London. Luzac & Co. 1895. First edition. Stock ID #155822
vi +  + 575pp + xipp, index, 19th century full morocco binding recased with backstrip laid down, modern endpapers, gilt dentelles. Presentation plate laid down front paste down, "Presented to Mr. George Thomas Crook by His Brother Journalists, on the Eve of his Departure from the Colony, April 6th, 1898". From the library of Arthur Hacker, Hong Kong journalist, artist, author and collector. By and large it is fair to say that, like the man himself, Eitel’s History of Hong Kong has stood the test of time.
Rather than be influenced by the mixed reaction that Eitel and his book attracted in his own day, some of Hong Kong’s leading scholars, past and present, have seen fit to provide a more balanced appraisal of both over the past sixty years. Among their number were historian George Endacott and sociologist Henry Lethbridge earlier in this period, and more recently, the educationalist Anthony Sweeting and the legal historian Peter Wesley-Smith.
Endacott led the way in his article, “A Hong Kong History, Europe in China by E.J. Eitel: The Man and the Book” (Journal of Oriental Studies, Vol.4 (1957/58, pp.41-65). Well qualified to give an opinion after his extensive work in the Colonial Office archives, and notwithstanding some candid and detailed criticism in the course of his appraisal, Endacott had no hesitation in assessing the History favourably. “Many”, he wrote in his opening paragraph, “will echo the author of this brief essay in expressing gratitude to a local historian who has placed all his successors so splendidly in his debt”. And so they have, as interested readers can see from the essays penned by the other scholars named herein and listed at the foot of this brief notice. Besides the History, Eitel’s contributions to historical literature stem from his fully recognized abilities as a Sinologue p.45 of Endacott's article), and include some which are still in demand and are available in reprint editions. A full list of Eitel's published works is provided in the last two pages of Endacott’s article, and much of them represent his Sinological books and other contributions. It should be noted that among the articles and notes listed as having been published in the China Review (of which Eitel was for long editor) No.31, “Supplementary Notes on the History of Hong Kong, 1882-1890”, together with Nos.27 and 29 are also relevant.
See also the balanced appraisals in H.J. Lethbridge's Introduction to the Oxford University Press’s reprint of Europe in China (Hong Kong, 1983, pp.v-xvi); Anthony Sweeting’s article "E.J. Eitel’s Europe in China: A Reappraisal of the Messages and the Man" in Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol.48 (2008) pp.89-109; and the shorter notice of Eitel in Peter Wesley-Smith’s latest contribution in May Holdsworth and Chistopher Munn (co-editors) Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography (Hong Kong University Press, 2012) at pp.132-134, in which he states inter alia that the History is “notable for the role it gives to Chinese community leaders in the colony’s early development”.
This copy has a particularly interesting provenance as it was given as a gift to George Thomas Crook (1873 - ?) on his departure from Hong Kong in 1898. Crook was an English journalist who worked at the Daily Press in Hong Kong from January 1895 until his departure. Prior to his arrival in Hong Kong Crook had worked at the Birmingham Daily Mail (1886-94)and on return to England worked at the Daily Mirror and Daily Express.
An attractive presentation plate is laid down on the upper pastedown signed by 12 "brother" journalists in April 1898. These journalists whose signatures appear on it hailed from a variety of newspapers. Many of them were well known journalists of the day including the following:
T. Cowen [Thomas Clark Cowen], who worked in the Far East from 1893. He was on the staff of the Hong Kong Telegraph, reported on the Sino-Japanese and Spanish-American Wars and joined the Japan Times in 1906.
G.C. Cox (Hong Kong Daily Press, staff 1893 - 1898); Jabez Potts on the staff of the Daily Press (Hong Kong) between 1898 - 1904?;
Chesney Duncan, who had a distinguished career in East Asia working as a journalist on many of the best newspapers of the day, including the Hong Kong Telegraph, Japan Gazette, Shanghai Mercury, China Mail, Daily Mail (for whom he was special correspondent during the Boxer Rebellion), Times of Malaya and China Republican. A social activist he was took a leading role in the Sunday Labour Ordinance movement to abolish unnecessary labour on Sunday. The resulting legislation was used as a model when it was passed in other British Crown Colonies. He was also the awarded gold medal for his services during plague epidemic in Hong Kong, 1894.
Colin McDonald Smart, China Mail (Hong Kong), staff at 1898.
Thomas H. Reid joined the staff of the China Mail (Hong Kong) in 1892, he also served as The Times Hong Kong Correspondent for 3 years in the 1890s, reported on the Spanish American War leaving East Asia in the first years of the 20th century.
George Murray Bain joined the China Mail in 1864 as a sub-editor, rising to editor and then in 1872 the proprietor of the newspaper. He played a very active part in Hong Kong life.
An attractive and particularly interesting copy of the standard history of 19th century Hong Kong. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 155822).