South Australia. [drop-title] ... Statements prepared and published under the Sanction of the Committee, appointed for the Diffusion of Information on the State and Prospects of South Australia
[London], Alfred Boot, Printer, 3, Dockhead, Bermondsey [for George Fife Angas], .
Duodecimo (approximately 186 x 116 mm), 16 pages (last blank).
A saddle-stitched drop-title pamphlet; small portions of the blank leading margin slightly stained; small dob of wax to the top right-hand corner of the last page (presumably the item had been mounted in an album or scrapbook at some stage); a very good copy.
This copy is inscribed and signed at the head of the first page 'London, 1 Jany 1848. G.F. Angas London'. At the foot of the page Angas has written 'G.F. Angas prepared this tract & printed & circulated many thousands of them in England at his own cost. - before he went to So. Aust'a himself'. We can find no record of this item - and even if another copy has survived, and eventually surfaces, it cannot begin to compare with this exquisitely-annotated example. It is surely the type specimen ... The role of George Fife Angas (1789-1879) in the foundation and settlement of South Australia is too well-known to require elaboration here. The South Australian Company, which he formed in October 1835 with other wealthy British businessmen, 'was not the only part of Angas's work for the foundation of South Australia. He lobbied the Colonial Office, subsidized authors and published magazines and pamphlets.... He gave evidence to the select committee on South Australian affairs in 1841. Despite his passionate faith in self help, he became convinced that the colony would founder unless aided by the British government. His interviews with the Colonial Office, his lecture tours and his wide distribution of literature on South Australia helped to ensure a majority for the parliamentary grant that saved the colony's credit.... In 1848 Angas decided to go to South Australia, where his German tenants were at last paying their rents and the South Australian Co. was again paying a dividend. He resigned as its chairman and director, and with renewed vigour planned a score of colonial ventures ranging from the export of tallow to drain pipes made by machine. Again he lectured and wrote and lobbied, this time for the Australian colonies' government bill. When it was passed in August 1850 ... and all his English property was sold he sailed with his wife and youngest son in the 'Ascendant' and arrived in Adelaide in January 1851' (Australian Dictionary of Biography). From internal evidence, this rare pamphlet would appear to have been produced early in the second half of 1848. Reference is made to the 3rd Annual Report of the South Australian Mining Company (dated 14 April 1848); obviously sufficient time had elapsed for this to have reached England by ship. At the Annual General Meeting of the South Australian Company on 28 June 1848, Angas tendered 'his resignation of the office of Chairman, and also his seat at the Board of Directors' (Hodder, page 299). As there is only passing reference to the South Australian Company in the pamphlet (merely as the contact address for the secretary of the committee, David McLaren), and Angas heads the (alphabetical) list of six committee-men, his resignation from the SAC would appear to have taken place. This 'Committee, appointed for the Diffusion of Information on the State and Prospects of South Australia', about which we can found no other trace, may be yet another example of Angas indulging his 'lifelong passion for forming societies and joining charitable committees' (ADB). As far as the text of the pamphlet goes, 'The Committee are aware of the anxious desire for information relative to South Australia,... and shall studiously avoid giving currency to any statements of questionable authority'. These noble sentiments are prefaced by suitable quotes from Dr Thomas Arnold of Rugby, and Dr Robert Vaughan. The closely-printed text goes into great detail about land (regulations for its sale, land sold, land under cultivation); flocks and herds; population; wages and prices of provisions; free passages; imports and exports; soil and climate; and mineral discoveries. One full page is given over to the Reverends Thomas Quinton Stow and August Kavel extolling the virtues of the climate on the flocks under their pastoral care. The final section, almost a page long, is headed 'The Self-Supporting Colony', and if George Fife Angas had not identified himself as the author of this tract, these five paragraphs would have done so with as much certainty. He goes out with a flourish: 'Thus, notwithstanding the ridicule in which many indulged, and the misgivings which others experienced, the noble conception of the founders of the colony has been realised, and SOUTH AUSTRALIA STANDS ALONE IN HER PROUD PRE-EMINENCE, A SELF-SUPPORTING COLONY'. Thanks to the marvel that is Trove, we have discovered in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' (Monday 28 April 1845, page 5), in a section headed 'English Extracts', a lengthy article on 'Australian Colonies' taken from the 'Colonial Gazette', December 14 . It quotes the same two 'very eminent writers', Dr Arnold and Dr Vaughan, as it zooms in from 'the growing importance of our Australian colonies' to an enthusiastic promotion of South Australia. 'The revival of the sales of land in the colony, and the consequent renewal of free emigration, are very encouraging features in this case.... This is a beginning. May it go on!' - surely, more pure Angas ...