especially since the time of the late Czar Peter the Great, who extended his conquests even to the Northern coast of the Caspian Sea.
The Chinese are masters of the South and East parts of Tartary. The Tartars are divided into four different nations, namely, the Tartars properly so called, the Calmucks, and the Usbeck and Moguls. The Calmuck Tartars acknowledge themselves subjects of Russia; the Usbeck Tartars were once independent, but since subdued by Kouli Khan, the late Sovereign of Persia [also known as Nadir Shah, sometimes described as the "Persian Napoleon", assassinated 1747; one of the unlucky owners of the fabulous Koh-i-Noor diamond], who took possession and plundered their capital city Bochara, which was extremely populous and wealthy. This country of Usbeck Tartary is situate in a very happy climate and fruitful soil, and carries on a very brisk trade to the East and West parts of Asia: it was the country of the victorious Tamerlane, who subdued most of the kingdoms of Asia.
The Tartars, as to stature, are generally thick and short, having
flat square faces, little eyes, little round short noses, and an olive
complexion. They are reckoned the best archers in the world, and eat
all manner of flesh but hog's-flesh. They are very hospitable, and take
a pleasure in entertaining strangers. Their religion is mostly
Paganism, they worship the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and a variety of
images, but not in temples or churches, for they worship in groves and
on the tops of monntains [sic];
but those that live near the Mahometan
countries are mostly Maho-
metans. The Southern provinces lie in a temperate climate, and would produce all manner of corn and vegetables; but the inhabitants pay no regard to it, and lead a rambling life, driving great herds of cattle before them to such parts of the country where they can meet with the best pasture, and here they pitch their tents, but seldom remain long enough in a place to reap a crop of corn, even if they were to plough the land and sow it.
A Chinese Man and Woman in their
An Account of CHINA.
THE Empire of China is a great and spacious country, on the East of
Asia, famed for its fruitfulness, wealth, beautifulness of towns, and
incredible number of inhabitants.
It is divided into seventeen kingdoms, which contain 160 large
cities, 240 lesser, and 1200 towns; the chief of all is Pekin.
The air is pure and serene, and the inhabitants live to a great
age. Their riches consist in gold and silver mines, pearls,
porcelain or China ware; japanned or varnished works; spices, musk,
true ambergris, camphire [sic],
sugar, ginger, tea, linen, and silk; of the latter there is such
abundance, that they are able to furnish all the world with it.
Here are also mines of quicksilver, vermillion, azure-stone [lapis lazuli], vitriol [sulfuric acid, or various sulfates],
&c. So much for the wealth: Now as to the inhabitants, they
are so numerous, that the great roads may be compared to a perpetual
fair, such numbers are continually passing, which made a Portuguese,
who went thither, ask, "If the women had not nine or ten children at a
birth?" Every inhabitant is obliged to hang a writing over
his door, signifying the number and quality of the dwellers. The
inside of their houses is very magnificent. The men are civil,
well-bred, very ingenious, polite, and industrious, but extremely
covetous, insomuch that they will not scruple to sell their very
children, or drown them, when they think they have too many. This
desire of wealth lets them never be idle, and makes them have a great
aversion to strangers that come to settle among them. The men go
neatly dressed, and carry a fan in their hand, and when they salute
each other (for they are very courteous) they never put off their hat,
but with their hands joined before their breast bow their
bodies. Here is no Nobility but what depends on learning, without
any regard to birth, except the Royal Families; and the more learned
any one is, the more he is advanced in honour and government. The
King, who is called the Tartar [the
current (Qing) dynasty was Manchurian], keeps a guard of forty
men. When he dies his body is buried on a pile of paper, and with
him all his jewels, and every thing else, except living creatures, that
he made use of in his life-time. His Counsellor, Priest, and
Concubines, that devoted themselves wholly to his soul, sacrifice their
lives as soon as he dies; but have the liberty to chuse what kind
of death they please, which is generally beheading. In this
country there is a stupendous wall, built to prevent the incursions of
the Tartars, which is at least 1700 miles long, near 30 feet high, and
broad enough for several horsemen to travel on it abreast. Their
established religion is what they call the Religion of Nature, as
explained by their celebrated Philosopher Confucius; but the greatest
part of them are Idolaters, and worship the Idol Fo [Buddha; Buddhism arrived in China in
the 2nd cent. BCE]. The Mahometans have been
long since tolerated, and the Jews longer. Christianity had
gained a considerable footing here by the labour of the Jesuits, till
the year 1726, when the missionaries being suspected of a design
against the Government, were quite expelled.
TURKEY in ASIA.