Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's Mission to China and Japan, in the Years 1857, '58, '59
In 1857 Laurence Oliphant (1829-88), lawyer, journalist, diplomat, and sometime spy, later Liberal MP, satirical novelist, and, for a time, adherent of the religious mystic Thomas Harris, became private secretary to Lord Elgin (1811-63), accompanying him to China, and thence to Japan, on a mission to protect and extend British trading interests in the region. Oliphant's 1859 account of the trip was published in two volumes. Volume 1 deals with the events of the Second Opium War, from the 'Arrow Incident', discussed in retrospect, to the Treaty of Tientsin, as well as an early diversion to India to suppress the Mutiny. The work is a mixture of travel narrative - Oliphant had previously written about his travels in the Crimea (also reissued in this series) - and political analysis. It provides both an informative account of the war from a privileged vantage point and a window upon Oliphant's colourful career.