Du Halde, Jean Baptiste, 1674-1743
A description of the empire of China and Chinese-Tartary, together with the kingdoms of Korea
and Tibet: containing the geography and history (natural as well as civil) of those countries …
London : T. Gardner for Edward Cave, 1738-41. First complete English edition.
Two volumes, folio, contemporary full calf ruled in gilt, expertly rebacked preserving the original labels; spines with raised bands and gilt rule; vol. 1 frontispiece portrait of Confucius, pp , xii, , xii, 678; vol. 2 pp , 388, ; with 51 engraved maps and plans (42 folding; map of China miscreased) and 13 plates; originally the personal copy of Thomas Percy (1729-1811), clergyman at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, later Bishop of Dromore, presented to him by the bookseller and writer Robert Dodsley (1704-1764), and inscribed on the front free-endpaper of the first volume “The Gift of Mr. Dodsley to Th. Percy”; bound in at the rear of the second volume is Percy’s own 8-page manuscript index, with a note at the foot, dated at Easton Maudit, 1762, expressing his frustration at the inadequacy of the error-riddled printed index; both pastedowns with the engraved armorial bookplate of Du Pre Alexander, second Earl of Caledon (1777-1839), politician and colonial administrator, and his blind library stamps on the title pages; [accompanied by] a signed autograph letter by Jean Baptiste Du Halde, dated 11 October 1729;  page, small quarto, with attached blank leaf; addressed to an unnamed correspondent; in the note, Du Halde mentions a gift and apologises for not being able to present it in person.
The French Jesuit geographer and historian Du Halde’s encyclopaedic work on China is considered the most comprehensive of any printed in Europe in the eighteenth century. Its scope covers Chinese religion and customs, language, science and medicine, political institutions and antiquities. In the opinion of Tooley, the maps which appeared for the first time in this English edition – drawn by d’Anville from recent surveys by Jesuit missionaries in China and engraved by Emanuel Bowen – constitute “the principal cartographic authority on China during the 18th century.” The work also contains the first published separate map of Korea, accompanied by an account of Korea by Jean-Baptiste Régis. The translation (possibly by William Guthrie, according to Löwendahl) contributed significantly to the standardisation of Chinese orthography in English.
A much shorter earlier English edition, with only 15 plates and 4 maps, was published in 1736.
Cordier, Sinica, 50; Lust, 15; Löwendahl, 409