Stanhope Burleigh. A Novel, by Isaiah Cohen (a Native of Sydney)
Sydney, Printed by J.A. Engel, 'Guttenberg' Printing Office, 103 York-street, 1872.
Octavo (180 x 115 mm), xii (commencing with the title leaf, verso blank, and with every second leaf blank), 305 pages.
Original blue cloth, extensively decorated in blind on the front and rear, with the title and author in gilt on the spine (very indistinct, but visible - and legible - in a raking light); cloth a little marked, rubbed and bumped at the extremities, with the spine sunned; the text-block appears to have been inexpertly reinserted in the cover long ago (by the simple application of lots of glue), resulting in a cockled spine and slight damage to the inner margin of the title leaf; front endpaper foxed and soiled, and split along the hinge (exposing the cords, which are holding fast); trifling signs of use and age; a decent copy.
The novel commences thus: 'Our scene lays in Paris! Paris! Our pen can scarcely write that word. It jars upon our ears; - we waver; with trembling hands it is written, and for a time; feelings aroused by its memory overpower us. How much significance is now retained in that dissyllable. Does it not bring to our remembrance - perhaps mouldering into shadowy oblivion, saddened thoughts of a city, all but ruined and destroyed by the avenging hands of its beseigers?'. Well, the author did warn, in his preface to this, his first effort with his pen, that he 'must not be judged by the same standard as the professed Novelist of the day; his whole aim being originally to amuse - by attempting to write what is termed - 'a Sensational Novel''. Alas, he does not deliver a novel from the barricades of the Paris Commune. Halfway down the second of 305 pages we discovered 'it is not of Paris 'in bello', that we write; it is of Paris 'in pace''. Add to this the unpalatable fact that we have also learnt in the preface [warning: spoiler alert!] that our hero, although not without sin, 'returned to the path of virtue at the earliest moment; ... he was never guilty of any act contrary to the grand and universal doctrine of humanity, - and was always a fervent friend of the poor'. We have read no more ... Trove records just two copies in Australian institutions - we hope this will be the third.