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The Spirit of the Public Journals...
London: James Ridgway, 1797-, 1814. Seventeen volumes, duodecimo, in excellent condition, in attractive modern wrappers with double spine labels to each volume. Bennelong won't fight the French. A marvellous long run of an intriguing late-Georgian journal, with a good deal of interest to contemporary Australia, perhaps most notably printing a letter said to have been penned by Bennelong in London. There is also an (unrecorded?) poem about marriage in Tahiti based on Cook's first voyage, and a remarkably poor poem commemorating the death of Jonas Dryander, the botanist who worked with Sir Joseph Banks at Soho Square.A note accompanying the recent publishing of an electronic version comments aptly that the journal is a 'fascinating but relatively untapped source for Romantic Studies founded and edited in 1797 by Stephen Jones.' This set includes the first seventeen volumes of the journal. The preface to the first volume summarises the project with the comment that "the idea of this compilation was suggested by the great value that has frequently been set upon collections of scraps cut out of newspapers." Although this might seem a humble ambition, each of the annual volumes as a result gives a strikingly complete overview of the popular scandals and events of the day, and it is intriguing to see how New South Wales is viewed through its prism.Without doubt the most important inclusion is in the first volume, the "Copy of a letter from Baneelon, one of the natives of New South Wales, now in London, to his wife Barangaroo, at Botany Bay" (pp. 114-6). Almost certainly a satire, this is nonetheless an important (because unusual) appropriation of Bennelong, who was only vouchsafed the most fleeting references in the contemporary press, and is also notable for the adoption of several plausible details which show that the author did have some close knowledge of Bennelong's visit: the addressing of the letter to Barangaroo, the use of the suffix "gal" in reference to nationality, and the perfectly convincing - but no doubt fictional - neologism of him calling the soldiers at Botany Bay "the red men". The letter-writer was evidently not averse to Bennelong, having him say at one point that he has refused to join the army against the French, "as the French never took away my wife, or stole my fishing-nets, lines, and throwing-stick, I was not angry with them; and that I could not fight without being angry." The letter concludes with his hope that Barangaroo will be saved from "lightning, sharks, and red men."Other equally important articles include:A four-page poem "On Marriage" based on Cook's visit to Tahiti ("Hail! Beauteous land that crowns the southern seas", vol. II pp. 227-30);A printing of one of Southey's "Botany Bay Eclogues" (vol. II pp. 260-3);The "Botany Bay Resolutions", written in an anti-Jacobin vein and said to have been taken 'At a very numerous and respectable meeting of his Majesty's faithful and loyal subjects of Botany Bay, held at Port Jackson, the 20th October 1792; George Barrington, Esquire, in the Chair' (vol. II pp. 397-9);Two articles on "Panopticon Prisons" (vol. IV pp. 14-7 & vol. V pp. 335-7) which are fiercely critical of Bentham and prison reform;A contemporary printing of the famous "Barrington" prologue in 1804 (vol. VIII pp. 89-90);"Anticipation. Extract of a Letter from the London Courier, dated Monday, the 26 th September 1904 (sic)" (vol. VIII pp. 91-2), purporting to be letters showing revolution, dated Botany Bay and other places;"Pidcock and the Premier!" (vol. XI pp. 305-6), a most unusual satire on William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland and then Prime Minister, announcing that there is no truth in the rumour that Portland has "lately received several presents of Ourang-Outangs, or Men-Mountains, or some Strange Wild Creatures, &c. &c. from Botany Bay!" Pidcock was the owner of the famous menagerie in London, which had exhibited kangaroos in the 1790s, and which took a fervent interest in the latest curiosities from Botany Bay; the connection was enough for the anonymous wit to attack Portland for his attempts to monopolise the colonies;"Epitaph on Dryander" (vol. XV pp. 78-9), an overlooked poem on the death of Banks' long-serving assistant, "Beneath this humble tombstone lie / The mouldering bones of honest Dry; / A learned Swede of Linné's school, / Long us'd o'er botany to rule."The first volume in the third edition (published 1800), the others all first....
      [Bookseller: Hordern House]
Last Found On: 2015-03-30           Check availability:      Direct From Bookseller    


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