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BOOK themselves. This intercourse between the east
and west subsisted almost two centuries. The ad. venturers, who returned from Afia, communicated to their countrymen the ideas which they had acquired, and the habits of life they had contracted by visiting more refined nations. The Europeans began to be sensible of wants with which they were formerly unacquainted : new desires were excited ; and such a taste for the commodities and arts of other countries gradually spread among them, that they not only encouraged the resort of foreigners to their harbours, but began to perceive the advantage and necessity of apply. ing to commerce themselves ".
by the dif- . This communication, which was opened be. coveries of travellers by
tween Europe and the western provinces of Asia, land,
encouraged several persons to advance far beyond the countries in which the Crusaders carried on their operations, and to travel by land into the more remote and opulent regions of the east. The wild fanaticism, which seems at that period to have mingled in all the schemes of individuals, no less than in all the counsels of nations, first incited men to enter upon those long and dan. gerous peregrinations. They were afterwards undertaken from prospects of commercial ad.
* Hift. of Charles V. vol. i. p. 25, &c.
vantage, or from motives of mere curiosity. BOOK Benjamin, a Jew of Tudela, in the kingdom of Navarre, poffefsed with a superstitious veneration for the law of Moses, and solicitous to visit his countrymen in the east, whom he hoped to find in such a state of power and opulence as might redound to the honour of his fect, set out from Spain in the year 1160, and travelling by land to Conftantinople, proceeded through the countries to the north of the Euxine and Caspian feas, as far as Chinese Tartary. From thence he took his route towards the fouth, and after traversing various provinces of the farther India, he eme barked on the Indian ocean, visited several of its islands, and returned at the end of thirteen years by the way of Egypt, to Europe, with much information concerning a large district of the globe, altogether unknown at that time to the western world“, The zeal of the head of the Christian church co-operated with the superftition of Benjamin the Jew, in discovering the interior and remote provinces of Asia. All
1246. Christendom having been alarmed with accounts of the rapid progress of the Tartar arms under
Zengis Khan, Innocent IV. who entertained · most exalted ideas concerning the plenitude of
* Bergeron Recueil des Voyages, &c. tom.i. p. 1. .
BOOK his own power, and the submission due to his
injunctions, fent father John de Plano Carpini,
• Hakluyt, i. 21. Bergeron, tom.i.
Not long after, St. Louis of France contri- BOOK buted farther towards extending the knowledge w which the Europeans had begun to acquire of 1253. those distant regions. Some designing impostor, who took advantage of the slender acquaintance of Christendom with the state and character of the Asiatic nations, having informed him that a powerful Khan of the Tartars had embraced the Christian faith, the monarch listened to the tale with pious credulity, and instantly resolved to send ambassadors to this illustrious convert, with a view of inciting him to attack their common enemy the Saracens in one quarter, while he fell upon them in another. As monks were the only persons in that age who possessed such a degree of knowledge as qualified them for a service of this kind, he employed in it father Andrew, a Jacobine, who was followed by father Williain de Rubruquis, a Franciscan. With respect to the progress of the former, there is no memorial extant. The journal of the latter has been published. He was admitted into the presence of Mangu, the third Khan in succession from Zengis, and made a circuit through the interior parts of Alia, more extensive than that of any European who had hitherto. explored them 4.
? Hakl. i. 71. Recueil des Voyages par Bergeron, tom, i.
BOOK To those travellers, whom religious zeal sent e forth to visit Asia, succeeded others who ven
tured into remote countries, from the prospect of commercial advantage, or from motives of mere curiosity. The first and most eminent of
these was Marco Polo, a Venetian of a noble 23656
family. Having engaged early in trade, accordingue to the cultom of his country, his alpiring mind wished for a sphere of activity more extensive than was afforded to it by the established traffic carried on in those ports of Europe and Asia, which the Venetians frequented. This prompted him to travel into unknown countries, in expectation of opening a commercial intercourse with them, more suited to the fanguine ideas and hopes of a young adventurer.
As his father had already carried some European commodities to the court of the great Khan of the Tartars, and had disposed of them to advantage, he resorted thither. Under the protection of Kublay Khan, the most powerful of all the successors of Zengis, he continued his mercantile peregrinations in Afia upwards of twenty-six years; and, during that time, adyanced towards the east, far beyond the utmost boundaries to which any European traveller had ever proceeded. Instead of following the course of Carpini and Rubruquis, along the vast un,