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 2 deals with the negotiation of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Yedo, the legalisation of the Chinese opium trade and combat with Chinese insurgents at Nankin. The work is a mixture of travel narrative - Oliphant had previously written about his travels in Nepal and 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 own colourful career.