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such expeditions, the letter remarks: "The experience acquired between 1850 and 1872, during which period expeditions commanded by British, American, Swedish and German officers have safely, and at many points, gone to and fro within the Arctic circle, has proved that, with the help of steam and other modern appliances and of the knowledge gained concerning the proper organization of travelling parties, Arctic exploration, under judicious leadership, is not unduly dangerous." In reference to the last point referred to it may be remarked, that the employment of steam has revolutionized ice-navigation within the last ten years. Vessels intended for encountering ice, in these high latitudes, are built immensely strong, and either have angle irons round the bows or iron stem-pieces and side-pieces of iron. The bows are sharp, so that they can charge the ice at full speed, rise to about six feet, and then come down upon it with crushing force. Thus the facility with which they can cleave their way through the icefields is vastly increased since the days of sailing vessels, and the work can be done with far greater safety. Experience has also shown that with due care in regard to the food and clothing of the men, and proper attention to warmth and ventilation on board, men may enjoy as perfect health in the Arctic regions as in any other part of the earth.

The existence of an open sea around the North Pole is still undetermined; but the recent discoveries of Captain Hall and the experience of the German and Swedish expeditions seem to render it more doubtful than before. The most distinguished English authorities in Arctic matters are altogether opposed to the theory of an open Polar Sea, but eminent names may be quoted in support of it. At present, the weight of evidence seems decidedly against it.

After all, many people will be inclined to ask, "What can we hope to gain by boring our way through ice-fields, and scrambling over ice-hummocks in order to reach the Pole? Why spend toil and money, and risk human life in these profitless explorations?" Those who raise objections on this ground to any further Arctic expeditions, do not seem to be aware of the fallacious assumption that pervades their reasoning. They assume that no good can follow from acquiring a knowledge of this portion of creation. But the truth is, no man can tell what important results may flow from the discovery of any new fact, or any new law of nature. When

Volta saw the legs of some dead frogs which he was dissecting quivering when in contact with certain metals, who could have foreseen that the issue of that discovery would be Atlantic Cables flashing intelligence between the two hemispheres! Watt's teakettle, with its little head of steam, led on to the building of the Great Eastern. The grandest results in science have sprung from the seemingly unimportant observations of those who were investigating truth for its own sake. Many problems in terrestrial magnetism have yet to be solved. No man can say whether the observations made by the patient scientific investigator, in the neighbourhood of the Pole, may not revolutionize our whole sys tem of telegraphy, and so affect ultimately every department of human action. Let every realm of nature be fearlessly explored, in the confidence that each discovery will, in the long run, be found to subserve human well-being, and aid in extending man'slordship over his terrestrial heritage.

Moreover, "man does not live by bread alone." The quickening, elevating impulse of these daring adventures amid the ice-fields of the Polar regions are incalculable, in a moral point of view. They lift us above the routine of our poor plodding existence. They show us that heroism is not dead-that there still dwells nobleness in human hearts. What were life, divested of all its poetry and romance? So long as the Poles hold their secrets, brave spirits will be found to dare everything in search of them: and our sympathies will never be withheld from those who risk all to conquer for us new realms of nature.

CENTRAL ASIA.

BY CONSERVATOR.

A REVIEW of the "Central Asian Question" will be best

approached by a brief reference to our Indian frontier; as divested of all addenda this question is simply, with respect to ourselves, the manner in which we can best check the advance of Russia upon the borders of Hindostan, while on the part of the Czar, acquisition of territory, without if possible embroiling Russia with England; but still, a greed for fresh conquests, at all risks,. seems to be a not unreasonable phase of a topic, which has recently received much attention throughout this Empire.

The strategical side of this question is a most interesting study, and one on which much might be said, but its discussion would involve the aid of military maps, which cannot be here afforded, and a length far beyond the limits of this article. Strategy is, however, succinctly referred to when occasion requires, and this subject may be pursued at will by the reader. These pages simply profess to narrate certain proceedings connected with events touching the question under discussion, and to describe briefly particular portions of Asia, which by the aid of an ordinary map may, with little difficulty, be studied. Should the perusal of this paper tempt the reader to pursue its subject, the humble efforts of the author will be more than compensated.

It has not been forgotten that, in the year 1839, the British forces in conjunction with our then allies, the Seiks, crossed the Indus, and penetrating the Bolam Pass reached Cabul, and that in 1841 occurred that fearful disaster by which our army was cut to pieces, except a remnant which, for a time, was driven out of Afghanistan. But however sad the memories which these events recall, the bright pages of history which reflect the victories of Pollock in 1842 serve to soften the recollection of the loss of faithful soldiers who, in defeat, grasped at the laurels of victory.

The year 1843 is celebrated in the annals of British India by Napier's conquest of Scinde, and the year 1849 is commemorative of the glorious victories of Chillianwallah and Goojerat, by which we subdued the Punjab, and extended our boundary to the present frontier, at the foot of the Afghan Mountains. This frontier line is protected by a series of fortified stations, running from south to north. These are Jocobabad, Dera Ghazee Khan, Dera Ismael Khan Bunnoo, Kohat, Peshawar, Hotemimdan, and Abbotabad, besides several minor posts, about twenty miles apart, at the foot of the before named mountains. Peshawar, situated at the mouth of the Kyber Pass, is the chief of all the foregoing posts. It commands the road to Cabul, and is held by a large force of the regular army, while the other posts are defended by the Punjab and Scinde native forces, between whom and the fierce tribes which inhabit the mountains an almost constant warfare exists, owing to frequent outrages on the part of these hill tribes, which necessitate summary chastisement at our hands. Our strategical position in this region stands at the foot of a line of mountains

with the mighty Indus at our backs-our duty is to hold at all hazards this narrow strip of Trans-Indus country.

The north-western frontier of British India having been thus succinctly referred to, a glance at the countries across this frontier will not be amiss, as having, with reference to our military position in that locality, an important bearing on our external policy. These countries are Cashmere and Ladak, Turkistan, Afghanistan, and the three nominally independent Khanates of Khiva, Bokara and Kohand.

Cashmere and Ladak, although included in our border, are only partially under our protection, being governed by the Chief of the former province, who maintains an army and wages war at his pleasure. We have a British representative at Cashmere, but no troops, and within the past year or two, we have also had an agent at Leh, the chief town of the province of Ladak. The people who inhabit these states are said to be for the most part poor, quiet and inoffensive. Cashmere has been often described, and from authentic sources Ladak, we learn, is almost similar to it in topographical features, it will therefore suffice to delineate these regions as composed almost entirely of great chains of mountains, sheltering deep and fruitful valleys, studded with numerous lakes which bask in glorious sunshine, while the mighty mountain ranges, which seem to bar all access to southern lands, are furrowed by countless streams which rise in the northern plateaux.

Ladak being less known than Cashmere, it may not be uninteresting to the reader to depict a few of its leading characteristics before proceeding to portray the other countries which adjoin our Eastern possessions. This mountainous land is spoken of as singularly well placed for enquiries with respect to the geographical history of Central Asia, and to the study of its inhabitants. There may be seen the wild-looking Afghan, with his long black curls, and an old flint lock pistol in his girdle. He has spent the preceding summer in Samarkand, where he has inspected the Russian cantonments and compared them with those of our troops in India, where he has been spending the winter. Hot tempered, and apt to shorten a bargain, when tired of haggling, by a volley of abuse or a blow, he is courteous in his manners, although free spoken when not excited. Next comes the stoutly built pig-tailed tea merchant from Lhassa, in Greater Tibet, who has no manners at all. He is simply a good humoured looking barbarian, with an

ever ready grin, eyes set so far forward, and a nose so far back, as to form an almost flat round surface for a countenance. Then comes the handsome Jewish looking man of Badakshan, with his casket of precious stones, and the Chinaman from Yarkand, rather depressed looking and without his pig-tail, for he has to turn Mussulman to save his life, since the great slaughter of his countrymen in 1864.

After that the yellow-robed Lama of Tibet, on his ambling mule, on an ecclesiastical mission to inspect the subordinate monasteries of western Tibet. This individual is not communicative and ignores conversation, but the Yarkand Haji is more sociable. He has combined spiritual and worldly profit by a trading journey through India, wound up by a pilgrimage, per steamer, from Bombay to Mecca.

In the same crowd we have the half-naked Indian Jogi, or fanatic, covered with ashes and shivering in the cold; the Sikh merchant, the Dogra soldier, and other Indian types too numerous to mention. Such are some of the sources from which one has to gather information. The best point in them is, that the intelligence cannot be concentrated between men of such different origins. Hence whenever their testimony agrees, it is likely to be true.

Afghanistan, which lies just beyond our north-western border, next claims our attention. That part of it which is situated on our side of the Hindoo Koosh consists of narrow sheltered valleys, lying between lofty mountains, spurs of which radiate southwards, and traverse and divide the land from end to end, one of the principal of these chains, the Soliman, forming the boundary with our dominions. It is ill adapted for military operations, except on a small scale, being rugged and comparatively poor, with few good roads. The Afghans are a brave, warlike race, incessantly quarrelling amongst themselves, but ever ready to combine against the common enemy. They have long suffered under the misery of miserable government and distracted rule, features which distinguish all the countries of Central Asia. Although the Afghans travel freely in our territory, no Englishman dare venture alone even to the foot of the mountains, much less penetrate the screen of hills which shuts off Afghanistan from India. That kingdom, (Afghanistan,) if it be entitled to that appellation, consists of a number of rather loosely knit states,

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