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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

Early Maori Grammars

Early Maori Grammars.

The first Maori grammar was written by a Professor Lee, who was assisted by a missionary; you will see in a letter of his which I had bound into the volume, the great difficulties he had to contend with. The second one was published about the same time that Dr. Maunsell's was published. That was a grammar by Dr. Norris. Only one copy was printed; by some mistake the type was lifted, and no other copy could be taken off; it thus became what is called a unicum. This gentleman gave the grammar to a professor in Germany who was a great friend of his, and who had written very much upon the subject of language. I was very anxious that Auckland should have a copy of every grammar that had ever been published in reference to New Zealand. "When asked for this book, the gentleman said that a unicum was of great value, and he did not wish to part with it; but it was suggested to me that it might be obtained through the influence of friends of both parties. I found that I had certain German friends, and amongst them Bunsen, who was German Ambassador in London, some of whose letters to me you will also find in your library. Now, this German professor who possessed this unicum was not only a singularly learned man, but a cheerful one. He said if Sir George Grey would send him a little Cape wine, which he could place on his table whenhe gave dinners to his friends and tell the story of how he had parted with his book, he would be disposed to give it up. When I heard that I told him that I would send him some of the best Cape wines that could be procured. I had a selection of such wines made and forwarded to him. He sent the book to me, beautifully bound in red morocco. Some time afterwards I was informed that he had been made rector of his university, and that in that capacity it was necessary that he should give a series of official dinners. I received information some afterwards that the wine I had sent was most excellent. (Laughter and cheers.) I have put this letter page 25 into the collection too, so that you may see the odd way in which books may be acquired, and you will find I did not disgrace you by giving too small a return for this treasure. There is another way, and perhaps the oddest way, that ever a book was got.