Staunton, Sir George Leonard: AN AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF AN EMBASSY FROM THE KING OF GREAT BRITAIN. To the Emperor of China … Taken Chiefly from the Papers of His Excellency the Earl of Macartney.. London, 1797. xxxiv, 518; xx, 626 pp. 2 fullpage portrait frontispieces plus 27 engravings in text 2 vols. 30x23 cm. Full leather with gilt spine, edges, front and rear covers. Some wear to spines and covers.
Staunton's account of the first British Embassy to China was a remarkably successful work, reprinted many times and widely regarded as the best travel book since Cook's voyages. The text is a model of clarity and elegance, giving a vivid picture of the long sea voyage, and the eventful meeting with the Qianlong Emperor. Meticulous preparations went into Lord Macartney's embassy to China, which was sponsored by the British Government as the first such venture. Lord Macartney arrived at Peking in 1793, charged with instructions to counteract the influence of other European powers, notably the Dutch and Portuguese, and to press the claims of the East India Company for better treatment in Canton. The meeting with the Qianlong Emperor took place at his summer residence in Chengde and the ambassador was under no illusion about the task in hand as his advisors had warned him that: 'The Chinese have no other idea of an embassy, than that of a visit with presents, on some solemn festival.' Generous presents were supplied, and Lord Macartney even agreed to perform the kow-tow ceremony on condition that a Chinese of equal rank should reciprocate to a portrait of King George III. Staunton's eleven year old son acted as interpreter, but the plan was finally dropped, and the ambassador retired, relieved of his presents but achieving little. Illustrated with two fullpage engraved frontispieces, the first of the Qianlong Emperor by William Alexander, the second of the Earl of Macartney by Thomas Hickey. 27 text engravings (1 fullpage) First edition. Lacking the atlas volume. Internally fine with minor foxing and the very occasional mark. Cordier 2381-2383; Lust 545; Morrison I:696.
Subjects: Rare Books Travel
Available, as of: 01/09/2019
Was item 160 in printed List 196.
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