Sämtliche schriften und briefe series I, volume 17
Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed)
pp 294-295

Date: end of June 1699 (?)

Translated from the French

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[A I 17, p294]

     Extract from my letter to the Reverend Father Gobien S.J.

     I finally received what you had the kindness to send me of your very useful works,1 for which I am very much obliged to you. If what you sent me the first time went through Münster, it may have been held back.2 For at present the relationship between that court and ours is not too good,3 although in my view that should not hinder the duties of honesty.
     I am sorry to see through an excerpt that you, my Reverend Father, had printed from my preface that you only had a copy of my Novissima Sinica on loan.4 If I had known this, I would have sent a copy by post.
     The rumour of the death of the Emperor of China reached us in two ways, namely via Russia and also by an English vessel from the East Indies, but I am delighted that this [rumour] is dying down.
     I hope that Reverend Father Bouvet will remember my questions.5 One of the things I am curious to know is the locations of the peoples of Scythia or Tartary and also their languages, to thereby judge how they are related. I am also waiting for more insight on the analysis of Chinese characters and on the critique of their ancient histories.
     I am delighted to hear what you tell me, my Reverend Father, of the last exploits of the Chinese against the Elouths. I would very much like a kind of map of the countries between [A I 17, p295] China, the Eastern Sea, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the Indies, in order to better understand the relations. I hope this victory means your fathers will be able to take a path on land that Father Grimaldi had tried without success, which would be to go to China through Persia and Uzbekistan, that is, through Bukhara, because I think it was this war with the Elouths that had prevented him from getting through.6
     Thank you also for the letter from Madam Constance, who shows a heroic virtue. If Reverend Father Tachard finds learned academies in the Kingdom of Orissa, I have no doubt that he will gain insights from them. For the Siamese epoch on which Mr de la Loubère had reported clearly shows that there were once very able people in this country.7
     If the court language of these peoples of Orissa is close to Persian, I conclude that it is a former colony or rather conquest of the Uzbeks.
     It has been a long time since I heard anything from Reverend Father Kochański, but your obliging words about him give me reason to write to him again.8 He is very old, but I hope he is still alive. I would like to deserve your gifts by some service etc.


1. Namely, [Charles le Gobien], Lettre sur les progrez de la religion à la Chine (n.p.: n.p., 1697).
2. In his letter to Leibniz of 10 June 1699, le Gobien mentioned that he was disappointed to hear that a copy of his Histoire de l'edit de l'empereur de la Chine (Paris: J. Anisson, 1698), which he had sent to Münster five or six months earlier, had not been passed on to Leibniz as he had hoped. See A I 17, 248-249.
3. The Akademie editors note that Münster was one of the most resolute opponents of Hannover's elevation to an Electorate.
4. In his Lettre sur les progrez de la religion à la Chine, 1-2, le Gobien explained that he had had a copy of Leibniz's Novissima Sinica (1697) in his hands for only a few hours, as the book's owner did not wish to part with it. Nevertheless, le Gobien did have time to made a French translation of a short excerpt from the preface of Leibniz's book, which he printed in Lettre sur les progrez de la religion à la Chine, 3-14.
5. See Leibniz's letter to Bouvet of 2 December 1697: A I 14, no. 470; English translation available here.
6. The Akademie editors note that Grimaldi's attempt to get to China by land failed due to the Tsar's refusal to allow him to pass through.
7. See Simon de la Loubère, Du royaume de Siam (Amsterdam: Abraham Wolfgang, 1691).
8. Adam Adamandy Kochański (1631-1700), a Polish mathematician, physicist and clockmaker. Kochański's last letter to Leibniz is dated 11 June 1698; see A I 15, no. 140.

© Lloyd Strickland 2020