The first issue of The Bulletin, 31 January 1880, contains the piece “A Heavy Wet”. Posing as a reporter, the author chronicles the public baptisms of women by evangelist Frank Warden. It is illustrated by cartoons.
The writer is The Man in the Bottomless Pit. This was possibly the pseudonym of either The Bulletin editor Jules Francis Archibald or The Bulletin co-founder John Haynes, although neither are known for satire.
The Man in the Bottomless Pit is not a known alias of the satirist Theodore Emile Argles who wrote under the names Harold Grey, The Moocher and The Pilgrim.
Similar Representative Article:
- A Sydney Sabbath, 6 March 1880, The Singleton Argus and Upper Hunter. Attributed to ‘A rambling scribe.’
Henry Savery (1791-1842) was a convict, who from prison wrote weekly sketches of Hobart life, for Colonial Times, under the heading “The Hermit – in Van Diemen’s Land” using the pseudonym Simon Stukeley.
These appeared over six months in 1829. They were collected and published in book form under the same title in 1830, becoming Australia’s first book of essays (Savery went on to write Australia’s first novel, Quintus Servinton). Savery acknowledged in the preface that The Hermit in London (1820) was the model for the title of his sketches.
The sketches covered “Manners, Society and Public Characters”, and contained thinly disguised descriptions of about 150 people in Hobart Town (Tasmanian library article). Savery was in gaol for debt when the sketches were written but they were sufficiently accurate to cause a furore on their publication.
When Andrew Bent, the publisher of the paper, advertised the impending publication of the book of sketches, he was sued successfully by the lawyer Gamaliel Butler who had no desire to see the offending article reappear. The damages and costs forced Bent to sell the paper to Henry Melville who became a prominent publisher in the colony. Savery’s name was never mentioned in the case.
Savery’s true identity as the author was not revealed till long after his death in 1842.
- Savery, Henry (1964) The Hermit in Van Diemen’s Land, (edited and biographical introduction by Hadgraft, Cecil, with notes on the persons by Roe, Margriet) St Lucia: University of Queensland Press