2007 年 2008 巻 40 号 p. 37-53
An original of Igirisubunten, the first English grammar reprinted in Japan in script in 1857 directly from a grammar written in English, and of another Igirisubunten, which was printed in type first in 1861 and went through many editions, was found to be in the possession of the British Library. The original book was brought to Japan by John Manjiro in 1851, when he returned to closed Japan at the risk of his life. It was known to be “THE ELEMENTARY CATECHISMS. ENGLISH GRAMMAR. LONDON : GROOMBRIDGE & SONS, PATERSOSTER ROW, 1850” as printed in each title page of most of the Japanese editions. However, there have been no reports on other bibliographical information or the place where such a book is being kept.
The book was found to be No. 5 of the 12 volumes in a series of THE ELEMENTARY CATECHISMS FOR HOME AND SCHOOL. It is 13.3 × 8.8 cm in size, which is smaller than any of the Japanese editions which had the nickname for its smallness and thinness. On the whole, the 9 different Japanese editions appear to be fairly faithful reprints of the original. The absence of the titles of “Lesson 44” and “Lesson 45” in the text, which is present in all of the Japanese editions, was found to be that of the original. The series were prepared by the editors of The Family Economist (1848- 1860); a penny monthly magazine devoted to the moral, physical, and domestic improvement of the industrial classes. They aimed to publish a series of Catechisms “with completeness, precision, and simplicity at an exceedingly low price of 4 pence each.”
In the course of the search for an original, a copy of Igirisubunten in the possession of the Newberry Library, Chicago, happened to be found. It has a dark brown cover to which a title slip is attached in the center. This is the fifth copy identified, and the first found abroad. The four copies in Japan consist of one copy just like this and three copies with a yellowish cover to which a title slip is attached in the upper right hand corner. Their contents are identical.
I am grateful to Dr. Avery A. Sandberg for locating the copy of Igirisubunten at the Newberry Library and for his critical reading of the English. I would like to thank librarians at various libraries, especially Katie McMahon and Will Hansen at the Newberry Library, and Hiroshi Matsumoto, ex-librarian at Waseda University Library. I thank Hiromi Fukasawa for her assistance including some important findings; and Yutaka Ishihara for his assistance and for reading this manuscript. This article is dedicated to the memory of my husband.