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MEDHURST, Walter Henry.

China: its State and Prospects,

With especial reference to the spread of the Gospel: containing allusions to the antiquity, extent, population, civilization, literature, and religion of the Chinese.

Published: London: John Snow, 1838

Stock code: 112051

Price: £450

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First edition. Medhurst (1796-1857) left Britain for Malacca in September 1816, intending to work as a missionary at the Anglo-Chinese College. “Medhurst proved an efficient if independently minded missionary. He was too energetic to be confined to the college and, after a disagreement, left in September 1820 for Penang, and began his own mission station. At the end of 1821 he moved to Batavia, where his only surviving son, [noted consul] Walter Henry Medhurst, was born in 1822 … In 1829–30 Medhurst journeyed in Java and Bali, and in 1835 along the Chinese coast and even to Shanghai, then still a closed port. In 1836 he returned to Britain, where he wrote China, its State and Prospects, published in 1838, with a view to stimulating interest in Chinese missions, and especially in a new translation of the Bible into Chinese, later known as the Delegates’ Version, a work he accomplished with the co-operation of friends between 1847 and 1850” (ODNB). Provenance: inscribed to “T. J. Knowlys, from his affection friend, ?HS” on the front pastedown, and with the ownership inscription of H. B. Knowlys, dated 1886 to the front free endpaper. Thomas John Knowlys (b. 1803) was born to a minor London family and in married 1828 married Anna Hesketh, whose brother, the future Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood (1801-1866) he had probably met while a student at Trinity College, Oxford. They settled at the Heskeths’ Heysham Hall in Lancashire, and Knowlys seems to have thereafter led the life of unremarkable country squire, serving as a local magistrate, contributing to gardening journals and winning county archery competitions. One of their daughters was Florence Everilda Goodreve (1861-1915), who became a noted composer and lyricist.

Octavo (225 x 140 mm). Original vertically-ribbed green cloth, rolled bands to spine in blind, second and fourth compartments gilt-lettered direct, covers decoratively panel-stamped in blind, yellow surface-paper endpapers. Colour frontispiece, vignette title page, 5 wood-engraved plates, all by G. Baxter; folding area map. Contemporary bookseller’s ticket of W. H. Dalton, Charing Cross to front pastedown. Tips lightly bumped, frontispiece and final plate supplied from a shorter copy, the images entirely retained, very occasional mild foxing, slightly stronger towards rear. A very good copy.

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