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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Schmidt Geschichte der Ost Mongolen


117: In its long progress to Mosul, Jerusalem, Rome, &c., the story of Prester John evaporated in a monstrous fable, of which some features have been borrowed from the Lama of Thibet, (Hist. Genealogique des Tartares, P. ii. p. 42. Hist. de Gengiscan, p. 31, &c.,) and were ignorantly transferred by the Portuguese to the emperor of Abyssinia, (Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop. Comment. l. ii. c. 1.) Yet it is probable that in the xith and xiith centuries, Nestorian Christianity was professed in the horde of the Keraites, (D'Herbelot, p. 256, 915, 959. Assemanni, tom. iv. p. 468--504.) Note: The extent to which Nestorian Christianity prevailed among the Tartar tribes is one of the most curious questions in Oriental history. M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, notes, p. 383) appears to question the Christianity of Ong Chaghan, and his Keraite subjects.--M.]

[Footnote 118: The Christianity of China, between the seventh and the thirteenth century, is invincibly proved by the consent of Chinese, Arabian, Syriac, and Latin evidence, (Assemanni, Biblioth. Orient. tom. iv. p. 502--552. Mem. de l'Academie des Inscript. tom. xxx. p. 802--819.) The inscription of Siganfu which describes the fortunes of the Nestorian church, from the first mission, A.D. 636, to the current year 781, is accused of forgery by La Croze, Voltaire, &c., who become the dupes of their own cunning, while they are afraid of a Jesuitical fraud. * Note: This famous monument, the authenticity

of which many have attempted to impeach, rather from hatred to the Jesuits, by whom it was made known, than by a candid examination of its contents, is now generally considered above all suspicion. The Chinese text and the facts which it relates are equally strong proofs of its authenticity. This monument was raised as a memorial of the establishment of Christianity in China. It is dated the year 1092 of the era of the Greeks, or the Seleucidae, A.D. 781, in the time of the Nestorian patriarch Anan-jesu. It was raised by Iezdbouzid, priest and chorepiscopus of Chumdan, that is, of the capital of the Chinese empire, and the son of a priest who came from Balkh in Tokharistan. Among the various arguments which may be urged in favor of the authenticity of this monument, and which has not yet been advanced, may be reckoned the name of the priest by whom it was raised. The name is Persian, and at the time the monument was discovered, it would have been impossible to have imagined it; for there was no work extant from whence the knowledge of it could be derived. I do not believe that ever since this period, any book has been published in which it can be found a second time. It is very celebrated amongst the Armenians, and is derived from a martyr, a Persian by birth, of the royal race, who perished towards the middle of the seventh century, and rendered his name celebrated among the Christian nations of the East. St. Martin, vol. i. p. 69. M. Remusat has also strongly expressed his conviction of the authenticity of this monument. Melanges Asiatiques, P. i. p. 33. Yet M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, p. 384) denies that there is any satisfactory proof that much a monument was ever found in China, or that it was not manufactured in Europe. But if the Jesuits had attempted such a forgery, would it not have been more adapted to further their peculiar views?--M.]

[Footnote 119: Jacobitae et Nestorianae plures quam Graeci et Latini Jacob a Vitriaco, Hist. Hierosol. l. ii. c. 76, p. 1093, in the Gesta Dei per Francos. The numbers are given by Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 172.]

[Footnote 120: The division of the patriarchate may be traced in the Bibliotheca Orient. of Assemanni, tom. i. p. 523--549, tom. ii. p. 457, &c., tom. iii. p. 603, p. 621--623, tom. iv. p. 164-169, p. 423, p. 622--629, &c.]

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