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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.

Beyond the country of these people, lies Great Cathaya, whose inhabitants I believe to have been the Seres[2] of the ancients, as from thence came the most excellent silken stuffs; and these people were called Seres after the name of one of their towns.  I have been told, that in that country there is a town having walls of silver and towers of gold.  In that land there are many provinces, the greater part of which are not yet subjected to the Moals, and the sea is interposed between them and India.  These Kathayans are men of small stature, with small eyes, and speak much through the nose.  They are excellent workmen in all kinds of handicraft; their physicians judge exactly of diseases by the pulse, and are very skilful in the use of herbs, but have no knowledge in regard to the urine of sick persons.  Some of these people I saw at Caracarum, where there are always considerable numbers; and the children are always brought up to the same employments with their fathers.  They pay to the Moals or Mongals, a tribute of 1500 cassinos or jascots every day[3], besides large quantities of silks and provisions, and they perform many other services.  All the nations between mount Caucasus, and from the north of these mountains to the east sea, and in all the south of Scythia, which is inhabited by the Moal shepherds, are tributary, and are all addicted to idolatry.  The Nestorians and Saracens are intermixed with them as strangers, as far as Kathay, in which country the Nestorians inhabit fifteen cities, and have a bishop in a city called Segan[4].  These Nestorians are very ignorant, for they say their service in the Syrian tongue, in which all their holy books are written, and of which language they are entirely ignorant, and sing their service as our monks do who have not learnt Latin.  They are great usurers and drunkards, and some of them who live among the Tartars, have adopted their customs, and even have many wives.  When they enter the churches, they wash their lower parts like the Saracens, eat no flesh on Fridays, and hold their festivals on the same days with them.  Their bishops come seldom into the country, perhaps only once in fifty years, and then cause all the little children to be made priests, some even in the cradle; so that almost every Nestorian man is a priest, yet all have wives, which is contrary to the decrees of the fathers.  They are even bigamists, for their priests, when their wives die, marry again.  They are all Simonists, as they give no holy thing without pay.  They are careful of their wives and children, applying themselves to gain, and not to propagating the faith.  Hence, though some of them are employed to educate the children of the Mongal nobility, and even teach them the articles of the Christian faith, yet by their evil lives they drive them from Christianity, as the moral conduct of the Mongals and Tuinians[5], who are downright idolaters, is far more upright than theirs.

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