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Charles Le Gobien



French Jesuit and founder of the famous collection of "Lettres édifiantes et curieuses", one of the most important sources of information for the history of Catholic missions, b. at St­Malo, Brittany, 25 November, 1671; d. at Paris, 5 March, 1708. He entered the Society of Jesus on 25 November, 1671. As professor of philosophy and especially while procurator of the FrancO-Chinese mission, he sought in a series of admirable papers to awaken the interest of the cultivated classes in the great work of Christianizaing Eastern Asia. In 1697 appeared at Paris his "Lettres sur les progréz de la religion à la Chine". Apropos of the violent literary feud then in progress concerning the so-called "Chinese Rites", 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 Pére 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, unfortunately omitting the valuable 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).

SOMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la Comp. de Jésus, s. v. Gobien; DE GUILHERMY, Ménologe de la Comp. de Jésus, I (Paris, 1892), 324; Nouv. biogr. gén., XXX (Paris, 1883), 403; FELLER, Dict. hist., IV, 82.

A. HUONDER








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