GEORGE LEONARD STAUNTON (1737-1801)
An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China. London: W. Bulmer and Co. for G. Nicol, 1797. 3 volumes, 4° text in 2 volumes (315 x 243mm) and 2° atlas (567 x 418mm). Text vols. with engraved portrait frontispieces of Emperor Tchien Lung and the Earl Macartney, one botanical plate, and text engravings, atlas with 43 (of 44) numbered engraved plates and maps, including 6 double-page and large folding chart. (Text vols. with some light soiling, staining to Bb2v and Bb3r of vol. I and C3r of vol. II, title, preliminaries and end quires in vol. II browned, P5 of vol. II spotted, atlas lacks plate 19, spotting and waterstaining to some plates especially near end, General Chart with 3cm. marginal tear, plate 43 with large marginal repair.) Text: contemporary tree calf by J. Young, Inverness, with his ticket (rubbed and chipped, upper joints of vol. I splitting); atlas: contemporary non uniform half calf (extremities worn, upper joints split). Provenance: Ch’eng Huan (invoice from Maggs, dated 9 October 1973, for £135).
FIRST EDITION. Staunton was principal secretary to Lord Macartney's embassy to China in 1792. This sought ‘to improve commercial relations with China, through Canton (Guangzhou), and to establish regular diplomatic relations between the two countries. Though Macartney and Staunton had an audience with the emperor their proposals were rebuffed. In China [Staunton] closely observed and noted all that he saw, and during expeditions he was able to collect botanical specimens. His son, George Thomas, then just twelve years old, accompanied him to China as page to Lord Macartney, and was the only member of the mission who bothered to learn Chinese’ (DNB). Staunton's account of the ultimately unsuccessful diplomatic mission also describes numerous places visited en route, among them Madeira, Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, Java, Sumatra, and Cochin-China. TEXT VOLUMES WITH WIDE MARGINS. Brunet V, 525; Cordier Sinica 2382; Cox I, p.344; Howgego I, M2.