An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China
George Leonard Staunton (1737-1801) arrived in China in 1792 as a member of a British delegation whose objective was to improve trade and establish better diplomatic relations with the Chinese, who, at the time, restricted economic activity with foreigners to the port of Canton (Guangzhou). Although the group managed to secure an audience with the Qianlong Emperor - to whom the British envoy Lord Macartney famously refused to kowtow - their mission failed. Staunton kept detailed notes throughout his time in China, and in 1797 this two-volume account of the visit was published, and later translated into French and German. Volume 2 describes in detail the Emperor's reception of the British delegation - including a description and discussion of the kowtowing incident - thus giving a rare glimpse into the Imperial court at a time when Westerners were almost never allowed access. Staunton also provides further descriptions of the delegation's travels around China.