The Dark Gift: Opium, John Francis Davis, Thomas De Quincey and the Amherst Embassy to China 1816

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essays discusses the Amherst Embassy to China of 1816. It argues that the issue of the Opium Trade was an absent presence in the Embassy's narratives. The embassy's concern with the ceremony of the kotou and the ritual exchange of presents mask the growing British involvement in the Opium Trade is a discourse of civic rationality. The gift exchange and important commentaries upon it by John Francis Davis and Thomas De Quincey are discussed in the context. De Quincey's China writing is thus situated in the new genre of Forst Opium War Literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWriting China Essays on the Amherst Embassy (1816) and Sino-British Cultural Relations
EditorsPeter J. Kitson, Robert Markley
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
ISBN (Print)978-1843844457
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

Publication series

NameEssays and Studies
PublisherBoydell & Brewer


  • Amherst Embassy
  • De Quincey
  • Opium
  • China
  • Romanticism

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