A MISSION TO TIBET.•
A CENTURY has passed since Warren Hastings, the first Governor- General of India, conceived the plan of opening friendly and com- mercial intercourse between the people over whom he ruled, and the natives of the lofty tableland behind the snowy peaks to the North. On this grand object, Mr. Markham tells us, he bestowed much thought, and he gradually developed a policy, apparently believing that "the end could only be obtained by persistent efforts extending over a long period." How far he may have been right in this anticipation cannot be determined, for since his time no continuous efforts have been made. Either the object has not been deemed by successive Governors and British Ministers of sufficient interest or importance to repay the trouble its pursuit might entail, or absorbed by the interests of the hour, and the demands upon their attention nearer home, they have not cared to embarrass themselves with those which were more remote and less pressing. Certain it is, that scarcely any renewal of effort has been made since, and we are quite as far from its attainment as when the first step was taken by Warren Hastings in 1774. Indeed, we may safely say, much further. At that time, as this narrative of Mr. Bogle's mission proves, there seemed to be some small hope of success ; but now that the Chinese policy of isolation has had time to harden and fossilise in the con- genial atmosphere of this mountain-girt plateau, already sufficiently isolated by natural conformation, something of prescriptive right and old-established custom has been added. It is very much to be doubted, however, whether the time had really arrived for any successful effort, persistent or otherwise, for establishing friendly intercourse with the governors and people of Tibet. Very early in the last century Tibet became tributary to China, -and it has ever since remained under a tutelage which leaves neither to priesthood nor laymen any independent power. It is true, that the civil war and internal dissensions by which the Chinese Emperor profited to establish a Suzerain power having been tranquillised, the dominance of the priests or Lamas was little interfered with, so long as they adhered to the policy and system of government which the Chinese rulers required to be observed in all their dependencies. But in nothing was this policy more marked or more imperative, than in the exclusion of all foreigners and the absolute prohibition of any intercourse with them. Under this regime, it was, and is to this day, entirely hopeless by negotiations, or any efforts of a peaceable character on the spot, to establish rela- tions of amity and commerce. Although Mr. Bogle had much friendly intercourse with the Teshu Lama at Teshu Lombo, he was never permitted to proceed to Lhasa, the capital,—nor, indeed, to ob- tain any practical concession of value with reference to the -object of his mission. He says himself, in his report to the Governor-General, after an interview with two deputies from the Government at Lhasa 4They answered that Gesub Rimboche " (the Minister at Lhasa), " would do everything in his power, but that he and all the country were subject to the Emperor of China. This is a stumbling-block which crosses me in all my paths." Again, when urging on another occasion his suit with the Teshu Lama himself, one of the two popes or papal rulers of the country, he reports that the Lama said, " Gesub's apprehensions of the • Narrative of the Mission of George Bogle to Abet, and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa. Edited, with Notes, an Introduction, and Lives of Mr. Bogle and Mr. Manning, by Clemente B. Markham, (LB., F.E.B. London : Trtibner & Co. English arose not only from himself, but also from his dread of giving offence to the Chinese, to whose empire this country was subject, and that he wished to receive an answer from the Court at Peking." It was in vain that Mr. Bogle employed all the resources of his diplomacy to move the Lama from this position. In vain he urged that from the letter of the latter to the Governor-General, as well as from every account, he " considered him, the Teahu Lama, as the chief of the country during the Dalai Lama's minority, and although the Emperor was paramount Sovereign, everything was left to his management ; that Gesub owed his promotion to him, and followed his advice ; that the Governor, in his proposals about trade, was promoting the advantage of Tibet, as well as of Bengal." He might as well have addressed his arguments to the Emperor of China, or his representatives, the two Ambas at Lhasa, whose special mission it was to keep Tibet closed to all foreign intercourse ! The Gesub Rimboche's vakils, when they were taking leave of him, were even more disheartening. When he pressed them with his desire to make some impression upon their master to favour the establishment of trading relations, their answer was that "they came to take leave of me, that much con- versation was not the custom of the country, and so wished me a good journey to Bengal ! " It was but scant consolation the Teshu Lama had to offer him, when he endeavoured to remove his concern by telling him that Gesub was unacquainted with the character of the English, and " at any rate, the Dalai Lama will be of age in a year or two, and the Gesub's management will be at an end." We are afraid what he says at the close of this re- port might very fittingly be applied to the whole mission :—" The whole matter ended in smoke."
The best fruit of Mr. Bogle's praiseworthy efforts to obtain a treaty of amity and commerce was not in any intercourse that followed, for that was limited to some friendly correspondence with the Teshu Lama, but in the records he has left of all he saw and heard while in the country and on his way thither. These are full of interest,and Mr. Markham has rendered valuable service by rescuing them from the muni- ment-chest in a corner of Perthshire, where they had lain buried the best part of a century. If the day should ever come when the obstacles at present interposed between India and Tibet are removed, the careful collection within the compass of a single volume of all that is known about the country and its inhabitants will be of the greatest value. But we are in this matter exactly where we were in 1775, and we think there is sufficient evidence that Mr. Bogle at least, and in all probability his chief, Warren Hastings, must have seen that all the interchange of good offices by correspondence and successive missions of Bogle, Hamilton, Turner, and Purungir Gosain could avail nothing. Indeed, we are told, " Mr. Bogle early saw that it would be necessary to bring influence to bear directly on the Government at Peking. He succeeded in inducing the Teshu Lama to exert such influence with the Emperor, while Mr. Bogle himself intended, with the sanction of the Governor-General, to have proceeded to Peking." Where Warren Hastings left off, it is for us, in this nineteenth century, to begin, if any progress is to be made. The chief obstacle is there, and although we do not envy the Minister whose mission it may be to remove it by negotiations or diplomacy at Peking, the recent success of the Japanese in opening Corea, despite all the obstinate isolation of that tributary State, backed by China, is a fact full of significance. We do not believe it is yet known under what influences this unexpected result has been obtained. Rumours of the gathering of a large Russian army on the northern frontiers of Corea have reached us, apparently from Russia—certainly not from China—which are simply incredible. And yet there are incidents connected with Russian and Japanese intercourse in recent times—notably the exchange of Sagalien and the Kurile Islands—some treaty engagements, and other circumstances, which do not allow us to treat as a pure invention the alleged interposition of Russia in this sudden forcing open of the gates of Corea, at the instance of such an insignificant power as Japan. The mode in which some combina- tion of Russian influences, or pressure, may have been effected could not have been the concentration of 12,000 men on the Corean fron- tier. Indeed, no such massing of soldiers could possibly have been accomplished in that region by Russia without long pre- paration, and more or less certain intelligence reaching us through China. But Russia may nevertheless have thrown her weight into the scale in some less tangible way, and for ulterior objects not yet clear to Europe. Unfrozen ports on the Pacific, of which Sagalien is bare, and the coast-line from the Amour downwards possessed by Russia is equally ill-provided, are of course a great object of desire. It may be—for we do not possess any very exact information—that Corea can supply this want to a certain extent, besides offering a good base of operations, if Russia should at any time have a quarrel with China on hand. But even if Corea does not afford the safe and open port desired, Japan is better pro- vided. One of the finest in the Eastern seas is probably to be found in the Tsusima group of islands, lying between Japan and Sagalien. Hakodadi, in Yeso, has also presented so many attrac- tions to the Russian Navy, that there was a time, not so far back, when their undisguised partiality for its anchorage, was a source of anxiety to the Shogun's Government. Russian ways and modes of progression in Eastern, as in Central Asia, are not always so plain and obvious that he who runs may read the lines, or know to what end they tend. And Japan, which has entered into the comity of Western nations, and is fully bent on navigating the same waters, with interests and desires no longer exclusively Oriental or Japanese, may at no distant period play a part in the field of European politics little dreamed of by many even of the few who give serious attention to Eastern affairs. Another exchange of islands or territories, actually in possession or to be acquired under Japanese colours with the unavowed assistance of Russia, might put the latter in possession of a finer naval station and a more menacing stronghold in the Pacific, on the direct line of Western commerce in the Chinese seas, than Sebas- topol has ever been, at the other side of the Asiatic continent.
But this is not the place for more than a glance at such possibilities, and that only in so far as they bear upon the subject immediately under consideration, namely, — by what means have the Chinese been brought to consent to the opening of the Corean ports to Japan and the rest of the world— for such we gather is the fact—contrary to all expectation, and in total disregard of their traditional policy ?—a policy, be it observed, which they are resolutely upholding in Nepal and Tibet, and up to this moment, on their western and Burmese frontier. When this question is answered, it is just possible that the solu- tion of the other question which embarrassed the Governor- General and his Envoy a century ago, will not be far to seek. This much is evident from the careful collation of all the existing information concerning Tibet and the Cis-Himalayan States of Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal. It will not be enough, as Mr. Edgar, a later explorer, suggests, that a good frontier-road should be opened through Sikkim from the Central Mart at Darjiling to the Jelep-la Pass, contemporaneous with an exploration of the Chumbi valley. We agree with Mr. Markham this would only be a small beginning :—" For the real- development of its vast resources, Tibet must have the same advantages as are enjoyed by the Sierra of Peru, a country which it resembles in many respects, both being lofty table-lands from 9,000 feet to 12,000 feet above the sea, inter- sected by mountain ranges, the wealth of both countries con- sisting also in sheep, wool, live-stock, and the precious metals. It is essential that all the passes into India should be freely opened to her commerce." This is a necessity, when the staple of a mountain plateau is live-stock :—" In Peru the droves of llamas are brought down with the produce of the markets by numerous passes, because there must be a vast area of pasturage by the way. There is the same need for Tibet."
It is not Tibet alone, therefore, with its paramount power, that must be induced to abandon a system of exclusion and isolation. The Cis-Himalayan States lying between India and Tibet—Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal—all under the same adverse and obstructive in- fluences, requiring similar treatment. We agree, therefore, heartily with Mr. Markham when he says that no progress can be made until the English Government can secure the same privilege as regards the Teshu Lama (in accordance with " the most friendly nation" clause) as Russia has acquired at Urge as regards the Taranath Lama." We equally agree with him that " the great future measure which may hereafter reward the adoption of a broadly conceived and continuous policy, will be the establishment of unfettered inter- course through all the Himalayan passes, from the Kali to the Dihong, and the first essential for the initiation of such a policy is a com- prehension of the physical and political geography of the region, and a thorough knowledge of its history. If this is conceded, it will follow that the publication, for the first time, of a full account of Mr. Bogle's Mission to the Teshu Lama, and of Mr. Manning's journey to Lhasa, will usefully fill up two gaps in a history which would otherwise be incomplete."