PERHAPS the strongest link in the chain of circumstantial evidence which can be adduced to prove that Hoei-shin and others penetrated to California and Mexico, is one which has been almost neglected by Professor Neumann, so lightly does he touch upon it. I refer to the zeal with which Buddhist monks wandered for centuries forth from China, through regions so remote, and among perils of so trying a nature, that the journey of Hoei-shin and of his predecessors seems, when we study the route, and allow that they probably travelled in summer, comparatively a pleasure-trip. The result of these missionary enterprises was fortunately a large collection of published "Voyages and Travels," several of which are still extant. Of late years the interesting nature of these works has caused the translation of several of the more important into European languages; and of these I propose to make some slight mention, supposing that a little account of such writings would be acceptable, as bearing on the character of the first discoverers
of America. For, little as we have of the record of Hoei-shin, its general resemblance to that of the other Buddhist missionary travellers is so striking, that no one can fail to detect a marked family likeness.
Chief in the work of translation from these journals is the celebrated Chinese scholar Stanislas Julien, whose versions of Buddhist travels into French fill over 1500 octavo pages. From these works it is evident that it was a special matter of pride among those missionaries to excel their predecessors in the extent of their journeys, and in the zeal or success with which they distributed the doctrines and sacred images of Buddha. References to these sacred images abound in Buddhistic works, indicating that immense numbers must have been carried to all places where the missionaries penetrated. One of these works of pious adventure is the very interesting "History of the Life of Hiouen-thsang, and of his Travels in India, from the year 629 to 645. Followed by documents and geographical explanations, drawn from the original narrative. Translated by Stanislas Julien, Member of the Institute of France, &c. Paris, 1853."
"From the fourth century of the Christian era to the tenth," says Julien, "the Chinese pilgrims who went into the countries west of China, and particularly into India, to study the doctrine of Buddha, and bring back the books containing it, have published a great number of narratives, itineraries and descriptions, more or less
extended, of the countries which they visited. . . . Unfortunately the greater part have perished, unless they remain buried in some obscure convent in China." Thus we cannot sufficiently regret the loss of "The Description of Western Countries," by Chi-tao’-an, 1 a Chinese Shaman, who became a monk in 316, and consequently preceded Fa-hien, who did not go forth until the year 339 of our era. But the loss most to be regretted is, unquestionably, "The Description of Western Countries, in Sixty Volumes, with Forty Books of Pictures and Maps," which, edited in accordance with an Imperial decree, by many official writers, after the memoirs of the most distinguished religious and secular authors, appeared in the year 666, with an introduction written by the Emperor Kao-thsang, the cost being defrayed by Government. This work was entitled, in the original Chinese, Si-yu-tchi-lou-chi-kouen, Hoa-thou-sse-chi-kiouen ("A Description of the Western Countries, in Sixty Books, with Forty Books of Illustrations and Maps," as above). M. Stanislas Julien was apparently not, aware that a copy of this work was kept in the Royal Palace at Pekin, as any book written, though only in part, by an Emperor, would naturally be, in accordance with Chinese custom. It was, however, unfortunately burned in the "looting" of the Summer Palace, in which perished such masses of valuable
historical and literary material, never to be recovered. This work has been called a description of the Chinese Empire, but from the exact account of it which has been published, it was evidently the one spoken of by Julien. In fact, a carefully-detailed description of the Chinese Empire in the seventh century, fully illustrated, must have been in great part quite the same as "A Journey to the West," and it is not likely that two works of such magnitude, and on almost the same subject, were published contemporaneously at such enormous expense as they must have involved. "It would be worth while," Julien continues, "for the Catholic missionaries who live near Nankin to seek for this work in the valuable library of that city, where my friend, the late Mr Robert Thom, former British Consul, discovered, and persuaded me to copy, ten years ago, 232 volumes in quarto, of texts and commentaries, which for centuries were to be found no longer in any other Chinese library. At present there are only six works of this kind--i.e., Buddhist travels--in the original text, and duplicates of these are to be found in France and Russia. Their names and dates are as follows:
I. Memoir of the Kingdoms of Buddha. Edited by Fa-hien, a Chinese monk, who left the Kingdom of the West in the year 399 of our era, and visited thirty kingdoms.
II. Memoir of Hoei-seng and of Song-yun, envoys to
[paragraph continues] India in 518, by order of the Empress, to seek for sacred books and relics.
III. Memoirs of Western Countries. Edited in the year 648 by Hiouen-thsang. This work was written originally "in the language of India. It embraces a description of one hundred and thirty-eight kingdoms; although, according to a Chinese authority, Hiouen-thsang had only been in one hundred and ten." The extraordinary number of countries visited by this missionary, and his manifest desire to make his travels appear as extended as possible, give a strong colour of probability to the assertion that these monks went wherever they could, and explored the remotest regions, deterred by no dangers. Since they brought the religion of Buddha to distant places in Siberia, as the curious black Buddhistic books from that country now in St Petersburg prove, and to Kamtschatka and the Aleutian Islands, nothing is more probable than that such zealous propagandists should have gone a step beyond, and have arrived in a part of the North American Continent where reports of Aztec or other civilisation must have lured them still farther on.
IV. History of the Master of the Law of the Three Collections of the Convent of Grand Benevolence. This work, the first editing of which was by Hoei-li, continued and edited by Yen-thsang, both contemporaries of Hiouen-thsang, contains the history of his remarkable journey, accompanied by very interesting biographical details wanting in the original narrative.
V. The History and the Journeys of Fifty-six Monks of the Dynasty of Thang, who went to the West of China to seek the Law.
VI. The Itinerary of the Travels of Khi-nie.
It is worth noting that the authenticity of the great work of Hiouen-thsang, which has been impugned by one or two European writers, has been triumphantly vindicated by M. Julien. And there can be no doubt, that in every instance these journeys were carried out to the end proposed, and that the books are bona fide narratives. They are as authentic as the accounts of modern Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, or other missionaries. It is true that, like Hoei-shin or Herodotus, these monks often narrate extravagant miracles and marvels as they heard them; and it maybe that they lend too ready a faith to them--as did Sir John Mandeville, and most early travellers. But where they said they had been, they had gone. This is apparent enough. And there is no reason for rejecting the story of Hoei-shin, any more than that of his contemporaries, because he narrates hearsay wonders.
Another very interesting work of this school, which will be found more readily accessible to my readers than the somewhat rare and costly translations of M. Julien, is "The Travels of Fah-hian, from 400 to 415 A.D.," and "The Mission of Sung-yun." Both of these were Buddhist pilgrims from China to India, and their two books, rendered into English by Samuel Beal,
have been published in one volume by N. Trübner, 57 Ludgate Hill, London. Of the character of these works, something may be inferred from the motto taken from the life of Gaudama, by the Right Rev. P. Bigandet, Vicar-Apostolic of Ava and Pegu, who declares, "It is not a little surprising that we should have to acknowledge the fact that the voyages of two Chinese travellers, undertaken in the fifth and seventh centuries of our era, have done more to elucidate the history and geography of Buddhism in India than all that has hitherto been found in the Sanscrit and Pali books of India and the neighbouring countries." This is very strong testimony as to the general accuracy of observation and truthfulness of the Chinese Buddhist travelling monks, two of whom were probably contemporary with Hoei-shin, and these he may have seen at the court of the Empress Dowager Tai-Hau of the Great Wei dynasty, who favoured such missionaries, sending them afar to advance the faith. It is far from unlikely that men so celebrated for the extent of their travels, and occupied with precisely the same pursuits, should have met and exchanged their experiences. For Hoei-seng and Song-yun, who travelled only nineteen years after Hoei-shin, were, we know, celebrated in their time, their journal having been published by command of an Empress. Therefore it is improbable that Hoei-shin was less celebrated in his time at a court and in a country where travellers and books of travel were, as we have seen,
duly appreciated, since an Emperor deigned to write the introduction with his own Imperial hand to the book of one Buddhist missionary monk, and then bad it published in the most magnificent manner at his own expense. We may well call a work magnificent, the fame of which has endured for fourteen hundred years, and must the more deeply regret its wanton destruction by ignorant and reckless soldiers.
The credibility or importance of one of this class of books is naturally enough upheld by that of the rest, and the narrative of Hoei-shin, viewed in this light, acquires additional probability. It is to be regretted that .Professor' Neumann should have omitted as unimportant, or as detrimental to the authenticity of his text, that "fabulous matter" which, he assumes, is not worth translating. Absurd fables occur abundantly in the travels of Hoei-shin's contemporaries, as in those of Herodotus; but being merely given as reports, their very existence may serve to establish an identity of style with that of writers whom no one at the present day regards as untruthful. The study of these Buddhist travels will convince the reader that their authors were singularly alike in their caste of mind and manner of observation, but unquestionably honest. They are as simple as Saxon monks, whom they greatly resemble: all their thoughts and phrases are distinct units.
It may be observed that Colonel Kennon's last remark in his letter is in reference to the "resemblance of immense numbers of North American Indians to the
so-called Mongolian tribes." This resemblance has often been remarked by Americans. I was recently indebted to the kindness of the Hon. Charles D. Poston, late Commissioner of the United States of America in Asia, for a work written by him entitled, "The Parsees," which includes observations in India, Japan, and China. In this book, the only comparison made as to similarity of races is the following, in an incident which took place "beyond the Great Wall:"--
"A Mongolian came riding up on a little black pony, followed by a servant on a camel, rocking like a windmill. He stopped a moment to exchange pantomimic salutations. He was full of electricity, and alive with motion; the blood was warm in his veins, and the fire was bright in his eye. I could have sworn that he was an Apache; every action, motion, and look reminded me of my old enemies and neighbours in Arizona. They are the true descendants of the nomadic Tartars of Asia, and preserve every instinct of the race. He shook hands friendlily but timidly, keeping all the time in motion like an Apache."
I have italicised these last words, since they indicate great familiarity with the Apaches, as well as the shrewd observation which is characteristic of the writer. All Indians do not closely approach this type, nor do all Tartars. But it is not to be doubted that among the "Horse-Indians" great numbers have a peculiarly Mongolian expression, often approaching to identity, as if there were a common blood, which, when developed
in nomadic life on Asiatic steppes and Western American prairies, had produced cognate results. This resemblance is so strong, that most readers will be tempted to inquire if there are any signs of philological affinity connecting these races. What I have been able to ascertain, which is also due to the researches of one whom I have known personally for many years, will he found in the following chapter.
88:1 Chi-tao’-an-si-yu-tchi. Vide the Cyclopædia Youen-kien-louai-han, published in 710, bk. cccxvi. p. 10; and the life of this priest in Ching-seng-tch’ouen, bk. ii. p. 1.