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Travels in China,

containing Descriptions, Observations, and Comparisons, made and collected in the Course of a Short Residence at the Imperial Palace of Yuen-Min-Yuen, and on a subsequent Journey through the Country from Pekin to Canton. In which it is attempted to appreciate the rank that this extraordinary empire may be considered to hold in the scale of civilized nations. Illustrated with several engravings.

London: Printed by A. Strahan, for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1804 Stock Code: 130271
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"One of the best illustrated English travels on China"

First edition of this highly influential work. "Barrow accompanied Lord Macartney's mission to the court of China in 1792 as his private secretary, and the present account of the country, accompanied by a number of fine plates, is one of the best illustrated English travels on China" (Hill). Barrow was the only son of a Lancashire journeyman tanner; "educated at the local grammar school, which he left at the age of thirteen, Barrow worked successively as a clerk in a Liverpool iron foundry, as a landsman on a Greenland whaler, and as a mathematics teacher in a Greenwich academy preparing young men for a naval career, until offered the position of comptroller of household to Lord Macartney's embassy to China" (ODNB). Subsequently, Barrow accompanied Macartney to the Cape, and in 1798 was made auditor general: "His intention to settle at the Cape was frustrated by its return to the Dutch in 1803. He was offered the second secretaryship of the Admiralty by Dundas in 1804, and this he held until 28 January 1845". An ardent imperialist, Barrow dedicated himself to the promotion of exploring expeditions - including that of Richard and John Lander to discover the course and outlet of the Niger; the arctic endeavours of John Ross, James Clark Ross and Sir John Franklin; Clapperton and Laing in North Africa; and King, Cunningham and Sturt in Australia - and the improvement of the facilities and administration of the Navy. His accounts of his own experiences in Asia and Africa "established new standards for travel writing" (ibid.). The exclusion of Europeans from China "left that country very much terra incognita well into the nineteenth century. Barrow was an excellent observer, and the text contains a number of descriptions of Chinese artefacts and novelties. Among these a plate of musical instruments, extensive renditions of Chinese melodies into western notation, and a long description, with illustration, of the abacus" (Hill). The excellent plates are after drawings by William Alexander, whose The Costume of China appeared in 1805.

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Quarto (260 x 200 mm). Contemporary continental green quarter sheep, pink paper sides with sprinkle patterning, vellum tips.


Bound without the original plates that were issued with this edition, and instead with the plates of the first French edition of 1805: colour frontispiece and another colour plate, 15 uncoloured plates, woodcut illustrations of Chinese characters and musi


Japanese bookseller's ticket to front pastedown and small stamp to rear free endpaper. Very light rubbing, contents clean. An excellent copy in an attractive, well-preserved contemporary continental binding.


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