LETTERS OF JOSÉ
IGNACIO DE ANDRADE
Letters Written from India and China date to
the first half of the 19th century and are undoubtedly an enormous contribution
to a better understanding of the way the Portuguese viewed the Far East,
and China in particular. The information and experience the Portuguese
accumulated during their long sojourn in the Far East were vital in shaping
a universe where Portuguese culture plays an unquestionable part. It extends
beyond the narrow confines of language as history has left us other forms,
one in which we may still trace the passage of all manners of men who
travelled the four corners of the world on their ceaseless discovery of
new things. The Portuguese world today is an amalgam of styles, whether
in architecture, cookery, music or countless other areas.
As far as the Far East was concerned, the Portuguese were to get to know
the lands and peoples of the Indian and Pacific oceans between the sixteenth
and eighteenth centuries. The twin powers of crown and church usually
set the objectives, which were then achieved by missionaries, sailors
and merchants and their Luso-Asian descendants. They came into direct
contact with new places and their peoples, studied and reflected on them
and disseminated knowledge in their written works, some of which were
descriptive in character while others were more scientific. We thus helped
build up a bank of scientific knowledge by providing a source of information
From the nineteenth century onwards, the Portuguese influence in the Far
East changed completely due to transformations taking place all over world
on very different levels: economic, social, political, scientific. The
attitude of the Westerner towards the "other" also changed,
so it is important to know what some Portuguese writers, who are not necessarily
known in the history of Portuguese literature, had to say. They remain,
however, outside the sphere of investigative study and analyses on Portuguese
"Orientalism" today. A great deal has been written and published
on Camilo Pessanha, Venceslau de Morais, Eça de Queirós
and Antero de Quental, while others are omitted; however, they could make
important contributions to a more thorough analysis of how the Portuguese
looked on China. We regret that although some work has been carried out
on this subject, no systematic work exists on the views, thoughts, and
even - why ever not - the feelings this area of the Far East has kindled
in all those who have spent an important part of their lives investigating
and getting to know distant China.
We shall focus on that Imperial nation and endeavour to draw four "portraits"
of China that the ordinary man may still see today, filled with all its
historical legends and myths. We may with all modesty say at the end of
the project whether there was (or not) a "Portuguese view" on
José Ignacio de Andrade
The Cartas Escriptas da India e da China by José Ignacio de Andrade
are without any doubt an invaluable help to find out more about the way
the Portuguese looked on or viewed the Far East, and particularly China.
They are thus the material we draw on for our first "portrait".
José Ignacio de Andrade was born in the Azores in 1779, and was
an unexceptional civil servant in the colonial administration. He was
councillor at the Lisbon City Hall between 1836 and 1839 at which time
he became Lord Mayor and director of the Bank of Portugal. He was married
twice. Maria Gertrudes de Andrade was his first wife and he addressed
most of these letters to her.
José Ignacio de Andrade was a man of his times; culturally and
ideologically influenced by liberal humanism and individualistic views
on the world. He spent many of his eighty-two years reflecting on, learning
and writing in a sensitive manner about the Far East. He left behind his
Letters, which form a set of a hundred short impressions, first published
in two volumes by the Imprensa Nacional in 1843.
He demonstrates his wide understanding of China, gleaned during his twenty
years in the Far East, in his long written work of close to 370 pages
recently published by "Livros do Oriente". These hundred letters
are filled with descriptions and thoughts about what he observed and studied,
and are divided into two parts: the first fifty letters (volume one) focus
on the start of his journey to India, some aspects of Indian civilisation,
his voyage to Macau and China, and finally on Chinese ancient history.
In the remaining fifty letters which make up volume two, the author looks
at different characteristics of Chinese civilisation and pauses to reflect
on other topics. They help us understand his line of thought as they make
a comparison between the West and what he was learning about China.
The voyages of José Ignacio de Andrade
When a Portuguese author undertakes to make a description of China, he
is expected to embark on a whole range of experiences and voyages: one
in distance and space to visit the places he observes, to collect information
and reflect on it: another in time, if he brings historical information
about the places he visits and wants to consider in some way the frame
of time in which his voyage took place; and then another as he comes across
other habits and customs, ways of behaviour and thinking of the different
peoples he meets, and he must travel from himself to reach the other.
Voyages directed at getting to know the ways - in this case those of the
Orient - by pausing to ponder on differences and similarities, but mainly
giving importance to the special features of the people and places visited.
These voyages are accounted for in letters that likewise travel, and this
is how the author wants to make his ideas known and allow the reader to
feel the full range of all the other journeys.
José Ignacio de Andrade goes on all these journeys and narrates
them in his Letters. He takes us, his readers, down faraway roads in space
and time, and also along narrow paths that lead to his inner world which
at times reveal the man.
Although Ignacio de Andrade refused to be considered a traveller or a
wise man, this work does blend facts and information with observations
of the world during his journey. As he looks on the sky, the earth, and
the sea, the author elaborates on what he has learnt and translates his
thoughts into reason - several ideas in my head - his sentiments - too
many feelings in my heart. These are the limits Ignacio de Andrade puts
on his work and he presents in his Avertência (Warning) in which
he also tries, rather unsuccessfully, to introduce himself modestly to
Curing the course of his letters, Ignacio de Andrade leaves Lisbon for
India, then goes to Macau and China, and finally returns to Lisbon all
in a period of twenty years. But, let us focus for the moment on his first
journey to Calcutta, which takes up the first five letters. We are invited
to accompany him on his sea journey and his thoughts on the history of
Portugal in his Sahida de Lisboa [Departure from Lisbon] as he passes
Madeira and crosses the equator. These letters become a form of travel
literature, which is not a mere description of what he observes with the
passage of time and distance
His first letter begins with the anguish that all travellers feel when
they start on a long journey, that is to say, he fears there will be no
return. It seems as if a deep abyss opens up in the wake of the ship which
will prevent me from returning for ever. What gloomy thought! He quickly
drives such ideas away, and directs his attention back to Lisbon as it
slowly grows more distant, to Sintra and the poet Camões who celebrated
it and best represents the universality of Portuguese culture. Andrade
must have remembered him not only because of Sintra but also because he
is the poet whose works most closely identify with the imagery of ever-present
voyages. So Ignacio de Andrade begins by contemplating the universe, and
remembering all things that exist in the vastness of the earth. And from
the earth he goes back to the sea on which he is travelling and praises
the seamen who brought together the worlds of the world, despite their
homesickness, deprivations and constant dangers. This is followed by his
journey to Madeira. Ignacio de Andrade makes a brief incursion into the
history of the archipelago and writes about Prince Henry the Navigator.
He places him on a sacred promontory as the personification of all the
efforts the Portuguese made in their long sea voyages. Crossing the equator,
he starts to contemplate his inner world in the light of a new question,
this time the adventure that he might encounter during his long journey
just started. The line of the equator was obviously a good place to start
to think deeply about the two worlds - the stoical and the libidinous
-, which he saw as a balance between the negation of feelings and the
pleasure of exciting feelings. He then returns to the initial theme, the
balance between reason and feelings, and suggests finding a point of harmony
between these two inner worlds, divided along a line very similar to that
of the equator. An imaginary line that separates different civilising
worlds, but where a balance can be struck and which, in the last instance,
is to be found inside man himself. The adventure of man lies in himself:
it comes from his heart, and consists of moderating his wishes, and goes
on to conclude that feelings must be subordinated to the dictates of virtue:
this is where the adventure lies: "Serenity and contentment",
said Zeno, "are the accessories of good."
The voyage continues southwards to its last obstacle before India: it
must double the Cape of Good Hope. A passage to the world which will become
a favourite point for José Ignacio de Andrade to examine and study.
A passage to a new world of hope, opened by Bartolomeu Dias and located
in the Orient. This is where he presents his Introduction, in the two
worlds that are to fill an important part of his life: India and China.
For four hundred years the ocean was an intercontinental link that joined
peoples by way of constant commercial, cultural and political exchanges.
An exchange, too, of information that circulated by way of the sea, and
which Ignacio de Andrade selects as his favourite topic in his introduction.
He stresses its essential role in advancing knowledge among all people
who contact other peoples. The sea that had been an obstacle to overcome
until technology, in particular mathematics, came to their help. They
then were able to obtain the things that are necessary in order to enjoy
life, and the author again emphasises the need to find a balance; not
only what is good is useful, what is beautiful has also got a useful side.
José Ignacio de Andrade presents his aims in this Introduction
and the methods he will use to achieve them. His goal is to investigate
the customs of his fellow men that live in other places and in other historical
times, that is to say, within the frame of their own history. As for methodology,
Ignacio de Andrade resorts to travelling in physical distance - to the
Orient - and to remote periods of time by writing letters. Why letters?
He was concerned not only in the knowledge but also in how it was transmitted.
It was his contention that writing was born in the character of the person
and his elegance of mind and is transformed by fine feelings in the act
of writing. What better means was there of transmitting the highest number
of things in the least number of words than in a letter where knowledge
and feeling mingled harmoniously to produce a more complete message?
In India… with the British
India is the first eastern world that José Ignacio de Andrade writes
about in his letters. As he sails into Calcutta, he starts off by describing
it as the capital of India, or then the centre of English power in Asia.
And so he sets the tone in which he will acquaint his readers with India
in a description where British colonisation is the negative side of the
After the city of Calcutta, José Ignacio de Andrade reflects on
the Indians and their religion, especially on the transmigration of souls,
which he compares with Pythagorean philosophy. He expresses his admiration
for this religious phenomenon: On examination of its principles, I feel
I am among ruins: but they are ruins of immense buildings erected on the
most ancient sacred book of Brahma, the lawgiver. He devotes the whole
of his seventh letter to this book and transcribes parts of it to explain
the basis of Indian religion. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the main figures
in a religious system that also explains the creation of the world. He
later takes up this topic again and adds more information on Indian mythology
and religious sects - Sikhs, Brahmenes and Buddhas - as well as the religious
orders of India and their social functions in Indian temples.
Ignacio de Andrade makes cross-references in his letters to Indian religious
systems and their social organisation (based on four castes: priests,
warriors, commoners and labourers) as well as the laws that govern it
based on a moral code embedded in man’s nature.
After nine letters devoted to Indian social and religious orders, Ignacio
de Andrade draws the reader to the negative side of this Eastern region
to examine British colonisation through the East India Company. His criticism
of the British in India is violent at times. He denounces their expansion
into the interior of the subcontinent and the British government’s abuse
of power. But José Ignacio de Andrade goes beyond that and compares
the British colonisation to the Mongol invasion and occupation. That a
barbarian conqueror murders his vanquished enemies should not be considered
unusual; it is the custom of the uncivilised and savage; but the British
company of India should be detested for destroying an empire and murdering
most of its inhabitants…
The way Ignacio de Andrade refers to the English contrasts sharply with
his description of Indian society and religion: an Eastern world of harmony
with its superior civilisation in comparison to a British Western world
which is to blame for the decadence of India because of Britain’s overwhelming
ambition and repressive power. In truth, I see things in the English capital
of India which if I were to describe, you yourself would doubt. They are
so hideous and outlandish!
We thus come across one of the most consistent features of his work: a
feeling that permeates the whole of Portuguese society in the first quarter
of the nineteenth century which had for a long time been dominated by
British troops and the supremacy of British foreign policy. Anti-British
feelings that had even spread to the African and Asian colonies, specifically
Macau, had grown more acute after the 1802 and 1808 crises and reach its
peak during the first Opium War. In no way does Ignacio de Andrade hide
how influenced he is by these feelings and has no qualms in expressing
them plainly and simply to his readers in his letters.
What more must be said to judge English benevolence? That they rage constant
war throughout the world? That they have killed six million Indians in
the Benguella region? That they have committed acts of horrendous piracy,
taking ships that should have been safe from them (…). These barbaric
acts cannot be described without the pen failing in the horror…
Apart from the Western-Eastern conflict of civilisations that Ignacio
de Andrade reflects in his correspondence, there is also the matter of
the British-Portuguese colonial rivalry. He ceaselessly denounces this
political and economic rivalry, contrasting British greed with the Portuguese
attitude in the same places.
José Ignacio de Andrade provides information about the Punjab,
trade and industry. He gives special importance to anfião - the
opium he refers to again when he makes a description of China. The last
letter - Jardins de Calcuttá [Gardens of Calcutta]- is written
on the eve of his departure for China, via Malacca and Singapore.
Passage to Macau
Once more on his way, José Ignacio de Andrade makes a broad description
of the two towns on route to China. He marks his arrival in Macau in his
letter Estabelecimento dos portuguezes na China [The settling of the Portuguese
in China] and tries to make a brief summary of the history of the Portuguese
in Imperial China. Ignacio de Andrade remembers former undertakings, and
attributes the origin of the Cidade de Macau to the persistence of the
Portuguese along the coast of China, and the fact that they were tenacious
in their efforts. He follows the path of history taken by Fernão
Mendes Pinto, who he carefully refers to with the corroboration of the
old manuscripts that I managed to find in the notary office at the Senate.
Following this detailed report on its history, Ignacio de Andrade returns
to the present time to describe the town: its geographic location, the
fortifications built to defend the settlement against foreign attacks,
forms of government, population and administrative departments. At that
time, there were three parishes with twenty two thousand, five hundred
souls, all in a space of just a league in circumference.
In Macau, Ignacio de Andrade comes up with four basic remarks: a critique
on the way the government of the settlement has evolved, a word on Luso-Chinese
relations, further declarations against British policy in the East and
With regard to the first issue, Ignacio de Andrade makes a comparison
in his 31st letter between the noble spirit that inspired the foundation
of the town and the men who in one way or another were tyrannising the
settlement: the captains-general who opposed the government by the citizens.
Ignacio de Andrade, imbued with liberal ideals, loudly defends the authority
of the senate which was in jeopardy if just one tyrant questioned it and
thus endangered the prosperity of the town, and sometimes even its very
survival. Francisco Mascarenhas, Diogo de Pinho Teixeira, António
José Telles and Mendes da Cunha are the names he gives as examples
of men whose policies were harmful to Macau. The necessary reforms were
either not started at all or else carried out in such a manner that they
ended up inflicting even more damage on the settlement. This was Ignacio
de Andrade’s critical view of how Macau was being governed, especially
after the crisis that had come to a head in mid-seventeenth century. It
was a critical view and politically directed at encouraging people to
participate and share in a government of Macau based on the senate so
that a government of honest citizens may oppose the tyranny and despotism
of the captains-general.
The remarks on the Chinese-Portuguese relations were written in the Grotto
of Camões, an inspiring place to come up with some considerations
about the state in which he found Macau, in the heels of his criticism
of its government. His attention goes to issues that have existed throughout
the history of Macau and Luso-Chinese relations: the limits of Portuguese
sovereignty marked by a number of prohibitions such as, for example, admitting
Japanese into Macau, buying subjects, erecting new buildings; depending
on China specially with regard to food. Ignacio de Andrade defends that
just as the Chinese government is special, so should the government of
this town be, as it depends on China for everything. He recommends three
lines of action: 1- we must get to know Chinese customs properly so that
we do not cause offence: 2 - we should exercise great prudence and tolerate
those that suffer and support strangers in their land: 3 - we should have
few but good soldiers; that is to say, tough and disciplined. In any other
place a good-sized corps for its brute force would be fitting, but in
Macau it would not do any good as it would be an added expense the town
cannot sustain; it would also offend Chinese. Although these are not original
ideas, they are in fact very relevant considering they are mentioned in
a work such as these Letters. Apart from their contents, which spell out
how a good government must know how to maintain an open and sincere friendship
with the Chinese authorities, these proposals are also in line with the
general opinions of the author with regard to China as well as his constant
criticism of British policy, which was incapable of achieving this entente
and preferred to impose itself through imperial arrogance.
In his letter Defeza dos macaenses [Defence of the Macanese], Ignacio
de Andrade keeps at arms length from some British writers on Macau and
the Portuguese in China. He refutes what they say about the Portuguese
and Chinese, who, in this letter, appear both as victims of British policy,
the true usurpers. He gives his account of the Orient not only by praising
the Portuguese in Asia but also through his assertions about other Western
powers, in this case, the British.
Finally, the missionaries in Macau and China are on more than one occasion
exposed to his severe criticism, especially in relation to the divisions
that reigned between the religious orders and their national origins.
Once again the superiority and dignity of Chinese authorities are held
up as examples when, thanks to the prudence of the Mandarins, a rumour
is squashed that the missionaries intended to place Father Caetano on
the throne of Imperial China, or when the Emperor Kang-Hi accepts to receive
on four occasions the Patriarch of Alexandria, Mezza Barba, which reveals
the disputes of Christian policy in China.
A portrait of China
José Ignacio de Andrade devotes nearly half his letters to China.
In the first - Viagem de Macao a Cantão - he interestingly sets
out what his aims and concerns are and recalls the censor Catao-yu-se
and the advice he gave the Mandarin, Chan-pi-pi, when he came to Europe
on a visit. Each portion of the world has its own history; examine that
of the Europeans; you will find an image of their customs in it. However,
that is not enough to assess the characters of the inhabitants: history
only relates the great events and men could become known in less important
causes that occur about them. Then the Mandarin is given a number of points
he should observe in order to guide him. This is what Ignacio de Andrade
wanted to do for himself when he got to China, although he was aware that
it was easier for a Chinese to make such an inquiry in Europe in three
years than a European to conduct one in China in thirty years.
After an account of his voyage to Canton, which took sixty hours, Ignacio
de Andrade describes the city and quoting Mr Laplace he says that this
floating Venice offers an important lesson to Europeans as to what real
civilisation is. Canton is astir with commerce and people (their numbers
are reported variably between five hundred thousand and the million and
a half, which Ignacio is inclined to favour), and wealth is distributed
among more than twenty thousand houses of rich merchants. The doors are
laid open to the writer’s sincere admiration for the civilisation he is
about to investigate and write about in the letters that follow, and he
starts off by giving the ancient history of Imperial China.
Ignacio de Andrade then begins the saga of the Chinese dynasties he knows:
the first emperors, legends, beliefs, myths and characters to whom he
gives body and credence. However, even before he begins an account of
Chinese dynasties and their main emperors, he clearly defines his purpose,
which is to demonstrate that the Chinese have done good for mankind. He
thus admonishes others who despite their universal prestige (Montesquieu,
for instance) had written about China without ever visiting it, while
he applauds others who had undergone the journey - Gaspar Correia, Pereira
and Magalhães - and examined the laws, customs and habits of this
ancient Oriental empire. His experiences carry more weight than any pure
scientific speculation, though it is evident from his letters that Ignacio
de Andrade can develop brilliant arguments on what he observes and consequently
is perfectly qualified to write truthfully on the empire that he is visiting.
As Chinese dynasty after dynasty file past in his letters, Ignacio de
Andrade also leaves impressions on which he sketches his basic outlines
of China. From the very first dynasty, in which he writes of the great
works of Yu, he describes how its end was sealed because of the tyranny
of the last emperor and how it set a standard that was to remain throughout
the history of the empire: that is to say, a people would overthrow their
emperor if he failed to do his duty. When we look into the origins of
imperial dynasties, we see the link that binds a king to his people, and
their right to overthrow him should he forget his duties. This is the
principle that prevails throughout the Chinese Empire. This principle,
one that directed the people of China’s political lives, sets Ignacio
de Andrade pondering about power and the tyrants that exercise it and
their relations with the people they govern. However, he ends up putting
the blame not on the oppressor but on those who let themselves be dominated.
The king who practices such shameful abuses of power is less to blame
than those who tolerate them. Yes, for where there are no slaves, there
can be no tyrants. Just as when he criticised the captains-general of
Macau, Ignacio de Andrade once again praises any system of government
that allows the governed the means to decide upon how they are governed.
In China these means were clearly in the hands of the people who had the
possibility to revolt against their emperor if he failed in his obligations.
José Ignacio de Andrade undertakes a more or less thorough, albeit
brief summary of the whole of Chinese history and he gives credit to the
more positive contributions of each dynasty. However, he never fails to
point out the emperors who were tyrants, ambitious or bloodthirsty, and
violated the rights of the people. Whenever this happened, the people
would rebel and subsequently open the way for the start of a new dynasty.
The history of China comes to an end with the first volume of letters.
The second volume starts with a description of the physical and psychological
characteristics of the Chinese, though he first feels the need to find
evidence to corroborate his statements. He finds what he seeks in the
first Portuguese who came in contact with the Chinese: Afonso de Albuquerque,
Tomé Pires, Gaspar da Cruz and Fernão Mendes Pinto are called
to testify because they tell the truth. Thus, Ignacio de Andrade finds
the support and credibility he wants for his own views in old documents.
On the other hand, his letters, now with added insights and research,
in their turn validate the ancient records, in particular those that had
previously raised a few doubts. Present and past opinions confirm one
another and the writer now feels free to continue his research.
The Chinese is seen as the "other" different from all "others",
because of his physical appearance (high forehead, well-shaped mouth,
broad white face, black hair tied at the back) as well as his psychological
characteristics (passive, sensible and restrained; superstitious, industrious,
patient and temperate). They also had one very lofty virtue: a love for
their country and the power to thwart tyrants. In what country do such
sublime virtues exist? In Europe? No. Historians in their petty interest
sell their nation’s honour to the tyrant to enslave it further.
José Ignacio Andrade then starts his descriptive account of China,
in the different everyday things that together make the sum of any people
and any civilisation. The same admiration, or rather, the same praise
for Chinese civilisation either in itself or then in comparison with another
Western state comes through in each description. At times, his writing
shows how that admiration could very easily become an acknowledgement
of the superiority of that Oriental civilisation, the most flourishing
empire in the world.
Phrases like these are strewn in nearly all his letters on virtually all
the subjects he broaches: it is truly an advance in civilisation, the
fairness which the Chinese observe when they determine their taxes… Chinese
laws about the fair sex are strict… in Europe they are barbaric… I assure
you that considering the amount of inhabitants, there is more virtue in
China than in any other part of the world… The Chinese have for over four
thousand years respected and venerated men who are distinguished for their
virtue and learning: in Europe, oh the shame!…
High praise for China, indeed… even at table. A meal offers an occasion
to demonstrate the sophistication of Chinese civilisation by way of the
delicacies served as well as the number of servants, the specially prepared
settings to the meal, and even in the gracious manner friends are humbly
welcomed in the homes of those who know how to receive their guests. Ignacio
de Andrade’s account of what happened in the home of Saoqua serves as
an example of all this, specially in the profound way in which his host
returned the good wishes for happiness and prosperity that Andrade had
first made: I thank you all for the compliments that I have just received;
and I have great pleasure in telling you that if my fortune does exist,
I owe it in part to Senhor Andrade.
Another source of admiration and further praise for the Chinese people
and their empire is the way they practice their agriculture, which is
ecological. It is contrasted to the global devastation wrought by industrialisation
and the way the Chinese manage to delay the progress of this destruction.
Agriculture shows a nation’s strength and it is the economic activity
around which revolves the population and their food, arts, trade, navigation,
The subject of tea now appears in relation to agriculture. A "portrait
of China" would be incomplete if it failed to mention the beverage
that spread throughout the world. Ignacio de Andrade writes five pages
on the production, preparation and commercialisation of tea, which become
such a symbol in the history of the Chinese empire. Tea is a mark of sophistication
of their civilisation, and though tea-drinking is practically a sacred
ritual, it is also considered a basic necessity.
In the sweep of economic and cultural thinking of the eighteenth century,
work appears as a civilising factor at the centre of any notion of progress.
Ignacio de Andrade hold to that idea when he devotes one of his letters
to trade in China. Following Adam Smith when he dethroned gold and silver,
our letter-writer’s thoughts turn to China which creates the nation’s
wealth with its agriculture, industry and trade; that is to say, with
its labour. He commends these activities in contrast to the ownership
of metals, which though synonymous with wealth are unproductive. Subsequently,
it is of no surprise that in China there is abundance of the first two,
while trade is practised in the interior of the country and to acquire
foreign goods and thus energy radiates through the whole of society.
Ignacio de Andrade ends these letters in which he has drawn a "portrait
of China" with some lines devoted to the arts: poetry, music and
painting are excellent means for him to show his feelings rather than
his thoughts about this civilisation. Poetry has an important place here
which is understandable when we recall that this is the art, par excellence,
that expresses feelings, that is to say, the language of passions, according
to the work by Chou-King. But it also reflects social behaviour such as,
for instance, the respect children have for their parents, which is central
to the ode Ignacio de Andrade quotes to illustrate Chinese poetry. The
song of the philosopher Lean is an example of creative writing where philosophy,
poetry and customs intermingle to reveal Chinese habits in the intimacy
of the family.
All my wishes and all my hopes are contained within me. Rivers run into
the sea and do not disturb it: the same happens with my heart. I have
truth and reason for my compass and moderation is my rudder should any
wind blow; they all are proper for my destiny.
Generally speaking, we construct an identity
in opposition to another. It can but reflect well on all when praise is
attributed to a different civilisation with which historical, cultural
and economic relations have been maintained. On the other hand, it is
easy to understand the natural fascination of a journey such as the one
Ignacio de Andrade took, and that he was stirred to sing the praises of
more positive aspects of the peoples and places he visited. However, we
contend that that José Ignacio de Andrade went beyond being a simple
traveller or just a Westerner who viewed the Orient from the standpoint
of their simple domination.
Ignacio de Andrade was successful in his endeavours to recognise the importance
of the other as opposed to himself. He managed this through a frame of
reference of the Western world’s civilising factors, which he used either
to criticise things or then support his arguments (Adam Smith, Montesquieu,
Voltaire, Abbot Reynal, Hobbes, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Gaspar da
Cruz, Jerónimo Osório, Tomé Pires, among others).
We cannot but remark on the scholarly depth of José Ignacio de
Andrade’s wide range of knowledge, which seems outstanding even today,
as well as the manner in which he used both his reason and his feelings
at the service of the civilisation he visited. He was to surrender to
the overwhelming exoticism of the Orient before he had yet fully discovered
José Ignacio de Andrade looked at China through Western eyes and
succumbed to the beauty of Eastern knowledge and sentiments. He acknowledged
the superiority of the Chinese in many of the areas he investigated, thus
celebrating the fact that he was an eyewitness to such a rich civilisation
and extolling Portugal’s centuries-old relationship with China in contrast
with that of the British. He allowed himself to be influenced by the lessons
the Imperial civilisation had to offer the West. Ignacio de Andrade responded
to the unavoidable confrontation with knowledge, admiration and the recognition
that the Portuguese in Macau depended on their respect for Chinese civilisation…
and not on war.