1815: Association copy of the first book printed in British Ceylon
A Grammar of the Cingalese Language.
Colombo printed at the Government Press, by Nicholas Bergman. 1815
First edition pp.[x], 141, . Handsomely bound in maroon morocco, gilt. First few leaves professionally restored. With cut-off inscription at head of title page by William Martin Harvard, dated Colombo 8th November 1815: "... which may be copied by missiona[ries] coming out to the South of Cey[lon] and furnish matter for study on the voyage," and with the bookplate of Richmond College, Surrey inside front cover.
Rhodes p.74; Goonetileke 7900
The first grammar of Sinhalese in English to be printed, and the first substantial book printed in British Ceylon. In his preface Chater states "So far as the writer of the following pages has been able to ascertain, no other English gentleman has made any attempt to prepare a Grammar of the Cingalese language for publication; nor since the year 1699, any European." This earlier work was Joannes Ruell's Grammatica, of Singaleesche Taal-kunst (Amsterdam, 1708). Chater was the first Baptist missionary in Ceylon, arriving in 1812. He modelled this work on the Bengali grammar compiled by his fellow Baptist, William Carey at Serampore. The large Sinhalese types used were those designed much earlier by the Dutch, whose Government press the British simply took over with their conquest of Colombo in 1796. A number of Government documents and Regulations were printed from 1811, and the Ceylon Calendar was printed in 1814, but this was the first book to be printed under British Rule in Ceylon when Nicholas Bergman became Head Printer in 1815. William Martin Harvard was one of the first Weslyan missionaries in Ceylon and historian of the mission.