Bowring, Sir John

Bowring, Sir John bouˈrĭng [key], 1792–1872, British diplomat, linguist, and writer. An extraordinarily versatile linguist, he is remembered for his anthologies and translations of poetry from many European and Asian languages. He was a friend of Jeremy Bentham, whose works he later collected and edited, and became (1824) the first editor of Bentham's Westminster Review. He was a member of Parliament (1835–37, 1841–49) and went on numerous financial and commercial missions to Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. He served as consul at Guangzhou and in 1854 was knighted and sent as governor to Hong Kong. There he precipitated a war with China by ordering (1856) the bombardment of Guangzhou in a dispute over the right of the Chinese to remove a Chinese pirate from a Chinese ship when that ship was registered by the British (although, in this case, the registration had expired). His Kingdom and People of Siam (1857) was the result of a diplomatic mission in that country.

See his Autobiographical Recollections (1877).

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