« PreviousContinue »
ticular localities which still stand out in isolated inaccessibilityhave made us almost as well acquainted with the manners and customs, the dialects, the religions and the ethnic relations of the races intervening, between Russia and India, between Persia and China, as with the inhabitants of any other part of the East. To describe in any detail the sources from which such information has been derived, would be neither very easy, nor very interesting. A brief abstract of authorities must suffice, explanations only being added, where the travels are but little known to the public, or where their authenticity is questioned.
With the ancient and mediæval travels in Central Asia, we do not propose at present to meddle. In the 'Erdkunde von Asien' of Carl Ritter, and the 'Asie Centrale' of Alexander von Humboldt will be found a resumé of all our early, as distinguished from our recent, Asiatic knowledge. Profiting by the labours of Abel Remusat, Klaproth, Julien, and Landresse, the two great geographers of Berlin were able to collate the authority of Chinese Encyclopedias and Buddhist travels, with the hearsay evidence of the Greeks and the more circumstantial accounts of the contemporary Arabs. With the aid of other translations, they drew much valuable testimony from Turkish and Mongolian histories; they further traced the routes of the envoys and traders from Europe, who visited the territories of the great 'Cham of Tartary,' in the middle ages; they examined Missionary journals, and sifted Caravan itineraries, and finally summarised all available reports both of Russian and of English agents; thereby bringing into one focus rays of information from a hundred different quarters, and furnishing for the first time an intelligible scheme of Central Asiatic geography. The subject, as it appears to us, has not since received the consideration which it merits; no attempt having been made to keep the public acquainted with our improved geographical knowledge, notwithstanding that exploration has been carried on ever since, continuously, and with marked success. In this field of honourable emulation Russia is entitled to a very prominent place. As her arms have advanced upon the one side from the Ili River and Lake Balkash to the Issi-Kul Lake and the great Thian-Shan Range, and upon the other from the Aral Sea for twelve hundred miles along the course of the Jaxartes, to Turkestan, Chemkend, Tashkend, and now to Khojend itself, so have the scientific officers, who accompany or precede her army, continued to lay before the world the results of their professional labours. The Journal of the Imperial Geographical Society of St. Petersburg has been enriched for many years past with a series of papers by Semenoff, Golubieff, Veniukoff, Boutakoff, and others, describing the pro
gress of discovery in Zungaria and Russian Turkestan; and many of these excellent Memoirs-which, among other valuable results, connect all the recent acquisitions of Russia as far south as the Thian-Shan Range with the great Siberian survey, and further determine for the first time, on certain data, a series of astronomical positions along a belt of 30° of longitude from the Aral Sea to the Chinese frontier-have been transferred to the pages of our own Geographical Journal' in London. But these are not the only contributions of Russia to our recent knowledge of Central Asia. A more hazardous, and, in some respects, a more interesting, journey was performed in 1859 by Captain Valikhanoff, the son of a Kirghiz Sultan, who, having entered the military service of Russia and received a professional education, was thus enabled to combine the accomplishments of a European traveller with the free movements of a native of the country. company with a caravan of traders he crossed the Thian-Shan by the Záúkú defile, and passed the winter in Kashgar and the neighbourhood, collecting much solid information regarding the geography, the ethnology, the natural productions, and the modern history of Chinese Turkestan, which has been recently made accessible to the English public in the Messrs. Michell's work on The Russians in Central Asia.'
Mons. Nicolas de Khanikoff is a Russian traveller of a still higher class. His first introduction to Central Asiatic life was in the suite of Colonel Buteneff, when that distinguished officer was sent to Bokhara on a diplomatic mission during the English occupation of Afghanistan. On this occasion he visited Samarcand, and collected copious topographical details of the city and its neighbourhood (which he afterwards embodied in a statistical account of the Khanat of Bokhara), thereby establishing his claim to be the first European, since the days of Clavijo (in A.D. 1404), who has given us from his personal observation a plan and description of that famous capital of the empire of Timour. After many years of laborious service in Persia, where he relieved the toils of office by an earnest study of Oriental literature and antiquities, Khanikoff was recently employed, in 1858-59, in conducting a scientific expedition through Eastern Persia, which he somewhat fancifully calls, the southern part of Central Asia,' and he has since published two separate volumes giving the geographical and ethnological results of his travels. Both of these works are valuable. The one contains a very careful record of the scientific observations of Khanikoff and his companions, including some most important rectifications of the map of Persia, and an admirable general description of the province of Khorassan; in the other we have an ingenious, if not entirely convincing,
convincing, argument, drawn from a large field of induction, as to the original seats of the Iranian race, together with a good review of the general ethnic relations of the present inhabitants of Persia. Mons. Khanikoff occupies such an eminent place among the Orientalists of the present day, that no apology can be needed for including his two volumes amongst those placed at the head of the present article.
Let us now glance at the progress of English discovery in Central Asia in recent times. Our greatest activity was naturally displayed in connexion with the Afghan war, as the period of Russia's greatest activity has coincided with her conquest of Turkestan. In extending the limits, indeed, of Asiatic empire, war and science march hand in hand, and the difficulties and dangers of the one-and would we could also say the triumphs and rewards-are not less conspicuous than those of the other.
In reviewing our own fortunes during the period in question, it would really seem as if a fatality had attended us, so few— so very few of the English officers who advanced the cause of geography in Central Asia having lived to wear the laurels which they had earned. Stoddart, who was the first to cross the mountains from Herat to Bokhara, and Arthur Conolly, who travelled by an entirely new route from Cabul direct to Merv and so on to Khiva, Kokand, and ultimately to Bokhara, both perished miserably at the latter place in 1811. D'Arcy Todd, a traveller of some note himself, and to whom we are indebted for the adventurous journeys of James Abbott and Richmond Shakespeare from Herat to Khiva and Orenberg, was killed at the battle of Firoz-shahar. Edward Conolly, the first explorer of Seistan, was shot from the walls of an obscure fort in the Kohistan of Cabul; and Dr. Lord, the companion of Wood in the valley of the Oxus, was killed in the same district and nearly at the same time. Dr. Forbes, a most promising young traveller, was also murdered in Seistan, in 1841; and Lieut. Pattinson, the only officer who ever explored the valley of the Helmend from Zamín-Dawer to the vicinity of the Lake, was butchered by the mutinous Jan-baz at Candahar, soon after the outbreak at Cabul. Col. Sanders, of the Bengal Engineers, who compiled from his own observations an excellent map of the country between Candahar and the Hazareh Mountains to the north-west, also fell a few years later at Maharajpoor; Eldred Pottinger, who on two occasions crossed the mountains direct between Cabul and Herat, survived the Cabul massacre and the dangers of an Afghan captivity, merely to die of fever at Hongkong; and the be closed by a name-still more illustrious in the annals
of geographical science-that of Alexander Burnes himself, who, as it is well known, was the first victim of the Cabul insurrection. Through the labours of these men and of their worthy coadjutorsthe officers of the Quartermaster-General's Department-Afghanistan Proper may be said to have been very extensively, if not thoroughly, explored between the years 1838 and 1843. The great map, indeed, which was compiled by Mr. John Walker, Hydrographer to the Indian Office, at the close of the first expedition, and which was subsequently enlarged and amended as further information was acquired, will ever remain a noble monument of the collective science and industry of the Indian Army. It furnishes an accurate outline, and in many quarters a very comprehensive detail, of the country extending from the Lake of Seistan on the west to the frontiers of Cashmere on the east, and north and south between the Oxus and the Indus, and is altogether a most valuable contribution to our knowledge of the East. Since the period of the Afghan war, discovery has somewhat languished; yet there are still a few recent journeys which must not be overlooked. A French officer, General Ferrier, in attempting to push his way from Persia to the Punjab, performed some very remarkable marches over new ground in 1844-45, exploring an unvisited part of the Seistan frontier in one direction, and crossing the great Paropamisan range from the vicinity of Balkh to Herat in another.* Still more recently the mission of Major Lumsden to Candahar has made us acquainted with the ranges beyond the Indus which buttress the Afghan plateau to the south-east, and through which no European had before penetrated; while at the same time our own line of frontier, conterminous with the mountains, from
* Some doubt has been expressed with regard to the genuineness of this latter portion of General Ferrier's travels, because, in addition to certain discrepancies of distance, it also contains an account of a colony of Pagans amongst the Hazareh mountains, at whose hands the General asserts himself to have received that unreserved hospitality of bed and board which so vehemently scandalises Mahomedans, and which is by them referred exclusively to the Siyah-push Kaffirs; but the fastnesses of the Deh Zangi and Deh Kundi uplands have really been so little visited by European, or even by any reliable native travellers, that we are not in a position to pronounce authoritatively on the manners and customs of the inhabitants; and since every other portion of the General's narrative can be fully verified, it is hardly fair to discredit his Hazareh journey and adventures merely on the ground of their apparent improbability. General Ferrier has the further merit of having performed his journeys in the avowed character of a European officer, a character which involved no little risk so soon after the termination of the Afghan war, and among a people who at that time classed all nationalities, English, French, and Russian, in the one hated category of 'Feringi' and Infidel. Colonel Pelly has since, in the year 1860, ridden the whole way from Teheran via Herat and Candahar, to India, dressed in the uniform of a British officer, and he encountered no serious danger except among the lawless frontier tribes in the vicinity of Ferrah.
Scinde to Peshawer, has undergone the closest investigation, as evidenced in the exhaustive Report of Mr. Temple, and in Major Walker's admirable map. Putting aside for the present all discussion of the elevated region between Peshawer and the sources of the Oxus, which nevertheless contains matter of considerable interest, we pass on to the scene of England's greatest geographical triumph. Cashmere and Thibet, which even as late as the time of Humboldt were to a certain extent enveloped in mystery, are now as well known as the provinces of India Proper. Something had been done in the way of description and geographical outline by the preliminary labours of Moorcroft and Trebeck, of Jacquemont, Vigne and Hugel, and still later by the more scientific inquiries of Cunningham and Henry Strachey, but all this sinks into insignificance when compared with the grand achievements of Captain Montgomerie and Godwin Austen. The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, having, under the direction of these officers, passed the Himálayas, and swept over the Cashmere valley, has, during the last few years, fairly grappled with the Trans-Indus region. It has worked its way from station to station at elevations sometimes over 20,000 feet. It has mapped the entire range of the Kara-Koram and KuenLuen, and, amongst its latest successes, has pushed out a supplementary reconnaissance both to Yarkend and Khoten in the great plain of Chinese Tartary beyond the mountains. That a survey of this extensive and exhaustive nature should have been carried on by British officers in a country under foreign rule, and at a distance of 500 miles from the British frontier, is not less creditable, we think, to their diplomatic skill than it is to their hardihood and professional zeal. We may fearlessly, indeed, compare the beautiful maps of Cashmere and Ladakh that have been recently published by Captain Montgomerie with the best productions of Russian geographers, and rest assured that the present Staff of the Indian Trigonometrical Survey are worthy successors of Lambton, of Everest, and of Waugh.
Whether the Kara-Koram and Kuen-Luen are the southern and northern crests of the great range which bounds the high table-land of Thibet, according to the mountain system of Humboldt, or whether the names do not rather apply to two culminating ridges which are western and eastern portions of the same range, as the Messrs. Schlagentweit first asserted, and as the observations of Mr. Johnson, in his journeys between Leh and Khoten, would seem to shew, is of no very great geographical consequence. It is certain, at any rate, that the south-western or Kara-Koram ridge, the pass over which, forming the main road between Thibet and Yarkend, rises 18,341 feet above