Paris, Librairie de A. Pougin, 1837.
Duodecimo, three volumes bound as one, viii, 233; iv, 220 and iv, 236 pages.
Contemporary half calf and marbled papered boards; leather slightly rubbed and bumped, with slight wear to the corners and light tidemarks to the leather on the panels near the spine; marbled paper heavily rubbed and a little marked; light waterstain to the top lefthand corner throughout the book, and to the top righthand corner of the front half, staining the leading edge a little; a very good copy.
Inscribed in ink on an early binder's blank 'Bought at the sale / of Governor Gawler's effects / May 27, 1841. J F'. Unfortunately it is not James Hurtle Fisher - we have checked! There are approximately 40 male JFs in the 1841 South Australian census (and Fisher is not listed), and easily half as many women, so we leave the detective work to those with more spare time. A name on both the pastedown and front flyleaf has been blacked out at a very early stage; we suspect underneath the black ink it reads 'George Gawler' but again we leave the forensics to the experts. One thing we can say is that when Colonel George Gawler (1795-1869) was summarily dismissed from his post as South Australia's second governor on 11 May 1841 when Captain George Grey knocked on his door, he lost no time in clearing the decks. The 'Register' of the following Saturday, 22 May, contains a large advertisement for a public sale to be conducted by the Adelaide Auction Company, acting 'under instructions from Colonel Gawler to sell ... on Wednesday next, at twelve precisely, his surplus Furniture and effects'. Before the 'very elegant and useful' carriage and 'A lot of pigs', but after the superb piano with 'extra set of Strings, Oilcloth Cover, Canterbury, Tuning Key and pair of elegant Music Stools', a pair of globes, 'iron bedsteads (brass ornaments) with mattress, bolster, and pillows' and '300 ounces of useful plate, in spoons, forks, fish slices, butter knives, teapots, ladles, &c.', there are 'About 200 volumes of books'. This item is one of them. Consult the Australian Dictionary of Biography for the potted history of Gawler's 31 months in South Australia, from his arrival in October 1838 with the task of rendering 'viable the experiment in systematic, self-supporting colonization' until he was abandoned as the scapegoat under 'the combined weight of outraged Wakefield theorists, commissioners anxious to whitewash themselves, and enemies of the colony'. He left Adelaide a month later on the 'Dumfries'. This small volume, with its curiously affecting inscription inserted on the day by someone with a sense of history in the making, is a wonderful footnote to the story.