EDICT AGAINST THE CHIIISTIANS. 239 who had favoured them, and even on the emperor himself. The petitions of the President of the Court of Kites, and of his Assessor, were forwarded to the court on the same day, namely, on the 15th of August, 1616 ; and on the 20th of the same month couriers extraordinary were galloping from Pekin in all directions, with orders to arrest the missionaries, and throw them into prison. " Who would not be astonished," says Father Semedo, " at the change in this lickle people, and who could imagine that three of the first mandarins should tlms liave plotted the ruin of those who were held in esteem throughout the empire ; whom so many of the greatest of Chinese doctors had honoured with their visits and reconnnendations ; and, moreover, knowing all the while that the accusations preferred against them were pure calumnies ? " * The order sent off from Pekin on the 20th of August reached Nankin on the night of the 30th, and the missionaries threw themselves on their knees before the altar, and offered to God the sacrifice of their lives ; they then took away the images and consecrated vessels, and concealed them in the house of a Christian. At break of day. Father Lombard, the superior-general of the mission, set off, in company with Father Jules Leni, in order to proceed immediately to Pekin, and find, if possible, some means of remedying this disaster. The Fathers Alphonse Yagnon and Alvarez Semedo waited in the house until the satellites should come to execute the orders of the emperor. In a short time three mandarins arrived, and signified to the missionaries
- Alvarez Semedo, p. 307.