Memoirs of a Malayan Family. Written by Themselves. Translated from the Original. - Inscribed - N. Muda, W. Marsden (translator) 1830 - Printed for the Oriental Translation Fund, London - First Edition A very scarce copy of this little work, which was originally written 1756-66 concerning a Dutch East India Company settlement in Sumatra.

With wonderful provenance, as it is
inscribed by Marsden ‘For Charles Wilkins Esq. with the Translator’s love.’ In addition, tipped in is a hand-written note explaining that this book was gifted to Wilkins by Marsden, and then passed from Miss Lucy Wilkins to Felix Seddon, the writer of this note, and finally to his sister Harriet.

Not only was Marsden Wilkins’ solicitor as noted in the letter, but they were close friends. Sir Charles Wilkins was also an orientalist and founding member of the Asiatic Society, both men spoke numerous Asian languages fluently, and had spent many years in the orient. In 1807 Marsden married Wilkins’ daughter Elizabeth. As the letter indicates, the book was then passed on by Lucy Wilkins to Felix Seddon, Professor of Oriental Languages at King's college, London, another multilingual polyglot orientalist, who along with Wilkins had spent 15 years in India.
  William Marsden DCL FRS (1754-1836) was a distinguished Irish orientalist, linguist, numismatist and pioneer in the scientific study of Indonesia. Marsden was preparing to enter Trinity College, Dublin, when in 1770 he was persuaded to follow his brother John into the service of the East India Company in western Sumatra. Arriving there at the age of 16, he was appointed a writer on the Fort Marlborough Establishment but rapidly gained more senior posts, becoming secretary before finally leaving for England in 1779. Throughout his nearly 10 years in Bencoolen (Bangkahulu) in Sumatra, he engaged in intensive study of the languages and peoples there.

When Marsden returned to England, he was encouraged by Sir Joseph Banks and others of the Royal Society to prepare his material for publication. The History of Sumatra that resulted (London, 1783) was the first detailed account of Sumatra to appear in any language. It contained copious material on flora and fauna, economic products, social organisation, religion, language, and much else, all arranged on the current scientific principles. Marsden was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1783. At intervals he operated an East Asian agency house, and from 1795 to 1807 he served as second and then first secretary of the Admiralty, meanwhile continuing to produce scholarly materials on Southeast Asia. His
Dictionary and Grammar of the Malayan Language, begun in 1786, were published in 1812 and form the basis of all subsequent Sumatran linguistics. [Brittanica].

Provenance: Sir Charles Wilkins (1749-1836). Felix John Vaughan Seddon (1798–1865).

(23 x 14.5cm) pp. [2] [2 (tipped in letter from a later owner)] [2] iv 84, 85-88 (publisher’s advertisements). In original paper covered boards, later quarter cloth spine lettered in gilt, and new endpapers.
  Condition: Near fine, in very good covers, hand written letter split along fold with separate piece loosely laid in.   Ref: 109138   Price: HK$ 7,000