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He entered the Society of Jesus, 13 September 1704, was sent to China, where he arrived 26 June 1722. He then lived in Beijing for the rest of his life. His Chinese name was Sun Kiun-yung.
He had taken Dominique Parrenin's place as head of the school in which Manchus were taught Latin, to act as interpreters in Russian affairs. Gaubil, the best astronomer and historian among the French Jesuits in China during the eighteenth century, carried on an extensive correspondence with the savants of his day, among them Fréret and Delisle.
His works are numerous. Among them is "Traité de l'Astronomie Chinoise" in the "Observations mathématiques", published by Étienne Souciet (Paris, 1729–1732). From Chinese sources Gaubil translated the history of Jenghis Khan (Historie de Gentchiscan (Paris, 1739) and part of the annals of the T'ang Dynasty (in "Mémoires concernant les Chinois". vols. XV and XVI); he also wrote a treaty on Chinese chronology (Traité de la Chronologie Chenoise, Paris, 1814), and executed a good translation of the second of the Chinese classics, the "Book of History" (Shoo-king), edited by De Guignes (Paris, 1770).
Gaubil left a great number of manuscripts now kept in the Observatory and Naval Depot (Paris) and in the British Museum (London). From three manuscript volumes kept formerly at the Ecole Sainte-Geneviève (Paris) there were published "Situation de Holin en Tartarie" (T'oung Pao, March, 1893) and "Situation du Japon et de la Corée" (T'oung Pao, March, 1898).
Abel Rémusat in "Nouveaux Mélanges Asiatiques" (II, p. 289), wrote of Gaubil:
- "More productive than Parennin and Gerbillion, less systematical than Prémare and Foucquet, more conscientious than Amiot, less light-headed and enthusiastic than Cibot, he treated thoroughly, scientifically, and critically, every question he handled."
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Antoine Gaubil". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.