Barrow's Travels in China
William Jardine Proudfoot (c.1804-1887) published his critique of Sir John Barrow's Travels in China (1804; also reissued in this series) with the agenda of exposing the latter as unreliable and unjust. Barrow had accompanied Lord Macartney on the first British mission to the Chinese Imperial Court (1792-4), in a party that also included the official astronomer, Dr James Dinwiddie, Proudfoot's grandfather. Comparing Barrow's account to that found in other records, Proudfoot concludes that the earlier work was 'a great humbug', ascribing to Barrow the 'powerful motive' of self-promotion. In a work full of vitriol against its subject, Proudfoot's concern is to honour the memory of the mission's members, whom he felt Barrow belittled and vilified, and also to point out factual inaccuracies, accusing him of seeking amusement rather than truth in his anecdotes. Read alongside Barrow's work, it makes for an interesting, scornful, and often entertaining counter.