234 CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA, ETC. its neophytes. Father Semedo, who at that time be- longed to the mission of Nankin, witnessed these abund- ant fruits of salvation, and expressed in these words liis hopes and his enthusiasm: — "The winter of storms and perseeutions is past, and the spring is already pro- ducing flowers wortliy of the paradise of God; or, rather, it seems that the harvest is ripe and is awaiting only the sickle." * Father Semedo was, however, soon to see tliat, on the contrary, the time for great trials and tribulations w^as only now to begin. Ti»e harvest was ripe indeed, but it w^as the scythe of persecution that was about to pass over it. The tempest arose in the following manner. In 1G15 the imperial government sent to Pekin a mandarin of the first class named Kio-Tchin, to take the office of assessor of the Li-Pou, or Supreme Court of Rites, wdiich, among other functions, takes cognisance of costumes, and of the sects of foreigners admitted into the empire. This personage was by no means partial to Christians and missionaries, and had besides some special reasons of his own for owing them an ill will. One of his intimate friends, a learned Bonze, who was a good writer, but overflowing with vanity, had pub- lished a book against Christianity, to which he said there could be no reply. Doctor Paul nevertheless did reply, and in a style so crushing that the poor Bonze could not survive his defeat, but died of vexation. Kio-Tchin was much grieved at this event, and the more so because he had himself been personally
- Alvarez Semedo, Ilistoire Universelle du grand Rojaurac de la
Chine, p. 203.