History of Java in two volumes

The History of Java by Thomas Stamford Raffles was published in London in 1817. Raffles hastily put the book together upon his return to Britain in 1816 after having spent the previous five years as Lieutenant-Governor of Java. The book is not a “history” in the modern sense, but in keeping with its time is a compilation of information from a wide variety of sources covering topics as diverse as geography, religion and ethics, climate, natural history, literature, poetry and music, as well as political history and antiquities and even military systems. The book was very much an imperialist project, with the data and knowledge of Java and its people being presented through the tainted lens of the orientalising colonial gaze. Through it, Raffles promoted the belief that British rule would better the lives of the colonised by establishing modern and supposedly just government while disempowering supposedly corrupt and despotic local rulers. This particular copy has an unsigned pencil inscription, stating “Presentation copy to her late Majesty Queen Charlotte – by the Author” which appears to have been written by Stamford Raffles himself.