# 14967

MEDHURST, W.H. (Walter Henry), 1796-1857

Chinese dialogues; questions, and familiar sentences, literally rendered into English, with a view to promote commercial intercourse, and to assist beginners in the language.

$6,000.00 AUD

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Shanghae (Shangai) : Printed at the Mission Press, 1844. First edition. Octavo, contemporary cloth backed marbled papered boards (heavily rubbed, corners worn, backstrip lifting, front hinge cracked), front free-endpaper inscribed in ink in a contemporary hand ‘Curious China Expositor’ and with early owners’ names in ink and faint pencil (tear at fore-edge), pp viii, 782 (i.e. 287); text in Chinese (in Chinese and roman characters) and English; title (p.i) with loss at top edge affecting first line of text, pp vii-viii with edge tear, occasional early owner’s pencilled annotations, else internally remarkably clean and fresh.

The first European work printed in Shanghai.

Walter Henry Medhurst, an English Congregational missionary, was one of the first translators of the Bible into Chinese. During 25 years of service with the London Missionary Society in Malacca, Penang and Batavia from 1816 onwards, Medhurst became proficient in several Chinese dialects as well as Malay. In 1842 he was sent to Shanghai, where, with William Lockhart, he founded the London Missionary Society Press. Medhurst’s Chinese dialogues, intended as an extension of Morrison’s out of print Dialogues, was the first book published at the Press. Its principal aim was to provide the anglophone user with the language resources required to conduct commercial transactions in Chinese.

Medhurst states in the Preface: ‘Some apology must here be offered for the typographical execution. It being the first European work ever printed in Shanghae, and the native workmen having all to be taught de novo, symmetry and perfection will not be looked for. Towards the middle of the volume a few sheets appear rather indistinct [notably pages 97-100], from the circumstance of our printing ink having run short, but an effort to manufacture ink on the spot at length succeeded, and a clearer page was the result.’

Revised editions of Medhurst’s Dialogues were printed in 1861 and 1863.

Lust 1021

Very rare. OCLC locates only 3 copies (two in Danish libraries and the other in the Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig). The last copy we can trace at auction was sold by Anderson Galleries in 1909.