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Two Years in China.

Narrative of the Chinese Expedition from its Formation in April, 1840, to the Treaty of Peace in August, 1842. With an Appendix, containing the Most Important of the General Orders & Despatches published during the above period. Second Edition.

Published: London: Saunders and Otley, 1843

Stock code: 102870

Price: £650

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Second edition, first published in the previous year, scarce: Copac records only 4 copies in British and Irish institutional libraries (Edinburgh, Cambridge, Kings College London, SOAS), OCLC adding only a further 3 (Hong Kong, Leipzig, Amsterdam). McPherson (1812-1867) “was appointed surgeon to the army in Madras in 1836. Between 1840 and 1842 he served with the 37th grenadier regiment in China, and he was severely wounded at Chuenpe (Chuanbi). He told of his experiences in his Two Years in China (1842)” (ODNB). This is a spirited first hand account of the First Opium War (1839-42), “[McPherson was] an army medical officer, brilliant and infuriating… [whose] service had even taken him to China, during the brief British invasion of the interior in the First Opium War. It was a vacillating, uncertain campaign, and he had hovered on the edge of diplomatic meetings, been blasted into the air (‘exalted several feet’, he remarks) by concealed mines, and hidden under mattresses with escaping envoys, as they fled from shipwreck and angry Chinese forces” (Richardson, Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity, Cambridge 2013, p. 74)

Octavo. Original brown cloth neatly rebacked with the original spine laid down, ornamental blind blocking on sides, endleaves renewed. Stamp of Exeter City Library on title verso, blank margin of p. 239, and final leaf; a few neat ink or pencil annotations and corrections to the text (largely following the errata) but showing a degree of familiarity with naval ordnance of the East India Company ship Nemesis, opium exportation and the “devoted patriotism” of Tartar troops. A nice copy with the half-title, errata leaf and publishers’ terminal advertisements.

Bibliography: Bruce 4552 (listing the third edition, 1843, under the title The War in China).)

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