"IT IS ALMOST INCREDIBLE FOR ANY BODY TO BELIEVE IN WHAT STATE AND POMP THESE PRINCES LIVE, AND WITH WHAT GOOD ORDERS THEIR PEOPLE ARE GOVERNED": NIEUHOFF'S AN EMBASSY FROM THE EAST-INDIA COMPANY TO CHINA, 1673, SPLENDIDLY ILLUSTRATED LARGE FOLIO
(CHINA) NIEUHOFF, John. An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperour of China, Delivered by Their Excellencies Peter de Goyer and Jacob de Keyzer, at his Imperial City of Peking… Englished by John Ogilby. London: by the Author, 1673. Tall folio (11 by 16-1/2 inches), contemporary marbled boards rebacked and recornered in modern brown morocco, raised bands, green and brown morocco spine labels, renewed endpapers. $15,000.
Second edition in English, splendidly illustrated with frontispiece portrait, engraved title page, double-page engraved map, 18 full-page folio copper-engraved plates (including one double-page plan) and 94 in-text copper engravings.
Nieuhoff, a Dutch official, traveled extensively throughout the East, visiting China, Dutch South Africa, Sumatra, Java, Amboyna, Formosa, Malacca, India, Ceylon, Persia, and St. Helena. This is his important first-hand account of his visit to China as an ambassador in 1655-1657, first printed in Dutch in 1665. The present English edition has been translated from Georg Horn's Latin version (Amsterdam, 1668)—unlike the earlier Dutch, Latin, and French editions, however, this English edition has been significantly augmented with an appendix of copious extracts and additional illustrations drawn from all six parts of Athanasius Kircher's China Monumentis (Amsterdam, 1667). Kircher's massive compendium of Jesuit material on China and the Far East is considered "the first publication of important documents on oriental geography, geology, botany, zoology, religion and language" (Godwin, Kircher, 50). In the present work it comprises over 100 pages, as richly illustrated as Nieuhoff's account which precedes it.
"The Dutch being at the height of their power, having supplanted the Portuguese, desired to gain access to China and a portion of the Chinese trade. After much opposition the Government succeeded in sending certain merchants to try the pulse of the Chinese at Canton. Upon their report it was determined to dispatch ambassadors from Batavia to the Court of Peking to solicit liberty to trade. This is the embassy written up by Nieuhoff, who was steward to the ambassadors. Its failure led the Dutch to send other embassies. These are the ones written by Montanus" (Cox I: 325). Translator Ogilby devoted the last years of his life to producing works of geography and topography: he "may be considered as the English De Bry, as his works are similar in their objects, compilation, and mode of illustrations" (Cox II:69). The work is profusely illustrated with striking copper-engraved plates of landscapes, views, cities, villages, temples, people, flora and fauna, etc. Ogilby's translation was first published in 1669 by John Macock. Wing N1153. Lowndes, 1692. See Cordier, Sinica, 2344; Lust 539.
Folding map repaired on verso, with approximately half-inch loss to image along repair; marginal repair to verso of plate following page 139. Some very mild toning to text, faint evidence of dampstain to last several leaves, plates clean and fine. An excellent wide-margined copy.