6. Cathay and the Way Thither

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Cathay and the Way Thither being a collection of Medieval Notices of China translated
and edited by Col. Sir Henry Yule. New Edition, Revised throughout in the Light of
Recent Discoveries, by Henri Cordier… Volume II, Odoric of Pordenone, 2nd series, 33,
1913.

Cathay and the Way Thither… Volume III, Missionary Friars: Rashiduddin; Pegolotti;
Marignoli, 2nd series, 37, 1914.

Cathay and the Way Thither… Volume I, Preliminary Essay on the Intercourse between
China and the Western Nations previous to the Discovery of the Cape Route, 2nd series,
38, 1915.

Cathay and the Way Thither… Volume IV, Ibn Battuta; Benedict Goes; index, 2nd series,
41, 1916.

The first edition published in two volumes in 1866 (1st series, 36 & 37) was the largest and most scholarly work to have been sponsored by the Society. Its importance was recognized by an update, expanded into four volumes in 1913–16, by Colonel Yule’s younger friend, the eminent French sinologist Henri Cordier. This new edition incorporated more material and augmented rather than replaced the notes which in spite of a further century’s scholarship still contain much of interest. The work deals with the land routes to the Far East particularly but by no means exclusively in the heyday of the Pax Mongolica.

India appears tangentially at several points. In the first volume there is a condensed review of Chinese communication with India, drawing principally on Chinese sources, from Chang K’ien in 122 BC through the Buddhist era to an embassy from Bengal to the Ming court. In volume II there are very brief references to the Nicobar islands and to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from the Travels of Friar Odoric of Pordenone, 1316–30. Two letters of Friar Jordanus are reproduced in volume III. However, the Hakluyt Society had already published his Mirabilia, but the editor adds a few comments beyond what he had provided for that full, though short, work (Hakluyt Society 1st series, 31). Ibn Battuta’s Travels are excerpted in volume IV. They, too, had appeared in Hakluyt Society vols. III and IV, 2nd series, 141 and 178. In the same volume the editor reprints from missionary letters an account of the remarkable journey to China of the Jesuit Father Benedict de Goes. He was part of a delegation which in 1594 en route visited the emperor Akbar and tried to enlist his religious curiosity in the cause of Christianity.


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