# 44027

HALL, Captain Basil (1788-1844)

Fragments of voyages and travels. Third series. (Signed presentation copy for Orientalist John Crawfurd)

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Edinburgh : Robert Cadell, 1833. Three volumes, duodecimo, contemporary half calf over marbled papered boards (edges and panels rubbed), spine in compartments with raised bands, ruled in gilt, contrasting morocco title label lettered in gilt; Vol. 1 with a presentation inscription on the half-title ‘Jno. Crawfurd Esq. From his Old Fellow Traveller and Friend, the Author 27th Apr. 1833, London’ [i.e. John Crawfurd, Scottish Orientalist, East India Company employee, and diplomat], Vol. 2 with the ownership inscription of Horatia Crawford (John Crawfurd’s wife, Horatia Ann Perry, d.1855) on the half-title, all three volumes with a gift inscription on the front free-endpaper ‘Constance [Txxxxxx?], the gift of her father May 29th 1863’; engraved title pages (each a little foxed), pp. viii; 363; 325; 328, folding facsimile of a Walter Scott letter at the conclusion of the third volume; very clean throughout, a good set with a wonderful association.

Basil Hall was a Scottish-born British naval officer. After serving in the Napoleonic Wars he travelled widely – to India, East Asia, South Africa and North America. Hall kept detailed journals, and published a number of travel accounts, of which one of the main narratives is Fragments of voyages and travels, published in series over a number of years between 1831 – 1840. This is a complete set of the Third Series, a self-contained work in itself which provides an account of Hall’s time in Ceylon, India, and Borneo, together with (in the third volume) essays on naval practices.

Hall gifted the present set to his old friend, the renowned Orientalist and colonial administrator John Crawfurd, whose private collection of Malay, Bugis and Javanese manuscripts now resides in the British Library.

‘John Crawfurd (born August 13, 1783, Islay Island, Argyll [now in Argyll and Bute], Scotland—died May 11, 1868, London, England) was a Scottish Orientalist and East India Company employee who successfully combined scholarship and diplomatic abilities. Trained as a doctor in Edinburgh, Crawfurd was first appointed, at age 20, to the North-West Provinces of India. He was transferred in 1808 to Penang (Pinang), off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, and there he developed the keen interest in Malay language, culture, and history that was to illuminate much of his later scholarly work. When the British took Java from the Dutch in 1811, Crawfurd’s familiarity with Indonesian peoples led to his appointment there in a series of civil and political posts (including that of resident at the court of the sultan of Yogyakarta) during the occupation; he continued to pursue his studies of insular Southeast Asia. While in England on leave from 1817, he wrote a monumental History of the Indian Archipelago, 3 vol. (1820). Returning to India in 1820, Crawfurd was at once appointed by the marquess of Hastings to lead a diplomatic and trade mission to the courts of Thailand and Vietnam; he later published richly descriptive accounts (Journal of an Embassy from the Governor-General of India to the Courts of Siam and Cochin China [1828]). In 1823 Crawfurd succeeded Sir Stamford Raffles as resident of the fledgling settlement of Singapore; during a period of rapid population growth, Crawfurd administered it firmly and with fairness until 1826. He was appointed first British resident at the court of Ava in 1827, at the conclusion of the first Anglo-Burmese War and at a time of great difficulty in relations with Burma (Myanmar). Though he was able to remain there only briefly, he later published an important account of the kingdom, Journal of an Embassy to the Court of Ava (1829). Retiring to England, Crawfurd stood unsuccessfully for Parliament four times in the 1830s. He devoted the remainder of his long life substantially to continued scholarly work on Southeast Asia, publishing his Grammar and Dictionary of the Malay Language, 2 vol. (1852), and a Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands and Adjacent Countries (1856), which remains a major repository of information on early 19th-century maritime Southeast Asia.’ (Britannica)

Based on his extensive experience in Southeast Asia, John Crawfurd held strong views about the proposed British colonisation of northern Australia:

‘In 1843 Crawfurd gave evidence to the Colonial Office on Port Essington, on the north coast of Australia, to the effect that its climate made it unsuitable for settlement. He returned to the topic in a debate in 1858 on settlements on the Victoria River, as had been suggested by Sir George Everest. He generally opposed Sir Roderick Murchison’s promotion of European colonisation of Australia, as far as it applied to the north coast.’ (Wikipedia)