Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 5.djvu/643

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cathay.]
629
CHINA


lie related of the great city of Cansay (i.e., King-sze, hod. Hang-chow), to the many persons whom he had met at Venice since his return, who had themselves been witnesses of those marvels. And John Marignolli, some twenty years later, found attached to one of the convents at Zayton, in Fuh-keen, a fondaco or factory for the accommodation of the Christian merchants.

But by far the most distinct and notable evidence of the importance and frequency of European trade with Cathay, of which silk and silk goods formed the staple, is to be found in the commercial hand-book (circa 1340) of Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, a clerk and factor of the great Florentine house of the Bardi, which was brought to the ground about that time by its dealings with Edward III. of England. This book, called by its author Libro di divisamenti di Paesi, is a sort of trade-guide, devoting successive chapters to the various ports and markets of his time, detailing the nature of imports and exports at each, the duties and exactions, the local customs of business, weights, measures, and money. The first two chapters of this work contain instructions for the merchant proceeding to Cathay; and it is evident, from the terms used, that the road thither was not unfrequently travelled by European merchants, from whom Pegolotti had derived his information. The route which he describes lay by Azoff, Astrakhan, Khiva, Otrar (on the Jaxartes), Almálk (Gulja in Ili), Kan-chow (in Kansuh), and so to Hang-chow and Peking. Particulars are given as to the silver ingots which formed the currency of Tartary, and the paper-money of Cathay. That the ventures on this trade were not insignificant is plain from the example taken by the author to illustrate the question of expenses on the journey, which is that of a merchant investing in goods there to the amount of some £12,000 (i.e., in actual gold value, not as calculated by any fanciful and fallacious equation of values).

Of the same remarkable phase of history that we are here considering we have also a number of notices by Mahometan writers. The establishment of the Mongol dynasty in Persia, by which the Great Khan was acknowledged as lord paramount, led (as we have already noticed in part) to a good deal of intercourse. And some of the Persian historians, writing at Tabriz, under the patronage of the Mongol princes, have told us much about Cathay, especially Rashiduddin, the great minister and historian of the dynasty (died 1318). We have also in the book of the Moorish traveller Ibn Batuta, who visited China about 134748, very many curious and in great part true notices, though it is not possible to give credence to the whole of this episode in his extensive travels.


About the time of the traveller first named the throne of the degenerate descendants of Jenghiz began to totter to its fall, and we have no knowledge of any Frank visitor to Cathay in that age later than Marignolli; missions and merchants alike disappear from the field. We hear, indeed, once and again of ecclesiastics despatched from Avignon, but they go forth into the darkness, and are heard of no more. Islam, with all its jealousy and exclusiveness, had recovered its grasp over Central Asia; the Nestorian Christianity which once had prevailed so widely was vanishing, and the new rulers of China reverted to the old national policy, and held the foreigner at arm's length. Night descended upon the further East, covering Cathay with those cities of which the old travellers had told such marvels, Cambaluc and Cansay, Zayton and Chinkalan. And when the veil rose before the Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the 16th century, those names are heard no more. In their stead we have China, Peking, Hangchow, Chincheo, Canton. Not only were the old names forgotten, but the fact that those places had ever been known before was forgotten also. Gradually new missionaries went forth from RomeJesuits and Dominicans now; new converts were made, and new vicariats constituted; but the old Franciscan churches, and the Nestorianism with which they had battled, had alike been swallowed up in the ocean of Pagan indifference. In time a wreck or two floated to the surface,—a MS. Latin Bible or a piece of Catholic sculpture; and when the intelligent missionaries called Marco Polo to mind, and studied his story, one and another became convinced that Cathay and China were one.


It was Cathay, with its outlying island of Zipangu (Japan), that Columbus sought to reach by sailing westward, penetrated as he was by his intense conviction of the smallness of the earth, and of the vast extension of Asia eastward; and to the day of his death he was full of the imagination of the proximity of the domain of the Great Khan to the islands and coasts which he had discovered. And such imaginations are curiously embodied in some of the maps of the early 16th century, which intermingle on the same coast-line the new discoveries from Labrador to Brazil with the provinces and rivers of Marco Polo's Cathay.
Cathay had been the aim of the first voyage of the Cabots in 1496, and it continued to be the object of many adventurous voyages by English and Hollanders to the N.W. and N.E. till far on in the 16th century. At least one memorable land-journey also was made by Englishmen, of which the exploration of a trade-route to Cathay was a chief object, that in which Anthony Jenkinson and the two Johnsons reached Bokhara by way of Russia in 15581559. The country of which they collected notices at that city was still known to them only as Cathay, and its great capital only as Cambaluc.
Cathay as a supposed separate entity may be considered to come to an end with the journey of Benedict Goës, the lay-Jesuit. This admirable person was, in 1603, despatched through Central Asia by his superiors in India with the specific object of determining whether the Cathay of old European writers, and of modern Mahometans, was or was not a distinct region from that China of which parallel marvels had now for some time been recounted. Benedict, as one of his brethern pronounced his epitaph, “seeking Cathay found Heaven.” He died at Suhchow, the frontier city of China, but not before he had ascertained that China and Cathay were the same. After the publication of the narrative of his journey (in the Expeditio Christiana apud Sinas of Trigault, 1615) inexcusable ignorance alone could continue to distinguish between them, and though such ignorance lingered many years longer, the result of his exploration fitly brings this prefatory notice to a close.

(h. y.)


General Description of China Proper.


China, as the name is at present used, embraces within its boundaries the dependencies of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet, in addition to China Proper. This vast empire extends from 18° 30′ to 53° 25′ N lat., and from 80° to 130° E. long. It is bounded on the N. by Asiatic Russia along a frontier extending nearly 3000 miles; on the E. by those portions of the Pacific Ocean which are known in the north as the Sea of Japan, in the central portion as the Yellow Sea, and in the south as the China Sea; on the S. and S.W. by the China Sea, Cochin China, and Burmah; and on the W. by Kashmir and Eastern Turkestan, which province has within the last few years been wrested from China by the Ataligh Ghazee.


Table of Provinces, with Area and Population.


Province. Area in square
miles.
Population.
Chih-li ................................................................... 58,949 27,000,000
Shan-tung ............................................................. 65,104 30,000,000
Shan-se ................................................................ 53,268 14,004,210
Ho-nan ................................................................. 65,404 23,037,171
Keang-soo ............................................................. 45,000 37,843,501
Gan-hwuy ............................................................. 48,461 34,108,059
Keang-se .............................................................. 72,176 19,000,000
Chĕ-keang ............................................................ 36,000 21,000,000
Fuh-keen ............................................................... 53,480 14,777,410
Hoo-pih ................................................................ 70,450 27,370,098
Hoo-nan ............................................................... 84,000 18,652,507
Shen-se ................................................................ 67,400 10,000,000
Kan-suh ................................................................ 86,688 15,193,125
Sze-chuen .............................................................. 220,000 35,000,000
Kwang-tung ............................................................ 79,456 19,174,030
Kwang-se ............................................................... 78,250 7,313,895
Kwei-chow .............................................................. 64,554 5,288,219
Yun-nan ............................................................... 107,969 5,561,320
Shing-king .............................................................. 43,000 6,000,000
Total ...................................................... 1,399,609 370,323,545