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Closely observed China: from William Alexander's sketches to his published work

Frances Wood

Abstract

WHEN Lord Macartney led the first British Embassy to China from 1792 to 1794, he and his entourage travelled largely by boat, even after their arrival in China. They proceeded up the coast in their flotilla and disembarked at the mouth of the Bei river, to transfer to smaller, flat-bottomed Chinese barges for the trip upriver to Tongzhou and only travelled by road for the last twenty miles to Peking. When the Embassy was dismissed by the Emperor just over a month later in early October 1793, Lord Macartney and his party proceeded south by barge along the length of the Grand Canal to Hangzhou. There, the party split, with one group travelling south to Canton (mainly by water) and the others following the river to Ningbo on the coast and the Zhoushan archipelago where their brigs and East Indiamen waited.

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