Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/430

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ment, by treaties with China in 1859-60, arranged that they should have the right of maintaining at their own expense a postal service between Kiakhta and Tientsin vid Urga. This is the route along which a railway is now being built, the line from Peking to Kalgan being opened on September 30, 1906. This railway when completed will bring Peking within twelve days of London.

The principal occupation of the Mongols is that of cattle- breeding and the transport of goods. It is estimated that each Mongol family has about 50 sheep, 25 horses, 15 horned cattle, and 10 camels. In the transport of goods probably some 100,000 are employed for the export of tea alone from Kalgan to Siberia, and 1,200,000 camels and 300,000 ox-carts for the interior caravan trade.

The trade between China and Mongolia is estimated at £900,000 for Urga alone, while 25,000 horses, 10,000 horned cattle, 250,000 sheep, as well as a quantity of hides, are annually exported from East Mongolia. From West Mongolia the export is about 70,000 horses, 30,000 horned cattle, and from one and a half to two million sheep.

Roman Catholic Missions. — Nothing definite concerning China is known before the Nestorian missionaries entered that country as early as A.D. 505. From the spread of Christianity in China proper it is quite possible that some knowledge of the Truth reached Mongolia, and may be at the bottom of the traditions about Prester John.

In 1291 John de Monte Corvino was sent by Pope Nicholas IV. to the Court of Kubla Khan, the Mongol founder of the Yüan dynasty in China, under whom also Marco Polo held office. The labours also of Nicholas and his twenty-four Franciscan assistants were wholly for the Mongols. John de Monte Corvino actually translated the Scriptures into Mongol, concerning which more will be found elsewhere.[1] Little is known of succeeding Romish Missions in Mongolia, but the interesting journeys of Abbe Hue were undertaken at the orders of the Apostolic

  1. See p. 410.