Charles Le Gobien - Works

Works

In 1697 appeared at Paris his "Lettres sur les progréz de la religion à la Chine". Apropos of Chinese Rites controversy, he published among other things "Histoire de l'édit de l'empereur de la Chine en faveur de la religion chrétienne avec un éclaircissement sur les honneurs que les Chinois rendent à Confucius et aux morts" (Paris, 1698); and in the year 1700: "Lettre à un Docteur de la Faculté de Paris sur les propositions déférées en Sorbonne par M. Prioux". Under the same date there appeared in Paris the "Histoire des Isles Mariannes nouvellement converties à la religion chrétienne". The second part, translated into Spanish by J. Delgado, is found in the latter's "Historia General de Filipinas" (Manila, 1892).

In 1702 Père Le Gobien published "Lettres de quelques missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jésus, écrites de la Chine et des Indes Orientales"; this was the beginning of the collection soon to become celebrated under the title of "Lettres édifiantes et curieuses écrites des missions étrangéres par quelques missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jésus". The first eight series were by Le Gobien, the latter ones by Fathers Du Halde, Patouillet, Geoffroy, and Maréchal. The collection was printed in thirty-six vols. duodecimo (Paris, 1703–76), and reissued in 1780-81 by Fathers Yves, de Querbeux, and Brotier in twenty-six vols. duodecimo, omitting the prefaces. New editions appeared in 1819, 1829–32, and 1838-43. One abridgment in four vols. octavo, was entitled "Panthéon Littéraire", by L. Aimé Martin (1834–43). A partial English translation came out in London in 1714.

The publication incited the Austrian Jesuit Stöcklein to undertake his "Neuer Welt Bott" (about 1720), at first considered merely a translation, but soon an independent and particularly valuable collection (five vols., folio in forty parts) substantially completing the "Lettres Edifiantes" (see Kath. Missionen, 1904–05).

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    To receive applause for works which do not demand all our powers hinders our advance towards a perfecting of our spirit. It usually means that thereafter we stand still.
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    His character as one of the fathers of the English language would alone make his works important, even those which have little poetical merit. He was as simple as Wordsworth in preferring his homely but vigorous Saxon tongue, when it was neglected by the court, and had not yet attained to the dignity of a literature, and rendered a similar service to his country to that which Dante rendered to Italy.
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