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T O T H E
IT is now above Half a Century, fince the French have been publifhing a Colle&ion of the Letters of their Miffionaries; from all the moft diftant Parts of the World. This Colle&ion is already grown very voluminous. The famous Ptre du Halde was the Perfon who had the chief Hand in making and publifhing it. There were but Eight Volumei that had appeared before he undertook the Care of it, which was in the Year 1711; and he carried it on, in Eighteen more, to the Year 1743; when the Death of that Father, and fome other Incidents, occafioned an Interruption of the Work, for about Six Years, It was refumed in 1749, by P* Pattouillet; who then publifhed the 27th Volume. The following is a Tranflation of the Firft Letter in that Volume; and is, perhaps, as curious as any one in the whole Collection.
F R O M A
Pekin, Nov. r, 1743. SI R,
IT was with the greateft Pleafure that I received your Two laft Letters; one of the 131!) of Oftober, and the other of the 2d of November^ 1742. I communicated the very interefting Account of the Affairs of Europe, which you gave me in them, to the reft of our Miffionaries; who join with me in our fincere Thanks. I thank you tooj in particular, for the Box full of Works in Straw, and Flowers, which came very fafe to me: but I beg of you not to put yourfelf to any fuch Expence for the future; for the Cbinefe very much exceed the Europeans^ in Vol. I. F thofe thofe kinds of Works; and particularly in their [a] artificial Flowers [l>]. We came hither by the Command, or rather by the Permiffion of the Emperor. An Officer was affigned to conduct us; and they made us believe, that he would defray our Expences: But the latter was only in Words ; for, in Effect, the Expence was almoft wholly out of our own Pockets. Half of the Way we came by Water; and both eat and lodged in our Boats: And what feemed odd enough to us was, that by the Rules of Good-breeding received among them, we were not allowed ever to go afliore, or even to look oat of the Windows of our covered boats to obferve the Face of the Country, as we parted along.
We made the latter Part .of our Journey in a Sort of Cage, which they were pleafed to call a Litter. In this too we were fhut up all Day long; and at Night carried into our Inns; (and very wretched Inns they are !) and thus we got to Pekin, with our Curiofity quite unfatisfied, and with feeing but very little more of the Country, than if we had beenfhut up all the while in our own Chambers.
[a] Thefe are chiefly made of Feathers; coloured and formed fo ixaQly like real Flowers, that one is often apt to forget one's felf, and fmell to them. The famous Signora Famiimam, at Rome, (fo many of whcfe Works in this kind are continually brought Home by our Gentlemen who travel to that City,) at firft learned her Art from (bme which were fent from China, by the Jefuits, as a prefent to the then Pope.
[A] Here is a Page or two omitted, at relating only to their private Affairs.