The Last Embassy

Tonio Andrade

This 2021 book The Last Embassy is about a Dutch mission to Peking one year after the disastrous Lord McCartney mission.

The Dutch were invited by Chien Lung to celebrate the Chinese New Year with him to mark the beginning of his 60th year on the throne. (p 18).

Starting on 22 Nov 1794 the journey took the most direct land route through winter. Arriving in Peking on 9 Jan 1795, the Dutch endured harsh traveling conditions.

The strengths of this book are the many observations by the Dutch of the social and traveling conditions of China of the late 18th century.

Tonio has researched the archives well to give us a good picture of how Chien Lung celebrated the Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival. We also have the travelers’ impressions of the architectural wonders of Peking and Yuanmingyuan.

Minor quibbles are this book has no bibliography and a complete list of the members of the Dutch mission. This is a sad omission. It would also have benefited from tighter editing.

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