And having gotten a good quantitie of this milke together being as sweet as cowes milke while it is new, they powre it into a great bladder or bag, and they beat the said bag with a piece of wood made for the purpose, having a club at the lower end like a mans head, which is hollow within: and soone as they beat upon it, it begins to boyle like new wine, and to be sowre and sharpe of taste, and they beat it in that manner till butter come thereof. Then taste they thereof, and being indifferently sharpe they drinke it; for it biteth a mans tongue like the wine of raspes when it is drunke.
After a man hath taken a draught thereof, it leaveth behind it a taste like the taste of almond-milke, and goeth downe very pleasantly, intoxicating weake braynes. Likewise Karacosmos, that is to say, blacke Kosmos, for great lords to drinke, they make on this manner. First, they beat the said milke so long till the thickest part thereof descend right downe to the bottome like the lees of white wine; and that which is thinne and pure remaineth above, being like unto whay or white must. The said lees and dregs being very white, are given to servants, and will cause them to sleepe exceedingly.
That which is thinne and cleere their masters drinke, and in very deede it is maruellous sweet and wholesome liquor. This limited stock of information, however, valuable as it is from the priority of its date, sinks into insignificance before the detailed and almost cotemporaneous narrative of that once reviled but now much honoured pioneer of geographical investigation, Marco Polo. In the present advanced age, when enlarged facilities have opened up to the knowledge of the world the characteristic peculiarities of remote countries and their inhabitants, we can do justice to the courage and fidelity of those who, six centuries ago, could dare to describe such apparent anomalies, while at the same time we can find an excuse for the disbelief of those who regarded them as extravagant and impudent fictions.
Nor can we, indeed, conceive of any country and people, the description of which, unconfirmed by the repeated observation of many, was more calculated to excite suspicion and disbelief, while those very peculiarities, now that they are authenticated, become the staple proof of the trustworthiness of the early narrator. The father and uncle of Marco Polo, natives of Venice, had in made a trading journey to Tartary; the exploration of the east, and the importation of its rich and beautiful productions, offering a peculiar attraction to the commercial enterprise of that great and flourishing city.
Marco was not born till some months after the departure of his father, but by the time of the return of the two brothers was become a young man, fifteen years having been devoted to their interesting and extraordinary peregrinations. They had crossed the Euxine Sea to Armenia, whence they travelled by land to the court of a great Tartarian chief named Barba. By him they were favorably received, and were enabled to effect advantageous sales of their merchandise.
After a year, however, spent in his capital, a war broke out between him and a neighbouring chieftain, and the return of the travellers to Europe being thus intercepted, they took a circuitous course round the head of the Caspian, and so through the desert of Karak to Bokhara. After an abode there of three years, during which they obtained a knowledge of the Tartar language, they attached themselves to the company of an ambassador going to the court of Kublai, grand Khan of the Tartars, where they arrived after a year's journey.
This potent monarch gave them a gracious reception, and was curious in his enquiries concerning the affairs of Europe and the Christian religion. Learning from them that the Pope was the person regarded with the greatest veneration in Europe, he resolved on despatching them as his ambassadors to His Holiness, with the request that he would send persons to instruct his people in the true faith.
Protected by his signet they set out, and pursuing their journey across Asia, arrived in Venice in the year At this time there was a vacancy in the popedom, and the brothers remained in Venice two years before it was filled.
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At length, on the accession of Gregory X, they obtained letters from him, accompanied with presents to Kublai Khan, and taking with them young Marco, now seventeen years of age, and accompanied by two friars of the order of Preachers, they again departed for the east. They landed at a port in Armenia named Giuzza Ayas , but finding that the Sultan of Babylon was at war with the province, the two friars became intimidated and returned home. The three Venetians, however, pursued their way, and after travelling for three years and a half across Asia, and encountering numerous perils and disasters, at length reached the court of Kublai.
He was greatly pleased at their return, and Marco, becoming a great favourite with him, was employed by the Khan in various important missions to distant provinces. After a residence of seventeen years at the court of Kublai, the three Venetians were extremely desirous of returning to their native land, and at length obtained permission to accompany the ambassadors of a king of India, who had come to demand a princess of the Khan's family in marriage for their sovereign.
It was a voyage of a year and a half through the Indian seas before they arrived at the court of this king, named Argon. Thence they travelled to Constantinople, and finally reached Venice in Such is the narrative of the travels and foreign residence of the three Polos, as related by Marco. They returned rich in jewels and valuable effects, after an absence of twenty-four years, which had so altered them, that nothing less than a display of their wealth was necessary to procure their recognition by their kindred. Hence, Marco gained the name of Il Millione, the house in which he had lived in Venice being still known in the time of Ramusio under the name of " La Corte del Millioni.
In an engagement that ensued he fell into the hands of the Genoese Admiral Lampa Doria, and was carried prisoner to Genoa, to which circumstance we owe the advantage of possessing a permanent record of his travels. Then he spent four years in prison; but the interest excited amongst the Genoese nobles by the stirring narrative of his adventures, led them to urge him to allow an account of his travels to be drawn up from his notes and dictation.
His narrative was thus taken from his mouth in his prison at Genoa, by the hand of his friend and fellow-traveller Rustichello, a native of Pisa. He afterwards regained his liberty, but of his subsequent history little or nothing is known. The most interesting portion of his narrative is unquestionably that which refers to China, of which he speaks under the names of Kataia and Manji; the former, as we have already stated, denoting the northern, and the latter the southern part of the empire.
The northern kingdom of Kataia contained the residence of Kublai Khan, while the south, although subjugated, had not been completely incorporated into the almost boundless Tartar dominion, which had been established by Kublai's victorious ancestor, the renowned Zenghis Khan. The route by which Polo entered China was along the northern frontier, and is thus referred to by Mr.
Marsden: — "Having reached the borders of Northern China, and spoken of two places Succuir, the modern Sucheu, and Kampion, the modern Kancheu that are within what is named the Great Wall, our author ceases to pursue a direct route, and proceeds to the account of places lying to the north and south, some of them in the vicinity and others in distant parts of Tartary, according to the information he had acquired of them on various occasions. Nor does he in the sequel furnish any distinct idea of the line he took upon entering China, in company with his father and uncle, on their journey to the emperor's court, although there is reason to believe that he went from Kan-cheu to Sining, and there fell into the great road from Thibet to Peking.
This city, Mr. Marsden says, was built by Oktar Khan, the son and successor of Jenghis Khan, about the year , whose nephew Mangu Khan, made it his principal residence. No traces of it have been in existence for some centuries, but its position is noted in the Jesuits' and Danville's maps. Reinhold Forster, however, on the authority of Fischer's History of Siberia , observes, that it must be looked for on the east side of the river Orchon, and not on the Onghin or Onguimuren, where D'Anville has placed it.
From the length of time which had elapsed since Nicolo and Maffeo Polo had left China as Kublai's ambassadors, they were forgotten, but as soon as the Khan, who was then absent, heard of their arrival at Karakorum, he issued orders that they should be received with all honour and escorted to his presence. The appearance of young Marco produced a highly favourable impression upon the Khan, who immediately took him under his especial protection.
The assiduity of Marco in studying the language and manners of the Tartars, and the wisdom and prudence which he exhibited in the exercise of the various important functions in which he was employed by the Khan, caused him rapidly to rise in the estimation and favour of that liberal-minded monarch.
Upon the removal of the Khan to Khambalu, a corruption of Khambalig capital of the Khan , and understood to be the modern Pekin, Marco followed in his train. This city was found to surpass in splendour everything that he had yet met with. The dimensions of the palace comprehended a square, each side of which was six miles long, a statement not very widely different from the truth.
This enclosure, however, comprised all the royal armouries, as well as fields and meadows, stored with various descriptions of game. Louis being then engaged in the fourth Crusade against the Saracens, was anxious to cement an alliance with the Tartars, who were at that time in hostility with the same power on the side of Persia. Product Details. Average Review. Write a Review.
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