Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China, and of a Voyage to and from that Country in the Years 1816 and 1817
Clarke Abel (c.1780-1825) was Chief Medical Officer accompanying Lord Amherst's unsuccessful diplomatic embassy to China in 1816. Encouraged by Sir Joseph Banks, he acted as official naturalist to the expedition, which penetrated further into China than had been possible for previous western visitors. Although most of his large collection of botanical and mineralogical specimens was lost during the return voyage, survivals included several new species, some of which were named after him. This work, published in 1818, made Abel's reputation, and he was elected to the Royal Society the following year. His geological survey of the Cape of Good Hope, studied on the outward journey, is particularly impressive. Abel's account of Chinese society and culture is an important record of a country which was then largely inaccessible to Europeans. An appendix by Robert Brown (Banks' botanist) lists the specimens that survived the shipwreck, which is itself dramatically described.