"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, SPLENDIDLY ILLUSTRATED LARGE FOLIO, 1669 FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH
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. Wherein the Cities, Towns, Villages, Ports, Rivers, &c. in their Passages from Canton to Peking, are Ingeniously Described by Mr. John Nieuhoff, Steward to the Ambassadors, Also an Epistle of Father John Adams Their Antagonist, Concerning the Whole Negotiation. With an Appendix of Several Remarks Taken out of Father Athanasius Kirchner.. Englished by John Ogilby. London: John Macock, 1669. Tall folio (10-1/2 by 16-1/4 inches), contemporary full mottled brown calf rebacked, tan morocco spine label, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, marbled endpapers.
First edition in English, splendidly illustrated with frontispiece portrait, engraved title page, double-page engraved map and a double-page plan, 18 full-page folio copper-engraved plates and over 100 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. Wing N1152. Lowndes, 1692. See Cordier, Sinica, 2344; Lust 539. Bookplate from the library at Emo Park, residence of the Earls of Portarlington. Contemporary owner notations in margins.
Interior generally clean, paper repairs to a number of leaves, affecting a few letters on a few of them. Very handsomely bound.