A grammar of the Chinese language … by the Rev. Robert Morrison. 

Serampore, printed at the Mission-Press, 1815. 

4to, pp. vi, [2 (errata)], 280; with Chinese characters to title and throughout; small hole to 2H3 (touching headline only), small wormtrack to lower margins towards end, a little light browning and foxing; overall a very good copy in twentieth-century brown cloth, gilt red morocco lettering-piece to spine; a little wear to extremities, some spotting to covers, endpapers browned; some later marginal pencil annotations in English and Chinese.


US $4585€4253

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A grammar of the Chinese language … by the Rev. Robert Morrison. 

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First edition, rare on the market, of this pioneering Chinese grammar by the missionary and eminent scholar of Chinese, Robert Morrison (1782–1834), described here in his preface as ‘the first work of the kind in English’. 

Morrison joined the London Missionary Society in 1804 with a view to missionary work in China, eventually arriving in Canton in 1807 where he was appointed translator to the East India Company two years later.  He worked tirelessly, in the face of considerable obstacles, on this grammar, on his Chinese dictionary (his magnum opus), and on translations of the scriptures, becoming the ‘chief person who opened to his countrymen the road to the knowledge of the language of China’ (ODNB). 

Although completed in 1811 (the date of the preface), Morrison’s manuscript of his Grammar languished in the hands of the Bengal Government for years, before eventually being printed at the Serampore Mission Press at the expense of the East India Company in 1815.  The press had been founded by Baptist missionaries in Danish India in 1800 and operated until 1837. 

Cordier, Sinica 1661; Lust 1023.  The last copy recorded at auction by Rare Book Hub was in 1992. 

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