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tinguished it, and in virtue, we suppose, of that undefined tenth point of the law which is not involved in the word possession, appointed a Vicar Apostolic of Mongolia. The pope might, with equal impunity, have divided it into bishoprics-no meetings would have been held to protest against the usurpation; and the mandarins of Pekin would certainly have proposed no law to prevent the Lamas of the western world from assuming what titles they pleased. But even in that case, the interests of the church would not have been much forwarded. The very extent and limits of the vicariate were, as yet, unknown; and MM. Huc and Gabet were, to their great satisfaction, appointed, in the year 1844, to ascertain these first essential points.
The undertaking was one of no common difficulty: the country they had to traverse was untrodden even by the feet of former missionaries, inhabited by wild, roving tribes, beggared by Chinese extortions, rendered barren by long misgovernment, and lastly, infested in many parts by bands of armed robbers. These latter are, it is true, far different, in manner at least, from what their name would lead most of our readers to expect, and exercise their uncourteous trade with the utmost urbanity:—
They do not rudely clap a pistol to your head, and uncivilly demand your money, or your life; they present them. selves humbly, and say-Good elder brother, I am weary of walking; please to lend me thy horse? . . . . I am without money; be so good as to lend me thy purse? It is very cold to day; wilt thou give me thy coat? If the old elder brother is charitable enough to lend all this, he receives in return a thank you, brother;' if not, the humble request is immediately supported by a few blows; if that does not suffice, the sabre is brought into play.
The preparations for the journey were admirably simple-a single attendant and a dog formed the escort; a tent, an iron kettle, a few cups, and sheep-skins, completed
the baggage. There were, however, other precautions taken prior to departure highly characteristic of the church to which our travellers belonged, and which may serve to explain the comparative success that, in the East, has generally attended the efforts of its missionaries.
Sir James Emerson Tennent, in his work on Ceylon, has given a curious account of the compliance of the Jesuit missionaries with the customs and external rites of the people they sought to convert, as opposed to the rigid discipline and unbending orthodoxy of their Dutch successors, who would not stoop, and who, perhaps, on that account, did not conquer. Our Lazarists, though not practising, in all its latitude, the Jesuit doctrine, were nevertheless determined that nothing in the outward man should repel the sympathy of those whom they sought to persuade. On the frontiers of Mongolia, the Chinese dress, which they had hitherto worn, was laid aside; the long tress of hair, that had been cherished since they left France, was pitilessly sacrificed, to the infinite despair of their Chinese congregation; and they assumed the habit generally worn by the Lamas, or priests of Thibet. In the opinion of the Tartars, Lamas are alone privileged to speak on religious matters; and a layman, or black man,' '* (to use their own expression) who should presume to converse on things spiritual, would excite laughter and contempt. It was, therefore, good policy to adopt a dress which insured the respect and attention of their hearers. The costume was one which would have been rather startling to a priest who, without transition, should have exchanged for it the black soutane of the Romish church. It consisted in a yellow robe, fastened on one side with five gilt buttons and confined at the waist by a long red sash, a red jacket with a violet collar, and a yellow cap with red tuft. Nor was this all. The same conciliatory spirit which had dictated the change
The Tartars call laymen hara-houmon, (black men,) most probably on account of the colour of their hair, in contradistinction to the white shaved crowns of their Lamas.
of costume, presided over the whole conduct of the travellers; and we find them heroically declining the hot wine offered by their Chinese host of the frontier inn, saying, good humouredly, that good Lamas must abstain from wine and tobacco.
We dwell purposely on these details, because they show the spirit in which the journey was undertaken, and explain the confidence with which the travellers were received beneath the Mogul tents, and initiated into all the details of life in the wilderness. We find them associating without repugnance with the Tsao-Ta-Dze, or stinking Tartars, (so called by the Chinese, who are themselves far from irreproachable on the score of cleanliness,) purchasing second-hand clothes well besmeared with mutton fat, and enjoying their Tartar tea as though it had been the café au lait of their native land. This tea, by the bye, deserves a few words of notice. It differs materially from the tea of the Chinese; for whereas the latter use only the young and tender leaves of the plant, the Tartar tea is composed of the coarse leaves, and even some of the branches, which are pressed into moulds of about the size and thickness of a brick. When it is to be used, a piece of the brick is broken off, pulverized, and boiled, a handful of salt is then thrown in, and the liquid continues to boil until it is almost black; the mixture is then poured into a large vessel, and invariably offered to every guest on his arrival. The Russians also consume a large quantity of this article, and in the north of Tartary it serves as the only medium of exchange. A house, a camel, or a horse, is sold for so many teas-five teas being worth an ounce of silver.
Life in the desert is monotonous enough; and yet, though half of the first volume is devoted to the pilgrimage through the plains of Mongolia, the interest never flags. The little incidents of travel are told good-humouredly, and sometimes are most amusing. Let us take, for instance, the following
account given by a Tartar hero of the war against the English. The narrator was a native of the Tchakar country, and had with his countrymen been called out to march against the rebels of the south'as the Tartars usually call us. The Tchakar (literally border-country) is, in fact, an immense camp, of which all the inhabitants are bound to military service, and are divided into different tribes, or banners.' The pastures of the Tchakar serve to feed the innumerable flocks of the Emperor of China, and the natives are almost exclusively employed in tending them. They are not allowed to cultivate the soil, or to sell any portion of it to their Chinese neighbours. As may be imagined, these shepherd-soldiers are only called upon on great occasions, but they are then supposed to be irresistible.
'So you were engaged in that famous war of the south! How could you shepherds have the courage of soldiers? Accustomed to a peaceful life, you are strangers to that rude trade, which consists in killing, or being killed.' 'Yes, we are shepherds, it is true; but we do not forget that we are soldiers also, and that the eight banners compose the body of reserve of the 'Great Master,' (the Emperor.) You know the rules of the Empire. When the enemy appears, the militia of the Kitat (Chinese) is first sent; then the banners of the Solon district are brought forward; if the war is not ended, then a signal is made to the banners of Tchakar; and the very sound of their steps is always sufficient to reduce the rebels to order.'
'Did you fight-did you see the enemy inquired Samdadchiemba. 'No, they dared not make their appearance. The Kitat kept on saying that we were marching to certain and needless death. What can you do, they said, against sea-monsters? They live in the water, like fishes; and when one least expects it, they rise to the surface, and throw their inflamed Si-Koua. As soon as one makes ready to shoot one's arrows at them, they plunge back into the water like frogs! Thus, they sought to frighten us; but we, the soldiers of the eight banners, were not afraid. Before we set out, the chief Lamas had opened the book of celestial secrets, and had assured us that the
Si-koua means pumpkin of the West, and is the name given to the watermelon. The Chinese called the European bombs Si-koua-pao.
affair would have a happy issue. The Emperor had given to each Tchouanda, a Lama learned in medicine, and initiated into the holy mysteries, who was to cure us of all the diseases of the climate, and protect us against the magic of the sea-monsters. What had we then to fear? The rebels having heard that the invincible militia of the Tchakar was approaching, trembled, and sued for peace. The Holy Master,' in his infinite mercy, granted their prayer; and we were permitted to return to our pastures and the care of our flocks.'
But such meetings were rare, and, in general, a passing salutation in the metaphorical style of the East, was all that was exchanged with fellow-travellers. It would seem,
however, that a desert life has charms which we, poor slaves of civilization, can scarcely appreciate, but which never fail to captivate after a short experience. Would any of our readers have fancied, for instance, that a search after argols could be an exciting employment? Argol, let it be understood, is a rather pretty Tartar word for a very ugly thing, which can scarcely be gracefully described. It means, in fact, the dung of the innumerable animals that feed in the plains of Tartary, and which, in a dry state, is carefully collected by the natives, and is their only fuel. No argols, no breakfast; and in consequence, M. Huc tells us that the first care of M. Gabet and himself, in the morning, after devoting a short time to prayer, was to seek after argols -with what zest our readers shall
The occupation that followed these meditations, was certainly not of a mystical character; it was, however, a most necessary one, and not without its attractions. Each of us threw a bag over his shoulder, and set out in different directions in quest of argols. Those who have never led a roving life will scarcely believe that such an occupation can be productive of enjoyment; and yet, when one of us had the good fortune to discover, hidden among the grass, an argol remarkable for its size and siccity, he felt at his heart a thrill of pleasure, a sudden emotion, that gave a moment's happiness. The delight caused by the discovery of a fine argol may be compared to that of a sportsman finding the trace of his game-of a child contemplating the long sought for bird's-nest of an
angler, who sees a fish quivering at the end of his line; or, if we may be allowed to liken great things to small, we would compare it to the enthusiasm of a Leverrier finding a planet at the tip of his pen.
We are not at liberty, unfortunately, to dwell as we would on these details of Tartar life, however humorously related, for we must reserve space for those descriptions of Buddhistic customs in which the chief interest of these volumes consists. It suffices to say that, during the eighteen months of incredible fatigue and privations, which elapsed before the travellers reached LhaSsa, their courage never flagged, nor did their good-humoured and hopeful resignation ever forsake them. Every morning the tent was struck, and the encampment of the previous night, however well situated, abandoned without regret. Indeed, as long as the missionaries remained in the plains of Mongolia, surrounded by friendly tribes, they seem, to a certain degree, to have enjoyed this roving life. On one occasion, after an unusually protracted stay of two days, M. Huc writes
We quitted this encampment without regret, as we had left the others, with this difference, that in the spot where we had spread our tent, there was a greater quantity of ashes than usual, and that the surrounding grass was more trodden down.
This is the true spirit for Tartar travelling, which it is not given to every one to possess in the same degree. In the choice of their attendant, too, the missionaries appear to have been fortunate. 'On the countenance of Samdadchiemba,' says M. Huc, one could not trace the sly cunning of the Chinese, nor the good-natured frankness of the Tartar, nor the courageous energy of the native of Thibet, but there was a mixture of all three. He was a Dchiahour.' His countenance appears to have been a faithful index to his character. Such as he was, Samdadchiemba is what would be termed, in a work of fiction, an excellent character. In this truthful narrative, he forms an admirable portrait. He was a convert of M. Gabet, and had imbibed a sort of hazy notion of Christianity, which was often curiously mingled with
We took the fishes, and went to the edge of the little lake that lay close to our tent. We were no sooner there, than we saw Samdadchiemba running towards us in great haste. He quickly
untied the handkerchief that held the fish. What are you going to do?' he inquired, anxiously. We are going to
scale and clean the fish.' 'Oh! take care, my spiritual fathers; wait a little -we must not commit sin.' 'Who is committing sin? Look at the fish -see, many are still moving; you must let them die quietly. Is it not a sin to kill any living thing?' 'Go and bake your bread,' we replied, and leave us alone. Have you not got rid of your ideas of metempsychosis yet, eh? Do you still believe that men are turned into beasts, and beasts into men?' The features of our Dchiahour relaxed into a broad grin. Ho-le ! Ho-le !' said he, slapping his forehead; what a blockhead I am-what was I thinking about? I had forgotten the doctrine,' . and he turned off quite abashed at having given his ridiculous warning. The fish was fried in mutton fat, and proved excellent.
We hope we shall not be accused of Buddhistic tendencies if we say that there appears to us something more amiable in the Dchiahour's misgivings than in the unpitying orthodoxy of his spiritual fathers. Be that as it may, the anecdote shows that the practices of a religion will often cling to a man long after its tenets appear to have been totally eradicated from his mind. We must add, however, that when the day of trial came, Samdadchiemba boldly confessed his faith as a Christian, and even stood a very fair chance of becoming a martyr, in spite of his backslidings, on the subject of metempsychosis. Well might the missionaries value their neophyte, for (with one doubtful exception) no new convert was added to their church during their long and perilous journey. Although hospitably, and even courteously received everywhere-under the humblest Mogul tent and in the wealthiest Lama-houses-though listened to with deference as men of prayer and piety by every class of
Tartars, (perhaps of all nations the most inclined to religious feelings,) they made no proselytes. After reading their own account of their efforts, one remains convinced of the difficulties which must stand in the way of conversions from Buddhism. Idolatry, as it is represented in story books for children, under its grossest form of fetichism, may be easily conquered, but the vast spirit of Pantheism is more difficult to grapple with. That Buddhism, as understood by the more enlightened Lamas, is Pantheism, there can be no doubt. All created beings emanate from, and return to, Buddha -the one eternal and universal soul the principle and end of all things, and of whom all things are the partial and temporary manifestations. All animated beings are divided into classes, that have each of them in their power the means of sanctification, so as to obtain, after death, transmigration into a higher class, until, at last, they enjoy plenitude of being by absorption into the eternal soul of Buddha. This doctrine, simple enough when explained by the superior class of Buddhists, is overlaid with superstitions for the vulgar; and it is this double character of Buddhism, varying according to the mind of the believer, that, in our opinion, constitutes the great difficulty in the path of proselytism. Every Buddhist is provided for the defence of his faith with the very armour best fitted to protect him in his particular social and intellectual sphere. The enlightened Lamas of Thibet take refuge in the vastness and antiquity of their system, which we ought, perhaps, rather to term a philosophy than a religion. Their comprehensive creed can tolerate all others which appear but as subdivisions of itself-partial and limited views of the great universal law, of which it has been given to them alone to embrace the whole. They boast with reason that no precepts, not even those of the Gospel, are more noble; no practices more tolerant than those of Buddhism. Even the doctrine of equality among men, which has rendered Christianity so attractive to the oppressed of all other creeds, was preached by Buddhists cen
turies before our era. The belief in the progressive enlightenment of mankind, and the perfectibility of our nature, which are the very essence of Buddhism, has seduced many philosophical minds in all ages and in all countries, and will not easily be abandoned by the Lamas-the dispensers of knowledge, whose mission is that of teachersfor the levelling doctrine of original sin. On the other hand, in Mongolia and Tartary, among a more ignorant race, MM. Huc and Gabet had to cope with another sort of opposition. The lower orders of Buddhists know nothing of the abstract doctrine, but are hedged in by petty customs and daily observances, which are the most powerful defence for narrow minds. In vain did the missionaries endeavour to gain an insight into the creed of these simple tribes, who believed firmly they knew not exactly what. When questioned on this subject, they would refer the inquirer to the Lamas, who in their turn would avow their ignorance as compared to the saints.' All agreed in one point, that the doctrine came from the West, and that there alone it would be found pure and undefiled.
When we had expounded to them the truths of Christianity, they never argued with us, but merely answered with great coolness, 'We have not all the prayers here. The Lamas of the West will explain all-will account for everything; we believe in the traditions from the West.' These expressions only served to corroborate a remark we had had
occasion to make during our journey through Tartary; namely, that there is not a single Lama-house of any importance, of which the chief Lama does not come from Thibet. A Lama who has travelled to Lha-Ssa is sure on his return to obtain the confidence of every Tartar. He is considered as a superior being-a seer, before whose eyes the mysteries of lives past and to come have been unveiled in the very heart of the 'eternal sanctuary' in the land of spirits."
It appears just possible to us, that this obscurity in speaking of things
spiritual, which, after all, can at best be seen but as through a glass darkly, is not so peculiar to Buddhism as M. Huc and his companion suppose; and that the dogmas of any religion are more difficult of comprehension to minds who have not been prepared from infancy for their reception than is generally imagined. When we are told, for instance, by our author, that in a 'few plain words' he exposed the doctrines of his church, we confess that we have our doubts as to any lucidity of expression being sufficient to convey to untrained hearers a clear idea of the doctrine of transubstantiation, among others.
Be that as it may, westward our travellers determined to bend their steps, in search of knowledge at the fountainhead; resolved to visit Thibet, and to attack Buddhism in its very stronghold, Lha-Ssa. this change in their original plan, we owe the most interesting portion of these travels. Although they made no secret of their intentions of proselytism, they were received in all the Lama-houses as fellowlabourers in the field of religious instruction, and as such became initiated into all the habits of Lamanist life. One cannot help reflecting how different would be the reception of Lamas, who should visit Rome, with the avowed purpose of converting the subjects of His Holiness to Buddhism. The details given by M. Huc on Lamanism in general
more complete than any we remember to have read, and are given with a natural piquancy rarely to be met with in writers on such grave subjects.
Tartary is, perhaps, of all the countries in the world, the most priest-ridden; the Lamas forming, it is said, one-third of the entire population. In most families, with the exception of the eldest son, who remains a black man,' all the sons are Lamas. Their future destiny is decided from the very cradle, by the fact of their parents causing their heads to be shaved. As they are
* H'Lassa (land of spirits), called by the Moguls Monhe-Dhot (eternal sanctuary). Although averse to any unnecessary change in the received orthography of proper names, we have adopted M. Huc's mode of spelling, in the case of the capital of Thibet, as there appear to be etymological reasons for it.