State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 82 Spring 2008


Shane Carmody
A Note in the Margins: reading with Redmond Barry

'A bibliographer cannot refuse the challenge of the lost library of Redmond Barry'
Redmond Barry Left his Mark on the institutions and the city that he helped to build. During his lifetime he ensured that his coat of arms adorned the Public Library and the University, and he was commemorated in portraits both in marble and in oil, prominently displayed. After his death public subscription ensured the erection of a massive bronze sculpture on the forecourt of the Library, and the subdivision of his brother Judge Sir William Foster Stawell's estate in Studley Park saw the naming of a Redmond and a Barry Street. There is a Barry Street in Carlton alongside a garden once known as Barry Square and now called University Square, and a Redmond Barry Building on the Campus of Melbourne University. Most recently in the Library, the room once known as McCoy Hall after Frederick McCoy, founding Professor of Natural Science at the University and creator of the natural history collection of the Museum once housed within this great space, was renamed the Redmond Barry Reading Room—an ironic commentary on their often difficult relationship.
Public memory as social acknowledgment of the person happens within the boundaries of respectability. Public Libraries in Redmond Barry's view helped to build that respectability. At the opening of the Ballarat East Public Library in 1869 Barry remarked:
Prurient tempers may skulk to gloat in private, unobserved, over base and impure thoughts perpetuated by a prostitution of the talents destined one might imagine for a more decent use—but those who come here to read their own books, provided for them by the prudent dispensers of public funds, require no screen to hide their studies from the broad daylight of the public gaze.
As a prudent dispenser of public funds, Barry oversaw the building of the collection at the Melbourne Public Library and the rules for its use. Remarkable at the time for their liberality they none-the-less had usual (and still current) provisions forbidding any mutilation of or inscribing in the books. Away from the broad daylight of the public gaze, and reading his own books in private, Barry adopted a different approach, annotating references to other sources and adding his own glosses. In a sense this allows us to read with Sir Redmond, and two recent acquisitions by the Library of books once owned by Barry serve as illustrations.1


Robert McNish first presented his observations on the effects of alcohol as a thesis in his final examination by the Medical Faculty in Glasgow in 1825. His argument was revolutionary in that it proposed an understanding of drunkenness as a physical and medical phenomenon, rather than a moral failing, and he was encouraged by his examiners to publish. It appeared as a small octavo of just 56 pages in 1827. Professional interest and his own curiosity saw the work expand and by 1832 the fourth edition of The Anatomy of Drunkenness had assumed more respectable proportions of a now 266 page octavo including an index. The book was widely distributed, so widely that a copy was acquired by John Pascoe Fawkner, and this copy was later owned by Redmond Barry.2
The Fawkner autograph appears at the head of the preface, and a fairly successful attempt has been made to erase it, and it appears again, intact, at the head of chapter one. No date of purchase appears, and the sound condition of the volume makes it an unlikely candidate for the circulating libraries that were a feature of Fawkner's various business ventures in the world of books and printing. That he should own a copy is an interesting commentary on his other business as hotel keeper in both Van Diemen's Land and Port Phillip. Fawkner's public attitude to drunkenness was harsh—his draft constitution for a new colony saw a peremptory punishment of confinement and hard labour. His practice as a publican was often to flout the rules, and in doing so encourage the very vice he publicly abhorred. Fawkner proclaimed his support for temperance and with Barry his name appears in the list of subscribers to The Evangelistic, Temperance, Economic and Model Farm Society, established by Dr John L. Milton in 1853 with the aim of founding a working farm for the rehabilitation of alcoholics. Each of them donated five pounds, and while such public pronouncements of virtue were probably expected from respectable men of the Colony they cannot be read as a true guide to private attitudes to drinking.3
It is not clear how and when Barry acquired Fawkner's copy of The Anatomy of Drunkenness. The volume does not appear in the surviving 1868 sale catalogue of part of Fawkner's Library. A letter from Fawkner to a Mr William Meagher, Secretary of the Daylesford Mechanics Institute, dated 9 March 1860 indicates that Fawkner distributed parts of his library to public institutions during his lifetime. Regardless of how Barry obtained the copy, the many annotations show us that he read it, and with a critical and at times ironic eye.4
Barry's annotations mostly in ink some in pencil; include many quotations, mostly from the Bible and Shakespeare. The Old Testament appears in fourteen instances and there are only two references to the New Testament. The first appears on the flyleaf supporting wine for its medicinal purposes, 1 Timothy 5:23. The second appears alongside McNish's commentary on the way the effects of alcohol can be excited by tobacco (page 79). Barry notes in the margin: 'Peter the Great allowed smoking on the authority of the text not that

Robert McNish Anatomy of Drunkenness, Glasgow: W. R. McPhun 1832,
opening showing John Pascoe Fawkner's signature and annotations by Redmond Barry.

which goeth into the mouth defileth a man but that which cometh out the mouth, this defileth a man. Matthew Cap XV.11'. From the Old Testament Barry shows a preference for the Wisdom books and the Psalms, with a single reference to Deuteronomy, one curious quotation from Judges and one from the prophet Joel and two from Isaiah. Shakespeare appears in quotations from six plays: Hamlet, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Othello, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The impression is of a reader drawing on a few key texts as sources of wisdom unassailable in their authority. There is a sense of playfulness, and sometimes a hint of self-reflection.
The quotes on the flyleaves suggest a broad opinion on the subject. In addition to Paul's advice to Timothy to: 'Drink no longer water but use a little wine for thy stomachs sake and thine often nightmares', Ecclesiates (10:19) and Eccelesiasticus (31:27–28) are quoted in favour of wine in moderation as a source of pleasure. Another verse from Ecclesiasticus (31:31) advising against 'rebuking thy neighbour at the wine' is offered as a caution. Two verses from Jotham's fable from Judges (9:12–13) are cited with intriguing
emphasis: 'Then said the Trees unto the Vine, come thou and reign over us. And the Vine said unto them should I leave my wine which cheereth GOD and Man and go to be promoted over the trees.' Perhaps Barry by emphasising the divine is commenting critically on the religious zeal which often accompanied temperance movements.
Chapter one is prefaced with a quotation from Hamlet (Act 1 Sc 4) with the gloomy prince lamenting the King's wassail:
This heavy headed revel east and west
Makes us traduc'd and tax'd of other nations;
That clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
From our achievements, though performed at height
The pith and marrow of our attribute
As a counter point Psalm 104: 14–15 praising wine 'that maketh glad the heart of man' heads the chapter. A little further in to the chapter (page 22) McNish notes that 'Wine for instance is often impregnated with alum and sugar of lead, the latter dangerous ingredient being resorted to by innkeepers to take away the sour taste so common in wines'. Barry has made a mark against the sentence in the margin and at the head of the page quotes a metaphor from the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:32–33) as a literal commentary:
For this vine is the vine of Sodom of the fields of Gomorrah: the grapes are grapes of gall their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of dragons and the cruel venom of asps.
At the beginning of Chapter 2, 'Causes of Drunkenness', a pencil mark in the margin highlights the description of those who are 'drunkards by choice…usually of a sanguineous temperament, of coarse unintellectual minds, and of low and animal propensities' (page 26). Above Barry quotes a line from The Tempest: 'Temperance was a delicate Wench. Ay and a subtle' (Act 2 Sc 1) and the Hunter's disdain for the drunken Sly at the opening of The Taming of the Shrew (Act 1 Sc 1) suggesting a general agreement with the argument. Chapter 3, 'Phenomena of Drunkenness', is headed by Barry with the ribald observations of the Porter in Macbeth on how drink 'provokes the desire but takes away the performance' (Act 2 Sc 3), curious in that McNish makes no comment on this well known effect of over-refreshment. Over the page Barry marks a passage where McNish describes the drunkard's propensity to talk nonsense and adds an apposite quote from Othello:
Drunk and speak parrot! And squabble, swagger swear, and discourse fustian with one's own shadow! O thou invisible spirit of wine! If thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil! (Act 2 Sc 3)
Barry adds three verses from the Book of Proverbs at the beginning of Chapter 4, 'Drunkenness Modified by Temperament', warning against the vice (20:1, 22:20–21) but a little later displays a deeper understanding of the scriptures. On page 51 there is a mark in the margin against McNish's description of the 'Sanguineous Drunkard'—'They are
talkative from the beginning, and during confirmed intoxication, perfectly obstreperous'. Barry observes:
Maschil of Asaph to whom is attributed the 78th Psalm in the collection called the
Psalms of David displays a most indiscreet simile on this head
Then the Lord woked as one out of sleep and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine v.65
Under the 'Surly Drunkard' (page 53) Barry marks the characteristic of being quarrelsome and at the foot of the page quotes Trinculo's drunken outburst at Caliban in Act 3, Scene 2 of The Tempest; and for the 'Phlegmatic' and 'Nervous' drunkards (pages 54–5) verses from Proverbs warning against 'They that tarry long at the wine' (22:29–30). Barry, with some irony, adds to the end of this chapter Slender's qualified promise of sobriety at the beginning of The Merry Wives of Windsor:
But 'tis no matter I'll never be drunk whilst I live again but in honest, civil, godly company, for this trick: if I be drunk, I'll be drunk with those that have the fear of God, and not with drunken knaves. (Act 1 Sc. 1)
Barry resumes his annotations at Chapter 10, 'Pathology of Drunkenness', leaving the intervening chapters unremarked, except for the comment on tobacco. He heads Chapter 10 with a verse from Joel calling on drunkards to awake and weep and howl because of the new wine (1:5), and tails with another prophet, this time Isaiah (5:11–12) bringing woe upon the drinkers and carousers. Barry leaves unblemished the chapters on 'Sleep of Drunkards' and 'Spontaneous Combustion of Drunkards' but unsurprisingly resumes his commentary at chapter 13, 'Drunkenness Judicially Considered'. He returns to Isaiah with verses at the head of the chapter promising woe on the mighty who drink and deny the rights of good men (5:22–24). The chapter has many pencil marks in the margin and on pages 192 and 193 a summary of the law as it applied in the colony. Above this in ink are three more verses from Proverbs:
It is not for Kings O Lemuel it is not for Kings to drink wine nor for Princes strong drink –
Lest they drink and forget the laws and pervert the judgement of any of the afflicted –
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. (32:4–6)
It is tempting to see Barry reflecting on his own role as a Judge, an office he held until his death, and while there is no evidence that he was anything other than sober in his deliberations, we know that he enjoyed a drink. The advertisement for the auction of his furniture effects after his death by Gemmell, Tuckett and Co. included reference to the 'choicest collection of rare old Wines ever offered in Melbourne, Including Fine old port, sherry, madeira, malmsey, claret, sauterne, bucellas, &c., ages ranging from '47 to '75'. Barry enjoyed hosting dinners and his daybooks record more than one drunken incident shrewdly observed in the confines of the Melbourne Club. His early close friendship with William Foster Stawell was ended after Stawell attended and paid attention to a sermon on the evils

Niccolo Machiavelli The History of Florence and the Affairs of Italy from the Earliest Times to the Death of Lorenzo the Magnificent together with The Prince and Various Historical Tracts. A new translation.
London: Henry G. Bohn 1847, p.420, showing detailed annotations by Redmond Barry.

of drink by Bishop Perry. Barry would have seen many examples of the effect of drinking to excess as he sat in judgement, but his nuanced, witty and thoughtful reading of The Anatomy of Drunkenness shows him to be no wowser.5


The 1868 sale catalogue for part of Fawkner's Library lists several volumes from the series Bohn's Standard Library. These were cheaply produced classics in English translation, and not uncommon in the Colonies where Bohn's occasionally dumped excess stock. Among the titles in Fawkner's collection was Machiavelli's History of Florence. Redmond Barry had the same book, but in this case there is no evidence of a prior owner. The book included a translation of The Prince and was published in 1847. Barry added annotations—but only to The Prince tempting a reader of his notes to conjure a political imagination.6
Inside the cover Barry cites authorities on Machiavelli. Voltaire's 'lines on Machiavelli reflecting his work "The Golden Ass" in which a pig is supposed to apostrophise a man' (Dictionnaire Philosophique Tome XXVI p.371) are referred to, and followed by Voltaire's French translation of Machiavelli's poem recounting the pig's lament. Reference is also made to an article in the Edinburgh Magazine by Thomas Babington Macaulay which Barry notes was later reprinted in a collection of his Essays. On the flyleaf he reverts to Shakespeare quoting the Host of the Garter Inn: 'Peace I say: hear mine host of the Garter. Am I politic? Am I subtle? Am I a Maciavel? (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3 Sc. 1). On the verso of the title page he quotes at length Schlegel on Machiavelli (Philosophy of History Lecture XV) and on the first page of The Prince Barry reverts to the Book of Proverbs 'Excellent Speech becometh not a fool; much less do lying lips a Prince' (17:7).7
Barry's first comment on the text occurs in Chapter 3, 'Of Mixed Principalities'. Machiavelli recommends in conquering a state '…particular attention must be paid to two points. In the first place, care must be taken to extinguish entirely the family of the ancient sovereign; and in the next the laws should not be altered nor the taxes increased…'(page 410). Barry notes:
I doubt the propriety of this second point. The inconvenience of various codes in one state is of itself objectionable. And governing one portion of the subjects of by one law and suffering different customs to exist keep alive distinctions and perpetuate jealousies. As illustrations not known to the author of this text I will instance Canada in 1836 Mauritius 1832.
On the next page Barry marks the maxim quoted by Machiavelli 'Either make a man your friend or put it out of his power to be your enemy'. At Chapter 5 where Machiavelli explores three ways to govern a state formerly under its own law, Barry excels himself and in a minute hand in the margins over two pages expounds on the first proposition—namely to 'ruin them'. Barry explores examples cited from Livy and the story of King Francis I when captive of Emperor Charles V (pages 419–20). Barry even adds to Machiavelli's list of self
made princes, Moses, Cyrus, Romulus and Theseus three more: 'Mahomet, Cromwell, Buonoparte' (sic) (page 421).
Barry's notations are more sparse in this volume, but he notes in the margin the number of points that Machiavelli might make in a list—1, 2, 3, 4 (page 428—how to control a Pope), and comments on historical parallels as in his observation on Machiavelli's advice that a 'usurper should commit all the cruelties which his safety renders necessary at once, that he may never have cause to repeat them' by drily noting that 'This was the policy of Queen Elizabeth of England' (page 434). He corrects Machiavelli's judgement that mercenaries are not to be trusted by noting that 'The Swiss guards of Louis XVI faithfully and bravely supported him to the end' (page 443). Occasionally he offers a different interpretation as in his citing of Edward Gibbon Wakefield on page 466 in elaboration of Machiavelli's account of the success of Severus in maintaining order in the Army, and opines in reference to Machiavelli's advice 'there is no better fortress for a Prince than the affection of the people' that 'Louis Philippe of France should have read this when he prepared to fortify Paris in 1840' (page 473).
His reading reflects a deep interest in history but not a very deep interest in politics. Barry held important offices, but not as a politician, and while he had to lobby hard for his beloved institutions, and suffer occasionally from the vicissitudes of populist causes, his interest in Machiavelli is more intellectual than practical.


Barry's private Library was dispersed after his death, and survives in little groups of books and individual volumes. Occasionally one or two might surface in a second hand shop. The Anatomy of Drunkenness was purchased by the State Library of Victoria in 2007 from an antiquarian bookseller—its dual provenance adding value. Machiavelli came as a generous donation in 2008 from a gentleman who purchased it in 1970 while a student at the University of Melbourne from a second hand bookshop for $4. Collecting them now for the State Library offers another way of understanding the founding President of Trustees and his love for books. Redmond Barry ensured that early printed catalogues for the Library had in the preface preferred words for bequests, and he helped obtain important gifts from collectors in the Colony. It seems strange that he made no provision for his books to come to the Library that he had worked so hard to establish. From 1857 the Library held editions of Machiavelli (and by 1880 the 1854 Bohn edition) and from 1861 the 10th and latest (1854) edition of McNish, so perhaps Barry's very personal use of these volumes, his conversations in the margins with the authors, made them unsuitable companions for the 'latest editions of the most authoritative texts' which he wished to grace the shelves. Whatever the reason, small discoveries and steady additions serve to remind us how much he was a reader.8


The quotation at the beginning of this article is taken from Wallace Kirsop, 'In Search of Redmond Barry's Private Library', The La Trobe Library Journal, no. 26, December 1980, pp.25–33 (p.32).
For an insight into Barry's collecting see Trevor Mills 'A Melbourne Book-stall in 1841' in The La Trobe Library Journal, no. 30, December 1982, pp.44–45.
Redmond Barry, Address on the Opening of the Free Public Library of Ballarat East, Ballarat, The Ballarat Star, 1869, p.15; bound in Barry, 'Lectures Etc.', vol. 2.
The two books discussed in this article are: Robert McNish, The Anatomy of Drunkeness Fourth Edition, Glasgow: W. R. McPhun 1832; and Niccolo Machiavelli The History of Florence and the Affairs of Italy from the Earliest Times to the Death of Lorenzo the Magnificent together with The Prince and Various Historical Tracts. A new translation. London: Henry G. Bohn 1847. I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Ms Samantha Tidy in locating and translating the Voltaire reference inside the cover of Machiavelli.
Neither book appears in the surviving and incomplete inventories of Redmond Barry's Library, see MS 8380 603/6 and 603/7, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria.
See The Catalogue for the Melbourne Public Library for 1861 p.xi: 'Writing in or upon, marking, folding down a leaf, defacing, mutilating, or otherwise injuring any book, is strictly prohibited; any visitor so doing will be excluded from the Library'.


See the entry on McNish in Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, London: Blackie and Son 1856, as reproduced in


John Pascoe Fawkner, 1792–1869, Papers, MS 13273, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria. Includes 'Constitution and Form of Government' c. 1832.
See also Robyn Annear Bearbrass: imagining Early Melbourne, Melbourne: Black Inc. 2005, pp.172–175.
See Evangelistic, Temperance, Economic, Educational and Model Farm Society: for the benefit of soldiers, seamen, policemen, immigrants, the uneducated & the unemployed: a catalogue of subscriptions and donations is appended. Melbourne: The Society, 1855. A digitised copy can be found on the State Library of Victoria catalogue.


John Pascoe Fawkner's Library: facsimile of the sale catalogue of 1868 with an introductory essay by Wallace Kirsop, Melbourne: Book Collectors Society of Australia, 1985.
John Pascoe Fawkner, Letter to William Meagher, Secretary (internal evidence that it is Daylesford—likely to be the Mechanics Institute) dated March 9 1860, recently acquired by the State Library from the sale of the Rodney Davidson Collection of Australiana.


Argus, 9 March 1881, p.2. See Wallace Kirsop, 'In Search of Redmond Barry's Private Library', p.26.
See Ann Galbally Redmond Barry: an Anglo Irish Australian, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1995. Reference to falling out with Stawell on pages 70–71.


John Pascoe Fawkner's Library. Lot 66 on page 7 in the Catalogue; on Bohn see Wallace Kirsop's introductory essay p. 10.


The edition of Dictionnaire Philosophique used by Barry is Paris: Chez Lequin fils, Libraire 1829. See Google Books, copy digitised from the New York Public Library.


See 1857 Catalogue, First Part Opera di Machiavelli (1813), eight volumes and noted by Guillaume as the 'best edition'; Second Part, two volume English Translation of Machiavelli (1762). 1861 Catalogue p.274 Anatomy of Drunkenness (10th Edition 1854). 1880 Catalogue has the 1854 Bohn edition listed in Serials. The form for Bequests can be found in the 1861 Catalogue p.xiii.