London: A. Small, 1818.
Uncolored engraving. Image measures 19.5" x 15.5".
This elegant 1816 map of China maps the route of the British Embassy from the mouth of the Peking River to Canton (modern day Guangzhou). Covers the region from the Gulf of Le-O-Tong (Liaodong Bay) south to Guangzhou and Macau. Hong Kong is identified, so is Formosa Island or Taiwan. The Great Wall of China and the Imperial Canal are also marked. Several towns and cities are noted, especially along the Yangtze River, and elevation is rendered by hachure. The map is in good condition with minor wear along the folds and minimal foxing. Tear near bottom margin repaired on verso. Accompanied by title page of journal.
Henry Ellis (1788 - 1855) was born in Dublin, Ireland as the illegitimate son of Robert Hobart, chief secretary to the Irish viceroy. He joined the Bengal establishment of the East India Company from 1804 to 1811, and in 1814 secured the post of plenipotentiary to Persia. He was also involved in negotiating the Anglo-American peace treaty in 1815. In 1816, he was appointed public secretary with the rank of third commissioner for Lord Amherst's embassy to China.
The embassy, which was on a diplomatic mission to China to protest the ill-treatment of British subjects, left England aboard the "Alceste" in 1816. The mission was largely unsuccessful and on the return trip, the "Alceste" sank after crashing into a submerged rock in the Java Sea. With his shipwrecked companions, including Lord Amherst, Ellis reached Java and on their voyage home, their ship anchored on St. Helena. It was here that he had several interviews with emperor Napoleon, who was in exile there. In one of the interviews, Napoleon is known to have said, "China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep. For when she wakes, she will shake the world."
This map was included in Henry Ellis's "Journal of the Proceedings of the Late Embassy to China", an extensive documentation of the embassy's proceedings. A quote on the title page of the book reads "It is a strange thing, that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but in land travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if chance were fitter to be registered than observation; let diaries therefore be brought in use. - Lord Bacon".