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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Smith, James (Vic)

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Smith, James, the eminent Victorian journalist, was born near Maidstone, in the county of Kent, and took to literary pursuits before he was out of his teens. He contributed occasionally to the London Punch, which brought him into connection with Douglas Jerrold, with whom he was associated in the Illuminated Magazine, for which he wrote regularly. Mr. Smith was appointed at the age of twenty editor of the Herts County Press, and afterwards took the editorship of the Salisbury Journal, which he held from 1849 to 1854, and organised in that city the first provincial exhibition held in England. Mr. Smith went out to Australia at the end of 1854, and joined the staff of the Argus in 1856, as leader-writer, fine art and dramatic critic, and has been uninterruptedly connected with that journal ever since. In the first-named capacity he called public attention to the importance of forming reservoirs and introducing artificial irrigation, and also of preserving the mountain forests from destruction. He likewise advocated the institution of a National Gallery, and was one of the founders and the second editor of Melbourne Punch, also editor of the first evening paper, The Evening Mail, published in Melbourne. Mr. Smith was Librarian to the Parliament from 1863 to 1868, when the office was abolished, because his political opinions were regarded as hostile to those of the Government of the day. While there he re-modelled, catalogued, and classified the library. Mr. Smith has been a public lecturer for thirty-six years, and wrote a three-act drama, Garibaldi, successfully produced at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Melbourne, in 1860, also a farce entitled A Broil at the Café, played at the Theatre Royal. Mr. Smith has published "Rural Records" (two editions), 1848; "Oracles from the British Poets," 1851; "Wilton and its Associations," 1851; "Lights and Shadows of Artist Life and Character," 1853; "From Melbourne to Melrose," 1888.