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WARD, William.

Account of the Writings, Religion, and Manners, of the Hindoos:

including Translations from their Principal Works.

Serampore: At the Mission Press, 1811 Stock Code: 102883
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The first volume was first published in 1806, but no copies traced, this full edition being issued in 1811 from the Mission Press that Ward laboured so hard to establish. Extremely uncommon, just one set traced at auction, maybe 20 locations institutionally. Trained as a printer, and working in that capacity on various newspapers in the Midlands, and then in Hull at the Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette, Ward had suffered from severe spiritual crises - 'fierce volcano fires not to be quenched by a mere sprinkling of words' - before he was baptised at Hull in 1796. He subsequently attended "the theological academy of John Fawcett at Halifax, where he studied for a year and a half. In the autumn of 1798 a member of the committee of the newly founded Baptist Missionary Society visited and Ward offered himself as a missionary, influenced perhaps by a remark made to him in 1793 by William Carey concerning the need of a printer in the Indian mission field. He sailed from England in the Criterion in May 1799, in company with Joshua Marshman, Daniel Brunsdon, William Grant, and their families. On arriving at Calcutta the party was prevented from joining Carey by an order from the East India Company government, and was obliged to proceed to the Danish settlement of Serampore, where they were joined by Carey" (ODNB). While in India Ward was mainly concerned with the establishment and running of the press, "by means of which the Bible, translated into Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, and more than twenty other languages, was disseminated throughout India. Numerous philological works were also issued". The press burnt down just a year after the printing of the present work, "the moulds for casting fresh type, however, were recovered from the debris, and by the liberality of friends in Great Britain the loss was soon repaired".

In 1819 ill-health forced Ward to return to England, where he spent his time in fund-raising for a new college to instruct "Bengalis in European literature and science". Tours of Scotland, Germany, Holland and the United States followed, and in 1821 he returned to India "bearing 3000 for the new college, which had been founded during his absence and which still survives". Ward died of cholera at Serampore in 1823 and was buried in the mission burial-ground there. Despite his onerous duties in connection with the press, and his missionary work Ward was also the author of a number of publications, of which the present is "much the most important Although Ward did not mince his words in his condemnation of 'Hindoo idolatry', he did comment favourably on the literary and philological achievements of Hindu scholars, and in later versions modified somewhat the harshness of his strictures on Hinduism. Despite some serious inaccuracies, Ward's work remains without parallel as a detailed account by a European observer of Hindu society and religion in early nineteenth-century Bengal". An appealing set of this important and uncommon early work of South Asian anthropology.

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4 volumes quarto (237 x 183 mm). Near contemporary half calf, green pimple-grained cloth, titles gilt direct to spines, low narrow bands with gilt dotted roll, enclosed between double gilt rolls, dog-tooth roll to spine and corner edges, edges sprinkled red, marbled endpapers. Perhaps a "native" binding.


All errata leaves present.


Somewhat rubbed, particularly at the extremities, errata leaf to volume I lacking the top corner, no loss, now repaired, foxing front and back, and typical browning throughout, but remains a very good set indeed.


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