― xv ―


The Silent Sea, by South Australian novelist, poet and essayist Catherine Martin, was printed in varying forms in 1892: two versions were serialised simultaneously in Australian newspapers and a third appeared in London in traditional Victorian three-volume format and, with some editorial changes, as a onevolume paperback in New York. No manuscript or proof material of any version survives. Since its multiple first appearance, no version has been reprinted and, until now, no attempt has been made to deal with the variant texts of the work within a critical edition or to recover in detail the discursive contexts out of which the novel arose and which it addresses.

Yet The Silent Sea is a powerful and unusual novel, and one which makes a very significant contribution to Australian literature. Unlike Catherine Martin's best-known work, An Australian Girl (1890), in which interest has been revived by a recent reprint,note The Silent Sea has no European component, but remains firmly grounded in South Australia, with settings in middle-class North Adelaide, the northern pastoral district and the eastern desert country.note It is in part a thriller of considerable psychological plausibility, set at a gold mine on the salt-bush plains which form the "silent sea" of the title, and in part a triangular love story which also touches on the theme of religious faith and doubt. The title itself reflects both elements, with the parallel between the sea and the outback desert country (a recurrent analogy in Australian colonial literature) also providing a metaphor for spiritual isolation.note

The novel gives a varied and historically reliable picture of South Australia during the latter part of the nineteenth century, and its contemporaneity gives some bite to its observations on political and economic issues. The range of its focus allows scope for comic portraits of Cornish miners and lyrical evocations of gardens and flowers as well as for an acerbic commentary on Adelaide society. A basic element of its romantic plot–the

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relationship between a woman and a younger man–while not original,note acquires new dramatic force in the characterisation of Helen Paget as the woman whose belated happiness is marred, from the outset, by uncertainty and jealousy. One of the novel's several echoes of George Eliot can be found in Helen's gradual surrender of her philanthropic ambitions in response to a society which restricted women's power of action.note The secluded and unworldly upbringing of the novel's other heroine, Doris Lindsay, in the Edenic environment of "Ouranie" impels questions about the social education of girls, and has a close parallel with Mary Augusta Ward's Robert Elsmere (1888).note

The Silent Sea also constitutes an important record of South Australia's comparatively unknown gold rush. The "Colmar Mine", the setting for much of the novel, reflects Catherine Martin's own experience of life at Waukaringa, South Australia's largest goldfield, where, unlike the diggings depicted in most Australian goldfields literature, the mines were machine-operated and company-owned. Martin describes the workings of such mines in some detail, appropriating, accurately for the most part, the terminology and technology of gold extraction, smelting and retorting. The novel also conveys very vividly the oppressive heat, dust and unending noise of a mining operation with its engine-house machinery and towering mullock heaps. The physical setting at the Colmar mine lends credibility to the plot connected with it, while the mine's underground cave room provides a suitably infernal scene for a tale of gold fever, madness, murder, theft and kidnapping. The Colmar Mine's manager–perhaps the most significant character in the novel, as the close of the narrative suggests–is no less the villain of this tale for being drawn as a bitter and desperate man, rather than an evil one.

The Silent Sea's minor characterisations include a sympathetic portrait of the devoted Shung-Loo, remarkable in an era when the Chinese were almost invariably subjects of literary vilification. Its treatment of the story of the part-Aboriginal girl Koroona, similarly significant in its sensitivity, has been called "one of the few references of intelligent sympathy toward the half-caste in the nineteenth century".note This evidence of Catherine Martin's enlightened social sympathies, although peripheral to the main narrative strands, itself contributes in no

  ― xvii ―
small degree to The Silent Sea's status as a work of considerable importance for our understanding of late nineteenth-century Australia.

Catherine Martin's Life and Writings

Catherine Martin was born Catherine Edith Macauley Mackay on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides, in 1847 or 1848, seventh child of Janet (née Mackinnon) and Samuel Nicholson Mackay.note Samuel Mackay was an impoverished crofter who, like many other dispossessed highlanders, migrated to South Australia under the aegis of the Highland and Island Emigration Society, arriving with his family in 1855 aboard the Switzerland. He was engaged as a schoolmaster on the voyage to Australia, during which, according to the ship's papers, he taught the thirty-six Gaelic-speaking children from the Isle of Skye, Catherine perhaps included, "to read a little and to speak English".note

On arrival in South Australia the Mackay family settled in Robe and then in Naracoorte in the south-east. Samuel Mackay himself died in about 1856, but at least two of his sons began careers as successful pastoralists by working on large properties in the Naracoorte area. The eldest son ran a school at which Catherine apparently had a strict early education.note

In her twenties Catherine Martin lived in Mount Gambier, later claimed by her as "little short of a birthplace", where she ran a girls' school with her sister and mother, and where, among the German community, she made friends who "fostered an intimacy with all that was best in the immortal literature of their country".note She also gained sufficient knowledge of the language to include translations of German poetry among the verses she published, from 1868 onwards, in South Australian newspapers. However, while her first major novel, An Australian Girl, includes much discussion of German poets and philosophers, its heroine, seemingly like Catherine Martin herself, eagerly absorbs European culture but remains consciously Australian, speaking with "patriotic love and pride" of Australia as "the birthplace of thousands upon thousands who love it more dearly than any other spot in the whole world".note The collection of Catherine Martin's original and translated poetry which was published in 1874 as The Explorers and Other Poems featured a

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long poem based on the doomed expedition by Burke and Wills across central Australia.

During her years in south-east South Australia Catherine Martin apparently also learned something of the Yaralde language (also called Narrinyeri) of the Ngarrindjeri (Narrinyeri) people of the lower Murray area. She includes some Yaralde words in The Silent Sea, and, in her last novel, The Incredible Journey (1923), she refers to sometimes recalling "an Aboriginal phrase, or a stave from a Corrobboree chant"and to her mother's "unfailing kindness" towards Aboriginal people.note

Martin moved to Adelaide in about 1875 and, in 1876, met the writer and political and social activist Catherine Helen Spence at the inauguration of the University of Adelaide–the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.note In 1877 she gained a temporary clerical position with the Education Department, from which she was dismissed eight years later when, still paid at her starting wage, she attempted to apply for transfer to a salary scale in line with those of her male counterparts.note Her first novel, "The Moated Grange", a sometimes melodramatic story which combined Australian and European elements, was serialised in the South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail in 1877, and was followed by three short stories in South Australian newspapers: "A Bohemian Born" (1878), "After Many Years" (1878) and "Breaking the Law" (1879).

In 1882 she married Frederick Martin, an accountant and occasional essayist, who had emigrated from Birmingham as a child in 1851 and who belonged to a family well-known in Adelaide intellectual circles. Annie Montgomerie Martin, Frederick's sister, was a suffragist and founder of a progressive school, while John Howard Clark, his brother-in-law and editor of the Adelaide Register 1870-78, was one of the founders of the Royal Society of South Australia. Catherine Martin inscribed a copy of The Silent Sea note to Frederick's brother, Henry Maydwell Martin, who, at the time of its publication, was the manager of Stonyfell Vineyards, and later became the proprietor. Directly or indirectly, The Silent Sea reflects something of the interests of each of these people.note

The Martin and Clark families, like Catherine Helen Spence, were prominent Unitarians, although it is not certain that Catherine Martin herself, whose background was Presbyterian,

  ― xix ―
joined their denomination. While Unitarian perspectives on Christianity are reflected in her sympathetic delineation of Margaret Lindsay's beliefs in The Silent Sea, her dramatisation of Stella Courtland's spiritual quest in An Australian Girl makes use of Roman Catholic thought from St Theresa to Cardinal Newman.note The Silent Sea's allusions to Eastern religions, especially Zoroastrianism, odic forces and psychic phenomena such as unconscious memory and dream clairvoyance, indicate that Martin also had an interest in theosophy, possibly connected with the visit to Australia in 1889 of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-91), founder of the Theosophical Society.note

Martin published review essays of the Life of Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton (1883), the works of John Ruskin, and John Walter Cross's George Eliot's Life (1885) in The Victorian Review in 1884 and 1885. She was critical of the writing of Bulwer Lytton (1803-73), best remembered today for his historical novel The Last Days ofPompeii (1834), remarking that the effect his works left on the reader's mind was "a troubled recollection of having been in the company of people who insisted on airing the result of recent excursions into an encyclopedia", while "even his female heroes are sometimes turned into mere vehicles for trotting out the endless memoranda of the author's commonplace book".note However, she showed an almost reverential esteem for the work of critic and social theorist John Ruskin (1819-1900), arguing, in part, that Ruskin's books were invaluable to "young communities like ours, where the paramount concern of life is either to amass wealth or to gain a livelihood; where no class has yet grown up with the hereditary privilege of leisure and the ardour for ideas, irrespective of their commercial value; where those who exercise the influence that is inseparable from riches are, as a rule, severely limited by the lack of any true culture". She described Ruskin's essays addressed to women as "the truest and the wisest words spoken to or of our sex in this generation–indeed in any generation".note Martin also wrote of George Eliot with great admiration, speaking, for example, of Eliot's "superb individuality", her "wide culture" and "intellectual grasp", and of "the depth of philosophic thought" which characterised her works and which "marks a new departure in fiction". However, she criticised the marriage that ends Adam Bede (1850) as a "serious blot" artistically, which "adds one to the many instances

  ― xx ―
in which George Eliot's women decline on a 'lower range of feeling' than, psychologically, there is any necessity for".note

Between 1890 and 1894, according to Catherine Helen Spence's later recollection, "Mr. and Mrs. Martin were travelling in Europe, and taking up their residence in most of the capitals and important centres".note But in January 1890, although Catherine Martin was in Rome, postponing her return to Australia until she had revised the proof sheets of An Australian Girl,note her husband was at Waukaringa as mine accountant or "purser" at the Alma and Victoria Mine. According to the Terowie Enterprise and North-Eastern Advertiser, he was also Treasurer of the Waukaringa Athletic Sports Club (31 January 1890, p. 3). In February 1890 Catherine Martin was in Naples, but she returned to South Australia in early April and, after a house had become available at the mine, she joined Frederick at Waukaringa in June or July.note

Waukaringa and the Writing of The Silent Sea

Waukaringa provided the physical landscape in which much of The Silent Sea is set,note with its mines and settlement surrounded by plains of red earth and grey-green saltbush, broken by low ridges, which stretched to the distant ranges. The landscape itself may have conveyed an impression of emptiness and remoteness, but in 1890 Waukaringa and its mines were at the peak of their growth and activity.note On 29 February 1888 the Register had already reported that "quite a town of galvanized-iron and stone houses has grown up at the place, with the proverbial 'pub.' and stores, as well as a small place of worship"(p. 5). The town was proclaimed on 1 November 1888; by March 1889 its population was 475 and, as well as two hotels,note it had a wine saloon, dancing saloon and billiard hall. It also had a Wesleyan church, two stores, a bakery, and three butchers' shops.note

The novel gives the Colmar Arms an important role, and it also reflects the fact that goldfields communities included women and children, particularly at sites such as Waukaringa where men worked for wages rather than prospecting independently. However, its main focus is not the township or the larger community but the Colmar mine and its miners. At Waukaringa the reef on which the Alma and Victoria Mine and other mining operations were centred was a kilometre north of the town; the

  ― xxi ―
mine structures, with the offices where Frederick Martin worked as purser, were clustered at the base of the reef on its south side. There is no indication that these structures included an iron passage like that which plays such an important part in the novel; however, contemporary reports describe a large vaulted, sloping chamber, not unlike the cave room, in the side of the reef.note The miners at Waukaringa, as at most of South Australia's copper and gold mines, certainly included Cornishmen of the kind whose dialect, customs, superstition, devout Methodism and reputation for heavy drinking are captured in the sketches of the men who work at the Colmar mine. The Cornish mine managers, too, were typically gruff, self-taught miners like the novel's William, Trevaskis; like him, some also had successful political careers.note The one oasis of civilised living at the Colmar Mine is the comfortable and well-furnished house called "Stonehouse". Officially the mine manager's residence, it is on the north side of the reef, sheltered from the noise and dust of the mine and facing the open plain beyond an avenue of trees. Its description suggests that its original was the seven-room freestone mine manager's residence at Waukaringa,note and the detail in which its interior is described, as well as the reference to its providing accommodation for the mine purser, make it probable that this was the house whose availability enabled Catherine Martin to join her husband there.

In August 1890, when Martin wrote from Waukaringa to Richard Bentley and Son in London, publishers of An Australian Girl, to complain of the many compositorial errors in its first edition,note she may have already begun to write The Silent Sea. The novel seems to have been written, initially at least, out of her immediate experience and observation of life at the mine, although the Martins do not appear to have stayed at Waukaringa beyond the end of the year.note Late in December 1890 a short story of Catherine Martin's about marriage, "Mrs. Archibald Thorndale's Dog", was published as the Christmas fiction offering in the Melbourne Leader. However, the novel was evidently well under way, since the South Australian paper Quiz and the Lantern reported on 16 January 1891 that the Martins had sailed for Europe a few days earlier and that Catherine Martin planned

  ― xxii ―
to complete her new novel in Genoa and would then "proceed to London in order to arrange for its publication" (p. 8).

The rest of the novel appears to have been written in the course of the Martins' travels in Europe. The occasional inexactness in the quotations in The Silent Sea, which are taken most often from the Bible, Shakespeare, Tennyson and the Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore, suggests that, both at Waukaringa and while travelling, she wrote without books at hand for reference. At the end of March 1891 the Martins were in Venice and, a month later, in Antwerp. Early in November, when they had settled temporarily in Paris, Martin sent part of the manuscript to Bentley, the remainder following in early December.note Both parts are now lost.

Typesetting and Revision

On 12 November 1891, Nathaniel Beard, for George Bentley,note wrote to Catherine Martin in Paris expressing the firm's willingness "to facilitate arrangements for the new story", even though they were still "completely in the dark as to its nature". Asking to have the entire story by 10 December, Bentley undertook to give it "priority over any mss then on hand", because of "the urgency of the case", and to "gauge its prospects" (that is, make a decision about publication) before Christmas. It would, he agreed, be feasible to provide Martin with four sets of proofs of the first volume, "between Xmas and the 20th of January" as she had requested.note

The reason both for the "urgency" and for Martin's request for four sets of proofs appears to have been that, having retained the Australian serial rights for her own disposal, she had already made arrangements to forward the proofs of Volume I to the two Australian newspaper proprietors–Robert Kyffin Thomas in Adelaide, and David Syme in Melbourne–who were going to publish the novel in serial form. Her correspondence with Bentley indicates that each newspaper had agreed to pay her £60 for the rights to serial publication alone, although the possibility of publication in a third, unidentified, paper had foundered on the matter of Australian book rights.note

However, her negotiations with Bentley himself were soon complicated by a disagreement over the terms that were offered and accepted for the book. On 23 December 1891, while noting

  ― xxiii ―
that "the perusal of the book has not yet been completed", Bentley indicated his willingness to publish it by adding: "We have, however, seen sufficient of it to be able to arrange for the proof sheets that you wish for". In the same letter he made Martin an offer of "fifty pounds upon the day of publication and twenty-five pounds further if we sold five hundred and fifty copies" and, if a cheap one-volume edition was later called for, a royalty of ninepence on every copy of that edition after the first eight hundred. She replied on 30 December that "the payment of £75 on publication with the royalty you named on copies after 500 copies of the library edition, and the royalty on the cheap edition after 400 copies would not be an extravagant demand". On 4 January 1892 Bentley offered her £75 upon publication, but repeated his first offer ofa royalty, only on a one-volume edition, of ninepence on every copy sold after the first eight hundred. However, in her letter of acceptance on 5 January she set out the terms of the agreement as though Bentley had acquiesced to her earlier demand for a royalty on the three-volume edition: "I agree to the terms you mentioned–namely £75 to be paid on the publication of the story, royalty on the three volume edition not to be paid till after five hundred & fifty copies are sold–nor on the second cheap edition till after 800. You do not seem to anticipate more than one edition of 550 of the three volume yet a very moderate share of luck might I imagine lead to a second edition of 550." An undated Bentley memorandum records the discrepancy between "Mrs. Martin's Version" of the terms of agreement and that of "Her Publishers" on the question of a royalty on the three-volume edition, but in the event the difference was immaterial: Bentley's ledgers suggest that, by March 1893, only 448 copies of The Silent Sea had been disposed of.note

In his letter of 23 December 1891, Bentley had also asked Martin how much time she had at her disposal for revision, and had suggested that she might "amend" some "blemishes" he identified in the work: "The opening part of the story is somewhat protracted, and several characters are mentioned in the course of it only to vanish, later on, from the scene. The arrangements of chapters about groups of characters alternate somewhat disconnectedly & the links are not perceived until further on in the story, so that a good deal of matter seems to be irrelevant".note

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(He had, as noted above, also told Martin in this letter that he had not yet read the whole manuscript.) Martin's initial response was to leave responsibility for revision to Bentley–in her letter of 30 December she wrote that "it may be better to ask you to do the best you can in my interest as well as your own". However, the same letter makes it clear that she had previously agreed to a stipulation by David Syme that the London edition should not appear until midway through the Melbourne serialisation, and, seeking Bentley's cooperation in this arrangement, she now pointed out as one of its advantages that, with the benefit of Bentley's suggestions for improvement, she would be able to make alterations in the work before it appeared in book form.note Bentley replied on 4 January 1892, agreeing to defer publication, but his reference to sending her the proof sheets "as soon as the alterations have been made in the m.s." shows that he assumed Martin would make revisions to the manuscript (which was still in their hands) before they printed the four sets of proofs.note In the same letter Bentley asked whether she could not delay arrangements with the Australian newspapers by two or three weeks so that the alterations could be made "without any feeling of hurry". In response Martin immediately telegraphed from Paris: "Impossible to postpone dispatch of copy please send proofs", and followed this on 5 January with a letter reminding Bentley that the proofs of the first volume had to be posted to Australia on 22 January, and asking again that the sets of proofs be sent to her "with as little delay as possible" so that she could have them for a few days before the posting date. It was obvious that such proofs would have to be printed from the manuscript as it then stood. While remarking that "personally I do not think that the revision of the first volume should be of a very drastic nature", Martin again offered to make some alterations in proof for Volume I of the book edition "where form is of more importance". She dismissed the fact that this would entail differences between the texts of the newspaper and book versions with the comment that "there would be nothing unusual" in such a variation. She also asked that Bentley return her manuscript when sending the proofs, so that she could revise the rest of the material (that is, for Volumes II and III) before it went to press.note No correspondence survives between Martin and Bentley for the period from 5 January to 5 September 1892, when Bentley

  ― xxv ―
replied to a letter from her with a note, addressed to Birmingham, advising her of the publication date of the novel.note Thus there is no documentary evidence concerning the arrangements made for proofing, revision and transmission to Australia, or return to Bentley, of the text of Volumes II and III of the novel, beyond Martin's suggestion that she would revise this material in manuscript. However, as explained below, there are variations between the different versions of Volume II and Volume III which make it clear that some authorial revision of the text did intervene between the newspaper and Bentley versions, and that, whatever revision of the returned manuscript took place, subsequent revision was carried out on the separate sets of proofs. Martin's revisions of the proofs of all three volumes, for the serialisations on the one hand and for Bentley on the other, are discussed below ("Text"). The proofs themselves are no longer extant.

Serialisation and Book Publication

"The Silent Sea"note was serialised, under the pseudonym " 'Antarlo,' author of 'An Australian Girl' ", in the weekly Adelaide Observer and its companion daily paper the Evening Journal from 2 April to 3 December 1892, and in the Melbourne Age from 2 April 1892 to 14 January 1893.note The Adelaide and Melbourne newspapers maintained simultaneity for the first few chapters but then divided the material into instalments to suit their own needs.note In reviewing the Bentley edition in December 1892 Catherine Helen Spence remarked that the novel had already been read "not only in its native province in the Evening Journal and Observer, but by the far more numerous readers of the Melbourne Age and Leader".note Her reference to "the Age and Leader" is ambiguous, but "The Silent Sea" was not serialised in the Leader (the companion weekly to the Age), and it does not appear to have been Syme's practice to run a serial simultaneously in both papers.

As mentioned earlier, Syme had apparently stipulated that publication of the three-volume edition be deferred until the serialisation was halfway through (this point was reached, in the Age, on 20 August). Bentley himself proposed to postpone it further, "until the first week of September as during August in England everyone is away from London".note In the event, the

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Bentley edition appeared on 21 September 1892, at the standard price of thirty-one shillings and sixpence, under the pseudonym "Mrs. Alick Macleod".note It was included in the catalogue of Mudie's Circulating Library in January 1893.note

In the last quarter of 1892 Bentley also bought from Martin (for £10) the half-share she had originally retained in the American rights to the novel, the whole of these rights then being purchased from Bentley (for £20) by the New York publishing house, Harper and Brothers. On 26 November 1892 Harper published their own one-volume fifty-cent paperback edition of the novel, under the same pseudonym, as No. 728 of their Franklin Square series. Interest in producing an American edition was also expressed by another publisher, Rand McNally, who apparently refused, however, to meet Bentley's request for $50 as a nominal payment for "the authors rights". In response Bentley pointed out that "of course if you feel free to disregard the moral rights of people you can remit the book without any acknowledgment whatsoever, owing to the action of the United States Government in standing aloof from the Convention of Berne, (by which protection is accorded to literary property irrespective of Nationality)".note No evidence of a Rand McNally edition of The Silent Sea has been found, and, although the Observer announced, on 24 December 1892, that a "cheaper Australian edition" was forthcoming from Bentley (p. 41), no further edition of the novel appeared.

After The Silent Sea

The pseudonym adopted by Catherine Martin for Bentley's edition of The Silent Sea–"Mrs. Alick Macleod"–was reused only once, for the Bentley colonial edition of An Australian Girl in 1894. In December 1895 Martin published a short story, "Mrs. Spender's Art Education", in the Leader. A series of obviously reminiscent "Vignettes of Travel" followed in the Age between October 1895 and January 1896, and in 1900 the Observer serialised a short novel, "At a Crisis". Set largely in north-west Western Australia, this reworks the kidnapping aspect of the plot of The Silent Sea, but has a woman medical student as a female hero.

Frederick Martin's ill-health sent the Martins to Europe again in 1904, and also meant that they were largely dependent on

  ― xxvii ―
Catherine Martin's literary income. In 1906 she published The Old Roof-Tree: Letters of Ishbel to Her Half-Brother, Mark Latimer, a semi-autobiographical work which reflects on religious and moral values. By "some blunder", according to Catherine Helen Spence, it was not promoted or distributed in Australia.note At the same time, Bentley's successors, Macmillan, declined another novel, entitled "His Mother's Boy",note which would eventually be published in 1923 as The Incredible Journey. In 1907, after visiting Spain, where Catherine Martin immersed herself in Spanish literature,note they returned to South Australia. Spence reported: "She has literary work that she thinks she can do as well as care for him. The Old Roof Tree has brought her some money and more Kudos ... She has a feeling that she will be able to maintain him". However, sixteen months later Spence noted that she "looks worn and haggard–she still reads a good deal and takes notes but she can write nothing and I fear they are poor".note Frederick Martin died in April 1909.

In the following year, Catherine Martin returned to Europe, with a commission to produce articles on Oberammergau.note Subsequently she made only occasional visits to South Australia until her final return in 1932. She died in Adelaide on 17 March 1937. Although Spence remarked of her that "Europe and especially Italy seems to call her–and she does not love Australia as you and I do",note Australian settings and themes characterise not only The Silent Sea but much of her other fiction, in particular The Incredible Journey (1923), which tells the story of an Aboriginal mother's epic journey to find the son stolen from her by a white man. Her last published novel, it was the first to appear under her name.


In its preliminary advertisement for its serialisation of "The Silent Sea" the Adelaide Observer made the point that this was "purely an Australian story, the scenes being laid partly in town but chiefly in the bush", but it found the novel's genre difficult to define. Noting that "the book may be said to combine the study of character with incident and adventure", the advertisement expanded on its heterogeneity with the claim that "the variety of characters, contrast of situations, and diversity of emotions appealed to may be said to form the salient characteristics of

  ― xxviii ―
'The Silent Sea' "(26 March 1892, p. 24).

These "salient characteristics", however, were to occasion some adverse comment from critics, despite generally favourable reviews in England and America as well as Australia. Seven reviews have been traced. The first to appear, in the "Athenæum", praised Martin for writing "like a lady", but was somewhat puzzled by the purpose of "the strange mining story interwoven in the plot" (No. 3391, 22 October 1892, p. 550). The Academy found the novel in parts rather heavy to read, but thought its "central interest" (seen as the cave room episodes) was "decidedly strong" (xlii, 5 November 1892, p. 408). The Spectator's reviewer announced that "of the numerous recent Australian novels, The Silent Sea is decidedly the best", and praised in turn its plot, literary style and characterisations, remarking, however, that Victor Fitz-Gibbon's love-story and the story of his experiences at the mine were "rather clumsily" combined (26 November 1892, p. 775).

The novel's first Australian reviewer was Catherine Helen Spence, whose lengthy notice appeared in the Adelaide Voice. She commented on The Silent Sea's "distinctively Australian" character, and on the "humor and the pathos, the piety and the devilry, the manners, or the lack of them" that characterised its miners, remarking that, even in the "saddest picture in the book", that of Oxford Jim, "the pessimism which lies at the foundation of this writer's stories is relieved by an unfailing flow of humor" (9 December 1892, p. 2). The Observer's own review, following the completion of the novel's serialisation in that paper and the Evening Journal, described The Silent Sea as a "genuine Australian story" with a "gold robbery of a description new to fiction, and worked out with a firm hand", but declared that "it is the character sketches, the realistic talk of the miners and their wives, which will especially seize the critical student. Their Cornish dialect is not more accurately phonographed than the attitude of their minds is photographed". The character of Oxford Jim was noted as "a sketch worthy of Bret Harte". The Observer, like Spence's review in the Voice, remarked on the novel's "never-failing flow of humour" and "undercurrent of pessimism", and added that the author "does not add to the gaiety of the world by her works. She puts in a strong light all the ironies of fate, all the fading of illusions, and tears ruthlessly away the

  ― xxix ―
self-deceptions which cheat the conscience". While admitting that, as in An Australian Girl, fruit and flowers appeared in The Silent Sea "somewhat irrespective of seasons", the Observer concluded that it was "a book of which South Australians may be proud, and it is a just cause of congratulation to us that it first saw the light in our columns" (24 December 1892, p. 41).

American reviews of The Silent Sea followed its publication in Harper's Franklin Square Library series. The Boston Literary World found both the "environment" and the characterisation "unusual and interesting", and although not altogether satisfied by the conclusion, considered it "a novel of sustained interest and well worth reading" (xxiv, no. 2, 28 January 1893, p. 26). In Harper's own periodical, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Laurence Hutton gave The Silent Sea its briefest review: "The Silent Sea is a novel less of introspection than of action. It is another of the fresh, bright Australian tales which come like the breath of a west wind into the somewhat unaired spaces of English fiction" (lxxxvi, no. 513, February 1893, Supplement p. 4). It is doubtful that he had read the novel.

In her Autobiography, Spence reiterated a claim made earlier by the Observer reviewer of The Silent Sea when she stated that "so good a judge as F. W. H. Myers" had pronounced An Australian Girl and The Silent Sea to be "on the highest level ever reached in Australian fiction".note Desmond Byrne named both novels in his Australian Writers (1896) but discussed only An Australian Girl. His general survey of Australian fiction neglected The Silent Sea's account of Trevaskis' rise to political prominence when remarking on the lack of novels which told political success stories such as "the romance ... of the Cabinet Minister who started life as a gold-digger". In accounting for the lack, Byrne noted the prevailing assumption that such stories would not be well-received by English publishers but added that "the majority of the writers of fiction who continue to live in [Australia] are women, and possibly not interested in politics".note

In 1940 E. Morris Miller gave some attention to The Silent Sea, but pronounced it inferior to An Australian Girl in characterisation and setting.note Miles Franklin, whose own friendship with Spence's correspondent Alice Henry gave her a tenuous link to Catherine Martin, discussed it at some length in Laughter, Not for a Cage in 1956, naming it as Martin's "main novel" and

  ― xxx ―
quoting Spence's assessment of Martin as the only "Australian novelist of genius" she knew. Although Franklin objected that the "two currents" of the action "never reach a confluence" and described the characters somewhat impatiently as "carriage folk", she concluded that the novel was "advanced for the days of leg-o'-mutton sleeves, bustles and pinched waists".note


As explained above, there were in effect five more or less contemporaneous printings of the novel: the Australian serialisations in the Age, the Observer and the Evening Journal, the three-volume edition published by Bentley in London, and the one-volume paperback published by Harper in New York. Of these five printings, two need not be taken into separate consideration here. Collation has revealed that the New York edition was set from the London edition. It incorporates all of that edition's variations from the newspaper versions, and its own substantive variants are all explicable in terms of compositorial or, in some instances, editorial involvement.note The Harper and Brothers firm is known to have imposed its own system for punctuation and spelling on the "foreign" texts it reprinted, and there is no evidence that Martin herself had anything to do with these alterations or, indeed, with any other aspect of this edition.note

The other case involves the two Adelaide newspaper printings. As the weekly organ of the South Australian Register, the Adelaide Observer was printed on Saturday mornings (with an early country and inter-colonial edition bearing the Saturday dateline but printed on Friday mornings). The Evening Journal was the Register's companion afternoon daily, and printed "The Silent Sea" in its Saturday edition.note Apart from the instalment headings, the serialisation ofthe novel in the Evening Journal and the Observer was printed from the same typesetting (such elements as the coincidence of broken types make this clear), although it was shifted and re-formatted in galleys to accommodate the difference in column length between the two papers.note There are, therefore, three concurrent and authoritative type-settings and printings of the novel: newspaper versions in Adelaide and Melbourne, and the Bentley three-decker in London. The relationship between these three, described

  ― xxxi ―
below, has determined the selection of copy-text for the present edition.

It is uncertain how much time Martin actually had for revision of the Australia-bound proofs of the first volume: the transit time for London-Melbourne mails had been reduced to thirty-five and a half days, with weekly sailings alternating between the Peninsular and Oriental line and the Orient line.note Yet, despite her stated 22 January dispatch deadline, the serialisation did not begin until 2 April. Whatever the time constraints she was under, collation of the Age (hereafter, Mlb),note Evening Journal/Observer (Adl) and Bentley (E1) texts indicates that Martin made many more proof revisions in Volume I (approximately 400) than were subsequently made in Volumes II and III (approximately 250 in each), although other revisions to the later volumes may, as noted above, have already been made on the manuscript returned to her by Bentley, and would thus have made their way into all printings via the Bentley proofs.

Collation of Mlb, Adl and E1 also suggests that she undertook little or no revision of the set of proofs from which the Mlb version was printed. Evidence of this is provided, for example, by the instances (recorded in the List of Editor's Emendations) in which patently erroneous readings in Mlb evidently copy readings in the proofs which are corrected in Adl and E1.note The variant readings (detailed in the foot-of-page entries in this edition) which are shared by Adl and E1 and which improve upon Mlb also suggest strongly that Mlb was essentially unrevised.note

The foot-of-page apparatus shows that Martin significantly revised the proofs for the novel's serialisation in her native Adelaide. While there are a few instances in which it cannot be determined with certainty whether variants in Adl are the result of authorial revision or editorial or sub-editorial caution,note many of the substantive variations introduced in Adl, including its experimental changes in vocabulary and phrasing,note clearly show an author reworking her text, and Adls expansion of the list of the duties of a mine purser is patently authorial.note

The occurrence of shared readings between Adl and E1 suggests that in a number of instances Martin may simply have transcribed alterations already made to the proofs for Adelaide when she revised a third set of proofs for Bentley.note However,

  ― xxxii ―
foot-of-page evidence of variation between Adl and E1 makes it clear that this was not the case invariably and that the emendations made by Martin for Adelaide were not always reproduced on the third set of proofs. The nature of the variations between Adl and E1–including an occasional pattern of progressive change, in which an altered Adl reading is further emended in E1 by the addition of intensifiers or fulsome descriptive terms'snote–suggests that the revisions sent to Bentley entailed not only transcription but also a separate reading of the text, perhaps at a date when the pressure of deadlines for the Australian newspapers was no longer a factor.note

The marked extent to which the wording in E1 often varies from that in M1b and Adl is evident in the foot-of-page entries and clearly indicates authorial revision. However, apart from alterations to the novel's time scheme (creating, not correcting, an error in one instance),note the changes in E1 do not appear to meet Bentley's concern about "blemishes" in the novel's internal coherence. Inconsistencies in the names of several minor characters remain uncorrected,note and the arrangement of chapters is unchanged. However, in the first chapter E1 introduces a coyly sentimental exchange concerning Helen Paget's possible answer to Victor Fitz-Gibbon's proposal, in place of the remark in Mlb and Adl in which Helen had drawn a parallel between herself and a French hotel chambermaid.note This apparent concession to prudery may reflect Martin's concern to cater for her English readership, and, in particular, to address any possible objections (perhaps flagged by Bentley on the proofs) that might be raised by Mudie's circulating library, given Mudie's self-appointed role as the guardian of literary moral standards.note

On the whole, the variants in E1 reflect a move towards a smoother, more formal and perhaps more self-consciously "literary" style,note which deprives E1 of some of the vitality, immediacy and individuality of Mlb. It leads repeatedly to conventional and clichéd prose, and, in one instance, to the rejection of a particularly vivid simile in "his whole body was like a branch of shaking leaves".note Additionally, and perhaps further indicating Martin's sense ofher English readership in revising the proofset for Bentley, there is a subtle but significant lessening of the Australian flavour that is intrinsic to the earlier versions of the text.note

  ― xxxiii ―

Collation of Mlb, Adl and E1 also shows considerable revision by Martin of dialogue and of dialect speech. Some aspects of the dialogue are consistently "corrected" from Mlb to E1 across the three volumes. For example, the informal phrase "you/ I/ she/ they better" occurs a number of times in the speech of various characters in Mlb but is sometimes emended in Adl, and almost always emended in E1, either to "you'd better" or to "I/ she/ they had better".note There is also a considerable degree of difference between the three states in their representation of dialect and pronunciation by means of variations on conventional spelling. While it is probable that some alterations both in the dialogue and in the presentation of dialect are compositorial "corrections" or slips, the high number and consistency of these variants indicate that Martin was adjusting, and often accentuating, her representation of idiom and dialect as part of her revision of the proofs for Adl and E1.note Such variants have in general at least a semi-substantive force, and in some cases the variation carries a significant shift in meaning, as in the alteration of 'varmin' in Mlb and Adl to the less opprobrious "varmint" in E1.note

In the state in which they left Catherine Martin's hands, whether for the Adelaide and Melbourne newspapers or for return to Bentley, the proofs of The Silent Sea would all have reflected alike, in their accidentals, the manuscript from which they were set, as interpreted by Bentley's printer according to the printshop's house-style. As far as the set of proofs revised for Bentley is concerned, it seems likely that, having already been set in type, its accidentals would not have been systematically altered by publisher or printer. On this basis, therefore, it can reasonably be assumed that E1 reproduces, by and large, the accidentals of the proofs as sent to Martin and revised by her (although it is unlikely that she would have altered more than a small percentage of them).

In the case of the Australian versions, the picture is different. Collation shows that the accidentals of the proofs were altered to accord with the specific house-styling practices of the Melbourne and Adelaide newspapers. Mlb thus follows the normal practice of the Age in giving numbers in figures and of ending words with "-or" not "-our". Adl reflects Evening Journal/Observer practice in capitalising nouns such as Director, Company,

  ― xxxiv ―
Bank and Church. Compound words such as "salt-bush" (hyphenated in E1) were normally separated in Mlb but unified in Adl, while each paper favoured a different convention for prefacing direct speech. The resultant disparity in accidentals between the three versions is considerable, and ranges from minor differences in hyphenation to variations of textual significance. For example, a variation in accidentals between the Mlb/ E1 reading " 'Yes. I can.' " and the Adl version " 'Yes, I can. ' " in the first chapter affects our sense of the mood in which Helen agrees to a request of Victor's at this point.note Unique Adl readings also result from the frequent alteration of sentences beginning with "But" or "And" into clauses of the preceding sentence (through the substitution of a semicolon for the full stop), sometimes with consequent marring of sense or syntax. The evidence that the accidentals of the proof sets for Mlb and Adl were adapted to and thus obscured by the respective house-styles of the two newspapers means that, although Martin probably undertook some correction or revision of accidentalsnote in addition to revising the substantives in at least two of the three sets of proofs used for printing, her own revision of accidentals for the serial versions is, by and large, no longer recoverable. While E1 represents the last revised of the three states of the novel in substantives, its accidentals (even with the incorporation of whatever revisions of accidentals Martin made on the proofs returned to Bentley), paradoxically represent the least-altered state of the text.

In summary, The Silent Sea, as it existed in 1892, may be seen as a work in process–with its author prepared to allow publication in each of its phases of revision. In substantives, Mlb represents the earliest state, that is, the closest available state to the sets of unrevised proofs furnished by Bentley. Adl represents those proofs revised by Martin in some particulars, although not all its revisions were carried over to E1. In substantives, E1 represents the latest state, with Martin's fullest revisions, prepared for a different readership and a different form of publication, although these revisions do not always agree with or incorporate those she had made to Adl. The situation regarding the accidentals, however, is effectively reversed. E1 contains the earliest recoverable state of the accidentals, being initially set

  ― xxxv ―
from Martin's manuscript for the four sets of proofs and then corrected, probably only to a very slight degree in the case of its accidentals, from the revised proofs by Bentley's printers. Mlb and Adl, on the other hand, are both radically affected in their pointing and presentation by the house-styles of the respective newspapers.

In the present edition, E1 has been chosen, in all but a few instances, as the best available witness to the accidentals of the unrevised proofs.note It has proved possible to recreate the text of the missing proofs, or to approximate it as closely as possible, by basing the reading text of the present edition on the accidentals of E1 while incorporating the substantives of Mlb. Thus the reading text represents a state of the text which actually existed, and which is the earliest recoverable state and the one closest to the author's manuscript.note

Catherine Martin's revisions in Adl and E1 are given at the foot of the page in the Textual Apparatus, which thus constitutes a record of the competing authorial forms of the text. While the primary reading text in itself provides a reliable first acquaintance with the work, the entries in the Textual Apparatus are of particular value to readers wishing to understand the work as it actually was in 1892–in process, acted upon by authorial, editorial and audience influences. Accidental variants in Mlb and Adl are not recorded, except where clearly authorial (e.g. when associated with a substantive variant), given the probability that their variation from E1 is compositorial in origin. However, a full collation of a representative chapter in Mlb, Adl and E1 is given at pages 569-73, and the samples of the different printings reproduced at the front and back of the book show how the physical text appeared to readers of these versions.

Made up of the primary reading text and the foot-of-page apparatus, this Colonial Texts Series edition preserves for the reader a sense of The Silent Sea as an evolving and multi-state authorial work. It distinguishes between Martin's levels of involvement with her work–on the one hand, as an author in full compositional flow, and, on the other, as a sometimes judicious, but at other times self-censoring, formalising and occasionally inattentive reviser–and it respects Martin's own intention to offer her Australian newspaper readerships and her (mostly English) three-decker audience competing versions of her novel

  ― xxxvi ―
which differed in wording as well as in form, while at the same time it preserves the novel's original Australian quality.