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Karl Scherzer and the Visit of the Novara to Sydney, 1858

John E. Fletcher

{This important article by German scholar John E. Fletcher was originally published in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 71(3), December 1985, 189-206. It has been updated and slightly expanded upon by the current editor in light of research which has come light since its original publication and following the death of the author.}

Dr. Karl Scherzer (German lithograph circa 1857)

At five o'clock on the afternoon of Friday, 5 November 1858, the Imperial and Royal Austrian frigate Novara (44 guns) dropped anchor in ten fathoms of water off Garden Island in Sydney Harbour. The Novara, reported the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 November 1858, was prosecuting a scientific voyage round the world. She had left Shanghai on 11 August 1858, however bad weather, contrary winds, and a close encounter with a typhoon in the South China Sea had made the 86-day voyage uncomfortable.

Moreover, the Novara was taking in water and arrangements were quickly made to enable her to enter the newly opened (1855) Government dry dock in Sydney. This resulted in the Novara extending her proposed eleven days stay at Sydney into one lasting more than four weeks, from Friday, 5 November to Tuesday, 7 December 1858. It also meant that the German community's official welcome was postponed until Wednesday, 24 November, when the Novara had been warped back to her original mooring.

Under the overall command of Commodore Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair (1816-83),the Novara carried a bulging complement of 345 men. In addition, she had on board a 'scientific commission', appointed to observe, document and collect in the expanding fields of geology, botany, zoology, and anthropology during the Novara's world-wide quest. Included as one of the group was the official artist Joseph Selleny (1824-75) whose graceful artwork belies his own miserable death in a lunatic asylum near Vienna just seventeen years later. The scientific complement, and their respective fields of interest, comprised:

* Bernhard Aloys von Wüllerstorf-Urbair - Oceanography, hydrography, meteorology and geophysics

* Karl von Scherzer - Topographical geography, ethnology, economics and official historiographer of the expedition

* Ferdinand Hochstetter - Mineralogy, geology and palaeontology

* Georg von Frauenfeld - Zoology, preservation of species

* Johannes Zelebor - Preservation of zoological species

* Eduard Schwarz - Botany

* Anton Jellinek - Botanist, gardener

* Joseph Selleny - Artist

* Lieutenant Robert Müller - meteorological observer, linguist, and aid to Karl von Scherzer.

Eventually these gifted passengers on board the Novara would combine to produce an illustrated twenty-one volume scientific account of the expedition's findings, published in Vienna between 1861-77. The publishing coup of the voyage went however to the Novara's resident economist and ethnologist, Karl Scherzer (1821-1903). His much translated and republished three-volume Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858 und 1859 {Round-the-world Voyage of the Austrian Frigate Novara in the Years 1857, 1858 and 1859}, (Vienna, 1861-62), and hereafter referred to as Reise, was in its nineteenth-century context exceeded in sales and impact only by Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos (Stuttgart, 1845-62). It was incidentally under Humboldt's benign patronage that the Novara voyage took place.

Scherzer's entrepreneurial success here (he was ennobled soon after his return to Vienna in late August of 1859) did much to justify the confidence originally placed in him by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, from whose discontented brain the Novara project had sprung, and by the Austrian finance minister Karl Ludwig von Bruck when, in the face of some opposition, they appointed him official historiographer to the expedition.

The son of comfortably middle-class parents, Scherzer was himself no stranger to opposition, which he first felt when he ran counter to his family's wishes and trained as a printer. The same opposition swelled considerably and took on an official hue when Scherzer, in the fateful year of 1848, organised in his Viennese 'Gutenberg-Verein' an early precursor of the modern typographical unions. He found refuge from official action and obloquy in self-exile during 1852-5 in North and Central America where he helped the geographer Moritz Wagner in what became a mutual and highly rewarding odyssey. After the Novara's circumnavigation of the world, and following the succes fou of the Reise itself, Scherzer went on to a highly acclaimed consular and diplomatic career.

The Sydney section of the Reise (III, 1-95) chronicles the outstanding social events of the Novara's sojourn in Sydney. For the European armchair traveller, it catalogues and describes the varied landmarks, fauna and flora in and around Sydney. It discusses, with some admiring glances at 'England's psychological success' (III, 2) the vexed question of penal settlement and the social rehabilitation of wrongdoers (III, 57-9, 80-92). It analyses the economy of New South Wales (III, 19-20, 72-75), and dilates on the goldfields (III, 46-7, 75-8). It reports, with horrifying examples of multiple abuses, recent official moves to improve the lot of sea-borne German migrants (III, 48-52). The wretched state of the Aborigines is frequently touched upon, more dolefully than angrily (III, 27-35, 68-71) and there are fleeting pen portraits of notable civilians. Throughout, the writing is tight, vibrant, buoyant.

Scherzer frequently makes use of material from official government publications, whose titles he invariably quotes. He also draws, without acknowledgment, from the columns of the Sydney Morning Herald, of the Australische Deutsche Zeitung [Australian German Newspaper] (edited and published in Sydney between 1856 and 1859 by John Degotardi), and from other accounts of their stay in Sydney made by his colleagues G. Frauenfeld and F. Hochstetter.

Georg Frauenfeld (1807-73) was one of the Novara's zoologists. His essay on the Sydney visit reads somewhat like a Latin textbook, as he delightedly identifies in turn everything growing and moving in the environs of Sydney; his is the description (Reise III, 43-46) of an excursion to the Hunter Valley and to A.W. Scott's river retreat on Ash Island.

The geologist Ferdinand Hochstetter (1829-84) had been commissioned by the Wiener Zeitung to send back reports on the Novara's progress. His accounts, which were posthumously published in book form during 1885 to mark the silver anniversary (26 August 1884) of the Novara's return home,dwell more on the social festivities which enveloped the Novara and the men on board. Hochstetter is also, mindful of his employer, careful to give chapter and verse for the lengthy extracts he translates from the Sydney Morning Herald and borrows from the Australische Deutsche Zeitung. Like Scherzer, both Frauenfeld and Hochstetter were granted the patent of nobility on their return to Vienna.

As might be expected, Karl Scherzer kept a diary. In fact, such was the cachet of pan-global travel in mid nineteenth-century Europe, there are probably some 351 other Novara diaries carefully and obscurely preserved in various Viennese drawers and family archives. What is less to be expected - and this has recently raised surprised eyebrows in Vienna itself - is that Scherzer's diary has been in the Mitchell Library, Sydney (MSS A2633-35) since Angus and Robertson's sold it to the library in July 1939. The previous history of the manuscript is not known. In three clothbound volumes, which contain a total of 834 pages, it bears the title 'Tagebuch geführt während einer Reise um die Erde 1857-1859' [Diary compiled during a voyage around the world 1857-1859].

Scherzer's initial act in Sydney on that first Friday afternoon was to hurry to the post office for the ship's mail. It was closed (Diary, 43). On the Saturday (6 November), after having successfully secured the disappointingly lean mail bags, Scherzer accompanied the Commodore and the Novara's captain (Friedrich von Pöck) on a first visit to the Governor General Sir William Denison (Reise III, 4).

The trio found Sir William friendly and helpful, but because of the death of two of his children, whom he lost very recently, his family is plunged into deep mourning and for this reason he is unable to throw open his house to the joyful festivities commensurate to the arrival in Australia of the very first German war-ship (Diary, 44). There was also time, at Government House, to cast a quick glance at the 'very fine' aviary of rare birds built up by Alfred Denison, the governor's brother and private secretary. Scherzer spent the rest of the day moving into St Kilda House (corner of Cathedral Street and Palmer Street) in Woolloomooloo: at five pounds a week (this is later amended to five guineas) for full board and lodging, with a private dining room (Diary, 47).

On Sunday, 7 November, Scherzer spent the whole day with Wilhelm Kirchner, consul in Sydney for Hamburg and Prussia, and ('in spe') Austria. He notes the cost of Kirchner's five acre residence at Darling Point (8000), the cost of his office in Wynyard Street (1600 per annum), and compares them to Viennese prices. Money was still in the air when they visited the new, as yet incomplete university (Reise III, 6-7) where the 'professors are exceptionally well paid' and 'each student is said to cost the government (all expenses included) up to 400 pounds a year' (Diary, 44).

There were more flying visits. To the Observatory (Reverend William Scott) which Scherzer (Reise III, 7) found to be 'a very insignificant institution, both as a building and with regard to its achievement' (Diary, 45). Then to the Botanical Gardens (Charles Moore) where he could praise the 'varied interests' it offered (Reise III, 15-16), and where the staff promised to give the Novara visitors 'all the seeds we needed' (Diary, 45).

It was near here, at Mrs Macquarie's Chair, that Kirchner too became more relaxed and confiding. He talked of the 'large number of farms' he owned on the Clarence River, which he had settled in 1848-9, with German migrants from the Rhineland and from Baden-Wurttemberg (Reise III, 18-19). The once poor 'colonists' were now rich and prosperous landowners. One of them, Herr Frauenfelder, a star pupil so to speak, had come to Australia as a widower with eleven unmarried daughters. Now married again, with twelve daughters, his personal fortune was estimated to be more than 20,000 (Diary, 45). But there was more. Kirchner himself owned a stearine candle factory in the same district (Reise III, 19, note 1) which, because of the predilection of gold diggers for candle light, had in 1856 sold 600,000 worth of candles.

It was possibly a somewhat shaken Scherzer who returned with Kirchner to the Darling Point house. Here he met Mrs Kirchner - 'she is very pleasant and speaks fairly good German' (Diary, 46). Frances Kirchner had lived for some years in Frankfurt am Main and 'she is a daughter of the member of parliament Mr Scott, the owner of Ash Island' (Diary, 46). Scherzer mentions here too Frances Kirchner's two sisters, Harriet and Helena (Reise III, 43), skilful entomologists and artists both, busy preparing a substantial work on the beetles, butterflies and moths of New South Wales. A party including Frauenfeld and the ship's artist Joseph Selleny was visiting Ash Island at this time (7-9 November).

If Scherzer was somewhat taken by Mrs Kirchner's good looks - 'you would never think by looking at her that she has seven children' (Diary, 46) - he was completely bowled over that same evening by a further visitor to the Kirchners, the pianist and music teacher Amalie Rawack, nee Mauthner (Reise III, 65-6). Born in Vienna, Mlle. Mauthner was the reluctant possessor of a familiar riches-to-rags story, which Scherzer relates (Diary, 45-6) with considerable empathy.She was to become a familiar and beloved figure to her compatriots on the Novara during their stay in Sydney.

On the Monday, 8 November, there were official visits (Diary, 47) to Mr Stewart Donaldson (Stuart Alexander Donaldson, parliamentarian), Mr Robertson (John Robertson, politician) and Mr Cowper (Charles Cowper, politician).

Tuesday, 9 November, began with a visit to Dr George Bennett (Reise III, 11, note 1), 'a respected doctor and natural scientist, or rather Maecenas of science' (Diary, 47). Inspired no doubt by Bennett's 'great influence through his correspondence with the greatest scientific authorities in England', Scherzer wrote that morning on behalf of one of the expedition's zoologists, Johann Zelebor, to the Australian Museum, seeking 'through exchange their duplicates of scientific objects'. Presumably he delivered the letter in person since he spent the afternoon touring the Museum (Reise III, 7). His guide was the Secretary to the Trustees, George French Angas, 'an expert artist and conchologist' (Diary, 47). Scherzer found the Museum 'obviously leaves a lot to be desired, but it is nevertheless a happy augury of the scientific impulses and aspirations of this young colony' (Diary, 47).

The following day (Wednesday, 10 November) was spent in Elizabeth Bay at the wealthy home and in the luxuriant gardens of William Macleay, 'the famous scientist' (Diary, 47-8). The botanical treasures on the Macleay estate are described in some detail (Reise III, 13). It was here, on catching sight of the big notice boards warning passers-by 'Beware of Bloodhounds' and 'Any person trespassing will be prosecuted' which bore witness to Macleay's 'misanthropic disposition' (Diary, 48), that Scherzer was moved to digress on the fact that 'Sydney was founded by criminals'. His ruminations bring him however to the conclusion 'yet people can sleep quite safely with their doors and windows open if it isn't too cold and no-one's worried about burglars since everyone has the opportunity of gaining an income, and hard work, combined with good luck, can quickly make you rich' (Diary, 48). Such sobering, Smilesian thoughts bring Scherzer however in turn to the 'principal vice of the Australian colony ... the passion with which a large proportion of the population give themselves over to drink' (Diary, 48-9). He appends some staggering statistics (Reise III, 42) and contrasts the annual consumption of spirits in New South Wales to that of Prussia, England and France (more figures).

The diary notes but one event for the weekend of 13-14 November and that was a visit, on the Saturday, to M. Louis Francois Sentis, the French (and Sicilian) consul, in Sydney's Wynyard Square. Earlier in the day the Novara had entered the FitzRoy dry dock, an event reported as follows in the local Shipping Gazette:

The Austrian frigate Novarra, 44 guns, Commodore Bernard von Wullerstorf, was placed in the Government Dry Dock, by Captain Mann, on Saturday forenoon. She entered with perfect ease, having all her main deck guns on board, although, it being the season of neap tides, there was fully one foot less water at the entrance than usual. The Novarra is a very fine vessel, and evidently large of her class. It is satisfactory thus to have proved the capabilities of the Fitzroy Dry Dock, this being the first instance in which so large a man-of-war has been docked in Sydney Harbour.

However, on the Monday, 15 November, there was an excursion (Reise III, 13-14) to visit 'the richest man in Australia', Sir Daniel Cooper, at his 'extremely elegant, almost princely mansion in Rose Bay'. Scherzer describes Sir Daniel's social generosity and charitable benevolence, but writes nonetheless: 'you can sense straight away that you're in the house of a parvenu, where they're trying to ape certain manners, yet keep slipping up. You notice everywhere evidence of their lowly origin. It's particularly striking in the case of the women there, for example Lady Cooper. Despite all the magnificence you're offered and shown, it's all so dreadfully boring' (Diary, 49).

There is some uncharacteristic bitterness here in Scherzer's comments. Perhaps his thoughts were coloured by the presence, at Sir Daniel's gates, of a crippled Aborigine (Reise III, 14), dressed in cast-off European clothes, unable to speak English, the last of his tribe, content to spend the 'greatest part of his miserable existence' squatting as a beggar on 'the land he once owned' (Diary, 49-50). Scherzer does note that 'Ricketty Dick ... is provided by Sir Daniel with all that is necessary and is well looked after' (Diary, 50).

There was to be a much longer expedition on Tuesday, 16 November. The day began with Scherzer and the Commodore being rowed over to Cockatoo Island to inspect the Novara, lying Leviathan-like in the Fitzroy dry dock (Reise III, 56). In the prison on the island they somewhat uncomfortably came across the Austrian Herr von Masgiardi, sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for horse stealing. They also came across Frederick Beer, the Swiss doctor sentenced for 'allegedly poisoning a woman with belladonna (5 grams)' (Diary, 50). Scherzer, like others in Sydney at that time, was struck by the severity of the sentence. He found further cause for amazement during the return trip from Cockatoo Island, when he noticed 'numerous used bottles floating around in Port Jackson. They are said to come from missionaries who stuff them with religious tracts and throw them into the water' (Diary, 50).

Later that same morning, Scherzer and the Commodore set off by rail for Campbelltown (Reise III, 16). They were accompanied this time by the zoologist Johann Zelebor and the artist Joseph Selleny, not forgetting the cabin-boy Alois Kraus, taken along to cope with the luggage. In Campbelltown they were picked up by Sir William Macarthur (Reise III, 17) who took them to Camden Park, where the party stayed the night (Diary, 50-51). The journey by train and horse carriage induced Scherzer to muse on the differences between Australian and European landscape. After lunch with the Macarthurs, while the Commodore and Zelebor sallied forth to shoot birds, Selleny and Scherzer chatted with the German workers at Camden Park who had read of the Novara's imminent arrival (Reise III, 17) in Degotardi's Australische Deutsche Zeitung. They seemed contented and happy with their lot but 'a feeling of melancholic reminiscence crept over them when we talked of home' (Diary, 52).

Scherzer questioned the Germans closely (Reise III, 17-18) on working conditions, wages and prospects (Diary, 52), noting as he did their shaky German. One woman stoutly asserted, when her command of her native language was probed, 'Oh no! Wir keep it immer in Exercise!' After dinner, Scherzer browsed in the Macarthur library and carefully copied down several titles of works he had not previously encountered.

Early the following morning (Wednesday, 17 November) Sir William took them round the 25 acres of Camden Park vineyards. There was also a wine tasting and Scherzer, true to form, provides here a short essay (Reise III, 19-21) on Australian vines and wine production (Diary, 53). The visitors noticed deserted plots and half-built walls, which brought forth a bitter outburst from Sir William on the lure of the 'diggings' and the unpalatable fact that 'there is no greater tyrant in this Country than the labourer' (Diary, 53).

At ten o'clock the party returned to Campbelltown (Reise III, 22), where they hired horses and carriage for the next stage of their journey, to Wollongong. For their five day trip, transport costs, despite a snappy carriage loaned by Sir Daniel Cooper, came to 19.5s. (Diary, 54). They spent the night at Appin (Reise III, 23-4), in an 'extremely dirty Irish inn', taken over in default of a debt by 'an old woman with six or more daughters', whose unveiled intention was 'to make our bill as high as possible' (Diary, 54). The bill came in fact to three pounds and the discomfited tourists resumed their journey the following day (Thursday, 18 November), their only profit being 'several pretty birds', shot by the Commodore (Reise III, 24).

In the course of the day, as they slowly made their way through 'truly paradisically beautiful districts' (Diary, 55), Sir William Macarthur caught up with them and guided them to extensive views (Reise III, 25) of the Illawarra coastline. They passed through Broughton's or Sir Thomas Mitchell's Pass, 'a piece of wild Alpine nature', Selleny furiously sketching the while (Reise III, 26f).They paused for coffee at Brogo [elsewhere Bargo], 'in a wooden hut, covered with bark, not without a certain comfort inside' (Diary, 55). While the Commodore was absent in the bush, killing things, they came across a large herd of sleek oxen in the dexterous charge of three drovers (Reise III, 25), who were clearly 'gentlemen'.

At three in the afternoon they arrived in Wollongong (Reise III, 27), where in the 'gloomy Brighton Hotel' they met Mr Hill (Edward Smith Hill) who had arranged to take them to a nearby Aborigines' camp (Diary, 56). Here they met Thullinbah (a man, 60 years old), Barungalung (35 years) and his wife Woorangah and their daughter Mewungah, the last of their tribe. There was also an ancient woman, completely hidden by a tattered woollen blanket, who reminded Scherzer of a Viennese peddler woman (Diary, 57). While Selleny sketched, Scherzer examined and sketched in turn for his diary the tribal scars seen on the men (Reise III, 28, illustrated). There was also an indifferent display of boomerang throwing.

For Friday, 19 November, a kangaroo hunt had been arranged (Reise III, 35-6). It was a complete flop, even the Aboriginal trackers proving to be 'less skilful huntsmen than I would have thought' (Diary, 59). While crouched in the bush, waiting for the undoomed and extremely agile wallabies to be driven past, Scherzer composed his thoughts (Reise III, 35-6) on the Australian 'Warrigul' [native dog], Australian forests and Australian birds (Diary, 58). He also reflected on the solitary farms in the bush (Reise III, 36-7), on their interior snugness, on 'the engravings cut from illustrated papers stuck on the walls', and on the friendly hospitality of their inhabitants (Diary, 59). Mindful here of the delights of damper, he hastens to jot down the recipe for his disbelieving readers (Diary, 59-60).

In the evening, presumably once the Commodore's baffled rage had subsided, the party dined at the Brighton Hotel with Sir William Macarthur and his nephew [Freddy Bowman], and Mr Hill. Zelebor had developed a violent fever during their fruitless hunting expedition and had taken to his bed (Diary, 60).

On the Saturday morning, 20 November, they visited the coal mines (Reise III, 38) on Mount Keira and watched the coal being dragged down to the wharves in Wollongong (Diary, 60). They also met an Austrian from Graz, called Tosi, who had 'a tailor's shop, and wasn't doing all that well'. There were some final sketches by Selleny of obliging Aborigines, whilst Scherzer scolded himself for having forgotten to bring the measuring instruments he used in his ethnological studies. He compromised on this occasion by securing various locks of hairs.

At one o'clock the Austrians were to embark on the Illawarra steamer to return to Sydney, since the Commodore was to be guest of honour that evening at a party given by Mr Donaldson. Gusting winds prevented the steamer from landing (Diary, 61). A decision was quickly made. Mr Hill, the ailing Zelebor and the cabin boy Alois Kraus, now almost submerged by the growing pile of luggage, were to wait for the steamer to land. The Commodore, Scherzer and Selleny, having paid the hotel bill (14), set off at a cracking pace with hired carriage and horses (Billy and Sam) to travel to Sydney overland.

The diminished party left Wollongong at 3.30 on the Saturday afternoon. We will draw a veil over their desperate progress (Reise III, 38-42) over Mount Bulli and (on foot) along the deserted moonlit trail to Brogo, described with admirable gusto by Scherzer (Diary, 61-3). The weary trio eventually arrived in Campbelltown at one o'clock on the Sunday afternoon (21 November). At the hotel of a Mr Armstrong, where they chose to rest briefly, a Masonic Lodge had just been inaugurated (Diary, 63). The resulting scenes led Scherzer to enter more thoughts and statistics in his diary on the acute problems of drink in New South Wales (Diary, 63-4).

It was at 6.30 on the Sunday evening that the three stiffly alighted from the railway train in Sydney. Kirchner had booked rooms for the Commodore and Scherzer in the Australian Club in Bent Street (Reise III, 42), which Scherzer now describes, for the most part approvingly, 'except for the bedrooms, which leave a lot to be desired' (Diary, 64). In the club they met Andreas Bonar, a long time resident of Australia and 'a relative of the Commodore'. What remained of that long day was spent - for such was her allure - at Madame Rawack's (Diary, 64).

Mr Hill, Zelebor and Kraus arrived back in Sydney by steamer at 3 a.m. on the following day (Monday, 22 November). Zelebor, now quite sick, was promptly put to bed at the Royal Hotel. Kraus' reward came on New Year's Day 1859, when he was promoted to Seaman 2nd Class. Scherzer meanwhile on that same day busied himself with visits to Dr Bennett and George French Angas. In the evening there was a concert arranged by the Sydney Philharmonic Society at the Sydney Exchange, where Madame Rawack gave an 'exquisitely beautiful' rendering of what the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 November 1858 described as 'Fantasia (pianoforte), "Anna Bolena" -Thalberg'. Also present was a 'whole circle of attractive women' (Diary, 65). An agreeable day concluded with the arrival of a batch of letters from Europe, which included the homely news 'Lis'l has a baby boy'.

Social Sydney was now casting an earnest eye on the Novara's officers and scientists. At the Return Fancy Dress Ball given on Tuesday, 23 November, by the citizens of Sydney to the Mayor and Mayoress (Reise III, 65), the Novara's upper echelons were present in full force. Scherzer turned up at a crowded, jostling Prince of Wales Theatre at nine o'clock. He noted at once that 'very few respectable families were in attendance'. He was buttonholed by a certain Dr Berncastle, 'who looks as odd as his behaviour is odd'. Berncastle claimed for himself the gratitude of the Novara's scientists for 'having shown Dr H. the quickest route to Bathurst'. As the evening wore on, Berncastle 'disgraced himself dreadfully and thus received the just desserts for his arrogance' (Diary, 65).

On 24 November, a Wednesday, Scherzer attended the Australian Museum where he was presented with 'various ethnographic objects' for the Imperial Museum and the Naval Museum in Vienna. In turn, Scherzer presented to the Museum a case of 100 Miocene fossils from Vienna, a medallion in bronze of W.K. von Haidinger (1795-1871), Director-General of the Geological Society of Austria, and a chest of geological works, addressed to the Philosophical Society. He talked too with Sir William Denison, and arranged for him and Zelebor to exchange duplicates from their respective collections of sea shells.

The 24th was a 'dreadful dark, sultry day, almost unbearably so, as in Shanghai' (Diary, 65). The resultant southerly change ('ein Brickfielder') all but wrecked that evening's delayed water-borne welcome by the German community for the Novara (Reise III, 61-62). This culminated in the formal declamation before the Commodore from an illuminated parchment address, signed by 116 Germans. On board to witness the ceremony were the Kirchners and Madame Rawack (Diary, 65-66). The Sydney Morning Herald correspondent waxed lyrically the following day when reporting the event, using half of his column to elaborate on the differing customs of various European races, before getting down to the task of describing the events at hand, as follows:

Welcome of German Residents

to H.I.M.S. The Novara

A grand and singular demonstration of welcome, on the part of the numerous and respected German residents of this city, in honour of the long expected arrival of the Imperial Austrian frigate the Novara took place in the waters of Port Jackson last evening; and as the proceedings, although of a nature not unfamiliar to Germans and Scandinavians, were almost a complete novelty to the Australian and British mind, considerable interest was excited thereby, not merely amongst those taking an active part in the programme, but also those who, from no worthier sentiment than mere curiosity, went both to listen and to look on.

Every distant country has its own peculiar customs and habit of thought, and who shall be judge of the comparative merits of that idiosyncracy which cleaves inseperately to the individual member of any people when dear old fatherland is no more seen, and becomes (although so long and so friendly remembered) the mere burden of some plaintiff song in a tongue unknown and strange to the unsympathising bystander, the subject of a half-uttered thought, or perhaps of a sight, which none but a fellow countryman can appreciate?

Every nation preserves its own characteristics, and is often naturally prone to exhibit the one common feeling of civilised man in different ways. Englishmen, on a foreign stamen, are desirous, we will suppose, of welcoming an English ship, or a vessel belonging to a country with which the British acknowledge some intimate connexton - such, for instance, as the United States - and, ten to one, the first accepted thought then will be the concoction of some enormous dinner; and invitation to which (with all the horrors of an inevitable Cyspepsia) is, with the best possible intentions, eagerly tendered to the new arrivals.

The French, in a similar position, would probably, at the risk of a misunderstanding with the local authorities, deem themselves in duty bound par politeset, to a terrific quantity of gunpowder, à la Cherbourg; or, at a similar risk to get up some military parade or other, or last - and perhaps best - a ball or fête champêre, a sort of thing in which they are unrivalled.

The German idea on such an exigency is different yet, for he invokes the aid of music - and thus most happily expresses his welcome to all who, in a foreign land, become in his mind associated with recollections of home - a grave, natural, and pleasing turn of thought, at once simple and highly effective in the most musical of all nations. For Germany owns, after all, but one brave race, although now subdivided into so many different States - one of which is the cradle of that royal family which every true Englishman reveres.

In Europe suffice it then that the Hanoverian, the Prussian, the Wirtemburgien, the Bavarian, and the Saxon, with the natives of numerous other smaller dominions, may at times be mutually jealous of each other, or distrustful of the overshadowing wing of the Austrian Eagle; but abroad, removed from their great common country many thousands of miles, such distinctions dwindle into nothing, and, at the first quick interchange of words in their own sonorous and manly tongue, all Germans salute each other as brothers, and everything else is forgotten.

And so it doubtless came to pass that the steamer Washington - with Germans on board from those many States, of the very existence of some of which several amongst us are ignorant - went unanimously and gladly down the water of Port Jackson, to welcome the gallant ship of his Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, in the good old German fashion, with music and with song.

The steamer left the Circular Wharf shortly after eight o'clock, and proceeded down the harbour until she brought up near the Novara, in the stream, near Fort Denison. Just before the Washington started a violent gust of wind - such as is generally known as "a brickfielder" - arose, and several times the pretty coloured lamps with which the steamer was illuminated were vexatiously extinguished. They were relighted, however from time to time by the gentlemen who had assumed the responsibility of the "Novara stanchen" with untiring cheerfulness and good temper, and the boisterous efforts of the wind thus successfully contended with until eventually overcome.

A large number of ladies and gentlemen were on board - nearly 300 persons - and the music of the fine German Band sounded merrily over the waters soon after the Washington started from the Quay. Upon arrival at the spot where the Novara lay, strains of music from on board that fine vessel arose in friendly response to the courtesies of her visitor, and, after a short delay, the committee who had the management of the serenade went on board the frigate in a ship's boat.

The Commodore and Mr Kirchner received the committee on the poop with marked cordiality and reconnaissance, and Mr Frederick Gelbrecht, in the name of the German residents of Sydney, in a distinct and audible voice, read the following address:  

To the Commodore, the Officers

and the Scientific Gentlemen

of the Austrian Imperial man-of-war Novara.

Gentlemen, We, the undersigned German residents of Sydney, bid you a hearty welcome on your safe arrival at this port. You will receive this welcome as a proof of our deepest sympathy with the great undertaking in which you are engaged for the purpose of expanding science and knowledge throughout the world.

We feel proud as Germans that it will be apparent to our English and colonial co-residents that, not only men like Dr. Leichhardt, but also our greatest German monarchs, use every exertion for the promotion of arts and science.

Distant from our native land, we can only prove our love and attachment to the same by transplanting German usages and customs wherever fate may guide us, and by remembering always our origin wherever Germans meet us in the path of life.

Such a sign of constant remembrance to the far-distant land of our birth, such a solemn proof of our high veneration for German art and civilization, we endeavour to show by the festival of this day.

May the expression of our sentiments prove to you, gentlemen, a well-promising blossom of the German life tree, transplanted to Australia on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

The outfitting of this Expedition of the Novara for these scientific and glorious objects have filled us with the highest admiration for Austria's young Monarch, and his Imperial Highness the Archduke Max, who, like their great ancestor Joseph, prove themselves stars among German potentates, by protecting arts and science.

Allow us, also, gentlemen, to express how greatly we admire the staunch perseverance which you show by prosecuting the object of your undertaking under so many dangers and privations, and let us also on this occasion acknowledge our deep veneration for those men and oryphaes of German art and science, who, in conjunction with our great world-known countryman Alexander von Humboldt, have materially assisted you in your enterprise.

May the result of this Expedition of the Novara realise your most sanguine expectations. The deeds of this circumnavigation of the world will be engraved on the tablets of history, and delivered to posterity, and even in future ages will be a lasting proof, what German mind has been able to accomplish in arts and sciences, for the promotion of the welfare of all mankind.

We are, &c.,

The Commodore of the Novara replied, with much eloquence, in an extempore speech. He assured the gentlemen of the deputation that he deeply felt the honour which had been paid him by this visit, and by the address he had just received. It was a pleasure which he would not easily forget, and he begged to state that he should consider himself bound to mention the circumstance to his emperor and master on his return to Austria. He had been received with particular warmth and kindness at this port, both from his own countrymen and the English colonists, and especially from the latter, such as he could not have been prepared to expect. it was evident, from the reception he had met with, that the people here, although of another nation to that to which they belonged, were fully capable of appreciating the value and importance of those objects to which the scientific expedition of the Novara was dedicated.

The gentlemen who presented the address were Messrs. Hetzer, Fierichs, Jansen, Kohn, Reyling, Lamy, and Gelbrecht. A short interval then followed, during which the Commodore and officers of the ship conversed with the deputation, the band of the Novara playing selections from the opera of "La Traviata" and other pieces of music. The Washington having then approached nearer, Mr Gelbrecht expressed to those on board the purport of the reply which Commodore Noleair had made to the address, which was responded to by hearty cheers.

A large number of persons on board the Washington, under the direction of Mr Suëssmilch, then sang with great effect (and without any instrumental accompaniment) the German national hymn - Was ist das "Deutschen Vaterland?" To this the band on the Novara responded with the National Anthem of Austria, and other harmonious interchanges of music and song continued as long as the two vessels remained together. The deputation having returned to the Washington, a display of fireworks was then displayed on both vessels, several rockets let off, and blue-lights burnt.

The Washington took leave of the object of her polite attentions at half-past-ten, and shortly after she arrived at the Circular Quay. Messrs. Mitchell and Company kindly gave the use of the Washington, steamer, for this novel and interesting evening.


A later report in the Herald commented on the evening's festivities in general, and its musical aspects in particular:

On Wednesday evening the German residents gave a sort of musical welcome to the officers and crew of the Austrian frigate Novara. They assembled in considerable numbers, and went down in the steamer Washington to the frigate. A deputation then went on board, and an address was delivered to the commodore, who made a suitable reply. A great deal of excellent music followed, both instrumental and vocal. The former came from the frigate's band and the German band on board the steamer. The singing came from the Germans on board the latter vessel. This custom, peculiar to the Germans, of pouring forth their congratulations in song is a very pleasing one.


Scherzer spent the following morning (Thursday, 25 November) wrestling with the proofs, submitted by John Degotardi at 4 a sheet, of an article in English on anthropological measurements, prepared by himself and the botanist Eduard Schwarz, M.D. Schwarz (1831-62) also doubled as one of the Novara's four doctors. 'The whole thing', he cries, 'has been corrected so negligently by the compositor, that there are mistakes in it which completely distort the meaning' (Diary, 66).

In the afternoon Scherzer witnessed and attentively observed (Reise III, 66) the Prorogation of Parliament (Diary, 67), and in the evening he was one of the twelve speakers at a formal dinner (Reise III, 63) given by the German Club in honour of the Novara's visit. In his toast, Scherzer stressed that 'no German state had in recent years contributed so much to the unity of the German peoples as the regenerated Austria had done to the detriment of her own material, even economic, interests' (Diary, 67-68). The Sydney Morning Herald correspondent reported the evening in the following manner:

Novara Dinner at the German Club,

Wynyard Square

The Commodore, officers, and scientific gentlemen of H.I.R Majesty's frigate Novara were entertained on Thursday evening last, by the members of the German Club. At half-past six o'clock about sixty gentlemen sat down to dinner, which included all the delicacies of the season. The club rooms were tastefully decorated with evergreens and the flags of different nations, and presented an aspect quite worthy of the occasion. The greatest hilarity and cordiality prevailed during the evening, and ample justice was done to the good things provided.

After the cloth had been removed, the President of the club, Consul W. Kirchner (who acted as chairman) rose to propose the first toast - "Her Majesty the Queen," - which was responded to with enthusiasm. The second toast, proposed by the Chairman, - "H.I.R. Majesty the Emperor of Austria, the Imperial Prince, and Archduke Max," - was received with continued cheers. Commodore Chevalier B. de Wuellerstorf-Urbair returned thanks for his august master.

After this, Mr. Frerich rose to propose the toast of the evening - "The Commodore and Officers of the Novara and the Austrian Navy." The speaker having bid the guests a cordial welcome in the name of their countrymen present, commented upon the noble and praiseworthy aim of the expedition in which they were engaged, and set down amidst fond cheering.

Commodore Wuellerstorf rose again, returning thanks in a most feeling and able speech, stating that he felt highly gratified by the reception he had met with since his arrival in this port. He also explained the intentions of the Monarch he has the honour to represent, and the circumstances which led to the noble mission of the Novara, the results of which would be judged on their return by Alexander von Humboldt, and other renowned men of science. In conclusion, the speaker proposed - "The Germans of Australia."

Mr. Michaelis having, in very appropriate terms, proposed - "The scientific gentlemen of the expedition as representatives of German science and knowledge," Dr. Scherzer in return expressed, in a most eloquent speech, the great pleasure they found in the reception they had met with from Germans in all the different parts they had visited. He also stated that it was the noble aim of H.M. the Emperor of Austria, to promote German unity by treaties of commerce, and by unity of weights, measures, and coins. It was also considered part of the mission of the Novara to enquire into the state of German emigration, and to devise means for its improvement. In conclusion, the speaker said - "Gentlemen, I now call upon you to pledge 'The unity, power, and greatness of our native country - Germany.'"

So wett die deutsche Zunge Klingt

Und Gott im Himmel Leider singt.

After the loud cheering had subsided, Dr. Hochstetter, who was listened to with breathless attention, spoke in a most feeling manner in remembrance of the much lamented Dr. Leichhardt. The company rose, and drank to the memory of their illustrious countryman in solemn silence.

Commodore De Wuellerstorf then rose and said: Gentlemen, we have had many toasts this evening - the last one having been in remembrance of a German, whose praiseworthy and noble efforts for this colony, and for Australia, will be noted in the annals of colonial history, ever to be remembered with gratitude. I now have the honour to propose the health of another of our countrymen, whose name being the emblem of German unity, appertains to no particular nationality, but to the "whole Germany" - the health, gentlemen, of the illustrious and noble Alexander von Humboldt!

This toast having been responded to from all sides with the most sincere and unbounded enthusiasm, Dr. Jonasson next proposed, in a glowing speech, "Germany, our Native land," which was likewise most enthusiastically received.

The Commodore said that he felt much pleasure in joining in this toast at so great a distance from their common native country, and after a few most appropriate sentences, proposed the "Health of their countryman, H.R.H. Prince Albert."

Mr. Wallach having taken given the toast of "The Land we live in," which was most cordially responded to, Commodore V. Wuellerstorf expressed his sympathy with the same, and proposed, in conjunction with it, "His Excellency Sir William Denison, the Governor- General." After this, the company retired from the dining room about 11 o'clock, and every one appeared much pleased with the evening's entertainment.


There was a more refined social evening the following day (Friday, 26 November) when Scherzer, after more (unspecified) visits and some writing, called on the family of Attorney General John Hubert Plunkett. He describes Mrs Plunkett as 'a quite extraordinary woman. She has pale features, a full stately figure, blue soulful eyes and flaxen hair, bleached almost completely white before its time. She is very loquacious, was educated in France and loves flirting with her knowledge of French learning' (Diary, 68). Madame Rawack was also present that evening at 169 Macquarie Street North and played some pieces on the piano.

The following day, Saturday, 27 November, with felicitous timing, news was released in Sydney of the distant birth in Austria (on 21 August previous) of Crown Prince Rudolf, the same psychopathic Rudolf who was to die a wretched death at Mayerling in 1889. The Novara fired a thunderous 21-gun salute at eight in the morning, at noon, and again at dusk (Reise III, 63). At midday, her cannon were joined by those of the similarly beflagged English frigates Iris and Victoria. The Sydney Herald reported on the event as follows:

The Novara Salute

The repeated salvoes of ships' guns which, on Saturday, resounded from that part of the harbour used as an anchorage ground for war vessels, were the naval salutations of our Austrian visitors on the auspicious occasion of the birth of a Crown Prince, an heir apparent to the Emperor Franz Joseph I. This event was announced in our intelligence by the last mail from Europe; but at the time the news was received the Novara was in dock, and her part in the celebration was therefore deferred until a more convenient opportunity. In the morning religious service was engaged in on board, the ship was gaily bedecked with flags, and at sunrise, noon, and evening, salutes of twenty-one guns each gave the customary significance to the occasion. Further festivities, it is understood, will take place today [Monday, 29 November] in the shape of a grand soirée dansante, for which the arrangements and invitations bespeak an event of more than usual eclât.


On board on Saturday there was a solemn 'Te Deum' a full parade and a festive breakfast. Special guests were the Kirchners, A.W. Scott and his daughters Helena and Harriet, Madame Rawack and two friends, and John Degotardi. Scherzer notes that 'Dr Hochstetter and Dr Frauenfeld were not on board, and the Commodore was very peeved' (Diary, 68).

It seems likely that Degotardi's invitation to witness the Novara's rejoicings came as a form of peace-offering on Scherzer's part. On the Sunday (28 November), a rainy day, Scherzer records his new determination, following a kind offer by Sir William Denison, to have the measurements article printed free of charge by the Government Printer in Sydney. He was still struggling with the actual text - 'certain particularly vital sentences are completely unintelligible' - but fortunately 'Mr Stephens [William John Stephens], headmaster of the Grammar School, was kind enough to read through our Memoir in an exact and critical way, and still found numerous mistakes and inaccuracies, even though Dr Bennett and Dr Browne [Robert Frederick Browne] had both read through the whole thing' (Diary, 68-9).

There was more rain on the Monday, 29 November, causing the Grand Ball on board the Novara - 'to which some 350 ladies and gentlemen belonging to the elite of Sydney Society' (Diary, 69) had been invited - to be postponed to the Tuesday. Even then, during the ball itself, heavy rain began to fall at about nine in the evening. The same heavy downpour induced a change of heart in some of the later guests, including Sir Daniel and Lady Cooper, who were waiting damply on shore to be ferried across to the glittering Novara in a steamer hired (at 18) for the night. Scherzer described the overnight ball in some detail (Reise III, 63-65), particularly the transformation of the warship into a giant bouquet of flowers. He stresses the quality of the guests and notes with some glee the ball's impact on a bemused Sydney (Diary, 69-71). The Sydney Morning Herald correspondent reported the occasion as follows:

The Novara Ball

The Commodore and officers of H.I.R.M.'s Austrian frigate Novara, entertained a large company of the élite of Sydney at a soirée densante on board last evening.

The invitations had been issued for the evening before, but at an early hour of the day the unpromising state of the weather induced the gallant gentlemen who had designed the entertainment to postpone it.

The Novara is the first Imperial Austrian vessel, we believe, which has entered our harbour. She has called here on an errand of science and civilization, and we hope our welcome to her has been kind and cordial. It is not our wont to receive the visit of strangers - for the ships of all nations have found us out in this remote corner of the world. But the heart of the colonists of New South Wales is large, and has a place for every guest that comes in the guise and with the intention of the Novara. We know that Austria is at peace with England, and England's child cannot do better than cement that peace, by offering its kindest hospitality, its cordial and affectionate greeting to the representatives of that nation. Such, we believe, has been the sentiment entertained and reciprocated since the Novara entered the heads, and we are persuaded she will leave them with no less amount of personal respect for her officers and crew, than of gratitude for the service she has rendered to science, and the information she has afforded us. The arrival in the harbour of Port Jackson was an occasion to us of honour and delight, and we hope we have made it appear so.

At the hour of eight last evening a steamer, engaged for the occasion, commenced running from the Circular Quay to the noble frigate, and continued her trips at half hour intervals. Unfortunately, a somewhat heavy shower came on, which threatened to be a storm, but fortunately it soon subsided, and the guests were safely placed on board, without serious damage even to satin shoes, blonde lace, and white muslin. The kind and unremitting attention of the officers of the frigate rendered the task of ascending to her deck an easy one. The arrangements for dressing both as regards ladies and gentlemen were excellent.

The dancing saloon was formed on the upper deck of the magnificent vessel, roofed in by flags, the picturesque and varied colours of which added to brilliant light, gay dresses, and a throng of fashion and beauty, made the scene a stirring and interesting one. The lower deck was partitioned off for card tables, and, we regret to say it, at one end for a smoking room, and truth to say we saw but little difference between our German friends and our English colonists in their predilection for this luxury.

Dancing commenced at about nine o'clock, there being about 300 persons present. Nothing could be more assiduous and polite than the attention of the Commodore and his officers to the visitors. The decorations of the ballroom also elicited much admiration. In the centre a fountain of water played continually into a basin constructed of shells, formed into a grotto, and heavily wreathed with flowers and evergreens.

His Excellency the Governor-General and his family were absent from domestic bereavement; and the Hon. Colonial Secretary also was absent from a similar cause. The Hon. Mr. R. Campbell, the Hon. Mr. J. Robertson, and the Hon. Mr. B. Dalley, were present. Amongst the visitors we also noticed nearly, if not all, the foreign Consuls, Mr. Hay, M.L.A., Mr. Hodgson, M.L.A., Colonel Percival, and the officers of the garrison, and the foreign and British officers now on the station.

The excellent band of the Novara discoursed, as usual, eloquent music, which was responded to with due alacrity by the twinkling feet of the fair visitors. The fete was altogether successful. The supper was laid out on the poop, covered in for the occasion, and when at an early hour in the morning the silent ship looked like "a banquet hall deserted," none could forget that it had been the scene of many pleasant reunions, and the occasion of many delightful reminiscences.


Scherzer left the ball early, at two in the morning. Seven hours later, on Wednesday, 1 December, he was bowling with the invaluable Mr Hill through Newtown en route for Kogarah Bay (Reise III, 68-69). Here they picked up the hunch-backed Jonny, 'the last of the Sydney tribe' (Diary, 71) and spent several fruitless hours digging for 'the skeleton of a black called Tom Ugly (in Aboriginal language: Tom Weiry)'. Unperturbed, Jonny led them to another spot where 'an Aborigine had died of starvation and had been buried by a nearby Irish settler' (Diary, 72).

More digging followed, in what was by now pouring rain. The skull of the hapless Micky was soon unearthed - 'it was already in an advanced stage of decomposition, but we put it in a bag anyhow and took it with us' (Diary, 73) - but the skeleton itself was deemed unworthy of further exhumation. Jonny was paid, and the two men returned at a spanking trot to the city, where Scherzer dined that evening with Dr Alfred Roberts and Mrs Roberts in Castlereagh Street (Reise III, 11, note 2). He returned to the Australian Club several 'extremely pleasant hours' later, carrying Dr Roberts' present of 'some interesting ethnographic objects from the Fiji Islands' (Diary, 73).

Scherzer's activities on the following day, Thursday, 2 December, were more those of the tourist. With Mr Hill he visited the Aborigines' camp at Long Bay (Reise III, 69-70) and arranged for various phrenological measurements to be made (Diary, 73). Both guide and tourist then rode on to the La Perouse monument and the 'so-called Frenchmen's gardens'. Scherzer describes the monument carefully (Reise III, 14-15), giving its dimensions and copying out the (French) inscription. They examined the Botany Tower (Reise III, 15) and noted the 'flag-pole at Banks' famous establishment with its little zoological garden' (Diary, 74). There were thoughts too on the site of Captain Cook's landing place 'on the opposite shore of Mud Bay', and the inscribed tablet to be found there.

Earlier that same day Scherzer and the Commodore, with Mr Hamilton (Edward William Hamilton), had been shown round the infant University of Sydney (Reise III, 6). Their guide was 'the Vice-Prevost Hble. F.L.S. Merewether' and Scherzer had been presented with various University Calendars by John Woolley (Diary, 75). The day concluded with a formal dinner at Government House attended by the 'leading figures of Sydney'. The Novara was represented by the Commodore, Captain von Pöck, and Scherzer, 'which caused some bad feeling amongst the scientists on board, since they thought they were being slighted' (Diary, 75).

Although there were still, as Scherzer writes on Friday, 3 December, 'no signs of our imminent departure' (Diary, 76), the tempo of entries in the diary is now appreciably quicker. On that same day Scherzer, Selleny and Mr Hill went on 'an expedition in the woods outside the city', where they measured and sketched three Aborigines. The evening was spent with Dr Bennett (Diary, 76). The entire weekend (4-5 December) was devoted to writing and correspondence. On Monday, 6 December, Scherzer moved back to the Novara accompanied by Dr Bennett and Mr Moore. There were fleeting farewell visits to the Governor, to Alfred Denison, to Sir Daniel Cooper in Rose Bay, and a tiring day was rounded off by a ball given by the Kirchners in Darling Point (Diary, 76).

The Novara, yawing slightly in an off-shore breeze, left her mooring at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, 7 December 1858 (Diary, 76). Outside the Heads, a course was laid for Auckland in New Zealand, where she would arrive on Wednesday, 22 December (Reise III, 95).

The Novara fever which had raged in Sydney during November and early December of 1858 seems to have abated as soon as the Austrian frigate had vanished over the horizon. Even at its height, there were some in Sydney who wondered how seriously the strange scientific gentlemen on board were being taken by Sydney's learned circles. In the Sydney Morning Herald of 29 November 1858 'A Member' can point out:

The Novara is in Port Jackson freighted with science. What is the Philosophical Society about? No soiree, no conversations, no formal recognition of our fellow-labourers in the paths of knowledge. Are we really earnest in the pursuit of learning?

A possible reason for this seeming disinterest on the part of the scientific community of Sydney (small though it was at the time), may have been the Anglican conference then taking place and occupying the energies of many of those same individuals who were staunch supporters of the Philosophical Society. It included, perhaps most significantly, the Reverend W.B. Clarke, geologist, vice-president of the Society, Trustee of the Australian Museum, scientific editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, and the primary promoter of colonial science in Sydney during this period; William Woolls; John Smith, etc. With Clarke tied up with church business, and Sir William Denison, a conchologist and president of the Philosophical Society likewise indisposed, the Novara's visit was unfortunately ill-timed. The Austrian contingent never received any official reception from the local scientific fraternity, though individual scientists and naturalists such as George Bennett, George French Angas, W.S. Macleay and William Macarthur did provide an individual welcome and offer assistance in carrying out local researches.

Despite this perceived disinterest, the Novara scientists achieved much in the way of observation and the accumulation of specimens during their brief visit, as is evidenced by the various volumes of the Reise issued between 1861-75, and Scherzer's own list of material obtained at Sydney and published in Vienna during 1859.

News of the Novara's safe return to Trieste (26 August 1859), of the exhibition of her scientific cargo in Vienna's Augartenpalais, of the printing and distribution of Scherzer's Reise, eventually reached Sydney's German community in a series of letters written to John Degotardi by Alois Auer von Welsbach (1813-69), the high-powered director of the Viennese Hof- und Staatsdruckerei. Degotardi's own fond memories of the Novara's visit probably suffered a setback when he learned from Auer (letter of 7 February 1862), a propos Degotardi's application for nomination as Austrian consul in Sydney, 'Rear-Admiral Wüllerstorf has refused to have anything to do with it'.

Fears had in fact been expressed in Sydney on the Novara's safe return to Europe. News of the outbreak of the (short-lived) Franco-Austrian War of 1859 reached Sydney on Wednesday, 6 July 1859. On Tuesday, 12 July, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an editorial which said in part:

... we were lately visited by an Austrian vessel ... the Novarro ... She was set on a scientific expedition. She will be exposed to capture unless the more enlightened spirit of the present time should protect her in consideration of her mission.

The Novara remained, as we know, unmolested on the high seas. In Sydney, however, the European conflict, with its plangent echo of the Novara's visit, led to strange repercussions. The teenager Blanche Nicholson Mitchell (1843-69) who had repeatedly lost her heart to the Novara's junior officers, unblushingly recorded in her diary the 'brilliant victory' of the French, 'fighting nearly everywhere with singular bravery'.In Balmain, on Thursday, 7 July 1859, John Degotardi (1823-82), prominent Austrian-born printer and editor of Sydney's German newspaper, returned from his George Street office to find his (uninsured) house and furniture destroyed by fire. 'The cause of the fire could not be ascertained'.


1. J.E. Fletcher was formerly a member of the Department of Germanic Studies, University of Sydney. This article was originally published in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 71(3), December 1985, 189-206. As a result of subsequent research, it has been expanded upon and corrected by the editor, though any such alterations have been minor.

2. This was an unusual name, deciphered by the Sydney Morning Herald in its initial report as 'B. Willerstoff Noleair'. The same paper had earlier (9 May 1853) reported the arrival of another Austrian, Johann Degotardi, whom it saw as Mr. De Golardi, which is clearly not quite so desperate as the Tide Surveyor's Report (8 May 1853) which listed the new migrant as Mr Dogert Tardi.

3. The Mitchell Library and Dixon Galleries in Sydney possess a range of Selleny pencil drawings, including a portfolio of 13 items acquired in 1957 (DG*D6). Much of the artwork in the original 1861-2 German edition of the Reise... was completed in Vienna by artists such as K.B. Post (1834-77) and L. Brunner the Younger (1822-69).

4. Novara expedition, Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859, Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Vienna, 1861-77. The collection was published under the auspices of the Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften in Vienna. There is a complete set in the Australian Museum in Sydney (83F/4-22), and a partial set (12 volumes) in the State Library of New South Wales (DQ508.3/52-63). For a complete listing refer Bibliography. For a complete listing, and variants, refer to the Appendices and Bibliography of this volume.

5. For a modern digest of Scherzer's original three volumes, see K. von Scherzer, Die Weltumsegelung der Novara (1857-1859), G. Treffer (ed.), Molden, Vienna, 1973. An English edition of the Reise was published in London during 1861-3, though without the majority of the illustrative engravings, and omitting relevant footnotes, tables and appendices.

6. Refer Karl von Scherzer, Reise I, Appendix I, Letter dated 7 April 1857 from A. von Humboldt to Commodore B. von Wüllerstorf-Urbair. See also Appendix II, A. von Humboldt, Physikalische un geognostische Erinerungen [Physical and Geological Suggestions].

7. Ferdinand Joseph Maximilian (1832-67), the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph, is remembered for his Mexican adventure which ended at Queretaro in his death before a firing squad. After having traveled to Mexico aboard the Novara, Maximilian's body was later brought home to Austria aboard the same vessel, though it had been extended and motorised since its round the world voyage the previous decade.

8. M. Wagner and K. Scherzer, Reisen in Nordamerika in den Jahren 1852 und 1853, Arnold, Leipzig, 1854, 3 vols.

9. Scherzer's official file is now in Vienna's Ministerium des Ausseren at Administrative Registratur: F4 Kart. 300. There is more Scherzer material in the Archive of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (Kart. 110-112) preserved in the Viennese Haus-Hofutid Staatsarchiv. Other Scherzer manuscripts are variously present in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, the Universitatsbibliothek, Vienna, and the Wiener Stadt- und Landsbibliothek. The most important collection of material on the voyage of the Novara itself is at the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv: Kriegsarchiv - 'Weltumsegelung der Novara'.

10. Georg von Frauenfeld, Notizen gesammelt wahrend meines Aufenthaltes auf Neuholland, Neuseeland and Taiti, Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Vienna, 1860, 1-18.

11. Ferdinand von Hochstetter, Gesammelte Reiseberichte von der Erdumsegelung der Fregatte Novara 1857-1859, V. von Hardt (ed.), E. Hölzel, Vienna, 1885, 340p.

12. One such diary, kept by a seaman on the Novara, has recently been published. See G. Pilleri and P. Tadeo (eds.), Un grande figlio di Trieste. Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair. La Circumnavigazione della Imperialregia Fregatta "Novara". Il Diario di Dominick Codanich, Battelliere di 3rd Classe, Hirnanatomisches Institut, Waldau-Bern, 1982.

13. The Sydney section is at A2635, pages 42-77, hereinafter referred to as Diary. I am grateful to the Mitchell Library, Sydney, for permission to draw from these pages. I have provided here, where such exist, cross-references to the corresponding sections of the Reise. Such entries are more detailed, more formal, more expansive.

14. Perhaps as a results of resultant concerns over the efficiency of the local mail system, a notice appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 20 November requesting that all letters and communications to the officers of the 'Imperial Austrian Frigate Novarra' be left at the office of Kirchner and Co., No.1 Wynyard Street.

15. There is a brief comment on the Novara's presence in Sydney in Sir W. Denison, Varieties of Viceregal Life, Longmans, London, 1870, I, 454, in a letter to Sir Roderick Murchison. Refer Appendix 1.

16. Frauenfeld (op. cit., n.10) found the collection to be of indifferent quality.

17. Wilhelm Kirchner (1814-93) arrived in Sydney in 1839. His diary of shipboard life is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney at MSS B198. See also L.B. Hoskins, 'Wilhelm Kirchner: his diary and his subsequent life in Australia', BA Honours thesis, Department of German, University of Sydney, 1976. Copy in the Mitchell Library, at MSS 3235.

18. Kirchner acted as commission agent for the Hamburg shipping line of J.C. Godeffroy and Son. In 1848 he published an enthusiastic handbook for German migrants to Australia, Australien und seine Vortheile fur Auswanderer, Frankfurt am Main, Brunner. A second edition (1850, 59-158) contained 15 proselytizing letters from contented German settlers.

19. Johann Peter Frauenfelder arrived in Sydney on the Beulah on 4 April 1849. There is a long letter (Kiamba, 24 June 1849) from him in the 1850 edition (pp.132-58) of Kirchner's Australien. The letter is quoted in extract (pp.265-66) in G. Nadel, 'Letters from German-immigrants in New South Wales', Royal Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, 39, 1953-4, 253-66.

20. Frances Murdoch Stirling (1824-84) was the daughter of Captain Robert Stirling and Harriet Calcott. Captain Stirling left Sydney in 1825 as Aide-de-camp to Sir Thomas Brisbane. His wife and child remained in Sydney. Frances Stirling married Wilhelm Kirchner in 1841. Her mother married Alexander Walker Scott (1800-83) in 1846 and their two daughters were Harriet (1830-1907) and Helena Scott (1832-1910).

21. A.W. Scott, Australian Lepidoptera and their transformations, Illustrated by Harriet and Helena Scott, J. van Voorst, London, 1864 and Australian Museum, Sydney, 1890-98. Some of the earlier plates were illustrations by Joseph Selleny of the Novara. See Ferguson 15513, 15513b and 15513c. See also J. Fletcher, 'Milestones in the Library of the University of Sydney', Biblionews and Australian Notes and Queries, 258 (June 1983) 35-8, 259 (September 1983) 67-76, here 70-71.

22. The most recent blow to befall Leopold and Amalie Rawack had been the loss of their 21 month old daughter earlier that year (Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 1858). For incidental references to Amalie Rawack, see F. C. Brewer, The Drama and Music in New South Wales (Potter, Sydney, 1892, 62) and W.A. Orchard, Music in Australia: more than 150 years development (Georgian House, Melbourne, 1952, 37, 137).

23. In return for the Novara's constant hospitality, Madame Rawack composed the piano-piece 'Heimathklange, zur Feier der Anwesenheit der Novara-Expedition in Sydney'. This is printed at Reise III, Appendix II. It was however omitted in all subsequent editions. In a like manner, the publicity conscious Henry Marsh could announce (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 1858, 7) 'In the Press. The Novarra Galop ... dedicated to the commander and officers of the Imperial Austrian Frigate Novara'.

24. For more details on George Bennett (1804-93), physician and naturalist, see V.M. Coppleson, 'The life and times of Dr George Bennett', Medical Journal of Australia, 20 August 1955, pp. 273-8. Frauenfeld's first visit on shore (op. cit., 4) was to George Bennett.

25. The Australian Museum possesses records of letters written by Scherzer now filed at 'Correspondence prior to 1883' E.40.58.1 and 2. The letters are reproduced in the Appendix to this volume.

26. Frauenfeld was more scathing in his judgment, the more so since he found 'the excellent, and remarkable, fauna of New Holland almost completely neglected' (op. cit., 5).

27. An earlier traveller (1853) in Sydney, Ludwig Schmarda, found his visits to Mr MacLeay's house and garden essential 'to neutralise the impact of the deportation element in Sydney society.' See his Reise um die Erde in den Jahren 1853-1857, Brunswick, Westermann, 1861, II, 229-30.

28. The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List, Monday, 22 February 1858.

29. For other signs of public unease about the case of Dr Frederick Beer, who arrived in Sydney in 1853 and was convicted in April 1856, see Ferguson 1862-66.

30. Scherzer was to recollect the industry and thrift of the German workers of Clarence River and Camden Park in a public lecture given in Leipzig in March 1879. See his Die deutsche Arbeit in fremden Erdtheilen, Rossberg, Leipzig, 1880, 18. These were the books in the Macarthur library which he noted, T.L. Mitchell, Three expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia, Boone, London, 1838, 2 vols.; Sir George Grey, Journals of two expeditions of discovery in North West and Western Australia, Boone, London, 1841, 2 vols.; George French Angas, South Australia Illustrated, McLean, London, 1847, 2 vols.; Ludwig Leichhardt, Journal of an overland expedition in Australia from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, Boone, London, 1847; Charles Sturt, Narrative of an expedition into Central Australia, Boone, London, 1849, 2 vols.; George French Angas, Savage life and scenes in Australia and New Zealand, Smith and Elder, London, 1850, 2 vols.; and T.L. Mitchell, Journal of an expedition into the interior of tropical Australia, London, 1847.

31. Reise (III, 23) has an illustration of 'Purke's Hotel' (actually the Governor Bourke Hotel) in Appin. See the Joseph Selleny Catalogue of Works in this volume for further details.

32. A letter written by William Macarthur from Wollongong on the morning of Friday, 19 November, describes aspects of this visit. Refer Appendix 3.

33. Reise (III, facing page 26) has an illustration of the Pass. The Mitchell Library also possesses a pencil drawing by Selleny with this title, at DG*D6. Refer Selleny Catalogue of Works in this volume.

34. Anton and Julia Tosi moved to Sydney, soon afterwards. Tosi sank slowly from 'outfitter' to 'clerk'. He is last recorded in the Sydney directories for 1867.

35. The 'Southern Cross' Masonic lodge of Campbelltown had been officially inaugurated the previous Wednesday (17th), with Scherzer's party encountering a section of those still celebrating. Refer report under 'Campbelltown - Masonic Demonstration' in the Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday, 23 November 1858.

36. The Sands and Kenny's Directory for 1858-9 fails to list Andrew Bonar. He does however appear (page 295) as a committee-member of the New South Wales Auxiliary Bible Society and as Director of the Society for the Relief of Destitute Children. He is given too (page 299) as a committee-member of the Australian Club itself.

37. Scherzer himself fell violently ill on board the Novara after her departure for Auckland (Diary, ML A2635, 77). Both his and Zelebor's illness would not have surprised Carl Skogman, who visited Sydney in October 1852 and has left a graphic account of the varied sicknesses to which visitors to Sydney succumbed. See his Fregatten Eugenies resa omkring jorden aren 1851-1853, Bonnier, Stockholm, 1854-55, II, 40.

38. Also present were officers of the 12th regiment, stationed locally; of the French war steamer HIMS Milan and store ship HIMS Herault; and of the British man-of-war frigate HMS Herald, then in port. Refer SMH, 30 November 1858 and Appendix.

39. Julius Berncastle, who had practised in London, India and China, was a rabid advertiser: see his autobiographical announcements in the Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June and 5 July 1856, The Empire, 24 June 1856, and The Freeman's Journal, 12 July 1856. A more restrained note from Macquarie Street in 1862 (Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 1862) informs us that he is 'surgeon, accoucheur, occultist and aurist'. There is of course no reference to his fall from social grace at 'The Citizens' Return Ball', described in the Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1858.

40. See Australian Museum, Minute Book 1, 1836-63, Special Meeting of Trustees on the 18 November 1858. The same minute records letters received from F. Hochstetter and W.K. von Haidinger. Neither is preserved. There is a list of specimens given to the Novara within the volume for the General Monthly Meeting of 2 December 1858. On this occasion a letter from Johann Zelebor was tabled (not preserved). Copies of letters from G. F. Angas to Scherzer (19 and 24 November 1858) are at 1. Letter Book, 1837-61, 142-4.

41. The text of the Address and the list of signatories is printed in German at Reise III, Appendix I, and reproduced in English within the Appendices to this volume.

42. Sydney Morning Herald, 25 November 1858.

43. Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, 29 November 1858.

44. K. Scherzer and E. Schwarz, On measurements as a diagnostic means for distinguishing the human races, Sydney, 1858, viii, 26p. No title page. Ferguson 1547a.

45. Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 1858.

46. Translated as: Wherever you hear the German tongue / God's in his Heaven and sings His song!

47. Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, 29 November 1858.

48. William Hanson and his staff at the Government Printer's moved quickly with the Measurements. On 4 December 1858 Scherzer was able to hand Dr Bennett a personally inscribed copy (Mitchell Library, Sydney, at Q590.8 Pa1). Elsewhere in the diary (A2633, 35) there is a list of 15 other Sydney recipients of this pamphlet 'printed for private circulation only'.

49. Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December 1858.

50. An interim report written by Scherzer in April 1859 lists a consignment from Sydney of eight scholarly papers (by Scherzer), five manuscript Aboriginal 'vocabularies', 23 printed official reports, almanacs, etc., four skulls and 86 'diverse ethnographic objects'. See his 'Das zwelte Jahr der Erdumsegeluing S.M. Fregatte Novara', Sitzungsberichte der mathetmatisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Classe der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, 37 (1859) 5-24, here 17-19. It is reproduced within the Appendices to this volume.

51. The seven letters were written from Vienna between 8 February 1859 and 1 May 1863. They were published in part within Fletcher (1984b) and the originals are located in the Degotardi Papers, Mitchell Library, Sydney.

52. B.N. Mitchell, Blanche: an Australian diary 1858-61, notes by E. Hickson, Ferguson, Sydney, 1980, 225.

53. Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 1859.

Index | Ship History | Scherzer Diary | Expedition Narrative | Sydney | Selleny | Bibliography | Novara Expedition
Hochstetter I | Blanche Mitchell Diary | Minnie Mann Diary | Hochstetter II | FitzRoy Dock | Scherzer in Sydney
Frauenfeld Diary | Incident at Sikyana | Sydney Chronology | Appendicies
| Lissa 1866 | Ferdinand Maximillian

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