State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 37 Autumn 1986

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A Theatrical Library in Nineteenth-Century Melbourne and Its Dispersal: Solving a Puzzle

In 1982 the State Library of Victoria bought from the estate of the late Walter Stone two documents that had obvious claims to a place in the Australian Manuscripts Collection of the La Trobe Library.1 The Sydney bookman had acquired them together in the 1970s from a Melbourne source, and, quite properly, they remain linked under the one call number in their new and permanent home.2 It will astonish no one to learn that the most generous and communicative of post-war Australian collectors had already made his find known and available to at least one researcher.3 Thus some readers have heard before of the Catalogue of the theatrical library of a gentleman retiring from the profession. Consisting of 700 volumes of choice, rare, and valuable works, the whole forming a collection which is perfectly unique, which will be sold by public auction by Mr. Stubbs at the rooms, 81, Collins Street West, on Saturday, July 21, 1866. Sale to commence at twelve o'clock (Wilson and Mackinnon, printers, Collins Street East) and of the register in which the “gentleman” inscribed bibliographical particulars of his purchases, including their provenance and price. It is the object of the present short article to describe both the sale catalogue and the manuscript repertory, to give some details of their contents, to assess their significance, to indicate the whereabouts of several of the items listed and to identify the original Melbourne owner.
The printed auction list forms one sixteen-page gathering that collates: pp. [5] 6 — 15 [l]. The catalogue itself occupies pages [5] — 15, while pages [2], [4] and [16] are blank, the first of this latter group containing in manuscript a summary of the prices realized and an account — dated 26 July 1866 — of the auctioneer's expenses. Prices are noted in manuscript alongside each item on pages [5] — 15. Page [1] is the title-page and page [3] offers the customary puffing preface:

Siste, Lector!

MR. STUBBS feels honoured by having been selected by the owner of this remarkable Collection of Books, to submit them to public competition. Such an assemblage of works, gathered together in every capital of Europe, has never before been brought to the hammer in Australia, and its dispersion will be viewed by many with regret. To Dramatic Authors, Actors, Critics, Theatrical Managers, Librarians of Public Institutions, and Book Collectors generally, he presents this Catalogue with the confident assurance that they will appreciate the judgment and research displayed in the choice of the works, and the opportunity presented to buyers of securing books of such a class as it exclusively comprises.
MR. STUBBS will be happy to execute commissions from Gentlemen unable to attend the Sale personally; and has only to add that the greater portion of the Library under offer is elegantly and substantially bound. It will be on view two days before the Sale.
The total realization of £106/15/6, less £10/13/ — commission and £8/4/6 for “Advertising, labour, …c.”, giving £87/18/- net, underscores Stubbs’ prudence in making no exaggerated statements about the monetary value of the collection.4
Physically the register is a standard article of nineteenth-century stationery manufactured by Letts, Son & Steer of London, whose ticket, as well as that of H.T. Dwight of Melbourne, is to be found inside the upper board. Although the Letts ticket bears the manuscript note “S 913 1/1/56 19 Shts Royal 8°. Cloth”, there are in fact only 128 leaves, i.e., 16 sheets, of the specially ruled and printed paper. As the gold lettering on the maroon patterned cloth of the spine indicates, this is a “LIBRARY CATALOGUE” with columns (spread across two-page openings) for “Shelf or Mark”, “Author, Editor, or Translator”, “Title… Edition”, “Vols”, “Size”, “Date”, “Place and Publisher”, “Cost” and “Remarks… When and to whom lent, …c.”. Some, but not all, of the openings were numbered in the top right-hand corner of each recto (so that “1” appears on folio 2 recto, and so forth) by the first owner. Many other openings remain otherwise blank, so that a total of 32 openings effectively contain entries for one or more titles. Three leaves (corresponding to openings 32, 33 and 34) have been excised and are present only as stubs. However, this must have been done at an early stage since there is no gap in the text or in the running total of the cost of the theatrical part of the library as computed by the “gentleman”. An index on a preliminary leaf states that “Poetry” starts at opening 33. The practical
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result of the cancellation is that there is no distinction made between poetry and works on the drama.
As the last merely material remark suggests, the range of the manuscript register is considerably wider than that of the sale catalogue. The various divisions of the former are “Belles lettres, serials, & miscellanies” (openings 1 to 6), “Dramatic Works” (openings 24 to 26), “Dramatic history and biography” (including some poetry) (openings 27 to 43), “Works of Fiction” (openings 46 and 47), “French literature” (openings 60 and 61), “Italian Literature” (openings 68 and 70), “Spanish Literature” (opening 72), “Illustrated Works” (opening 74) and “Politics, Social Science, & Jurisprudence” (opening 82 — one title: Thomas Hart Benson, Thirty years’ view, or a History of the working of the American government for thirty years, […], New York, Appleton, 1854–1856, 2 vols 8°). On the other hand, the categories of the auction all fall within the broad scope of works on the theatre: “History of the Stage” (pp. [5] — 6, items 1–41), “History of the Drama” (pp. 6–7, items 42–59), “Stage Biographies” (pp. 7–10, items 60–125), “Music and the Opera” (pp. 10–11, items 126–151, with extra numbers 125*, 145* and 151*), “Dramatic Works” (pp. 11–13, items 152–204, with supplementary numbers 204* and 204**), “Dramatic Art and Criticism” (p. 13, items 205–225), “Polemics of the Drama” (p. 14, items 226–237), “Poems and Satires on the Drama” (p. 14, items 238–242) and “Miscellaneous Works More or Less Relating to the Stage” (p. 15, items 243–264). Below item 264 is the manuscript addition “19 odd vols.”, the only mixed lot in the sale. In a general way it is clear that the auction was based on a selection from the works in the manuscript catalogue.
Leaving aside the unspecified volumes added at the end, the 269 lots represent at least as many titles and — after a couple of manuscript corrections — some 732 volumes. Closer inspection of the entries in the various sections does not demolish the claims made by Stubbs. The “judgment and research” attributed to the anonymous collector are indeed evident in what was offered to a specialist public. Most of the titles listed are those of works published in the nineteenth century, not infrequently in the 1860s, but the historical dimension of the subject is far from being ignored. Some 19 of the works included were printed in the seventeenth century, and 55 others belong to the eighteenth. While English is the dominant language, there are no fewer than 104 items in French as well as 8 in Italian and one in German (Adolph Friedrich von Schak, Geschichte der dramatischen Literatur und Kunst in Spanien, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1845–6, 3 vols). The “gentleman” confined his interests largely to the Renaissance and later periods, but here he ranged widely over the history of staging, the lives of actors and actresses and dramatic texts. Lytton, Robert Browning, Scribe and Ponsard are there as well as Corneille, Molière, Racine, Goldoni, Alfieri, Garrick, Webster, Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Samuel Foote and Congreve. Shakespeare is not absent, but there is no spectacular insistence on Shakespearian literature. The modest size of the collection — however unique it may or may not have been in colonial Melbourne — forbids any pretence to exhaustiveness. However, there are themes and aspects that apparently held the collector's attenion. The polemic around Jeremy Collier's Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage of 1698 is an obvious example of this tendency (contemporary printings in items 228, 229, 230, 231 and 232). Another is a marked predilection for association copies (“60 Davies's (Thos.) Memoirs of Garrick. Davies's own copy, interleaved for notes 2 vols. 8 vo. London, 1781”) or for ephemera connected to actors (e.g., “249 Dodd (the Actor), Priced Catalogue of his Library. 8 vo. London, 1787”). All in all one is impressed both by the owner's sense of theatrical tradition and by his awareness of newly fashionable authors like Stendhal, two of whose non-fiction works, the Vie de Rossini and Rome, Naples et Florence, are present (lots 136 and 263) in the Michel Lévy edition of 1854, thus providing another footnote for a study of the Australian “reception” of a long-neglected corpus.5
If one moves outside the central sections of the manuscript register devoted to the theatre, one continues to find the cosmopolitan taste so markedly characteristic of the anonymous collector. “Belles lettres, serials, & miscellanies” is essentially British (e.g., The Examiner from 1811 to 1858, London Punch from 1841, Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia, the Works of Carlyle, Landor, Swift, Sydney Smith, Burke and Goldsmith) and American (Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, Wiley and Putnam's Library of Choice Reading “56 vols in 28” and Oliver Wendell Holmes), but some foreign authors (Sismondi, Schlegel, Goethe) are represented in English translation as well as a set — of unspecified extent — of the Revue des Deux Mondes. Even in “Works of Fiction” Cervantes’ Don Quixote is found alongside Scott, Lytton, Smollett, Fielding, Sterne, Jane Austen, Fanny Burney and Thackeray. The division on “French literature” has a few classics (Voltaire,
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Rousseau, Montesquieu, La Bruyère, La Rochefoucauld) in the midst of contemporary authors such as Philarète Chasles, Théophile Gautier, Victor Cousin, Alphonse Karr, Lamartine and Michelet. Similar remarks could be made about “Italian Literature”, where Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch sit cheek by jowl with Manzoni, Silvio Pellico and Ugo Foscolo, and also about the modest list of “Spanish Literature”, which mixes Cervantes, Maria de Zayas, Espronceda and, more recklessly, Lesage's Gil Blas. However, it is only in the category “Illustrated Works” that the Australian colonies make their appearance in the shape of two copies of Victoria Illustrated. The literary culture of the owner is — quite predictably for the period — a transplant from the Northern Hemisphere.6
The theatrical omnium gatherum of openings 24 to 43 of the register reinforces the modern reader's sense of the “gentleman” as a scholar and connoisseur of Western drama in its texts and in its performances. It was from this part of the manuscript record that the matter for the auction was drawn, but the overlap is not complete, as a running total of volumes (“787” at the top of opening 43) indicates. Among the omissions from the sale was an item described as “Collection of Autograph letters of actors, portraits and advertisements” (3 volumes, opening 41). However, it is also apparent that the dramatic section served its owner as an index and as a reference tool of sorts. Some entries are duplicates of inclusions in other parts of the register. For example, Alphonse Karr's Les Guěpes (Paris, M. Lévy, 1859, 6 volumes) appears at opening 61 and also at opening 36 with the note “Dramatic criticisms and anecdotes”. Likewise Stendhal's Rome, Naples et Florence (Paris, M. Lévy, 1854) appears twice (openings 36 and 60), but without special annotations on its relevance to the theatre. Several titles are nonetheless accompanied by such references, which include indications of provenance. Thus lot 218 of the catalogue “Monthly Mirror (The). 25 vols. 8 vo. London, 1785–1808” is further characterized on opening 41 of the register as “Charles Mathews’ copy”. The owner had, of course, Mrs Mathews’ Memoirs of Charles Mathews (London, Routledge, 1860, 8° — opening 27 and lot 63) to complement this memento of the actor, one of many from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries documented in his collection.
Beyond their value as testimonies to the living links between Melbourne theatre in the 1860s and the great traditions of the European stage, the auction catalogue and more especially the manuscript register are a significant source of information on the movement of books in the colonies after the Gold Rush years. The anonymous collector habitually noted where he had acquired most of his possessions. Not all of these were bought locally, it is true, but, overall, notes such as “Bought in Florence” (opening 70), “Bought in Milan” (opening 70), “S.h. at different times in London” (opening 3) and S.h. of W. & S. [= Willis & Sotheran]” (opening 41) are quite exceptional. Markedly more common are indications of purchases overseas through Melbourne agents, as in “From London s.h. through Mullen” (openings 24 and 27), “S.h. through Baillière” (openings 36 and 37), “S.h. from Kelly, Dublin, through Mullen” (opening 36) and “Willis & Sotheran through Dwight” (opening 37). Apart from two items (openings 38 and 39) signalled as “S.h. at Hobart Town” the other Australian colonies are absent from the record. Four Melbourne booksellers, Mullen, Dwight, Baillière and Bennett, seem to have shared the owner's custom, but he must also have taken advantage of a number of auction sales held between 1855 and 1866. Unfortunately, the fact that, with the exception of the 1860s, we have no systematic study of catalogues and advertisements after the 1840s7 makes it difficult to identify and date the dispersals concerned which preceded 1861. However, some at least of the names mentioned are recognizable: “S.h. Dr Mackay's sale” (opening 1; = George Mackay, LL.D., M.L.A.?), “S.h. at Professor Rowe's sale” (opening 2; = Henry Erskine Rowe, the University of Melbourne's first Professor of Classics, who died in February 1855 before teaching began); “Bought at Capt.” Pasley's sale” (opening 24; = Charles Pasley, cf. ADB, 5, pp. 409–11), “At Watts Sale” (opening 25; = H.E. Watts, editor of The Argus; sale on 4 September 1863), “Maurice's sale [through Dwight]” (opening 16; = S. Maurice sale of 20 January 1865?), “[S.h.] Edwards’ sale” (opening 39; = H. Edwards sale of 9 February 1865). Frequently, too, a laconic “S.h. at auction” provides an invitation to detective work on the auction advertisement columns of The Argus and on surviving printed sale catalogues in order to trace the provenance of specific titles.
Other sources of supply are acknowledged in the register. Some books were gifts, for example both copies of Victoria Illustrated (opening 74): “Present from W.L.K. (= William Lancelot Kelly, proprietor of Melbourne Punch, April 1863-July 1866?) and “do from publisher”. In this category the name most often recorded is that of W.F. Tiffin (openings
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42, 43), essentially for an itemized collection of nineteenth-century French vaudevilles that appeared in the auction catalogue as n° 200 “French Vaudevilles. 25 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1820” (p. 12). The run of The Examiner (opening 1) was “Part of a consignment from Lumley to Symons & Perry”, in other words bought at one of the many sales organized throughout the English-speaking world from the 1840s to the 1870s by the enterprising London bookseller Edward Lumley.8 The particular item does not occur in the one surviving catalogue of a Lumley sale in Melbourne (1856), but a recently published work on James Graham has revealed the hitherto unsuspected extent of the consigner's Victorian connection.9 Among the further collecting possibilities available to the anonymous owner were to receive review copies (opening 4: R.W. Church, Essays and Reviews, London, no date) and to buy duplicates sold by the Melbourne Public Library (e.g., opening 25: David Garrick, Dramatic Works, London, Millar, 1798, 3 volumes, and opening 31: Nathan Drake, Memorials of Shakespere, London, Colburn, 1828). Direct purchase from a private vendor occurs perhaps in the case of H. Edwards (opening 39: five pounds for a series of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century printings of plays plus three manuscripts: “Isaac Reed Receipts of Drury Lane Theatre 1747–1754”, “Hopkins Diary of Plays performed at Drury Lane 1776–7” and “Memoranda relative to the different theatres”) and certainly in that of William Story, the former Shrewsbury biliophile who brought an extensive library to Melbourne in the 1860s (opening 31: a number of eighteenth-century titles on the theatre).10
Beyond matters of acquisition the register has many details on the cost and style of binding chosen for some volumes (e.g., openings 30 and 46). More important, it reveals that the mysterious collector was also a seller. The six volumes of Alexander Dyce's edition of Shakespeare were “Resold to Mullen”, and against Halliwell's version of the same author appears the note “Imperfect Sold at auction” (opening 24). A number of Boosey opera publications carry the entry “S.h. of Dwight Sold at auction” (opening 25). Manuscript additions to a collection of booksellers’ and sale catalogues originally formed by Robert Castles Miller, H.T. Dwight's assistant, and now in the La Trobe Library.11 make it clear that it was not uncommon in the 1860s for miscellaneous auctions to include lots from various unidentified owners. The purchases listed in the register also suggest that the sale-room was a convenient, if not altogether discreet, place to dispose of American piracies. Most of the Thackeray items (openings 2 and 47) have the New York imprint of Appleton. However, the one striking lesson to be drawn from the “Remarks” column is the resourcefulness of the “gentleman” bibliophile faced with the mobility of books and people so characteristic of Melbourne in the 1850s and 1860s.
Given the general context of the colonial book world it is not astonishing that a retirement, whether or not it resembled Melba's, should be accompanied by some lightening of the burden of material possessions. The only unusual features of the July 1866 sale are the anonymity of the owner — Melbourne and Sydney auctions were not really prone to the coyness of “Property of a Gentleman” — and the thematic coherence of the offering. Even the professional libraries of lawyers and medical men normally contained samples of general literature.12 Dispersal by auction, rather than by direct sale to a secondhand bookseller, seems to have been quite common for libraries included in deceased estates and for collections from owners about to return to Britain. In this respect the advertisements for the “Theatrical Library” addressed “To Librarians of Public Institutions in Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Kilmore, Beechworth, and Other Inland Towns” would not have been particularly striking either in their preliminary form with a blurb lifted from Stubbs’ preface.13 or as they appeared immediately before the auction with a list of titles.14 In the course of 1866 there were some 62 sales composed partially or entirely of books held in the rooms of the various Melbourne auctioneers. For 25 of these, printed catalogues — now almost entirely lost — were issued to prospective buyers. It was not a year when distinguished private collections came on the market, and Sir Charles Darling's effects sold by Greig and Murray on 11 and 14 May included only a few hundred books. On the other hand the same firm organized three substantial trade sales for the wholesaler George Robertson on 10 May, 6 and 7 June and 5 and 6 December (27000, 27000 and 35000 volumes respectively). In Sydney, however, it was a more memorable year, with a total of 75 book auctions, of which 17 gave rise to printed catalogues. Amongst the owners of some intellectual pretensions were William Lithgow (19 April), J.B. Darvall (1 June), and pre-eminently, Daniel Deniehy, whose 5000 volumes went under the hammer in the same month as the much smaller dramatic collection in Melbourne.15 The relative dearth of spectacular temptations for the bibliophile in the latter city's 1866 sales may perhaps
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explain the verifiable interest of buyers on and after 21 July.
The earliest stock books of the then Melbourne Public Library appear not to have survived, and there are many other gaps in the archival records of the day-to-day activities of the institution. Fortunately, some important documents have come down to us, and amongst them are vouchers detailing book purchases by the library from local sources and itemizing binding, repairing, stamping and lettering of volumes added to the collections.16 Of particular interest apropos of the sale of 21 July 1866 are a comprehensive statement from Henry Tolman Dwight for purchases between 5 May and 28 August of that year and John Pownceby's binding accounts of 7 December 1866 and 2 January 1867.17 On 24 July Dwight sold the Public Library a large lot of works on the theatre.18, in total 78 separate titles or items, some of these being nonce collections. Some 263 volumes were involved, and a check of Dwight's list against the sale catalogue and the manuscript register demonstrates that almost all this drama material had been acquired at auction on 21 July. Many of the sale titles reappear in Pownceby's accounts at the end of the year, so that it is possible to ascertain exactly whether the volumes were rebound, repaired or simply stamped and lettered. Since most of the acquisitions of 120 years ago are still discoverable in the State Library of Victoria's various collections, further verifications of provenance can be made, even if the bindings have often fared badly in the annulus of the domed reading room!
Although Dwight's account includes £3/107– for “Commission & Cartage”, it is manifest that he was not simply acting for the Public Library at the sale, but buying for stock. Price comparisons show up interesting movements and by no means a uniform pattern. At the auction (item 127, page 10) “Recueil General des Opera. 16 vols. 16 mo. Paris, 1703–4–5” realized 8 shillings. From the register (opening 26) it appears that the set cost the anonymous collector sixpence less. Dwight asked 18 shillings, and for an operation described as “lettered, Stamped, & Cloth sides” Pownceby charged 16 shillings in addition. Birch's translation of Goethe's Faust (London 1839–1843, although both register — opening 26 — and catalogue — item 182, page 12 — give the former year only) was bought originally for 5 shillings, was knocked down for 3/9 and resold — this time by Margaret Bennett and not by Dwight — on 25 July for £1/2/-. On the other hand, the “gentleman” paid 14/6 for John Gait's Lives of the Players (London, Colburn, 1831, 2 volumes — opening 27), saw it go to 18 shillings at the auction (item 61, p. 7), then, mysteriously, the same edition was sold to the Public Library both by Dwight for 3 shillings and by Margaret Bennett for 6/6. For “Clothsides & stamped” Pownceby charged 4 shillings. The set still in the State Library stacks is noted on its title-pages as being of Bennett provenance. Obviously, having access to precise documentation on acquisitions made in these years of library expansion does not illuminate every reason for the buying and selection policies adopted, but it does allow us to measure the impact of the strong antiquarian trade in Melbourne, in particular in its interaction with the auction market.
The fact that Melbourne Public Library books regularly went out to trade binders, of whom Pownceby was only one, means that the marks of earlier provenance not disfiguring title-pages usually disappeared. Even when the operation was restricted to stamping and lettering, endpapers seem often to have been replaced. Examining volumes derived via Dwight and Margaret Bennett from the sale on 21 July 1866 is therefore a disappointment. Nowhere does the name of the secretive owner appear, and the few pencil annotations in his books do not provide any clues as to his identity. There are some unexpected bonuses, such as Jarvis’ Minor Theatre of 1794 with Sir Charles Nicholson's bookplate in six of the seven volumes (cf. catalogue item 174, p. 12) and the inscriptions that suggest that the French vaudevilles of the 1820s originally came from a source close to the authors and actors of the genre. Again the stamp “Tegg's Library” in William Dunlap's History of the American Theatre (London, Bentley, 1833, 2 volumes — opening 39 and catalogue item 35, p. 6) is consistent with this work's declared Hobart provenance and its having once been part of one of the best known Australian circulating libraries of the first half of the century.19 Nonetheless in all this the “gentleman retiring from the profession” remains as shadowy as ever.
The actor concerned — for who could doubt that this was the calling designated? — had hidden his trail most effectively. Apart from scrutinizing the register, the sale catalogue and the surviving books, it was imperative to look at likely performers on the Melbourne stage.20 Pre-requisites were long residence — at least ten years — in the Australian colonies, with Melbourne as a home base, a settled and reasonably prosperous existence conducive to building up a serious library, a scholarly approach to acting, and the imminence of retirement — genuine or simulated — in the middle of 1866. On the
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last point knowledge that there had been 169 benefit performances in Melbourne in 1866 was a sobering reminder of the dimensions of the problem.21
A number of possibilities were considered at least briefly. William Hoskins, who had come to Australia in 1856 and of whom it was written22 that as “a student and critical reader of Shakespeare, he had certainly no superiors in any part of the world”, was one. Another was Charles Young, described as, with one exception, “the most versatile actor in the colonies”.23 However, the favourite was Joseph Charles Lambert, who had been on the stage for forty years by 1866, who specialized in playing comic old men, who was known as an assiduous student of his craft, who had come to Australia in the mid-1850s and who lived at a number of fixed addresses in Melbourne, chiefly around Fitzroy, throughout the relevant period. Most important, he had taken his farewell of Melbourne and of his profession at a well publicized performance of The School for Scandal on 23 May 1866. That this proved in the event to be a false departure and that he did not finally sail home to retirement at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk until March 1868 seemed relatively insignificant.24
Much of what reliable information we have about Lambert seems to come from James Smith, who was probably the author of the brief introduction to The Lambert Album comprising sixteen character portraits of Mr. J.C. Lambert. Photographed at the Establishment of Batchelder & Co. (late Batchelder & O'Neill), 41 Collins Street East, Melbourne of 1866.25 and who certainly wrote about the actor at various times thereafter, notably in the Australasian in 187926 and in The Cyclopaedia of Victoria in 1905.27 Seriousness, solid experience, professionalism and studiousness are all stressed, but there is no incontrovertible evidence of a penchant for book collecting. To date nothing interesting on Lambert has turned up in his native Norfolk.28 The search for authentic specimens of his handwriting to confront with the manuscript register has remained fruitless. The task of penning the various invitations to the farewell and other performances in 1866 appears to have been farmed out to a number of people.29 No letters have come to light and the “manuscript autobiography” known to Smith30 and at one time promised for publication in the Australasian31 cannot yet be located. Not only was it not possible to write an adequate account of Lambert, who surely deserves some attention from Australian theatre historians, but it was also unavoidable to admit frankly that the quest for an owner of the theatrical library was at best inconclusive.
A last attempt to solve the problem was judged desirable. Since James Smith cropped up so often in the documentation on Lambert, why not give some attention to the critic's own correspondence and manuscripts? A glance a the La Trobe Library's microfilm copy of the 1863 diary held in the Mitchell Library32 revealed immediately that this was the same handwriting as that of the register of theatrical books. In other words, Smith engaged in an apparently successful mystification, at least as far as posterity is concerned. The library dispersed in 1866 was not that of an actor, but the creation of an unusually cultivated journalist and writer. With hindsight one could almost ask whether anybody other than Smith in post-Gold Rush Melbourne had the polyglot learning to put together such a collection.
As soon as Smith's role is recognized, everything falls into place. W.F. Tiffin, the donor of the French vaudevilles, had illustrated Wilton and its Associations in 1851 and stayed in touch with his friend well into the 1860s at the very least.33 “W.L.K.” was indeed W.L. Kelly, Smith's father-in-law. All the other recorded provenances fit in with opportunities open to the Argus correspondent and Parliamentary Librarian. Smith would certanly have known Willam Story professionally, since the Shrewsbury man sold books to all major Melbourne libraries in the 1860s. It is probable that, as the “Argus necrologist”34, the journalist wrote the extensive notice of Story that appeared in July 1870.35
Comparison of the register with the two hitherto known Smith sales on 23 and 24 July 1863 and 1 and 2 December 191036 demonstrates that much of the non-dramatic part was offered for auction openly early in the Parliamentary Librarian's term.37 and that certain choice items did not come on to the market till after his death.38 The matter in the 1863 diary concerning reading done and orders placed with booksellers like Mullen and Baillière also matches exactly what we learn from the register.39 The case for Smith as the “gentleman” is absolutely watertight.
It must be left to Smith's biographer.40 to explain why the sale took place and why it was arranged anonymously. Speculation about a sudden need for money or about discretion now incumbent on a public official would be quite idle. The collector's later essays on his lifelong passion expatiate on buying in attractively exotic places in Europe41, but
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they pass over his experiences as a seller and even as a frequenter of auctions and antiquarian shops in Australia. However, one thing is certain. When one adds the 1866 acquisitions to the substantial accumulation of theatrical books that the Public Library of Victoria obtained by private treaty from the critic's estate in 191042, it is hard to deny that Smith played a preponderant role in providing the wherewithal to enrich that aspect of the institution's holdings. All Victorians interested in the history of the stage owe a debt to the bibliophile who, in 1866, let it be believed that he was retiring from the acting profession.
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Wallace Kirsop

1

Mrs Jean Stone and Mr Peter Tinslay deserve the thanks of Victorian book trade historians for negotiating with Miss Peggy Anthony the return of these unique items to Melbourne. The pieces in question are mentioned and illustrated in Peter Tinslay, “The Amazing Library of Walter Stone”, The Australian Connoisseur and Collector, n°3, [1982], pp.54–7, 137.

2

MS 11325, La Trobe Collection, S.L.V.

3

See Wallace Kirsop, “Consignment Sales and Britain's Ninetenth-Century Colonial Book Trade”in Library Association of Australia, Proceedings of the 19th Biennial Conference held in Tasmania, August 1977: Libraries in Society, Hobart, The Conference Committee, 1977, pp.90–106, esp. p.99.

4

Tipped into the register is a cutting from the Sydney Morning Herald of 28 May 1955 with a brief article by the late John Earnshaw on Stubbs.

5

See Wallace Kirsop, “A Note on Stendhal's Early Australian Readers”, Australian Journal of French Studies, XX, 1983, pp.252–6. Lot 136 is described in the catalogue as “Beyle (Henri) Vies de Rossini, Haydn, …c. 12 mo. Paris, 1854”and presumably brings together in the one binding two items at opening 30 in the manuscript register: “ ‘De Stendhal’ Vie de Rossini 1854”and “ ‘De Stendhal’ Vies de Haydn …c 1854”.

6

But see also on opening 43 “Dramatic Waifs & Strays 1 [vol.] 8° Melbourne 3/6 Articles collected from magazines & reviews”. This entry parallels on opening 41 “Essays on the Drama 1 [vol.] 8° 1865 4/6 Articles from Periodicals”and “Shakesperiana 1 [vol.] 8° 1865 4/6 d°”. Cf. opening 31: “Wardrobe Room 1 [vol.] 6/- Articles from Mag.nes & Reviews”.

7

For the period up to 1849 inclusive see Elizabeth Webby, “A Checklist of Early Australian Booksellers’ and Auctioners’ Catalogues and Advertisements: 1800–1849”, Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin, 3, 1978, pp. 123–48; 4, 1979, pp.33–61 and 95–150. With the support of Monash University and the assistance of Peter Freckleton I was able to study, in 1973 and early 1974, the book auction advertisements inArgus and Sydney Morning Herald for the years 1861–1870.

8

On Lumley's career see Wallace Kirsop, Books for Colonial Readers — the Nineteenth-Century Australian Experience (Sandars Lectures, 1981 — publication pending), lecture 3: “Edward Lumley and the Consignment Trade”.

9

See Sally Graham, Pioneer Merchant. The Letters of James Graham 1839–54, South Yarra, Hyland House, 1985, pp.96, 117, 197 (letters of 1844, 1845, 1849). I am grateful to Mr John Holroyd for drawing my attention to this volume.

10

On Story's strange adventures see Wallace Kirsop, Books for Colonial Readers — the Nineteenth-Century Australian Experience, lecture 2: “The Richmond Recluse, or the Emigrant Bibliophile”.

11

See John Pascoe Fawkner's Library. Facsimile of the Sale Catalogue of 1868. With an introductory essay by Wallace Kirsop, Melbourne, Book Collectors’ Society of Australia, 1985, p. 13.

12

See Wallace Kirsop, “The Library of Dr John Maund”in Harold Attwood & R.W. Home (eds), Patients, Practitioners and Techniques. Second National Conference on Medicine and Health in Australia 1984, Melbourne, Medical History Unit, University of Melbourne, 1985, pp.155–75. Cf. also the printed catalogue of the sale on 13 March 1858 by Alexander Young & Co. of the “very valuable & expensive law library of the late T.W. Whipham, Esq.”: “Miscellaneous Works, by Thackeray, Dickens, Macaulay, …c.”(p.3).

13

See for example Argus, 12 July 1866, p.2a.

14

Cf. Argus, 20 July 1866, p.2e.

15

See Francis Devlin Glass, “‘Two and a Half Tons of Books’: Daniel Henry Deniehy's Library”, Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 7, 1976, pp.37–52.

16

VPRO 1072/4: Public Library Book Vouchers, vol. IV: 1865–1866.

17

VPRO 1072/4, n°s 20, 41 & 42. See also n° 22: voucher from Margaret Bennett of 25 July 1866.

18

VPRO 1072/4, n° 20, pp.1–8.

19

On the Tegg/Walch Circulating Library see Wallace Kirsop, Books for Colonial Readers — the Nineteenth-Century Australian Experience, lecture 4: “Bookselling in Hobart Town in the 1840s”.

20

In this I was fortunate enough to have the expert advice and help of Dr Harold Love.

21

Information taken from John Spring, A Computerised Listing of Melbourne Public Performances, 1850–1869 (Monash University, Department of English).

22

See the obituary in Argus, 29 September 1886, p.6h.

23

See brief obituary in Sydney Morning Herald, 30 January 1874, p.4.

24

See “Jaques”(J.E. Neild) in Australasian, 28 March 1868, p.403a on “that fine old high-comedy actor and pleasant gentleman”and “Town News”in the same number, p.403c-d.

25

See the Mitchell Library copy (call number Q927.92J), which is said (recto of leaf preceding title leaf) to be one of “Only two copies printed”. It was acquired on 14 February 1911 from Angus & Robertson, who no doubt purchased it as lot 673 (p.39) from the Tuckett and Styles sale in December 1910 of 5000 volumes from Smith's estate (printed catalogue also in the Mitchell Library). A few separate photographs of Lambert are held in the Pictorial Collection of the La Trobe Library (H9441, 9443, 9473 and 10427).

26

See “The Historian. Theatrical Reminiscences by an old Playgoer. No. V — Mr. J.C. Lambert”, Australasian, 11 January 1879, p. 38c-d.

27

James Smith, ed., The Cyclopaedia of Victoria, vol. III (Melbourne, 1905), pp. 1–39: “Historical Sketch of the Melbourne Stage”. See also the obituary of Lambert in Australasian Sketcher, 7 August 1875, p.71a.

28

I am grateful to officials at the King's Lynn Public Library, the Norwich Central Library and Norfolk County Record Office for responding to meagrely documented letters and telephone inquiries.

29

Cf. VPRO 3991, units 216 and 219 (Chief Secretary, Inwards Correspondence, January, February and May 1866: N1152, 01187, 04645).

30

Cf. Australasian, 11 January 1879, p. 38c-d.

31

Australasian, 28 March 1868, p.403d: “His autobiography and theatrical reminiscences will shortly be published in the columns of Australasian, […]”.

32

Mitchell Library MS B 955. I am grateful to Dr Lurline Stuart for allowing me to consult photocopies of this and other documents relating to Smith. See James Smith, “The Year 1863”. Selected and annotated by Lurline Stuart, Meanjin, 37, 1978, pp.411–33.

33

At Smith's behest Tiffin wrote to Joseph Jefferson when the latter visited England. See Smith's Letters received, Mitchell Library MS 212/1, p.460. Tiffin is mentioned in the 1863 diary, p.39 (entry for 23 January).

34

Cf. Lurline Stuart, James Smith: his influence on the development of literary culture in colonial Melbourne, Ph.D. Thesis, Monash University, 1983, p.79.

35

Argus, 22 July 1870, p.6b.

36

See Lurline Stuart, “James Smith's Private Library”, The Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin, 6, 1982, pp.23–39.

37

E.g., the 1811–1858 run of The Examiner (Catalogue of the choice and valuable library of James Smith, Esq., […], 1863, p.5, lot 111).

38

Cf. the scrapbooks listed in note 6 above, which appear as lot 187, p. 11 of the 1910 catalogue under the title “GLEANINGS”.

39

See entries for 9 January (p.25. quotation from Al-phonse Karr Les Guèpes), 28 January (p.44: reading of Stendhal's Vie de Rossini), 23 March (p.98: order from Mullen) and 13 May (p. 149: order from Bail-lière).

40

Cf. the monograph being prepared by Dr Lurline Stuart.

41

See “Among My Books”, Once a Month, 4, 1886, pp.401–4, and “Books and Book Collectors”, Argus, 24 January 1891, p.13e-g.

42

Dr Stuart has reconstructed these purchases from the State Library's MS accession books of the period.