A Descriptive Vocabulary of the Native Language of W. Australia...
Rome, Printed at the Press of the S.C. De Propaganda Fide, 1845.
Ducodecimo, 50 pp., imprimatur; an excellent copy in the original plain yellow paper wrappers.
A superb copy of this rare and interesting vocabulary of a Western Australian Aboriginal language, designed for use in the Western Australian missions and particularly for the famous Benedictine settlement at New Norcia, north of Perth.
John Brady, an Irishman, was persuaded to offer his services to the Australian mission while visiting Rome in 1837. Originally detailed for Norfolk Island, he actually ended up for several years the chaplain at Windsor near Sydney. It was during this time that he first became interested in Aboriginal languages, an interest which he continued after being sent by Bishop Polding to the Swan River settlement in 1843. He established a church in Perth within months, and was soon consecrated as Bishop of Perth. Sailing for Europe to garner support for his fledgling mission, he published his Descriptive vocabulary in both English and Italian versions, before returning in 1846 together with an ill-suited array of friends and supporters, whose attempts at cooperation quickly foundered. Most notable among the group of 27 missionaries who sailed with Brady was the famous Dom Salvado, later associated with the New Norcia mission.
Although Brady left Western Australia in 1852 after several run-ins with church authorities, he never resigned his see, and was still Bishop of Perth when he died in France in 1871.
This English edition was followed by the Italian version. The two editions of his vocabulary were Brady's only published works, and this is by far the rarer of the two. Ferguson knew this first issue from two copies, his own, and one in the South African Public Library. It is now known to be held in the State Library of New South Wales and the National Library of Australia.