Notes: An account of British student life in China in the late 19th century written by a young man studying Chinese in order to join the Consular Service. He offers humorous anecdotes about learning Chinese and describes trips taken to see the sights in and around Beijing. The title comes from a line in Milton's Paradise Lost.
However, your bookseller acquired this book for a different reason. On the title page is a note: "With examples of Chinese block printing and other illustrations." The three printing samples, tipped-in opposite pages 81, 89, and 117, are a menu and two invitations, respectively. Initially, your bookseller thought two of the three might be facsimiles. However, comparison with scanned copies of the book shows that the inking varies from copy to copy and that the invitation opposite page 89 is printed over various types of decorated paper; in this case a background of butterflies and flowers printed in red and green, with the invitation text added in black. The tipped in sheets make this something of a leaf book, but of printed ephemera (one suspects that the author commissioned a Chinese printer to make additional copies of the documents for insertion in his book).
The book was published anonymously by "a student interpreter." The preface is signed "T.A.D." The author's name has not previously been noted, as far as your cataloguer can tell, but can be revealed now. William Henry Wilkinson claims authorship of Where Chineses Drive on the title page of his second book, "Those Foreign Devils", a work translated from the Chinese of Yuan Hsiang-Fu. Wilkinson (1858–1930) studied Chinese at Oxford, joined the British consular service in 1880, and served in China until his retirement in 1917. His collection of Chinese playing cards is in the British Museum.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing). A very good copy bound in two colors of cloth, stamped in gilt and black. Some offsetting to endpapers; browning to two pages from an old newspaper article once laid in (now lost); pencil lines in the margins of several pages. The tipped-in printing samples are intact, with some discoloration from the glue.
Publication: London: W. H. Allen, 1885.
Item No: #361010