Our Notes & References
Fine copy, with a noble English provenance and unusual binding pattern, of this uncommon, contemporary English account of the simultaneous reigns of two great emperors: Peter the Great (1672-1725) and Kang-Hsi (1654-1722).
After Smyth or Fletcher’s pioneering works, and mostly after Peter the Great’s embassy to Europe in 1697-98, more attention was progressively given to the Eastern great powers. This was the opportunity for a few new publications to appear, such as the present work published shortly after Peter’s journey to Britain in February-April 1698. It relates in particular the recent ‘Streltsy’ revolts of 1682 and even 1698, gives some highlights of this ‘Great Embassy’, and offers charming physical and historical descriptions, which also include numerous anecdotes with the Chinese emperor, some interesting comments on the people and languages of Siberia and on the trade between Russians and Chinese.
While Crull (d. 1713?) wrote an ‘Antient [sic] and Present State of Muscovy’ published in 1698, he appears to be only the editor of the present two ‘letters’, which remain the work of an unknown author.
The missionary father Bouvet (1656-1730) is the author of the Chinese account, which has a separate pagination under the title The history of Cang-Hy, the present emperour of China, a translation of his Histoire de l’empereur de la Chine.
Provenance Thomas Thomson (inscription on flyleaf dated 1716 and signature on title-page); Earls of Macclesfield (armorial bookplate and blindstamp on title); Björn Löwendahl (Swedish antiquarian bookdealer specialised in rare Asiatica; 1941-2013).
Bibliography Crowther 2020; Wing B3861-2; ESTC 006085702; cf. Cordier 634 and Lust 467 for Bouvet, French edition.