Reflections on New South Wales. Translated by Thomas Cullity
FREYCINET, Louis de
Price: 4,250.00 AUD
Sydney: Hordern House, 2001. Large quarto, 310 x 225 mm, xxxii + 670 pp., with a portrait, twenty maps and illustrations and eight colour plates; original quarter vellum and glazed boards. One of just twenty-eight copies of the special issue on large paper: this was the deluxe version of the only edition in English of Freycinet's comprehensive examination of early New South Wales, one of the most important historical texts to deal with Australian settlement, and especially with the city of Sydney. The original publication, itself limited to 300 copies, sold out in a few days; this special issue was prepared in a large quarto format, in a specially commissioned binding by Newbold and Collins. It too sold out rapidly. Publishers sometimes create special issues of their books re-imposed on especially large paper with wide margins. For this issue using the large proof sheets prepared for the work the bindery retained the largest possible margins, making the page format 310 x 225 mm (as against the standard edition at 245 x 177 mm). The colour plates remain at their actual printed page size, as was usually the case with such issues of colour-plate books in the nineteenth century. Freycinet's text, which appeared as chapters 29 to 40 of the 'Historique' section of Freycinet's Voyage autour du monde, was compiled from direct observations, ideas or comments by Freycinet himself as well as by his travelling companions in the Uranie voyage - Quoy, the chief surgeon, the naturalist Gaimard, and the artists Arago and Pellion - and from information attributed to conversations and correspondence with the leading citizens in the colony - Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie, John Macarthur, and Judge Barron Field, to name just a few. The late Thomas Cullity, with the help of Katharine Pratt and Jen and Bernice Pasquier, took on the formidable task of making this sometimes very complex text readily accessible to the English-speaking reader. Reflections on New South Wales provides a unique insight into the first fifty years of the colony's development. 'We have tried to demonstrate how a vast country that only recently was wild and almost empty, had passed from its primitive barbaric state to that degree of brilliant prosperity that makes it today the wonder of Europe' wrote Freycinet, one of the most articulate and exacting explorers ever to visit colonial Australia. His two visits to the colony, in 1802 and 1819, afforded him a unique opportunity to examine in detail the first English settlers and their interaction with the indigenous people, the complexities of the first legal system established in New South Wales, the health and welfare establishments, and the first educational facilities. With a finely-tuned and cultivated eye he observed the towns and their buildings, and recorded in detail the social and literary development of the colonial city. The binding chosen for this special publication was a traditional quarter binding using English vellum for the spine, and old green glazed linen from a vintage bolt of cloth in store for the sides. The vellum was supplied by the English firm which still supplies vellum and parchment to the British Houses of Parliament for official documents. In mint condition.