King's College London
Online Exhibitions
Highlights of the FCO periodicals collection

Contents

Chinese epitaph for Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary, who died in Guanzhou in 1834 from The Chinese repository, vol. 15, 1846 [FCO Journals]Chinese epitaph for Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary, who died in Guanzhou in 1834 from The Chinese repository, vol. 15, 1846 [FCO Journals]There were several regular contributors to the journal. Works were serialised, such as the German missionary Karl Gutzlaff’s Journal of a voyage from Siam to Tientsin for the first few issues.

Articles were written on all aspects of Chinese culture, politics, history, religion, literature etc. Reports were presented from the Morrison Education Society. Book reviews were also given on books published about China.

The Chinese repository was intended to be a meeting of cultures. As such, the journal contained English translations of the Chinese classics, including those used in schooling, detailed texts on learning the written language, and later translations of Imperial edicts and treaties in both Chinese and English, in particular concerning the First Opium War. This was extremely rare for the time. In 1849 The Chinese repository listed all the major works available in English on China; the largest selection were language books and voyages and travels. Only 50 of 403 were translations of Chinese works into English.

An imperial edict from Kiying Imperial commissioner, minister of state and Governor General of Guangdong and Guangxi to the Imperial throne requesting that Christians be granted immunity from charges of criminality but that they may not enter the country to propagate their religion and may only build churches within the treaty ports as reproduced in The Chinese repository, vol. 14, 1845 [FCO Journals]An imperial edict from Kiying Imperial commissioner, minister of state and Governor General of Guangdong and Guangxi to the Imperial throne requesting that Christians be granted immunity from charges of criminality but that they may not enter the country to propagate their religion and may only build churches within the treaty ports as reproduced in The Chinese repository, vol. 14, 1845 [FCO Journals]The beginning of the nineteenth century was the first time English speakers made a serious effort to start to learn Chinese. Learning Chinese was of high importance for missionaries, not simply so they could speak and preach but also so they could translate the gospel into Chinese.

Of course, Chinese being so different to European languages a number of humorous mistakes were made. This includes Karl Gutzlaff’s review of the famous Chinese novel, Hong LouMeng ??? (A dream of red mansions). Hong Lou Meng is one of the four classic Chinese novels. It follows the fortunes of an upper middle class family, and in particular the lives of the women living within the household. The main character Bao Yu is the privileged son living amongst daughters, cousins and servants. Gutzlaff found the novel “coarse” and “monotonous” with little to recommend it and skipped a lot. “Having brought this tedious story to a conclusion, in expressing our opinion about the literary merits of the performance, we may say that the style is without any art” (vol. 9, May 1842).

However, he famously mistook the gender of the main protagonist Bao Yu.

In addition to material focused on China the editors also included material on Japan and Korea, as well as material on South East Asia.The journal continues to be used as a historical source by modern scholars.

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