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By Roberta E. Bivins (auth.)
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Extra info for Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine
George Staunton, the Embassy's historian and Macartney's right-hand man, led this group and recorded the subsequent events: During the stay of the Clarence in Chu-san harbour, one of the persons who came in her was seized with a violent cholera morbus, in consequence of eating too freely of some acid fruit he had found on shore. 10 Official British expectations of Chinese medicine, clearly, were not high, since `momentary relief' was the most they hoped for even in this relatively simple case. In fact, in his own account of his illness, Barrow claimed that he had requested only that two drugs be sent, and had neither expected nor desired Chinese medical advice.
The Staunton version was one of the most widely available early descriptions of Chinese praxis in English, casting a visible shadow upon future British responses to information about Chinese medicine well into the nineteenth century. In both renderings of this meeting, Chinese theory was described in greater detail than in the stories of Barrow's illness. Moreover, in this case, where European and Asian diagnoses differed substantially, Chinese medicine was presented as empirically inadequate, as well as theoretically risible.
53 As this passage suggests, almost every description of China available in Floyer's time contained some mention of pulse medicine; it was the subject of intense curiosity particularly in this period, following the European discovery of the circulation of the blood. For Floyer, the ancient use of the pulse as a diagnostic tool, and the great efficacy 32 Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine attributed to Chinese medical practice by the Jesuits validated the idea of relying on a physical sign, while the intractable source of Chinese expertise ± long experience, rather than any particular depth of anatomical knowledge ± offered a reason for turning to a mechanical aidede-camp, in the form of a pulse-watch and a set of tables.