An Address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies, Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island. By the Rev. Richard Johnson, A.B. Chaplain to the Colonies. Written in the year 1792. Richard JOHNSON.
An Address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies, Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island. By the Rev. Richard Johnson, A.B. Chaplain to the Colonies. Written in the year 1792.
An Address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies, Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island. By the Rev. Richard Johnson, A.B. Chaplain to the Colonies. Written in the year 1792.

An Address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies, Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island…
An Address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies, Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island. By the Rev. Richard Johnson, A.B. Chaplain to the Colonies. Written in the year 1792.

London: the Author, 1794.

Duodecimo in sixes; original stab holes visible in inner margins, a tall copy with excellent margins in later quarter morocco, lilac endpapers; a fine copy, preserved in quarter morocco bookform box.

The first book for Australia: the rarest First Fleet book

Extremely rare: one of the least known First Fleet books and the only one published for distribution in Australia itself. Johnson had this tract printed in London to be handed out among his convict parishioners throughout New South Wales and Norfolk Island -- an audience which explains its great rarity today and the poor condition of most extant copies.

Extremely rare: one of the least known First Fleet books and the only one published for distribution in Australia itself. Johnson had this tract printed in London to be handed out among his convict parishioners throughout New South Wales and Norfolk Island -- an audience which explains its great rarity today and the poor condition of most extant copies.

No mere exhortatory tract addressed to sinners in the abstract, Johnson's Address is directed specifically to the conditions of society at Port Jackson and the persons who make up that society, whether convict or military. It is the very peculiarity of that orphaned society which forms the underlying theme of the tract. His difficulties with the military hierarchy are well-known and his unbending, indeed methodistical, Christianity was not well suited to the peculiar conditions of Port Jackson. Antagonism towards the officers, who in many cases must have seemed to be doing their best not to give good example, is apparent when he admonishes his audience against fornication. Here, when Johnson so clearly criticizes military concubinage and Phillip's indulgence of their "wickedness", one is reminded that he was addressing all "the British and other European inhabitants".

'Consider, also, what must be the consequence of that unclean and adulterous course of life, which many of you follow. Common as this wickedness is in our colony (I believe nowhere more so) do not suppose, that the frequency will take away, or in the least abate the criminality of it. Neither suppose that this sin is less odious in the sight of God if committed in Port Jackson, than in England. You may frame excuses or plead necessity, for what you do, or permit to be done; but the word of God… admits of no plea, or excuse… Thou shalt not commit adultery, is equally binding upon persons of all ranks, to whom it is known, at all times, and in all places… [a 17-line jeremiad follows]… But I need not enlarge upon this subject [!], I have told you my thoughts of it again and again with faithfulness. It seems the plainness of my language has hurt the delicate feelings of some; and the faithfulness I have used has excited the censure and ill-will of others…' (pp. 57-9).

The last is an unfair dig at Phillip, who did his best to encourage morality in the peculiar circumstances created by the imbalance between the sexes. Johnson, too, did his best and his generosity and true compassion for his ordinary parishioners -- convicts and marine privates -- was as significant an element in the character of early Australian society and its development as was Phillip's courageous egalitarianism.

This is a particularly clean and unusually tall copy of this very rare book.

Provenance: Private collection (Sydney).

Ferguson, 187; Wantrup, 23.

Condition Report: Some very light soiling in places consistent with age; a very attractive copy.

Price (AUD): $32,000.00

US$23,765.78   Other currencies

Ref: #4504234

Condition Report