TIBET AND THE YELLOW RIVER.• NOTHING could well be more
interesting, as well to the naturalist and the geographer as to the sportsman and the ethnologist,. than the history recorded in these pages of Colonel Prschewalski's (pronounced " Pschcewalski ") third and latest exploration of Northern Tibet and the region of the Yellow River, whose source he unsuccessfully endeavoured to discover. He set out from Eastern Siberia in March, 1879, accompanied by two officers, Ensigns Edon and Ruberowski, a non-commissioned officer, three soldiers, five Cossacks, and an interpreter,—in all, twelve persons. His main object was the exploration of the unknown parts of Tibet, and his plans were approved by the Geographical Society of St. Petersburg, and his expenses defrayed by the Ministry of War. The Colonel was famished with all necessary papers, including a pass from the Chinese Government; but as the travellers were pretty sure to encounter wild tribes who neither obey Governments nor respect persons, they were all armed to the teeth, and carried with them a supply of ammu nition equal to every emergency. After traversing that part of Mongolia which stretches from the frontiers of Russia to the desert of Gobi, they reached the oasis of Chami (also Komul) at the end of May, and were hospitably received by the Chinese Governor of the place. This oasis is a point of great strategic importance. It commands the only trade route between West China, Eastern Turkestan, and Dungaria ; and its possession is essential to the lordship of China over the neighbouring country. This, says Colonel Prschewalski, the Chinese well know ; and the oasis, which has a population of 10,000, is garrisoned by a -detachment of the Army, commanded by Zso-zsum-tana, that some time ago put down the rising in Gans6, and captured the Dungarian towns of Manes and Uruntschi. Notwithstanding their late exploits, the Colonel has a very low opinion of Chinese soldiers. Their successes have been obtained over wild races, utterly undisciplined, and, if possible, worse armed than themselves. The nominal strength of the Imperial forces he reckons at a million men. The Manchurian troops are by far the best. Organised in eight divisions, distinguished by the colour of their flags, they number, all told, about 250,000, and are stationed at Pekin and the larger cities of the empire. The ordinary army—the so-called soldiers of the Green Flag —are composed of 650,000 men, scattered allover the provinces, where they perform ordinary police duty. The Militia are about 100,000 strong. However respectable in point of numbers, the proportion of troops available for foreign war or resistance to invasion is relatively small. Concentration in a country so vast and destitute of railways is out of the question. The only troops of which the Government can dispose for a campaign are the Manchurians. Their arms consist mostly of pikes, sabres, bows and arrows, and very old-fashioned muskets. But of late years some improvement has taken place. European instructors bave been engaged, and powder and small-arms factories esta blished at Zandin, Shanghai, Nankin, Canton, and Santscheu.
The troops at Chami were armed with almost every conceivable sort of weapon, from the most antiquated firelocks to the newest breech-loaders ; but owing to the indolence of the officers and the neglect of the men, they were so rusty and dirty as to be practically useless. The soldiers never clean their arms, are never taught to aim, and hardly know how to shoot. Nothing, indeed, could well be more uncompromising than the author's condemnation of the Emperor of China's army as a machine for fighting :—
" Every Chinese soldier is an opium-smoker, and through indulgence in this vile habit loses in a short time both physical strength and moral capacity. The so-called infantryman will never walk if he can help it ; he either gets a horse or joins two or three others at a waggon. He seldom carries his musket, preferring, if mounted, to fasten it to his saddle, or if he ride on a waggon he throws it inside. Being himself too lazy to keep his equipment in order, he confides it to the care of a Mongol or Hungarian. For a Chinese soldier a bivouac, especially in bad weather, is altogether intolerable. He spends his time in drinking tea, smoking opium, and fanning himself. When musketry practice is going on, the officers stay in their tents and drink tea. Their strategic knOwledge is of a piece with their ideas of discipline. Of honour or of duty they have not the faintest conception. The Chinese soldier goes into battle only under compulsion, and with the full intention of running away on the first opportunity. If we consider further the antipathy of the Chinese people to foreign ideas and itfiuence, there is no fear of such a reorganisation of their military system as will bring it up to the European standard of efficiency. The ignorance, the demoralisation, the bad spirit which prevail throughout the entire army, can be overcome only by a complete reorganisation of the nation."
This, as the judgment of a professional soldier, who has no patience with lax discipline, and of a Russian officer for whose country a strong China would be a dangerous neighbour, must be taken with some qualification. If Chinese soldiers
were so utterly contemptible as Colonel Prschewalski pretends, the army of Zso-zsum-tana, instead of suppressing the rebellion in Gamsu, would have been simply exterminated. We know, too, that under Gordon Chinamen fought with admirable courage ; and that on more than one occasion they have proved formidable antagonists, even for the best troops of Europe. The Governor, after treating the Russians with proper hospitality, and giving them a dinner of sixty courses—every one of which had to be eaten—lent them an escort of his worth less soldiers for the journey across the Chami Desert,—a lifeless, arid, stone-strewn, burning waste, 200 miles long and 5,000 feet above the level of the sea, swept by continual sand-storms, which render the passage an enterprise of considerable hardship and danger. As they neared the southern confines of the desert they were overtaken by a hurricane so fierce that shrubs were torn from the ground and whirled through the air. In the neighbourhood of the Kuku-usu, in the Nanschan Mountains, the explorers found a charming oasis where they halted fourteen days, while the interpreter and two Cossacks returned to Satschen with seven camels to fetch a supply of provisions for the expedition into Tibet. During this interval they made many excursions and numerous meteorologic observations. One of these excursions came very near having a fatal termination. After mentioning that they had resolved to explore a glacier not far from their oasis, the author proceeds as follows :—
" After riding ten kilometres eastward, we came on a snow-field, and finding a mountain-stream formed by the melting snow, we dismounted and left our horses in charge of a Cossack. Our progress on foot was, however, greatly hindered by the loose stones, which at every step rolled from under our feet. Vegetation ceased at a height of 13,448 feet, and 1,000 feet higher up, we reached the first glacier, which stretched from west to east a length of 21 kilometres. It was enclosed between two mountains groups, and measured in vertical height 7.20 metres. The lower half rose at an angle of from 30 to 40 degrees, the upper half from 50 to 60 Three brooks spring from the foot of the inferior glacier and throw themselves into a gorge beneath, while several smaller streams run along the edge of the upper glacier. They were covered with snow varying from one to three centimetres in thickness in some parts, to ninety in others. The old snow was dirty, but the new shone like silver. The air was warm, clear, and calm. The higher we rose the harder became the climb. We had to go zig-zag, and sank deep in the snow at every step. We carried no arms, only a barometer, which showed us, at five o'clock in the afternoon, that, after a walk of six hours, we had reached an elevation of 16,826 feet (rather more than 1,000 higher than Mont Blanc). The scene around us was unspeakably grand. To the east and south-east stretched a mountain chain, 100 kilometres long, whose glistening tops seemed to pierce the sky, while the lower ground at their base was studded with inferior, yet still lofty peaks. To the north-east the view embraced the snow-crowned summits of the Anembarula, and southward took in the mighty spurs of the Ritter and Humboldt Mountains, while single groups rose in the clear air. It was the first time in my life that I had climbed so high, or that my eyes had beheld so wide an horizon and so lordly a scene."
Another glacier, a little further south, explored by Colonel Prschewalski, began at a height of 15,700 feet, and rose thence almost vertically until it reached the very top of the mountain, 18,690 feet above sea-level. Notwithstanding the great height, the thermometer marked +8° (centigrade) in the shade at four o'clock p.m. ; there was an abundance of insect life in the shape of flies, and spiders were crawling about among the stones. Wild animals are exceedingly numerous in these mountains, even at great altitudes, so that the explorers had always plenty of flesh meat. Hunting was, however, by no means free from danger. One day the Cossack Kalmynin wounded a yak ; but, failing to come up with the creature, he resumed the pursuit next day in company with Jegorov, another Cossack. After leaving their camels in a gully, they fell in with a flock of wild mountain-sheep, one of which Kalmynin shot. At the same time, the other hit off the track of the wounded yak, and went in another direction. Kalmynin next shot and secured a kulang, and, thinking they had now quite is much meat as they could carry back to the camp, he tried to attract Jegorov's attention and call him back. But his appeals producing no answer, he sought his companion far and n ear,but always in vain; and when the sun had gone down be returned to the camp alone. The next day five men went to make further search ; but as Jegorov had left his coat with the camels, all feared that if he had passed the night up in the mountains he must have perished of cold. But when no trace of him could be found—except a few footsteps, which were soon lost—the conclusion that Jegorov
had lost his way and fallen down one of the numerous crevasses which seam the Kukusu Alps became inevitable ; and, after another unsuccessful quest, conducted by the Colonel himself, hope was abandoned, and, breaking up their camp, the travellers continued their southward journey. As they rode along, silent and depressed, on the third day after Jegorov's disappearance, nearly twenty miles away from their last encampment, the sharp eyes of one of the Cossacks detected something unusual in the heights above them. A glimpse through a fieldglass left no doubt that the object was a man. The man proved
to be Jegorov, but hardly able to walk, with out-starting eyes, blackened lips, and hollow cheeks, clothed in rags, and altogether more dead than alive. The caravan had to encamp on the spot, and nurse him for two days before he was fit to travel. He had followed the yak until nearly nightfall, and been compelled, thinly-clad as he was, to sleep under the stars. When morning came he could not find his way back, and the further he wandered the more hopelessly lost he became. He was exposed to fearful storms ; his clothes were torn from his back by sharp rocks, and his shoes cut to pieces by the stones; he lived on water—when he could find any—leaves, and wild rhubarb, but when he caught sight of his companions had quite abandoned hope, and was seeking for a well where he might lie down and die.
When; as in the present instance, every page of a book is interesting and filled with facts, and the author writes with military brevity, the wealth of material increases the difficulty of selection. Nothing could well be more entertaining for the general reader, or more instructive for the student of science, than the author's description of the table-land of Tibet, where some of the passes are nearly 17,000ft. above sea-level; of the wild tribes whom he encountered, and the flora and fauna of that picturesque yet inclement region, traversed only by pilgrims bound for Gusen, and haunted by races as savage as the Indians of Terra del Fuego. The Taula plateau rises to a height of 16,000 feet, and some of the peaks that dominate it have an altitude of nearly 20,000. Among the snows of these Alpine uplands, Colonel Prschewalski's party were attacked by the wild Jegrai, and had to fight for their liVes, which they owed to the fear inspired by the efficiency of their arms and the distance at which they could bring down their men. The Colonel was very much struck by the resemblance of some of these nomads to European gipsies.
In sharp contrast with the Taula plateau is the Tetung Gol, on the eastern skirts of the Nanschau Mountains, and north of the Yellow River, a region which the author declares to be the most beautiful he has seen in Central Asia; the wild gorges, the slopes of the hills and the banks of the streams were covered with tall and graceful trees, peopled with birds, and gay with song, while here and there the verdant mass was pierced by fantastic columns of white granite, and a brilliant sun illumined the imposing background of snow-gemmed Alps. About the Yellow River, whose source he vainly endeavoured to discover, the author makes the following remarks :—
" The source of the Chuanohe, or Yellow River, remains to this day an unsolved mystery. The cause of this lies as much in ignorance of this Central-Asian region as in the obstacles to exploration presented by the character of the country through which it flows. All geological indications point to the likelihood of the source being found south of the lake Kukunon, among the northern spurs of the further Tibetan mountains, where the table-land begins to assume its wilder and more Alpine characteristics. We were able to follow its course only 268 kilometres above the town of Guidin ; but according to all probability it falls from the Tibetan plateau. The country of the Upper Chuanche presents three distinct features; first high and almost inaccessible mountains ; next, a steppe like plateau, which further on is seamed with impassable gorges. The mountains belong to the Kuenlian system, and trend from west to east. One part forms the boundary between Zaidan and Tibet, another extends into the latter country."
One of the villages on the banks of the Yellow River is 6,800 feet above sea-level. Here the stream, which is from 90 to 108 metres wide, flows at the rate of 90 metres a minute. During the rainy season it is both broader and more rapid ; but it is always deep, and nowhere fordable.
For a further account of Colonel Prschewalski's travels and adventures in the strange region he has done so much to make known to us, we must refer the reader to the book itself,—a book which it would surely be worth the while of one of our enterprising publishers to reproduce in the English tongue. The exploration in question was the third in Central Asia conducted by the author of Reisen in Tibet ; and besides enriching the annals of travel with a noteworthy chapter, he has effected discoveries which will make him a name in the records of scientific exploration.
LAW AND CRIME IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.• Ir was one of the fancies of Mesmerism that a clairvoyant, put into rapport with some object, say a bracelet or a ring, that had belonged to some historical personage, could see and describe the scenes at which it bad, so to speak, been present. Thus, by help of a ring that had been worn by Mary Queen of Scots, the murder of Rizzio and the escape from the Castle of Loch Leven could, it was alleged, be reproduced in the present. In default of such a power, we may well be content with the strangely vivid picture of the past which such a book as that which we owe to the ingenuity and industry of Mr. Maitland supplies. These Pleas of the Crown are records, for the most part very brief and often provokingly incomplete, of criminal cases brought before certain Justices who held an " Eyre" (not the same thing, it must be noted, as an assize) for the county of Gloucester iu the year 1221. At first-sight, the impression made by the multitude of crimes,—for the most part unpunished crimes,—here enumerated in the most matter-of-fact way, is nothing less than astounding. Here in a single county we have more than two hundred and fifty murders and homicides, while the annual average for England at the present time is about three hundred and eighty. When we take into account the fact that the population of England at the last Census was twenty-six millions (in round numbers), and that in 1221 it was probably not much more than two millions, the difference becomes enormous. In those days, indeed, when dense masses had not gathered round great mining and manufacturing centres, Gloucestershire was more populous, relatively to the rest of England, than it is now. If we may hazard a guess, we should say that the six hundred thousand given by the last Census might be divided by eight instead of twelve (the proper divisor for the whole of England). We should thus get a result of seventy-five thousand. The " Eyre," indeed, took cognisance of the crime of more than one year. Mr. Maitland, after carefully weighing a number of considerations, comes to a conclusion—which, however, he regards as vague and unsatis factory—that "it covered more than seven years." On the other hand, it must be remembered that though there had been no " Eyre" for so many, perhaps for nine years, there had been more or less regular gaol deliveries. It had been one of the provisions of the Great Charter that Judges of Assize should be sent into each county four times every year. The four times had, indeed, before long been by common consent reduced to one ; but it may be presumed that there had been some administration of criminal justice. The Eyre, indeed, was a financial quite as much as it was a judicial proceeding, and was much more effective in the former than in the latter character. Not very much was done in exacting due penalties from offenders ; but a handsome sum in nzurdra — i.e., fines for homicides—was collected from the various hundreds and townships of the county. On the whole, it is impossible to deduce any regular statistics from the facts, as far as they can be known and understood, or to contrast an average of crime for 1221 with an average for 1881 ; but we shall not be wrong in concluding that in England six centuries and a half ago (for Gloucestershire was by no means one of the most unsettled counties) life was held by a very precarious tenure.
We take one of the items at random. "Certain malefactors killed William le Gras,' and Jocelyn, his wife, and William and Richard, their sons. It is not known who they were. But Robert of Cruenpwell wan suspected of the murder, and fled." After some other particulars, which we have not space to explain, follows, " Englisbry was not proved, therefore there are three fines. Robert is suspected. Let him, therefore, be questioned and outlawed. Ile had no chattels." The clause about " Englishry " is curious. The Conqueror had made it a rule, the necessity of which is obvious when we remember the position of the Normans as a ruling caste in the midst of a vanquished people, that the hundred or township in which a foreigner was slain should be fined if the slayer was not produced. The lawyers seemed to have added to this salutary statute a tradition which made it not a little burdensome. Every one was to be considered a foreigner till it could be proved that he was an Englishman ; and they took care that this should not be an easy thing to prove. In Gloucestershire (for the rule varied in different counties) three witnesses had to be produced, two on the father's, one on the mother's side. No woman's testimony was admitted. The result, of course, was that in a great many cases, where probably there was no reason to believe the victim to have been a foreigner," Englishry was not proved," or not " properly proved," and the death-fine was accordingly exacted. In the instance given above, the township seems to have escaped easily, having to pay for its three fines only half a mark,—i.e., 6s. 8d. The next entry tells us how John de la Mare smote Joscens the miller with a stone so that he died ; that he was put in charge of Godfrey, his brother ; that the said brother could not produce him, and was to be kept in custody. Afterwards, John and the miller's widow appear. The widow presses the charge. John, asked if he will be tried by a Jury, says " No." He had been in the war with King John, and had done harm to many people. It is testified that he had been captured and roughly handled. The result is unknown, except that one William finds a mark as security for John's appearance, and that Godfrey and three others are fined half a mark apiece for his non-production on the first occasion. There was not much doing of justice ; but these gentlemen probably had the inconvenience of allowing homicides to escape brought home to them in a way that they appreciated.
Godfrey's name appears tragically enough in another entry•. His wife Johanna is killed by his servant Robert, who runs away, and is caught in the garden of Catcsby Nunnery, in Northamptonshire. " He was imprisoned at Northampton, and afterwards, it is said, abjured the realm." No further justice seems to have been done, save that the fugitive's chattels, worth sixpence, were confiscated. The sword, however, was not always borne in vain. Here is a little story from the Forest of Dene :—" John Spirewin slew Peter, the son of Walter, with a knife as he was playing at dice." Roger the Forester, the King's bailiff, tells us how it happened. John was playing with two acquaintances, and a quarrel arose. John, meaning to strike one of his friends, hits the unlucky Peter (probably the potboy) as he brought him drink. He ran away. Roger the Forester and a number of others pursue him, and catch him with the bloody knife in his hand. "He is to have his judgment," which means, let us hope, that he was to be hanged. The " bloody knife " seems to have been fatal to its possessor. One Walkelin kills Matilda la Day, and is caught in the act with his knife bloody. With the brief judgment, " Suspendatur," he disappears. Where the offender was not caught, as he was in these cases, flagrante he might, it would seem, escape punishment, by simply
declining to be tried. One William and Alexander his son are suspected of the death of a trader, who was entertained in the said William's house, was seen to go in and was brought out dead. The accused come, they deny the charge, they refuse to put themselves on their country. The Jury [the Juries answer to our Grand Juries] say that Alexander and his mother Agnes killed the trader, and had fifteen marks of his money, and that the father was privy to the deed. This is the belief of the neighbourhood, the man was seen to go in and was brought out dead." Now for the result. "William is to be let out on bail, the others are to be kept in prison," from which they would not improbably buy themselves out with some part of the fifteen marks, a sum for which, at the prices of that day, a flock of three hundred sheep might have been purchased. The cases of deodand are sometimes curious. One Robert Sprenghose falls from his horse and is drowned. The horse is valued at two marks ; and this goes, it may be presumed, to some pions object, though nothing is mentioned. One Osbert falls from his horse, and is drowned in the Severn. Unluckily his horse is worth nothing (preciun& equi nichil). A more remarkable story is the following :—" William Muil fell down dead as he drove the plough of Richard Sarg, his master, and Richard Witepirie, who was with him, and held the ploughaled in a fright ; but he is not suspected by twelve jurors, who declare on their oath that this happened by" maladventure, and that the man had the falling sickness." The Justices settle the matter thus :—" If Richard returns he is to be left in peace. The coroner has forty pence of the said Richard's chattels. These are a deodand (deo dantur), and are to go to the House of Llantony [Llantony, near Gloucester, not that under the Black Mountain, is meant]. The House is to keep the money if Richard does not return, to give it up if he does." These deodands were, of course, burdensome (it is strange that they should have lasted down to our own time); but the irregular exactions which the foreign Sheriffs had wrung out of the hundreds and townships for these deaths by misadventure had been ten times worse. A boy is found drowned at Colne Roger Mill. Engelhard of Cicogne, then Sheriff, exacts eighteen marks from the township of Colne; and be gets twenty-two out of a pauper ignotus who is found dead, no one knows how, in the bruera (thicket) of Compton. This must have been worse than poor-rates and highway-rates, even with the added aggravation of a School-board rate. The Sheriffs had other ways of filling
their purses. One of them imprisons men on charges which appear to be false, and lets them out for five marks. Another makes a grand coup, not less than a hundred marks, from one John de la Mare, for having (" as he said," remark the Justices) spoken evil of King John. We have given but a very few specimens of the wealth of curious facts which Mr. Maitland has brought together in this volume, and furnished with admirable explanations and notes.