SYMES, Michael (1761-1809). Atlas volume to: "Relation de l’Ambassade Anglaise, envoyée en 1795 dans le Royaume d’Ava, ou l’Empire des Birmans". Hambourg: M. Fontaine, 1800.

  • $ 2,800.00
    Unit price per 

Inquiry

Folio (13 1⁄2 x 10 in.; 34.2 x 25.4 cm.). Letterpress title-page (with ink library discard stamps), full-page engraved map of the Burmese Empire, fine large folding map of the Irrawaddy River by Thomas Wood, 28 engraved plates of
natural history specimens, monuments, artifacts and the peoples of Burma; some minor marginal spotting and staining.

The atlas volume to the first French edition, translated by J. Castera. The plates include the two fine maps, images of the Temple of Schoe-Madou, statue of a Buddha at Boudh Gaya, the Burmese alphabet, taming of wild elephants, a statue of Gaudma at Amarapura, a Rhahaan Monastery, the ambassador
arriving at Amarapura, a spectacular royal yacht, a battleship, many beautiful botanical engravings (including gardenias and orchids), and many engravings of people in local costume.

In 1795, Symes was sent by the governor-general, John Shore, "to the
court of King Bodawpaya of Burma, to try to improve political and
commercial relations, and also to confirm whether the French were
actively courting the Burmese as they were rumoured to be doing elsewhere
in Asia. Border tensions had recently escalated when Burmese troops had pursued Arakanese rebels into British territories and then refused to leave until the rebels were handed over. The embassy was considered a success, for Symes returned with signed documents which the British believed would open Burmese markets to British and Indian traders, and the French threat was shown to be largely illusory. These agreements, which fell short of what might properly be called a treaty, allowed British traders to purchase Burmese wood, instituted a procedure for addressing merchant grievances, and, provided import duties were paid, exempted British goods from inland customs and duties. Symes wrote of his seven months in Burma which took him from
Rangoon to the capital at Amarapura in "An Account of an Embassy to the Kingdom of Ava Sent by the Governor-General of India in 1795" (1800), one of the first detailed accounts of the country written in English. In just over 500 pages, it addressed the history, geography, culture, and economics of Burma,
and the text was accompanied by illustrations and maps. It painted a generally favourable impression of Burma, emphasizing its civility, culture, and stability, while also hinting at the Burmese court's suspicions of the British". REFERENCES: Douglas M. Peers for DNB. # 72lib954