“To deny to the Chinese or any people of Asia, whether the Central, Upper, or Lower, the possession of any knowledge, or even perception of spiritual things, is perfectly ridiculous. From one end to the other the country is full of mystics, religious philosophers, Buddhist saints, and magicians. Belief in a spiritual world, full of invisible beings who, on certain occasions, appear to mortals objectively, is universal.
“According to the belief of the nations of Central Asia”, remarks I. J. Schmidt, “the earth and its interior, as well as the encompassing atmosphere, are filled with spiritual beings, which exercise an influence, partly beneficent, partly malignant, on the whole of organic and inorganic nature. Especially are deserts and other wild or uninhabited tracts, or regions in which the influences of nature are displayed on a gigantic and terrible scale, regarded as the chief abode or rendezvous of evil spirits. And hence the steppes of Turan, and in particular the great sandy Desert of Gobi have been looked on as the dwelling-place of malignant beings, from days of hoary antiquity.”
Marco Polo – as a matter of course – mentions more than once in his curious book of Travels, these tricky nature-spirits of the deserts. For centuries, and especially in the last one, had his strange stories been completely rejected. No one would believe him when he said he had witnessed, time and again, with his own eyes, the most wonderful feats of magic performed by the subjects of Kublai-Khan and adepts of other countries. On his death-bed Marco was strongly urged to retract his alleged “falsehoods”; but he solemnly swore to the truth of what he said, adding that “he had not told one-half of what he had really seen!”
There is now no doubt that he spoke the truth, since Marsden’s edition, and that of Colonel Yule have appeared. The public is especially beholden to the latter for bringing forward so many authorities corroborative of Marco’s testimony and explaining some of the phenomena in the usual way, for he makes it plain beyond question that the great traveler was not only a veracious, but an exceedingly observant writer.
Warmly defending his author, the conscientious editor, after enumerating more than one hitherto controverted and even rejected point in the Venetian’s Travels, concludes by saying: “Nay, the last two years have thrown a promise of light even on what seemed the wildest of Marco’s stories, and the bones of a veritable RUC from New Zealand lie on the table of Professor Owen’s cabinet!””
H. P. Blavatsky