Travels from St Petersburg in Russia, to Diverse Parts of Asia by John Bell
John Bell (1691-1780) trained as a physician, but preferred a life of travel and diplomacy. He entered the service of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, and had already taken part (as the expedition's doctor) in a government mission to Persia in 1715-18 when he was asked to join a further embassy to China. This two-volume work, published in 1763, describes both these journeys. The first part of Volume 1 contains an account of the Persian expedition, and the second a narrative of the journey across Siberia to the walls of Beijing. It includes fascinating anecdotes of the peoples encountered, and their environment, beliefs and customs, including a female Siberian shaman, the pet musk deer of an exiled Swedish general, and the interdependence of marmots and rhubarb (at this time a valuable medicinal drug). This is a delightful account of an area then hardly known in the west.