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35 THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S PEKING GAZETTE by Jonathan Ocko Yale University The British Museum's unique collection of Peking Gazettes was found in 1958, together with the documents comprising the P. R. O. 's Kwangtung Archive, in a former church's attic on the about to be demolished grounds of the old British Legation in Peking. Most of the gazettes bear the stamp of the British Superintendent of Trade, after 1858 a concurrent title of the British minister in Peking. They were probably obtained by the Chinese Secretary's Office both for practice in reading documentary Chinese and for keeping informed on current Chinese political affairs. Shipped to England in old ammunition crates, the gazettes were deposited in the B. M. 's State Papers Room (where the official documents of foreign governments are kept) and after nearly a decade in the crates, were catalogued and boxed by Michael Saso, now of Western Washington State University. The number of issues per reign accurately mirrors the growth of Britain's interest and position in China. There are only three issues for Chia-ch'ing and nine for the first decade of Taokuang . Although coverage improves after TK 11, it becomes good only after the beginning of Hsien-feng. From HF 3 there is more 36 than one type of edition per year, and from mid Hsien-feng until 1908, when the Gazette ceased publication, the collection is fairly complete. Unfortunately many of the issues are deteriorating and extremely fragile. UndeT the direction of Howard Nelson, of the B. M. 's Department of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts about one third of the Tad-kuang and all of the Hsien-feng issues have been repaired, but these constitute only a small portion of the total holdings. Consequently the museum does not encourage heavy use, especially by browsers, but it will consider requests to use limited portions of the collection. In the summer of 1970, while working on my dissertation ("Ting Jih-ch'ang and Kiangsu 1864-1870"), I was given permis 1 sion to use the museum's holding of T'ung-chih Peking Gazettes. Translations of the gazettes were published intermittently in the Chinese Repository and in the North China Herald, and from 18721900 in toto by the Herald. Yet the Gazette, a century ago the foreigners' single most important source on Chinese affairs, has been largely ignored by twentieth century historians. It seems that the Gazette has suffered from its lack of status as a journal of record and from it* paucity of materials on foreign affairs. However, on the basis of my research, I would suggest that the Peking Gazette is worthy of more attention. And fortunately for - 37 students of the Hsien-feng and T'ung-chih reigns, the muse-um's collection affords us that opportunity. The ChMag dynasty's Peking Gazette was the last in a long 2 line of "Capital Re-pprts" that dated back to the Early Han. Essentially it was an officially recognized means by which documents approved for publication were copied, printed, and transmitted to the high provincial officials in ord«r to acquaint them with affairs outside their own jurisdictions. On any day a gazette consisted of three parts: first, the Nei-wu fu prepared Kung-men ch'ao ( ^ \ \aJ ) or court news, listing audiences, officials and banner guards on duty, and imperial verbal mandates; second, copies of decrees and rescripts; third, copies of memorials for which the relevant rescript had already been printed. However, as Teng and Fairb%nk (in Ch'ing Administration, Three Studies), Britton, and others hav» shown, the Peking Gazette existed in a variety of forms, both official and non-official, and under a variety of 3 names. Theoretically the official gazette was prepared in Peking by each province's resident Superintendent of Post (t'i-t'anga^jr¦jïfê) ). By law he was required to attend the Six Sections daily in person, copy the posted documente, print them at his own publishing house (pao-fang -ffS Ä ), and then send the gazette out by s- 38 4 official post. In practice, however, the t'i-t'ang exercised at best only nominal supervision over these procedures...


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