“Counterfeiting Mandarins”: Early Modern English Marginality/ia in Western Encounters with China
Queen's University, Belfast
Adele Lee.“'Counterfeiting Mandarins': Early Modern English Marginality/ia in Western Encounters with China". Early Modern Literary Studies 15.2 (2010-11): 4.1-32 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/15-2/leemand2.htm>
Muske and amber.
… Peeces of silk.
Fig. 1: “The Map of China” published in Samuel Purchas’ Hakluytus posthumus (1625)
Fig. 2: Peter Mundy’s “a Chinaman eating with Chopstickes” (1637)
Fig. 3: Peter Mundy’s “Sundry habits of Chinois” (1637)
Fig. 4: Peter Mundy’s “A Japonian: A Chinese making his Salutation” (1637)
 While antique and Biblical sources were still consulted in this period, it was the contemporary reports of the Spanish and Portuguese on China that were relied upon most heavily by the English. Chief amongst these Iberian accounts, from the sixteenth to the end of the seventeenth century are: Bernardino de Escalante, A discourse of the nauigation which the Portugales doe make to the realmes and provinces of the east partes of the worlde, trans. John Frampton (London, 1579; STC 10529); Juan González de Mendoza, The historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China, trans. Robert Parke (London, 1588; STC 12003); Alvaro Semedo, The history of that great and renowned monarchy of China (London 1655; Wing S2490); Fernćo Mendes Pinto, The voyages and adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, trans. “H. C. Gent” (London, 1663; Wing M1706); and Louis le Comte, Memoirs and observations topographical, physical, mathematical, mechanical, natural, civil, and ecclesiastical made in a late journey through the empire of China (London, 1698; Wing L831A).
 Edition cited from here and henceforth is Juan González de Mendoza, The historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China, ed. George T. Staunton, 2 vols. (London: Hakluyt Society, 1853) I, 93 and 141.
 Gaspar da Cruz, “A Treatise of China,” in Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes, 20 vols. (Glasgow: J. MacLehose and Sons, 1905-1907) XI, 474-565.
 Critics often, and usually implicitly, take it for granted that the English readership of Spanish and Portuguese relations of China in the early modern period accepted such discourse unequivocally. See, for instance, Edwin J. Van Kley, “Some Seventeenth-Century European Protestant Responses to Matteo Ricci and his Mission in China,” Asia and the West: Encounters and Exchanges from the Age of Explorations: Essays in Honour of Donald F. Lach, ed. Donald F. Lach, Cyriac K. Pullapilly, and Edwin J. Van Kley (Notre Dame: Cross Cultural Publications, 1986) 195-203.
 It is widely accepted that China was almost universally admired in this period and it was not until the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century that Sinophobia (dislike or fear of China, its culture or its people) became widespread in Europe, and China was subsequently stripped of all its glories. And although China did undoubtedly have the admiration of some Englishmen in this period, most notably Royalists Peter Heylyn and John Webb, this article argues that such sentiments were not widespread.
See, for instance, Colin Mackerras, Western Images of China (Oxford and Hong Kong: Oxford U P, 1989); Thomas H. C. Lee, ed., China and Europe: Images and Influences in Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries (Hong Kong: Chinese U P, 1991); and David E. Mungello, The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500-1800 (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009) 113-46.
 I am defining certain accounts of China as “homebred” more to signify what they are not – that is, Portuguese or Spanish in origin – than what they are, which is, loosely speaking, accounts written (rather than translated) by the English, either at home or abroad.
 Colin Mackerras also argues that the increase in negative views of the Chinese concurred with the rise of specifically British imperialism (43).
 “H. C. Gent” also wrote “An Apologetical Defence of Fernand Mendez Pinto” in his 1663 translation of the same.
 See Jonathan Burton, ‘“A most wily bird”: Leo Africanus, Othello and the trafficking in difference”, Post-Colonial Shakespeares, ed, Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin (London and New York: Routledge, 1998) 43-63.
 Purchas’ resentment at having to rely on Iberian accounts of the Chinese is shared by William Wotton, who complained, as late as 1694, that “the whole Chinese history depends upon the sole authority of Martinius and [the] missionaries.” See his Reflections upon ancient and modern learning (London, 1694; Wing W3658) 144-45.
 Ben Jonson also subjected Iberian (and Jesuit in particular) travel writers to cynicism and ridicule in his masque, News from the New World discovered in the Moon (1620). In it, a chronicler, when receiving news of a world in the moon, bemoans having been cheated with false relations in the past (338). He is reassured, however, by the heralds that this time the report does not come to him via a “brother of the Rosie Cross’s intelligence” and that it, therefore, can be trusted (339). That this is an allusion to Jesuit accounts of China in particular, is made explicit when the heralds explain how the “The Brethren of the Rosie Cross have their college within a mile of the moon” (342). Since the Jesuits had founded several colleges in China in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the moon, then, can be read as a euphemism for China. Furthermore, in this “new world” we are told “the coaches are much of the nature of the ladies, for they go only with the wind,” to which the chronicler replies, “pretty like China wagons” (343). That Jonson would equate China with the moon further attests to the extent to which the English regarded Jesuit accounts of the said as fantastical.
 The (anonymous) English translator of the French traveller Henri de Feynes’ description of China also harbours the suspicion that the Iberians refrain from revealing the truth about China in case their European rivals, namely the Dutch, French and English, also gain “an entrance to that Earthly Paradise.” The Jesuits, he wrote, “enuiously barre [China] from all notice” (see Feynes, “A Preface” n. p.). Likewise, the English translator of Alvaro Semedo’s The history of that great and renowned monarchy of China claims in the preface that the Jesuits’ “reserve onely to themselves the knowledge of their own Affairs” (n.p.).
 See, for example, Daniel Vitkus, Turning Turk: English Theatre and the Multicultural Mediterranaen 1570-1630 (New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo (Oxford: Oxford U P, 2003); Matthew Dimmock, New Turks: Dramatising Islam and the Ottomans in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005); and Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University P, 1999).
 On Renaissance England’s self-conceptualisation as a merchant nation, see Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (London and Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992) 151-91.
 According to Francisco J. Borge, predating material success, England managed to create and develop an empire-oriented consciousness through the written word. See his “Richard Hakluyt, Promoter of the New World: The Navigational Origins of the English Nation.” Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies 13 (2003): 1-9.
 “Extract of a letter from George Ball in Bantam, 19 January 1617,” Oriental and India Office, IOR, G/12/1, 4.
 “Samuel Boyle, 20 December 1615,” Letters Received by the East India Company from its Servants in the East: Transcribed from the ‘Original Correspondence’ Series of the India Office Records, ed, Frederick Charles Danvers and Sir William Foster, 6 vols. (London: Sampson Low, Marston, 1896-1902), III, 261; “Letter from George Ball to Richard Cocks, 9th June 1617,” Letters Received by the East India Company, ed, Danvers and Foster, V, 13; “Richard Wickham at Osaka to John Osterwick at Hirado, 22nd September 1616,” The English Factory in Japan, 1613-1623, ed, Anthony Farrington, 2 vols. (London: British Library, 1991), I, 504.
 In Java, the Chinese also occupied their own living quarters, which Nicholas Downton called a “stinking stew” in a letter to Sir Thomas Smythe. See Letters Received by the East India Company, ed, Danvers and Foster, I, 260.
 Scott, An exact discourse, sigs. D4r, N2r, E1r, and N2r. Scott also writes that the Chinese are the “most effeminate and cowardliest people that liue,” sig. N4v. Similar sentiments were expressed by Sir Thomas Herbert in his A Relation of Some Yeares Travaile (London, 1634; STC 13190), in which he describes the Chinese as “subtle and cowardly” as well as “inveterate gamblers … given to Epicureanism” (206).
 Richard Baxter would similarly argue that the Chinese are a miserable race, more to be pitied than envied. See his The reasons of the Christian religion (London, 1667; Wing B1367) 200.
 Purchas was also reluctant to accept Pinto’s descriptions of the greatness of Chinese buildings and temples; beside the latter’s account of the castle(?) “Muxiparan,” which the writer claims was “compassed with a strong wall and ditch, with many stone Towers and painted pinnacles,” Purchas comments in the margins, “Another admirable Fabrike” (XII, 118).
 Cited in Robert Cawley, The Voyages and Elizabethan Drama (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1938) 211.
 See also Patrick Collinson, “Biblical Rhetoric: The English Nation and National Sentiment in the Prophetic Mode,” Religion and Culture in Renaissance England, ed, Claire Elizabeth McEachern and Debora K Shuger (Cambridge: Cambridge U P) 15-45.
 William Shakespeare, Richard II, in The Norton Shakespeare, ed, Stephen Greenblatt et. al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997) II. i. 40-58.
 In a letter dated 25 June 1656, Milton responds to Henry Oldenburg’s report of the anticipation surrounding the publication of Pere Martini’s Sinicae historiae by dismissing it as a “novelty” (Markley, The destin’d Walls 198).
 The fact that Sir John Mandeville’s indeterminate national identity was of no apparent significance to the medieval reader indicates that Europeans in their attitudes towards Others before the Reformation shared broadly the same conceptual outlook.
 Purchas also decries Pinto’s account of Chinese charity by writing in the margins “Filthy” (XII, 112).
 Purchas XII, 99, 288, 81 and 113.
 See, for instance, Purchas XII, 223.
 For a more in-depth discussion of the Jesuits’ accommodationist strategies in China, I refer the reader to David E. Mungello, Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology (Honolulu: U of Hawaii P, 1989); Thomas H. C. Lee, China and Europe: Images and Influences in Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries (Hong Kong: Chinese U P, 1991) 1-27; and Andrew Ross, A Vision Betrayed: The Jesuits in Japan and China, 1542-1742 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh U P, 1994).
 The edition cited from is Peter Mundy, The Travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667, 5 vols., ed. Richard Carnac Temple and Lavinia Mary Anstey (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, l907-36).
 Mundy III, 283-84 and 244.
 See Gary Wills, Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare’s Macbeth (New York and Oxford: Oxford U P, 1995) 94, and Alexandra Walsham, Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England, 1500-1700 (Manchester: Manchester U P, 2006) 26.
 These drawings have been commented upon (in a non-analytical way) in Rogerio Miguel Puga, “Images and Representations of Japan and Macao in Peter Mundy’s Travels (1637),” Bulletin of Portuguese/Japanese Studies 1 (2001): 97-109.
 For a more detailed account of these incidences, see Hosea Ballou Morse, The Chronicles of the East India Company: Trading to China, 1635-1834, 5 vols. (Oxford: The Clarendon P, 1926-1929) I, 18-28.
Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.
© 2011-, Annaliese Connolly and Matthew Steggle (Editors, EMLS).