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I was gotten about a thousand leagues farther off from home, and perfectly destitute of all manner of prospect of return!
All we had for it was this; that in about four months time there was to be another fair at that place where we were, and then we might be able to purchase all sorts of the manufactures of the country, and withal might possibly find some Chinese junks or vessels from Nanquin, that would be to be fold, and would carry us and our goods whither we pleased. This I liked very well, and resolved to wait ; besides, as our particular persons were not obnoxious, so if any English or Dutch ships came thither, perhaps we might have an opportunity to load our goods, and get passage to fome other place in India nearer home.
Upon these hopes we resolved to continue here; but, to divert ourselves, we took two or three jour. nies into the country; first, we went ten days journey to see the city of Nanquin, a city well worth seeing indeed: they say it has a million of people in it; which, however, I do not believe: It is regularly built, the streets all exactly strait, and cross one another in direct lines, which gives the figure of it great advantage.
But when I came to compare the miserable people of these countries with our's; their fabrics, their manner of living, their government, their religion, their wealth, and their glory (as some call it), I must confess, I do not so much as think it worth naming, or worth my while to write of, or any that shall come after me to read.
It is very observable, that we wonder at the grandeur, the riches, the
government, the manufactures, the commerce, and the conduct of these people ; not that they are to be wondered at, or, indeed, in the least to be regarded ; but because, having first a notion of the barbarity of those countries, the rudeness, and the ignorance that prevail there, we do not expect to find any such things fo far off.
Otherwise, what are their builings to the palaces and royal buildings of Europe ? What their trade to the universal commerce of England, Holland, France, and Spain? What their cities to our's, for wealth, strength, gaiety of apparel, rich furniture, and an infinite variety? What are their ports, supplied with a few junks and barks, to our navigation, our merchants fleets, our large and powerful navies ? Our city of London has more trade than all their mighty empire. One English, or Dutch, or French man of war of 80 guns, would fight with and destroy all the shipping of China. But the greatness of their wealth, their trade, the power of their government, and strength of their armies are surprizing to us, because, as I have said, considering them as a barbarous nation of pagans, little better than savages, we did not expect such things among them ; and this, indeed, is the advantage with which all their greatness and power is represented to us : otherwise, it is in itself nothing at all; for, as I have said of their fhips, so it may be said of their armies and troops ; all the forces of their empire, though they were to bring two millions of men into the field to
gether, would be able to do nothing but ruin the country, and starve themselves. If they were to besiege a strong town in Flanders, or to fight a difciplined army, one line of German cuirassiers, or of French cavalry, would overthrow all the horse of China ; a million of their foot could not stand before one embattled body of our infantry, posted so as not to be surrounded, though they were not to be one to twenty in number : nay, I do not boast if I say, that 30,000 German or English foot, and 10,000 French horse, would fairly beat all the forces of China. And fo of our fortified towns, and of the art of our engineers, in assaulting and defending towns; there is not a fortified town in China could hold out one month against the batteries and attacks of an European army; and at the same time, all the armies of China could never take such a town as Dunkirk, provided it was not starved; no, not in ten years siege.
They have fire-arms, it is true, but they are awkward, clumsy, and uncertain in going off; they have powder, but it is of no strength; they have neither discipline in the field, exercise in their arms, skill to attack, or temper to retreat: and therefore I must confess it seemed strange to me when I came home, and heard our people say such fine things of the power, riches, glory, magnificence, and trade of the Chinese, because I saw and knew that they were a contemptible herd or croud of ignorant, fordid slaves, subjected to a government qualified only to rule such a people; and, in a word, for I am now launched quite beside my design, I say, in a word, were not its distance inconceivably great from Muscovy, and were not the Muscovite empire
almost as rude, impotent, and ill-governed a croud of slaves as they, the czar of Muscovy might, with much ease, drive them all out of their country, and conquer them in one campaign; and had the czar, who I since hear is a growing prince, and begins to appear formidable in the world, fallen this
instead of attacking the warlike Swedes, in which attempt none of the powers of Europe would have a envied or interrupted him; he might, by this time, have been emperor of China, instead of being beaten by the king of Sweden at Narva, when the latter was not one to six in number. As their strength and their grandeur, fo their navigation, commerce, and husbandry, is imperfect and impotent, compared to the same things in Europe. Also, in their knowledge, their learning, their skill in the sciences; they have globes and spheres, and a smatch of the knowledge of the mathematics ; but when you come to enquire into their knowledge, how short-fighted are the wisest of their students ! They know nothing of the motion of the heavenly bodies; and so grossly, absurdly ignorant, that when the sun is eclipsed, they think it is a great dragon has assaulted and run away with it; and they fall a clattering with all the drums and kettles in the country, to fright the monster away, just as we do to hive a fwarm of bees.
As this is the only excursion of this kind which I have made in all the account I have given of my travels, so I shall make no more descriptions of countries and people: it is none of my business, or any part of my design; but giving an account of my own adventures, through a life of infinite wander. ings, and a long variety of changes, which, perhaps,
few have heard the like of, I shall say nothing of the mighty places, desart countries, and numerous people, I have yet to pass through, more than relates to my own story, and which my concern among them will make necessary. I was now, as near as I can compute, in the heart of China, about the latitude of thirty degrees north of the line, for we were returned from Nanguin ; I had indeed a mind to see the city of Pekin, which I had heard so much of, and father Simon importuned me daily to do it: at length his time of going away being set, and the other missionary, who was to go with him, being arrived from Macao, it was necessary that we should refolve either to go, or not to go; fo I referred him to my partner, and left it wholly to his choice; who, at length, resolved it in the affirmative ; and we prepared for our journey. We set out with very good advantage, as to finding the way; for we got leave to travel in the retinue of one of their mandarins, a kind of viceroy, or principal magiftrate, in the province where they reside, and who take
state upon them, travelling with great attendance, and with great hoinage from the people, who are sometimes greatly impoverished by them, because all the countries they pass through are obliged to furnish provisions for them, and all their attendants. That which I particularly observed, as to our travelling with his baggage, was this ; that though we received suficient provisions, both for ourselves and our horses, from the country, as belonging to the mandarin, yet we were obliged to pay for every thing we had after the market-price of the country, and the mandarin's steward, or commissary of the provisions, collected