London. HMSO. 1883- 1905. Stock ID #150304
Reports included in this collection are:
China No.1 (1883). Despatch from Her Majesty's Chargé D'Affaires at Peking, Forwarding a Report by Mr. A. Hosie, Student Interpreter in the China Consular Service of a Journey through the Provinces of Kueichow and Yünnan. 37pp.
China No.2 (1884). Report by Mr. Hosie of a Journey through the Provinces of Ssu-Ch'uan, Yünnan, and Kuei Chou: February 11 to June 14, 1883. 95pp.
China No.2 (1885). Report by Mr. Hosie of a Journey through Central Ssu-Ch'uan in June and July, 1884. 37pp. First 6 pages evenly browned.
China No.5 (1904). Report by Consul-General Hosie on the Province of Ssŭch'uan. 2 folding black and white maps. 100pp. Last leaf of text and the two maps detached but present. 1904.
China No.1 (1905). Report by Mr. A. Hosie, His Majesty's Consul-General at Chengtu, on a Journey to the Eastern Frontier of Thibet. Folding colour map. 87pp.
Disbound, each report separate. Quarto. Very good copies. These five reports by (Sir) Alexander Hosie (1853-1925) of the British Consular Service in China record journeys he made in Western China in the early 1880s and again in the early 1900s. They were all considered valuable by the British Ministers to China of the day, and were printed for the information of both Houses of the British Parliament.
The earlier reports are mainly on travel in the western provinces, then not as well-explored or well-known as they had become by the time of his later journeys, and one was specifically concerned with investigating insect white wax, a valuable local export commodity and securing specimens of the trees from which it was taken, as requested by the Director of Kew Gardens. Hosie’s accounts create a vivid picture of people and places, officials and soldiers, trade routes and burden bearers, products and scenery, mountains and rivers, and we can form a view of the man himself, and of his humanity. They were all made at first hand, for in his three years in West China, Hosie is credited with having travelled 5,000 miles, mainly on foot and horseback. (P.D. Coates - The China Consuls (Hong Kong, OUP, 1988), p. 313.)
The record of the journey to the Tibetan frontier in mid 1904 took place when a British force crossed into Southern Tibet, overcame opposition, and occupied the capital Lhasa. In fact, Hosie was on the Chinese frontier at that very time, and was not permitted to cross into Tibetan territory. Always a shrewd observer, Hosie was also an accomplished writer who could entertain as well as inform. His account of this journey is one of his best.
The other 1904 publication is devoted to a detailed description of the products of Western China, listed under vegetable, animal and mineral heads, and ends with his opinion that, however desirable, promotion of the export trade by any seem-ingly possible river route was in fact impractical.
Along with Hosie’s reports on other travels conducted in the 1890s when he had twice been British Consul at Newchang in Manchuria, and the account of his later travels to check the location and extent of cultivation of the opium poppy in the early 1910s, the reports on China’s western provinces were also used in the four books which he published on these subjects between 1890 and 1922: namely, Three Years in Western China ….. (editions in 1890 and 1897); Manchuria: Its People, Resources and History (1904); On the Trail of the Opium Poppy …. , two vols, 1914); and Szechuan: Its Products, Industries and Resources, 1922).
These books notwithstanding, the official publications, which contain the original accounts and are well produced (the last two with large folding maps) have an abiding charm and long-term value of their own. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 150304).