Page:Early struggles of the Australian press.djvu/18

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As late as January 7th, 1825, some past trials were recalled.

"Common Chinese paper," it is said, "no more than half the size of foolscap, and of which two sheets were consequently obliged to be pasted together for each Gazette, cost two guineas sterling per ream. Where was the Public whose cash, correspondence, and confidence are necessary to support a weekly Press? Where could Readers be found except in some thirty or forty dwellings ? Was it likely that a Paper could flourish where the only intelligence bore reference to crime, and the usual records were of infamy ? It was not. But we saw and felt that a Gazette was prospectively demanded, alike by the interests of Government and those of the general community. Therefore, undaunted by the hazard of a total loss, we cast our typographic 'seed on the water,' with hopes of 'seeing it after many days.' We contrived to send forth our boats of enterprizes on the untried ocean of colonial vicissitude. What makes barbarians civilized, removes the film from the eye of superstition, and warms the host of degenerate slaves with the hallowed fire which blazed at Marathon? The Press."

But we really must stop chatting about this interesting and primitive issue of the Australian Press, and introduce type rivals of formidable ability and power, more in harmony with the pro-
gressive intelligence and wealth of New South Wales.


This magazine had the additional title of Compendium of Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Intelligence. The first number, May 1st, 1821, is introduced by a letter received by the conductors; from Governor Macquarie, which is worth reproduction:—

"In respect to your periodical publication, I have no hesitancy in giving it at once my unqualified, sanction and approbation, under a thorough conviction that, on the liberal, fair, and pious principles, on which it is your intention to conduct The Australian Magazine, much benefit must result from it to the community at large."

The May number contains thirty-two pages small octavo, in double columns, and was printed by George Howe, of the Gazette. The first article is a pleasing account of the Missionary Society. Under the head "Theology" is a sermon on the truth of revelation. A letter deals with a state-
ment that all the Colonial clergy were of the "Antinomian Persuasion." Literary intelligence follows. Religious intelligence concerns the sixteenth anniversary of the Bible Society. There is an allegory on impudence and modesty. The Chaplain, Mr. Marsden, sends a letter from the Missionary Campbell, of South Africa. The opening of the Wesleyan chapel in Parramatta, April 20th, by Messrs. Mansfield, Lawry, and Carvosso is recorded. European incidents are succeeded by Colonial, incidents; and these, by shipping intelligence, the April agricultural report, and a poem by H. Kirke White.

In June we see a continuation of several articles begun in May. The obituary narrates the death of the printer, George Howe. It is said:— "He had for some time been in a declining state of health, under the fatal influence of that dreadful malady the dropsy; and on Friday, May 11th, at his residence in George Street, he resigned his spirit into the hands of his Maker. Mr. Howe was a native of St. Kitts, in the West Indies, where his father and brother conducted for many years the Government Press, which is still continued by his family in that island."

The Life of John Wesley leads off the August number, Jabez Bunting's sermon on Justification, is seen in September, and Oxley's Expedition in October. A meteorological diary is given monthly. In the preface to the first volume the conductors declare:—

"Our design from the first has avowedly been 'to disseminate useful knowledge, religious principles, and moral habits.' Political discussion, and party spirit, and personal allusion we have scrupulously avoided. In our Theological Articles we have studiously guarded against unprofitable disputations.. Cordially believing the doctrines of the Established Church to be those of the Bible, we shall confine ourselves to those fundamental verities of the Christian faith which are so clearly stated in heir Articles and Homilies."


The Australian was the second newspaper of the Colony. It was representative of opposition to the Sydney Gazette, and was thoroughly against the then ruling powers. It owed its existence to Mr. Wentworth, a native born patriot, who sought the emancipation of his colonial birthplace from the despotism under which, from peculiar social circumstances, it had been placed by the British. Ministry. In his early account of New South Wales, he wrote thus of the Sydney paper:— "Anything in the shape of political discussion is a novelty which it is rarely permitted to exhibit. An indepen-
dent paper, therefore, which may serve to point out the rising interests of the colonists, and become the organ of their grievances and rights, their wishes and wants, is highly necessary, and, it is to be hoped, will be speedily set on foot."

Dr. Robert Wardell, a scholar, returning with him from England, was placed as conductor of the new press, though Mr. Wentworth was a frequent contributor. Dr. Lang thus wrote of Dr. Wardell: — "A colonial barrister of eminent talent, who was then the editor of the Australian newspaper, and whose frail nature had evidently had no such supernatural assistance, gradually discovered more and more illegality, and more and more enormity in the Governor's (Darling) procedure, till he came at length to write of it in a manner to the last degree unjustifiable and unbecoming."

Barton's Literature has this notice:— "Mr. Wentworth saw, if he continued with the Press, he should subject himself to heavy penalties; he gave his share to Dr. Wardell, who was soon prosecuted by Government. He sold the copyright for £3,600 to eight shareholders. It sold 600 copies twice a week. Last number published 28th September, 1848."

Its aim was expressed "to convert a prison into a colony fit for a freeman to inhabit himself and to bequeath as an inheritance to a free posterity." Appearing in 1824, when by far the major part of the adults were either prisoners of the Crown, or had been such, the paper attempted to break down the barriers supposed to be erected in the interests of order and law, so as to prepare the Settlement for that coming day of wealth, intellectual advancement, and absolute social freedom which the wise foresaw.

We now notice what its own pages had to declare of Press struggles in the early years of its publication, directing the reader's attention to the section of the "Freedom of the Press" for further particulars of a political nature.

The Australian commenced its career on October 24th, 1824, with Thursday as its day of publica-
tion. The paper, though rather thin and poor, formed a page 20¼ inches in length and 13 in widths The title was in German text. The price per copy was one snilling. The issue contained four pages