Last pamphlets 1848-9


[Pamphlet outlining Bent’s dispute with printer William Jones over proprietorship of the Goulburn Herald] 1848

Not in Ferguson. No copies.

In 1847 Bent planned to start a newspaper in Goulburn and advertised for subscriptions, to be paid in advance. Then, obviously motivated by a shortage of cash, he entered into negotiations for a joint venture with another Sydney printer, William Jones. By this time Bent’s mental health was declining and the arrangements came badly unstuck. Jones claimed Bent was unscrupulous and impossible to deal with and went ahead alone, registering the paper as sole proprietor. Bent alleged that once more his newspaper title had been pirated.  On 28 July 1848 the Colonial Times in Hobart, where Bent’s son Robert had been, and possibly still was working, noted the receipt of ‘a copy of a pamphlet he [Bent] has lately published in New South Wales’ and summarized his recent misfortunes. Jones had already given his own very different side of the story in the first issue of the Goulburn Herald on 1 July. The sole purpose of the pamphlet appeared to be to attack the conduct and character of Jones, who described it as false, malicious and ‘an ignorant and paltry effusion.’  Bent threatened to send copies of this obviously libelous production to all the Goulburn Herald subscribers as well as to ‘every editor, printer, and publisher in the Southern Hemisphere.’

Prospectus of a Preparatory Matrimonial Alliance and Protective Immigration and Colonization Office, No. 2, Hutchinson’s Buildings, Clarence-Street, near King-Street, Sydney, New South Wales. Under Patronage of Public Virtue. Manager – Mr. Andrew Bent, “Founder of the Tasmanian Press,” and late Newspaper Proprietor of Van Diemen’s Land. Sydney: Set-up, printed, and published by the author and compiler, Andrew Bent, at the Printing Office of Mr. David Wall, York-street. 1849.

16 pp, 19 x 12.5 cm.

Not in Ferguson. Copies: SRNSW (NRS 905 50/160 enclosure in Bent to Fitzroy 24 Dec 1849. 4/2883)

Prospectus Matrimonial Alliance
State Records NSW. NRS 905 50/160. 4/2883

Publication was announced in Sydney Morning Herald 22 Dec. 1849. ‘Just published. The Prospectus of a “Preparatory Matrimonial Alliance and Protective Immigration and Colonization Office,” founded upon principles of the purest virtue, and which must transport with pleasure thousands and tens of thousands of the unmarried sexes. Manager-Mr. Andrew Bent, founder of the Tasmanian Press. Price 6d. To be had of Mr. Howard, Bookbinder and Paper Ruler, opposite Mr. Heydon’s, King-street, and of all the Newsvenders [sic].’

This matrimonial agency was Bent’s last attempt to set up in business in Sydney. The prospectus, with its doggerel verse, rambling lucubration on a wide variety of topics, and its harking back to past glories, reveals him to be seriously, although harmlessly, deranged.  It also reveals an undiminished belief in the power of the press, concern for family values and for the future of his adopted country. 10,000 copies of the prospectus had, he said, been printed. Arrangements for forwarding copies through the post were detailed, the kind offices of the provincial journalists were solicited in giving insertion to his advertisement (payment could be made by providing copies of the pamphlet if so desired), and ten guineas was offered for the best-written essay on matrimony, if used for the second edition. The prospectus was noticed with amusement in a few newspapers, the Moreton Bay Courier commenting on 2 Feb. 1850 that ‘there is a vein of singularity, and even absurdity running through the whole pamphlet, which, accompanied as it is by a most rambling and unconnected style of composition, cannot fail to excite involuntary mirth, where, perhaps, a very different effect was intended.’ The Hobarton Guardian noted on 26 June 1850 that Bent had sent in several copies some time previously.

This curious and well-printed little pamphlet, which is both funny and very sad, would probably have disappeared without trace, if Bent had not sent a copy to the Colonial Secretary, suggesting that the Immigration Agent should distribute it to the increasing numbers of young migrant women arriving in New South Wales. The rather bemused government officials declined to take up this novel idea but did not return the prospectus, and it remains on file, in pristine condition, with Bent’s letter.