1822: "published in very small numbers and are rare or impossible to find"
A grammar of the high dialect of the Tamil language, termed Shen-Tamil:
to which is added, an introduction to Tamil poetry. By the Reverend Father C. J. Beschi, Jesuit missionary in the kingdom of Madura. Translated from the original Latin by Benjamin Guy Babington, of the Madras Civil Service. Madras printed at the College Press 1822
First English edition. 4to, 30 x 23 cm; pp.[ii], xii, v, [1, blank], 117, [1, blank]. Contemporary Indian half calf over marbled boards, spine gilt; rebacked, retaining original spine, boards somewhat rubbed; but a crisp copy with wide margins. A number of sheets with manuscript notes in Tamil and a letter, also in Tamil, addressed "To the Revd Mr Mowat / Negapatam", loose at front; bookplate of the British and Foreign Bible Society to front pastedown, recording presentation by Miss Mowat on 4 June 1907; their shelfmark in white ink to spine.
Beschi's grammars were translated from the Latin and published a century after their compilation, pressed into service as linguistic aids for students at the College of Fort St. George, Madras. The East India Company viewed Persian and Urdu as more immediately useful than Tamil, leading to a marked paucity of useful printed texts at Madras, as contrasted with the relative Urdu abundance at the College of Fort William in Calcutta. These early Madras imprints are correspondingly rare. Babington stresses that there can be no serious understanding of South Indian culture without first knowing classical Tamil: "For those who aspire to read their works of science, or to explore their systems of morality, an acquaintance with the Shen Tamil, or polished dialect, in which all their valuable books were written, and all their learning is contained, is quite indispensable". Benjamin Guy Babington, was Assistant to the Secretary to the Board of Revenue at Madras 1812-19, before returning to London to study medicine, going on to a successful career as a doctor, whilst maintaining his interest in oriental languages and affairs. Reverend James Mowat of the Wesleyan Missionary Society arrived at Negapatam in 1821; it seems likely that he acquired this work shortly after its publication and that it then passed by descent to Miss Mowat.