The Name of Marshall-Hall's Opera


  The source of Professor Marshall-Hall's use of the name Stella, for his one act opera, seems not to have been known by musicologists.(29a, 30) It may be accepted that Sir Arthur Barrett's statement, that it derives from the name of Stella White, reflects the accepted belief of the White family; for, when that opera was first performed in Melbourne on the fourth of May, 1912, he was about seventeen years old, and likely to be both aware of, and interested in, such family matters. It is known that Stella White's mother saw that performance (6), and, though there is no record of her being accompanied by any other member of the family, and Stella's father, then more than eighty years old, did not go, it is probable that she was there. We may consider how members of her family could learn about such a source for Marshall-Hall's use of the name.

  The most probable source would be Stella herself. It is likely that she began her musical studies at the Conservatorium in 1897, and she passed the first year for the Diploma of Music in 1900. In the Electoral Roll of 1908, she is shown as a student, and this must have been her own description; if it really represents the situation, she must have been studying music, that is, the piano, eleven years after entering the Conservatorium. If she had been enrolled in it as a regular student, she would have been taught by W. A. Laver, for Marshall-Hall had agreed that he (Laver) should teach all enrolled students of piano (29a); but Marshall-Hall might have taught her privately and, if so, it is very likely that he would tell her what he had done.

  There were, however, at least two other possible sources: firstly, Stella's father, Edward John White, had been Assistant to Dr R. I. J. Ellery, Government Astronomer and, though retired by that time, still lived at the Observatory and, perhaps, continued observations there. Ellery was a strong supporter of Marshall-Hall, and moved a motion in his favour at a meeting of the Council of the University when the latter was under attack (31); secondly, Dr James Barrett (later Sir James) was clearly in close touch with Marshall-Hall, who wrote letters to him when in Germany in 1906 (32a,b,c); and he was a cousin of Stella's brother-in-law, Arthur O. Barrett, father of Sir Arthur.

  It would, therefore, be reasonable to suppose that the family tradition is correct. Consideration, therefore, will be given to whether the resemblance goes beyond the name. To prevent confusion, Stella White will be referred-to by her other family name 'Bid,' and Stella, in the Opera, by that name.

  We must first consider the plot of the one-act opera, of which the libretto, which was decried by the critic of The Argus in the words : -

   'Marshall-Hall has been let down by his librettist',(33)

  was written by Marshall-Hall himself. It is quite obviously written under the influence of Ibsen, in respect, both of the strong criticism of hypocrisy in conventional moral attitudes (which were also under attack, in his own quite different manner, from Norman Lindsay), and of the device of making the action on the stage the result and continuation of unseen action, that is described as taking  place in the past, sometimes many years before. The following is a very abridged summary of the synopsis (29b) : -

Stella is a young woman who, on the recommendation of Dr Kirke, is nursing the sick child of the widowed Mrs Chase. The Mayor of the town, Mostyn Chamley, a friend of Mrs Chase, recognizes Stella as the girl with whom he eloped ten years before, and whom he deserted. The Rector, the Reverend Weldon, also recognizes her, and intends to denounce her as undesirable to Mrs Chase, after a meeting of the local Social Purity Society at the house of the latter, despite efforts of Chamley, also a leading member of the Society, to dissuade him, probably because this would also reflect on him. Stella contemplates leaving the town, and Kirke, to whom she does not disclose her reason, and who is in love with her, proposes marriage; but she does not give him an answer. In the final scene, the situation having left her with no acceptable alternative that would not hurt Kirke, she swallows all the child's medicine which, Kirke warned, should be given only in small doses, and dies in his arms.

There is no resemblance, of which I am aware, between nay part of the situation of Stella and the circumstances of Bid's life, when the opera was written; if Marshall-Hall had Bid in mind when writing the opera, other than the name, he might have thought of her character and, perhaps, of how she might behave in that situation, and not of her circumstances. As far as can be judged by the synopsis of the plot alone, the characters of Stella and Bid could well be alike; and, though that could be, in part, a coincidence, there is some resemblance between what happened to Stella and what happened to Bid, some years after the opera had been produced. Both Stella and Bid were swept into a romantic liaison, which was more durable indeed, in the latter, legalized case; but, in the end, just as insubstantial. Both were sympathetic and self-sacrificing, for the sake of those they loved.

  This may be illustrated by extracts from three letters from Bid when, living with her son in England in 1952, she learnt of the serious illness of her next elder sister, Jean, who had married an American, Victor Haney, and was living in the united States of America : -

   'I got this letter from Vic and feel so sad about it, and now I don't seem to have anyone much to write to in the family; and I know you were fond of Jean. I think Vic must have been having an awful time, but I always said he was wonderful in sickness, and he does seem to love Jean.'(19a)

   'I had a letter from Vic, and he says Jean is better and is home again - it is a great relief to me, and I felt very worried about it . . . Fol and Art don't like Vic, but I do, because he is wonderful to Jean & so sympathetic.'(19b)

   'Vic said, in his last letter, Jean was better and home again from hospital. I feel so mean not going over but, apart from the expense, I couldn't undertake the journey alone, and I couldn't do much if I did, but I hate not to see her.'(19c)

  It is true that these qualities are not so very uncommon; but the similarity does suggest that the family belief, that Stella was named after Bid was, indeed, well based. A more detailed study of the libretto (which I have not read) might give further support to this supposition.

  In the absence of any other source of the name Stella, such as has seemingly been accepted up till now, we could well believe that that view is correct. There is, however, another source from which Marshall-Hall could have taken the name. In the second part of the eighteenth century, and rather early in his career as a writer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote a play called Stella, in which two women, of whom one has left her home for a visit elsewhere, happen to meet and become friends of each other. One of these is Stella, and she shows to the other a painting of Fernando, with whom she is in love. The other recognizes in it her husband, who has left her. The early version of the play ends with the settling-down of man and the two women in a household of three; but, this being unacceptable to the public at the time, Goethe later changed the ending, so that the play became a tragedy, Fernando going off-stage with a pistol and shooting himself, and Stella swallowing poison and dying.(34, 35a)

  Several similarities between Goethe's and Marshall-Hall's works can be traced, but Stella's suicide in the opera, so clearly resembles that in the play, that it would be hard to believe that the former was not modelled on the latter; and it, therefore, seems almost certain that Marshall-Hall was well acquainted with this work of Goethe, so that he might also have taken the name for his opera.

  In most writing, various influences may  be present in the author's mind, and there combined by him, in whole or in part, to give the final result. It is clear that the plot of the opera was strongly influenced in the setting and main purpose, by the treatment that Marshall-Hall had received in Melbourne, and in its structure by Ibsen; and, it is also possible and, even probable, that the name, and Stella's character, might have been influenced, not only by Goethe's work, but also the knowledge of those of Bid. Since it is unlikely that the blending of these influences would have been written down, but would have taken place only in his head, we can never be sure what relevance she had to the opera; but, though the family tradition might be wrong, it is reasonable to suppose that it had some basis in something he had said.

  It may be noted that Goethe, himself, borrowed the name Stella from that of a real Stella, who died in 1728, and was a rival to Vanessa, who died in 1723, in the affections of Jonathan Swift, a British satirist (1667-1745), who could have married either, but remained a bachelor through indecision. This was well known in Europe at the time.(34) (See also further note in Appendix C.)

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009




  Relationship between Stella and Marshall-Hall


  It is interesting to consider if the personal relationship between Stella and Marshall-Hall went appreciably beyond that usual between teacher and pupil. That she admired him, is very probable, and seems to be established; but so, also, no doubt, did most of his other students and supporters and, so, it establishes little. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that she went to England twice before her marriage and, on each occasion, Marshall-Hall was there when she left Australia. We may consider these occasions.

  The first occasion was in 1907. Marshall-Hall had left Melbourne about the middle of 1906, disembarking in Italy, whence he proceeded to Berlin.(36) Soon after his arrival there, he contracted a painful eye trouble, iritis, and arranged to leave Berlin, to stay with his sister in Dorset, England.(32a) However, he was still in Berlin at the end of December (32b), though it is reported that he went to England later, staying for some time in London with his brother.(36)

On the nineteenth of May 1907, he wrote to Dr James Barrett as from '. . address after Tuesday 12 Yarra Street, Hawthorne,'(32c) that is, the twenty first of May. He was already back in Australia, and so, must have left London not later than the middle of April, and probably earlier.

  Stella sailed from Melbourne on the twenty eighth of March 1907, and arrived in London on the thirteenth of May.(6) Apart from a visit to Bristol, described in a letter sent to her father, who received it on the twenty sixth of August, so that it was probably written about the twentieth of July, nothing is known of her movements.(6) At Bristol, she probably stayed with her aunt Fanny, one of her father's younger, and twin, sisters. She was too late to have met Marshall-Hall in England, but the question remains; might she have expected to do so ? His letter to Dr Barrett informing him of his illness, and of his intention of going to England, was dated the twentieth of November, 1906, and should have reached Melbourne about the end of December, giving time enough for its contents to be made known to the White family through Florence Barrett, and for Stella to prevail on her father to pay for her passage on the fourteenth of January. He had not previously done this for any of her sisters, but he later did so for Lil and Jean, also taking his wife to England and Europe at about the same time.(6) Marshall-Hall's later letter to Dr Barrett, in which he wrote :

   'What if I stayed another six weeks ? Could it be managed ? I should only get back in June then,'(32b)

could not have reached Melbourne till February, too late for a change of plan, if she had really wanted to change. If Stella's action had been inspired by the thought that she might, in some way, be able to help him, it would be similar to what she contemplated when her sister Jean was ill, in the United States of America, as already mentioned. Though it would scarcely seem to be realistic for her to expect to be of any help in those circumstances, she might not have seen it in that way. If, however, she did expect this, and Marshall-Hall became aware of it, it might have suggested casting the role of Stella in the opera as a nurse.

  When Stella left Melbourne on her second visit to England, probably at about the end of 1913, Marshall-Hall was there to arrange production of his two operas, Stella and Romeo, in London.(32d) He, and his wife, sailed at the end of April 1913.(36) He eventually succeeded in having Stella produced for a run of fifteen nights, at the Palladium, beginning on the eighth of June 1914, but in an abridged form. He thought its original production in Melbourne on the fourth and eleventh of May, 1912, was better.(32d) Outbreak of war in August 1914, prevented production of Romeo. On this occasion, it is probable enough, that Stella would have seen the performance. Such, at least, may have been her intention, when she left Australia.

  Though the coincidences in time of her visits and his seem to be more than chance, there is nothing further to support this; and even if it were so, it might merely mean that she took advantage of her teacher's absence (if he was her teacher) to go away herself.

  Though then there are hints of something more than mere chance in the recorded facts of Stella's journeys, it seems that nothing firmer can be derived from this evidence, from which, there is no reason to believe, that her movements had any influence on his movements; and whether his had any on hers must remain no more than a matter for speculation.

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009




Dorian's attitude to his father


  Dorian's lack of interest in his father, when we met him in 1938 (see earlier), recorded as it was at the time, is clear in my mind; but my recollection of the words he used in giving his reasons for it is not, after more than forty years, so accurate as to be sure that he was referring to lack of interest rather than lack of support. However, Dorothea believes it was the former, which she says was repeated by him later; and John White's statement agrees with this. Dorothea also remembers that it was stated to her that this attitude dates from the time when his son's diabetes was recognized; while the implication of this might be that it arose from his having diabetes, it might be the result of his desperate situation arising from the deepening depression.

  The marriage of Dorian (senior) and Stella could not well survive the effects of the War and later depression; but looking back, it is unlikely that a romantic 'marriage of the minds', in which the one is dependent for a living on a minor position in the arts, then even more than now, almost impossible in Australia; and the other, with a large and close-knot family, to give support, a small but fairly reliable private income, and a child to educate, so that she would not willingly leave Melbourne, could have long withstood such very material, practical 'impediments.' Stella, like her namesake in the opera, might be moved by her heart, into situations that a more practical woman would have avoided; and, it is scarcely right to blame Dorian (senior) alone for the result. His letters in 1931 do not ignore either her or his son, though his mind was more preoccupied with the impending depression; and there must, as I have mentioned, have still been contact between the two later. Young Dorian's attitude must have arisen from what his father's letters has said, or not said.

  While his attitude may be understandable, I regret that he did not make a move to meet his father when he had the chance to do so.

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009



1.    Copy of English Marriage Certificate
2.    John W. Traill:              (a) Verbal information
                                           (b) Written comments on the first draft of these notes
3.    Mary Saunders:           Letter to Dorian Le Gallienne, 9th October 1958*
4.    Emily C. White:           Letter to J. Cuthbert Traill 16th October 1958*
5.    Photograph by Talma:  Published in both The Austral- (sic) and The Leader, 19th January, 1897
6.    Edward J. White:         Diary; excerpts by Frank K. White in whose possession it now is
7.    Elizabeth A. White:      Letter to Emily C. Traill, 5th October, 1897*
8.    University of Melbourne: Record of Examination
9.    Sir Arthur Barrett: Verbal information
10.  David Traill;                Letters to J. Cuthbert Traill
                                            (a) 14th May 1907*
                                            (b) 19th January 1910*
11.  Mrs Harvey Barrett:    Verbal information
12.  E. Lancelot Barrett:     Verbal information
13.  The Weekly Argus, 5th November 1858, page 1
14.  Lorna C. Traill: Letter to J. Cuthbert Traill, 5th September 1915*
15.  Cast of Characters for Mother Machree (see Appendix D)
16.  Frank K. White: Letter 6th March 1979
17.  Dorian Le Gallienne (senior): Letter to Stella Le Gallienne
                                           (a) 3rd December 1930
                                           (b) 19th March 1931
                                                Both in possession of Mrs J. Downing
18.  Roderick C. Barrett:   Verbal information, 15th October, 1979
19.  Stella Le Gallienne:    Letters
                                           (a) to Lorna Traill, 19th February, 1952
                                           (b) to Lorna Traill, 28th February, 1952
                                           (c) to Dorothea Traill, 17th March, 1952
                                           (d) to Dorothea Traill, 12th May, 1952
                                           (e) to Dorothea Traill, 16th October, 1943
20.  John S. White:             Letter, 10th December, 1879
21.  Liber Melburniensis: Number on School Roll 6763
22.  Dorian Le Gallienne:   Letters to Ralph and Dorothea Traill (see Appendix B)
                                           (a) 17th December, 1952
                                           (b) 15th March, 1961*
23.  Olive Euphrat:             Letter to Dorian Le Gallienne, December 1957*
24.  Birmingham Symphony Orchestra:  Letter to Dorian Le Gallienne, 29th May, 1952*
25.  Dr Gordon Jacob:        Letters to Dorian Le Gallienne
                                            (a) 28th July, 1957*
                                            (b) 21st July, 1958*
26.  The Age (Melbourne): 27th August, 1959, page 3
27.  Adult Education, Vol. 8, No. 1, September, 1965; page 6
28.  Music and the Teacher, Vol. 9, No. 1, March, 1973; page 2
29.  Dr M. T. Radic:            (a) Verbal information
                                           (b) Maureen Therese Radic; Biography and Catalogue of MSS of G. W. L. Marshall-Hall, Grainger Museum,

                                                  Melbourne University, MS in typescript, 1979
30.  Mrs Dreyfus, curator of the Grainger Museum; Letter 17th March, 1981
31.  Professor E. Scott:       History of the University of Melbourne (Melbourne University Press and Oxford University Press) 1936, page 153
32.  G.W.L. Marshall-Hall: Letters to Dr James Barrett
                                            (a) 20th November, 1906
                                            (b) 31st December, 1906
                                            (c) 19th May, 1907
                                                  At the Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne
34.  E. Pott, School of Germanic Studies, University of Melbourne: Verbal information
35.  Goethe's sammtliche Werke, neunter Band;  J. G. Cotta'scher Verlag, 1851:
                                            (a) pages 239 - 280, especially page 280
                                            (b) page 275
36.  J. Rich Humanities Department, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology: Verbal information

*The document is held by the La Trobe Library, La Trobe Street, Melbourne.

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009



These relate to some of Dorian Le Gallienne's compositions : -

    The Prize: the title of a cinematograph film, written and directed by Tim Burstall, with musical accompaniment
    Sebastian: the name of a puppet fox, principal character in the film Sebastian and the Sausages, by Peter Scriven, with musical accompaniment
    Voyageur: the title of a ballet, produced by Tom Davidson, with music
    Solveig's Song, and Peer: relating to characters in a performance of Peer Gynt, by H. Ibsen, produced with new music, at the University of Melbourne.

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009



  Children and grand-children of Edward John White and Sarah Susannah Catherine White (nee L'Oste)

In order of age, a space of two letters in width represents year interval, as shown by the first letter : -
Bold names are the usual formal names;
Names in parenthesis() are abbreviated names or nicknames
Names marked with an asterisk* are those commonly used by nephews and nieces.

Sarah Ann Catherine (Kit*)
       Helen* Frances Mary (Nellie)
               Elizabeth Agnes (Lizzie, Liz*)
                     Emily Constance (Em*), married to J. Cuthbert Traill
                             Florence May (Flo, Fol*), married Arthur O. Barrett
                                        Edward John Bernard (Ted*), married Ada Page
                                                  Rose Ethel Janet (Jennie, Jean*), married Victor Haney
                                                             Charlotte Edith Estella, (Stella, Bid*), married Dorian La Gallienne (senior)
(sic - correct) Alice Evangeline (Lil*)

Grand-children of Edward John White and Sarah Susannah Catherine White, in order of age, as before : -

            John White
                    Lorna Constance
                                       Ralph Cuthbert

Arthur George (Bob)
            Geoffrey Charles (Geoff)
                              Edgar Lancelot (Lance)
                                         Edward Harvey
                                                          Alfred Ironside (Alf)
                                                                    Roderick Corris (Rod)
                                                                                       Julian St. Quentin (Jule, Gibb)

                                         Edward Kingsley (Ned)
                                                   Nancy Helen
                                                                   Frank Kelvin
                                                                           John Selwyn
                                                                                              Ronald Langton

Arsdale Victor (Ars)
                                                                                       Clifford White (Cliff)

                                                                               Dorian Leon Marlois (Dod)

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009


         APPENDIX B

Three Letters from Dorian Le Gallienne


                                                                                                                                             The Bungalow
                                                                                                                                                                                 17 December 1952
Dear Ralph and Dorothea and family,

  I think it's about time I wrote to you and I hope that you will have enough Christmas goodwill to forgive me for not having done so earlier. First of all I hope (we hope) you have a very happy Christmas and new year. Mother and I settled in a cottage in Surrey, between Normandy and Christmas Pie, for the winter. We expect to be home some time after the middle of next year.

  I'm struggling with a symphony, and struggling is the word, and I do want to finish it before I'm swallowed up in earning a living again.

  Late last year I wrote you a little set of variations for the orchestra. But I'm afraid the finale still needs touching up, and as I'm not quite sure about Mary's top notes, I think I'll have to give it to you when I get back. Perhaps they'll be higher by then.

  We lead a very uneventful life. The country is lovely and much less distracting and expensive than London. As I can't afford to go to concerts and theatres, it seems much better not to be tempted.

  The landscape is completely frozen, but fortunately, the bungalow is practically air-tight, so we sit in a lovely sooty haze of coal smoke and everything is dirty and gritty, but warm. The gas light throws a lovely greenish glow over everything (there's no electricity), the Ideal boiler often freezes, occasionally boils, but never can be persuaded to do anything else under my inexpert direction. All the trader people call, and in fact, from the consumer's point of view, England is wonderfully well run.

  How is your house ? Thank you very much for taking the carpet to Eltham. The bungalow belongs to very nice people called Cousmaker. It was their gamekeeper's cottage. They were originally Flemish, but as they've been living at Westwood since 1530 they're almost English now.

  Since we saw the Queen driving into Arundel castle, where she was staying with the Norfolks, we're convinced Royalists. She looked so lovely.

  There's really no news. Would you wish John and Harley and David and Alister a happy Christmas from us ?

                                                                                                                     Cheerio for the moment


R.C.T's Notes:
i.     Normandy (a village) and Christmas Pie (a hamlet) are on the north side of the Hog's Back Road, half way between Guildford and Aldershot.
ii.    The 'orchestra' consisted of some three instruments, on which some of the family played inexpertly. I do not think we ever saw that set of variations.
iii.   The reading of 'Coursmaker' is uncertain; it is what Dorian's handwriting looks like to me.
iv.   The four people mentioned at the end are: my brother, his wife and two sons - David and Alistair.




                                                                                                                                                                       'Οδος Χeliόoνouς*

                                                                                                                                                                       Νέα Κηφισσια

  Dear Ralph,

  I was delighted to get your letter and have news of you all. How everyone gets around nowadays. I didn't know that John was a grandfather, but am very impressed to hear it. Would you congratulate all concerned from me ? I was very sad to hear of Mrs Lush's death. She was the last of mother's great friends and I was very fond of her.  I took her to the opera the night before I left Melbourne and I thought then she didn't look well. I have a nice little house about 10 miles out of Athens, with a garden full of fruit trees in full bud. The country about is gloriously beautiful and I am very comfortable with a hall and sitting room; oil burning heater, telephone (f you feel like ringing up [this is a joke]; my number is Athens 012,141) bedroom, bathroom, hot water service, refrigerator, an enormous electric stove, a white marble sink (very useful for breaking things in) and an exhaust fan. Also a flat roof for sunbaking - so I have all mod. cons. I have a nice Citroen which I bought second hand in Geneva, but the Athens bus passes the door so everything is very convenient. I fell in love with Greece when I was here in 1953, fell more in love with it last June and am now besotted with it. It provides the way of life of which I have always dreamed. Everybody is an individual. If you're poor, so much the worse, but you're just as much of a person as the next man. Nobody pretends to be anything they're not and the old people are quite exceptionally beautiful, because, I suppose, they make no effort to look young. The most trifling transaction in a shop is a pleasure because of the unfailing courtesy and consideration of the people with whom one deals - I suppose most Mediterranean people have many of these qualities, but the Greeks, together with their enormous zest for life have an enormous sense of humour. My κυβία Ζορμπας, who owns the house and who does for me twice a week, is exceptionally kind, and like most of the Greek people I know - exceptionally sensitive. Her half day extends from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after which she may be induced to have for lunch a slice of bread (no butter) an apple and an orange and half a glass of wine (the latter, at 4/- a gallon is not expensive to provide). Yet lunch manages to be very festive indeed on this modest scale. They are not intellectual - poor dears, they can't afford to be, but they are often extraordinarily well informed. I drove την κυβία Ζορμπας to her cousin's house the other day. He is a taxi-driver, and like everyone else was very interested to talk about Australia. Mush to my surprise (he had never been outside Greece) he said '. . of course it was a great pity about Evatt. Menzies is not a good Prime Minister.' What Australian taxi-driver would know who the Prime minister of Greece was, let alone the ex-leader of the opposition ? Well now I have bored you quite enough with my enthusiasm. I've been a thorough young romantic.

  I was most impressed with the precision of your address on the envelope. Do you know Greek ? I struggle along but it really is a difficult language, with its awful mass of congregations and verbal aspects and endless inflexions - to say nothing of the conflict between καθερέιουσα and Δεμοτικη, I am charmed by the problems of my own name, which is written  Ντοριαν, because of course no self-respecting Greek will address you in anything but the vocative and they seem mystified as to what the vocative is. Unfortunately I can't help them. I am sometimes Ντορια but more often  Ντορι, which has a nice homely ring. It is really very trying to have to remember that Athens is feminine, Marathon is masculine, and Janina is neuter pleural  - Στιν Αθηνα, στο Μαραθόνα, but στά Jανινα
# .

  I expect to be home sometime in the second half of the year and look forward to seeing you then. In the meanwhile, love to everyone.

                                                                                                                     Yours ever



R.C.T's Notes:
    My knowledge of Greek, slight today, was even less in 1961. However, I do know that, some of the sounds having changed over the centuries, the Greeks have now no single letters to denote the sound of B or D, but use the equivalent of MP or NT respectively instead. The letter formerly used for B is pronounced as V, and that for D is pronounced as TH in THen

*Editor's Note: The Greek words are copied faithfully from the handwritten words on the carbon copy.  #The standard Greek alphabet does not have a 'J'




                                                                                                                               2 Yarra Brae Road


  Dear Ralph and Dorothea and all,

  I'm afraid my behaviour must appear very rude, but when I got home I wasn't well and then I got desperately busy and then I got ill again and now in Hamilton Russell house recuperating (I hope) from pneumonia. At least I have a little leisure to get in touch with people. I expect to be about a week more in hospital, then a week recuperating and then back to work.

  Anyway this is just to say that I am still alive, that I think of you often, and always mean to telephone but never do largely because I can't get a telephone at Eltham.

  However, when I'm released I really will ring up in the hope of seeing you some time.

                                                                                                  I hope you're all well

                                                                                                        Yours ever


R.C.T's Notes:
  Tess Barrett, whose husband, the late Dr Harvey Barrett, was attending Dorian at that time, believes that this undated letter was written in July 1962. I cannot remember the circumstances that produced it.

Copyright (c) Estate RC Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009



Note on Goethe' Play Stella


  In the second version of Goethe's play, Cacilie, Fernando's wife, proposes to him that the three should live together; and, when he rejects this, that she should retire from his life with her daughter, leaving him free to have Stella, as in the original :

  'Du sollst glücklich seyn. Ich habe meine Tochter - und einen Freund an dir. Wir wollen scheiden, ohne getrennt zu seyn*. Ich will entfernt von dir leben, und ein Zeuge deines Glücks bleiben. Deine vertraute will ich seyn; du sollst Freude und Kummer in meinen Busen ansgiessen. Deine Briefe sollen mein einziges Leben seyn, und die meinen sollen dir als ein lieber Besuch erscheinen - Und so bleibst du mein, bist nicht mit Stella vertrennt in einem Winkel der Erde, wir lieben uns, nehmen Theil an einander! Und so, Fernando, gieb mir deine Hand darauf.'(35b)

  (You shall be lucky. I have my daughter - and a friend in you. We will separate without being divorced. I will live far from you, and remain witness of your happiness. Your confidant will I be; you shall pour out joy and trouble into my bosom. Your letters shall be my only life, and mine shall seem to you as a dear visit - And so you remain mine, unless you are shut off in a corner of the earth with Stella, we love each other, take part in each other ! And so, Fernando, give me your hand on it.)

  Fernando does not accept this suggestion either. However, by a strange coincidence, it describes the situation, though not the happiness, of Stella White (Le Gallienne) and her husband when they were separated, not by a third party, but by economic need.

*According to Heinz Leonhard Leo Kretzenbacher of the German Department of the University of Melbourne, ( :

The spelling "seyn" is used along (with) the more recent (and modern) "sein" for 'to be' until well into the 19th century, so it is very likely that the original text of Goethe's "Stella" had this spelling of the verb.

He also provided some alternative brief translations :

"Wir wollen scheiden, ohne getrennt zu sein." ('Let us part without being separated from each other')
"Deine Vertraute will ich sein" ('I will be your confidante');
all words spoken by the character Cäcilie.

Copyright (c) Estate Ralph C Traill 1982

Edited material: Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009




Dorian Recalled


During my teens, in the 1950's, Dorian would occasionally come to dinner and, sometimes, I accompanied my parents to visit him at his home in Eltham. He was an engaging raconteur but, because of my age, I was largely a listener to the discussions of his activities and those of the other family members, their successes and disappointments. However, a few items that were recounted seemed memorable :


1) Dorian mentioned that, from his role of music critic, he had luncheon with Yehudi Menuhin, the famous touring violinist. Dorian claimed that, during the luncheon, Yehudi commented that he would not be doing the tours if it weren't for the money. This shocked me ! I had some altruistic belief that such artists, who toured the world giving pleasure to thousands, did so for the sheer joy of it and for their art !


2) Dorian recounted with horror, the conduct of the tenants of his house in Eltham whilst he was in England. Apparently the tenants spilt beer over his piano and dislodged ivories (and probably more).


3) When Dorian was asked about the events at the University Conservatorium, he commented that he had noticed that, if a student with poor results succeeded with a dispensatory-pass application, the fortunate students seemed to possess a disproportionately large number of names with Irish derivation.


4) Dorian was music critic for The Argus and then, later, The Age, both morning newspapers. The evening newspaper, the Herald, had a different music critic. My parents subscribed to both The Age and The Herald and, after a while, there was noticed a certain similarity in both sentiments and wordings used in the criticisms in the morning and evening papers for the same performances. When raised with Dorian, he indicated that he had noted this pattern, but seemed quite happy for his sentiments to be echoed, but he wished the wording could be changed, so as to be less obvious.


5) He recounted how he had a serious problem in London, on the occasion when he felt a diabetic pre-coma developing. When he hailed a taxi, the taxi-driver refused to take him because the driver thought Dorian was drunk.


6) My mother commented that she considered that Dorian's dinner-table etiquette somewhat rustic, and attributed this state to inadequate parental guidance. (I had not noticed this feature but, then, my table etiquette was probably not dissimilar.)


Copyright (c)  M. A. Traill September 2009





  My father, Ralph Traill was about 76 years old when he signed-off on the Notes. He seems to have had at least one draft, and the final version was typed on a traditional manual typewriter, using carbon paper to produce the copies. A very limited number of copes was produced for the immediate family. My copy was probably the 3rd or 4th sheet down, so that the type was not always clear. The main impact of such copying lies in the difficulty and tedium involved in making alterations and corrections. There are some that he made, but not a large number, and some of the remaining imperfections may have survived either because he overlooked them, or that they were too trivial to attempt to correct. He also tended to use prolix, convoluted sentences, which were not always easy to read.


  I have attempted to make the Notes more readable, by minor amendments to punctuation, spelling, syntax and layout. The narrative is still all Ralph's. Occasionally, I inserted some points for clarification; they are usually highlighted by dark blue type. All the photographs benefited by adjustments to brightness, contrast, layout etc., and removal of some of the blemishes that had been acquired with time. Again, I hope that they are now a more faithful rendition of the original scene.


Click here to open the Introduction and Part One (Dorian's parents and Family)
Click here to open Part Two (Dorian's Life)


Copyright (c) M. A. Traill September 2009

Malcolm Adams Traill