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It is best estimated in the often-quoted words of Sir Henry Yule, whose edition of his book is one of the great works of English scholarship: He was the first traveller to trace a route across the whole longitude of Asia, naming and describing kingdom after kingdom, which he had seen with his own eyes, the desert of Persia, the flowering plateaux and wild gorges of Badakhshan, the jade-bearing rivers of Khotan, the Mongol steppes, cradle of the power that had so lately threatened to swallow up Christendom, the new and brilliant court that had been established at Cambaluc: the first Travellers to reveal China in all its wealth and vastness, its mighty rivers, its huge cities, its rich manufactures, its swarming population, the inconceivably vast fleets that quickened its seas and inland waters; to tell us of the nations on its borders with all their eccentricities of manners and worship; of Tibet with its sordid devotees; of Burma with its golden pagodas and their tinkling crowns; of Laos, of Siam, of Cochin China, of Japan, the Eastern Thule, with its rosy pearls and golden-roofed palaces; the first to speak of that Museum of Beauty and Wonder, still so imperfectly ransacked, the Indian Archipelago, source of those aromatics then so highly prized and whose origin was so dark; of Java the Pearl of Islands; of Sumatra with its many kings, its strange costly products, and its cannibal races; of the naked savages of Nicobar and Andaman; of Ceylon, the Isle of Gems, with its Sacred Mountain and its Tomb of Adam; of India the Great, not as a dreamland of Alexandrian fables, but as a country seen and partially explored, with its virtuous Brahmans, its obscene ascetics, its diamonds and the strange tales of their acquisition, its sea-beds of pearl and its powerful sun; the first in modern times to give any distinct account of the secluded Christian Empire of Abyssinia, to speak, though indeed dimly, of Zanzibar with its negroes and its ivory and of the vast and distant Madagascar, bordering on the Dark Ocean of the South, with its Ruc and other monstrosities; and in a remotely opposite region, of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean, of dog-sledges, white bears and reindeer-riding Tunguses.