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above the level of the sea, is the true watershed between India and Central Asia, the Indus absorbing all the streams which flow from the southern slope of the range, while the northern rivers, which form the Kara-Kash and which were followed by the Schlagentweits and by Johnson, force their way through, or round, the outer barrier of the Kuen-Luen, and wend northeastward to the Gobi or sandy desert.
There is something which appears powerfully to strike the imagination when the explorer of Central Asia ascends the last step of the ranges which bound the great plain of Tartary to the north and south, and gazes over the magnificent landscape at his feet. It is thus interesting to compare the report of Semenoff, from the top of the Záuku Pass, with the report of Johnson overlooking Khoten, the two travellers confronting each other as it were on the extreme limits of the Russian and British-Indian empires :
"At last,' says the Russian traveller, 'we attained the object of our journey, and found ourselves on the summit of the mountain-pass, when à landscape of unexpected beauty spread out before us. We now gazed on a vast plain, which, extending in every direction from us, formed a kind of broad longitudinal valley between the foremost and the main ranges of the Thian-Shan. . . . There I found myself in the very heart of Asia, rather nearer to Cashmere than to Semipolatinsk, to Delhi than to Orsk, to the Indian than to the Northern Ocean, and midway between the Pacific and the Euxine. . I very much wished to descend the southern slope of the Thian-Shan, but was obliged to abandon the project, fearing to jeopardize the safety of the party, and incur the moral responsibility of any disaster.'
. I ascended,' says Mr. Johnson, in his Report, 'three peaks of the Kuen-Luen range, which had been previously fixed by the trigonometrical operations of the Survey. The contrast between the view to the north and that to the south was very striking : on the one side there was little but plain; on the other, mountains and deep valleys. I might almost have fancied myself on one of the southern ranges of the Himálayas, with the plains of India to the south and great mountain ranges to the north. . . . . From these peaks, however, I could not get a view of any of the important towns of Khoten, which I was so anxious to see; and I should have been obliged to have been satisfied with the extent of exploration which I had already accomplished, had not an opening presented itself for me to proceed to Khoten under the protection of the Khan of that country. ... The whole country of Khoten, north of the Kuen-Luen range, is an immense plain, sloping gently down to Aksú, which place is fifteen long marches north of Ilchi.'
* It is to be hoped that this report of Mr. Johnson's, which is addressed to Col. J. T. Walker, Superintendent of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, under date April 22, 1866, and which is full of interest, will soon be made public,
As it is across these plains of Chinese Tartary that the most direct route lies between Russia and India, and as it is in this quarter that the first contact between the two empires may be expected to take place, some further notice of recent travels in Tartary may not be uninteresting.
Towards the close of the last century (A.D. 1786) a Russian sergeant of the name of Ephraimoff published an account of his travels in Central Asia, which may be regarded as something of a curiosity in literature. He had been carried off as a prisoner by the Kirghiz from the Siberian line and taken to Bokhara, where he languished in captivity for many years. Ultimately, however, he escaped, and made his way to India by the route of Kashgar, Yarkend, Ladakh, and Cashmere, reaching Calcutta in due course, from whence he was conveyed to St. Petersburg. His personal adventures are of some interest, and a vocabulary which he gives of the Bokhara dialect of that time, and which is almost entirely Persian, may deserve the attention of philologists; but he was a man of no education, and his geographical illustrations are thus almost confined to the dry detail of an itinerary.
It is believed that many Russian agents were employed in Central Asia at the commencement of the present century in connexion with the contemplated march of the Don regiments under Count Orloff-Denisoft upon India, but their reports have never yet been made public. The same reticence, however, has not been observed with regard to the reports of the merchants, who from this period seem to have prosecuted a tolerably active traffic between Russia and India across the plains of Tartary.
A Georgian trader, in the first place, of the name of Raphael Danibeg, published in 1815, at St. Petersburg, an account of his return journey from India to Semipolatinsk. Another traveller of the name of Agha Mehdi-who, being a Cabul Jew by birth,
According to statements in the Indian newspapers, Mr. Johnson's conduct in extending his journey to Khoten, and being thus drawn into political communication with the rulers of Chinese Turkestan, has been disapproved by the Government of India ; but it is impossible, we think, that Sir John Lawrence should withhold his admiration at Mr. Johnson's intrepidity in venturing into such a country, and his skill in effecting a retreat from it. Mr. Johnson met with an Indian native officer at Khoten in command of the Khan's regular infantry, who, although now professing Mahomedanism, and calling himself Mahomed Ali, appeared to have been originally a Hindoo. It is said in the Indian papers that Mr. Johnson suspected this individual to be the notorious Nana Sahib, while the Calcutta editors suggest the Prince Firoz Shah, as a more likely identification ; but in reality there seems to be no ground for believing the officer in question to be a personage of any such distinction. He is more probably a refugee from the old Bengal army, one of those many native officers who after the mutiny fled to the northward, where they are now to be found acting as instructors or commanders at all the Afghan, and Uzbeg, and Turkestan courts.
professed Mahommedism or Christianity according to circumstances, and who seems, under the guise of a merchant, to have been employed by the Russian Government between 1810 and 1822 on various delicate negociations with the independent chiefs on the north-west frontier of India—embodied his geographical experiences of Central Asia in a memoir which is often quoted by the Russian authorities, and which, though as yet unpublished, must be still in the archives of St. Petersburg ;* and a third report by a Bokhara trader of the route from Semipolatinsk to Cashmere is given by Professor Senkowski in the appendix to Meyendorff's Bokhara. In all these notices we find that the caravan route passed from Cashmere through Ladakh to the Kara-koram range; that it then crossed the plains of Tartary by Yarkend and Aksú to Turfan at the foot of the Thian-Shan; and finally ascended the mountains by the famous Muzart defile (or “Pass of Glaciers,' as it is usually called), and so on by Kulja to Semipolatinsk. A more direct line--and one which, from the report of Mr. Johnson, would, we should think, become the high road of traffic in future years—conducts from Aksú along the river to Khoten, and thence ascending the mountains either by the Sanjú or the Yangi Devan pass debouches upon Leh. The
passes of the Kuen-Luen on this track are not more difficult than the Kara-koram defile, while the road distance from Khoten to Leh is very considerably less than that to the same place from Yarkend ; and Leh, moreover, is much more conveniently situated than Cashmere for communication with Northern India, If it be true, indeed, according to the information supplied to Mr. Johnson at Khoten, that by proceeding seventy or eighty miles to the south-east, the Kuen-Luen mountains may be turned, and wheeled carriages can thus pass along an elevated tableland by Rodokh and Gardukh to the immediate back of the Himalaya range, we may expect in due time that the great Hindustan road will be prolonged from the Niti pass so as to open out upon these uplands, a direct line of traffic being thus secured with Tartary, which shall be independent of the difficulties, both political and geographical, that are attached to the old route by Cashmere and Ladakh.t
Mr. Moorcroft happened to be at Ladakh in 1822 at the time of Agha Mehdi's death, in the Kara-koram mountains, on his third mission from Russia; and he had thus an opportunity of inspecting the letters, addressed by Count Nesselrode, on the part of the Emperor Alexander, to Ranjit Singh and the Raja of Thibet. See · Moorcroft's Travels,' vol. i. p. 383; and for further notices of Agha Mehdi, see ‘Meyendorf's Bokhara,' p. 340.
† This route, to which Mr. Johnson has recently drawn attention, was known, however, to Moorcroft, and is also mentioned by Cunningham and H. Strachey. There has always been a report in the country that there was a royal made road from the Niti Pass by Gardukh and Rodokh to Khoten, and Mooreroft in one of
There are still a few more authorities to be mentioned. Dr. Thomas Thomson, the associate of Cunningham and Henry Strachey in the Ladakh Boundary Commission in 1847, was the first Englishman who fairly crested the Kara-koram range and determined the true geographical position of the defile, a service for which the Royal Geographical Society, with a somewhat tardy recognition of merit, has this year presented him with its Founder's Medal. The next travellers who followed in the same direction were the brothers Schlagentweit. Adolphe, the youngest, not only crossed the mountains, but penetrated to Yarkend and Kashgar, where he was murdered by a sanguinary fanatic, Wali Khan, who happened at the moment to be in power, and may thus be classed among those martyrs to science
, whose early fate we have already deplored; but the two other brothers, Herman and Robert, are hardly entitled to the preeminent position which they claim as geographical discoverers. It is true that they ascended the Kara-koram pass and made a détour beyond the range in the direction of Khoten, which occupied them for twenty-six days and extended to about three hundred miles, but they seem to have been as unsuccessful both in observing and recording their observations, as they were bold in assigning positions on insufficient evidence; the consequence of this empirical system of survey being that they dislocated the entire map of Tartary by placing everything between the Karakoram and the Thian-Shan from 1° to 3° to the westward of its true emplacement.* In the interior of the country the principal
his journeys actually lighted upon a portion of this road towards its southern extremity, which he describes as 'in some parts substantially paved with pebbles, and in others formed out of the levelled rock.' It was no doubt a work of the Delhi emperors, executed for the purpose of facilitating commercial intercourse between India and China ; but the old road seems to have passed to the west of the Kuen-Luen, instead of to the east of that range, as recommended by Johnson, for the Sarikia, which Moorcroft mentions as the northern terminus of the route between Khoten and Yarkend, can be no other than the Surikia of Johnson, which is a name for the valley of the Kara-kash river.—(See • Moorcroft's Travels,' vol. i. p. 373 ; Cunningham's “Ladakh,' p. 147; and “Journal of Royal Geog. Society of London,' vol. xxiii. p. 5.)
* The Schlagentweits head their chapter on the passes into Tartary with this proud declaration, — We are fortunate enough to have been the first Europeans that ever crossed the chains of the Kara-Koram and of the Kuen-Luen ' (see • India and High Asia,' vol. i. p. 25); and it was to commemorate so glorious an achievement that the Emperor of Russia conferred on the brothers the honorary title of Sakunlunski. In reality, however, the Russian Ephraimoff and the Georgian Raphael Danibeg had crossed the mountains from Yarkend to Thibet long before the Schlagentweits; and Dr. Thomson's ascent of the Kara-koram, which was rarely mentioned beyond the immediate circle of his friends, was hardly a less creditable performance than the boasted exploit of the Germans. Mons. Golubief severely handled the Schlagentweits in an article in the Russian Geographical Journal, Part IV., 1861; and his criticism was endorsed by Mons.
Semeuoff, Semenoff, the President of the Section of Physical Geography. This article was reproduced in an English translation in the last number of the Bengal Asiatic Journal,' Part II., No. 1, p. 46; and Sir Audrew Waugh, at the recent meeting of the British Association, showed, from a comparison of the Schlagentweit figures with those of Captain Montgomerie and Mr. Johnson, that the error of the Ger mans in regard to the longitude both of Cashgar and Yarkend was more than 3°; and that even in regard to Khoten, which they claim to have fixed, they were in error to the extent of 37' of longitude.
European travels to be cited are, firstly, the invaluable record by Lieut. Wood of his journey from Cabul to the sources of the Oxus; and, secondly, the recent work of M. Vambéry which has been already reviewed in this journal, and which describes the wanderings of the Hungarian dervish - carrying, as the Orientals would say, “his life in his hand '—from Asterabad, at the south-east corner of the Caspian, through the Turcoman desert to Khiva, and so on to the mouth of the Oxus; from that point to Bokhara and Samarcand, and back again across the mountains to Herat.
There was not much, perhaps, of actual discovery in Vambéry's explorations, since Arthur Conolly, in 1829, had preceded him on the line from Asterabad to Khiva as far as the Balkan hills; and Muravieff
, ten years previously, had landed in the Bay of Balkan, and travelled across the desert from that point direct to Khiva, almost on the same track as the Hungarian Dervish ; but his personal experiences nevertheless are full of interest, and especially with reference to his successful personation of a travelling mendicant. In this character, indeed, he baffled all attempts to penetrate his disguise ; and only once, as we have heard him relate, was he in any danger of detection, when a curious fellow-worshipper at noonday prayer remarked that he must be a nondescript sort of Mahomedan after all, since the hairs on his arm were laid across, instead of up or down: the explanation of this singular criticism being, that as the Soonees and Shíahs in their ablutions wash their arms respectively from the elbow to the wrist, and from the wrist to the elbow, so may the members of the two opposing sects be recognised by the direction in which the hairs of the arm are laid, such direction following, of course, the daily manipulation. We have nothing to say to the moral question involved in this personation of the Mahomedan character. We are merely now alluding to the difficulty of sustaining such a disguise for any long continuance. Buckhardt, the most accomplished European Arab who ever trod the desert, was often embarrassed by remarks on his arched instep, differing so much from the flat foot of the unfettered Bedouin, and he once narrowly escaped detection because he happened to take a draught of water after,