State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 78 Spring 2006


Wallace Kirsop
Life Before and After Bookselling:
The Curious Career of Benjamin Suggitt Nayler


Many Immigrants to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Australia arrived with a background of work in printing, bookbinding, bookselling, editing and publishing. Relatively few of them, however, had been more than employees of firms in Europe and North America. Three men who settled in Melbourne — George Robertson, Henry Hyde Champion and Arthur Greening — had previously been in business on their own account, but their activities in Dublin or London were on a fairly modest scale. The one figure to have achieved durable notoriety, if not fame, in the book trade was Benjamin Suggitt Nayler (1796-1875). He lived a busy professional life in Amsterdam between 1820 and 1848 and imported there some of the commercial aggression that had emerged in London in the period after the 1770s. Curiously, the official Australian biographical record says nothing about this aspect of his career.1 Indeed there are so many gaps and inaccuracies in our accounts of Nayler2 — as opposed to the serious research done over many years in The Netherlands — that it is worth sketching the main phases of a complicated existence and laying out the problems facing anyone attempting a comprehensive study of a polymath whose contacts ranged from a star of the London stage in the eighteenth century to an Australian prime minister of the twentieth.
Four principal stages of Nayler's career can be quickly characterized as childhood and early adult training in England from 1796 to 1820, employment and marriage in The Netherlands between 1820 and 1848, a renewed sojourn in England, then Wales, for seventeen years to 1865, before a final decade of lecturing and writing in Australia till 1875. In each case a different set of documents is needed to fill in the details and to make sense of an apparently quite fragmented set of commitments and achievements. For more than half a century Nayler was a minor public figure in three different countries — or four, if Wales is counted as separate from England. Although he was too marginal to be the sort of ‘public man’ about whom others wrote in their memoirs, he readily mentioned in his own numerous writings his acquaintances and those whom he claimed as his friends and models. There are thus abundant materials for reconstructing the quite distinct networks to which he belonged. Much of what he did from the early 1820s onwards was noted or advertised in the newspaper press, but, given the disappearance of many titles and the growing parochialism of collecting policies even in major libraries, there are formidable obstacles in the way of exhaustive searching. Similarly, no one library in the English-speaking world holds every book and pamphlet that Nayler published in England and Australia, let alone his substantial Dutch output. The State Library of Victoria comes closest

B.S. Nayler in 1831 from a lithographic portrait by Maria Elisabeth Nayler-Liernur.
Amsterdam City Archives.

to having a rounded collection, but more needs to be brought together to recognize Nayler's role in the intellectual, cultural and religious ferment of Victoria in the 1860s and 1870s and to assess what he contributed from British and European traditions going back to the beginning of the century.


The future publisher's origins seem to have been rather mysterious for his contemporaries. An entry written for a Dutch biographical dictionary3 not long after he left Amsterdam suggests his birth occurred about 1780 in Cherbourg! In fact, as the baptismal record of 6 April 1796 for St Cuthbert's Church, Darlington, County Durham, indicates, he was born in that town on 11 March of the same year.4 His father is shown as ‘Matthew Nayler of Darlington, Skinner’. At the time of Benjamin Nayler's marriage in The Netherlands in the 1820s Matthew, then described as a ‘Bontwerker’ or furrier, was living in York with his wife Mary.5 Nothing is said of siblings, but in 1849, after his return to England, Benjamin stated in a letter to Josephus Albertus Alberdingk Thijm that he had lodged with sisters in Scarborough.6 It is obvious that more needs to be done to reconstruct the family circumstances accurately.
Most of what is known at present of Nayler's activities before 1820 has to be drawn from passing references and asides in his published works, not least those produced in Australia after 1865. Apart from a septuagenarian weakness for reminiscing, Nayler often found himself engaged in polemics in which he wanted to appeal to authorities of all kinds and to personal experience. For example, in the lecture on Education; Comprising. Secular and Religious Instruction given in September 1869 at the West Melbourne Literary Institution we learn that Matthew Nayler was not just a skinner or furrier:
My honored Father's, and also my Grandfather's house (both of them Ministers of the Gospel) was a home for every Pulpit-stranger who visited Darlington, or, Yarm, during a long course of years, irrespective of the Stranger's denominational title.7
From this statement it is not immediately clear to what Dissenting or Non-conformist sect the Naylers belonged. However, he later reveals that the grandfather in question was none other than George Merryweather, the Yarm merchant and an old friend and correspondent of John Wesley himself.8 Subsequently, in Hell? Or, no Hell? One of the Serious Questions of the Present Day Answered by a Layman, Benjamin, after listing the biblical commentaries preferred by his grandfather, his father and his mother, declares that he was ‘[b]rought up as a Methodist (before the term Wesleyan came into vogue)’.9 What is nevertheless inescapable is Benjamin Nayler's exposure to many branches of English Protestantism. Indeed, he notes in his fourth Australian pamphlet, The Age we live in: ‘I was a regular Church and Chapel and Meetinghouse goer, for nearly half a century; I have heard the most celebrated pulpit-orators of a variety of denominations, as well as cheese-and-bread preachers[…]’10 This lifelong experience or curiosity is visible in his writings on theological questions.
The ambivalent situation of early nineteenth-century Methodism is shown in what we know of Nayler's education. In the fourteenth, and apparently last pamphlet, Nuts for the Orthodox to Crack, a polemical piece attacking Archdeacon Stretch's views on spiritualism, the Darlington man admits:
For a series of years, I was as much entangled in Paul's intricacies as you, Reverend Sir, are at present; for I was baptized into the Church of England faith, and was drilled by the Rev. Wm. Rawes (at Houghton-le-Spring School) in the Church of England Catechism;11
A little earlier, in Commonsense Observations on the Existence of Rules (not yet reduced to System, in any Work extant) regarding the English Language, there had been a reference to Rawes, ‘our clever and gentlemanly master’ at the grammar school established by Bernard Gilpin at Houghton-le-Spring in the sixteenth century.12 How long Nayler's schooling lasted he does not say precisely, although a marked preference for seeing English pursued ahead of ancient languages and for emphasizing the advantages enjoyed by plain working-class scholars as against the ‘University-bred’13 suggests a stance born of necessity. Whether he was apprenticed to a trade14 or simply served as a bookkeeper in the family business, the young Benjamin started on a path more in conformity with his class and religious background. The training was to prove useful in his years in Amsterdam, but his silence about it in later life is quite significant. What he wanted to do once he was free at the time of his majority was altogether different.
The parental household seems to have offered intellectual stimulation beyond theological discussions. Matthew Nayler is described as having an ‘intimate friend’ in Edward Baines sen., proprietor of the Leeds Mercury and MP for Leeds in succession to Macaulay,15 and another ‘intimate and exalted friend’ in Joseph Agar.16 Within the leather trades and Dissenting or Methodist circles there was ample opportunity to encounter liberalism and radicalism, causes that were easy to embrace for someone who remarked half a century later that liberty was ‘a privilege unknown in England when I was a young man’.17 Beyond politics there was a vocation: the teaching and practice of elocution. Relying on his own reading and initiative Benjamin Nayler set out, probably around 1817, to learn from the best instructors. This meant moving from the North-East to London and to a first major widening of his experience. His reading in the field had begun earlier: ‘In 1814, I became acquainted with 3 of Walker's principal works — “Critical Pronouncing Dictionary,” “Elements of Elocution,” and “Rhetorical Grammar” — worth a shopful of the publications since issued on the same subjects —.’18 John Walker (1732-1807) remained his principal inspiration and guide over the next sixty years, but he did not hesitate to seek out other teachers or to profit from hearing and speaking with actors. Thus he records: ‘I have heard Mrs. Siddons, times out of mind, enthusiastic in her praises of “Walker's matchless Elocution” — often giving me imitations of his delivery of striking and difficult passages.'19 And then again:
Having imbibed a love of Reading, and a taste for Good-reading, from the admirable example of one of the cleverest of Mothers; on taking up my residence in London, I took Lessons of several Elocutionists — but, it was the celebrated Mrs. Siddons (b. 1755, d. 1831) that drilled me into a more extensive acquaintance with this peculiar liquid sound, when I enjoyed the privilege of reading to her about half-a-century since.20
The whole episode raises interesting questions, not only about Sarah Siddons's activities in quasi-retirement, but also about the way in which the profession of elocutionist was taking shape.
Nayler also had contacts with actors of more recent generations. In one of two pamphlets written apropos of a visit by an English theatrical troupe to Amsterdam in 1829 — A Memoir of Miss Smithson, Leading Actress of the English Tragedians in Amsterdam, 1829 — he recalls his first meeting with Harriet Smithson, later Mme Hector Berlioz, in the winter of 1819-1820:
Our heroine afterwards returned to London […] and appeared on the Coburg boards, where I have repeatedly been gratified, highly gratified, while witnessing her chaste performance. Mr. Howell Senior, one of the best, perhaps the very best Reader in the Coburg Company at that time, and to whom I am indebted for much valuable instruction, introduced me to our heroine, of whose Ladylike conduct behind the Scenes I take this opportunity of making honorable mention.21
Through such encounters and careful observation of what he saw and heard Nayler had prepared himself for a new career outside the leather trade. The opportunity was to come in a fresh and unexpected sphere.


The reason for his visit to The Netherlands is given in Education; Comprising Secular and Religious Instruction of 1869: he had gone there in September 1820 ‘for the benefit of my Health’, intending ‘to have Wintered there, and to have returned home in Spring’ [p. 11]. In the event, Nayler was to spend twenty-eight years on the Continent, essentially in Amsterdam, where he established his various businesses and centres of interest. Despite the brashness and self-confidence with which he began his stay, the young Englishman was to discover that the Dutch had much to teach him in return for what he brought them as an expositor and distributor of English literary culture on the lecture platform, in the classroom and through the bookshop.
Given the quantity of research done on Nayler in The Netherlands in recent decades and the mass of material in Dutch and English that he left behind when he returned to England at the end of 1848, it would be altogether inappropriate to attempt any sort of detailed presentation. Apart from the publications that found their way quickly to the Dutch book-trade organization22 and thence, much more recently, to the Library of the University of Amsterdam, there are archival documents, newspaper announcements, the correspondence with Alberdingk Thijm and even a volume of pamphlets and manuscripts acquired in 1966 by the State Library of Victoria.23 The most substantial treatments of the evidence are Inga Both's thesis,24 an article by Lisa Kuitert on Nayler's role as a bookseller,25 Catharina H. Schoneveld's bibliography of the works published by the firm between 1822 and 1846,26 and a couple of studies by Cornells W. Schoneveld on the literary impact of the teacher and translator.27
It is not difficult to explain the Englishman's decision to settle in Amsterdam by the fact that he married in The Netherlands. As he declared in 1869,'I found a Wife beyond all praise'28 The date of the official civil record — 11 March 1825 in Amsterdam29 — poses a
problem since it contradicts at least one earlier mention of Maria Elisabeth Liernur in Dutch sources as Mrs Nayler and runs counter to the unchallenged acceptance in Australia that the marriage occurred in The Hague in the previous year, when the bride was twenty-two and the groom twenty-eight. The explanation can be found in a text published in Wales three and a half decades later. Wearied by attempts to put together the extensive documentation required for a civil ceremony under Dutch law, Nayler had opted instead for an Anglican wedding on 18 April 1824 in the chapel of the British Embassy in The Hague. Later he was persuaded by promises ‘that not a single Document should be required, nor a Guilder charged’ to submit to a civil union in Amsterdam on 11 March of the following year.30 Maria Elisabeth was the daughter of the artist Alexander Liernur (1770-1815) and herself practised various art forms, including photography at a later period, throughout her adult life. There were no children.
Nayler's first, and perhaps most congenial, professional commitment in Amsterdam was in teaching and in public readings. He claimed later that he was launched on this path by his voluntary work as ‘Clerk to the British Chaplaincy in Amsterdam’ in 1820-1821.31 During the following decades he put much effort into private instruction aimed exclusively at adults and into public readings and lectures, notably in the forum provided by an English Literary Society that seems to have functioned from the early 1820s in Leiden as well as Amsterdam. In all this his business was English language and literature, of which he became de facto an influential transmitter in The Netherlands. In his fierce attack on the style of public readings in Melbourne he refers to his Dutch experience and to the agreeable independence and authority he enjoyed running things there: ‘I was sole Manager of both Societies; consequently, I never had an opportunity of quarreling, nor even caviling, with any fellow-director; my Will was Law, and I but seldom fell out with myself.’32 Behind the humour lay a good deal of North Country obstinacy. Surviving lists of material for reading, some of them in the Melbourne volume acquired in 1966, show a taste that encompassed Scott and Byron, but that looked more particularly to the eighteenth and earlier centuries.
The teacher learned from his pupils. More than once Nayler recounts a remarkable experience:
Upwards of 40 years ago, I received one of the most instructive Lessons of my life, from that shrewd Minister of Finance to William II. of Holland, Floris van Hall, when I was one day giving him instructions in my mother-tongue; and that invaluable Lesson was — frankly to acknowledge my ignorance of any subject I was not thoroughly acquainted with — a Lesson indelibly engraven on my mind;33
The context needs to be remembered: Nayler's pupils were recruited from the Dutch élite of the time. The simple explanation lies perhaps in the fact that the country was turning away from exclusive Francophilia to greater interest in English culture, a change of direction Nayler himself tried to bring about in An Appeal to the Judgements of the Dutch and French Inhabitants of the City of Amsterdam, on the Subject of the English Language.34 The success of the enterprise brought the Englishman into touch with Leiden professors and men of
letters, with some of whom he was to have a durable connection.
Is Nayler accurate in stating, in 1869, that ‘I have had the honor of refusing a professorial Chair at two Universities’?35 We may never know the answer, but it is important to recognize that in the first half of the nineteenth century ‘professing’ a modern foreign language was more practical and much less oriented towards literary history and philology than was the case after 1870. In this respect a man like Nayler without university training was hardly different from the people who taught French and German at the University of Sydney in the 1850s and 1860s. What is certain is that pedagogical needs set him thinking about procuring books suitable for his students and brought him back to the trade world he had abandoned for elocution.
Apart from not infrequent complaints about the failure of printers to spell in a consistent manner, Nayler's later writings do not reminisce about his involvement in the book industry as opposed to teaching English. Thus, to learn about his business as a bookbinder in Amsterdam in the 1820s, it is necessary to follow advertisements in the press and to consult the transcript — preserved in Melbourne — of his dealings with his partner John Teasdale.36 An agreement was signed in York on 17 August 1825, proving that Nayler re-crossed the Channel at least once in his Dutch career. By 1 March 1826 the partnership had come to an end. Teasdale continued to work — unsatisfactorily in his principal's view — for Nayler for a time. Eventually, in 1829, the Englishman sold out of this side of his firm.37 Bookselling, publishing and auctioning went on for very much longer, but, in spite of a much larger body of evidence in the form of newspaper announcements, catalogues and books, we seem to lack the business papers that would make sense of the rise and fall of an idiosyncratic enterprise.
Although the need and the desire to make English books available to Dutch readers and buyers may have provided the initial impulse for Nayler's activity, his dealings covered a considerably wider field. Most of the publications in the list of Nayler and Co. were in either English or Dutch, but French and German were not entirely absent. Alongside Byron, Pope and Scott, one finds Bilderdijk and Geel. This was not a major house, but, through its access to a group of contemporary local writers, it was not an insignificant one. It was also a vehicle for the propagation of its owner's views and for the furthering of his educational work and causes. Thus B. S. Nayler himself figures quite prominently in the catalogue, not only for A Rhetorical Grammar: wherein the common improprieties in reading and speaking are exposed, and the true sources of elegant pronunciation pointed out (1822), A Collection of one hundred pieces of English literature: fifty in prose and fifty in verse: accompanied with a variety of notes for the use of the inhabitants of The Netherlands (1830) or Memoir of the life and writings of Walter Scott, the wizzard of the North, the great unknown, the author of Waverly (1833), but also for a series of shorter polemical writings in Dutch. The latter group points to the Englishman's contested position in the Amsterdam trade.
When a writer in a later generation referred to Nayler as ‘Barnum II’,38 what he meant

Nayler, B.S. Preface to Commonsense Observations on the Existence of Rules regarding the English Language.
Melbourne. 1869. S 370.4 ED8 (V.7).

was a flamboyant style of advertising and a highly competitive approach to selling at discounted prices. Issues of free trade and protectionism, of retail and wholesale discounts and of remaindering and pulping were being discussed and treated in different ways in the major Western European countries in the first half of the nineteenth century. The trade cartel established in Amsterdam in 1815 resisted the liberalization of the market, but Nayler as a non-member and an outsider seems to have fought successfully for some time against his competitors' restrictions, not least through the auction sales he organized of unbound remainders, perhaps in sheets. There were London precedents for his way of doing business, and in the years before 1820 he can hardly have been unaware of them. Lackington's ‘Temple of the Muses’ in Finsbury Square was there still as a reminder of an English pioneer of remaindering in the 1770s.39 Nayler, after all, sold for cash and did not give credit, following the example of his predecessor. Some of his customers, indeed, may have known that discounting was practised even earlier in Paris.40
Innovation in commerce is not without its risks. Even though the documents are missing, it seems that Nayler was going under by the late 1840s. When he retreated to Britain in December 1848, it was his friends the writers and not his enemies the booksellers who got up a testimonial to help him seek a fresh start.41


Correspondence with Alberdingk Thijm, monographs published, and reminiscences in the Australian pamphlets are the major accessible sources recording Nayler's life between 1848 and 1865. Various questions are left unanswered, but at least it is possible to follow the trajectory that led the devoted couple to emigration to Australia. However, there are also a few official or semi-official documents to fill out the details.
At the time of the 1851 census Benjamin S. Nayler, aged 55, ‘Elocutionist’, and Mary E. Nayler, aged 49, ‘Artist in Drawing &c painting’, were living at 4 Eversholt Street in the Parish of St Pancras, Borough of Marylebone, quite near the site of the new British Library of our century. After considerable difficulties, during which the Naylers had had to sell items of furniture and books, the couple achieved some financial security in 1852.42 Benjamin had, amongst other things, tried his hand at free public lecturing during a tour of England in July 1849, speaking both on topics that were to crop up again in his Australian repertoire and on ‘the Literature and Poetry of the Dutch’, a subject he would not have dared to treat in Amsterdam. Essentially he found employment as ‘the accredited Elocutionist to the largest and most celebrated Institutions in London’.43 In writing of his disagreement with Punch on certain points of pronunciation, he excepts from his criticism his ‘friend Douglas Jerrold’ and notes that one of the foundations in which he taught was the ‘Whittington Club and Metropolitan Athenaeum’ set up by the latter.44 However, the combination ‘public lecturer and private teacher’ best summed up Nayler's aspirations for the last three decades of his life.45
As a lecturer he was not simply a performer following the rules of his elocutionary art. It is obvious that he was a campaigner, a publicist and a quite redoubtable polemicist. Many of the acquaintanceships and friendships claimed in his second British career sprang from contacts made in the attempt to push ideas and advance causes. It would be easy to dismiss such references as mere name-dropping, but the solid evidence of his collaboration with people of some eminence encountered in The Netherlands suggests caution in rushing to judgment. Even the dedication of Commonsense Observations in 1869 to Joseph Bosworth, Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, but an Anglican clergyman in Amsterdam when Nayler met him forty years before, does more than hint at a long exchange of letters and of reflections on linguistic matters between two men more strongly marked by English amateurism, however laborious, than by German philological science.46
To the Methodist and Dissenting contacts of his youth he added approaches to figures situated in the Radical and Liberal traditions that had become central in his political stances. Thus he set about lobbying leaders like ‘my friend Cobden’, who, in Nayler's ‘first interview with him’ on the subject of the Dutch education system, admitted that the British knew little of their neighbour across the North Sea.47 How genuine was this friendship? Cobden was besieged by the supporters of various causes, as Morley's biography makes clear, and, as one of his own letters to George Combe in 1849 demonstrates: ‘[…] I am in a daily treadmill of letter-writing, for every man having a crotchet upon finance, or a grievance however trifling, is inundating me with his correspondence.’48 Was Morley thinking of the Naylers of this world when he wrote of Cobden: ‘He usually extended his good-nature even to the busy-bodies who pester public men with profitless correspondence.’?49 At all events, references to connections with James Silk Buckingham,50 Charles Gilpin51 and others need to be seen in this light. It was — and is — in the nature of politicians to extend the forms of cordiality to all comers. At the same time it is important to recognize that progress with great issues did not occur solely through speeches at mass rallies or in the House of Commons, but through the pamphlets of little men and letters to local newspapers that have languished unread and unindexed. Private letters, however tiresome or vexatious, and interviews were part of the agitation for reform. Nayler represents well this semi-private face of the movement towards liberalism.
As far as his own publications in his London years were concerned, the erstwhile bookseller and publisher clung in essentials to his professional concerns as an elocutionist and champion of English literature. In 1850, contrary to Nayler's usual practice, there appeared, anonymously, An Essay on the Science of Pronunciation; dedicated to Her Majesty, Public-Opinion, the Queen of the World: by an Advocate of Consistency.52 A characteristically overloaded title-page — Nayler took his inspiration often from the style of the seventeenth century — declares with pride a position adopted in most of his writings:
This Essay is penned by ‘a plain, blunt, man;’ an adept at imparting hard, intelligible truths — a novice in the smooth, ambiguous phraseology of adulation; better versed in censuring palpable errors, than in praising dubious excellences

Nayler, B.S. Time and Truth reconciling the Moral and Religious World to Shakespeare: the greatest Poet and Dramatist, the greatest Moral-philosopher and Philanthropist that ever lived in the tide of times, etc. London, 1854. *S 822.33Z N23. Rare Book Collection.

In later publicity, notably in Australia, for this work the author reprinted an opinion taken from the North London Advertiser.
The work of a Thinker, containing much information and amusement. The Press has spoken highly in its praise; and, indeed, the Author, in writing well, has only done what he ought to have done, considering his resources — for, certainly, as we examine page after page, we wonder Who and What he has not read.53
Even if Nayler was sparing in praising living or dead writers, he was not incapable of enthusiasm, as in the 1854 volume Time and Truth reconciling the Moral and Religious World to Shakespeare, the greatest Poet and Dramatist, the greatest Moral-philosopher and
Philanthropist, that ever lived in the tide of times: whose greatness, like an Alpine-avalanche, continues increasing and increasing, as the wonderful revelations of his overwhelming Genius roll down the steep of time!54 Despite the grand generalizations, not to mention the hyperbole, the text, dated from London on 22 April 1854, is considerably more interesting than appearances suggest. Brought up in a strict religious household where Shakespeare was proscribed, Nayler is defiantly setting out the virtues and the moral value of an author discovered in adulthood. This is, then, a testimony of personal liberation, a fact that explains its attention to current literature (‘Douglas Jerrold's excelent Shilling Magazine’), to political events like the Crimean War and to radical causes. Nayler's Shakespeare is an authority bolstering independent and unconventional opinions. It is quite possible that this book, like its predecessor of 1850, was self-financed. In any case, as a good tradesman, Nayler filled out his ‘8 pages to spare’ ‘with a few Remarks on the Spellings of Words.’55
Later in the 1850s the Naylers moved to Milford in Pembrokeshire. Slater's Directory for South Wales in 1858-1859 shows Mr B. S. Nayler, living in Hamilton Terrace, Milford, among the ‘Gentry and Clergy’.56 In the 1861 census the Naylers were at 17 Hamilton Terrace together with a locally recruited maidservant, Elizabeth Evans. Benjamin is described as an ‘Accountant’, a detail that also appears in a memoir written by one of his erstwhile Dutch associates.57 However, this change of status did not mean the abandonment of literary and pedagogical ambitions.
On 8 November 1860, according to his own testimony, Nayler opened a reading society in South Wales. Admission was free in the first year, but in the winter of 1861 one penny was required, or twopence for reserved seats. There were difficulties to overcome:
Notwithstanding the opposition evinced by certain narrow-minded Sectarists (who fancied that they alone ought to Instruct the people) I battled the contemplated Society into existence, and my efforts were crowned with signal success; for our Meetings were full to overflowing.58
The cultural struggle also took the form of pamphleteering. In 1859 Nayler published — with a typically extravagant title-page — Bones for Sabbatarians to Pick. An Appeal from the Prejudices to the Judgements of the Thinking Inhabitants of Pembrokeshire on the Sabbath Question.59 A controversy that had started in 1858 in the Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph spilled over into a volume of 64 pages in two columns of small print. In this work Nayler did his best to demolish the arguments put forward in favour of traditional Sunday observance by a local clergyman called Woodman.
A seemingly detached view of this performance can be found in the March 1861 number of Luke Burke's periodical The Future. Noting that the text was ‘written under the immediate stimulus of local controversy, and therefore, in many respects, written down to the level of the popular mind, but displaying at the same time a prodigious amount of reading upon all matters bearing on the subject in hand’, Burke goes on to remark: ‘Mr. Nayler is a clear and forcible reasoner, and did he not also appear to be a very rapid writer, one would regret to see such a waste of energy and talent upon an adversary of obviously
incommensurate power.’60
Why did Burke bother to notice a Welsh quarrel in his short-lived Journal of Philosophical Research and Criticism, as its sub-title defined its purpose? The answer lies in Nayler's own annotated set of The Future, held by the State Library of Victoria since the 1960s.61 There Nayler reveals that he was the ‘X.Y.Z.’ who lent Burke, ‘a perfect stranger’, the money to continue his endeavour and who strove to find new subscribers both in the United Kingdom and among his ‘friends in Australia’ (four years before his removal to this continent).62 In his lecture The Battle of Science, Nayler, deploring the lack of support for ‘the most extraordinary work of this generation’ ‘by that clear-thinker and profound-philosopher Luke Burke, the most elegant as well as most instructive writer of our day’, adds the tantalizing aside:
While I was in England, I forwarded 25 copies, monthly, for several months, and sent many Prospectuses to a literary friend of mine in Melbourne; and though they were carefully distributed among public Libraries, Scientific, and Literary characters and Institutions, One gentleman only — only One became a Subscriber63
Unstinting praise for Burke was to be a constant feature in Nayler's later writings and in this respect a reminder that he could be attentive to the contributions of much younger contemporaries.
The second book produced during the sojourn in Pembrokeshire was published pseudonymously. The full title reads, with characteristic loquacity, as A Discussion among upwards of 250 Theological Inquirers, Clergymen, Dissenting Ministers, and Laymen; on the Unity, Duality, and Trinity, of the Godhead: with Digressions on the Creation, Fall, Incarnation, Atonement, Resurrection, Infallibility of the Scriptures, Inspiration, Miracles, Future Punishments, Revision of the Bible, etc. The Press corrected by Ranley, the Reporter of the Discussion.64 The anagram is transparent enough, and the device is perhaps pardonable in what can claim to be the most ambitious and accomplished of Nayler's works. The participants in the discussion are given fictitious names drawn in particular from the highways and byways of English literature: not only Donne, Congreve, Scott and Swift, but also Jago, Southerne, Heber and Shenstone. Formally one is reminded of French Renaissance exercises in the same style. Nayler is equally serious about his subject, but he recognizes the advantages of diluting heretical or unpopular positions in the contradictions of uninhibited debate. One at least of his reviewers, ‘Dr. Campbell’, saw what he was about:
The frame of this work is strikingly original, and its object is strikingly irreligious. It is the fruit of great labor, much reading, and not a little skill. It is infidelity of the worst type, dexterously popularized. It may be styled a companion to the Essays and Reviews, to Colenso and Renan.65
Above all, A Discussion points to the centrality of theological disputation in Nayler's intellectual itinerary. The shadow of the parsonage falls on much of what he wrote right up to the end. Hence it is somehow fitting that in the second volume of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony the hero, on a train trip to Ballarat, should be ‘deep in a pamphlet entitled: “The
Unity, Duality or Trinity of the Godhead?”'86


Apart from some interest in the pamphlet on Penny Readings,67 it is Nayler's Spiritualism that has attracted most attention in his last adopted country. The subject was opened to scholarly enquiry by F. B. Smith's thesis ‘Religion and Freethought in Melbourne, 1870 to 1890’, where the immigrant took his due place.68 More recently Al Gabay has worked in some depth on nineteenth-century Melbourne Spiritualism, but his sketch of ‘BS Naylor and wife’, who appear in Alfred Deakin's ‘Spiritual Diary’ in 1880,69 needs some qualification. In particular, references to the ‘Veteran Spiritualist and socialist B. S. Naylor’ are misleading, given what we know about the liberal and radical traditions that lay behind the Australian writings of a plain-spoken author not incapable of subtlety.70 Consideration in outline of the stages of Nayler's last decade will show both how much he was faithful to his past and how he evolved in his new colonial circumstances.
The Naylers' decision to emigrate to Australia was made in order to cure Benjamin's bronchitis, so Thijm was told in July 1865.71 This conventional Victorian justification may well have been buttressed by the presence of friends and acquaintances in the colony An annotation in Nayler's set of The Future identifies the sole Australian subscriber as William Lynch.72 Was this Caroline Dexter's young second husband? Although Mrs Nayler copied a work by William Dexter, a connection between the two families has so far not been spelt out.73 On the other hand, Benjamin speaks insistently of the presence in Melbourne of links with his past: ‘others, who aided me on the Continent of Europe 40 years ago, and in London a dozen years back, I have lived to shake hands with in Victoria;’.74 Whoever these people were, the elderly couple boarded the Great Britain as unassisted immigrants, leaving Liverpool on 24 July 1865 and arriving in Melbourne seven weeks later on 12 September.75
For over three years the Naylers' lives followed patterns they had established much earlier. Their art works, books and manuscripts accompanied them and supported their Melbourne activities. Maria Elisabeth exhibited at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition in 1866, but the Art Union organized the next year suggests a need to raise cash in an environment where commissions and teaching engagements were probably not easy to obtain. When the dispersal was announced in July 1867 the Naylers were living in ‘Holland Terrace, High Street, near Chapel Street, Prahran’,76 but the Sands & McDougall directory for that year has them next door to Scotch College on the western side of Lansdowne Street. From 1868 to 1872 they were, according to the directories and Benjamin's published pamphlets, at 35 Stephen Street (now Exhibition Street) on the western side between Flinders Lane and Collins Street. At this address they were followed in 1874 by Garnet Walch of the Tasmanian publishing and bookselling dynasty.
Initially Benjamin seems to have devoted himself to his favourite intellectual pursuits,
joining groups like the Eclectic Association, attending public lectures and publishing pamphlets. Five of these last appeared before the end of 1866. At least one of them, The Age we live in, reworked one of the public lectures he gave in Scarborough in July 1849.77 Others were reactions to what Nayler regarded as provocations and abuses. In The First Chapter of Genesis Vindicated and Exculpated, From the gross Absurdities palmed upon it; by The Bishop of Melbourne: In his Lecture (16 July) on ‘Genesis and Geology’ the polemicist expressed his dislike both of what Bishop Perry said and of his speaking style: ‘a very sorry affair, indeed — as discreditable in manner as incongruous in matter, with scarcely any redeeming qualities’.78 Nayler's advertisement was refused by The Argus on the ground that it could not ‘allow the Bishop of Melbourne to be insulted, by any New-Chum’. Having written at great speed in best pamphlet style, Nayler added, as a canny professional aware that he was paying for 16 pages: ‘The preceding is what flowed from the Pen, regarding Perry v. Moses; what follows, is added to fill up the remaining space.’79
As a newcomer intent on participating and on reforming Melbourne practices, Nayler drew on his European experience in his account of Penny Readings and in his A New-Chum's Advice to Public Speakers and Public Readers; whether In the Senate, at the Bar, in the Pulpit, or, on the Platform; and Not to be despised in Family-circles, where Elegance is preferred to Vulgarity: containing an Outline of Elocution.80 These matters affected the core of Nayler's vocation, so it is not astonishing that he left his readers with a promise: ‘On some future occasion, I may probably issue a pamphlet containing a short sure, and speedy way, to Accurate and Elegant Pronunciation.81 The realization of this undertaking was to come in 1869 in the Commonsense Observations, the most substantial of his Australian writings. In the meantime, as he announced in More Prizes than Blanks, he had decided to return to the teaching of speaking and writing.82 The reasons for this were very likely as much pecuniary as pastoral. The local trade acted as Nayler's printers and distributors in most cases, so he will have borne the bulk of the costs of his ventures into authorship. By late 1869 he was admitting — in a justification of the price of his pamphlets at the end of the advertisements impended to his Man, as a Rational, a Social, and an Accountable being; possessing Faculties to cultivate, and having Duties to perform
I am not in circumstances (as in former days) to permit of my distributing gratis by thousands, nor yet by hundreds, Pamphlets which may be advantageous to the Public; I have lost most of the little all I brought with me to Australia, in 1865; and (in my 74th year) I have to start the world afresh:83
Apart from printing expenses, Nayler also had to hire the various halls in which he spoke. It is clear from the minutes of the Melbourne Mechanics' Institution, now the Melbourne Athenaeum, that his lectures there were not part of the official programme, even if he was recorded as a subscribing member in 1869.84
Nayler's reforming zeal outlasted 1866 and the exhaustion of his funds. After capital punishment and arguments for its abolition, he returned in 1869 to the virtues of the Dutch system of national education, already praised in The Age we live in and promoted, as in

Gemmell, Tuckett & Co. [Auction catalogue]. 19 March 1870. The auction of 800 volumes of valuable books, the property of B.S. Nayler. *LT 824 V66 (v.126). La Trobe Rare Books Collection.

England, to potentially sympathetic politicians:
when I saw in the Newspapers, that Messieurs Higinbotham and Fellows were the Leaders of the House of Assembly, on the momentous question of ‘National Education,’ I sent a Copy of my No. 4 Pamphlet (‘The Age we Live in’) to each of them;85
As he noted later in A Plea on behalf of the Workingclasses, for the immediate establishment of a Victorian Sunday League, to counteract the immoral tendences of ‘The Sunday Observance Society’, the reaction was mixed:
although I never received so much as an acknowledgement, from either of the gentlemen, of the receipt of the Pamphlet handed to them (by a mutual acquaintance) I can perceive the effects in the turn which has been given to the Educational-question now before the Colony.86
The anti-Sabbatarian tract was itself presented to various public figures, J. E. Neild87 and David Blair88 among them. A second run of a thousand copies was called for, an indication that in this instance Nayler's case and campaign attracted wider support, as he
acknowledged on the title-page in referring to ‘a Fund voluntarily subscribed by Promoters of the Cause’.
Although many earlier convictions and commitments were neither abandoned nor forgotten, 1869 marked an important turning-point for Benjamin Nayler. In the first number of The Glowworm, which he launched at the end of November 1869, the elocutionist stated:
I am but an Infant in the school of Spirit-philosophy — not an Adult ‘of many years experience,’ as announced in the newspapers; for, not untill January 1869, was I roused to a sense of its reality, having previously looked upon it as an hallucination;
and then reinforced the point by remarking that ‘I became a convert to Spiritism (in January last).’89 Thereafter, writing and lecturing about Spiritualism (which, with a grammarian's obstinacy, he insisted on calling ‘Spiritism’) became his principal occupation, one that cannot be recounted here in all its details. It is, however, important to stress that for Nayler Spiritualism lay on a path to progress that included not only the nineteenth century's scientific discoveries and technological advances, but also homeopathy, mesmerism and phrenology. At the same time his espousal of the new doctrines and practices has to be set in the context of a lifelong debate with and reaction against the strict Methodism of his upbringing.
The Naylers' financial situation remained precarious. It is possible that work preparing catalogues for W. H. Terry, the Spiritualist bookseller and publisher, brought in some money.90 On 19 March 1870 Gemmell, Tuckett, & Co. auctioned over 800 volumes from Nayler's library, the title-page of the catalogue stating baldly that the owner's ‘reduced circumstances exact the sacrifice of Books, Paintings, Engravings, etc.’91 On the second page an art union, including chiefly work by Mrs Nayler, is advertised, with the items on view at 35 Stephen Street. The 300 lots of books include material in Dutch and French. The whole was obviously written by Nayler himself, not least because it displays an accuracy and a professionalism rare in Melbourne book-auction catalogues of the period. The offering is miscellaneous, but there are enough classics of elocution and rhetoric to suggest that the author of Commonsense Observations had effectively given up the hope expressed to Joseph Bosworth that his ‘great work’ ‘may, perhaps, see the light’.92 Despite all, some books — for the most part unidentifiable — were to remain with the Naylers till the end.
The sale no doubt helped to maintain the second wave of pamphleteering begun in 1869 and continued into 1871. Spiritualism was at the centre of this effort, with Nayler now fully engaged in polemics in defence of his new enthusiasm and at times against erstwhile acquaintances in the Eclectic Association like Henry Gyles Turner. In part these battles took place in the press,93 but more substantial presentation of arguments had to pass through the pamphlets — up to 24 or even 32 pages of close print — that were Nayler's favoured vehicle. The Spiritualist position was sometimes developed alongside or linked to older crusades in favour of national education or the emancipation of women. More often theological
considerations obtruded: Nayler was continuing a discussion begun in childhood with his parents about ‘eternal damnation’ and ‘universal restoration’. Indeed, the spirit communications mediated by Maria Elisabeth from Benjamin's parents seem to have turned around these questions.94 Other Spiritualists were sometimes disconcerted by this preoccupation with theology,95 but uniformity was far from being the most striking characteristic of their movement. It is enough to look at some of the people Nayler encountered in the Victorian Association of Progressive Spiritualists in the early 1870s — Walter Lindesay Richardson,96 James Smith, E. W. Cole,97 John Ross, Alfred Deakin — to recognize a range of talents and divergent views.
Nayler knew that the adventure of The Glowworm was likely to be shortlived, as he admitted — in early November 1869 — in announcing its imminent publication.98 Two copies of the first two numbers are held by the State Library of Victoria. Were there any others? At the end of the second number the editor reflected on his prospects:
I have printed 1000 Copies; and if every Copy were Sold, I should not have Sixpence for myself, after deducting the 25 per cent. Discount to the Trade. But, how am I to get the 1000 sold? Certainly not by the aid of friends who are ‘so deeply interested in the sale of The Glowworm’, that they borrow it, and even ask Me to lend a copy, on the assurance of its being ‘returned quite clean!’
The Glowworm will have to struggle into notoriety independent of its admiring and deeply interested Friends [p. 24].
Although friends sent encouraging letters — Nayler quotes with satisfaction one from William Howitt99 — the enterprise was doomed and gave way to Terry's Harbinger of Light, which began its very long career in September 1870.
Terry's monthly is the best source for tracking the last five years of Nayler's life. In this period the plea for a Continental Sunday and the attack on Stretch, dated 18 November 1871, were ostensibly the only publications outside Nayler's contributions to The Harbinger of Light. Nuts for the Orthodox to Crack. Animadversions on the Venerable T. C. B. Strech's [sic] Sermon on Spiritism was written in great haste, ‘having spent the greater part of two days over this Pamphlet, I have not time to make it shorter’ [p. 16]. Similar admissions can be found in other works.100 Writing with more leisure, as he could do at times in his earlier career, Nayler was able to observe rules of composition and organization of which he was well aware. His biographer, on the other hand, is grateful for digressions, reminiscences and indiscretions that help to provide a context for a multi-faceted existence.
It is evident that lectures and readings in and around Melbourne were a rather fragile basis for the Naylers' material well-being. Consequently it is no surprise to read in a report on the imminent operation of the ‘new Spiritual Lyceum at Stawell’: ‘Our old friend and fellow worker in the cause of Spiritualism and free thought, Mr. B. S. Nayler, has accepted the invitation of the Stawell Association of Progressive Spiritualists to lecture for them for
the ensuing twelve months.’101 The building at the corner of Sloane and Skene Streets — later to pass, ironically, to the Primitive Methodists and in the end to the Church of Christ102 — was opened officially on 11 August 1872, an event recounted at length in the Spiritualist magazine at the beginning of the next month. The Naylers' commitment was laid out:
It is intended to use the building during the week evenings for lectures on secular subjects; on the forenoon of every Sunday as a Children's Lyceum; and on Sunday evenings for lectures and readings bearing upon the great Harmonial philosophy, and in all probability our respected friend and earnest co-worker Mr B. S. Nayler, who is under a lengthened engagement to our Stawell friends, will open elocution and drawing classes during the week-days, assisted by his amiable and highly accomplished life-partner ‘Bessy,’ as he delights to call her; a library will also be added to the comforts of the hall at an early date.103
The achievement of these aims turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. James Smith, who had lectured at the Lyceum's inauguration, led many of the original supporters off into a schismatic movement.104 However, as was reported in September 1873, Nayler fought back quite successfully:
But, not bating one jot of hope, he has addressed the frequenters of the Lyceum 50 Sundays in the course of the year — twice only absent through indisposition; nor has his labor been in vain; for the previously deserted hall had on its anniversary more reliable friends than on the day of its opening.105
Six months later the Naylers celebrated their golden wedding in Stawell, but the adventure was nearly at an end. On 18 July 1874 Maria Elisabeth died of ‘Congestion of the Lungs’ and, after a Spiritualist service, was buried in the Stawell Cemetery. Press notices, including a letter from Benjamin himself referring to ‘my ardently-loving and beloved Wife's career, who was not in the roll of common women, but one picked out of a million’, suggest not only a deeply felt personal loss, but also, perhaps, the extent to which ‘Bessy’ softened her husband's asperity in the eyes of the world.106
Benjamin Nayler returned to Melbourne at the beginning of 1875 and lived thereafter of the discreetly provided charity of friends and supporters of the Spiritualist movement. He lodged with a Mrs Ann Abrey at 169 Victoria Parade, Collingwood, and died there on 23 June of Chronic Bronchitis. Old Age. Debility'. However, as Terry's notice indicated, he had appeared on 13 June as a reader at the Temperance Hall, and ‘his elocution was distinct, and impressive’ even if' it was observed that his energies were on the wane'. Indeed the obituary remarks about his last months:
He was not however the man to remain idle, and within a fortnight of his death, he published a pamphlet criticising the creeds of modern Christendom, and proposing a scheme for the establishment of an Association of Freethinkers.107
No copy of this publication appears to have survived, but a printer's bill in the probate papers is an additional argument for its existence.108
A dignified Spiritualist funeral was well-attended on 26 June, and Nayler was buried in an unmarked grave in the Unitarian section of the Melbourne General Cemetery quite close to the monument to the Rev. Henry Higginson, one of his adversaries. The executor of the will, John Ross, a leading Spiritualist, but also a ‘co-operative and radical’,109 was left to pay the excess of £7..7..6d of liabilities over the modest assets. Nayler's will of 12 April 1875 gave the residue of his estate to Ross, but Mrs Abrey received ‘Mrs Nayler's Photographic Instruments, and things thereunto belonging’ as well as more banal possessions.
A legacy of ‘Oil and Watercolor paintings and drawings’ to Thomas Welton Stanford, the brother of the founder of the Californian university and a major supporter of Spiritualism in Victoria,110 recognized a debt to a benefactor. The transfer of these art works and of Nayler pamphlets to Stanford University is in itself a little saga of the fragility of cultural memories.111
Among the objects that came to John Ross, apart from a gold watch, were ‘Three portfolios of Scraps & Sketches Books, Pamphlets and manuscripts’ valued in total for probate at £10.112 We know that the manuscripts of Methodist interest were given by the second Mrs Ross in the early 1920s to Queen's College in the University of Melbourne. Other items, such as Luke Burke's The Future and the Amsterdam pamphlet volume containing the copy of the Teasdale contract, must have gone onto the market, perhaps through the trade directly. It can be conjectured that the McLaren Collection's volume containing all the pamphlets issued between 1866 and 1871 came from the same source. Yet Ross's probate papers indicate ‘Safe, personal effects and books’ valued at £50 and, among the receipts, £1..5s for ‘Sale of books’.113 It is likely that little or no monetary value was given to whatever manuscripts remained at this stage. Though Mrs Ross's gift shows that Nayler's legacy was not being treated recklessly, it is difficult to avoid the impression that a substantial archive of letters and papers kept by Nayler for many decades has been irretrievably lost. The ‘Litterateur’ as he is described in the death certificate has to be assessed on the basis essentially of his published work.


After his sojourn in The Netherlands, Nayler returned to England quite dispirited about what he described to Thijm as his lack of impact and achievements.114 Would he have rated his Australian decade any more favourably? In both cases it can be argued that, despite material failure, he made a difference by stimulating discussion and bearing witness to the value of a number of not necessarily fashionable causes. If anything, setbacks had hardened him. The boundaries between individuality, eccentricity and obstinacy were not easily drawn. As Terry remarked, in summing up the first decade of his own monthly: ‘Old Mr Nayler, was a man not easily daunted, opposition increased his energy, and he spoke and wrote with more vigor.’115
‘Our old friend’, ‘the aged gentleman’, these and similar expressions of a somewhat
patronizing flavour were constantly being used with reference to Nayler. They point to the simple fact that he was a generation or more older than most of the people with whom he associated. William Story, the owner of another library that was auctioned in Melbourne in 1870,116 provides additional evidence of the difficulties faced by anybody trying in advanced years to make a new career in the Australian colonies. Inherited prejudices transported to British settlements across the seas could also shackle the self-taught. However, what is striking in Nayler's case is the confidence that carried him through his contacts with the premier figures of the London stage round 1820 on to close relations with leading Leiden professors before 1848, to lobbying of major liberal politicians in England in the 1850s and ultimately to participation in the Melbourne debates of the 1860s and 1870s. Memories of a grandfather who had argued theology with John Wesley no doubt contributed to an assurance based on the belief that anyone who had read solidly, thought hard and exercised individual judgment, had the right to be heard in the public sphere. Fundamental, too, was a faith in progress, in the possibility of improvement and emancipation. This implied a willingness to struggle in order to win concessions and safeguard advances. In this perspective Nayler was a perpetual combatant.
[Acknowledgements: I am much indebted to many people and institutions in Australia, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America for help with my work on Nayler. Some specific instances are set out in the notes. In general, I should like to express my thanks to Lisa Kuitert of the University of Amsterdam, to Pam Pryde and her staff in Rare Books at the Baillieu Library, to Richard Overell in Rare Books at Monash University Library, to Meredith Sherlock of the Centre for the Book, Monash University, for chasing documents in the Public Record Office of Victoria, and especially to Sandra Burt and to Des Cowley for opening up the exceptional manuscript and printed resources of the State Library of Victoria.]

Photograph courtesy of the Elder family.

David Frederick Elder (1916-2005) was a bookman all his life — even when his professional career in the book trade, which began when he joined Lothian in 1935, was interrupted by the Second World War. Having previously been a militiaman in the 6th Field Ambulance of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, he enlisted for active service in the Australian Army, transferring to 8th Division Headquarters. He was imprisoned at the fall of Singapore and, in his own words, ‘I was a Warrant Officer, as Chief Clerk to Alfred Derham and Glyn White, and in Changi I maintained a secret diary of statistics, reports and happenings in microscopic handwriting’. He was later embarrassed that he was ‘mentioned in despatches’ for clerking in the relative comfort of Changi whilst others were on the Burma railway.
In her Prisoners of War, Patsy Adam-Smith records David's perspective on Changi in a section entitled ‘A Bookman in Changi’. He noted that the prisoners ‘were resourceful and imaginative in their efforts to keep themselves sane’, and surprisingly willing to listen to lectures: ‘It was sometimes difficult to decide which one of several lectures to attend on a particular night’. In a private note he remembered that the Changi Literary Society, which met monthly, ‘was a wonderful gathering’, including ‘people like Ron Searle, Russ Braddon, Rawle Knox (son of the editor of Punch, and later to be editor of the journal himself), Alick Downer (later Sir Alexander)’. He read several papers, mostly on the Australian book trade; and he prepared a paper on Arthur Greening which he decided against reading, as it was ‘too limited in appeal’. The article, headed ‘A. W. G.’ and neatly typed on the paper issued by the Japanese for the keeping of records, has survived and is included in the folder now deposited in the State Library.
The greater part of David Elder's professional life was at the Australian branch of Oxford University Press in Melbourne, which he joined in 1946, and of which he became Deputy Manager. He retired from OUP in 1981, but never retired from historical research. A Melbourne man all his life, he was passionately interested in Colonel William Light, the founder of Adelaide, on whom he became the acknowledged authority. His William Light Collection is now at Flinders University.
Esteemed by his colleagues and regarded by all who knew him as a gentleman, David Elder was noted for his generosity to fellow-researchers — as Cecily Close's article bears witness.


A Biographical Register 1788-1939: Notes from the name index of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra, Australian National University, 1987, II, p. 134.


A helpful exception is the precise notice of Nayler's wife, Maria Elisabeth, née Liernur, by Michael Watson in The Dictionary of Australian Artists: Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 563.


A. J. van der Aa, Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden, Haarlem, J. J. van Brederode, 1852, V, N, p. 28.


Entry kindly provided by Jennifer Gill, Durham County Archivist.


Document from the Gemeente Archief of Amsterdam reproduced in facsimile in Inga Both, Benjamin Suggitt Nayler: het belang van een Engelse boekverkoper/uitgever voor de Nederlandse Romantick, Leiden doctoral thesis 1985, illustration 1 facing page 2.


Extract from a letter of 28 July 1849 (Katholiek Documentatie Centrum, University of Nijmegen, Arch. 217, 2923, letter no. 24) included in C. W. Schoneveld, ‘Pioneering in the Propagation of English Letters: B. S. Nayler's Teaching Career in Holland, 1820-1848’, Miscellanea Anglo-Belgica: Papers of the Annual Symposium held on 21 November 1986, Leiden, Sir Thomas Browne Institute, 1987, pp. 40–64, esp. p. 59.


Melbourne, Evans Brothers, 1869, p. 12. In all quotations from Nayler his own strong preferences in matters of spelling, capitalization and punctuation are scrupulously followed.


The Glowworm, no. 2, 31 December 1869, p. 18a-b. On Merryweather see The Works of John Wesley, vol. 21 (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1992), p. 207, and The Letters of the Rev. John Wesley, ed. John Telford (London, The Epworth Press, 1931, 8 vols), volumes iv, v & vii, passim. On Matthew Nayler, see William Naylor, ‘Memoir of Mr. Matthew Nayler’, Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, 1841, pp. 445–461. Queen's College in the University of Melbourne owns a commonplace book of George Merryweather (1799), a commonplace book of Anna Nayler (sister of Benjamin), dated 1816, and a letter sent by Wesley to Merryweather on 15 November 1766. All three manuscripts came from Benjamin Nayler and were given to Queen's College by the widow of John Ross in the early 1920s. I am extremely grateful to Louise Elliot for allowing me to study these items and for guiding me on Methodist sources.


Melbourne, published by B. S. Nayler, printed by Evans Brothers, 1870, pp. 3, 8.


Melbourne, R. Bell, Machine Printer, no date, p. 9.


Melbourne, the Writer, 1871, p. 6.


Melbourne, Evans Brothers, 1869, p. 7.


Hell? Or, no Hell?, p. 3.


I am grateful to Susan Rigby, Information Services Librarian: Local Studies, City of York Libraries, for checking that B. S. Nayler does not appear in the apprenticeship records of the major centre of the book trade in the North-East.


The Age we live in, p. 5.


Penny Readings; both What they Unfortunately now are, in Melbourne and its Vicinity, and what they ought to be, Melbourne, R. Bell Machine Printer, 1866, p. 30.


The Age we live in, p. 7.


Commonsense Observations, p. 38.


Commonsense Observations, p. 35.


Commonsense Observations, p. 67. The sound in question is [kjaind] for [kaind]. On the same page Nayler admits that his adoption of this elegant London and Bath pronunciation was mocked in the north-east and notably in his ‘native place’ by Dr Thomas Peacock, who conducted a school near Darlington.


Amsterdam, Nayler & Co., 1829, pp. 4–5.


See Catalogus der Bibliotheek van de Vereeniging ter Bevordering van de Belangen des Boekhandels te Amsterdam, Amsterdam, P. N. Van Kampen & Zoon, 1885, p. 17.


MS 7784, Box 649/10.


See above note 5.


‘B. S. Nayler and the emergence of the remainder trade’ in Lotte Hellinga, Alastair Duke, Jacob Harskamp & Theo Hermans, eds, The Bookshop of the World: the role of the Low Countries in the book-trade 1473-1941, ‘t Goy-Houten, HES & De Graaf, 2001, pp. 277–284.


Een opmerkelijke Engelsman in Amsterdam: Benjamin Suggitt Nayler. Fondscatalogus van zijn uitgeverij, 1822-1846, ‘s-Gravenhage, P. A. Tiele Academie, 1984.


See in particular the text cited above in note 6 and also ‘Bilderdijk between Pope and Byron: the Paradoxes of his Translation of An Essay on Man into Dutch’ in C. C. Barfoot & Theo D'Haen, eds, Centennial Hauntings: Pope, Byron and Eliot in the Year 88, Amsterdam/Atlanta, GA, Rodopi, 1990, pp. 214–231, esp. pp. 225–228.


Education; Comprising Secular and Religious Instruction, p. 12.


Both, Benjamin Suggitt Nayler, pp. 2–3 and illustration 1.


Bones for Sabbatarians to Pick, Haverfordwest, Jane Potter, 1859, pp. 42b-43a.


Education; Comprising Secular and Religious Instruction, p. 12.


Penny Readings, p. 1.


Hell? Or, no Hell?, p. [2]. See also Education; Comprising Secular and Religious Instruction, p. 12.


Amsterdam, the author, 1822.


Commonsense Observations, p. [1].


See the papers grouped at the end of VSL MS 7784, Box 649/10.


Both, Benjamin Suggitt Nayler, pp. 12–13.


Both, pp. 17–18.


See James Raven, ‘Selling One's Life: James Lackington, Eighteenth-Century Booksellers and the Design of Autobiography’ in O M Brack, Jr, ed., Writers, Books, and Trade: An Eighteenth-Century English Miscellany for William B. Todd, New York, AMS Press, 1994, pp. 1–23, and James Raven, London Booksellers and American Customers: Transatlantic Literary Community and the Charleston Library Society, 1748-1811, Columbia, SC, University of South Carolina Press, 2002.


See Lorraine M. David, ‘Some Early Discounting and Remaindering Initiatives in the Paris Book Trade in David Garrioch and others, eds, The Culture of the Book: Essays from two Hemispheres in Honour of Wallace Kirsop, Melbourne, Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand, 1999, pp. 340–355.


C. W. Schoneveld, ‘Pioneering’, pp. 58–59.


C. W. Schoneveld, ‘Pioneering’, pp. 58–59.


Commonsense Observations, p. [1].


Commonsense Observations, p. 68.


‘Preface’, Commonsense Observations, p. [vii].


‘To the Rev. Dr. Bosworth, F.R.S. etc.’, Commonsense Observations, p. [v].


Education; Comprising Secular and Religious Instruction, p. 13.


John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden, London, Chapman and Hall, 1881, 2 volumes, II, p. 41.


The Life of Richard Cobden, II, p. 476.


B. S. Nayler, On Woman; and on Spiritism, Melbourne, Evans Brothers, Terry, Needham, and Donne, 1869, p. 7.


B. S. Nayler, An Appeal from the Prejudices, to the Judgements, of the Inhabitants of Melbourne; on the Capital Punishment Question, Melbourne, Robert Bell, Machine Printer, 1866, pp. 8, 20.


London, printed by King & Co., Camden Town, and published at no 25, Paternoster Row. The 24 leaves of this unpaginated quarto in two columns of small type are crowded with matter. Copy seen: British Library 1331.h.15.


See item 269, p. 15, of the auction catalogue of Nayler's books in 1870.


London, published by W. Kent & Co., 21, 51, & 52 Paternoster Row. The State Library of Victoria copy was given by J. E. Neild to James Smith on 13 February 1883. It lacks pages 195 to 198.


Time and Truth, pp. 10–11, 35, 140, 225-232.


Slater's (late Pigot & Co.) Royal National and Commercial Directory and Topography South Wales, 1858-9, p. 92.


Both, Benjamin Suggitt Nayler, p. 4.


Penny Readings, p. 3.


Haverfordwest, Jane Potter; London, Trübner.


The Future, no. 12, p. 188.


* LT 113 F98b.


The Future, pp. 112, 186, 240.


Melbourne, Evans Brothers, 1869, p. 20.


London, Trübner and Co., 1864. Copies seen: Dr Williams's Library; British Library; State Library of Victoria. The first two are in the original cloth casing. The Melbourne one was acquired in 1865, i.e. the year Nayler arrived in the colony.


Catalogue of English and American Books, p. 7.


66 Melbourne, William Heinemann Ltd, 1946, p. 589. I am grateful to Clive Probyn for the reference.


See M. Askew & B. Hubber, ‘The Colonial Reader Observed: Reading in its Cultural Context’ in D. H. Borchardt & W. Kirsop, eds, The Book in Australia: Essays towards a Cultural & Social History, Melbourne, Australian Reference Publications, 1988, pp. 110–138, esp. p. 133.


University of Melbourne Master of Arts 1960. The list of works consulted includes Nayler texts available in Melbourne at the time.


The Mystic Life of Alfred Deakin, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 22.


Alfred J. Gabay, Messages from Beyond: Spiritualism and Spiritualists in Melbourne's Golden Age 1870-1890, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2001, pp. 19, 94-95, 136, 153.


C. W. Schoneveld, ‘Pioneering’, p. 56.


The Future, p. 240: ‘W. L., Melbourne’ in the text is expanded to ‘William Lynch, Melbourne’ in the margin.


See More Prizes than Blanks. Not a mere Trade-speculation, but, a Distribution by B. S. Nayler, of 758 Productions of Art, in One Thousand Tickets, at 10s. Each; Constituting an Art Union of 520 Prizes, Melbourne, 1867, p. 2: ‘The following 32 Lots, containing 40 Watercolor-paintings, are all the produce of Mrs. Nayler's pencil. […] 2. Lark's Next [sic], after Dexter.’ On the Dexters see Patrick Morgan, Folie à deux: William and Caroline Dexter in Colonial Australia, Quakers Hill, N.S.W., Quakers Hill Press, 1999.


Penny Readings, p. 2.


Unassisted Immigration to Victoria. Index of Inward Passenger Lists for British, Foreign and New Zealand Ports 1852-1923, North Melbourne, Public Record Office Victoria, 2003-〈〉 Access to the collection -〉 Unassisted immigration to Victoria〉.


More Prizes than Blanks, p. 6.


C. W. Schoneveld, ‘Pioneering’, p. 59.


Melbourne, published by A. J. Smith, 1866, p. 2.


The First Chapter, pp. 9, 15.


Melbourne, Robert Bell, 1866.


A New-Chum's Advice, p. 24.


Second unnumbered page following p. 6. In support of his claims to competence he appeals to the testimony of ‘some of the European Members, now resident in Melbourne,’ of institutions with which he was formerly connected.


Melbourne, published by Evans Brothers, Terry & Donne, 1869, p. [32].


See Report of the Committee of Management of the Melbourne Mechanics' Institution and School of Arts, for the year 1869, Melbourne, Clarson, Massina & Co. Printers, 1870, p. 11. I am grateful to Jill Bartholomeusz and her colleagues for the opportunity to work in the Melbourne Athenaeum archives.


Education: Comprising Secular and Religious Instruction, p. 11.


Melbourne, printed by Evans Brothers, published, gratis, by B. S. Nayler, 1871, p. 23.


The Monash University Library copy has ‘D.’ Nield, 166 Collins St' in Nayler's hand on the title-page.


The State Library of Victoria copy (SLT 204 V66, vol. 8, no. 13) has Nayler's inscription ‘David Blair, Esq. Parliament House’ on the title-page.


No. 1, 30 November 1869, pp. 6b, 8b.


Nayler's hand is recognizable, for example, in Catalogue of English and American Books, obtainable at W. H. Terry's Book Depot, 96 Russell Street, Melbourne, Melbourne, R. Bell, Steam Printer, 1869.


The catalogue comprises 16 pages. A copy (with the provenance Robert Miller — J. P. Quaine — Sid Grant) is held in the State Library of Victoria.


Page [v]. The auction catalogue, p. 16, claims that several of Nayler's books have been sold earlier by other, unauthorized people.


See H. G. Turner papers, SLV, MS 8062, Box 470(a), p. 46: letters from The Daily Telegraph in 1869 on exchanges with Nayler.


The Glowworm, no. 2, 31 December 1869, pp. 17b-18b.


See The Harbinger of Light, no. 3, 1 November 1870, p. 30: ‘Mr. Nayler's previous efforts as a lecturer on Spiritualism, have, through the unpopularity of his religious opinions, to which too great a prominence was unfortunately given, left an unfavorable impression on the minds of the many whose views were opposed to his.’


See his assessment of Nayler's pioneer work in a lecture given in London on 27 July 1873 and reproduced in The Harbinger of Light, no. 38, 1 October 1873, pp. 516a-517a.


In The Battle of Science, the text of a lecture given on 11 August 1869 and published that year by Evans Brothers, Nayler comments on the fragility of British (and Australian) traditions of liberty and freedom from persecution: ‘Our Eastern-market Bookseller is daily suffering Persecution for his heretical writings, which the boldest Melbourne Newspapers are afraid to advertize.’ (p. 12) 35 Stephen Street was a short distance away from the Eastern Market. Did Nayler share with Cole reminiscences of his own innovations as a bookseller?


On Woman; and on Spiritism, pp. 18–19.


Chalenging Refutation! Spiritism versus Diabolism, Judgement versus Prejudice, Truth versus Error, Melbourne, B. S. Nayler, 1870, p. 19. Howitt was a regular correspondent, as a reference in Truth grappling with Error. A Lecture, Delivered in the Mechanics Institution, Melbourne, on the 10th of September, 1869, Melbourne, Evans Brothers and Terry, 1869, suggests on page 19: ‘Mr. Howitt's last letter to me, was relative to Spirit-intercourse’.


For example, in A Plea on behalf of the Workingclasses, p. 32.


The Harbinger of Light, no. 23, 1 July 1872, p. [271].


C. E. Sayers, Shepherd's Gold: the Story of Stawell, Melbourne, F. W. Cheshire, 1966, p. 91.


The Harbinger of Light, no. 25, 1 September 1872, p. 299 (with an engraving of the outside of the building).


For Smith's Spiritualism, see Lurline Stuart, James Smith: the Making of a Colonial Culture, Sydney, Allen & Unwin, 1989, chapter 9, pp. 135–151, although the Stawell episode is not specifically mentioned.


The Harbinger of Light, no. 37, 1 September 1873, p. 492.


The Pleasant Creek News and Wimmera Advertiser, 20, 21 and 27 July 1874.


The Harbinger of Light, no. 59, 1 July 1875, pp. 855–856.


VPRS 28/P/0, unit 154, file 13/247: ‘E. Purton. Printing. £5..’ The unnamed pamphlet is also referred to in Hugh Junor Browne's Short Address to the Clergy of All Denominations and to Earnest Enquirers after Truth, Melbourne, E. Purton & Co., Printers, 1875, p. 56.


ADB, 6, pp. 61–62.


VPRS 7591/P/2, unit 19, file 13/247. See L. E. Fredman, ‘Thomas Welton Stanford, an American in Exile’, Victorian Historical Magazine, XXX, 1962, pp. 245–250, and especially E. Daniel Potts & Annette Potts, ‘Thomas Welton Stanford (1832-1918) and American-Australian Business and Cultural Relations’, Historical Studies, no. 67, October 1976, pp. 193–209.


See Australiana in Leland Stanford Junior University Library. The Gift of Thomas Welton Stanford, Palo Alto, Stanford University, 190[?], p. 94, and Sidney Dickinson, Catalogue of Oil Paintings in the Collection of T. W. Stanford, Esq., of Melbourne. Arranged with Biographical, Descriptive, and Critical Notes, Melbourne, Haase & Stevenson, Printers, 1892. I am grateful to Bernard Barryte, Chief Curator, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, for answering my questions about T. W. Stanford's collection and for sending me a photocopy of the annotated Dickinson catalogue (otherwise seen only in the Mitchell Library, since it is not held in the State Library of Victoria). in the middle of the twentieth century the University sold several of the paintings, including portraits of Mrs Nayler's parents and a ‘Cleopatra’ by Alexander Liernur. On the other hand, it kept the ‘Fight between Dogs and Bears’ attributed to Snyders, the pièce de résistance — at 150 guineas — of the 1867 art union. See Dickinson, Catalogue, nos. 7, 45A, 45B, 47 & 47A, pp. 10–11, 26, 28 and More Prizes than Blanks, no. 1, p. [1]. I am grateful to Susan Schmocker and Robyn Louey of the Art Gallery of New South Wales for responding to my queries concerning Snyders.


VPRS 28/P/2, unit 36, file 13/247.


VPRS 7591/P/2, unit 618, file 169/771.


C. W. Schoneveld, ‘Pioneering’, p. 40.


The Harbinger of Light, no. 120, 1 August 1880, p. [1821].


See chapter II, ‘The Richmond Recluse, or the Emigrant Bibliophile’, in Wallace Kirsop, Books for Colonial Readers — the Nineteenth-Century Australian Experience, Melbourne, Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand, 1995, pp. 17–37, 83-88.