Full title … An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, with Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners etc of the Native Inhabitants of That Country, to which is Added some Particulars of New Zealand from the MSS of Lieutenant Governor King
A first edition published by T. Cadell Jnr and W Davies, The Strand, London 1798.
Quarto, bound in half calf over marbled boards. Gilt title on separate red leather title label, gilt decorations to compartments between five raised bands. 680 pages complete including list of plates at rear which someone has ticked off. Frontispiece chart, 18 copper engraved full page plates (magnificent), a further 4 engraved illustrations within the text and a large folding chart. Very little wear and a very good copy aside from some foxing on pages close to the engravings.
This account is the last published of the First Fleet Journals. In its content and style it represents the earliest history of Australia as an English Colonial settlement … the others being more personal narratives. This is the first edition published 1798 as a single volume with the fine engravings taken from water colours by Edward Dayes who in turn took them from drawings by convict artist Thomas Watling. A second volume or was later published in 1802 with an update on the intervening period. This second volume is extremely scarce.
David Collins was Secretary to First Governor Arthur Phillip. At an early age he had joined the Marines and had seen action in the American War of Independence. In 1786 he volunteered for the First Fleet as Deputy Judge Advocate in the Marines. After two years instructions were received that the Marines were to return to England. Collins decided to remain at some personal cost. On Phillip’s departure in 1792 he stayed and helped hold the fort until Hunter arrived in 1795. Collins left the next year and two years later this account was published. From his central role he was in the perfect position to chronicle the events at the Colony as they unfolded.
Goings on at Norfolk Island are included and the engraving of the township Sydney on Norfolk Island is particularly well done.
The frontispiece chart comprises the Three Harbours of Botany Bay, Port Jackson and Broken Bay and the cultivated grounds in and around the different settlements, with the Course of the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean, and the situation of the wild cattle to the westward.
The fine full page views include … the Governor’s House at Rose Hill; by Water to Paramatta with a distant view of the Western Mountains; Eastern view of Sydney; Western View of Sydney Cove; Direct South View of Sydney; South East View of Sydney including the Church; North View of Sydney Cove; The Brick Field, or High Road to Parramatta; View of Sydney in Norfolk Island;
There is also an unusual folding chart of New Zealand drawn by Too-gee.
Of further interest is Collin’s sympathetic comments regarding the aboriginal people and his lengthy Appendix is a special work in itself … he covers their Government and Religion; Stature and Appearance; Habitations; Mode of Living; Courtship and Marriage; Customs and Manners; Superstitions; Diseases; Property; Dispositions; Funeral Ceremonies and Language. The nine full size engraved plates, detailing the initiation of young men and the custom of the removal of a front tooth, are extra special and represent the very first ethnographically accurate portrayal of the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Sydney region.
Collins First Fleet Journal – First Edition 1798