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De Quincey's Revolt of the Tartars eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 101 pages of information about De Quincey's Revolt of the Tartars.

[10] This inscription has been slightly altered in one or two phrases, and particularly in adapting to the Christian era the Emperor’s expressions for the year of the original Exodus from China and the retrogressive Exodus from Russia.  With respect to the designation adopted for the Russian Emperor, either it is built upon some confusion between him and the Byzantine Caesars, as though the former, being of the same religion with the latter (and occupying in part the same longitudes, though in different latitudes), might be considered as his modern successor; or else it refers simply to the Greek form of Christianity professed by the Russian Emperor and Church.

[Illustration:  ROUTE OF THE TARTARS IN THEIR FLIGHT.]

NOTES.

THE ORIGINAL SOURCES.

In Professor Masson’s edition of De Quincey, Vol.  VII, p. 8, is the following discussion of the author’s original sources: 

“A word or two on De Quincey’s authorities for his splendid sketch called The Revolt of the Tartars:—­One authority was a famous Chinese state-paper purporting to have been composed by the Chinese Emperor, Kien Long himself (1735—­1796), of which a French translation, with the title Monument de la Transmigration des Tourgouths des Bords de la Mer Caspienne dans l’Empire de la Chine, had been published in 1776 by the French Jesuit missionaries of Pekin, in the first volume of their great collection of Memoires concernant les Chinois.  The account there given of so remarkable an event of recent Asiatic history as the migration from Russia to China of a whole population of Tartars had so much interested Gibbon that he refers to it in that chapter of his great work in which he describes the ancient Scythians.  De Quincey had fastened on the same document as supplying him with an admirable theme for literary treatment.  Explaining this some time ago, while editing his Revolt of the Tartars for a set of Selections from his Writings, I had to add that there was much in the paper which he could not have derived from that original, and that, therefore, unless he invented a great deal, he must have had other authorities at hand.  I failed at the time to discover what these other authorities were,—­De Quincey having had a habit of secretiveness in such matters; but since then an incidental reference of his own, in his Homer and the Homeridae,[11] has given me the clue.  The author from whom he chiefly drew such of his materials as were not supplied by the French edition of Kien Long’s narrative, was, it appears from that reference, the German traveller, Benjamin Bergmann, whose Nomadische Streifereien unter den Kalmueken in den Jahren 1802 und 1803 came forth from a Riga press, in four parts or volumes, in 1804-1805.  The book consists of a series of letters written by Bergmann from different places during his residence among the Tartars, with interjected

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