State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 12 October 1973

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W. E. HEARN'S LIBRARY

In view of what has been described as ‘the lamentable state of historical research’ concerning science and scholarship in Australia,
1 Geoffrey Serle,From Deserts the Prophets Come. The Creative Spirit in Australia 1788–1972 (Melbourne, Heinemann, 1973), p. xi.
it is not astonishing that relatively little systematic study has been made as yet of the contents of nineteenth century private and institutional libraries in this country. Admittedly these indicators of intellectual trends and literary vogues have not been entirely neglected. The well-known monographs of George Nadel
2Australia's Colonial Culture. Ideas, Men and Institutions in Mid-Nineteenth Century Eastern Australia(Melbourne, F. W. Cheshire, 1957), especially ch. 6, pp. 75–86.
and Margaret Kiddle
3Men of Yesterday. A Social History of the Western District of Victoria 1834–1890 (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1961), especially pp. 92, 298, 454–5, 500–1.
make appropriate use of this sort of evidence in exploring the culture of Sydney in the middle of the last century and the reading tastes of the Western District pastoralists of the same period. However, there are few catalogues or articles that attempt to document with all necessary detail the books accessible to or read by Australian writers, politicians and professional men. Recently published material on H. H. Richardson
4 D. H. Borchardt,Catalogue of a Collection of Books Relating to Richard Wagner and His Circle Used by Henry Handel Richardson as Sources for ‘The Young Cosima’ (1939) and Housed in the University of Tasmania Library (Melbourne, Monash University English Department, 1973).
and N. D. Stenhouse
5 Ann-Mari Jordens, ‘The Stenhouse Collection’, Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 4, 1973, pp. 6–14.
illustrates the possibilities of a branch of historical enquiry much cultivated in Europe and North America. Whether we shall ever have studies as ambitious as The Library of John Locke by John Harrison and Peter Laslett
6 John Harrison & Peter Laslett, The Library of John Locke, 2nd edition (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971).
or Allen Hazen's massive reconstruction of Horace Walpole's collections
7 Allen Hazen,A Catalogue of Horace Walpole's Library with Horace Walpole's Library by Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 1969, 3 volumes).
remains an open question, but there is no doubt that where the relevant documents have been preserved such an approach can do much to illuminate the preoccupations and tendencies of major figures in our intellectual and literary history.
It is hardly necessary to add that such investigations are attended by several difficulties of a methodological character. While it is not feasible to enumerate them all here,
8 I have attempted this in a paper read in February 1973 to audiences in Hobart and Launceston and to be published separately under the title Colonial Readers, Book-Buyers and Bibliophiles.
it should at least be noted that the interpreter of lists of books owned has to be wary of facile assumptions about the influence of given items. Possession by itself means very little, since books may be inherited as well as personally acquired. More important, they do not have to be read, so that the historian must look for specific evidence of use before he moves from conjecture to firm conclusions. Surviving lists, whether printed or manuscript, must be confronted with adequately identified copies of the works owned. Remembering that bookplates can be transferred from one volume to another and that signatures can be forged, one will not want to accept uncritically any claimed provenance. Prudence likewise suggests that the only conclusive proof of reading lies in the presence of properly authenticated annotation by the putative owner of the book. Consequently, the researcher in this field not infrequently has to be content with results that fall far short of what is demonstrably certain, because not all the requisite documentation is at hand.
Beyond problems of method, availability of evidence is the major obstacle when one is dealing with nineteenth century Australian private libraries. In some cases family papers will contain correspondence with booksellers or accounts that facilitate the tracing of buying patterns. Elsewhere there will be manuscript inventories of libraries made for the owners’ convenience at some stage or other of their lives. Such material is extremely precious, not least because it affects a small proportion only of colonial book-buyers and collectors. Another important source, hitherto largely disregarded by historians, is to be found in the printed catalogues of book auction sales, which were far more frequent in Australia before 1901 than they have been since the Second World War. Sadly one must report that these often flimsy and carelessly compiled lists were usually discarded like most of the ephemeral productions of the printing press. If newspaper advertisements of sales are compared with the few catalogues that have been kept in the collections of our major reference and research libraries, the extent of our loss becomes discouragingly apparent. A chance purchase by D. S. Mitchell of a small lot of auction lists for Sydney in the 1830s and 1840s explains most of the items recorded by Ferguson up to 1851. For the second half of the nineteenth century we have virtually no information on what has been preserved and what has been destroyed. It is one of the most urgent tasks of Australian bibliography to complement Ferguson by preparing a survey analogous to George L. McKay's American Book Auction Catalogues 1713–1934: A Union List.
9 First published in volume form by the New York Public Library in 1937 and re-issued with two supplements of 1946 and 1948 by the Gale Research Company, Detroit, in 1967.
Among the prominent Melbourne citizens whose collections were auctioned before 1901 were several men associated as Trustees with the Melbourne Public Library in its formative
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decades. It is tempting to seek in their private libraries something of the values that David McVilly has studied in the acquisition policies of the institution presided over by Sir Redmond Barry.
10‘The Acquisitions Policy of the State Library of Victoria, 1853–1880’, La Trobe Library Journal, vol. 2, no. 7, April 1971, pp. 57–63, and ‘‘Something to Blow About’? — The State Library of Victoria, 1856–1880’, La Trobe Library Journal, vol. 2, no. 8, October 1971, pp. 81–90.
Unfortunately — and in some instances incredibly — the relevant evidence has been allowed to disappear for the more influential of the Public Library's early mentors. Barry's books, described by the auctioneers, Gemmell, Tuckett and Company, as a ‘magnificent library, without exception the finest private collection of books ever offered in Melbourne’, were sold on 10 and 12 March 1881.
11Argus, 9 March 1881, p. 2d. and 11 March 1881, p. 2c.
Even allowing for justified suspicion of the claims made in the newspaper advertisement, we can regret that no copy of the catalogue seems to have survived. Thus, although volumes with Barry's bookplate turn up occasionally in libraries and bookshops and his bookcases, also sold on 10 March 1881,
12Argus, 9 March 1881, p. 2d.
have found a home in the Medical Faculty of the University of Melbourne, we have to fall back on earlier and incomplete manuscript lists for some idea of the range of his interests.
13 See Papers of Sir Redmond Barry, La Trobe Library MS 8380, 603/6 & 7.
No catalogue was printed for the sale on 9 December 1896 of Sir George Verdon's books, but the advertisement itself lists a number of important items that reflect the collector's love of art.
14Argus, 21 November 1896, p. 2f. On Verdon as a book-buyer, see A. G. L. Shaw, ‘Sir George Frederick Verdon, K.C.M.G., C.B., a forgotten Victorian’, Victorian Historical Magazine, 43, 1972, pp. 959–77, especially p. 975.
Sir Archibald Michie's substantial library was sold on 1 December 1899,
15Argus, 25 November 1899, p. 2f.
yet once again the catalogue, which was undoubtedly issued, is missing. Indeed, it may well be that the only Trustees for whom we still have an adequate record of this kind are John Macgregor and W. E. Hearn. Neither made a major contribution to the Public Library, but both the solicitor and the professor played parts in Melbourne's intellectual life that went beyond their membership of the Victorian Legislature.
16 Cf. Kathleen Thomson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Legislature 1851–1900 (Canberra, A.N.U. Press, 1972), pp. 90, 128–9.
Macgregor's quite remarkable library, sold on 18, 19 and 20 August 1884 and comprising some 10,000 volumes,
17 Copy of the catalogue, prepared by Gemmell, Tuckett and Co., in the State Library of Victoria.
deserves — and will eventually receive — detailed analysis, but it was in most respects different from Hearn's more modest accumulation.
That Hearn was essentially interested in books to read and study is suggested by Alexander Sutherland's 1888 valedictory memoir of him:
‘From the thousand books that lined the shelves of his lecture-room he drew the exact one wanted; he opened it without reference to index or contents, and there was the paragraph he wished to refer to…. He was an ardent reader of poetry, and quoted choice passages freely and with evident elevation of feeling.’
18‘William Edward Hearn’, Argus, 28 April 1888, p. 5 b-c.
His reading and the extent of his debts to earlier writers have not passed unnoticed by students of the economic theories he expounded in the celebrated treatise Plutology.
19Plutology: or the Theory of the Efforts to Satisfy Human Wants (Melbourne, George Robertson, 1863). There was another issue with cancelled half-title and title and the imprint: London, Macmillan, 1864. It was a copy of this issue that the author presented to the Fitzroy Public Library.
J. A. La Nauze, in particular, makes effective use of a number of books of Hearn provenance now in the Baillieu Library of the University of Melbourne and elsewhere to support his well-founded thesis that Plutology is less original than was sometimes claimed.
20 J. A. La Nauze, Political Economy in Australia. Historical Studies (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1949), ch. III : ‘Hearn and Economic Optimism’, pp. 45–97. Sir Douglas Copland's W. E. Hearn: First Australian Economist(Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1935) gives much less attention to the sources of Plutology.
The discovery of Hearn's copies of Richard Jones’ Literary Remains (London, John Murray, 1859), of Mountifort Longfield's Lectures on Political Economy (Dublin, Richard Milliken & Son, 1834) and of C. R. Prinsep's translation of Jean-Baptiste Say's fourth edition under the title A Treatise on Political Economy (London, Longman, 1821) can have been little more than an exercise in serendipity aided by the fact that all three were in the same section of the University of Melbourne Library. The likelihood of such chance encounters is lessened year by year as book repairers do their worst and obliterate marks of provenance in the process of rebinding, a fate already suffered by Say's Treatise with consequent loss of the Hearn bookplate still preserved in the other two. A similar accident has befallen a copy of The Melbourne Monthly Magazine of Original Colonial Literature of 1855 proudly alleged by the card catalogue of the La Trobe Library to bear Hearn's bookplate. The remaining pencil markings could easily be passed over unremarked, yet the attribution of several articles in this early journal to ‘W.E.H.’ is clearly not without significance.
21 This copy is shelved at sLt 052.94/M 48 M. A second copy held by the La Trobe Library (∗ Lt 052.94/M 48 M) was originally presented to Sir Redmond Barry.
In his account of Hearn's inadequately acknowledged borrowings La Nauze relies for the most part on internal evidence despite his recourse to surviving fragments of the nineteenth century writer's library and to an annotated copy of Plutology itself. Hence the discovery
22 In the State Library of Victoria.
of a copy of the sale catalogue of Hearn's personal collection offers the opportunity to confirm and to extend the analysis of the reading that lay behind Plutology, The Cassell Prize Essay on the Condition of Ireland (London & Dublin, 1851),The Government of England, its Structure and its Development (Melbourne, George Robertson, 1867), The Aryan Household,
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its Structure and its Development: an Introduction to Comparative Jurisprudence
(Melbourne, George Robertson, 1878), The Theory of Legal Duties and Rights: an Introduction to Analytical Jurisprudence (Melbourne, John Ferres, Government Printer, 1883), the early unpublished manuscript ‘On Natural Religion’
23 See J. A. La Nauze, ‘Hearn on Natural Religion: an Unpublished Manuscript’, Historical Studies, Australia and New Zealand, vol. 12, no. 45 October 1965, pp. 119–22, and the photocopy of Hearn's essay in the Baillieu Library.
and the various pamphlets that were provoked by the controversies and commemorative occasions of an academic and political career.
24 See the bibliography of Hearn in La Nauze, Political Economy in Australia, pp. 96–7.
It should not be forgotten that Hearn's role as a barrister, University teacher and M.L.C. gave him access at one time or another to all four of Melbourne's major reference and research libraries of the period — the Public Library, the University Library, the Parliament Library and the Supreme Court Library. Consequently it is not necessary to assume that all his reading was done in volumes in his own possession, since the combined resources of these four public or semi-public collections were quite impressive in his lifetime.
Within four months of Hearn's death, and in conformity with the customs of the time, his books and his library furniture (‘book shelves, pigeon holes, &c.’) were offered for public auction on 17 and 18 August 1888:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17,
And
SATURDAY, AUGUST 18.

At Eleven O'Clock.
The VALUABLE
LIBRARY
Of the Late
Dr. HEARN.

To Book-buyers, Librarians, Law Students, Legal Gentlemen, and Others.

  • GEMMELL, TUCKETT, and Co. have received instructions from the executors to SELL by AUCTION, at their rooms, 49 Collins-street west on Friday and Saturday, August 17 and 18, at eleven o'clock each day,
  • The whole of the late Dr. Hearn's magnificent library of books,
  • Comprising Works in Law and jurisprudence, a valuable collection
  • Politics and speeches
  • Linguistic and educationaly History and biography
  • Economics
  • Dictionaries and books of reference
  • Essays and monographs
  • Poetry, Fiction, and Belles Lettres
  • Philosophy and science
  • General literature.
  • Catalogues are now ready.
  • The sale will commence on Friday with Lot 160 on the catalogue, and continue to the end. The works on law and jurisprudence will be sold on Saturday.
  • On view on Thursday.
    No reserve.
    Terms — Cash.
    25Argus,15 August 1888, p. 2f, and, for library furniture, Argus, 18 August 1888, p. 3a.
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In 1888, unlike 1973, there was nothing unusual or spectacular about such an event. Melbourne book-buyers in the late winter of that year had a number of opportunities to bid for books at auction. On 28 July 1888 Gemmell, Tuckett and Company offered a ‘very valuable library of books in every department of literature, the property of a private gentleman’.
26Argus, 28 July 1888, p. 15a.
Although a printed catalogue was stated to be ready, the advertisement mentioned several titles from this essentially literary collection. On 11 August the same firm, long since established as Victoria's principal book auctioneers, put up a ‘consignment of very valuable books, in the various branches of literature, Including Some valuable bound and illustrated works, and rare works, the whole forming one of the grandest collections of books ever offered in Melbourne’.
27Argus, 9 August 1888, p. 2e.
Despite the announcement that a catalogue was available, there followed a long list of separate items. Such consignments of new and secondhand books from overseas, sometimes accompanied by printed catalogues from their place of origin, were not infrequently sold in Australia's colonial capitals. The buying public was placed in some difficulty on 11 August because another firm, Baylee, Shevill and Company, was simultaneously offering ‘To Clergymen, Doctors, Architects, Lawyers, Schoolmasters, the Trade, Librarians, Booksellers, and others’ ‘The whole of the Stock-in-trade of a Melbourne bookseller, Consisting of books of history, theology, poetry, travel, biography, law, medicine, educators, encyclopaedias, works of standard novelists, natural histories, dictionaries, Montescue's, Byron's, Scott's, Lytton's, Goldsmith's, Burns's; account books and ledgers, Kant's Philosophy, Arnold's travelling journals, Lever's works, three superior musical boxes’, and this without the benefit of catalogues.
28Argus, 11 August 1888, p. 15d.
At this distance in time it is very difficult to assess the parts played by the trade and private buyers in these auctions. Did any sort of ‘Ring’ operate, for example? In this connection a brief correspondence in The Argus concerning the Hearn sale is instructive in the glimpse it gives of the confident aspirations of a private buyer. On the second day of the sale was published a letter from ‘DISAPPOINTED’ under the heading ‘THE SALE OF DR. HEARN'S LIBRARY’:
‘Sir, — In common with many other booklovers, I have cause to complain of what appears to me to be a breach of faith with the public in connection with the above sale. Knowing that the late lamented Dr. Hearn was possessed of a fine library, I went to Messrs. Gemmell, Tuckett, and Co.'s about 10 o'clock this morning (an hour before the sale commenced), and procured a catalogue of the books to be sold. I went through the lots with it, and seeing that all the books which I desired to purchase were ticketed and arranged for sale I took the trouble to mark my maximum price on the catalogue, and as I was unable to attend the sale myself employed someone to bid for me. Judge of my surprise and disappointment on learning subsequently that half the books which I had marked were removed from the table (this must have been between 10 and 11 o'clock), and either sold privately to some favoured individuals or not submitted for sale at all. The books thus disposed of were some of the rarest and most valuable in the collection. I think, Sir, you will agree with me that it is a mere sham to allow a number of valuable books to remain on the catalogue up to the time of sale, and actually display them on the table to intending buyers up to the very last moment (thus enticing people to come to the sale and waste their time), and then withdraw them and dispose of the library literally with the “eyes picked out”.’
29Argus, 18 August 1888, p. 13c.
Three days later appeared a reply from Madden and Butler, the executors’ solicitors:
‘Sir, — In reply to the letter signed “Disappointed”, which appeared in your issue of Saturday, we are instructed by Dr. Hearn's executors to say that, while they regret that any books which appeared in the catalogue should have been withdrawn from sale, still the withdrawal complained of was strictly in accordance with the testator's directions, and that all the books withheld from sale remain in the possession of his family.’
30Argus, 21 August 1888, p. 8g.
A large lot of Hearn's books is not now known to be in the possession of his descendants,
31 Information supplied by Hearn's great-grand-daughter, Mrs. Janet Horn.
so one can only conjecture that a further dispersal took place at a later date. The surviving copy of the catalogue is not annotated or priced, hence it seems impossible to determine what was in fact sold on 17 and 18 August 1888.
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Although a description of one known copy provides an unsatisfactory basis for bibliographical work, some features of the catalogue should be recorded. If there were wrappers, they have not been preserved. The title-page may be transcribed as follows:
[within double rules] [Gemmell, Tuckett & Co. monogram] | FRIDAY & SATURDAY, AUGUST 17 & 18, | AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK. | [wavy rule] | CATALOGUE | OF THE | Library of the late Dr. Hearn, M.L.C. | COMPRISING | VALUABLE WORKS ON LAW & JURISPRUDENCE | and GENERAL LITERATURE. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION BY | double rule] | GEMMELL, TUCKETT & CO. | [double rule] | At their Rooms, 49 Collins Street West, on above dates, | [short rule] | The Sale will commence on FRIDAY with LOT 160 on | the Catalogue, and continue to the end. The Works on | LAW and JURISPRUDENCE will be sold on SATURDAY. | [short rule] | THE BOOKS WILL BE ON VIEW O THURSDAY. | [below frame] McCarron, Bird and Co., Printers and Lithographers, 112 Collins-street West.
32 The letter N is missing from O[N] in the last line of letterpress within the frame.
There are no signatures and the pages collate [3] 4–26 [2]. The verso of the title and the last two pages are blank. The Melbourne Public Library stamp that has been liberally applied to this pamphlet is dated 21 September 1888.
Some variation from the subject headings listed in The Argus can be observed in the catalogue itself, whose contents encompass ‘Law and Jurisprudence’ (pp. [3] — 9, lots 1 — 159A), ‘History and Biography’ (pp. 9–13, lots 160–264B), ‘Philology and Education’ (pp. 14–5, lots 265–87), ‘Poetry and Fiction’ (pp. 15–6, lots 288–317), ‘Science and Philosophy’ (pp. 17–8, lots 318–41C), ‘Dictionaries’ (p. 19, lots 342–5B), ‘Economic’ (pp. 19–20, lots 346–78), ‘Speeches and Politics’ (p. 21–2, lots 380–413), ‘Works Relating to Australia’ (p. 23, lots 414–34) and ‘General Literature’ (pp. 24–6, lots 435–92). All told there are 559 lots. Despite the last lot being numbered 492 there are 74 lots indicated as extras in the style 216A or 218A, 218B, 218C and so forth. From the grand total reached by simple addition of these supplementary items must then be subtracted the seven numbers (173, 195, 261, 296, 298, 360, 379) that are not allocated to any lot. Many lots contain more than one title, or multi-volume sets, with the result that the library is much more extensive than appears at first sight. Notwithstanding the volume count the auctioneer has provided in the right-hand column alongside each item, one can give at best an approximation of the total number of volumes listed, because of the inclusion of bundles of pamphlets and journal parts. Faced with lots like nos 373 ‘Pamphlets, bound, 10 vols’ and 434 ‘Pamphlets, &c.’ one is disinclined to attempt any precise tally of the titles represented in the catalogue. At 2269 or so volumes, bundles and parts Hearn's library is modest indeed by the bibliophilic standards of the time, a fact recognized by the relative sobriety of the auctioneer's puff in the newspaper advertisement. That consideration is also evident in the perfunctory nature of the cataloguing itself. So many details, in particular of imprints and dates of publication, are lacking, that identification of editions is extremely arduous. Yet it is clear the effort would have been superfluous for most prospective buyers, interested in the contents of Hearn's books rather than in their bindings or their rarity. That Gemmell, Tuckett and Company were capable of more accurate descriptions is amply demonstrated by the joint catalogue of the William Cornell and E. J. Schollick sales of 22 and 23 October 1885.
33Catalogue of the superb and unique library of the late William Cornell, Esq….At the same time will be sold the magnificent library of E. J. Schollick, Esq….(Melbourne, 1885). Copy in the State Library of Victoria.
Closer inspection of the contents of the Hearn catalogue makes it quite obvious that this library was accumulated for the scholarly pursuits of its owner and not for investment or to indulge some bibliomaniac passion. The various subdivisions correspond to the professor's known interests or to his teaching and research preoccupations. It is, therefore, reasonable to look at the various subject groupings with particular attention to those that provided a basis for Hearn's own publications.
The section of ‘Works Relating to Australia’ is perhaps exceptional in that it seems to belong to a bookseller's category rather than to one consciously formulated by Hearn himself. A comprehensive history of the growth of Australiana collecting in the nineteenth century has still to be written and to be brought into relation with the emergent national feeling of the decades before Federation, but this catalogue gives little evidence of interest channelled
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deliberately in that direction. Australian works occur in their natural and expected places in other sections — Kendall's Leaves from Australian Forests in ‘Poetry and Fiction’ (lot 300), Bishop Perry's University Sermons and Bishop Moorhouse's The Expectation of Christ among the few theological books under ‘General Literature’ (lot 454), material concerning the various colonies, especially Victoria, in ‘Law and Jurisprudence’ (lots 141A to 159A). Much that is listed in ‘Works Relating to Australia’ was derived from Hearn's professional activity, for example lots 420 ‘Melbourne; University Calendar from 1857 to 1885–6’, 421 ‘Proceedings of the University of Melbourne; Minutes of the University Council 1860’ and 422 ‘Melbourne Examination Papers for 1882–5, 3 [=3 volumes]; Trinity College Calendar for 1885; New Zealand University Calendar’.The collector's official functions would have brought him the printed catalogues of the Public Library (lot 423) and the Parliament Library (lot 424), probably even the ‘Official Record of the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880’ (lot 430). It is not altogether fanciful to suppose that some of the classic works of the period in the catalogue reached Hearn as presentation copies — J.E.T. Woods’ History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia (lot 414), G. W. Rusden's History of Australia (lot 415), McCombie's History of the Colony of Victoria (lot 417), E.M. Curr's The Australian Race (lot 418), Brough Smyth's The Aborigines of Victoria (lot 428). The same is possibly true of lot 432 ‘Speeches by Sir Henry Parkes and Sir J. Robertson’. Lot 433A ‘Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, 6 [volumes]; Robertson's Book Circulars, 3 [volumes]’ attests both a certain concern for local learned societies and a source of supply matched under ‘General Literature’ by lot 446 ‘Bernard Quaritch's Catalogues of Books’. Hearn seems to have kept, but not always to have bound, some Australian periodicals — lots 429 (including the Melbourne Monthly Magazine of 1855, presumably the copy now in the La Trobe Library), 429A and 431 ‘The Australasian from 1869 to 1882, 28 vols.’. All in all this part of the collection shows a man vigorously and variously involved in the Victorian public life of the time but not specially curious about Australia's discovery and early colonization. Only lot 434 ‘Pamphlets, &c.’ promises unexpected treasures, but it does not disturb the general pattern.
In commenting on Hearn's fondness for poetry Alexander Sutherland noted:
Students of years gone by not seldom drank in their first desire for Wordsworth or Spenser while listening to his occasional samples that whetted the appetite for more. Sir Walter Scott, strange to say, was a prime favourite, and the professor whose tastes made him a devoted student of our profounder poets was catholic enough in sentiment to feel an extreme delight in the simpler, but not less artistic, work of the author of “Marmion”.’
34Argus, 28 April 1888, p. 5 b-c.
The three writers cited appear in the catalogue — lot 288 ‘Wordsworth's Poems’, lot 289 ‘Sir Walter Scott's Poems, 5 [volumes]; Prose, 2 (vols. 3 and 5)’ and lot 291 ‘Spenser's Works. Collier's edition’. For the rest Hearn's taste seems unadventurous enough. Thomas Moore, Milton, Cowper, Thomson, Southey, Pope, Goldsmith, Shakespeare, Byron, W.S. Landor, Coleridge, Butler's Hudibras, these are some of the standard values represented in ‘Poetry and Fiction’. Some items are more unusual in a section that is far from extensive. Presentation probably explains the inclusion of Douglas Sladen's A Summer Christmas and In Cornwall and Across the Sea (lot 300), but more nearly contemporary English poetry is rather eccentrically defended by Swinburne's Poems (lot 310) and lot 294 ‘Alex. Smith's poems; Gerald Massey's Ballad of Babe Christabel; F. Tennyson's Days and Hours; Praed's Poems, 2 [volumes]’. The scholar's concerns are displayed in secondary works like Gladstone's Homer and the Homeric Age (lot 308) and Taylor's Survey of German Poetry (lot 306). Fiction plays an even more modest part as one might expect from a nineteenth century prototype of ‘high seriousness’. Six lots (312 to 317) suffice to list Scott, Dickens (Hard Times only), Thackeray, Fielding, Lytton, Disraeli and George Eliot. Marcus Clarke's Long Odds and Martineau's Deerbrooke (lot 313) intrude upon this cosy little collection of minor and major classics. If Hearn ever read frivolously it is not apparent here.
His interest in foreign literature does not seem particularly strong and mostly satisfied by historical accounts rather than by the texts themselves. However, ‘Poetry and Fiction’ does include ‘Tasso’ (lot 310A), ‘Dante's Divina Commedia, Cary's Translation’ (lot 299),
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‘Plays from Moliere’ (lot 310) and ‘Schiller's William Tell (with interlinear translation)’. Lot 487 in ‘General Literature’ contains a rather imprecisely identified two volume set of ‘Ecrivains Francois’. Hearn probably preferred to read the periodicals from Britain he subscribed to over the years — the Saturday Review, The Spectator, The Westminster Review, The National Review, the Edinburgh Review and even the Illustrated London News (lots 469 to 474).
Apart from lot 309 ‘J.F. Boyes’ Illustrations of AEschylus and Sophocles; Mitchell's Comedies of Aristophanes’ in ‘Poetry and Fiction’ Hearn's classical books are included in the section ‘Philology and Education’. They compete there with British university calendars (lot 287), works on English grammar (lots 266 to 270, 286), on French (lot 282) and with essays and reports on educational subjects. Alongside Herbert Spencer, Arnold, Whewell and other English writers, one finds ‘Siljestrom's Educational Institutions of the United States; Reports on Education and Emigration in Canada, 3 [volumes]; Manual of New York Board of Education’ (lot 284), an indication of that attentiveness to North American experiences that Hearn displayed in the open letter he wrote jointly in 1855 with W.P. Wilson to the Chancellor of the University of Melbourne On the Proposed Course for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in the University of Melbourne.
35 Printed at the Argus Office. Copy in State Library of Victoria. Cf. p. 7: reference to the University of Virginia and Brown University. The source quoted is Johnston's Notes on North America — lot 404 in the ‘Speeches and Politics’ section.
Could it be that the opposition expressed then to making the Classics and Mathematics compulsory B.A. subjects is reflected in the extraordinarily thin selection of Greek and Latin literature in the sale catalogue of this onetime Professor of Greek? Or was some part of his library dispersed earlier? The existence of a two volume edition of Bacon's Works that was given to Hearn as a prize at Trinity College, Dublin in Michaelmas Term 1845 and that did not appear in the 1888 sale justifies some caution on this point.
36 Copy formerly in the library of Scotch College, Melbourne, now in the possession of Mr. K. A. R. Horn. Hearn's catalogue lists — a late acquisition? — the standard edition by Ellis and Spedding in 14 volumes published from 1857 to 1874 (lot 333), an appropriate replacement for the prize Works of Lord Bacon (London, William Ball, 1837) that carries on the title-page of its first volume the pencilled inscription ‘William E. Hearn / 28 College / February 1846’.
A disposal catalogue cannot tell us at what period a man acquired his books, although the proportions of old and recent publications can be quite instructive. More accurate information about evolving and changing interests may be derived from the books themselves, provided they are in known locations and are annotated for the date or year of purchase. Since most of the books catalogued in 1888 have been scattered into many public and private collections, the task is quite a formidable one. Working with the 1888 list alone, and remembering the dearth of classical books in it, one is tempted to see Hearn concentrating his book-buying in research fields of immediate concern and neglecting to keep up with subjects he had abandoned except, perhaps, for routine teaching. As he turned his study and writing and even his public activity to legal questions, notably in their historical aspect, so, it seems, did the strengths of his collection grow in this direction. Thus, leaving aside temporary aberrations, youthful enthusiasms, passing fancies, private pastimes and unsuspected convictions — for how else is one to interpret such items as ‘Staunton's Chess Players’ Handbook’ (lot 333C), ‘Combe's Elements of Phrenology’ (lot 340), ‘Piesse's The Art of Perfumery’ (lot 341A), ‘Henderson's Homoeopathy Fairly Represented’ (lot 341B), ‘volume of Pamphlets, by Combe, &c.’ (lot 341C), ‘Noble's Appeal on Behalf of the New Church’ (lot 477), ‘Alcock on Billiards’ (lot 486) and ‘Cattle. Their Breeds. Management, and Diseases’ (lot 492)? — it is a progress from the condition of Ireland through political economy to constitutional history, comparative jurisprudence and legal reform that can be analysed in the pages of the Hearn catalogue, and not least in the relative size of its main divisions.
Because Ireland does not rate a section to itself, works dealing with the issues Hearn discussed in the Cassell prize essay of 1851 are found in various places in his library. Many of the titles he quoted in that early literary venture do not appear among his own books in 1888, but, since he clearly emigrated to Australia with at least part of the collection he then possessed, it would be rash to go beyond the conjecture that he made good use of Dublin or even Galway institutions. Indeed there is only a partial overlap between the books listed in 1888 and the acknowledged sources of the 1851 essay. ‘Richey's The Land Laws of Ireland’ (lot 11), a small group of historians of Ireland including Plowden, Leland. Sir John Davies and Bagwell (lots 211 to 214), some volumes of the Transactions and Journal of the Dublin Statistical Society (lot
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370), ‘Nicholl's Three Reports on the Poor Laws in Ireland; Kane's The Industrial Resources of Ireland; The Commercial Restraints of Ireland Considered; Transactions of the Society of. Friends during the Famine in Ireland’ (lot 371), ‘Philosophical Survey of the State of Ireland; J. Pim's Conditions and Prospects of Ireland; Ireland in 1800; Shaw Lefevre's English and Irish Land Question; Campbell, The Irish Land Question’ (lot 400), ‘Dufferin on Irish Emigration; Montgomery Martin on the Union of Great Britain and Ireland; Lecky's Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland’ (lot 401) and ‘N.W. Senior's Journals Relative to Ireland’ (lot 479), this was the modest sum — or residue? — of his Irish documentation.
Much the same discrepancies exist between the 1888 catalogue and the philosophers and theologians quoted in the unpublished ‘On Natural Religion’. that other product of Hearn's Irish professorship. Kant, for example, provides a quotation to head chapter IV of the manuscript (p. 95), but his name is entirely absent from the ‘Science and Philosophy’ section of the library. Joseph Butler's The Analogy of Religion is drawn on more than once (e.g. pp. 1, 67) —not always with meticulous accuracy
37 At least if the extracts are compared with the first edition of The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature (London, Knapton, 1736), pp. vi, 134.
— yet the only work of the Bishop of Durham listed in 1888 is Fifteen Sermons (lot 454), one of a very small group of theological books including, predictably, Paley's Natural Theology (lot 457). On the other hand, Samuel Clarke, who appears at one remove (pp. 8 sqq.), is represented by ‘Discourse in Answer to Hobbes, Spinoza, &c…. 1711’ (lot 340). For the most part Hearn's taste in philosophy is, on the evidence of his library, without surprises. The English (and Scottish) eighteenth and nineteenth centuries dominate in the persons of Sir William Hamilton, Bain, Whewell, J. S. Mill, Dugald Stewart, Bentham, Hume and Herbert Spencer. Comte (lot 325) and Victor Cousin (lot 333H) are rather lonely champions of Continental philosophy, while a group of titles by Isaac Taylor (lots 333A and 333B) and Scaliger's De Subtilitate (lot 340) are somewhat inexplicable eccentricities.
The interest in science shown in Plutology and in ‘On Natural Religion’ is rather haphazardly reflected in the catalogue at a mostly popular level. Darwin's Origin of Species which is cited in Plutology (e.g. p. 389), is not listed and poses, once again, the problem of Hearn's reading outside his own private library. This example is deceptive, because there is a high correlation between the works adduced as authorities in Plutology and the contents of the 1888 sale catalogue. Whether it be Hearn's references to Samuel Smiles’ Lives of the Engineers (lot 259), to Olmsted's Journeys in the Cotton Kingdom (lot 462) or to Haxthausen's Russian Empire (lot 464), it is hard to avoid the impression that Plutology's breadth is not based on encyclopaedic knowledge but rather on the accidents of the Melbourne professor's book-buying. As far as the ‘Economic’ section itself is concerned, it confirms La Nauze's analysis of Hearn's partially avowed borrowings from earlier authors. Courcelle-Seneuil (lot 357), Scrope (lot 352), Rae (lot 351), Senior (Lot 349) and Bastiat (lots 346, 353 and 354) are a few of the sources Hearn had in his study in 1888 and no doubt in 1863. The demonstration need not be pursued in detail, but if it were it would show how the intuitions and hypotheses of internal criticism can be reinforced by records of book ownership. La Nauze allows at one point that Hearn may have reached a conclusion independently of Comte, yet lot 325 ‘Comte's Positive Philosophy, by Martineau’ renders his charity superfluous
38 Cf. La Nauze, Political Economy in Australia, p. 81.
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The pattern established for Plutology seems to have been continued for Hearn's later legal works. ‘Law and Jurisprudence’ and ‘History and Biography’, which between them make up more than half the 1888 sale, furnished the basis for his research. Even the German references in The Aryan Household were derived from books Hearn owned, for example Grimm's Deutsche Rechtsalterthiimer (lot 487) and G. L. von Maurer's Einleitung zur Geschichte der Mark-, Dorf- und Stadtverfassung und der offentlichen Gewalt (lot 124A). His resources in the history of law were such that the frequent citations in The Aryan Household from P. Canciani's Barbarorum leges antiquae did not have to be be based on the Public Library set of this once standard work
39 Paolo Canciani, Barbarorum leges antiquae … (Venice, S. Coleti & F. Pitteri, 1781–1792, 5 volumes). The Public Library set was bought from Frederik Muller of Amsterdam in 1877. Hearn's was lot 119 in the sale catalogue. Another set was lot 1714 in Catalogue of the Library of the late Hon. James [sic] Macgregor … (Melbourne, 1884).
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Notwithstanding the easy access Hearn enjoyed to Melbourne's major libraries, he seems to have preferred to rely on his personal collection. In this he was true to an old scholarly tradition established when public libraries were virtually unknown. Some of the drawbacks of
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the method are apparent in Hearn's published work as in that of many of his contemporaries. It is easy from the vantage point of a more academically professional and bibliographically sophisticated age to look down on the rather leisurely amateurism of Hearn's time when many disciplines were just beginning to enter university curricula and to find their modern methodologies. We should not forget that Hearn and the more enlightened of his fellows in Australia's nineteenth century faculties were pioneers in educational developments that occasionally dared to precede rather than follow Oxford and Cambridge. This necessary task was often performed with the habits and prejudices of an earlier generation. Hearn's style of scholarship — so accurately mirrored in the books he bought as well as in the ones he wrote — has long since become obsolete. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to contemplate the disinterestedness of a man, of a group of men that did not seek in supporting the Melbourne Public Library to evade the responsibilities of the educated to maintain adequate private collections. Although our needs and requirements can no longer be satisfied by that kind of self-sufficiency, we ought to bear in mind the discreet lesson of noblesse oblige that Hearn's example holds for the modern academic and researcher.
WALLACE KIRSOP
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