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Evariste Régis Huc

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A French Lazarist missionary and traveller; born at Caylus (Tarn-et-Garonne), 1 June, 1813; died at Paris, 26 March, 1860. He entered the seminary of the Congregation of the Mission ( Lazarists ) 5 Sept., 1836, was sent to China in 1839, and landed at Macao, whence he proceeded to the newly created (1840) Vicariate of Tartary-Mongolia, where he resided until 1844. During this year Bishop Martial Mouly, Vicar Apostolic of Mongolia, ordered Huc and his brother missionary Joseph Gabet, his senior by five years (born 4 Dec., 1808), to make a journey of exploration through the territory included in the mission in order to study the customs of the nomadic Mongol tribes to be evangelized.

Accordingly, on 3 Aug., 1844, the two missionaries left their home, called by them Vallée-des-Eaux-Noires (Valley of the Black Waters), a Christian station about three hundred miles north of Peking, a young lama being the only companion of their long and adventurous expedition. They passed through Dolon-nor, Kwei-hwa-ch'eng, the Ordo country, Ning-hia, Ala-shan, crossed the Great Wall, and reached Si-ning, in the Kan-Su Province; they visited the celebrated Buddhist monastery at Kun-Bum, and having joined on 15 October a Tibetan embassy on its return journey from Peking, they finally arrived by the way of Ku-ku-nor, Tsaidam, and the mountains Bayan-Kara, at Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, 29 Jan., 1846, the journey having taken eighteen months. Huc and Gabet were well treated by the Tibetans, but, unfortunately, the Chinese imperial commissioner, Ki-shan, was hostile to them. Ki-shan had been governor-general of the Chi-li province and had entered into negotiations with Captain Charles Elliot. during the Opium War, first at Ta-ku, then at Canton; his action being disapproved, he was degraded, sentenced to death, reprieved, as is often the case in China, and sent to Tibet as imperial commissioner. Through his influence Huc and Gabet were expelled. from Lhasa, 26 February, 1846, under the charge of a Chinese escort, and were conducted to Ta-Tsien-lu; well received by the Viceroy of Ch'eng-tu, they had to endure severe treatment through the Hu-Pe and Kiang-si provinces. The end of September, 1846, they arrived at Canton, where they were received by the Dutch consul, who advised the French consul at Macao of the return of his countrymen. Since the travels of the Englishman, Thomas Manning, in Tibet (1811-1812), no foreigner had visited Lhasa. The authenticity of Huc's journey was disputed with some appearance of jealousy by the Russian traveller, Prjevalsky, but the Lazarist's veracity has been fully vindicated by Col. Henry Yule (in translation of Prjevalsky, "Mongolia", London, 1876), and especially by Prince Henri d'Orléans, who travelled over part of the same ground.

It must be borne in mind that both Huc and Gabet had written relations printed in the "Annales de la Propagation de la Foi" and the "Annales de la Congrégation de la Mission" before the now-famous "Souvenirs d'un voyage dans la Tartarie et le Tibet " was published at Paris in 1850. The writer of this article collected a number of official papers from the Macao consulate which leave no doubt as to the veracity of the travellers. The success of the "Souvenirs" was great, and the work was translated into English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Russian. Huc was induced to publish a sequel under the title of "L'Empire Chinois" (Paris, 1854), of no value whatever; a later and more useful book is his "Le Christianisme en Chine, en Tartarie et au Tibet" (Paris, 1857-8). Huc left his congregation 26 Dec., 1853. He took an active part in the negotiations that led to the war against Cochin-China in 1858.

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