Of their Good and Bad Customs.
[Illustration: Map of the Western part of Tartary & Adjacent Countries]
Some of their customs are commendable, and others execrable. They are more obedient to their lords than any other people, giving them vast reverence, and never deceiving them in word or action. They seldom quarrel; and brawls, wounds, or manslaughter hardly ever occur. Thieves and robbers are nowhere found, so that their houses and carts, in which all their treasure is kept, are never locked or barred. If any animal go astray, the finder either leaves it, or drives it to those who are appointed to seek for strays, and the owner gets it back without difficulty. They are very courteous, and though victuals are scarce among them, they communicate freely to each other. They are very patient under privations, and though they may have fasted for a day or two, will sing and make merry as if they were well satisfied. In journeying, they bear cold, or heat with great fortitude. They never fall out, and though often drunk, never quarrel in their cups. No one despises another, but every one assists his neighbour to the utmost. Their women are chaste, yet their conversation is frequently immodest. Towards other people they are exceedingly proud and overbearing, looking upon all other men with contempt, however noble. For we saw, in the emperor’s court, the great duke of Russia, the son of the king of Georgia, and many sultans and other great men, who received no honour or respect; so that even the Tartars appointed to attend them, however low their condition, always went before them, and took the upper places, and even often obliged them to sit behind their backs. They are irritable and disdainful to other men, and beyond belief deceitful; speaking always fair at first, but afterwards stinging like scorpions. They are crafty and fraudulent, and cheat all men if they can. Whatever mischief they intend they carefully conceal, that no one may provide or find a remedy for their wickedness. They are filthy in their meat and drink, and in all their actions. Drunkenness is honourable among them; so that, when one has drank to excess and throws up, he begins again to drink. They are most importunate beggars, and covetous possessors, and most niggardly givers; and they consider the slaughter of other people as nothing.
Of the Laws and Customs of the Tartars.
Men and women guilty of adultery, or even of fornication, are punished with death. Those detected in robbery or theft are likewise slain. If any one divulges their councils, especially with regard to an intended war, he receives an hundred blows on his buttocks with a great cudgel, as hard as a strong man can lay on. When any of the meaner sort commit offences, they are severely punished by their superiors. In marriage, they pay no attention to nearness of kindred, except their mothers, daughters, or sisters by the same mother; for they will even marry their sisters from other mothers, and their fathers wives after his death. The younger brother also, or some other of the kindred, is bound to marry the wives of a deceased brother.