Evariste Regis Huc, a French missionary and traveller, born in Toulouse, Aug. 1, 1813, died in Paris, March 31,1860. He studied theology in his native city, and taught in the seminary there for a while, after which he entered, the order of Lazarists, and was ordained priest in Paris in 1839. Resolving to devote himself to the Chinese missions, he set sail from Havre a few days after his ordination, and reached Macao about the month of August. He passed 18 months in the Lazarist seminary at this place, preparing himself for the work he was about to undertake, and in the early part of 1840, shaving his head with the exception of the queue which, he had carefully cultivated since his arrival, dyeing his skin, and putting on the Chinese costume, he started from Canton for the interior of the empire. After directing a Christian mission in the southern provinces, he went to Peking, where he perfected himself in the Chinese language, and subsequently established himself at He-Shuy (valley of Black Waters), in Mongolia, just north of the great wall and not far from Peking, where there was a considerable population of Chinese Christians. He visited various parts of Mongolia, acquiring the dialect of the country, and translating into Mongol several books of prayer and instruction.
In 1844 the vicar apostolic of Mongolia directed M. Huc and another French Lazarist, Joseph Gabet, to make a journey through the vicariate, for the purpose of ascertaining its extent and studying the character and manners of the Tartars. Adopting the costume of the Thibetan lamas or priests, and accompanied by a young lama convert, named Samdadshiemba, they set out in September, travelling S. W. along the Mongolian side of the great wall. Their caravan consisted of a horse, a mule, and three camels. Their only guides were a map and a compass. At night they slept in tents, and their food during 18 months was generally confined to tea and a little meal. After a few days' journey they arrived at the city of Tolon-noor, where they completed their outfit. At the large new town of Shagan-kooren they crossed the Hoang-ho river and entered the sandy steppes of the Or-toos country, where they suffered for want of water and forage. Crossing the Hoang-ho again with great difficulty at a season of inundation, they entered the N". E. part of the Chinese province of Kansu in the early part of November, and remained two days at a frontier town.
In January, 1845, they reached Tang-kiuul, on the boundary between Kansu and the territory of Koko-nor. From Lassa, the capital of Thibet, their point of destination, they were yet distant four months' journey across a desert utterly uninhabited except by robbers. They consequently resolved to wait here eight months for the arrival of a Thibetan embassy on its way home from Peking, under whose escort they might travel in safety. During their stay they studied the Thibetan language and Buddhist books with the assistance of a teacher, and after awhile they were invited to take up their abode in the famous lamasery of Koonboom, about 30 m. distant. In this establishment, which numbers about 4,000 lamas, they remained three months, treated, as they were in all parts of Mongolia, with great kindness. At the end of that time they removed to Ohogortan, a summer establishment belonging to the lamasery. Toward the end of September the embassy arrived, and the missionaries joined the caravan, which consisted of 2,000 men and 3,700 animals. In crossing the desert and climbing the snow-covered mountains over which their route led them, they suffered the most terrible hardships.
M. Gabet fell ill and was every moment expected to die, but they were obliged to press on with the sick man fastened to his camel. On Jan. 29,1846, they entered Lassa. After a few days they were summoned before the ka-lon or regent, the real ruler of the country under the nominal supremacy of the grand lama, who received them well, gave them a residence of his own, and allowed them to preach and set up a little chapel. The Chinese ambassador, Keshen, who had conducted the negotiations with the British at Canton in 1840-'41, soon interposed on political grounds, and they were sent to Chingtoofoo, capital of the Chinese province of Sechuen, and their neophyte Sam-dadshiemba back to his own country. MM. Huc and Gabet left Lassa March 15, and travelled in palanquins with great state, having a mandarin and a body of soldiers for escort. They wore the richest Chinese robes, and insisted upon putting on the yellow cap and red girdle reserved for members of the imperial family. These precautions secured respectful treatment throughout their journey. Their expenses were defrayed by government. At Chingtoofoo they were put on trial, and it was resolved to send them to Canton. The journey was performed in the same state, sometimes overland, sometimes on the Yangtse-kiang and other navigable rivers.
In October, 1846, they arrived at Canton, and soon went to the Laza-rist seminary at Macao. Here M. Huc remained between two and three years, arranging for publication his notes of travel. M. Gabet returned to Europe in November, and thence proceeded to South America, where he died soon afterward at Rio de Janeiro. In 1849 M. Huc set out for Peking, intending to revisit the missions in Mongolia; but an inundation obliged him to remain six months at a Christian station in the province of Chekiang, and shortly after his arrival at the capital the shattered state of his health induced him to return home. He sailed from Macao Jan. 1, 1852, visited Ceylon, India, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, and landed at Marseilles in June of the same year. He subsequently fixed his residence in Paris. His Souvenirs d'un voyage dans la Tartarie, le Thibet et la Chine appeared in 1852 (2 vols. 8vo, Paris), and was translated into English by William Hazlitt (London, 1852). This work is not only one of the most interesting books of travel which have been written during the present generation, but is stored with valuable information with regard to the history, inhabitants, and geography of the previously almost unknown region of Mongolia. IS Empire chinois (2 vols. 8vo, 1854; English translation, London, 1855) relates the adventures of the missionaries during their journey from Lassa to Canton; it is.written in an attractive style, enlivened with much humor, and a large part of it is devoted to a general account of the manners, customs, government, laws, and internal condition of the Chinese empire.
He also wrote Le Christianisme en Chine, en Tartarie et au Thibet (4 vols., 1857-'8; translated into English, 3 vols.).