Desultory Notes on the Government and People of China, and on the Chinese Language
Inspired by the lectures in Munich of the German orientalist Karl Friedrich Neumann, Thomas Taylor Meadows (1815-68) devoted himself to the study of Chinese in 1841, with the aim of entering British service. He arrived in China early in 1843 and rose quickly to the post of consular interpreter at the key treaty port of Canton (Guangzhou), where he remained for several years. During this time, he developed a keen understanding of Chinese affairs, shrewdly cultivating an intelligence network of amenable informants. First published in 1847, this work addresses diverse topics, ranging from the difficulties in learning written and spoken Chinese, through to the nature of bureaucracy and corruption in Canton province. The book sheds light on the period and the tensions in southern China prior to the Taiping Rebellion, a subject later covered by Meadows in The Chinese and their Rebellions (1856), which is also reissued in this series.