Sir George Staunton

Sir George Staunton. An authentic account of an embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China. London, 1797.

Sir George Staunton. An authentic account of an embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China. London, 1797.

Until the 1790s, British attempts to establish direct contact with China had only served to increase the Chinese government's resistance to trade with the outside world. In 1792, Lord Macartney (1737-1806), a seasoned diplomat, was chosen to lead an Embassy which sought to establish regular diplomatic relations between the two countries in the furtherance on trade.

The Embassy, which was unsuccessful, is described by its Secretary, Sir George Leonard Staunton (1737-1801). Staunton’s son, George Thomas, then just twelve years old, accompanied him to China as page to Lord Macartney, and was the only member of the mission who bothered to learn Chinese.

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