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Canton, 1807–1809
in Chinese dreams in Romantic England
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Manning arrived in Canton in January 1807. He planned to study Chinese while looking for opportunities to explore the interior. The borders of the Empire were strictly closed to outsiders, and Manning lived with the small community of European traders in a cramped parcel of land near the docks. He experienced something of a culture shock, not being prepared for the full extent of the restrictions imposed on foreigners, who were not even allowed to leave the port area and enter the city itself. Nevertheless, he made slow progress with Chinese, and planned various abortive expeditions into China. He attempted a voyage to Cochinchina (Vietnam), and applied to serve in Peking as one of the emperor’s personal mathematicians and astronomers. The chapter explores the complexities of Manning’s self-image as a Romantic English liberal patriot in 1800s Canton in the hothouse atmosphere of the Napoleonic Wars.

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Chinese dreams in Romantic England

The life and times of Thomas Manning

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