Macao in 1836: Voyage Around the World, by US Naval Surgeon Dr. William Ruschenberger


In 1836 the naval surgeon William Ruschenberger (1807-1895) visited Macao and two years later published his A Voyage Around the World: Including an Embassy to Muscat and Siam, in 1835, 1836, 1837. This travel narrative presents a kaleidoscopic image of the city, namely of its cultural landscape and tourist attractions. While observing the architecture, the urban texture and the cultural habits of Portuguese Macao, Ruschenberger compares several Lusophone and Iberian spaces. The enclave is described as a safe hub for ill Western navy officers and travellers, as well as a feminine and Catholic space where Tanka women look for foreign passengers, and where Portuguese and Anglophone wives live, forbidden to enter Mainland China, while their husbands take care of their China business in Canton. Tourist attractions and typical Macao figures are enumerated to build a dynamic picture of the different groups and kinds of people walking the enclave, which is also a place of sadness – marked by the death of Protestant sailors and traders who are buried in the picturesque East India Company Cemetery – and a hospital-city for Western sailors and soldiers.


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