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In describing the relations that subsisted between England and Kashgar, while under the rule of Yakoob Beg, there will be no necessity for us to enter so deeply into the under-currents that guided those relations, as was necessary in the preceding chapter, where we detailed the rivalry of Russia and Kashgar. While England could hold out a hand of friendship to the Athalik Ghazi, because he sought to please us by making commercial concessions, Russia felt doubly piqued with the man who for long refused her a similar foothold, and who, for a brief space, went still farther in his defiance, secure as he thought under British protection. Our government could not fail to see, in the bold conduct of this ruler, the result of a mistaken notion of what it would do in the event of a war in Central Asia, and it strove to bring home to the mind of Yakoob Beg and his emissaries a sense of our determination not to interfere beyond the Karakoram. Looking back now on the old legends that successive travellers brought us from Eastern Turkestan, where such strange things had been wrought, where the Chinese had been expelled, and a new king from Khokand enthroned, and regarding them in the light of our greatly extended information, even since Mr. Shaw penned his interesting volume on High Tartary, it will not be without some interest to trace back the story of how Yakoob Beg’s name first became known to us, and how, for eight or nine years, a large section of Englishmen wove a romance round his name, and converted “the land of the six cities” into a fertile and populous region, which might serve as a barrier to Russian progress, and which, like Cabul elsewhere, should extend as another “cushion” from the mountains of Hindostan to the Celestial range of the Chinese. Those dreams have vanished now, and in their place has risen up the very unromantic and matter-of-fact spectacle of a Chinese triumph.

Whoever has chanced to reside in the valleys of the Himalaya Mr. Shaw is the authority must experience a desire to know of the countries beyond that range. The desire is natural, but the obstacles of nature are stupendous. To enter Tibet has been the object of numerous Englishmen, from the time of Warren Hastings, yet that object has been only attained by three of our countrymen, the latest sixty-six years ago. There are forty or fifty passes of various degrees of practicability leading into Tibet from Nepaul, Sikhim, and Bhutan; and to act as a spur to the explorer there is a highly civilized and peaceable race just beyond our border of whom we know scarcely anything. Yet the vision of Warren Hastings and of Thomas Manning remains unfulfilled.

North of the Karakoram there were no similar incentives. Mr. Moorcroft who, fifty years ago, resided in Ladakh, does not appear to have manifested any desire to pierce the iron barrier to the north, although towards Ruduk and Tibet he turned as if irresistibly fascinated. The character which the brothers Michell gave Little Bokhara, or Eastern Turkestan, expressed a fact, which long deterred any traveller from attempting to explore it. “Little Bokhara,” they said, “was a country where every man carried his life in his hand, and there were indubitable excuses for each successive traveller who recoiled before the hardships and dangers of a journey through that country.” But although no Englishman traversed the dizzy passes of the Karakoram and the Kuen Lun, now and then the people from Sanju, Khoten, and the neighbourhood came to Ladakh, where they brought intelligence of the political events that were taking place further north. Their intelligence was often completely false, it was always vague and exaggerated, but it, at all events, told us whether peace or war, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, was the existing circumstance in Eastern Turkestan. It was known in a general sense that China was the nominal ruler of this vast region; but the exact relations China held there, how she conquered the country and when, and by what means she retained her conquest, all these were unascertained. There had, indeed, been one break in this state of darkness when the learned traveller, Adolph Schlagintweit, in 1857, penetrated, with a few native followers, into Kashgar. The initial difficulties were successfully overcome, and fortune seemed at first disposed to smile upon his enterprise. Herr Schlagintweit had come, however, at a singularly inopportune moment. The Khoja Wali Khan had just invaded Kashgar, and his forces had spread as far south as Yarkand, when the traveller approached that city. He appears to have been able to report himself to the Aksakal, representing Cashmere at Yarkand, who, in turn, communicated with the Chinese Amban, for permission for him to enter the city; but while detained outside the walls he was captured by a roving party of Wali Khan’s army. He was at once hurried off to Wali Khan’s head-quarters at Kashgar, where that despot, in a fit of fury, brought about by excess in “bang,” ordered him to be executed. His followers escaped, and brought back the tale of his death to Ladakh.

Such was the untoward fate of the first explorer of Kashgar. In the course of the early summer of 1868, it became generally known that the Chinese had been driven out of Kashgar, and that Yakoob Beg was ruling the country, under the title, conferred upon him by the Ameer of Bokhara, of Athalik Ghazi. He had sent a sort of semi-official messenger, Mahomed Nazzar, in that year into the Punjab, to take notes, as it were, of our dominions. Mr. Shaw, in Ladakh, had heard of the recent changes in Eastern Turkestan, and mentioned to this envoy on his return the desire he had to visit Kashgar, and see the widely famed Athalik Ghazi. The envoy received the proposition with enthusiastic approval, but it was considered more prudent to await the formal assent of the ruler himself. After overcoming the difficulties that beset his task, with prompt resolution Mr. Shaw entered the dominions of the Athalik Ghazi in December, 1868, being the first Englishman who had ever entered Little Bokhara. His reception was singularly cordial, and everything that the officials could do to make his sojourn in the country pleasant to him was done. One and all of the Khokandian dignitaries received him as a friend and a brother; and even Mahomed Yunus, Dadkwah of Yarkand, the second man in the kingdom, treated him in a spirit of marked cordiality. It should be remembered that Mr. Shaw went there without any official status whatever, and simply as an English traveller. Of course, it was the best policy for the Kashgarian rulers to greet him hospitably, and prove that they had completely pacified Eastern Turkestan; but in pointing out the hospitable reception that was given to Mr. Shaw, it is impossible to detract from its merit by referring to such latent political motives as these. Yakoob Beg received the English traveller in special audience at Kashgar, and treated him in the most cordial manner. On Mr. Shaw offering him a few presents that he had brought from India, such as rifles, &c., the ruler laughed, and said, “What need is there of presents between you and me? We are already friends, and your safe arrival has been sufficient satisfaction to me.” During Mr. Shaw’s residence in Kashgar, which extended over a period of three months, he had three interviews with the Athalik Ghazi, who on each occasion became, if possible, more friendly than on the previous one. Mr. Shaw was fairly treated on the whole, and has of all writers on Kashgar given us the most graphic description of the people and the country. Mr. Shaw’s position was to a certain extent compromised by the arrival of another Englishman, the lamented Mr. Hayward, who was murdered in a somewhat mysterious manner, three or four years afterwards, in the neighbourhood of the Cashmerian fortress of Gilgit. Both travellers were for a time detained in a sort of honourable confinement in Kashgar, but all ended happily, and the first two English explorers of Eastern Turkestan returned in perfect safety to Ladakh. The result of Mr. Shaw’s interesting journey was not made known in England until 1871, after he had set out and returned from Kashgar a second time, in the first embassy of Mr., now Sir, Douglas Forsyth. The result of this visit to Yarkand and Kashgar was almost magnetic. Not only did the Indian Government promptly take into its consideration the question of what our political relations were to be with the Athalik Ghazi, but the whole Anglo-Indian community turned an attentive ear to the stories told of the new country. A new avenue for commerce had been opened up, and Eastern Turkestan might, after all, prove the true gateway to the marts of Bokhara and Kuldja. In our more immediate vicinity there was the jade trade of Khoten to be revived, and the wool of Tartary, of ancient fame, should alone form a staple article of commerce. For Manchester goods and Indian wares there was also a very inviting prospect in the thickly populated districts of Yarkand and Kashgar, which were at first supposed to contain a much larger population than as a matter of fact they did. At first it is probable that the main sentiment was one of satisfaction on commercial grounds alone; later on, the progress of events in Khokand and Kuldja made the political motives appear more prominently before English minds. A trading company was formed in conception, but it did not begin operations until several years later on, after the signature of the Forsyth treaty, for which, and the official regulations concerning the working of that company, the reader may be referred to the Appendix of this volume.

Mr. Shaw himself formed a very roseate estimate of the future of the trade between India and Kashgar, and participated with all his wonted activity in promoting the fortunes of the Yarkand Trading Company from his advantageous post at Leh. Although the more sanguine expectations were never realized, the company itself was successful, and performed a very useful work under no easy circumstances. Its functions are suspended during the uncertainty that always follows a change in the ruling power of a state, until it is seen what steps are taken by the Chinese, or this country, to perpetuate, under the Chinese sway, those good feelings which first arose under Yakoob Beg. Many are sceptical of the possibility of living on terms of good neighbourship with the Chinese, and of carrying on an intercourse, which certainly does not exist anywhere along the whole extent of the Anglo-Chinese frontier. But these persons will scarcely admit that the Chinese are to blame in this respect if we neglect the subject, for Russia by right of several treaties, and by right also of diplomatic tact, has a commercial status in every northern mart of the Chinese Empire, from Ourga to Urumtsi, Manas, Chuguchak, Kuldja and Kashgar. If the Chinese were reinstalled in every one of their old possessions, yet Russia would have a legal foothold in all those outlying dependencies. English commerce must not by any means despair of success in opening up the interior of China from the direction of India and Cashmere. In most cases, political action generally follows upon commercial enterprise; but in our dealings with the Chinese the order is reversed, and political overtures and diplomatic arrangements must clear the way for the commerce that must infallibly spring up between Hindostan and not only Tartary and Tibet, but also the home provinces of Yunnan and Szchuen. The root of the difficulty is no doubt to be found in the fact that the Mantchoo caste is in many respects as much a race apart from the mass of Chinamen as the Norman was in England during the twelfth century. The Mantchoo mandarin believes that in some undefined manner the introduction of European science and civilization into China would tend to lower his influence and political power. But if we are wise, we shall ignore this sentiment, and endeavour to reach the people through their legitimate authorities, the Tartar conquering race of two centuries and a half ago, and not by attempting to influence the rulers by a propagandist crusade among the people, as some advise.

Some months after the return of Mr. Shaw to Leh, the Athalik Ghazi, who had doubtless considered very attentively that gentleman’s suggestion to maintain a representative at Lahore, despatched an envoy to India for the purpose of expressing his desire for the establishment of friendly relations with the British Government, for the development of trade between the countries, and for the visit of a British officer to his capital. He had fully realized by this time what Mr. Shaw meant by saying that he came in no official capacity. If he intended, therefore, to reap any reward for the manifestation of his friendship towards England, or to be able to play England’s alliance off against Russia’s hostility, he discovered that he must take the initiative. In consequence of that discovery, Ihrar Khan came to India, and was entertained by our Government in a very friendly manner. It was in response to Ihrar Khan’s visit that Mr. Forsyth was sent as our first envoy to Kashgar, in the following year.

Mr. Forsyth was accompanied by Mr. Shaw, who had volunteered for the service, and by Dr. Henderson. He reached Yarkand, by the same route as that followed by Mr. Shaw, in safety, and without suffering any great amount of inconvenience. But the mission had reached the scene of its labours at a very inopportune moment. The Athalik Ghazi had just been summoned away to the far eastern frontier to repress hostile movements on the part of the Tungan cities of Turfan and Urumtsi, and it was very uncertain for how long a time he might be detained there. Mr. Forsyth accordingly left Yarkand in the month of September on his return journey, without having had an opportunity of settling the future of the relations between India and Kashgar. Dr. Henderson, in his “Lahore to Yarkand,” chronicled the events of this journey to the region north of the Himalaya.

The very next year, 1871, Yakoob Beg sent Ihrar Khan once more to India to renew his protestations of friendship, entrusting him with letters, not only for the Viceroy but also for Her Majesty the Queen. But there was no immediate result from this later overture.

In the meanwhile Russia had broken ground more firmly in Eastern Turkestan. The treaty of commerce between Russia and her neighbour, which had been for several years on the carpet, had at last been signed at Kashgar on the 8th of June, 1872. That treaty conceded no inconsiderable trade privileges to Russia, for, as will be seen from a perusal of its clauses, Russian goods entering the country could not be subjected to a higher tax than 2-1/2 per cent. ad valorem. In fact, but for Yakoob Beg’s prudence in restricting the appointment of Russian commercial agents in the cities to the inferior caravan-bashi, a far different personage to the Aksakal, that treaty would have placed Kashgar virtually in the possession of General Kaufmann. Even as it was, Russia, regarded as a foe, had out-distanced England, who was held to be a friend; and for a considerable time afterwards, English commerce, which had no status there, hesitated to seek admission into the dominions of the Athalik Ghazi.

But the treaty of Baron Kaulbars was in its essence a sham, for no good feeling sprang up between the countries; and where there was distrust on either side, trade languished, as was to be expected. Two months after this treaty, Yakoob Beg sent his nephew, the Seyyid Yakoob Khan, on a special embassy to Russia, whence he went on to Constantinople, and returned via India. He then had several long discussions with our authorities relative to the measures that should be adopted to place everything on a friendly footing between Kashgar and ourselves. The Sultan had conferred upon the ruler of Kashgar the high title of Emir ul Moomineen, and shortly afterwards Yakoob Beg proclaimed himself in consequence of that decree Emir or Ameer of Kashgar, under the title of Yakoob Khan. It is appropriate here to say something of these two titles, Khan and Beg. In this work the ruler of Kashgar has been consistently called Beg or prince, and not Khan or lord; and for the following reasons. The title of Khan is much higher than that of Beg; it is, moreover, hereditary. Gibbon, whose authority in these Central Asian matters stands higher than many modern scholars will admit, defines it as the distinguishing mark of the descendants of Genghis Khan. His heirs and their children became the Khans of Western Asia. The Mongol who grafted himself on the Turk and the Usbeg, brought with him the unique authority that was vested by public voice in the house of Genghis, the Khan of Khans. Now, although in his later days Yakoob Beg, or his admirers, invented a lineage for himself back to Timour, consequently making him of Mongol descent, it is highly improbable that this mythical descent was based on any reliable data, nor can we admit any other claim to according Yakoob Beg that higher title than one that will stand the criticism of history. Yakoob Beg was not free from some of that craving that haunts the minds of rulers “born out of the purple” to claim cousinship with the select caste of former sovereigns; and the visible embodiment of temporal sovereignty in Turkestan was this very title of Khan, which has been so much abused in its application.

It is wrong, in a strict sense, to apply the title of Khan to Yakoob Beg, although he undoubtedly made use of it during the last three years of his reign; but as a matter of mere convenience, it is also misleading. On the stage of Asiatic politics there is another Yakoob Khan, who is, by descent, a Khan, and possesses qualities not less eminent than did his namesake in Eastern Turkestan. Confusion was often caused by the confounding of one of these personages with the other, whereas if each had been defined by his legitimate title, there would have been no misunderstanding. Towards the close of the year 1873, the Seyyid Yakoob Khan, who, by descent, could claim the title which was not his uncle’s, returned to India, where he found that the English mission was a few days ahead of him on its journey to Kashgar.

The Indian government had, in the meanwhile, appointed Mr. T. Douglas Forsyth as their envoy to Kashgar once more, and, during the summer of 1873, preparations were busily in progress for the important embassy that was to counteract the adverse effects of Baron Kaulbars’ treaty. As this is the turning-point in Anglo-Kashgarian relations, it is necessary to follow it in considerable detail. Upon Mr. Forsyth’s embassy depends the whole fabric of our policy in, and intercourse with, Eastern Turkestan during the past four years. In fact, but for Sir Douglas Forsyth’s Report and Treaty, even Mr. Shaw’s interesting volume and intrepid journey would have failed to have preserved the vitality of our interest in Kashgar and its ruler.

By the month of July, everything was in readiness for a forward movement, but owing to the delay in the arrival of Seyyid Yakoob Khan, or Hadji Torah as he was more usually termed, Mr. Forsyth still lingered at Murree. Captains Biddulph and Trotter, and Dr. Stoliczka, in the meanwhile set out for Leh to explore the routes between that town and Shahidoola. These three gentlemen explored the country beyond Ladakh very carefully, although it had already been described by Messrs. Shaw and Hayward, and Dr. Cayley. Mr. Forsyth and the headquarters, after a short stay at Srinagar in Cashmere, arrived at Leh on the 20th of September. It may be useful to give here the names of those who comprised this important embassy. In the first place there was the envoy himself, Mr., now Sir, T. Douglas Forsyth, C.B., and now K.C.S.I. His second in command was Lieut.-Colonel T. E. Gordon, C.S.I., who, after the prime object of the mission had been accomplished, explored a very considerable portion of the Pamir, the result of whose investigations is to be found in his work “The Roof of the World.” Then came Dr. Bellew, C.S.I., Surgeon-Major, entrusted with the medical control of the expedition. The three military men Captains Chapman, Trotter, and Biddulph held various functions; the first as secretary, the latter two in scientific capacities. In addition to these there were the learned Dr. Stoliczka, who died from the effects of the rarefaction of the atmosphere; an English corporal of a Highland regiment, and six native officers and skilled assistants. There was also an escort of ten sowars, one naick, and ten sepoys furnished by the Corps of Guides.

The appointments of the embassy were also most carefully selected, and with special regard to the difficulties that lay before it in the obstacles of nature, and the inconveniences attending complete dependence on natives for the means of transporting the large quantity of impedimenta. One hundred mules “of a fair stamp” were accordingly purchased in India by Tara Sing, a merchant, and the treasurer to the embassy. And these were equipped with saddles and trunks of a special pattern, made in the government workshops at Cawnpoor. Altogether, then, this English embassy to Kashgar was a very formidable undertaking, and in its proportions assumed something of the appearance of a small army; in camp there were “300 souls and 400 animals.” The day had gone by when English travellers entertained doubts of entering Kashgar in company at the same time, lest they should arouse the apprehensions of the people. Mr. Forsyth came vested with all the authority of his Sovereign and the Viceroy, to negotiate a treaty of amity with the ruler of Kashgar, and the people generally saw in that fact a guarantee of the preservation of their liberties and independence.

So far as Shahidoola, the journey was in a well known region, and outside the frontier of Yakoob Beg. At that place the first sign of that rulers power was encountered in the same way as Mr. Shaw, five years before, had witnessed the advanced limit of the power of the Athalik Ghazi in a southerly direction. A captain of the Kashgarian army, Yuzbashi Mahomed Zareef Khan, had been deputed to receive our envoy at the frontier, and to give him a hearty welcome. After a rest of four days, the whole expedition, advancing in two bodies over the Grim Pass, Sanju Devan, entered the inhabited territory of Sanju. Here Hadji Torah, who had been travelling post after them from India, caught them up, and by his tact and real friendship for this country, contributed greatly to the complete success of the mission. The passage of the Grim Pass, although accomplished with success, was no easy task. Dr. Bellew, in his book Kashmir and Kashgar, gives the following graphic description of it, which may be quoted with advantage as showing some of the obstacles of nature to the advance either of an army or a caravan in this quarter:

“The scene which now burst upon our view is one not easy to describe, still less to forget. Immediately on either hand, like the portals of a gate, stood bare banks of silver grey slate, which gently spread away on each side into the slopes that, inclining together, formed the theatre of the spectacle they limited. And immediately in front commenced that gentle rise over slabs of slate debris the natural dark hue of which was lost in the bright sparkle of its abundant mica which led at once on to the field of our vision. Here, at the foot of the ascent, one step took us from the tiresome monotony of the bare rocks behind, with all their dulness of hue, on to the snow, which overspread all before with a white sheet of the most dazzling brilliance. On the left and on the right it spread with uniform regularity to the crests of the bounding ridges in those directions; whilst in front, it rose up as a vast wall, whose top cut the sky in a succession of sharp peaks with a clearness of outline rarely witnessed. And above all, stretched the wide expanse of heaven, with a depth unsearchable, in the speckless purity of its azure, and with a calm such as often precedes the storm. Wonderful was the scene!”

Such is the description of an eye-witness of this striking scene, which in its solemnity approached the sublime, in its grandeur the terrible. The last hundred feet of the ascent was a sheer wall of ice, like the Matterhorn, and up this the troopers’ horses, and the baggage mules and ponies, had to be lifted by human force. More than a whole day was occupied in surmounting this obstacle alone, but it was surmounted with the small loss of eight mules and three ponies. With the crossing of the Grim Pass, the difficulties of nature disappeared, and henceforth the course of the mission lay in the more sheltered plains of Kashgaria.

After leaving Sanju, the country had, for some days’ journey, an appearance of barrenness, that was only relieved by the avidity with which patches of more promising soil had been cultivated, a fact which testified alike to the beneficence of the ruler and to the assiduity of his people. There is good reason for believing that in the Yarkand and Khoten districts, Yakoob Beg’s administration was most successful. This may have been caused by the superior qualities of the people over the Tungani, and mixed populations farther east; but it must also be attributed to the absence of those desolating wars which went on without any long intervals down to the year 1874, in the country held by the Tungani. The treachery of Yakoob Beg in murdering the Khan Habitulla of Khoten had aroused suspicions as to his good faith that only lay dormant during the days of his power; but the people of Khoten, Sanju, Karghalik, and Kilia were far too thrifty and too prudent to sit down supinely and dwell upon their wrongs. They neither forgot nor forgave, but they suppressed all trace of seditious opinions against the new ruler.

The next city which Mr. Forsyth reached, Karghalik, showed still further signs of prosperity and civilization. “An eating-house, with its clean table, and forms, and piles of china plates and bowls, at once took us back across the seas to the recollection of many a country restaurant in France.” Special preparations had in every way been made for the reception of the representatives of England, and Mr. Forsyth expressed his surprise at finding fire-places, like our own, ventilators, and rich carpets from Khoten, famous in days of yore for its manufacture of those articles, in the quarters that had been set apart as his residence. Similar preparations had been made at every stopping place, and the people not less than the sovereign did their best, and spared no exertion, to make the stay of the Feringhees as pleasant as possible for them. More than that, even at the resting places during the daily march, the headman or local magnate, without exception, always entertained them at a “dastarkhwan,” that is to say, at a course of refreshments. The “dastarkhwan” literally means table-cloth, and consists of any number of distinct dishes, sometimes as many as a hundred, held by as many attendants. This is a national custom, from which there is never any deviation. It is incumbent upon the guest to break bread first, and then present it to his host. One of their customs is refreshing to any one who has come fresh from India, with all its troublesome caste distinctions. “Be the host Turk or British, he and his guests eat alike from the same dish, and hand food to the surrounding attendants, who are troubled with no scruples of caste to interfere with their hearty appetite.”

The mission was now drawing close to Yarkand, politically and commercially the most important city in the state, and accordingly preparations were made for a formal entry. At a village called Zilchak a chamberlain, or Yasawal-Bashi, came out with a party of the royal body-guard, Yakoob Beg’s favourite jigits, in their buff leather uniform, to act as an escort, and the party was swollen en route by numerous influential citizens and merchants, who advanced to give an early welcome to the new arrivals. By these additions quite an imposing cavalcade drew nigh to the walls of Yarkand. The quarters set apart for the Englishmen were in the fort, which lies to the north of the city, so that Yarkand had to be ridden through before their halting place was reached. The people who thronged to witness the sight seemed very well disposed, and altogether there was every reason to feel well satisfied with these mutual first impressions, which, some had asserted, would be far from pleasant.

The following day there was an interview of ceremony with the Dadkhwah of Yarkand, Mahomed Yunus Jan, for whose history the reader is referred to Chapter IX., and then the visitors were permitted to go wherever they liked. On Mr. Forsyth’s former visit a similar freedom had not been accorded him. Their first appearance in the streets was the occasion for a great deal of bustling on the part of the curious, but of friendly goodwill also. All the principal streets and bazaars were visited in turn, such as the butchers’ street, or market, where the varieties of meat were clearly to be seen, and their quality tested by their tails or heads being left untouched. It appears to be the fashion in Yarkand to purchase the necessaries of life during the morning, and the luxuries in the evening. There is a special evening bazaar, called Sham, where hats and other clothes, in addition to various other articles, are put up for sale in the afternoon. This, when lit up with Chinese lamps, must have presented a stirring sight, very similar to a country fair in our country. Sir Douglas Forsyth does not tell us whether under Yakoob Beg it was customary to illuminate this bazaar with the gaudy lamps of the Chinese, or whether our imagination of such a scene must be referred back to the days of the old domination.

Nor were these harmonious relations confined to the lower people and ourselves alone. Their rulers set an example that all strove to imitate. Between the officers of the mission and the Dadkhwah something more cordial than a chivalrous sentiment of guest towards host sprang up, and was heartily reciprocated; while Hadji Torah smoothed down all difficulties by his ready tact and never-failing resource. The latter did not remain the whole time of the three weeks that the mission remained at Yarkand, but set out for the capital, in order to put the Ameer au courant with English affairs, and the exact objects our authorities had before them with regard to his country.

Mahomed Yunus had placed at the disposal of the mission a considerable number of the carts of the country, which proved very serviceable. These carts are strongly built, with two wheels, six feet in diameter, and are drawn by four or six ponies, as the case may be. They are not permitted to carry a greater weight than ten hundredweight, but with that load it is quite customary for them to perform journeys of twenty and twenty-five miles a day. In carts of this kind the heavier baggage was carried from Yarkand to Kashgar, while the members of the mission with a lighter camp followed on some days afterwards. While mentioning these carts, so superior to the Indian modes of conveyance, we will remark that they also are used as omnibuses and stage coaches. They ply frequently between the fort and city of Kashgar, a distance of five miles, and they are also used as a stage coach doing the whole distance from Yarkand to Kashgar in five stages. But no company, with its regulations and bye-laws has a monopoly of this branch of locomotion, and there is a tariff fixed by law which cannot be departed from.

On the 28th of November the mission set out from Yarkand, and for a certain distance high officials, by order of the Dadkwah, bore it company to speed it on its journey. From Yarkand to Yangy Hissar the country was equally prosperous-looking, but there was much desert land as well. The villages of Kok Robat and Ak Robat (names meaning Blue and White Post-house respectively) wore a flourishing look, and the appearance of Yakoob Beg’s soldiery, still jigits, who looked prim on parade, and yet could play the part of waiter, carpenter, or what not, with equal facility, added a sense of order and cohesion to the whole display. The appearance of Yangy Hissar was made more imposing to the view by the proximity of the formidable fort Yakoob Beg had erected there; but in itself, owing to the houses being surrounded by mud walls, with crenellated tops, it closely resembled a fortification. There was only a brief stay here, and the mission then commenced its last stage of all. The 4th of December, 1873, was the eventful day which first saw an English envoy enter that capital, which Mr. Shaw had visited four years before in a non-official capacity. Special quarters had been prepared, at a short distance from the fort, where is also the royal palace, for the envoy, and these Elchi Khana had been fitted up in a very comfortable, if not luxurious style. Ihrar Khan Torah, who had visited India as envoy twice before, was the first to pay a visit to the new arrivals, and to request that they would come at once to see the Athalik Ghazi. The following description is Sir Douglas Forsyths own account of his first interview with the Ameer:

“According to etiquette we dismounted at about forty paces from the gateway, and walked slowly along with Ihrar Khan, the Yasawal-Bashi, or head chamberlain, with white wand in hand going ahead. In the outer gateway soldiers were seated on a dais with their firearms laid on the ground before them, their arms folded, and their eyes on the ground. We then crossed obliquely an empty court-yard, and passing through a second gateway filled with soldiers, crossed another court, on all sides of which soldiers in gay costumes were ranged seated. From this court we passed into the penetralia, a small court, in which not a soul was visible, and everywhere a deathlike stillness prevailed. At the further end of this court was a long hall, with several window doors. Ihrar Khan then led us in single file, with measured tread, to some steps at the side of the hall, and, entering almost on tiptoe, looked in, and, returning, beckoned with his hand to me to advance alone. As I approached the door he made a sign for me to enter, and immediately withdrew. I found myself standing at the threshold of a very common-looking room, perfectly bare of all ornament, and with a not very good carpet on the floor: looking about I saw enter at a doorway on the opposite side a tall stout man, plainly dressed. He beckoned with his hand, and I advanced, thinking that it must be a chamberlain who was to conduct me to ‘the presence.’ Instinctively, however, I made a bow as I advanced, and soon found myself taken by both hands, and saluted with the usual form of politeness, and I knew that I was standing before the far-famed ruler of Eastern Turkestan. After a few words of welcome the Athalik led me across the room and seated me near him, by the side of a window. At this moment a salute of fifteen guns was fired. His Highness asked in an eager tone after the health of Her Majesty, and of the Viceroy, and soon afterwards called, in a low voice, to Ihrar Khan to bring in the other officers. They came in one by one, and each was shaken by the hand, and made to sit down by my side. Then there was a long and somewhat trying pause, during which the Athalik eyed each one of us with intent scrutiny. I had been told that etiquette forbade the guest to speak much on the first interview, and that it was a point of good manners to sit perfectly still with downcast eyes.... After this silent ordeal had been undergone for some time, at a sign from the Athalik, sixteen soldiers came in with the dastarkhwan, and the Athalik breaking a loaf of bread shared it with us. After the cloth was removed, we, remembering our lesson in manners, rose up, and stroking our beards, said, ‘Allah o Akbar;’ soon after which the Athalik said, ’Khush, amadeed’ (’You are welcome’).”

Thus ended this imposing interview, imposing not for any magnificence or barbaric splendour that appertained either to the court or person of the ruler, but by reason of the mysterious character of the Ameer himself, of his vague power and influence, and of the hold he had acquired over such of his subjects as comprised his court and his body guard. All his Khokandian friends and relations, whose fortunes, indeed, depended on his power, were stanchly attached to his person. It could not be given to envoys to possess such complete prescience as to foresee that the jarring elements, that still existed beneath the surface would suffice to overthrow his rule still more irretrievably when it received its first shock from external foes. To the observer, the appearance of Yakoob Beg and his military following was the highest evidence of latent power. Order was supreme, and discipline was as apparent in the palace of the Ameer as in the barrack yards of his fortresses.

The formal interview took place on the 11th of December, when the presents from our government to the Ameer, carried by over 100 men, were delivered to His Highness. There were guns of all kinds, including two small cannon, vases, &c., &c.; but the token of friendship at which the ruler showed most symptoms of pleasure was the autograph letter of Her Majesty. This letter was enclosed in a “magnificent casket of pale yellow quartz, clamped with gilt bands and handles, and bossed with onyx stones.” The Ameer received this with unconcealed satisfaction, several times repeating, “God be praised.” And then he made those declarations of friendship which, taken in conjunction with our admiration for the man, were the means of riveting England and Kashgar into a closer alliance than any that has as yet subsisted between ourselves and any other Central Asian ruler. “Your Queen is a great sovereign. Her government is a powerful and a beneficent one. Her friendship is to be desired, as it always proves a source of advantage to those who possess it. The Queen is as the sun, in whose genial rays such poor people as I flourish. I particularly desire the friendship of the English. It is essential to me. Your rule is just. The road is open to every one, and from here to London any one can come and go with perfect freedom.”

On the 13th of December our representatives paid their first visit to the city of Kashgar. The country round Kashgar is very fertile, highly cultivated, and thickly populated, and the mission was not less struck by the air of prosperity prevalent here than it had been at Yarkand. In addition, the people had a healthier appearance, mainly through the absence of goitre. The Dadkhwah of Kashgar, Alish Beg, who was a Kashgari and not a Khokandian, was not less friendly than the Governor of Yarkand had been, and a very pleasant day was passed in his company. On the 18th a grand review was held, but for some reason, far from clear, only of the old Chinese troops who had taken service under the new ruler when Kashgar citadel fell. The description of the manoeuvres which this force performed reads more like the display of an itinerant circus than of a disciplined army, but, nevertheless, these Khitay troops were excellent material for an army. Their practice with the tyfu, an awkward weapon, being a sort of gun-cannon, carried by two men and served by three, was pronounced very good up to 250 yards.

It is proper to state here, very clearly, that while the English mission was on Kashgarian soil it lived and travelled free of all expense, and as the Ameer paid his subjects in hard cash for whatever service they rendered, it is obvious that for a small state such as his was this was no trivial expense. It is only fair that this fact should be as widely known as possible, for some discontent was aroused by a similar hospitality being extended to the Seyyid Yakoob Khan last year. That discontent arose from ignorance; for it is hardly to be imagined that any Englishman would grumble at reciprocating the courteousness of a Central Asian potentate. The mission remained at the capital almost four months, and altogether the time passed very pleasantly. The weather was certainly rigorous; but then there was much to be done in the way of business, sight-seeing and amusement.

On the 2nd of February Yakoob Beg placed his seal to the treaty of commerce, and this act concluded the business portion of the English mission. On the 16th of March formal leave was taken of the Athalik Ghazi, and the mission returned to India. It had accomplished its task with pre-eminent success, and the Forsyth Embassy deserves long to be remembered as the most ably conducted and practically useful embassy that ever set out from India.

Since the signature of that treaty the Turkestan Trading Company has been very actively engaged in despatching several caravans annually into Kashgaria; but now, whether temporarily or permanently remains to be seen, its operations have come to a standstill. In these later years, Mr. Shaw, in his old post as Commissioner in Ladakh, had been as quietly performing his useful work as ever before; and there were rumours that he was to receive his reward in being sent as another envoy, or rather as a resident agent, into Kashgaria, last year. If the appointment were made, it has at this date (October 1st) been for the time suspended; and such entirely new considerations have come into play that it may be postponed for an indefinite period. Hadji Torah’s visit to this country, in June and July, 1877, when the Turko-Russian war had rendered the Eastern Question once more acute, revived our interest, which had been flagging, in Eastern Turkestan. But he came at an unfortunate moment, for June brought us tidings of reverses round Turfan, and July did not pass away without the intelligence of the death of the Athalik Ghazi himself.

There had, before the receipt of this definite intelligence, been absurd rumours of the part Yakoob Beg was resolved to play in Central Asia as the ally of the Porte, while he, poor man, was opposing with despair, and at the cost of his life, a relentless and irresistible foe. Such is the irony of circumstance! The vanquished in Asia was by some freak of imagination converted in Europe into the arbiter of a great question, and the guide of all those peoples of either Turkestan who chafe at the bit because of Russian rule. But in reality, with the return of Sir Douglas Forsyth, our relations with Kashgar, which at one time promised to have been most cordial, languished for want of a motive. No amount of admiration would suffice to make us permanently guarantee Kashgar against Russia, for the bare facts concerning the intervening country at once chilled the sympathy at our hearts. The Grim Pass, and the road lined with desiccated travellers and animals, effaced the bright picture of the orchards of Kashgar and the busy streets of Yarkand. There was a sigh of profound relief, that would not be suppressed, when Sir Douglas Forsyth’s report made the fact clear, that wherever else India might be menaced she was safe, at least, from attack north of Cashmere. It is true that there is a feasible route from Khoten to Ruduk, and thence to India; but Yakoob Beg did not hold it, and its consideration was considered to be beside the question. In fact, after 1874, we entertained much the same opinion towards Kashgar and Yakoob Beg that we did towards Poland and Kosciusko; and we were beginning to reconcile ourselves to a Russian installation in that state, when the returning Chinese made us reflect more deeply on Central Asian matters, and discover that after all has been said against the assertion there exists a third, and hitherto neglected, great Power in Central Asia. There was never anything save a kindly feeling between the two countries, and all who could admire bravery and justice and hospitality and frank courtesy were attached to the individual who had proved that he possessed all these attributes in no mean degree. But there was no deeper sympathy than this, or rather there was no stronger connecting link. The Indian government felt that it would be championing an unrecognized cause in supporting Yakoob Beg against all comers, and in the press of more urgent matters our relations with the Athalik Ghazi became lost sight of.

The effect of this treatment upon the Ameer was not unapparent, and during the last twelve months of his rule he had become more Russian and less English in his policy. But we preserved “the even-tenor of our way.” Yakoob Beg had no hold over us such as must always be possessed by the ruler of Afghanistan. Practically speaking, his state was more inaccessible to us than Tibet, and the Russians at Yarkand would be a source of far less danger to us than warlike and hostile Chinese might become at Lhasa. To sum up, England and Kashgar were friends because they had no reason to be foes; but they were indifferent friends. The tear might be shed for mutual misfortunes, and condolences might be uttered when cause for grief arose; but that was all. There was no alliance in the true sense, nor was there firm and unswerving friendship. There was a brief space occupied by sympathy and goodwill; then ensued an unbroken period of unvarying indifference. Before 1877, the spark that had been kindled by Mr. Shaw, and fanned to the dimensions of a flame by Sir Douglas Forsyth, had gone out, and with its extinction passed away the solid fabric that many had hoped to rear upon the base which the enterprise of a few intrepid men had diligently prepared. Whether we were prudent or imprudent, true or false, kind or unkind, Yakoob Beg leaned on a broken reed when he bade defiance to Russia, trusting on our support. This chapter of our policy in Central Asia may be closed as speedily as possible; if we do not come out of it with much glory, it is to be hoped that a lenient posterity may judge our demerits with a merciful consideration for the preservation of a strict and irresponsible neutrality.