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On Franch de Lagree and Francis Garnier's Meteorological Observation in China and Indo-China from 1866-1868

Li Di (Huhehot, China)

An expedition, mainly composed of Franch de Lagree, Francis Garnier and Delaporte, made an exploration along the Me Kong River in the 19th century. The expedition set out from Saigon in Vietnam on the 5th June, 1866, and went north up the Me Kong River. They passed through Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, and arrived in Yunnan, China, in October 1867. After activities in Yunnan, Sichuan, Hankou and Shanghai in China, they left Shanghai to return to Saigon by ship on 20th June, 1868. This is a well-known expedition about which a book has been published recently. In the present paper the author deals with the interesting meteorological observations of the members of the expedition in 72 places located between Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Hankou in China, of which 33 places were in China. The records of these observations composed of wind direction and character, weather, temperature, atmospheric pressure, etc. The author has had no opportunity to review the French records which were checked by Garnier and others in Paris, but he found a handwritten Chinese copy of the records titled Kaoyan Qihou Riji Biao (Diary Tables of Meteorological Observation) in Hubei Provincial Library.

In the Chinese handwritten copy which was bound into two volumes, there is neither name of author nor preface or epilogue, but at the beginning there is a paragraph giving an account of the compilation of the work. It is said that: "The tables in the present work are compiled month by month, and are extracted from the travel diary. The purpose of the work is to study the climates of all the different areas. The data in the tables are measured by centigrade thermometer and wind and rain gauges with French graduations." And "the tables cover 23 months beginning on 6th July, 1866, and ending on 9th June, 1868." From the statements we know that the original records were distributed throughout the diary, instead of a special record notebook, and the Diary tables of meteorological observation were extracted from the diary. According to the tables we know that observation in China began at Se Mao on 19th October, 1867, and ended at Hankou on 9th June 1868. Two names noted in the tables were Telabaertou and Lakelai in Chinese characters, that should be De Laporte and Lagree. Who translated the work into Chinese and how was it collected in the Hubei Provincial Library? Did the work play any role in China? These questions are still open. The activities of meteorological observation and the data in the work are of importance for the study of both meteorology and history.

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