STAUNTON, Sir George Leonard (1737-1801)
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: W.Bulmer & Co. for G.Nicol, 1797. 3 volumes: Text: 2 vols, quarto (10 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches); Atlas: large folio (22 1/2 x 17 inches). Text: 2 engraved portrait frontispieces of Emperor Tchien Lung in Vol. I and the Earl Macartney in Vol. II, 1 plate, 26 vignette illustrations after William Alexander and others. Atlas: 44 engraved views, plans, plates, charts or maps (including a large folding world map, 3 natural history subjects and 25 views).
Text: contemporary tree calf, flat spine divided into six compartments, lettered in gilt in the second compartment, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt. Atlas: expertly bound to style in half calf over period brown paper covered boards, spine gilt uniform to the text
Provenance: Sir Thomas Courtenay Warner, 1st Baronet (armorial bookplate in text)
First edition of the official published account of the first British embassy to China, headed by the Earl Macartney: complete with the atlas of maps and plates. A very fine copy.
George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney (1737-1806) was dispatched to Beijing in 1792 travelling via Madeira, Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, the Cape of Good Hope and Indonesia. He was accompanied by Staunton, and a retinue of suitably impressive size, including Staunton's 11-year-old son who was nominally the ambassador's page. On the embassy's arrival in China it emerged that the 11-year-old was the only European member of the embassy able to speak Mandarin, and thus the only one able to converse with the Emperor. The embassy, the first such to China, had two objectives: the first to register with the Emperor British displeasure at the treatment that the British merchants were receiving from the Chinese, the second to gain permission for a British minister to be resident in China. The first objective was achieved, the second was not. Macartney was twice granted an audience with the Emperor and in December 1793 he was sumptuously entertained by the Chinese viceroy in Canton, and returned to England via Macao and St. Helena, arriving in September 1794.
Brunet V, 525; cf. Cordier Sinica 2381-2382; cf. Cox I, p.344; Hill (2004) 1628; Lowndes III, p.2502; Lust 545 & 547; cf. Catalogue of the Asiatic Library of Dr. G.E.Morrison (Tokyo: 1924) I, 696-697; cf. Stafleu & Cowan 12.835.