"The Rarest Printed Work on the Pacific"

Gordon, Sir Arthur Fiji. Records of Private and of Public Life, 1857 - 1880. Edinburgh [The author]; printed by R. & R. Clark 1897-1904
First edition Three volumes (of four), pp.viii, [2, errata leaf], 519; viii, 710; viii, 564, 54, 10. A very good set in the original tan cloth, paper title-labels a little rubbed. Inner hinges of volume two strained. Some pencil annotation in volume three. The first two volumes bear the bookplate of James Edge Partington; all three the bookplate of W.S. Robinson.
COPAC records sets at The British Library, Cambridge, and Aberdeen, though Cambridge also has three volumes only.

Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, 1st Baron Stanmore, GCMG KStJ, (1829-1912) graduated from Cambridge in 1851, and was taken on as Assistant Private Secretary by his father, the Prime Minister. He was elected Member of Parliament for Beverley in 1854, but after three years he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, then Governor of Trinidad, and in 1871, Mauritius. In 1875 he became the first Governor, and Commander in Chief, of Fiji, when it became a British Crown Colony. Gordon saw himself as protector of the Fijians. He governed through a system of indirect rule based on the traditional political structure. He encouraged Australian investment to develop sugar plantations and introduced Indian labour. He promoted public welfare and defended the rights of indigenous people, but had a reputation for being ambitious and autocratic. Gordon begins his introduction "The Government of Fiji was certainly the most interesting of all my colonial experiences. I had very nearly a clear field to work in," and goes on to express disappointment that the letters and diaries printed in these volumes are not as bright and lively as his life in Fiji was. In fact they provide a meticulous record of his life and work in the islands based on his and his wife's diaries, and his correspondence. He prints in full his various speeches to the Chiefs and others. All volumes have Private and Confidential. To be regarded as though in manuscript printed on the half-title. The second was published in 1901, the third in 1904. A fourth volume, not present here, was published in 1912. Two papers, Gordon's Paper on the System of Taxation in Force in Fiji, 1879, and Address to the Friends of The Hon. Sir Arthur Gordon assembled in preparation for his departure, by Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster, 1879, are bound in the third volume as appendices. For more on the scarcity of this set see Philip Snow "The Rarest Printed Work on the Pacific", Domodomo, 1988 (Fiji Museum).