IN the "Notes and Queries on China and Japan," published at Hong Kong, there appeared in No. 4, April 1869, this communication:--
"I see the following statement in a recent home paper:--
"Professor Carl Neumann, of Munich, a diligent student of Chinese antiquities and bibliography, has discovered from the Chinese Year-Books that a company of Buddhist priests entered this vast continent, via Aliaska, a thousand years before Columbus, and explored thoroughly and intelligently the Pacific borders, penetrating into the land of Fusang--for so they called the Aztec territory, after the Chinese name of the Mexican aloe.
"Perhaps some of your numerous contributors may be able to verify the learned sinologue's discovery, and for that purpose I beg to submit it to further inquiry. Y. J. A.
"SHANGHAI, March 24, 1S69."
In consequence of this request by Y. J. A., there appeared in the next number of the "Notes and Queries for China and Japan" the following letter:--
"BUDDHIST PRIESTS IN AMERICA (vol. iii. p. 58).--Under this heading, a querist in the last number of Notes and Queries submits to inquiry a statement of Professor Carl Neumann of Munich, respecting the supposed entry of Buddhist priests into the American Continent some thirteen hundred years ago, and their passage into the land of the Aztecs, which they called Fusang, 'after the Chinese name of the American aloe.'
"Now, in the first place, this statement, if true, inferentially proves much more than it asserts; the Mexican aloe is a native of Mexico only, and it is manifest, therefore, that if these supposed Chinese travellers named the country after the Chinese name of the Mexican aloe, that plant must have been well known to them before the period of their visit to its native country; hence we are carried further back, to a time when the Mexican aloe must have been known in China, and we must allow a considerable period for it to have become so well known as to suggest to the travellers a name for a newly-discovered--or, as it must needs have been in this view, a rediscovered country. This consideration takes us back into the question of the original peopling of the American Continent, to the age of stone or bronze, perhaps, which is beyond the intended scope of the querist's quotation.
"At the period when 'the land of Fusang is first mentioned by historians,' China, exclusive of the neighbouring 'barbarous tribes,' over whom she held sway, was not so extensive as she is at present, but comprised only what we should now call the Northern and Central Provinces. Does the Mexican aloe grow in that part of the country at all? I am inclined to think not, though I cannot speak positively upon the point. In Canton it is said by the Chinese to have been introduced from the Philippine Islands, and is called Spanish (or Philippine) hemp, its fibres being sometimes employed in the manufacture of mosquito nets.
"But the Fusang (or, more correctly, the Fusang tree), as described in Chinese botanical works appears to be a malvaceous plant; at any rate, whatever it may be, it certainly is not the Mexican aloe, or and thing similar to it.
"The land of Fusang is described by Chinese authors as being in the Eastern Sea, in the place where the sun rises. Considering the geographical limits of China at the time referred to (some 1300 years ago), surely we need not look further than Japan for a very probable identification of the Fusang country according with this description, which indeed appears to be embodied in the more modern name Jih-pên-kwoh, Japan, which is translatable as the 'Country of the Rising Sun.' It is a matter of fact, too, that Buddhism was introduced into that country some 1300 years ago; and this by no means extraordinary event is a very much more probable version of the incident referred to than the marvellous story given by Professor Neumann.
The note of Y. J. A., of March 24, 1869, refers rather vaguely to a statement in "home papers," by which I infer that American journals are to be understood. In 1850 I published in the New York Knickerbocker Magazine, for the first time, my version of Professor Neumann's little work; and in 1862 republished in the Continental Magazine (N.Y.), which I then edited, the greater portion of it, with additions of my own. It is probable that the paragraph from the "home paper" cited by Y. J. A. originated in an erroneous inference drawn from a hasty perusal of one of these articles. It is therefore needless to comment on Mr Simson's ignorance of the work which he attacked. His inference that the giving a name to the maguey by the Buddhist monks infers a long previous acquaintance with the plant, indicates a very slight knowledge of the manner in which names are generally given by newcomers
to a strange country, as Professor Neumann has indeed intimated. In North America the number of names thus applied, or misapplied, is incredibly large. For an instance nearer home, we may take our own English gipsies, who call a dog a jackal (juckal), a swan by the Persian word for a pelican (sákka or sákku), and small grain by the Hindu word for rice (shali-giv, Hindu shalita). Hoei-shin did as the Americans and gipsies have done; having no word for a natural product which was new to him, he heedlessly gave to it the name of a familiar plant which he fancied resembled it. The fact that the plant known to Chinese botanists as the Fusang is malvaceous, and unlike the maguey, conflicts in nothing with the probability that Hoei-shin saw the great American aloe. What the fancied point of resemblance may have been, or what kind of a Chinese Fusang-plant he had in his mind, is of comparatively slight importance. The main point, and the one steadily ignored by all who have opposed the views of Deguignes and Neumann, is this: did not Hoei-shin see in the land of Fusang, and afterwards describe--no matter by what name--a remarkable plant, which is to-day the characteristic plant of the region which he is supposed to have visited. The geographical questions raised by Mr Simson, and the possible identity of Japan with Fusang, have been too carefully considered by M. D’Eichthal to render a further discussion of them necessary.
As for the possible antiquity of the name Fusang,
as applied to the maguey, taking us "back into the age of stone or bronze perhaps, which is beyond the intended scope of the querist's quotation," it should be remarked that the ages of both stone and bronze existed contemporaneously for many centuries on the North American Continent until it was settled by Europeans; and further, that the age of stone continues to exist among a few tribes, as I have acquaintances who not many years ago witnessed the process of making flint arrow-heads among the Indians of Oregon. I can remember having, when a boy, occasionally seen, among sheaves of arrows bought from the Indians of the plains, a few which were flint-tipped, though these were rare, most of them appearing to have heads made from iron hoops. It is therefore evident, that by transferring the period when the name Fusang was given to the "age of stone or bronze" by no means removes the intended scope of the querist's quotation into an era so remote and obscure as to defy research.
The discussion of the question on its native soil, and in its fatherland, China, did not, however, end here. In the fifth number of the Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, vol. iii., published at Foochow, October 1870, there appeared an article entitled "Fusang; or, Who Discovered America?" by "E. Bretschneider, Esq., M. D." It was as follows:
"In the May number of the Chinese Recorder there is an article reproduced from the Gentleman's Magazine, in which it is sought to be proved that the Chinese had discovered America
as early as 500 A.D. Simultaneous with this there appears in Notes and Queries (vol. iv. p. 19) a short notice on the same subject, in which it is desired to collect and publish all notices concerning Fusang, by which name the Chinese of that time are said to have called the newly-discovered America.
"This supposed discovery of America by Buddhist priests has already been the subject of remarks in Notes and Queries (vol. iii. pp. 58, 78). Moreover, this is no new view. The first who advanced this hypothesis was the well-known French sinologist Deguignes. (Vide his 'Récherches sur les Navigation des Chinois du côté de l’Asie, Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions,' &c., vol. xxviii. pp. 505, 526). Klaproth, in his work 'Annales des Empereurs du Japon,' 1834, p. 4, has already pointed out the mistakes into which Deguignes has fallen.
Mr Taravey published two brochures on the same subject. 'L’Amérique sous le nom de Pays de Fusang, a-t-elle été connue en Asie dés le cinquième siécle de notre ére, dans les grandes annales de la Chine.' The other brochure is entitled 'L’Amérique sous le nom de Fusang. Nouvelles preuves que le Pays de Fusang est l’Amérique.' I have not read these dissertations. They are quoted by Andrae and Geiger, 1864, in the 'Bibliotheca Sinologica.' I am also equally unacquainted with the article of Mr Neumann." (To this Dr Bretschneider appends as a footnote--"Since writing the above, I have learned with regret of the death of this eminent Oriental scholar.") "I believe, however, that the Chinese notices about Fusang are all derived from one and the same source, and each and all rest upon the statements of a lying Buddhist priest, Hui-shên, who asserts that he was in Fusang. His stories are found in the 'History of the Liang Dynasty' (502-556 A.D.), chap. liv., and are reproduced by Ma-tuan-lin, and in other historical works.
"The 'History of the Liang Dynasty' refers, in the same chapter in which Fusang is spoken of, to a number of countries, chiefly islands, which must be placed in the same category as Fusang--
that is to say, the intelligence regarding these countries rests upon rumours and fables. In order to be able properly to estimate the accounts relating to Fusang, I shall refer shortly to these countries. The historian of the Liang dynasty speaks first of the land of the dwarfs (Chu-ju-kuo), lying to the south of Japan. Here, probably, the islands of Leu-chew are meant, whose inhabitants are really of little stature. These accounts regarding the dwarfs are reproduced from the history of the posterior Han. The Chinese first became acquainted in the year 605 A. D. with the Leu-chew Islands. The lands of the naked men (Lo-kuo), and the black-toothed men (Hei-chi), were reached in a year by a sea-voyage in a south-easterly direction. The latter intelligence is also reproduced from the history of the Han, and seems to be an allusion to the nations which chew betel-nut. Ten thousand li south-west from this is a country of islands inhabited by black nasty people with white eyes. Their flesh is nevertheless very well tasted, and those who sail thither shoot them in order to eat them. Wên-shên, the country in which the people tattoo themselves, lies 7000 li north-east from Japan. The inhabitants make large lines upon their bodies, and especially upon their faces. By a stretch of the imagination, we might suppose the North American Red Indians to be here meant. It is known, however, that the Japanese have also the custom of tattooing themselves.
"Lastly, the country Tahan is mentioned as 5000 li east of the above. War is here unknown. 1 According to this information, we should look for Tahan somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, or still further east. The historians of the Tang dynasty, 618-907, however, assign this land to a place in the middle of Siberia. The following is found in the chapter 259 b.
"'The land Tahan is rich in sheep and horses. These, and likewise the men, are of great stature. Hence the name Tahan.
At the lake Kien-hai (Baikal, according to Father Hyacinth), the countries of Kie-kia-ssŭ and Kü. The first, according to Klaproth ('Tableaux Historiques de l’Asie') and others, were the Hakas, the ancestors of the present Kirghises, and dwelt in the present Siberian government of Tomsk and Yenissey. They formed at the time of the Tang dynasty a powerful country. The country of the Kü is described as richly wooded. 'No grass, much moss. There are neither sheep nor horses. On this account stags are used as domestic animals, and harnessed to carts (sledges). They are fed with moss. The people are clothed with stag-skins.' The Chinese historian adds to this, that the people of Tahan had no early intercourse with the Chinese. It was only in the first half of the seventh century that envoys from there came to the Chinese court, and brought sables and horses. According to the above, Tahan must have been a country on the Lena and Yenissey rivers.
"The above-mentioned Buddhist priest, Hui-shên, who arrived in China towards the end of fifth century, relates:--
"'The kingdom of Fusang lies 20,000 li east from Tahan, and directly cast from China. The name of the country is derived from the tree of this name (Fusang), which grows there in abundance. Its leaves resembles those of the tree T’ung. The young sprouts are like those of the bamboo, and are eaten. The fruit resembles a pear, and is of a red colour. Cloth is made out of the bark, and paper is also prepared from it. The houses are built of planks. There are no cities. Arms and war are unknown. There are two prisons in the country for light and confirmed criminals. Carts drawn by horses; oxen or stags are employed. The deer are their domestic animals, like cows in China. A fermented drink is prepared from their milk. Mulberry-trees exist, and red pears, which can be preserved for a whole year. Grapes thrive also. Silver and copper have no value there. There is no iron, but plenty of copper. They possess writings. The inhabitants of Fusang were formerly ignorant of the Buddhist religion. Five priests from Ki-pin
[paragraph continues] (Cabal) went there in 458 A.D., and carried with them the holy books and the faith.' I pass over the wonderful descriptions which Hui-shên gives of the customs, clothing of the sovereign, punishment, &c., in Fusang, as unessential, for I believe that no conclusions can be drawn therefrom. The translation of these details is found in Klaproth's 'Annales des Empereurs du Japon,' v.
"The above is the Chinese intelligence about Fusang, which sprang out of the fifth century, and, I believe, the only information we possess. In later times, the Chinese poets, who seem to be gifted with a much livelier imagination than some of our savants, have further developed and richly embellished those reports with regard to the land of Fusang, and have made out of it a complete land of fables, where mulberry-trees grow to a height of several thousand feet, and where silk-worms are found more than six feet in length. The statements about Fusang given by M. Léon de Rosily in his 'Variétés Orientales,' from a Japanese Encyclopædia, are probably borrowed from the Chinese. I have not, however, read M. Rosny's work. (Cf. Notes and Queries, vol. iv. p. 19.) 1
"In order to place the credibility of the Buddhist priest Hui-shên in the proper light, I will yet mention what he further relates of his journeys. He asserts, namely (loco citato), that there is a kingdom 1000 li east of Fusang in which are no men, but only women, whose bodies are completely covered with hair. When they wish to become pregnant, they bathe themselves in a certain river. The women have no mammæ, but tufts of hair on the neck, by means of which they suckle their children.
"Upon these vague and incredible traditions of a Buddhist monk, several European savants have based the hypothesis that the Chinese had discovered America 1300 years ago. Nevertheless,
it appears to me that these sinologues have not succeeded in robbing Columbus of the honour of having discovered America. They might have spared themselves the writing of such learned treatises on this subject. It appears to me that the verdict passed upon the value of the information of the Buddhist monk Hui-shên by Father Hyacinth is the most correct. This well-known sinologue adds the following words merely after the translation of the article 'Fusang' out of the 'History of the Southern Dynasties:' 'Hui-shên appears to have been a consummate humbug.' (Cf. 'The People of Central Asia,' by F. hyacinth.)
"I cannot, indeed, understand what ground we have for believing that Fusang is America. We cannot lay great stress upon the asserted distance, for every one knows how liberal the Chinese are with numbers. By tamed stags we can at all events only understand reindeer. But these are found as frequently in Asia as in America. Mention is also made of horses in Fusang. This does not agree at all with America, for it is well known that horses were first brought to America in the sixteenth century. Neumann appears to base his hypothesis on the assumption that the tree Fusang is synonymous with the Mexican aloe. Mr Sampson has already refuted this error. (Notes and Queries, vol. iii. p. 78.)
"According to the description and drawings of the tree Fusang given by the Chinese, there is no doubt that it is a Malvacea. In Peking, the Hibiscus rosa siniensis is designated by this name, while Hibiscus syriacus is here called Mu-kin. These names seem to hold good for the whole of China. The description which is given in the Pun-tsáo-kang-mu of both plants (xxxvi. p. 64 and 65) admits of no doubt that by the tree Fusang, Chu-kin, Chi-kin, Ji-ki, is to be understood Hibiscus rosa siniensis. It is also mentioned that this tree has a likeness to the Mu-kin (Hibiscus syriacus). Its leaves resemble the mulberry-tree. Very good drawings of both kinds of Hibiscus are found in the Chi-wu-ming-shi-tu-k’ao (xxxv. pp. 58 and 34). The Buddhist priest Hui-shên compares the tree Fusang with the
tree T’ung. Under this name the Chinese denote different large-leaved trees. In the Chi-wu-ming-shi-tu-k’ao (xxx. p. 46), the tree T'ung is represented with broadly ovate, cordate, entire great leaves, and with great ovoid, acuminate fruits. Hoffman and Schultes ('Noms indigenes des Plantes du Japon et de la Chine') have set down the tree T’ung as Paulownia imperialis. This agrees quite well with the Chinese drawing.
"The tree T’ung must not be confounded with the Yu-t’ung tree (synonyma Ying-tsŭ-t’ung, Jĕn-t’ung), from whose fruit is furnished the well-known and very poisonous oil, Túng-yn, which the Chinese employ in varnish and in painting. It should be the Dryanda cordata, according to others Elaeococca verucosa. I have not seen the tree, but it is known to occur very abundantly in Central China, and especially on the Yang-tse-kiang. There is a Chinese description in the Pun-tsao (xxxv. p. 26), and a drawing of it in the Chi-wu-ming-shi-tu-k’ao (xxxv. p. 26).
"Finally, there is a tree which the Chinese call Wu-t’ung (synonyme Chên). This tree has already been mentioned by Du Halde ('Description de l’Empire Chinois'), as a curiosity, in which the seeds are found on the edges of the leaves. This phenomenon is also described in the drawing of the Chi-wu-ming-shi-tu-k’ao (xxxv. 56). Compare further the description in the Pun-t’sao (xxxv a, 25). It is the Sterculia plantanifolia, a beautiful tree with large leaves, lobed so as to resemble a hand, which is cultivated in the Buddhist temples near Peking. The Chinese are quite right in what they relate about the seeds. The seed-follicles burst, and acquire the form of coriaceous leaves, bearing the seeds upon their margin.
"The leaves of all the trees just now mentioned allow themselves to be compared, as is done by the Chinese, with those of Hibiscus, or other plants of the Malvaceous family, but have not the slightest resemblance with the Mexican aloe or maguey tree (Agave americana), which has massive, spiny-toothed, fleshy leaves. Mr Hanlay (Chinese Recorder, vol. ii. p. 315), of San
[paragraph continues] Francisco, cannot, therefore, succeed in proving that the Buddhist priest Hui-shên understood by Fusang the Mexican aloe.
"Finally, I have to mention a tree which, as regards its appearance and usefulness, corresponds pretty much with the description given by Hui-shên of the Fusang-tree. I am speaking of the useful tree Broussonetia papyrifera, which grows wild in the temperate parts of Asia, 1 especially in China, Japan, Corea, Manchuria, &c., and besides, found on the islands of the Pacific, while, as far as I know, it does not occur in America. The leaves of this tree are remarkable for their varying very much in shape. The same tree produces at once very large and quite small leaves. They are sometimes entire, sometimes many-lobed. The fruit is round, of a deep scarlet colour, and pulpy. It is a well-known fact that, in the parts where this tree grows, its bark is used for the making of paper and the manufacturing of clothing material. From ancient times it has been known to the Chinese under the name Ch’u (synonyma Kou, KOU-SANG, Kou-shu. Cf. Pun-t’sao-kang-mu, xxxvi. 10). An excellent of engraving of the tree is found in the Chi-wu-ming-shi-tu-k’ao (xxxiii. 57). Hui-shên, in his botanical diagnosis, perhaps made a mistake with regard to the Fusang-free, and confounded Broussonetia with Hibiscus.
"Just as little as the Mexican aloe does the non-existence of iron in the country Fusang prove that America is to be understood, for there were many countries in ancient times which possessed copper, but where the art of working iron was unknown. The Chinese report also that the natives of the Leu-chew Island did not possess iron, but only copper.
"Mr Hanlay (l.c.) appears to have received the discovery of America by the Chinese with the greatest enthusiasm. Perhaps I have furnished him, by means of the above notice about the kingdom of women, which Hui-shên visited, a new proof for his
view of the case. Fusang lies, according to Hui-shên, directly east from China more than 20,000 li, thus about the situation of San Francisco at the present day. The celebrated women's kingdom lies 1000 li still further towards the east, thus about the country of Salt Lake City, where, at the present day, the Mormons are, which, if not a women's country, is nevertheless a country of many women, and where--to the disgrace of the United States--prostitution is carried on under the mask of the Christian religion.
"I do not agree with Mr Sampson (Notes and Queries, vol. iii. p. 79) in supposing that Fusang must be identified with Japan, Ji-pen, the land where the sun rises; for Japan has been well known to the Chinese since several centuries before our era, under another name. I avail myself of this opportunity to add a few words about the earliest accounts which the Chinese have of Japan. This country was primitively known to them under the name Wo, which occurs for the first time in the history of the posterior Han, 25-221, chapter 115. I cannot afford to give here a translation of the whole article, and shall, therefore, only touch upon some of the most important points. The kingdom Wo, it is said, is situated on a group of islands in the great sea, south-east of Han (in the south-western part of Corea), and is composed of about a hundred principalities. Since the conquest of Chas-sien (Corea) by the Emperor Wu-ti, 108 B.C., about thirty of these principalities entered into relations with China. The most powerful of the rulers has his capital in Ye-ma-t’ai. It is mentioned that neither tigers and leopards, nor oxen, horses, sheep, and magpies exist. As far as I know, this last remark is not true at present, at least, as far as horses and oxen are concerned; it is true, however, that sheep cannot thrive in Japan, and the attempts of Europeans to acclimatise them have been, until now, unsuccessful.
"In the reign of Kuang-wu, A.D. 25-58, envoys came from the Wo-nu with presents to the Chinese court. They stated that their country was the southernmost of the kingdom.
"The history of the Sui dynasty, 589-618, chapter 81, gives also the name Wo to Japan, and contains an extensive article on this country. The chief place of the kingdom is called here Ye-mi-sui.
"The name Ji-pên is given to Japan by Chinese historians, for the first time, towards the end of the seventh century. I entertained until now the opinion that the Japanese, who, as everybody knows, use these same signs for the name of their country, but pronounce them Ni-pon, had borrowed this name, together with the art of writing, from China. (Chinese writing was introduced into Japan A.D. 280; Buddhism, A.D. 552.) (Cf. Klaproth, 'Annales des Empereurs du Japon,' ix. and p.. 20.) For Japan could appear only to the Chinese (or any other people on the continent of Asia) as the country where the sun rises. This, however, does not seem to be the case, according to information derived from in Chinese sources. In the history of the T’ang dynasty, 618-907, chapter 259 a, Japan is at first described under the ancient name Wo. Then follows the description of the kingdom Ji-pên, of which the following is said:--'Ji-pên is of the same origin as Wo. It lies on the boundaries of the sun, therefore the name.' It is also related that the name Wo was changed by the Japanese, for the reason that they found it inharmonious; others say that Ji-pên was formerly a small state, and that Wo, in later times, was incorporated in Ji-pên. The people who came from Ji-pên to the court boasted of the power of their country, but the Chinese did not put faith in their words. They told that this kingdom extended 1000 li in all directions, and that it was bordered on the west and south by the great sea, and on the north and east by high mountains. Beyond the mountains live the Mas-jen, the hairy men. This, beyond doubt, refers to the Ainos, well known for being hairy in appearance.
"The above information removes all doubts as to the Japanese origin of the name Ji-pên, and the use of it at first for the designation of the largest of the islands, and afterwards as the name
of the whole empire. Ye-ma-t’ai, as the Chinese called the chief town of Japan, seems to designate the province Yamato, in which the emperors had their residence in ancient times. It is difficult to say anything of the origin of the name Wo. It is probable that the Chinese invented it, and that the Japanese afterwards adopted it. I find in a Japanese historical map of Japan the characters as designating the province Yamato. This province is designated by these characters on all the historical maps up to the beginning of the eighth century, whereas on the modern maps that province is called Taho.
"Allow me to observe also, in relation to the above-mentioned history of the posterior Han, a Nü-wang-kuo, a country of women, is spoken of in the southern part of Japan. This statement is confirmed by the Japanese annals. (Cf. Klaproth, 'Annales des Empereurs du Japon,' p. 13.) The Japanese call this country Atsowma.
"The land Tahan, according to the foregoing observations, must have been a province in Siberia. Fusang is said to lie to the east of Tahan. Supposing, then, that a country, Fusang, really existed, and was not an invention of a Buddhist monk, it does not necessarily follow that it is to be sought on the other side of the ocean. Let me here observe, that this monk mentions in no place in his account having passed over a great sea. Klaproth, in assuming that Fusang is meant for the island of Saghalien, is, I believe, more near to the truth than the other sinologues.
"In Notes and Queries (vol. iv. p. 19) there is a passage cited out of the Liang-ssŭ-kung-ki, that the kingdom of Fusang had sent envoys to China. That would, of course, prove that the so-called country of Fusang had political intercourse with China, but it makes it more unlikely that America was here meant. We will, therefore, in the meantime, still consider Fusang as a terra incognita nec non dubia, and bestow upon Mr Burlinghame the double honour of having been the first American Ambassador at the Chinese court, and first Chinese Ambassador in America.
"The contradictory fancies about China that originate in the brains of European literati are truly astonishing. Some maintain that the Chinese discovered America 1300 years ago, while a well-known learned Frenchman, Count Gobineau, has some years ago asserted that the Chinese have immigrated from America. In his 'Essai sur l’Inégalité des Races Humaines,' vol. ii. p. 242, Count Gobineau says:--'D’où venaient ces pouples jaunes? Du grand continent d’Amérique. C’est la réponse de la physiologie comme de la linguistique.'
"All these unfounded hypotheses have much the same value as the supposed discovery of America by the Chinese.
"PEKIN, 13th June 1870."
As a Chinese scholar, familiar with the histories of the country, and as a resident in Pekin at the time of writing the foregoing letter, Dr Bretschneider is entitled to an examination in detail. Beyond all doubt, no writer whatever on the subject of Fusang, whether Deguignes, Neumann, or D’Eichthal, has expressed himself so positively on the question. A true disciple of the learned Klaproth, he with great ingenuity directs his chief energies less to the subject of dispute than to impugning the honesty or sense of his opponents.
In the beginning, Dr Bretschneider disposes of all that Deguignes alleges, by declaring that "Klaproth has already pointed out the mistakes into which the latter has fallen." By this effective summary, those who have not read Deguignes and Klaproth are fully informed in a few words of the greater part of the argument--as it appeared to Dr Bretschneider; and as he had not read Professor Neumann's or other works on
the subject, he is, of course, relieved from the awkward responsibility of answering many statements which would perhaps have interfered with his own theories. As he makes no mention, indeed, of M. Gustave d’Eichthal, we must conclude that he either had never heard of the articles which had appeared several years before in the Révue Archæologique, or passed them by as trifles unworthy his attention.
"The Chinese notices of Fusang," says Dr Bretschneider, "are all derived from the same source, and each and all rest upon the statements of a lying Buddhist priest." He does not deny, or he rather admits plainly, that the steps towards Fusang are laid down faithfully enough until we reach Tahan. No one, indeed, can well deny this who has read Deguignes with any care. But the credibility of Hoei-shin. is utterly destroyed, according to Dr Bretschneider, firstly, by the stories embroidered by Chinese poets on his narrative hundreds of years after the monk was in his grave, and, secondly, by the story of the Kingdom of Women.
I have already observed that Hoei-shin says nothing of having visited this Kingdom of Women, but speaks of it as being a thousand li east of Fusang. In our day, it is no longer the fashion to utterly discredit the older travellers because they gilded and illuminated their texts with arabesque marvels, especially when they only told the tales as they were told to them. Judged by such a standard, all the travels of Buddhist
monks to the West must be entirely thrown out of history, Herodotus set down as the father of lies, and every one of the Old World pilgrims discredited with him. In fact, the falsus in uno falsus in omnibus ground no longer obtains in criticism, and allowance is now made for the simple credulity of twilight times. Scholars do not usually announce their personal opinions as overwhelming arguments, or call names, and it is to be regretted that a man of Dr Bretschneider's erudition should have informed the sinologues who differ with him that "they might have spared themselves the trouble of writing such learned treatises on this subject." That he likes this method of argument by inspiration spiced with personality appears from his evident admiration of Father Hyacinth, who, as he tells us, merely added to the article "Fusang" the following words--"Hui-shên appears to have been a consummate humbug."
Dr Bretschneider adduces the story of the Kingdom of Women as a reason for discrediting Hoei-shin. Yet, when it strengthens his own position, he informs us that a country of women was believed to exist in Southern Japan.
"Neumann," says Dr Bretschneider, "appears to base his hypothesis on the assumption that the tree Fusang is synonymous with the American aloe." As he confessedly had not read Professor Neumann's work, it was hardly fair to judge by hearsay, or to inform his public (even under the shield of an "appears")
what Neumaun's "hypothesis" was. The reader of these pages is aware that Professor Neumann by no means based his belief in Hoei-shin's narrative simply on the maguey plant. "Mr Sampson,", says Dr Bretschneider, "has already refuted this error." Mr Simson had, it is true, fully proved that Hoei-shin gave to the maguey a name not now applicable to the Chinese plants which bear it. But neither Mr Simson nor Dr Bretschneider disproves the main fact--that Hoei-shin described a very singular Mexican plant not known in Asia. The pictures which have been made by Chinese botanists since the fifth century are very little to the purpose. It seems to have escaped the notice of all writers that Hoei-shin, which he calls the tree a Fusang, says it resembles the T’ung, 1 a very different plant, the leaves of which, though in other respects unlike those of the maguey, are large. This indicates that by the word Fusang we are to understand some American term, which to the Chinese sounded like one already familiar to them. And it is remarkable that one point--and that, indeed, the principal one in the Fusang controversy--has been overlooked by every writer on the subject, from Deguignes to Bretschneider, which is, that Hoei-shin, while he calls the tree a Fusang, states that its
leaves resemble those of another plant, and its sprouts those of yet another. It is not remarkable that, with these qualifications left out of sight, neither Mr Simson nor Dr Bretschneider could find the mysterious plant among the Fusang-trees of China. Nothing can be more plain than that, while giving to the American plant a name like that of one in China, the monk by no means meant the latter. "The sprouts," he says, "on the contrary, resemble those of the bamboo-tree." Yet in the face of this statement, Mr Simson and Dr Bretschneider assert, as if it were an argument, that the maguey plant is not the Fusang--when the monk had taken pains to say the same thing, and even to emphasise his denial. But, as a concluding paragraph on this subject, Dr Bretschneider informs us that there is a Chinese tree--not the Fusang but Kousang--which strikingly resembles it, and then naively remarks that this was perhaps the one seen by Hoei-shin. The correction will be cheerfully admitted by all who believe it possible that the Buddhist monk was in America; and I avail myself of the opportunity to declare that Dr Bretschneider, whatever his peculiarities of criticism may be, is undoubtedly a good sinologist, and deeply learned in Chinese botany, and that his learning has, in this respect, done much for the cause of Hoei-shin, while his arguments pro contra have not injured it in the least. Hoei-shin in all likelihood did make a mistake in confounding Broussonetia with Hibiscus; but so that there is in China a Kousang, very much resembling what the
monk chose to call Fusang, we can ask no more. Dr Bretschneider honestly admits that Hoei-shin saw in Mexico a plant to which he gave a wrong name, and corrects this error. To an unprejudiced critic these botanical blunders of the old monk, obscured in all probability by provincial terms and errors of copyists, so far from invalidating the main facts, actually confirm them; and in this instance, where Dr Bretschneider is inspired by positive science, he makes an admission favourable to the credibility of Hoei-shin.
It is, however, strange that so learned a man should assert that because there were in ancient times many other countries where iron was unknown, therefore Hoei-shin's observation that it was not used in Fusang must go for nothing. Iron was known to all the civilised countries with which Hoei-shin was acquainted--what his ideas of Lew-chew were we cannot ascertain--and when be found in Fusang an apparently civilised race without iron, and not using gold or copper for money, he naturally recorded these peculiarities. It is remarkable that this was the case in Mexico. Four statements are here made--one relative to a plant, and three to metals--all of them true as regards America, and not one of them confirmed as regards China or India in the fifth century. According to Dr Bretschneider's argument, the most accurate account of the inhabitants of America, and their customs, must be set down as proving nothing, whenever anything similar can be proved of other countries in ancient times.
Dr Bretschneider states that Hoei-shin declares he visited the Kingdom of Women; but, as I have already shown, the monk uses the term "it is said" with reference to the great marvel of this country--the extraordinary manner of suckling the children--which he would not have done had he witnessed it. And here we are again indebted to Dr Bretschneider for another inadvertent, yet most important, admission. For, as he declares, Fusang lies--according to Hoei-shin--more than 20,000 li directly east from China, about the situation of San Francisco; and that the Women's Kingdom, if it existed, must have been where the Mormons now dwell. Now the question on which the whole turns is really this, and nothing more:--Did Hoei-shin mean that there was a country on the spot where, as is now known, land exists? The monk had a perfect right to state his distances, and here Dr Bretschneider clearly admits that the distance was accurately estimated. It may be remarked, by the way, that prostitution has literally no existence in Utah, being vigorously repressed by the Mormons, and that our author has evidently been strangely misinformed as to the country. It is carried on, he says, under the mask of the Christian religion, an assertion which would be perfectly true if applied to Berlin or Paris, or in fact to any German or French city where it is legalised by the Government, but which cannot be said of the United States of America, and least of all of Utah, where the people are not Christians at all. It would be insulting
to a scholar like Dr Bretschneider to insinuate that he does not know the difference between prostitution and polygamy. I prefer to believe that he wrote under a misapprehension of Mormon institutions. If, however, we are to understand from Dr Bretschneider's text that he alludes to the American Government as wearing a mask of the Christian religion, I would say, as an American, firstly, that the expression is needlessly offensive; and secondly, that as there is no connection whatever in the United States between Church and State, it is devoid of truth.
"Klaproth," says Dr Bretschneider, "in assuming that Fusang is meant for the Island of Saghalien, is, I believe, more near to the truth than the other sinologues." What then becomes of the perplexing Country of Women--but just now in Utah, and at another time in Japan? If anybody's statements and measurements are to be accepted, they are certainly those of Hoei-shin himself, and they are plain enough--"Twenty thousand li east of Tahan"--Tahan being plainly Siberia, as Dr Bretschneider admits, when he finds it convenient to do so, for the sake of a bitter word against America.
A passage cited from an old Chinese chronicle asserts that envoys once went from Fusang to China. This, Dr Bretschneider allows, would prove that Fusang had intercourse with the Celestial Kingdom, "but," as he declares, "makes it still more unlikely that America was here meant." In explanation, I will
cite the passage as given in the "Notes and Queries for China and Japan."
"The 'Liang-sze-kung-ki' says that envoys from Fu-sang brought as tribute 'gems for observing the sun,' like square and circular mirrors, more than a foot in circumference, and transparent like glass. Looking at the reflection of the sun in them, one could see very distinctly and brightly the palace in the sun." 1
This refers distinctly enough to something very like those curious metallic mirrors made in China, and common even in London, by means of which characters or pictures on the back are seen by reflecting the sun's rays on the wall. But in any case, if such mirrors were ever brought to China, they were much more likely to have come from sun-worshipping Mexico, where metal and other work was made with great ingenuity, than from Siberia, or even from Japan itself at that time. But it is still utterly incomprehensible why the proving that Fusang sent ambassadors to China
should "make it still more unlikely that America is here meant." There is no reason to arbitrarily assume that ambassadors could not come from America. But Dr Bretschneider treats this as his most conclusive argument; indeed, as the only conclusive one, since he immediately declares, "We will therefore still consider Fusang as a terra incognita nec non dubia."
In brief, Dr Bretschneider asserts that there was no Fusang, it being all the invention of a lying priest--but that it was in Siberia. There was never any such place, but still Mr Simson is wrong in placing it in Japan, and Klaproth is right in declaring it was at Saghalien. There was no Fusang-tree either, but the monk who saw it meant the Kou-sang, describing more accurately, however, a Mexican plant. Klaproth refuted Deguignes and exposed his errors by proving that Fusang was also in Japan; only in Dr Bretschneider's opinion it was elsewhere. And it is certainly curious that the writers who utterly discredit the very existence of Fusang, and all that is said of it, have each a theory as to where it really was.
To verify history is the chief object of scholarship, just as to investigate Nature is the aim of science. Every year sees the former more guided by the latter, and it is well that it should be so, even as it is well that parents who, as they grow old, look more and more into the past, should be tenderly guarded by their vigorous children. To prove who first from the Old World explored the New is no trifling problem in history, and
[paragraph continues] I am well assured that the investigation of the record of Hoei-shin will by no means rest where it is. What we want is not to establish a favourite fancy, but to ascertain the truth. It does not appear to many people, whose opinions are entitled to respect, that the story of Hoei-shin is settled. Liars--above all, lying travellers--are never brief, and had Hoei-shin been "a consummate humbug," he would have hardly left such a concise narrative as is given in the Annals. Time will probably show whether these Buddhist monks ever existed, and whether they ever were in America--
[paragraph continues] And if their story be proved a misrepresentation, or a myth founded on some old fable, we may at least get from the inquiry set afoot a clue to its source, and hints, or perhaps solid information, as to the great mystery of the early settlement of America. We are still groping in darkness as regards the past: the wonderful discoveries of the last fifty years may well teach us this.
It is the impulsive--it may be the credulous--spirit, loving marvels and novelty, which awakes these researches, and the negative, doubting, and incredulous inquiry which tests them. I trust that in this book both the believers and disbelievers in Hoei-shin's narrative have been honestly represented. If I have inadvertently spoken harshly of Klaproth and his disciple Bretschneider, I can only say that my severest
words are like flattery itself compared to what others have said in print of both these scholars. As it is, I cannot resist the honest conviction that both have, by their opposition, kept the question from subsiding into oblivion, and unwittingly brought forth, if not positive proofs, at least a mass of probabilities in favour of Hoei-shin before which their opposition was trifling.
The truth is, that the vindication of Hoei-shin is of little importance in itself compared to what lies behind it and what it may lead to. I refer to those early ages peopled by strange and cloudy forms--ages not without gleams of barbaric splendour--hinted at in the account of the embassies bearing mirrors in which could be seen "the palace of the sun"--perhaps that very Palace of the Sun itself known so well to the Mexicans. Should the investigation lead to anything positive relative to the early settlement of America, and to the action or reaction of the Old World and the New, the little journal of the humble priest, who did not even claim to be the first from beyond sea whose footsteps had fallen in the Golden Land of Fusang, may well be allowed to pass into oblivion, if nothing more occurs to confirm its authenticity.
167:1 This statement is made from other sources regarding the Esquimaux by Sir Jolla Lubbock, "Prehist. Civ."
169:1 M. do Rosny's extract from the Japanese Cyclopædia is simply an abridgment of the account by Hoei-shin.--C. G. L.
172:1 Saghalien, where Mr Bretschneider would put Fusang, can hardly be called temperate.--C. G. L.
179:1A cactus in ancient Mexican was called tuna, and the Cactæ globosæ bears the name of visnago (vide Berthold Seeman's "Die Volksnamen der Amerikanischen Pflanzen," or "Popular Names of the Plants of America"); but I have not been able to learn that there is any old Mexican name for the maguey in the least resembling Fusang. Inquiry might be made among the Pueblos.
184:1 The ancient Peruvians are said by Prescott to have relighted their sacred fire when it was extinguished by means of a concave mirror of polished metal. This connection between mirrors and the sun, whether Chinese or Peruvian, is at least curious. Not only Peruvians, but many of the North American nations, preserved a sacred fire--in fact, the Pueblos of New Mexico still keep one burning, and it is not many years since the Chippeways extinguished theirs. I have in my possession a common burning-glass, which I once dug out of an old Chippeway grave; and it is to be observed that burning-glasses, which were in great demand from the traders by the Chippeways while they worshipped the sacred fire, are now no longer called for. This is not owing to the introduction of matches, for (as is proved by the contents of several tobacco-bags in my possession) the Chippeways generally use flint and steel to obtain a light.--C. G. L.