College Memories of Rev. John Watson, D. D.
by Stella Howchin (Mrs. Walter Parkinson B. Sc.)

[The author was daughter of Professor Walter Howchin, and school companion of Kate Watson in Adelaide 1883--89.]

Annie Watson wrote:-- « Mrs. Parkinson, elder daughter of Professor Howchin, is a B. Sc. of Adelaide University, and for several years engaged in original research work in collaboration with Professor [blank]. Her books have been used as text books in the schools throughout South Australia and she did much valuable work as a private coach to university students ... Unfortunately her breakdown in health brought her brilliant public life to a premature close, and she has to serve in quieter ways since then ... My Father set a very high value on her friendship and told me more than once how greatly she had helped him to bear his burden of weakness by her brave and cheerful acceptance of the limitation imposed upon her by her ill health ... The reader will notice that Mrs. Parkinson is full of gratitude to my Father for similar benefits derived from him ... She is a brilliant daughter of a brilliant Father, but is as full of modesty about her own gifts as are all great souls. »


Long ago, a new minister was coming to our church (Parkside, South Australia) straight from Africa, that land of missionary romance. Through the mist of years, I can well recall the flutter of expectation and speculation as to what the missionary (an old friend of my parents) would be like, and what wonderful tales he would have to tell !

How I loved him right away ! The sunny smile, the gracious bearing, the never-failing kindliness of his interest, the natural dignity that was withal so winsome.

As pastor and father of my closest friend, I came to know him well, and to marvel at the balanced union in him of strength and gentleness, justice and mercy, discipline and kindness, authority and humility, deep scholarship that yet was always in touch with the "things of the common hour".

It was indeed a privilege to be counted a frequent guest in that dear manse-home. My memories of those days revolve rather round it than the pulpit, though from the latter my young mind was impressed by the easy, unaffected delivery of the preacher, his quiet, yet irresistible, appeals to both heart and reason.

Inevitably our beloved minister and dear Mrs. Watson and family were called to a wider field in the old homeland. Blurred eyes followed the liner as it carried them far from us.

After many years, filled for Dr. Watson with high service and high honours, pastor and. pupil met again. Active work had then, perforce, been laid aside, but the urge towards spiritual and mental culture was insistent as ever. During a renewed close association with the Doctor in the intimate relationships of his home, I learned to look beyond the sadness of the frailties of his body to the unconquered and unconquerable spirit. Within a smaller circle, perhaps, but in an intensive way he still could minister. Even yet, I cannot recall those last years of companionship without a lump rising in my throat. To me, at that period, the victim also of the peculiar sense of loneliness and uselessness that comes from a collapse of health, he was a constant rebuke and source of fresh courage. Not the deprivations entailed through weakness, but the consolations still ours was the theme of his daily living.

My friend, my teacher passed on. But how proudly and bravely high he held his standard - to the end!

"Magnificence and grace,
Excellent courtesy:
A brightness on the face,
Airs of high memory:
Whence came all these, to such as he ?

With a light word, he took
The hearts of men in thrall:
And, with a golden look,
Welcomed them, at his call
Giving their love, their strength, their all.

No man less proud than he,
Nor cared for homage less:
Only, he could not be
Far off from happiness:
Nature was bound to his success.

Yet have I seen him live,
And owned my friend a King:
All that he came to give
He gave, and I who sing
His praise, bring all I have to bring."

Stella Howchin Parkinson