Amyot, Joseph

Amyot, Joseph a Jesuit missionary to China, was born at Toulon in 1718. At the close of 1750 he arrived at Macao in company with two Portuguese Jesuits, and the brethren of that order already established at Peking presented a petition to the reigning emperor, Keen-Loong, to the effect that the newcomers were well acquainted with mathematics, music, and medicine. A-persecution against the Christians was going on, but the reply of the emperor was favorable, and he directed the missionaries to be conveyed to Peking at the public expense. Amyot gives an interesting account of the journey in a letter inserted in the "Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses," from which these particulars are taken. On arriving at the capital, where an underhand sort of toleration was extended to the missionaries, he applied himself to the study of the Chinese, and afterward to the Manchoo-Tartar language and literature, in both of which he made great proficiency. From that time he appears to have acted rather as a missionary of learning than of religion. While his name scarcely figures at all in the "Lettres Edifiantes," not a year seems to have passed without his dispatching to Europe some information on the history and manners of the Chinese and Tartars, to the illustration of which he contributed more than any other writer of the 18th century. He remained at Peking 43 years, during which time the order to which he belonged was dissolved, and more than one vigorous persecution was directed against the Christians in China. At the time of Lord Macartney's embassy in 1793, Amyot wrote a letter to the ambassador on his arrival in Peking, "expressive of the most fervent wishes for his success, and offering every assistance that his experience could supply;" but he was then so infirm as not to be able to wait on Lord Macartney. In the following year, 1794, he died at Peking, at the age of 76. Among his works are: 1. Abrege histor. des principaux traits de la vie de Confucius (Paris, 1789), the best history of the Chinese philosopher, the material of which has been carefully selected from the most authentic Chinese sources: — 2. Dictionnaire Tatare-Mantcheou-Francais, edit. by Langles (Paris, 1789, 3 vols.): — 3. Grammaire Tatare-Mantcheou (in the 3d vol. of the Mem. concernant la Chine) -Lettres Edifiantes, tom. 28.

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