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

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In 1792, a British embassy headed by Earl Macartney travelled from Peking (Beijing), China, to Canton (Guangzou) with the aim of improving trade with China. The complete account of the mission was recorded by the Earl's private secretary, Sir John Barrow, in Travels in China (1804), a work intended to 'shew this extraordinary people in their proper colours' as well as to 'divest the court of the tinsel and tawdry varish' which Barrow thought that missionary accounts promoted. Both a paean to British imperial ambitions and a compelling example of early nineteenth-century travel literature, Travels in China presents an account of Chinese government, trade, industry, and cultural and religious practices through the eyes of one of England's most ardent expansionists. Barrow would go on to write an account of the mutiny on H.M.S. Bounty (1831), but Travels in China remained by far the more significant work in his lifetime.

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Table of Contents

1. Preliminary matter; 2. Occurrences and observations in the navigation of the Yellow Sea, and the passage up the Pei-ho, or White River; 3. Journey through the capital to a country villa of the Emperor. Return to Pekin. The Imperial Palace and Gardens of Yuen-min-yuen., and the Parks of Gehol; 4. Sketch of the state of society in China. Manners, customs, sentiments, and moral character of the people; 5. Manners and amusements of the court. Reception of Embassadors. Character and private life of the Emperor. His Eunuchs and women; 6. Language. Literature, and the fine arts. Sciences. Mechanics, and medicine; 7. Government. Laws. Tenures of land and taxes. Revenues. Civil and military ranks, and establishments; 8. Conjectures on the origin of the Chinese. Their religious sect. Tenets and ceremonies; 9. Journey from Tong-choo-foo to the Province of Canton. Face of the country, and its productions. Buildings and other public works. Condition of the people. State of agriculture. Population; 10. Journey through the province of Canton. Situation of foreigners trading to this port. Conclusion; Index.

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