Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/140

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120
ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

difficult undertakings. But the desire to endow Persia with a printing-press nevertheless reflects the highest honour upon the Shah, who was no less famous a person than Abbas the Great.

From India we pass to China, and here an important discovery has been made of late years. It has until very lately been universally believed that the first book printed by Europeans in China was Eduardus de Sande, "De Missione legatorum Japanensium ad Romanam Curiam" (Macao, 1590). My friend, Señor José T. Medina, the Hercules and Lynceus of South American bibliographers, has, however, found from the book itself that this cannot be the case, for the writer of the preliminary address, Alexander Valignanus, states that he has himself previously published at the same place a book by Joannes Bonifacius, "De honesta puerorum institutione." This must have appeared in 1589, if not sooner, and is undoubtedly the first book printed by Europeans in China. Unfortunately it cannot be produced, for it is not to be found. A copy may still be lurking in some ancient library, and great will be his merit who brings it to light. It may be mentioned that although the book "De Missione" principally relates to Europe, and was compiled under the fiction of imaginary conversations with the Japanese ambassadors (who really had visited Europe and returned) for the information of the Japanese pupils of the Jesuits, one chapter is an account of China for the benefit of European readers. It is full of interest; and although its particulars have long