CELEBRATED TRAVELLERS BETWEEN THE TENTH AND THIRTEENTH CENTURIES.

Carpini completes his sketch of the Tartar character by adding that they eat all kinds of animals, dogs, wolves, foxes, horses, and even sometimes their fellow-creatures. Their principal beverage is the milk of the mare, sheep, goat, cow, and camel. They have neither wine, cervisia, (a beverage composed of grain and herbs,) nor mead, but only intoxicating liquors. They are very dirty in their habits, scarcely ever washing their porringers, or only doing so in their broth; they hardly ever wash their clothes, more especially "when there is thunder about;" and they eat rats, mice, &c., if they are badly off for other food. The men are not brought up to any manual labour, their whole occupation consisting in hunting, shooting with bow and arrows, watching the flocks, and riding. The women and girls are very athletic and very brave, they prepare furs and make clothes, drive carts and camels, and as polygamy is practised among them, and a man buys as many wives as he can keep, there are enough women for all these employments.

Such is the résumé of Carpini's observations made during his residence at Syra-Orda while he was awaiting the Emperor's election. Soon he found that the election was about to take place; he noticed that the courtiers always sang before Cunius when he came out of his tent, and bowed down before him with beautiful little wands in their hands, having small pieces of scarlet wool attached to them. On a plain about four leagues from Syra-Orda, beside a stream, a tent was prepared for the Coronation, carpeted with scarlet, and supported on columns covered with gold. On St. Bartholomew's day a large concourse of people assembled, each one fell on his knees as he arrived, and remained praying towards the sun; but Carpini and his companion refused to join in this idolatrous worship of the sun. Then Cunius was placed on the imperial throne, and the dukes and all the assembled multitudes having done homage to him, he was consecrated.

As soon as this ceremony was over, Carpini and Stephen were commanded to appear before the Emperor. They were first searched and then entered the imperial presence at the same time as other Ambassadors, the bearers of rich presents; the poor papal envoys had nothing to present; whether this had anything to do with the length of time they had to wait before his Imperial Majesty could attend to their affairs we do not know; but days passed slowly by, and they were nearly dying of hunger and thirst, before they received a summons to appear before the Secretary of the Emperor, and letters to the Pope were given to them, ending with these words, "we worship GOD, and by His help we shall destroy the whole earth from east to west."

The envoys had now nothing to wait for, and during the whole of the winter they travelled across icy deserts. About May they again arrived at the court of Prince Bathy, who gave them free passes, and they reached Kiev about the middle of June, 1247. On the 9th of October of the same year the Pope made Carpini Bishop of Antivari in Dalmatia, and this celebrated traveller died at Rome about the year 1251.

Carpini's mission was not of much use, and the Tartars remained much as they were before, a savage and ferocious tribe; but six years after his return another monk of the minor order of Franciscans, named William Rubruquis, of Belgian origin, was sent to the barbarians who lived in the country between the Volga and the Don. The object of this journey was as follows,—

St. Louis was waging war against the Saracens of Syria at this time, and while he was engaging the Infidels, Erkalty, a Mongol prince, attacked them on the side nearest to Persia, and thus caused a diversion that was in favour of the King of France. The report arose that Prince Erkalty had become a Christian, and St. Louis, anxious to prove the truth of it, charged Rubruquis to go into the prince's own country and there make what observations he could upon the subject.

In the month of June 1253, Rubruquis and his companions embarked for Constantinople. From thence they reached the mouth of the river Don on the Sea of Azov where they found a great number of Goths. On their arrival among the Tartars, their reception was at first very inhospitable, but after presenting the letters with which they were furnished, Zagathal, the governor of that province, gave them waggons, horses, and oxen for their journey.

Thus equipped they set out and were much surprised next day by meeting a moving village; that is to say, all the huts were placed on waggons and were being moved away. During the ten days that Rubruquis and his companions were passing through this part of the country they were very badly treated, and had it not been for their own store of biscuits, they must have died of starvation. After passing by the end of the Sea of Azov they went in an easterly direction and crossed a sandy desert on which neither tree nor stone was visible. This was the country of the Comans that Carpini had traversed, but in a more northerly part. Rubruquis left the mountains inhabited by the Circassians to the south, and after a wearisome journey of two months arrived at the camp of Prince Sartach on the banks of the Volga.

This was the court of the prince, the son of Baatu-Khan; he had six wives, each of whom possessed a palace of her own, some houses, and a great number of chariots, some of them very large, being drawn by a team of twenty-two oxen harnessed in pairs.