CASTORANO, Carolus Horatii a (Carolo Orazi di), 1673-1755
[MANUSCRIPT] Jesus. Maria. Joseph. Grammatica, seu Manuductio ad Linguam Sinicam addiscendam. Absoluto Dictionario Latino-Italo-Sinico quia Deus dignatur mihi concedere adhuc Vitam, et Salutem, necessaria duxi eidem ulterius adjungere seu Grammaticam seu Manuductionem ad Linguam Sinicam facilius addiscondam, ut novi Patus Missionarii in hoc Imperis Sinensi de omnibus sufficienter sint …
An extremely rare and important contemporary copy of an unpublished grammar of the Chinese language by the Franciscan missionary Father Carolus Horatii a Castorano, originally made at Peking in 1732; manuscript in Castorano’s own hand, made at Rome in 1736.
[Rome, 1736]. Quarto (260 x 205 mm), original vellum covered boards (stained), spine with original manuscript in black ink ‘Castor. / Gramma. / Sinica’ (some worming); front pastedown with label of legendary bookseller Kurt L. Schwarz (1909-1983), with his Beverly Hills address; manuscript in Castorano’s own hand, ff 106; the last leaf dated at Peking, 24 August 1732, and signed ‘Concordat cum meo Originali. Dat. Roma ex Araceli die 5 Septembris 1736. Fr. Carolus Horatii a Castorano qui Supra. manu prop.’, with the stamp of the Propaganda Fide (?); [followed by] an addendum, also in Castorano’s hand, ff , the last leaf dated at Rome, 12 December 1735, and signed ‘Concordat cum meo Originali. Dat. Roma Araceli die 16 Januarii 1736. Fr. Carolus Horatii a Castorano …’, also with the stamp of the Propaganda Fide (?); [and] a single folio leaf ‘Carmina Sinica ex Libri secundo Sci. King. dicto decerptae’, the verso signed ‘Fr. Carolus Horatii a Castorano Missionarius F[ranciscanus]’; a remarkably well preserved manuscript, clean and fresh throughout; several pages, including the first, last and penultimate, with the early armorial stamp of the library of Lucio Carolus Pironti; housed in a clamshell box of half green morocco, spine lettered in gilt, with matching cloth slipcase; [together with] Ngien, Fray Pablo Domingo. Autograph letter signed (in Spanish) to the Conde de Torrepalma, Spanish ambassador at the court of Sardinia, referring to the former’s investigations in regard to Chinese dictionaries in the Vatican; 2 pp small quarto; Rome, 14 Decemmber 1765.
The Italian Franciscan Father Carolus Horatii a Castorano (1673-1750) was sent to China as a missionary by the Propaganda Fide in 1700. He remained there until his departure for Rome in 1733, having eventually been appointed Bishop of Peking. Castorano – known in Chinese as Father K’ang – was a key figure in the Chinese Rites controversy, adopting a strong anti-Jesuit stance and condemning idolatrous ancestor worship and the veneration of Confucius by Christian converts. On his return to Rome, he wrote no fewer than 37 memorials to the Holy See calling for the banning of Chinese Rites; his agitation was instrumental in bringing about Benedict XIV’s papal bull of 1742.
Castorano also holds a significant place in history as a sinologist. While still in China he completed both a Latin-Italian-Chinese dictionary and a grammar of the Chinese language. As he states on the first page of the present manuscript, Castorano intended his grammar to be used by missionaries in conjunction with his dictionary. Neither the dictionary nor the grammar were published, but manuscript copies of both are known to have been made in Rome, where Castorano became responsible for establishing the Chinese section at the Vatican Apostolic Library.
An early copy of this manuscript appeared as number 491 in the auction catalogue produced for the sale of the French sinologist Abel-Rémusat’s library following his death in 1832, Catalogue des livres, imprimés et manuscrits, composant la bibliothèque de feu M. J.-P. Abel-Rémusat, Professeur de langue et de littérature chinoise et tartare mandchoue au College royal de France, Membre de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Président de la Société asiatique de Paris, etc. (Paris : J.-S. Merlin, 1833), where it is described as being appended to the manuscript of the Chinese-Latin dictionary of Father Basile de Glemona (copied at Macau, 1733). The Rémusat copy, like the example we offer here, was faithfully copied from his own original manuscript by Castorano (see Cordier, Bibliotheca Sinica, 1651).
Another early copy is held in the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele di Napoli.
No example of Castorano’s Chinese grammar manuscript appears in auction records for the last one hundred years.