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Riches of the Mitchell Library.

No visitor to Sydney during the Sesqui-centenary celebrations who is interested in the origins of Australia should omit a visit to the Mitchell Library and Dixson Gallery, which house a fascinating collection of manuscripts, books, and pictures.  

The Librarian here shows how these records reflect the story of our country.

By Ida Leeson.

IT is sometimes urged, in extenuation of our various shortcomings, that  

Australia is a young country. What- ever the merits, or demerits of this rea-

son or excuse, there is one direction at least in which the brief span of its occupation by the white race is a dis- tinct advantage. We have been able to preserve a mass of original records covering our history from the beginning

Of these records, the Mitchell Library is by far the greatest single repository, and, in addition to its Australiana, it is rich in original material concerning New Zealand and the Islands of the south-west Pacific. The Pacific section makes it of special interest to European and American students of Pacific his- tory and native cultures.

It is indeed not sufficiently recognised here that in this library the State of New South Wales possesses an institution of international


Australian history may be said to begin with the first exploratory voyages in Australian waters, and among the Mitchell's chief trea- sures are journals and maps of these voyages. The earliest is the journal of Don Diego Prado y Tovar, an officer of the De Quiros- Torres expedition of 1605-6. Torres sailed in 1608, through the strait that bears his name, and 10 years later Prado, then a monk wrote his journal, the only known full account of the expedition.  

Next comes the Huydecoper manuscript of the voyage of Abel Tasman in 1642-3. There are two contemporary journals of this voyage, the other being in the State Archives at The Hague. Professor G. C. Henderson, who has thoroughly examined both manuscripts, con- siders the Huydecoper journal fuller and better than that in the Dutch archives. It contains, also, the first chart showing the entrance to Cook Strait in New Zealand. On this voyage Tasman discovered Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Tonga and Fiji Islands. Linked with the Huydecoper journal is the Bonaparte- Tasman map. This splendid large map was drawn in Batavia in 1644. Purchased during the eighteen-nineties by Prince Roland Bona- parte, a great geographer, it was presented to the Mitchell Library by his daughter, Marie, the Princess George of Greece.

Cook and Banks.

The three expeditions of Captain James Cook are represented by numerous original logs and journals. They include part of Cook's

own rough journal of the first expedition and   the Corner copy of his complete journal,   written by Richard Orton, the ship's clerk.   There is also a portion of his original journal   of the second expedition, and a number of

important letters concerning all three. Of   other members of Cook's ships' companies,   the most important manuscript to Australia   is the Endeavour journal of Joseph (afterwards   Sir Joseph) Banks.  

Other records of the Endeavour voyage   are the logs of Jonathan Munkhouse, midship-   man, and James Roberts, a servant of Banks.   For the second voyage there is the journal   of William Wales, astronomer, and for the   third that of Lieutenant (afterwards Admiral)   James Burney, and letters of Captain Charles   Clerke, who succeeded to the command on  

the death of Cook.  

From the discoveries of Cook followed the   choice of New South Wales as a convict settle-   ment and thc despatch of the First Fleet. In   that fleet there were several officers who kept   journals which are now in the Mitchell Lib-   rary. That of Lieutenant Phillp Gidley King   (afterwards Governor) covers, as well as the   voyage and the earliest days at Sydney Cove,   his lieutenant-governorship of Norfolk Island.   Lieutenant William Bradley, of the Sirius,   after whom Bradley's Head is named, enriched   his with careful charts and water-colour draw-   ings, including the first sketch of Sydney  


Lieutenant Ralph Clark, of the Friendship,   gives vivid details of life on a convict trans-   port, as well as at Sydney and Norfolk Island.   Clark had a garden on one of the islands in   the harbour — hence its name, Clark Island. Surgeon Bowes, of the transport Lady Penrhyn,  

also gives a picture of conditions at sea and on shore, and his journal ls notable for   naming the date of the first religious service  

at Sydney Cove.  

Governor Phillip is represented by a number   of letters to Banks, in one of which he wrote   concerning the new colony the memorable   words: "If it falls I shall fall with it, but of  

which I really have no apprehension; and if any of my letters have been written in a   doubtful stile, it would not be wondered at,   could it be known how I have been harassed  

for full thirty months; with the loss of these ships and a hundred more disagremens than   you would conceive possible to exist."  

The Banks Papers, including the Australian   correspondence received by Slr Joseph Banks   over a period of more than thirty years, are  

one of the most important collections in the library. They cover every phase of the   colony's activity, as described by Governors,   officials, pioneer settlers, explorers, and scien-   tists.  

Explorers' Journals.  

In the earliest days of the settlement there   began the search for suitable agricultural and  

pastoral land, and the library's manuscripts include many of the journals of the explorers.   In 1813 came the first great achievement of   inland exploration, the crossing of the Blue   Mountains by Blaxland, Lawson, and Went-   worth. The journals of Lawson and Went-   worth survive, and both are in the Mitchell    

Library, also the diary of William Cox, who made the road over the Mountains to Bath-   urst, of Governor Macquarie, and of Major   Antill, who accompanied him on the first   Vice-Regal progress to Bathurst.  

There are journals and field-books of John   Oxley, Surveyor-General; of Allan Cunning-   ham, and of many lesser explorers of the   eighteen-twenties. Sir Thomas Mitchell,   Surveyor-General, and Ludwig Leichhardt are   represented by the whole of their field-books   and journals. The diary of McDouall Stuart  

on his crossing of Australia from south to north, is another of the valuable records of explorers, and there are many more, including the field-books ot all Government surveyors of the year 1840.

Meanwhile, there had also been much ex- ploration by sea. Seven months after the First Fleet sailed for Botany Bay, William Bligh set forth in the Bounty to carry the breadfruit from Tahiti to the West Indies. Bligh's log of that famous voyage, the journals of Fryer, the master, and Morrison, the boat- swain's mate, are also in the Mitchell's treas- ure store, with Bligh's remarks on Morrison's Journal, and letters and documents covering the whole of his naval career. Here also is his log of the second breadfruit voyage in the Providence, the journal of Lieutenant Tobin, his third officer, a volume of Tobin's water-colour sketches, and another of sketches by Bligh.

In the early days of the settlement at Sydney Cove important explorations by sea were carried out by George Bass and Mat- thew Flinders. The Mitchell has the ac- count of their circumnavigation of Tas- mania in the sloop Norfolk, and a rich col- lection of Flinders manuscripts, including the log of the Investigator and his diary and letter-books, received from his grandson, Sir Flinders Petrie, under an arrangement by which the trustees defrayed the cost of the statue erected in Macquarie Street on the library's western front.

Governors' Papers.

Private papers of early Governors include those of Phillip, King, Bligh, and Mac- quarie, of New South Wales, Stirling, of West- ern Australia, and Arthur, of Tasmania, while letters of the Governors, Lieutenant-Gover- nors, and commandants of all settlements are included in the official papers of the Colonial Secretary's Department now housed in the library.

Students of Church and missionary history also find abundant material for original re- search. There are important letters of the Rev. Richard Johnson, the first chaplain, and journals and much correspondence of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, for many years the senior minister of the Church of England and the first missionary to New Zealand.

The Rev. Robert Knopwood, the first clergy- man in Tasmania, is represented by a large collection of diaries, and there are journals and letters of most of the pioneer ministers and missionaries of Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of the south-west Pacific.

The political history of New South Wales can be studied in the papers of W. C. Went- worth, the father of the Constitution, Stuart Donaldson, the first Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, and Slr Charles Cowper. There are also many collections of papers of men who held high official positions in various States.

Journals and letters of pioneer settlers are invaluable for the light they throw on the pastoral and commercial development of the country.

The literary history of Australia is illus- trated by collections of manuscripts of most of the outstanding writers in verse and prose, and by much of their correspondence. There is, indeed, no phase of Australian history which is not represented by original manu- script material.

Mention must be made of the official records transferred from various Government offices. Though there is no officially established Archives Department in New South Wales, the Mitchell Library has, by reason of these transfers, come to be recognised as a State Archives Department.

Of the collection of printed books, it is sufficient to say that it is by far the largest of its kind in any library in the world.

While, to historical students, the manu- scripts and printed books are of first im- portance, the library has much of interest to offer to the casual visitor in the gallery of portraits, miniatures, pictures, and prints. Here our history is vividly portrayed in pic- torial form. There are many pictures show- ing the development of Australia and New Zealand from the earliest days of settlement. Portraits include many of the early Governors, notably those of Phillip, by Wheatley, and Macquarie, by Opie, and explorers, pioneer settlers, statesmen, judges, and clergymen.

Dixson Gallery.

The Dixson Gallery of the Public Library of New South Wales, the gift of Mr. William Dixson, adjoins the Mitchell Gallery, and con- tains an equally valuable collection of pictures, and notable portraits of Captain Cook, by William Hodges, the artist of the second ex- pedition of Sir Joseph Banks, by Thomas Phillip, and of Lord Sydney, by Gilbert Stuart.

As successive anniversaries and centenaries are celebrated in the various States and New Zealand, it is revealed that there is in the Mitchell Library original material of prime importance concerning them all. The Melbourne and Adelaide centenaries provide numerous instances, also the recent centen- aries of the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches of Victoria and the approaching cen- tenary of the Congregational Church in the same State. Victorian celebrations of the discoveries of Sir Thomas Mitchell led to many requests for extracts from his journals

and field-books.

The centenary of free settlement in Queens- land, to be celebrated next year, has focused attention on the diaries of the Lutheran mis- sionaries who were the first settlers, and the preparations in New Zealand for the centenary of official British occupation have, similarly, brought numerous inquiries concerning the records, official and private, of early settle-

ment there.

The trustees of the library have been able, from the income of the £70,000 endowment provided by David Scott Mitchell, greatly to increase the collection he bequeathed, and it has been further enriched by gifts from patriotic citizens of family papers and pic-


Thc 150th Anniversary celebrations will, it is hoped, induce others who possess such records to offer them to the trustees so that they may be safely preserved in this great national repository and made available to the students, not only of Australia, but to those from overseas, who are using it in ever- increasing numbers.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by