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The State and Position of Western Australia
London,: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1835.. Octavo, a little dusted, neat owner's inscriptions, bookplate; a very good tall copy in worn and bumped but charming maroon calico, a little frayed at spine, original paper label chipped, unusual pen markings to front board. First edition, uncommon. Irwin's book was the first significant published account of the Swan River colony, and is a charming and informative work, devised partly as an advertisement for emigration.Frederick Irwin (1788-1860) saw active service in Spain, Portugal, Canada and Ceylon. In 1828, while holding the rank of captain, he assumed command of a detachment of the 63rd Regiment (himself, a fellow officer, and 66 other ranks) which was ordered to provide military protection to the fledgling Swan River settlement. Arriving on the Sulphur in June 1829, Irwin spent four years in the colony before returning to England for a few years. A keen promoter of the new colony, while in London Irwin helped form the Western Australian Association, and it was during this period that the present work was published.Despite his unflinching report on some conflict with the local tribes, overall there is a sympathetic and positive account of the aborigines. The book includes nine appendices of which two are extracts reprinted from the 'W.A. Journal' 1834-1835 regarding Aboriginal matters. One appendix is a proposal for a 'Native institution' in the immediate vicinity of the nascent colony at Perth, an 'experiment of civilizing the natives' under the supervision of one Mr. Armstrong, fluent in the native language. This exercise in goodwill is motivated by 'a disposition to doing the natives good' so that they may be free from violence 'whether from each other or from white people', medical aid and a regular food supply. The most important of the nine clauses emphasises the role of the Governor as Aboriginal protector 'as long as they behave well they shall not be molested by any one, whether black or white; and if they are, the Governor will take their part.'This proposal is followed by an extraordinary account of two trackers - "Migo" and "Molly-Dobbin" who found a lost child after a long and frustrating search through 22 miles of dunes and thick scrub. The trackers persevere when hope is perishing, and are delighted 'beyond all conception' when the boy is finally found...'we cannot but esteem the act, and highly applaud the noble disposition of these two savages.'The Davidson copy, with the earlier manuscript owner's names of Anne Disney and Anna June Milligan. This copy does not have the advertisement leaves sometimes seen (and assumed to be present in slightly later issues).Ferguson, 1973.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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