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The Ivy of Friendship

September 22, 1922 — On the unveiling of her portrait, New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia


It is by no means an easy task to thank all those who have been so very good to me, and words will not be able to express one half of all I feel . . . .

Long ago when I admired Henry Lawson’s picture in the gallery, I used to say none should ever paint me but Mr Longstaff — little thinking that my wish would ever come true. And indeed I must pay a tribute to Mr Longstaff for all his patience and courtesy. For when I first went to him, I had been very ill. Then came summer with its glorious sunshine, bluebirds and dragonflies, and I most aggravatingly became ten years younger! At any rate he painted a Rose Scott that cannot make speeches, or argue upon every subject in heaven or earth — silence being an excellent gift in a woman — and this Rose Scott being a restless being found it very hard to sit still — and so she moved the only thing she could move, and that was her tongue.

It has been said by a great writer ‘That the end of life is a journey amongst ruins’! Well, my friends, we all have our Gethsemanes, our losses and our sorrows, and if our hearts embrace all humanity in our own dear country and in the world. The last few years have brought many ruins. But in my own case, and I am sure in many others, the beautiful ivy of friendship covers many ruins. What affection is there so deep, so lasting as friendship? Love without wings it has been called. 

In all other relations of life, unless there is a spice of friendship, how insipid and often antagonistic they become. Make chums of your children, pals, and mates of your husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and those you employ; and at once we see this glowing opal entering into the common ore of life, and all relationships are transfigured.

We Australians are a great people for liberty, for wide spaces and deep sciences, and friendship typifies all these.

So you will see how hard it is for me to thank you, as I would like to do, for this priceless gift of friendship which is the origin of any honors you have conferred upon me.



Source: “The beautiful ivy of friendship covers many ruins,” Scott, Rose, in Well May We Say . . . The Speeches That Made Australia, ed. Sally Warhaft, (Melbourne: Black Inc.), pp. 427-428.