of their second son, Herbert Mansell Hardy. Through this anecdotal diary entry following the passing of her beloved grandfather in 1909, we receive a greater insight into Arthur’s personal life, sweet moments of memory from Mabel, highlighting his spirited, kindly and generous nature.
Saturday, 17 July, 1909
Sometimes when one’s heart is filled with great sorrow, it is only by placing ink on paper that the heart can give way to the floodgate of true feelings.
It was with the greatest sadness that we learned news of our dear Grandfather passing away peacefully at home in Liverpool House, Tuesday last. He was in his 94th year.
My Grandfather was a wonderful man. Although known as more reserved than most, he was celebrated for his great character and intelligence, life filled to the brim with adventure and knowledge. I never spent a moment at his side without hearing stories of his travels, or seeing a book in hand – on the subject of politics, botany, or religion usually. We learned quickly never to find ourselves knotted in the long yarns he would spin. Opinions on this! Opinions on that!
He told me great stories of his adventures, sailing to the shores of Australia when he was just a young man. I listened in wide-eyed wonderment, pondering on where he had managed to find such courage. To sail from one side of the world to the other! With nothing but a few books about farming, a shepherd and a fearless spirit!
Yes it’s true, I always thought of my Grandfather as the bravest man I had ever met. But he was also the kindest man. Why, on the outset this was apparent, with his honourable career in Parliament and as a lawyer, notwithstanding his many community positions, accomplishing a great many charitable deeds. However, I have fond memories of Grandmother (bless her sweet resting soul) telling me of the great generosity he had for those around him, from their house-waits and cook (may she rest in peace, our dear Mary Johns) to friends and strangers alike.
But it was with my dear Grandmother that they forged a life filled with love and loss. Building their beloved sanctuary, Mount Lofty House, it is only in story that I hear of the many wonderful years spent in this place of paradise. For my own father, and aunts and uncles were raised in this grand house, surrounded by the magnificent gardens that my Grandfather was ever so proud of. Whilst he wa well known as a lawyer and politician, it was of horticulture where his true passions lay, apparent in the acres of walnut and chestnut trees, blooming rows of rare imported plants, and a hillside vineyard that lay on the bright western slopes of the property.
It was here that Grandfather and Grandmother resided in great happiness for many years, pairing lavish gatherings with a tranquil existence. It was until sadly, generosity got the better of them and, in poor finances, they were forced to sell their beloved Mount Lofty House.
Nonetheless, my Grandfather remained a hardworking and proud man. For even in his elderly state, and hard of hearing, he continued taking a train into his office in town every day. Yes, even into his nineties! Smartly dressed in a long fawn coloured coat and a veiled pith helmet, I remember he would tricycle from our home at Liverpool House to Glenelg Train Station. Following the train journey Grandfather would then walk to the office with a stick and a silk umbrella holding him upright.
But my fondest memories are those more recent, sitting in the dining room before supper, waiting for our milk and bread. Pearly, our dear white cat, would be curled up on Grandfather’s lap as he sat in quiet solitude. He would beckon for us to write on his small slate, always encouraging our ideas or thoughts. We would scribe imaginary stories or jokes my siblings and I had been laughing about earlier that day. Grandfather would raise his eyebrows and the corners of his mouth in great amusement.
For it was even in those moments of quiet disposition that I always knew that it was a grand life that my Grandfather had lived. With my dear Grandmother by his side both then, and now in the heavens above, may their legacy be as elegant and as full of adventure and spirit as the life they both lived.
Inspired by the biographical account of Arthur Hardy, written by Mabel Phyllis Hardy, History of the Hardy Family in South Australia (1959) as transcribed here:
A written eulogy following Arthur Hardy’s death, published in The Advertiser, Wednesday 14 July 1909