GUTZLAFF, Charles. China Opened; Or, A Display of the Topography, History, Customs, Manners, Arts, Manufactures, Commerce, Literature, Religion, Jurisprudence, Etc, of the Chinese Empire. London, Smith, Elder, & Co., 1838.
Two volumes, 8vo. 20th-century cloth with blue morocco lettering-pieces on spines; pp. xvi, 519; vi, 570, folding engraved map with outline colouring and folding engraved plate of Chinese characters; a very clean copy.
Very uncommon first edition. 'Gützlaff set out on 8 April 1827 to convert the Chinese settlers in the Riau archipelago. A year later he embarked on independent missionary work among the Chinese of Bangkok, Siam … Being a restless spirit with seemingly boundless energy, Gützlaff next turned up on the China coast. As a result of his trip to Tientsin (Tianjin) in a Chinese junk in 1831, British traders began to make use of his extraordinary linguistic talents in their efforts to find new markets. Although he was later criticized for having associated with opium smugglers to propagate Christianity, Gützlaff regarded these trips as unique opportunities to preach and distribute Christian literature beyond the confines of Canton (Guangzhou) … History has not been kind to Karl Gützlaff. One scholar calls him 'a cross between parson and pirate, charlatan and genius, philanthropist and crook' (A. Waley, The Opium War through Chinese Eyes, 1958, 233). He was a missionary enthusiast with progressive ideas, yet also a poor judge of men and lacking in organizational skills. Still, his career of ‘missionary-diplomat’ has to be seen in its proper historical context. At a time when China remained a closed country, his role as cultural mediator between East and West was not without merit' (ODNB). -An impressive book with information on the still secluded country, based on first-hand experience by someone who wrote, understood and spoke Chinese very well.