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Title in Cree Syllabics=] [Kanachi kichi - Williams, Mason, & James Evans, trans - 1861. 
London: printed for the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1861. 8vo, pp. , 855, ; text in Cree syllabics; publisher's calf blindstamped with a large central lozenge and decorative blindstamped borders on covers, smooth spine lettered in gilt; joints rubbed and partially cracked, front hinge loosening, top and bottom of spine chipped, back board slighly bent at the top; a good copy in a new brown cloth clamshell box. Bookplate of Edward Everett Ayer, and a duplicate from the Ayer Collection at the Newberry. Old bibliographic notes on front endpapers, including one stating "Syllabic: the Indians can learn to read it in 6 to 8 hours ... Miss[ionary]. Society in 1861 asked for 5000 copies." And another: Mrs. Mason had come over to England for her health, she has chiefly assisted her husband and just lived in 1862 to see the last verse of Malachithe New Testament having been printed before." Pilling, Algonquin, 339-40: "The New Testament portion was also issued separately ... Although the three works last [listed byPilling] have the name of Rev. William Mason on their respective title pages, denial has been made in a number of instances that they were translated by him. In a biography of the Rev. Mr. Steinhauer in the Missionary Outlook for Jan. 1881, published in Toronto, there occurs the following passage: 'When the Rev. James Evans went to the North-West in 1840, he was already meditating the possibility of reducing the Cree tongue to writing. In this he succeeded, by inventing what is known as the syllabic characters. Mr. Evans not only invented the characters, but cut the first type in which an attempt was made to print them. Soon after, the work of translating the scriptures began and it was in this work that Bro. Steinhauer rendered efficient service in conjunction with John Sinclair, a half-breed, afterwards employed as a native assistant at Oxford House... The manuscript of these translations was entrusted to the Rev. Mr. Mason, who was now a missionary of the Church of England at York Factory. He took it to England where the work of printing was undertaken by the British and Foreign Bible Society. When the work was passing through the press, Mr. Mason, with characteristic modesty but very questionable morality, had his own name printed on the title page as the translator of the work. Subsequently, after the death of James Evans, Mason claimed to have been the inventor of the syllabic characters..." Ayer, Cree, 6; Darlow & Moule 3130: "The N.T. and the O.T. were both issued separately, as well as bound together." Peel, Prairie Provinces, 227: "Although Mason's name appeared on the title page as translator, it was a cooperative effort by the missionary group at Rossville [mission]..." Pilling, Proof Sheets, 2493.
[Bookseller: Rulon-Miller Books]
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