London: Printed for Longman. Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818.
ABEL, Clarke. Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China. And of a Voyage to and from that Country in the Years 1816 and 1817, Containing an Account of the Most Interesting Transactions of Lord Amherst's Embassy to the Court of Pekin, and Observations of the Countries which it Visited. Illustrated by Maps and other Engravings. London: Printed for Longman. Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818. First edition. Quarto (10 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches; 269 x 210 mm). [4, blank], xvi, 420, [6, blank] pp. With four maps, three of which are folding, and nineteen plates, eight of which are hand-colored, some others are sepia tone. Two of the uncolored botanical plates are folding. Additional engravings in text. With errata slip tipped in on verso of dedication page. Contemporary full speckled calf, rebacked with original spine laid down. Marbled endpapers. All edges dyed yellow. Plate facing page 165 trimmed close, affecting the imprint but not the image. A few minor cases of spotting, mainly to page 325-331. An invisible repair to the top corner of page 237, not affecting text. Overall a very good copy with beautiful plates. Abel Clarke was a British naturalist and surgeon. "Abel accompanied Lord Amherst's embassy to China in 1816 as its chief medical officer. This embassy, which went further into the interior of China than was normally possible, had something of the character of an expedition, and (through the influence of Sir Joseph Banks) Abel acted as its naturalist. He made his reputation with his Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China ... in the Years 1816 and 1817 (1818). Abel gathered an extensive collection of botanical and mineralogical specimens in China. On the way back to England these (together with several other collections entrusted to his care) were all lost on 16 February 1817, when the embassy's frigate, HMS Alceste, sank in the straits of Gaspar. The only items to escape the disaster were a small collection of plants that he had given to Sir George Staunton, who was based in China and returned to England separately, and some rocks that he gave to Captain Basil Hall, whose gunship was not attached to the returning party. The plants brought back by Staunton were described by Banks's librarian, Robert Brown, in a botanical appendix to Abel's Narrative, in which several new species were identified. Brown also defined a genus of shrub within the honeysuckle family, based on material from China, which he named Abelia in Abel's honour. Abel's Narrative contains descriptions of the orang-utan and the boa, as well as observations on the geology of the Cape of Good Hope which have been highly praised for their detail and accuracy." (Oxford DNB). Abbey, Travel 537; Tooley 1 HBS 68808. $2,500.