The Library of Archbishop Goold at the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission

Paola Colleoni, University of Melbourne


During the research carried out at the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission archives more than one hundred boxes were opened in order to uncover the hundreds of books they contained. The main objective of the project was to list the books that constituted the library of the first catholic archbishop of Melbourne, James Alipius Goold (1812-1886)[1]. Even if only a remnant of the archbishop’s collection is currently stored at the diocesan archives, more than 400 volumes were recognised to have been part of Goold’s library.


Every book was carefully examined, the purpose being looking for inscriptions, flyleaves or bookplates that could give important clues about both archbishop Goold’s patterns of acquisition and the intellectual scope of his library. During his life Goold lent some of his books and, after his death, the library suffered over the years. However, thanks to an accurate library inventory compiled in the second half of 1860s, it was possible to compare the volumes found in the archives with the ones reported to be part of Goold’s library. Because the inventory lists only the books acquired before 1866, and the archbishop died in 1886, it was possible to identify which of his books were purchased later on in his life.


Even if only a part of Goold’s collection is stored in the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission archives, the volumes analysed show the archbishop’s wide interests. In fact, together with a majority of religious publications, there are books from almost every field of knowledge: from educational to language studies, from mathematics to architecture, and from geography to history. Arguably, Goold’s classical studies played a major role in orienting his collection and taste, but still, what remains of his library proves an interest well beyond what might be assumed to be usual for a missionary bishop.


Goold spent many years working to improve Catholic schools[2] and his passion for education is well represented by many of the volumes found in the diocesan archives. Goold owned several copies of De L’education (Paris, 1861) and De la haute éducation intellectuelle (Orléans, 1857) both written by the bishop of Orleans Félix Dupanloup, one of the most eminent educationist of the time[3]. In addition, also other volumes, such as The philosophy of education, or, the principles and practice of teaching (London, 1857), survive today among Goold’s books to show the perseverance of a man who devoted so many energies to fight against ‘godless compulsory education’[4].


Goold himself received a classic education among the Augustinian order in Rome and Perugia. Divinity studies were combined with mathematics, philosophy, literature and classical languages, such as Latin and Old Greek[5]. All these subjects are still traceable today among the books that survive in the diocesan archives: Goold’s collection contained volumes such as Fundamental philosophy (NewYork, 1858), Principia calculi differentials et integrals itemque calculi differientiarum finitarum (Rome, 1845) and The poetical works of Lord Byron complete in one volume (London, 1846). Altogether, these volumes testify that Goold was an eager collector with interests in different fields. His eclecticism, combined with his knowledge of languages, made it possible for him to expand his library with volumes written not only in English and Latin, but also in Italian, French, Greek and German.


Noteworthy is the fact that archbishop Goold owned various dictionaries and language textbooks, probably used to read the most difficult passages of books written in foreign languages. Although the majority of his collection is composed by English publications, and few volumes are translations, a vast section of the library includes books in their original language. Just to mention a few, Goold read Angelo Mai’s works in both Italian and Latin, while for what concerns French he had books from Pascal, La Fontaine and Molière. In the diocesan archives, there was also one book written in German’s gothic font: Adventspredigten von Antonio Vieira dem Apostel Brasiliens (Weissenburg, 1840).


We can imagine that Goold had good language skills thanks to his studies, and that he was capable to read foreign languages without struggle, especially Latin and Italian. Nevertheless, he actively collected grammar textbooks and bilingual dictionaries. These were probably useful to the bishop to grasp the meaning of every word and understand the complex language structures used by the authors. Therefore, it can be argued that Goold was a passionate language student. With respect to this, in the archives still survive: A dictionary of latin quotations, proverbs, maxims and mottos, classical and Mediaeval including law terms and phrases with a selection of greek quotations (London, 1860); Dictionary of the English and Italian languages which is prefixed an Italian and English grammar (London, 1839); Nuovo metodo sulla grammatica francese ridotta a XXXIV lezioni (Rome, 1826); Dictionnaire général Français-Anglais […] (Paris, 1771); Vocabolario Italiano-Latino, ad uso delle regie scuole di Torino (Bassano, 1844); Fraseologia bibblica, ovvero dizionario latino italiano della sacra bibbia volgata […] (Venice, 1773) and Lexicon Graeco-Latinum et Latino-Graecum (Rome, 1832). It should be noted that the latter is signed by Goold and dated 1866 on the title page. Thus, the archbishop was willing to maintain a good proficiency in the languages he learned even at an advanced age.


Remarkably, also English monolingual dictionaries and handbooks found their place on Goold’s library shelves. While The Imperial dictionary of English Language (London, 1844) is a quite ordinary possession, other volumes reveal Goold’s interest in various aspects of linguistics. Some examples are a Hand-book of the English Language (London, 1858), a copy of The oldest English texts (London, 1885) and A dictionary of the English Language […] (London, 1735), in which ‘words are deduced from their originals’ and a history of the language as well as an English grammar are included. All these publications show how Goold was keen on etymology, grammar, language history and its evolution. Another volume, A critical pronouncing dictionary and expositor of the English language […] (London,1833) is particularly notable among the collection because of its particular focus on phonology. In fact, together with giving detailed instruction concerning pronunciation, this dictionary supplies the reader with information about the influence of Greek and Latin accents on English inflection, and, in addition, it provides ‘rules to be observed by the natives of Scotland, Ireland and London, for avoiding their respective peculiarities’. Thanks to an inscription on the first page, we know that this volume was a present Goold received in Perugia in the 1830s and thus it can be argued, that after leaving Ireland, Goold was willing to polish his pronunciation and eliminate his accent.


While the majority of the volumes are religious texts, mostly written in Latin, English or Italian, one of the most conspicuous section of Goold’s library is composed by history books. A series that encompasses both categories is the Tavole Cronologiche Critiche della storia della Chiesa Universale illustrate con argomenti d’archeologia e di geografia (Venice and Rome, 1856-1867), a beautiful publication (of which the bishop owned twelve volumes) that exploited the recently developed technique of chromolithography.


Because of his origins, a majority of the archbishop’s history books deals with Ireland, whereas, as Australia was part of the British Empire at the time, the second largest section of history books deals with England. For what concerns the latter, Goold owned, among others, Cassel’s illustrated history of England (London, circa 1870), a series in nine volumes enriched by over 2000 illustrations. Conversely, among the numerous rediscovered volumes about Irish history, it’s worth mentioning Picturesque Ireland, a literary and artistic delineation of the natural scenery, remarkable places, historical antiquities, public buildings, ancient abbeys, towers, castles, and other romantic and attractive features of Ireland […] (New York, 1884), an edition including 33 colour maps, 29 steel-engraved plates and numerous wood-engraved text illustrations.


Goold was also interested in general history, as shown by the presence of the Atlas to Alison’s history of Europe […] (London, date unknown), that contained over 90 hand-coloured maps and plans. The bishop owned volumes discussing specific events, such as The Torrent of the French Revolutions; or, a Guide to the reading of the history of France from 1789 to 1873 […] (Melbourne, 1873) and The Russo-Turkish war: including an account of the rise and decline of the Ottoman power and the history of the Eastern question (London, date unknown). A further mention is necessary for the history books dealing with Italy: both mediaeval and ancient roman history are well represented by the Storia della Lega lombarda (Rome, 1886) and Pompeii. Its history, buildings and antiquities; an account of the destruction of the city, with a full description of the remains, and of the recent excavations, and also an itinerary for visitors (London, 1875).


The Pompeii publication can also be read as a significant clue to picture Goold’s fascination for antiquities and arts. Together with two volumes of A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (London, 1876-1880) Goold’s library contained Knights dictionary of Arts, commerce and manufactures (London 1850?); A manual of Roman antiquities (Glasgow, 1851) and Peruvian antiquities (New York, 1855). As a further proof, the recent discovery of Piranesi’s prints among Goold’s collection, as well as the entry “Opera del Piranesi – 28 folio – Paris – 1784” registered in his library inventory, confirm that the archbishop was a sophisticated collector driven by a fine intellect in his purchases.


It can be argued that Goold’s interest for arts was not an end in itself, inasmuch as the construction of the Roman Catholic cathedral of St Patrick’s commenced in the 1850s involved the bishop directly. With respect to this, it can be supposed that the presence in Goold’s library of many volumes regarding architecture and decoration displays not only the bishop’s passion for arts, but also his commitment in supervising the works. For instance, The arts connected with architecture illustrated by examples in Central Italy from the 13th to the 15th century […] (London, 1858) contains examples of stained glass, fresco ornament, marble and enamel inlay and wood inlay in 41 chromolithographed plates. The Prolusiones architectionicæ; or, essays on subjects connected with Grecian and Roman architecture (London, 1837) was written by the architect and archaeologist William Wilkins and includes 16 plates. The Modern building and architecture: a series of working drawings and practical designs […] (Edinburgh, date unknown) presents ‘numerous examples from the Paris and Havre International Exhibitions, with papers on technical subjects’ and is ‘richly illustrated with wood engravings’ for a total of 52 plates. Finally, Goold owned A treatise on Chancel screens and rood lofts, their antiquity, use, and symbolic signification. Illustrated with figures […] written by A. Welby N. Pugin, the master of Gothic revival[6]. All these publications may had been useful to Goold not only as a source of inspiration, but also for the technical informations on building construction and engineering. Furthermore, Essays on cathedrals by various writers (London, 1872), that, among others, contains chapters dealing with the work of cathedral canons, the education of choristers, cathedral schools and the architecture of cathedrals in England, displays how passionate the bishop was about the construction of St Patrick’s cathedral.


Together with architecture books, a large number of imposing volumes is constituted by atlases containing maps of the regions of the world. In 1837, a twenty-five years old Goold accepted to leave Europe as a volunteer for the religious mission in Australia, a country were settlement had started only at the end of 18th century and whose large sections of the inland were not even mapped yet. This suggests that he was inclined to travel the world and expand his knowledge. Additionally it can be assumed that being a bishop in a young country stimulated his curiosity for geographical discoveries, as confirmed by the presence of several volumes, such as A history of the discovery and exploration of Australia […] (London, 1865) and Atlas, containing maps of Australasia […] (London, 1863). The latter publication in particular, not only contains accounts of the latest geographical discoveries, but also datas about ‘the settlement in different Provinces’ and it shows ‘the progress of its population; social, pastoral, agricultural, mineral, commercial & financial state’.


Furthermore, three volumes, respectively Atlas of Australia with all the gold regions – a series of maps from the latest authorities (Edinburgh, date unknown), Silurian -The history of the oldest fossiliferous rocks and their foundations with a brief sketch of the distribution of gold over the earth (London, 1859) and The gold fields in Victoria in 1862 (Melbourne, 1863) indicate that the bishop was engaged in learning about the development of his colony and about the gold rush[7], a phenomena that rapidly transformed both his city and his diocese. It’s also worth to notice the presence of A geographical and astronomical atlas containing ancient and modern maps, with a solar system and two hemispheres, prefaced by new problems on maps and a copious table of latitudes and longitudes […], that perhaps suggests the bishop interest in knowing how to determine his position when he was traveling. In fact, on the first page of one of his books, Goold, probably traveling at that moment, accurately recorded his position off Cape Howe pointing out both latitude and longitude’s coordinates[8].


A further proof of the bishop interest in geography and traveling is the presence in the collection of the two volumes of The picturesque world […] (Boston 1878-1879) that contain ‘one thousand illustrations on wood and steel of picturesque views from all parts of the world comprising mountain, lake and river scenery, parks, palaces, cathedrals, churches, castles, abbeys, and other views selected from the most noted and interesting parts of the world’. These volumes, together with others, such as Recollections of Mexico (New York, 1846), Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Espagne (Paris, date unknown) and India and its native Princes Travels in central India […] containing 317 illustrations and 6 maps (London, 1876), highlight the bishop’s outstanding curiosity and his desire of discovering the most remote and exotic areas of the planet.


Many of the library’s volumes were embellished with engravings and drawings, as demonstrated by Raccolta delle migliori chiese di Roma e suburbane espresse in tavole disegnate e incise e corredate da cenni storici e descrittivi (Rome, 1855), The Chapel of St. Anthony the Eremite at Murthly Perthshire […] (London 1850) and Collezione dei monumenti sepolcrali del cimitero di Bologna (Bologna, 1827). These representations may have been sources of inspiration and may have had a practical use. However, it has to be noticed that Goold owned a large number of books enriched with images probably collected for aesthetic purposes, few examples being The pictorial edition of the works of Shakespeare (London, date unknown) and the already mentioned Picturesque Ireland and The picturesque world. Furthermore, the two tomes of La Sainte Bible, traduction nouvelle selon la vulgate (Tours, 1866), that contain a total of 228 illustrations engraved after drawings by the French artist Gustave Doré, demonstrate Goold’s taste for refined printed editions.


As Goold settled in such a faraway land as Australia was at the time, arguably, he tried to keep a connection with the old continent through his library. Many of the history books he owned show his deep interest for European matters. Moreover, the presence in the library of Byron, Wordsworth and Shelley’s poetry and the works of Shakespeare and Dickens, alongside the mention in the library inventory of Dante’s Divina Commedia and Manzoni’s Promessi Sposi, suggest that the bishop was passionate about both English and Italian literature[9]. These volumes, together with many others, such as the aforementioned Dupanloup’s works, indicate that Goold was constantly following the evolution of ideas and the new cultural trends of European society.


Even if only a remnant of the archbishop’s library is currently stored at the Melbourne Diocese Historical Commission archives, the preliminary results of the research suggest that Goold was an eager collector with a wide range of interests. The large number of pictorial editions, the several publications concerning architecture, education and language highlight the fact that the archbishop was an erudite man with refined taste. Thanks to his connections to Rome and his visits to Europe, he kept track of the historical events and the cultural trends that were transforming the continent. A detailed analysis of what survives today of Goold’s diverse library will cast new light on his engagement in translating European intellectual and theological ideas to the distinct context of colonial Australia.



[1] Goold was born in Cork, Ireland in 1812. He was ordained in 1835 after studying with the Augustinian both in Ireland and Italy. In 1838 he moved to Australia for missionary work and in 1848 he was consecrated bishop of Melbourne, where he spent the rest of his life. In 1874, while in Rome for the First Vatican Council, Goold was made archbishop of Melbourne.

[2] J. R. J. Grigsby, Goold, James Alipius (1812–1886), Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1972.

[3] Félix Dupanloup, ordinated bishop of Orléans in 1849, was one of the most prominent figures of catholicism both in France and Europe during the second half of the 19th century. See M. Fanny Trench, Felix Dupanloup: bishop of Orleans, London: G. Masters, 1890.

[4] J. R. J. Grigsby, 1972

[5] While Latin was still largely used as ecclesiastical language in Goold times and therefore the presence in the library of the Biblia sacra (Rome, 1768) in Latin is no surprise, it is interesting to note that the bishop also owned H KAINH ΔIAΘHKH (Oxford, 1863): the Greek New testament.

[6] Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was a catholic convert architect and designer active in the first half of 19th century. His greatest accomplishment is the design of the interiors of Westminster’s Palace in London. See, M. Aldridge-P. Atterbury (ed.), A.W.N. Pugin: master of Gothic revival, Exhibition catalogue, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

[7] The Victorian gold rush started in 1851, and between 1851 and 1858 the population of Victoria grew from 88,850 to 463,165. Roman Catholics in Melbourne increased from 5,361 to 19,449.

[8] The book in question, found in the diocesan archives, is Regole ed osservazioni della lingua toscana […] (Bassano, 1802).

[9] Byron, Shakespeare and Dickens’ volumes were found in the diocesan archives. The other volumes are recorded in the library inventory compiled in the second half of 1860s: The poetical works of Wordsworth (London 1854), Shelley’s philosophical poem Queen Mab (London, 1854), Dante’s Divina commedia (two editions are registered, one published in Paris in 1846, the other in Florence in 1827) and Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi (Florence, 1845).