Monday, 16 August 2021

Eliza Haywood in Sydney, 1934

On the weekend I made an astonishing discovery: I am not the first person in Australia to have an interest in Eliza Haywood. Amazing, I know; check it out:

Below I have transcribed the article I discovered: Gerald Dillon, “'The Female Spectator': Mrs. Eliza Heywood's Periodical” Australian Woman’s Mirror, vol.10, no.15 (6 March 1934): 8, 59 (here). The illustrations—seeming prepared for this essay—are signed "CON" (elsewhere in the Mirror the name is expanded to "R. W. CON"—but I am still not able to identify them).

From the spelling of Haywood's name (Heywood, rather than Haywood) it is fairly clear that the source of Dillon's text was The Female Spectator. Being selections from Mrs. Eliza Heywood's periodical (1744-1746). ed. Mary Priestley, illustrated by Constance Rowlands (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1929), but his selection of anecdotes also makes this likely, since he does not mention anything that is not in the Priestley edition.

However, the reason that I suspected that Dillon's text was the Priestley edition is that there were very few eighteenth century copies of Haywood's Female Spectator in Australia in 1934 (other than my own copies, there are still only three). In 1934 the only complete, eighteenth century copy was almost certainly that in the University of Melbourne library. Monash acquired their copy at some point after the university was founded in 1958; while the only copy in Sydney—an odd-volume of the 5th edition—first appears on "NUCOM 2" (the "Second Cumulative supplement" of Australia's "National Union Catalogue of Monographs," 1977)—not NUCOM 1 (1976)—so it was probably acquired in the 1970s.

Not only were there no eighteenth century copies of Haywood's Female Spectator in Sydney in 1934, there appear to have been no copies of the Priestley edition in any institutional library either: and there still are none! It seems likely that Dillon was relying on his own copy, so—from my point of view—he had an excellent libary.

I am not sure whether Dillon realised just how pitiful a cultural backwater Sydney is and was, but I am sure he felt that he was doing his bit to both entertain and improve his readers with the series of roughly fifty bookish essays he wrote for Bert F. Hoy, editor of the Australian Woman’s Mirror, many about women or women writers such as Joanna Southcott, Ouida, Angella Burdett, Sidney Webb and Katherine Mansfield (probably his most famous essay).

I have not been able to find out as much about Dillon as I would like, but what I have found I will put into a separate post about him soon. [That post has now been completed; see here] Until then, here is his take on Eliza Haywood.

* * * * *

“The Female Spectator”


THE FEMALE SPECTATOR was the first periodical to be produced by a woman, and may therefore be regarded as the inspiration from which are derived the whole regiment of women’s papers to-day.
  Mrs. Eliza Heywood was founder and first and last editor. She was also its entire staff. The paper came out as a monthly in 1744 and enjoyed an existence of two short years. It was one of the many imitations of the type of journalism produced by Steele and Addison in THE SPECTATOR, but Mrs. Heywood’s periodical was written of course from and for the feminine viewpoint.
  Mrs. Heywood was what might be called a woman of the world. Her husband left no footprints on the sands of time. Of him it is known only that he deserted his wife, who was then left to shift both for herself and her two children.
  She went on the stage for a brief period, but subsequently became a “writing woman.” She produced some enthusiastic novels, re-wrote some plays, mothered a few pamphlets, and was a publisher for a span. She was born about 1693 and died in 1756.
  Rumor has it that Mrs. Heywood was what the period called “a flighty woman,” if she was not actually “fast”—though there is nothing at all in the tone and temper of her paper even to hint at that; nor is there anything in THE FEMALE SPECTATOR bearing even a slight resemblance to woman’s journalism as we know it to-day.
  The paper printed no serial. It never boasted of a “bright” article. There was nothing of “interest” about Lady Thingumitite or the Queen’s pet cat. No household hints. No medical advice.
  There were stories (of sorts) and some feeble murmurings about Nature study and natural philosophy.
  Mrs. Heywood, however, knew the value and importance of sexual themes in relation to light reading. The stories all had a moral—the moral being “’tis better to look before you leap” in the matter of love, and the stories all carried dreadful emphasis on the terrible ubiquity of the ensnaring male.
  I have said that THE FEMALE SPECTATOR was composed of a staff of one. In the first number we are introduced to two assistants, Mira and Euphrosine, but I think this trinity was a piece of camouflage on the part of Mrs. Heywood, and that in reality their existence was due to an editorial compromise with truth.
  Mrs. Heywood was a believer evidently in the type of male which Hollywood has now perfected.
  We notice one article on “Peace, a Promoter of Finikins,” in which attention is drawn to the prevalence of somewhat effeminate men. Indeed, Mrs. Heywood goes so far as to publish a page from the account book of a bankrupt beauty specialist showing an amount of £38/9/6 due to her from “a gentleman now in the army.”
  This gentleman had been supplied with a variety of “beautifying” things, including lip-salve, carmine, powder, jessamin butter for the hair, cold cream, perfumed mouth water, a toothbrush, and a riding mask to prevent sunburn!
  Mrs. Heywood hoped that “frequent campaigns” would wear this effeminacy off.
  As a specimen of short story we have “Amaranthus, his Passion for Aminta.”
  The gentleman with the long name was of course an army officer. He was ordered to Germany. He took leave of Aminta with vows of eternal remembrance, but in spite of the fact that he vowed also to marry Aminta on his return he did not do so. In fact, he forgot all about her at the earliest possible moment.
  When he came back (after a severe battle in which he was wounded) he explained to Aminta that he was “convinced a tender intercourse with the ladies took up too much of a soldier’s mind” … and he preferred to be a good soldier. So Aminta retired to “a lone county house” and lived in single unhappiness for the rest of her life.
  Then there is the story of “Erminia, How Ruined,” who went to a masquerade (a masked ball). She also ended in a lone country house.
  These stories are only a part of the monthly features. The paper evidently had some out side contributors, and of the sterner sex, too. In April, 1745, we notice “Philo-Naturae,” who lived apparently in the Inner Temple, contributing a long letter of the “museum” type, covering such matter as “Worms, Somewhat Wonderful,” and “Butterflies, How Engendered.”
  In one article Mrs. Heywood discourses on “flying machines” and “the impossibility of their use.” She says:
  I have indeed heard some people foolish enough to maintain that there would come a time in which the ingenuity of man will invent machines to carry him through the air with the same ease as we now cross the seas; which, they cry, seemed doubtless as impracticable at first as this does at present. … Mrs. Heywood, however, knew better. She says God taught Noah how to build the Ark, and if God had wished man to fly He would obviously have shown him how.
  Though the “bodyline” controversy was then in the womb of time Mrs. Heywood was apparently an appreciator of the value of sport for the sake of sport. She says: “To hurl the tennis ball or play a match at cricket are certainly robust and manly exercises” … and deplores the introduction of monetary considerations into these activities. Evidently cricket and tennis in 1745 were—as now—not what they were!
  Eliza was the original Dorothy Dix. In November, 1745, “Bellamonte” writes to her for guidance in the choice between three suitors.
  A is tall, graceful, of honorable family and “well fixed”; has no vice, but is evidently not an ardent lover. When he should be telling her that he can’t live without her he is talking about Admiral Balchen, and the loss he was to the nation.
  B is a lover; in fact he is more like a pet poodle from the description. He is well off, too, but too agreeable, too accommodating, too slave-like.
  C is gay, witty, genteel, handsome and addresses to a charm.” Good voice, musical, and generally is a sort of pocket encyclopedia—but not so well off. “Bellamonte” suspects that C is a bit “too full of himself.” What should she do?
  The answer is rather involved, but it amounts to this: Take A; his serious turn of mind will probably make him a death-do-us-part husband.
  I do not know how the ladies regarded THE FEMALE SPECTATOR—perhaps as rather a naughty journal to be hidden from Mamma—but I am sure that to a great many who led sheltered lives it was a window on the world.
  That world was full of exciting possibilities, a world in which youth, at least occasionally, had its fling. A world that is no better than it ought to be, because it was peopled apparently by vigilant parents of highly respectable daughters who matched their united wits against a host of bold seducers, and in the resulting contests there was both give and take…

[UPDATED 29 August 2021]

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