THE Kingdom of China is called, by the Western Monguls, Catay; by the Mantcheoux Tartars, Nican Kouron ; and by the Chinese, Tchongkoue: So that it is very difficult to find out the true Ground of the Appellation given to it by the Europeans; unless the first Royal Family, who carry'd their victorious Arms Westward, caused it to be call'd 'Tsin, or Tai tsin.
The Naval Force of the Emperor Tsin chi hoang, which, according to the Chinese History, sail'd as far as Bengal, must needs have made the Name of Tsin famous among the Indians, which passing from them into Persia and Egypt, came, it is manifest, to us about 230 Years before the Birth of Christ.
Hence it is called in Latin Sina, by the English and Spaniards, China, by the Italians, Cina; and by the Germans, Tschina : In all which the Difference of Pronunciation is very small.
But however that be, it is certain that China is the largest and most beautiful Kingdom yet known, for I won't pretend to say that there is no polite Nation to be found in the Terra-Australis, or some other unknown Parts of the Globe. When, upon leaving Europe, we land on the nearest Borders of Africa, doth it not seem as if we were got into another World? Even the Indians themselves that not altogether so rude, can be accounted little better than Barbarians, when compared with our own civiliz'd Nations. Who then would imagine that still farther towards the East, there Should be found a People, who are powerful, politick, well vers'd in Arts and skilful in the Sciences?
When Mark Paul, the Venetian publish'd his first Relation in the Thirteenth Century, it was look'd upon by most People as a Web of Fables, However it is certain that this Writer, who accompany'd the Western Tartars in their Conquest of China, has advanced nothing but what is strictly true: This is easily prov'd from the Account he gives of Certain Cities, which continue still the same as he describ'd them, and preserve the same Names by which he distinguish'd them.
CHINA, from North to South, is of greater Length, than Tartary; but not equal in Breadth, if measur'd from East to West; yet the narrowest Part of all is 360 Leagues of 20 to a Degree. It is divided into 15 Provinces, Those of Chensi, Chansi, and Petcheli, lie by the side of the famous Wall that separates it from Tartary on the North. Those of Chang tong, Kiang-nan, of Tche kiang, and of Fo kien, are situated on the Coast of the Eastern Sea. Those of Qang tong, of Qang si, of Yun nan, and of Se tchuen, are the Bounds of the South and West; and the Middle is occupied by those of Ho nan, Hou quango Koei tcbou, and Kiang si.