David Abeel
Journal of a Residence in China and the
Neighboring Countries from 1829 to 1833

Abeel, David:
Journal of a Residence in China, and the Neighboring Countries, from 1829 to 1833, New York, Leavitt, Lord & Co. and Boston, Crocker & Brewster, 1834, pebbled and blind stamped green cloth with gilt title lettering on the spine, 12mo (13 x 20 cm), 398 pp. The book is derived from the author's journal account of his stay in Canton with visits to Macao, Java, Batavua, Malayasia, Siam (Thailand) and Singapore. Abeel also includes commentary on Borneo, the Celebes, the Philippines, Loo Choo islands and Japan which he apparently did not visit.

Abeel, a minister of the Reformed Dutch Church in North America, was dispatched by the American Seaman's Friend Society to China and South Eastern Asia. His charter was:

...to act as chaplain to seamen and foreign residents speaking the English language.

At the expiration of the first year, he left China on a tour to some of the islands and continental kingdoms of South-eastern Asia, with the double purpose of ascertaining the most important post for missions, and of rendering himself useful in that station, which presented the most claims upon his service. (Preface)

This is Abeel's report of the state of Christianity in the Far East and recommendations as to possible Christian missions. The book is a day to day journal of his venture. It begins on October 14, 1829 with his departure for Canton, China and ends on May 25, 1833 with his departure from Singapore for England. His journal is then followed by Chapters on Borneo, Celebes, Philippine Islands, Loo Choo Islands and Japan (Chapters XIII - XVII). These chapters are based upon Abeel's research rather than person visit/observation.

The Chapter on Loo Choo (Chapter XVI) is 7 pages long and is relies heavily on reports by Gutzlaff. For Okinawa, Abeel mused "How shall these lovely islands be reduced to the domain of Christ?" (page 367) and answered this question with the suggestion of "missionary ships" (page 367).

The Chapter on Japan (Chapter XVII) is 9 pages long. One M.M. Brun and the Indo-Chinese Gleaner is cited/referenced by by Abeel in the Japan commentary.

Regarding both Japan and Loo Choo, Abeel's comments are foresaw the Perry Expedition which would be launched in 20 years. He noted:

We find that at Japan, the Loo Choo islands and China, the people are favorable to a free intercourse with other nations. Let ships then be sent forth with such articles of traffic as may be useful to the heathen, accompanied with missionaries and physicians, who can benefit their souls and bodies, and go in and dwell among them. (Page 377)

Contents. (Abbreviated Version - Full Version, Click here)

CHAP. I. -- Departure from New-York ...... 14
CHAP. II. -- Chinese fishing boats ....... 61
CHAP. III. -- Description of Canton and its vicinity ....... 93
CHAP. IV. -- Worship in English ...... 126
CHAP. V. -- Female infanticide ..... 133
CHAP. VI. -- Missionary labors at Canton and Whampoa ...... 142
CHAP. VII. -- Passage to Java ...... 151
CHAP. VIII. -- Angier -- Journey to Batavia ...... 192
CHAP- IX. -- Passage to Singapore ...... 208
CHAP. X. -- Description of Siam -- City of Bankok ...... 261
CHAP. XI -- Passage to Singapore -- Mr. Thomsen ...... 319
CHAP. XII. -- Passage to Singapore ...... 331
CHAP. XIII. -- Borneo ...... 342
CHAP. XlV. -- Celebes ...... 351
CHAP. XV. -- Philippine islands ...... 360
CHAP. XVI. -- Loo Choo islands ...... 367
CHAP. XVII. -- Japan ...... 377
CHAP. XVIII. -- Conclusion ...... 398

 

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