« ПретходнаНастави »
Russian Mission to China. [Marchi, vessels, containing corn, water, &c. On both sides of this altar, stood five Lamas from eastern Mongolia, who read and sung prayers in the Tibetan language. The uncommonly deep and powerful bass voices resounded in the air like the lower notes of the horn. Above two hundred Lamas from the temples at Pe. king, were seated cross-legged, to the right and left. The Koutouktou struck at intervals, silver symbols, which are a distinguished mark of priests of the highest rank; and indicate their sanctity, inviolability, and precedence. It was a signal to the Lamas, alternately to sing, and to play. The orchestra was played apart; they played on wind instruments, resembling our oboes and clarionets. Some are made of large sea-shells, which give a very harsh sound. They have copper symbols of various sizes, and also drums. This kind of music is more calculated to inspire terror, than calm and religious feelings.
“The yellow dresses of the Lamas, and their shorn heads, gave them, in our eyes, a singular appearance. There were no worshippers of Fo present, except priests. The Koutouktou, who was about thirty-five years of age, looked at us from time to time, and the others followed bis example.”
No Dalai Lama had been installed in Tibet at that epoch, for five years back, and there had been some difficulties between the priests of that country, who wished to select him from among themselves, and the deceased emperor of China, who feared British influence, through a conquest of Tibet, and a consequent connexion with the high priest. Our author is rather hasty in his valuation of the means which the East India Company may have to extend their power in middle Asia ; and he is too easily alarmed at the pains which some British missionaries have taken to study the Mongol language. Nor is it a very conclusive proof of any intention of the kind alluded to, that British products have found their way into Tibet. Till a very recent epoch, that country was little known in England.
A visit which the Russians paid to the Portuguese missionaries, occasioned a dispute between the superior of the convent, and a Mantchoo police officer. The admission of strangers into the monastery being forbidden, the appearance of the Russians inspired the agent with so much the more fear, as a crowd of the populace was gathering in the neighbourhood, to see the Moscovites. The Portuguese bishop, who would fain have shown the favour and privileges he enjoyed from the Chinese government, felt mortified at the harsh tone of superiority, which the man in office took with him : but he had the satisfaction to appease him at length, and to converse peaceably with his guest, about the generous character of the new emperor of China, the prospects of a long continuation of the external tranquillity of the empire, and the greater confidence that prevailed in regard to Russia, under the new reign. The measures of precaution taken by the pusillanimous and suspicious Kia Khing upon the Russian frontier, had been revoked.
On the 20th of February, at three o'clock, at the occasion of an eclipse of the sun, all the Mandarins were at their posts, in their costume of ceremony: all the temples resounded with the
heaven, to obtain the pardon of the emperor, in case that, by any fault, he had been the cause of this celestial phenomenon.” Loyalty can do no more for the best of sovereigns. Superstitious terrors and self-reproach, on the other hand, cannot be better depicted, than in the ordinance of the late emperor, touching a tempest which had happened on the 1st of April 1819, that Mr. Timkowski gives in extenso.
On the 24th of March, which is, among the Chinese, a festival in celebration of the beginning of spring, these poor devotees were seen loaded with chains, and creeping thus along a werst or more, and prostrating themselves every fifth or tenth step.
The burial of the late emperor offered, by its extreme simplicity and unostentatiousness, a singular contrast with the splendour usual at the court of the living sovereign.
“The coffin," says our author, “was borne by ordinary porters, upon a bier covered with red cloth; it was escorted by several soldiers, with the standards used on particular occasions by subaltern officers and their servants. This is the whole pomp attending the funeral of an emperor of China ; besides, there was not much regularity in the procession. The ministers and the superior officers, were gone with the new emperor to the first station, in order to receive the coffin, before which, they repeated prostrations; and this continues till they arrive at the western burying ground, at the distance of a hundred and fifty wersts from Peking.”
This direction was chosen, because the preceding emperor had been buried in the eastern cemetery; and such an alternate change is strictly of ceremonial law, for the dynasty of Ta-thsing.
At length Mr. Timkowski prepared himself for his journey back to Russia, with the recalled mission. Upon his application to the office of foreign affairs, for the means of conveyance, some explanations ensued, which warranted the belief that the emperor of China was always under the impression, that the Russians travelled at his expense through his empire. However this might be, Mr. Timkowski agreed with a courier for the transportation of the baggage, which chiefly consisted of books purchased for the Russian government. Orders were, however, despatched from Peking, to give him and his company all possible facilities for his journey homewards; and, after a residence of five months and a half at Peking, they departed from that capital on the 15th of May 1821.
A first glance at the work before us, convinced us that the most interesting portion of it is comprehended in the geographical notice about Mongolia, and that few new details could be selected from it, in regard to China and its capital, for a journal like ours. Mr. Timkowski's travels are far from rivalling, in regard to China Proper, the accounts previously published. But compared with the majority of geographical works, in regard to Mongolia, they are of the greatest value. We shall ever prefer the driest journal of travels through an unknown country, to the most entertaining compilation, made up of information collected elsewhere than in the country described, or of extracts from works of easy access. Upon this ground, we forbear to dwell upon the historical essay, which forms the third chapter of the second volume before us, and which is not pretended to be a performance of the author; the short description of Peking, which Mr. Klaproth asserts to be almost entirely taken from Father Gaubil's work, (chap. ii. vol. ii.); and the chapters x. xi. and xii. of the first volume, which contain descriptions of Eastern or Chinese Turkestan, and of Little Bucharia-of the country of the Soungarians, now subject to Chinaand of Tibet.
Trusting most to Mr. Timkowski's own observations, we shall add to the particulars we have borrowed from him in regard to Mongolia, a few remarks upon the portion of that country which he traversed on his return to Russia. At any rate, our sketch will thus become fuller, and more instructive, we hope, than Malte Brun's account of Mongolia, which fills but a very few pages of his voluminous Universal Geography.
The route of the travellers lay through Tsagan balgassou. They went through a highly cultivated country, and several considerable towns, upon the same road they had passed going to Peking. At Kiming, they visited an ancient temple in honour of Fo, built on a steep mountain to the north of that city. The Ho-chang, or priest, received them kindly, and satisfied their curiosity by showing them all that was worth seeing. The temple is built of brick, and consists of a number of separate chapels; near it are a garden and an orchard :
“A gigantic wall seemed every moment ready to fall upon the temple, and crush it. It is difficult, (adds the author,) to conceive the motive which can have induced the erection of such a monument, on this narrow part of the mountain, surrounded by precipices and exposed to tempests. The summit of the mountain is divided into two parts, which are united by a marble bridge, over a deep chasm. To the right is a little temple ; to the left, a large one ; before whichi, are a belfry and the house for the priest. The whole level of the summit is covered with buildings; a little lower down, are rocks which form terraces. Towards the north-west, between the mountains, is the river Yang ho; and to the south, at the foot of the mountain, the fort of Kiming, the buildings of which, seen from this height, appear very indistinct. The horizon is bound by chains of high mountains.”
After having found agriculture in a very flourishing state, between Kiming and Siuan, our travellers observed in the immediate neighbourhood of the latter city, less fertility, owing to the nature of the soil; but tobacco furnishes the inhabitants with the means of an extensive trade. In the interior of the city, are numerous shops, two wooden triumphal arches, a grand portico with four issues. Nearer to Kalgan, the country assumed a more woody character, and was well cultivated.
From Kalgan, the company were obliged to deviate from the route they had previously pursued, on account of the impracticability of the road of Tola, in consequence of heavy rains. They took that to Nor tian, and found the mountains covered with snow. In the preceding days they had suffered from excessive heat. On the meadows near Tsagan balgassou, they saw a great number of horses, and about 40,000 oxen, and 180,000 sheep, belonging to the Emperor.
The Russians had now only 26 camels and 103 horses for their conveyance; and the camels could not, on account of the season, be relied upon for heavy burdens, their bunch not being sufficiently fat before the beginning of August. Two wersts and a half from Tsagan balgassou they reached again the main road; they travelled afterwards nearly a thousand wersts without meeting any river. They saw a great deal of poverty among the Tsakhars, though cattle and horses are not wanting. After having crossed Mount Khak, they found themselves anew in the country of the western Sounites, and at the commencement of the steppe of Gobi. They met, however, in many places, pasturage, a variety of birds, horses belonging to the Emperor, and numerous inhabitants and Lamas, carrying about them the sacred book Gandjour.
They reached, at length, Kobour, near which is an extensive salt lake. From thence they proceeded towards Khadatou, at first over an argillaceous plain, afterwards over a lofty and sandy mountain, and at last arrived at Mingan, where the sandy steppe terminates. For a distance of eighty wersts further, the soil is gravelly and sterile. The name of steppe may awaken the idea of an absolute want of population. But near many stations, our travellers met with a number of nomads, caravans, and scattered tents. Five wersts, however, from Iren, they passed a real desert, “which,” says the author, " presented the image of desolation, destitute both of grass and water.”
Near Khailassoutou, the Russians beheld mountains covered with elms, and apricot trees in many places upon the heights. After the desolation which we have been retracing, it is refreshing to find our travellers in sight of an extensive plain :
“The blue mountains, which bounded the distant horizon, presented an agrees able and majestic coup d'æil. To the north, a narrow and sandy road divides, and leads to habitations at no great distance. Some Mongol girls came to draw water when we were at the well. On seeing us, they were at first embarrassed ; but on our addressing them in the Mongol language, paying them some compli. ments, such as are usual in these steppes, their apprehensions were dispelled. We conversed with them for some time, and parted, with a promise on our side to meet them again some years afterwards at the same place.”
They entered, not long afterwards, the territory of the Kalkas, where they found good pasturage, and frequently tents, and in some of these a kind and hospitable reception. From Gachoun VOL. III. --N0. 5.
they proceeded to Oude and Seoudji. From thence the country becomes more and more elevated, with extensive valleys. On the 27th of June, they passed the well of Khadain khochou, where Lawrence Lange halted, with his caravan, on the 24th of October 1727.
On getting nearer to Ourga, they met with numerous herds of camels and Rocks of sheep. The Russians were informed, that orders had been given by the viceroy to furnish them with horses, and camels for their baggage, without remuneration.
They journeyed afterwards over high mountains, where they experienced, in the month of July, a cold usual only in September. The table of stations, in the appendix, contains, in regard to the distance from Seoudji, the following remarks, which will be sufficient to give an idea of the nature of the country, and the difficulty to extract from the detailed narrative a more interesting account. The remarks are,-marshy and sandy plains; little grass ; little water; a good well ; mountains; little grass ; grass ; good water; a chain of rocks, &c. &c. At length, on the 15th of July, the travellers reached Ourga, where they had arrived precisely ten months before on their way to Peking. From thence they were accompanied by a detachment of Mongols, as a guard of honour, to Koui. In the valleys they passed, they suffered much from cold. On the banks of the Boro, they beheld fields which had been cultivated, and were now abandoned. Near Ourmouktou, they found the country extremely beautiful ; at the foot of a mountain, clothed with birch, asp, &c., flows the river Shara, over meadows verdant with herbage and groves of elms. This was a kind of Oasis in comparison with the steppes they had been travelling over. A new road had recently been laid out, for the accommodation of the viceroy, who had gone Kiakhta; but as he had journeyed in a litter, borne by four men, the Russians could not find, upon this road, the supplies necessary for travellers in vehicles drawn by animals.
At last, on the 31st of July, they passed the Boro, where two interpreters, from the custom-house at Kiakhta, brought them, by way of congratulation on their safe return to their country, bread and salt, in behalf of the director of that establishment.
“ Thus,” says Mr. Timkowski, at the conclusion of his work, “our journey was accomplished: it is really one of the most troublesome, fatiguing, and even dangerous to health, that it is possible to make by land. The uniformity of the steppes, and the slow manner in which we traversed them, have perhaps given an appearance of monotony to the narrative of our journey; but the reader may feel assured, that it is founded only on truth.”
We shall terminate our task, with a general view of the geography, resources, and political situation of Mongolia, and the manners and genius of its inhabitants, by means of the informa