SIR GEORGE LEONARD STAUNTON (1737-1801)
[An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China. London: 1797]. Atlas volume only (without 2 vols. of text), large 2° (560 x 434mm)). 44 engraved views, maps or charts (1 folding, 6 double-page). (Margins browned, some with old dampstaining). Later half cloth (worn). Provenance: U.S.Army Japanese Area & Language Course (stamp on front free endpaper).
This atlas volume charts the progress of the embassy headed by George, Earl Macartney. He was despatched to Beijing in 1792 travelling via Madeira, Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, Cape of Good Hope and Indonesia. He was accompanied by Staunton, and an entourage 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 the 11-year-old was the only European member of the British party 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, and the second to gain permission for a British minister to be resident in China. The first objective was reached, the second was not. Macartney was twice granted an audience with the Emperor; in December 1793 he was sumptously entertained by the Chinese viceroy in Canton, and returned to England via Macao and St.Helena, arriving in September 1794.