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HISTORICAL ACCOUNT

OF



IN



ASIA,



FROM THE EARLIEST AGES TO THE PRESENT TIME.



By HUGH MURRAY, F. R. S. E.

AUTHOR OF " HfSTORICAL ACCOUNT OF DISCOVERIES
IN AFRICA."



VOL. I.



EDINBURGH:

PRINTED FOR ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE A^D CO. EDINBURGH ;

ANJ)
LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN, LONDON.

1820.



5"
I



TO

JOHN BARROW, Esq. E.R.S.

ONE OF THE SECRETARIES OF THE ADMIRALTY,

HIMSELF A DISTINGUISHED OBSERVER OF SOME IMPORTANT

REGIONS OF THE EAST,

AND

WHOSE EFFORTS CONTINUE, AMID THE LABOURS OF OFFICE,

ZEALOUSLY DEVOTED TO THE PROMOTION OF

GEOGRAPHICAL DISCOVERY,

THIS WORK

IS

MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

BY

HUGH MURRAY.



PREFACE.



Among the different regions of the globe
which have been the object of European re-
search, some indeed have excited more of
temporary curiosity, but none have been the
object of so deep and permanent an interest
as the continent of Asia. All the forms,
both of nature and society, are presented
there on a grander scale than in other re*
gions. Its empires are more vast, its capitals
more splendid, its population greater per-
haps than that of all the rest of the world
united. Its palaces, blazing with gold and
gems, seem to eclipse all the splendour that
shines in the courts of Europe. Yet this
wealth of its plains, and pomp of its king-
doms, leave still room for nature to display



VI PREFACE.

her grandeur, her terrors, and her waste.
Asia is traversed by mountains which equal,
and probably surpass the loftiest chains
of other continents, and which look down
from their eternal snows on plains covered
with magnificent cities, and all the pomp of
cultivation. The recesses of these moun-
tains, and the boundless wastes stretching
behind them, are occupied by fierce, rude,
and daring tribes, widely differing from those
by whom its fairer regions are peopled.
This continent thus presents throughout the
boldest and most striking contrasts ; and the
path of the traveller is through a never-vary-
ing scene, teeming with wild and wonderful
adventure. A deep interest must also be
excited by that character of antiquity which
is so awfully stamped upon it. In Europe
all things have changed, and are changing
continually ; and only a few fading memo-
rials represent to us the world in which our
ancestors lived. In Asia, all has continued
fixed as by enchantment. We see empires,
whose origin is lost in the unknown begin-
nings of time; a system of laws, institutions,
and ideas, which has remained unaltered dur-



PREFACE. Vll

ing thousands of years ; a picture of the do-
mestic Hfe of man, as it existed in the earliest
ages. All the features of form and mind
which characterized the citizen of Greece
and Rome are for ever obliterated : But the
Arabian and the Indian remain the same,
outwardly and inwardly, as under Darius
and Alexander. Asia, therefore, presents to
us, man, not only as he now exists, but as
he has been in many former ages.

As there is no continent which presents
objects of observation so splendid and vari-
ous, so there is none perhaps which has
been visited by so great a number of in-
telligent travellers. In executing the pre-
sent undertaking, therefore, the chief dif-
culty has been how, within the proposed
limits, all the necessary information could
be comprised. In this view it became ne-
cessary, instead of attempting a full enu-
meration of travellers into Asia, to confine
the work to a somewhat copious analysis
of the more important narratives. To have
done otherwise would have been to fill the
work with a series of meagre notices, which
might have been of some use to the future



Vm PREFACE.

inquirer, but could have conveyed little infor-
mation, and excited little interest in the gene-
ral reader. In countries very frequently tra-
versed, it became even expedient to pass
over some which mio-ht otherwise have been
deserving of notice, presenting only such a
number as might give a correct idea of the
nature of the country, and of the adventures
to be encountered in traversing it. For the
benefit of those, however, who seek more
extended information, such narratives are
carefully pointed out in the concluding list
of works relating to Asia.

In contemplating the great extent of this
subject, it became advisable to omit all those
branches which did not appear to form essen-
tial parts of it. For this reason, the islands
of the Indian archipelago are not introduced.
Although these be generally accounted as
part of Asia, they have many ties with the
continent of Australasia, and the islands of
the South Sea. Being generally visited in
the course of the same voyage, they would
be more conveniently attached to a history
of discoveries in those regions, from which
they could not be separated without awk-



PREFACE. IX

wardly dividing the narratives of some of
our great circumnavigators. In the recent
and interesting work of Mr Crawfurd, the
reader may obtain a full view of the present
state of this important archipelago. With a
similar view, the northern shores of Asia,
and the voyages of discovery performed
along them, are not now introduced. Much
valuable information may be found in Mr
Barrow's Chronological Account of Arctic
Voyages ; and Captain Burney has also re-
cently devoted a work to this subject. When
the present meritorious exertions to explore
the limits and termination of the two conti-
nents are brought to a close, there might
be room, perhaps, for a general work on the
Northern Ocean, with all its shores and islands.
Those of Asia would form a material part,
which it would not be desirable on the pre-
sent occasion to anticipate.

In regard to arrangement^ the following,
after some consideration, appeared the most
advantageous. The First Book contains
" General Travels through Asia," includ-
ing the narratives of those travellers who
went over the larger part of it, or passed



X PREFACE.

from one to another of its great divisions.
In the succeeding Books the leading natural
divisions of Asia, with the travels performed
through each, are successively treated of.
The Author does not flatter himself that his
distribution may not in some instances be
found liable to criticism ; but he apprehends
this plan to be on the whole the best adapt-
ed for bringing this vast mass of materials
into some regular shape.

It has not been attempted to give any
descriptive account of Asia. This subject is
too extensive and varied to be fully treated
without encroaching on the main object,
which was not description, but the history
of discoveries. The object has been rather
to exhibit the great machine of Asiatic so-
ciety in movement and action, than to give
a vague delineation of its qualities. Care,
however, has been taken, that the analysis of
the recent travels into each district should
be made to include a pretty full view of its
present state. The only great extension of
this principle has been in the case of Indos-
tan. The Author has so often heard regret
expressed at the want of any concise view



PREFACE. XI

of the learned investigations lately made
into the religion, literature, and social state
of this vast portion of the British empire,
that he has employed some portion of the
work in attempting to supply this defici-
ency.

The Author owes extensive acknowledg-
ments to many learned friends who have as-
sisted him in collecting materials for his
undertaking. To Richard Heber, Esq. he
is indebted not only for the most friendly
communications of his own, but for access
to many sources of information, which he
could not otherwise have reached. He met
with every attention and accommodation in
the public libraries, both of the metropolis
and the two Universities. To Dr Edward
Daniel Clarke he owes not only full access
to the great library under his care, but
other information relative to Asia, such
as that illustrious traveller was so well qua-
lified to afford. To the librarians of the
Bodleian at Oxford he wishes also to make
his particular acknowledgments, especially
for the cordial communication made by Mr
Nicoll of his ample stores of oriental know-



XU PREFACE.

ledge. He was allowed also liberal access
in London to several valuable private col-
lections, particularly those of John Rennie,
Esq. Roger Wilbraham, Esq. and James
Gooden, Esq. The communications of this
last gentleman from his valuable library of
Spanish and Portuguese Works, were parti-
cularly liberal and important. He derived
much benefit also from the personal com-
munications of William Marsden, Esq. John
Murdoch, Esq. John Crawfurd, Esq. James
Mill, Esq. Dr Francis Hamilton, Sir Alex-
ander Johnston, and several other gentle-
men. From these various sources materials
have been collected, which will, he hopes,
render a considerable portion of the pre-
sent Work new, at least, to the English
reader.



Edinburgh, June 1820.



CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.



INTRODUCTION.



CHAPTER I.

DISCOVERIES OF THE AKCIENTS.

Distinction of Asia into known and unknown. — Herodotus
— Expedition of Alexander. — Voyage of Nearchus. —
Selcucus. — Megasthenes. — Periplus of the Erythraean
Sea. — Great caravan route through Asia, - Page 3



CHAPTER II.

DISCOVERIES OF THE ARABIANS.

Rise of the Mahommedan Power. — Arabian Geographers.
— Their Description of the Countries upon the Oxus and
Jaxartes — India China — The two Mahommedan Tra-
vellers. — Benjamin of Tudela, - - 51



XIV CONTENTS.

BOOK I.

GENERAL TRAVELS THROUGH ASIA.

CHAPTER I.

EARLY EUROPEAK EMBASSIES INTO TARTARY.

The Tartars Conquests of Zingis and his dynasty. — Em-
bassies from the Pope. — Ascelin. — Carpini, - Page 69

CHAPTER n.

MISSION OF RUBRUQUIS.

Occasion of this Mission — Visit to Sartach. — To Baatu.
— To Mangu Khan. — Karrakorum. — Return, - 105

CHAPTER HI.

MARCO POLO.

Commercial Travels. — Family of the Poli. — Marco. — Oc-
casion of writing his Narrative — Its Authenticity. — Per-
sia. — Central Asia. — China. — Return by way of India, 151

CHAPTER IV.

TRAVELS IMMEDIATELY SUBSEQUENT TO MARCO POLO.

Oderic of Portenau. — Sir John Mandeville. — Ricold de
Monte Ccucis, - - - - 18S



CONTENTS. XV

CHAPTER V.

TRAVELS THROUGH ASIA DURING THE AGE OF TIMUR.

Clavijo.-Schildtberger.-Ambassadors of Shah Kokh, Page 203
CHAPTER VI.

VOYAGES ALONG THE SOUTHERN COASTS OF ASIA.

Mendez Pinto. — Sharpey. — Middleton. — Grantham. — An-
tonio Albuquerque, - - . . 234-

CHAPTER Vn.

TRAVELS ACROSS THE CASPIAN TO PERSIA AND BOKHARA.

Plan for an English Trade with the Caspian. — Jenkinson's
.Tourney to Bokhara — into Persia. — Edwards. — Bur-
rough Travels of Cubero. — Beckewitz. — Bruce. — El-
ton. — Hanway. — Thomson, ... 306

CHAPTER Vm.

TRAVELS OVERLAND TO AND FROM INDIA.

Tenreiro. — Bernardino — Godinho. — Capper — Campbell, 366
CHAPTER IX.

TRAVELS BETWEEN INDIA AND CHINA.

Andrada. — Grueber Desideri — Horace de la Penna, 424



XVI CONTENTS.

CHAPTER X.

TRAVELS THROUGH CENTRAL ASIA AND THE GREAT DESERT.

Itinerary of Pegoletti. — Johnson — Chesaud — Goez. — Ger-
billon Recent information by British Embassies, Page 447

CHAPTER XL

VIEW OF GEOGRAPHICAL SYSTEMS RELATIVE TO ASIA.

Imperfect knowledge of the Ancients — Homer Hero-
dotus. — Eratosthenes. — Position of Thinae — Ptolemy. —
The Seres and Sinae. — PaUbothra. — The Arabians. —
Crusades. — Tartary. — Karrakorum. — Portuguese Navi-
gators. — Early Modern Geographers. — The Russians. —
Chinese Missionaries. — Recent British Missions, 470



HISTORICAL ACCOUNT



OF



DISCOVERIES AND TRAVELS



IN



ASIA.



VOL. I.



INTRODUCTION.



CHAPTER I.

DISCOVERIES OF THE ANCIENTS.

Distinction of Asia into known and unhnoiun. — Herodotus,^-
Expedition of Alexander. — Voyage ofNearchus. — Seleucus. —
Megasthenes. — Periplus of the Erythrcean Sea, — Great cara-
van route through Asia.

In comparing the two great divisions of the
globe which attracted the early curiosity of
Greece and Rome, Asia seems, in most respects,
entitled to a pre-eminence. It presented a wider
range of territory, empires more ancient and
powerful, population more crowded, and all the
arts in a more flourishing state. Yet it does not
appear that exploratory journeys were made on
so great a scale, or prosecuted with such eager
activity, as those which had in view the unknown
regions of Africa. Although those of Asia in-
cluded the most civilized and improved of its



4i ' DISCOVERIES OF THE AxNClENTS. '

empires, yet they did not display that wild and
mysterious aspect which acts so powerfully on
the human imagination. Their remoteness, the
numerous and warlike nations by whom they
were peopled, and the jealousy with which the
entrance of strangers was viewed by the ruling
powers, proved probably more effectual barriers
than even oceans and deserts. It was long before
even the cautious enterprise of the merchant
could form a regular path across this conti-
nent. Science, therefore, could follow only in
the train of arms ; and it will chiefly be in trac-
ing the career of the great conquerors, that we
shall ascertain the steps and the degree, in which
Asia was laid open to the eyes of Europe.

The part of this continent which was successive-
ly occupied by the empires of Assyria and Persia,
was connected by such close relations, at least of
war, with Greece, and ultimately with Rome,
that it soon became, for them, quite a known
part of the world. Unknown Asia might, there-
fore, be divided into two portions. The first and
finest consisted of the great eastern empires now
known to us by the names of India and China.
India was always a great and magnificent name
in the ancient world ; but its interior provinces
were very partially known ; while China, under
the name of Serica, was heard of only by faint
and indistinct rumour. The other unknown re-



HERODOTUS— INDIA. 5

gion consisted of those vast plains, extending far
to the north, which were occupied by the pasto-
ral tribes recognized under the general name of
Scythians. They were seen on the frontier of
all the civilized nations of Europe and Asia; but
an entrance into their country was not, for the
merchant and traveller, either safe or profitable ;
while the attempt tp penetrate by force of arms
was productive, for the greatest conquerors, of
such signal disasters, as soon secured them in the
uninterrupted possession of their extensive wilds.

Herodotus, the father of history, is also the
first who shews an extended and accurate know-
ledge of the ancient world. The Persian em-
pire was now known to Europe by a war the
most celebrated in history. The pride with
which its result inspired the Greeks, and the
impulse given by it to their glory and genius,
naturally led them to make inquiries concern-
ing that vast empire over whose collected force
they had triumphed. Persia, therefore, was
fully included in the world known to the Greeks ;
and the objects of their distant curiosity were,
as already stated, to the east, India, and to
the north, the Scythian tribes.

India, at least that fine and fertile portion of
it which borders immediately on the Indus, be-
came an early object of ambition to the masters
of Western Asia. If we except the fabulous



O DISCOVERIES OF THE ANCIENTS.

exploits of Bacchus, and the doubtful ones of
Sesostris, the iirst recorded attempt to conquer it
was that made by Semiramis. This proud and
ambitious queen, to whom India was represented
as tlie most fruitful and populous region of Asia,
is said to have prepared one of those immense
armies which the East only can furnish. Some
accounts raise its numbers to three hundred thou-
sand foot and five hundred thousand horse. She
began with conquering Bactria, and spent three
years in preparing for the passage of the Indus.
She accordingly defeated the fleet of boats which
had been prepared to oppose her, and transport-
ed her army to the eastern bank. Here, how-
ever, she had to contend with an immense force,
which had been actively collected from all parts
of India. The Assyrian troops were particularly
dismayed by the report of the great bodies of
elephants trained to war, which formed the
strength of the Indian armies. To dissipate their
alarm, a species of artificial elephant was con-
structed J a mass of hide being formed into the
shape of this huge animal, and moved internally
by the force of camels and men. These ma-
chines, when brouglit into real battle, had the
success wliich might have been anticipated. At
the shock of the mighty war elephants, their pseu-
do-antagonists instantly resolved into their com-
ponent parts, and the scattered fragments fled in



HERODOTUS INDIA. 7

dismay. The whole army followed, and the
Queen, severely wounded, was saved only by the
swiftness of her horse. She is said scarcely to
have brought back a third of her army to Bactria.
Darius was more fortunate. He acliieved the
conquest of India, though history has not trans-
mitted the details of the expedition. It is also
said, that he sent Scylax on a maritime expedi-
tion down the Indus ; and that this early navi-
gator actually made the circuit of the southern
shores of Asia, and came up the Arabian Gulf;
an expedition fully equal to the circumnaviga-
tion of the globe in the time of Magellan. We
are equally destitute of any particulars respect-
ing this remarkable voyage. The India of Da-
rius appears only to have included the western
provinces of Lahore and Moultan, called com-
monly the Punjab. Herodotus describes this
region as bounded on the east by a desert of
sand ; which statement could apply only to the
great one that intervenes between these pro-
vinces and those watered by the Ganges. The
description of India given by this great historian
does not evince any very intimate knowledge of
the subject j and many of the features which he
ascribes to it seem rather borrowed, with exag-
geration, from those of the neighbouring moun-
tainous districts. He represents the nation as
following customs which belong only to the rud-



8 DISCOVERIES OF THE ANCIENTS.

est state of society ; as strangers to tillage, and
subsisting only on the produce of their flocks ;
as devouring human flesh, even that of their near-
est relations. He mentions, however, cotton,
under the description of wool, finer than that of
sheep, growing upon wild trees ; he describes
India as more populous than the rest of the world,
and as yielding a larger revenue than Babylon,
Assyria, or any other kingdom subject to Persia.
These particulars leave no doubt that India was
then exactly the same country which it has ever
since been.

The people who roam over the northern plains
of Europe and Asia were already known to the
Greeks, and had several times acted a conspicu-
ous part in Persian history. During the reign of
the Medes, they are said to have overrun the
whole of Western Asia, and to have remained
masters of it for the space of twenty-eight years.
After their expulsion they rendered themselves
still famous by the abortive attempts to conquer
them, made by the greatest of the Persian mo-
narchs. According to the testimony of Herodo-
tus and Diodorus, Cyrus found, in the contest
with the Scythian queen, a fatal termination of
his empire and glory. The overthrow of Darius
in a similar attempt, though less fatal to himself,
was, as to his views of conquest, not less signal
and complete. The Scythians were therefore a



HERODOTUS— SCtTHIA. 9

great name in the annals of Asia ; though, from
obvious causes, no intimate knowledge could be
obtained of their domestic manners and institu-
tions. The two tribes chiefly known to the Per-
sians were the Massagetae, who occupied the re-
gions to the north of the Jaxartes (called by He-
rodotus Araxes), and the Sacse, who inhabited
regions to the north-west of India. Of the Mas-
sagetae, Herodotus records only a few features, —
that they fight on horseback, and with arrows,
derive their subsistence from herds, and are con-
veyed from place to place in waggons, like all
other Scythians. He adds, that they have their
wives in common ; that they put to death, and
even feed on the flesh of their aged relations.
These last features may be considered as doubt-
ful, and as only indicating the general impres-
sion which prevailed of their rude and ferocious
habits. The further details of Scythian manners
given by this historian are drawn from European
Scythia, which was rendered familiar to Greece
by the celebrated expedition of Darius.

The Greeks, after this time, involved in vio-
lent internal conflicts, gained little information,
and indeed felt little curiosity respecting the re-
mote parts of Asia. The period, however, ar-
rived, when those were laid open by the grand
expedition of Alexander. Whatever might be
the faults of this youthful conqueror, he had cer-



10 DISCOVERIES OF THE ANCIENTS.

tainly the merit of making his success subservient
to the interests of science. The precepts of Aris-
totle, and the longed-for praise of the Athenians,
were never forgotten ; and every exertion was
made to diffuse arts, commerce, and knowledge,
over the vast regions which he traversed as a
conqueror. Some of his principal captains were
appointed to observe and describe the countries
passed through ; while each day's march was
measured by surveyors, accompanying the army
for that purpose. The career of Alexander,
therefore, omitting the military events, may be
considered, without much impropriety, in the
light of an exploratory expedition through Asia.
The early part of his exploits led through coun-
tries that were well known. The battles of the
Granicus and of Issus made him master of Asia
Minor ; he then marched along the coast of Syria
into Egypt, which he wrested from the Persian do-
minion. He next returned into Asia, and crossing
the Euphrates and Tigris, decided, at Arbela, the
fate of the Persian empire. The wreck of Da-
rius*s forces fled eastward into Bactria, whither
they were followed by Alexander, who was thus
led upon ground never trodden before by a Gre-
cian army. The troops, in their way, encoun-
tered that mighty range of mountains, prolonged
from the Himmaleh, which was known to the
ancients under the names of Caucasus or Para-



EXPEDITION OF ALEXANDER. 11

pomisus. Here, after quitting so lately the burn-
ing plains of Persia, they were astonished to find
themselves suddenly buried in deep snow, and
suffering under an excess of cold, which made
some imagine themselves transported under the
polar circle. Being ill supplied with provisions,
and finding none here, they were exposed to
the most severe sufferings. Many of the sol-
diers had their feet benumbed, and their eyes
almost blinded ; and several who sat down to rest
were frozen to death. All these obstacles, how-
ever, being at last surmounted, and the moun-
tains passed, the remains of the Persian army
immediately gave way. The love of glory now
impelled Alexander to invade the Scythians, in
the hope of swelling his triumphs by the conquest
of these hitherto invincible wanderers ; an im-
prudent resolution, which exposed his army to
immense hardships, and probably laid the foun-
dation of that discontent which afterwards stop-
ped short his career of conquest. Having cross-
ed the Oxus and taken Maracanda (Samarcand),
he proceeded northward to the Jaxartes. A great
host of Scythian cavalry was stationed on the
opposite bank, who, with loud and taunting de-
fiance, invited the young monarch to prove the
difference between them and the effeminate sub-
jects of Darius. Alexander seems to have here
felt some hesitation ; unfavourable omens were



1^ DISCOVERIES OF THE ANCIENTS.

announced ; but he at length determined to dare
every hazard rather than be the sport of these
barbarous Nomades. The attack was successful ;
the weight of the Macedonion army forced the
passage of the river, and obliged the loose squa-
drons of the enemy to give way. They retired,
however, into the interior of that vast steppe
which extends from the Aral to the Palcati Nor,
and far northwards into Siberia. Alexander at-
tempted to proceed in pursuit of their swift mov-
ing host J but he soon found his army overcome
with heat, thirst, and fatigue. His daring obsti-
nacy might, however, have urged him on till it
was too late ; but a violent fever, with which he
was seized, afforded a decent pretence for bring-



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