Also writes as: Coloniensis
Born: Established: 1820 ; Died: 9 May 1854 Ballarat
George Arden migrated to New South Wales in early 1838. After spending some months in Sydney, he moved to Melbourne where he formed a partnership with Thomas Strode (q.v.) and established the Port Phillip Gazette. According to Arden's biography in the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition (ADB), Arden 'published, and probably wrote, the first original poem on Melbourne to be printed there'. That poem, under the simple title 'Melbourne' was published under the authorship of 'Coloniensis'. The following year, Arden wrote and published Latest information with regard to Australia Felix: The Finest Province of the Great Territory of New South Wales; Including the History, Geography, Natural Resources, Government, Commerce, and Finances of Port Phillip; Sketches of the Aboriginal Population, and Advice to Immigrants.
Arden faced legal challenges and bankruptcy during his residence in the Port Phillip District. He clashed with Judge John Willis (who referred to Arden as the 'lowest and most degraded man that ever stood in the witness-box', Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 1842) and he lost the Gazette through financial failure.
In late 1843, Arden commenced Arden's Sydney Magazine, but this publication lasted for only two issues. Arden returned to England between 1844 and 1846, and then resumed his life in the Port Phillip District. ADB states that he bought land near Queenscliff in 1850, but 'failed to re-establish himself'. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald in May 1850, says that Arden left Port Phillip by the William Watson, headed for California. He subsequently made his way to Honolulu where he received the appointment of 'Private Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Relations at the Court of his Majesty King Kamehameha the Second, Sovereign of the Sandwich Islands' on a salary of £200 per annum.
Arden returned to Australia for one last sojourn. His life ended in Ballarat. He was found dead on Bakery Hill on Tuesday, 9 May 1854. According to a report published in the Argus, the jury returned the following verdict: 'Died from suffocation, the result of intemperance, having fallen into a trench full of water'. The Argus offered the opinion that Arden was 'possessed of considerable talents, a good education, and liberal opinions; and both as a speaker and writer he was ready and fluent enough. Long since, however, he fell into habits of intemperance, and sank through all the various shades of degradation which so frequently accompany that debasing vice. Never were fair prospects more wantonly wrecked; never was a painful and humiliating career brought to a more sorrowful or characteristic termination'. (12 May 1854)
Major source: P. L. Brown, 'Arden, George (1820-1854)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/arden-george-1714/text1869
In relation to the poem 'Melbourne', the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition states: 'in January 1839 he [George Arden] published, and probably wrote, the first original poem on Melbourne to be printed there'. On this basis, AustLit has linked the poem's author 'Coloniensis' with Arden.