Letter from Thomas Manning, Canton, 12 February 1808

Scope and Content

Letter from Thomas Manning to William Manning from Canton. Manning writes about the disappointment in not receiving letters but that he had one from his father and one from his brother, Edward, with a copying machine. He has sent Mr Woodward and Mr Wilkins some onion seeds in the care of George Staunton. He has written several times and hopes they are not lost. He has an upset stomach and has ordered congee - a rice gruel. He is generally in good health. He resumes the letter the next day after the Alfred had docked and was pleased to have received post including from his father dated November 1806. He had a letter from Robert Thomson, a Scot settled in France and translator of La Fontaine's stories. He recounts an episode when in France of acting on Thomson's behalf to become an English teacher at a premier French college. He then writes that he is about to embark on a trip to Cochinchina (south Vietnam). He is going with the Company boats who will put him down at Turon (Da Nang) and if he is received favourably will stay there for a month. But if the Mandarins or the Frenchmen at the Cochinchina court would "rather have my room than my company" he will stay aboard the Company boat or return to Macao with the Portuguese expedition. He considers those of Cochinchina as half civilised vagabonds but wants to compare the language with Chinese and also to see whether he could be employed by the court as Physician in a Cochinchina Embassy to Pekin. he has other plans but will not commit them to paper. He admits he is not good at belonging to institutions otherwise he might have been employed by the Honorable Company. He has petitioned to the Mandarins that he may go to Pekin to feel the Emperor's pulse and teach him to calculate eclipses. He thinks this will not happen because the English in India's fame spreads too fast for Asiatic potentates. He then writes of his opinion of the French and English at war. Handwritten, 4 sides. Dated 12 February 1808