Read CHAPTER VII of Travels in Tartary‚ Thibet‚ and China During the years 1844-5-6‚ Volume 2, free online book, by Evariste Regis Huc, on ReadCentral.com.

We have already referred to the travels of Moorcroft in Thibet, in noticing the excessive fear with which the designers and makers of geographical charts inspire the Thibetian government. One day, the governor of the Cashmerians brought to us one of his fellow countrymen, named Nisan, who had been for a long time the servant of Moorcroft at Lha-Ssa. He talked to us at some length about his old master, and the details he gave us confirmed all that had already been related to us. The adventures of this English traveller appearing to us too singular to be passed over wholly in silence, we have thought proper to give a short review of them.

According to the statements collected in the capital of Thibet itself, Moorcroft arrived from Ladak at Lha-Ssa in the year 1826; he wore the Mussulman dress, and spoke the Farsie language, expressing himself in that idiom with so much facility, that the Cashmerians of Lha-Ssa took him for one of their countrymen. He hired a house in the town, where he lived for twelve years with his servant Nisan, whom he had brought from Ladak, and who himself thought that his master was a Cashmerian. Moorcroft had purchased a few herds of goats and oxen, which he had confided to the care of some Thibetian shepherds, who dwelt in the gorges of the mountains, about Lha-Ssa. Under the pretext of inspecting his herds, the feigned Mussulman went freely about the country, making drawings and preparing his geographical charts. It is said that never having learnt the Thibetian language, he abstained from holding direct communication with the people of the country. At last, having dwelt for twelve years at Lha-Ssa, Moorcroft took his way back to Ladak, but whilst he was in the province of Ngari, he was attacked by a troop of brigands who assassinated him. The perpetrators of this murder were pursued and arrested by the Thibetian government, who recovered a portion of the property of the English traveller, among which was a collection of geographical designs and charts. It was only then, and upon sight of these objects, that the authorities of Lha-Ssa found out that Moorcroft was an Englishman.

Before separating from his servant, Moorcroft had given him a note, telling him to show it to the inhabitants of Calcutta, if he ever went to that city, and that it would suffice to make his fortune. It was doubtless a letter of recommendation. The seizure of the effects of Moorcroft created such a disturbance in Thibet, that Nisan, afraid of being compromised, destroyed his letter of recommendation. He told us himself that this note was written in characters exactly similar to ours.

The facts we have here related, we derive from the Regent, from the Cashmerian governor, from Nisan, and from several other inhabitants of Lha-Ssa. Before reaching this town, we had never heard of Moorcroft; it was there we first learned the name of this English traveller. From what we have stated, it may be considered established that Moorcroft really went to Lha-Ssa in 1826, that he resided there for twelve years, and that he was afterwards assassinated on the road to Ladak from Lha-Ssa.

Let us turn now, however, to other information, extremely discrepant from that which was given us in the capital of Thibet. According to the “Universal Geography” of Charles Ritter, Moorcroft made first a journey in 1812, which lasted two months; he was afterwards directed by the Company to procure horses from Turkestan, wherewith to improve the breed of horses in India. For this purpose he undertook a second journey in November, 1819; he got as far as Ladak, where he remained two years. In the month of October, 1822, he left that town for Cashmere, and on the 25th of August, 1825, died at Andkou, on the way from Herat to Balk. The death of Moorcroft, at the date and place stated by Charles Ritter, was announced by his fellow-traveller, M. Tribeck, in a letter dated Balk, 6th September, 1825, and addressed to Captain Wade, the resident at Loudiana.

We confess that we cannot possibly reconcile such opposite statements. If Moorcroft was really not at Lha-Ssa, how is it that he was so well known there, and that the people there speak of his residence among them in terms so precise? What interest could the Thibetians have in forging such a tale? On the other hand, if Moorcroft was at Lha-Ssa, how can we explain that letter of M. Tribeck, which announces that his fellow-traveller died in 1825, exactly at the time, when, according to the other hypothesis, he was on his way to the capital of Thibet?

Without pretending to reconcile these contradictions, we will cite a fact which concerns ourselves, and which will, perhaps, seem to bear some relation to the affair of Moorcroft. Some time after our arrival at Macao, we read the following article in the “Bengal Catholic Herald,” a journal printed at Calcutta. “Canton the 12th September. The French missionaries of our city have lately received the news of the deplorable death of two fathers of their mission in Mongol-Tartary.” After a cursory sketch of the Mongol-Chinese territory, the writer of the article proceeds thus: “A French Lazarist called Huc, arrived, about three years ago, amongst some Chinese families, who were established in the valley of Black Waters, about two hundred leagues journey from the Great Wall. Another Lazarist, whose name is unknown to me, joined him in the plan of forming a mission among the Mongol Buddhists. They studied the Mongol language with the Lamas of the neighbouring Lamaseries. It seems that they were taken for foreign Lamas, and were treated in a friendly manner, particularly by the Buddhists, who are very ignorant, and who mistook the Latin of their breviaries for Sanscrit, which they do not understand, but for which they have a secret veneration, because the rites of their religious books, in Mongol, translated from the Sanscrit, are printed in red ink.

“When the missionaries thought themselves sufficiently learned in the language, they advanced into the interior, with the intention of commencing their work of conversion. From that time only uncertain rumours were heard about them, but in May last, from the interior of Mongol-Tartary, the news came that they had been tied to horses’ tails, and so dragged to death. The real causes of this event are not as yet known.”

Whilst they were thus announcing our death so positively, we were approaching the termination of our long journey, and were close upon Canton, happily enjoying a health fully capable of refuting the news thus propagated concerning us. But if, by chance, we had perished among the mountains of Thibet, if we had been murdered there, the world would have remained convinced that we had been tied to horses’ tails and had died in Mongolia. It would probably have never been believed that we had reached the capital of Thibet; and if, at some later time, some European traveller had visited Lha-Ssa, and had been informed of our abode in that town, it would have been, perhaps, just as difficult to reconcile these statements, as those respecting Moorcroft. Although the death of the English traveller is a matter which we cannot clear up, we did not conceive that we could omit to say what we knew of it, without pretending to invalidate, by the accounts collected at Lha-Ssa, the documents set forth in the scientific London journals.

We were scarcely a month at Lha-Ssa before the numerous inhabitants of this town grew accustomed to speak with respect and admiration of the holy doctrine of Jéhovah, and of the great kingdom of France. The peace and tranquillity we enjoyed, the distinguished protection which the Thibetian government extended to us, the sympathy with which the people seemed to surround us, all inspired us with the hope, that, by the aid of God, we might lay in the very capital of Buddhism the foundation of a mission, the influence of which would soon extend itself among the nomad tribes of Mongolia. The moment seemed to have come when the Tartar pilgrims might at length learn, at Lha-Ssa, the only doctrine which can save men’s souls, and civilize nations.

As soon as we considered our position at Lha-Ssa confirmed, we turned our thoughts to the means of renewing our communications with Europe in the speediest manner. The path of the desert was impracticable. We had, certainly, managed to cross once, and as it were by a miracle, these steppes infested by brigands and wild beasts; but it was out of the question to think of organising a service of couriers along that frightful route. Supposing, besides, the fullest security that could be desired, the mere length of the journey was a thing to make one shudder. The road by India seemed alone practicable. From Lha-Ssa to the first English station is not quite a month’s journey. By establishing one correspondent on the other side of the Himalaya mountains, and one at Calcutta, our communication with France would become, if not prompt and easy, at all events feasible. As this plan could only be put into execution with the consent of the Thibetian government, we communicated it to the Regent, who immediately entered into our views, and it was agreed that in the summer M. Gabet should undertake the journey to Calcutta, with a Thibetian escort, who were to accompany him as far as Boutan.

Such were the plans we were forming for the establishment of a mission at Lha-Ssa; but at this very moment the enemy to all good was hard at work to ruin our projects, and to remove us from a country which he seems to have chosen for the seat of his empire. Having heard here and there words of evil auspice, we comprehended that the Chinese ambassador was secretly plotting our expulsion from Thibet. The vague rumour of this persecution had, in fact, nothing about it to surprise us. From the outset, we had foreseen that if difficulties assailed us, they would emanate from the Chinese Mandarins. Ki-Chan, in fact, could not bear to see the Thibetian government receive with so much favour a religion and strangers, whom the absurd prejudices of China have so long driven from her frontiers. Christianity and the French name excited too forcibly the sympathy of the people of Lha-Ssa, not to arouse Chinese jealousy. An agent of the court of Peking could not, without anger, reflect on the popularity which strangers enjoyed in Thibet, and on the influence which they might one day exercise in a country which China has every interest in keeping under her dominion. It was determined, therefore, that the preachers of the religion of the Lord of Heaven should be driven from Lha-Ssa.

One day, the ambassador, Ki-Chan, sent for us, and after sundry attempts at cajolery, ended by saying that Thibet was too cold, too poor a country for us, and that we had better think of returning to our kingdom of France. Ki-Chan addressed these words to us, with a sort of indifferent, careless manner, as though he supposed there could he no sort of objection to them. We asked him if, in speaking thus, he proposed to us advice or command. “Both the one and the other,” he replied, coldly. “Since it is so, we have first to thank you for the interest which you seem to have in our welfare, in telling us that this country is cold and miserable. But you must know, that men such as we, do not regard the goods and conveniences of this world; were it not so, we should have remained in our own kingdom of France. For know, there is not anywhere a country comparable with our own. As for the imperative portion of your words, this is our answer: ’Admitted into Thibet by the local authority, we recognise no right in you, or in any other person, to disturb our abode here.’” “How! you who are strangers, presume still to remain here?’” “Yes, we are strangers, but we know that the laws of Thibet are not like those of China. The Peboun, the Katchi, the Mongols, are strangers like us, and yet they are permitted to live here in peace; no one disturbs them. What, then, is the meaning of this arbitrary proceeding of yours, in ordering Frenchmen from a country open to all people? If foreigners are to quit Lha-Ssa, why do you stay here? Does not your title of Kin-Tchai (ambassador) distinctly announce that you yourself are but a foreigner here?” At these words, Ki-Chan bounded on his velvet cushion. “I a foreigner!” cried he, “a foreigner! I, who bear the authority of the Grand Emperor, who, only a few months’ since, condemned and exiled the Nomekhan.” “We are acquainted with that affair. There is this difference between the Nomekhan and us, that the Nomekhan came from Kan-Sou, a province of the empire, and we come from France, where your Grand Emperor is nobody; and that the Nomekhan assassinated three Tale-Lamas, while we have done no injury to any man. Have we any other aim than to make known to men the true God, and to teach them the way to save their souls?” “Ay, as I have already said to you, I believe you to be honest people; but then the religion you preach has been declared wicked, and prohibited by our Grand Emperor.” “To these words, we can only reply thus: The religion of the Lord of Heaven does not need the sanction of your Emperor to make it a holy religion, any more than we, of its mission, need it to come and preach in Thibet.” The Chinese ambassador did not think it expedient to continue this discussion; he drily dismissed us, declaring that we might rest assured he would make us quit Thibet. We hastened to the Regent, in order to acquaint him with the melancholy interview we had had with Ki-Chan. The chief Kalon had been made aware of the projects of persecution which the Chinese Mandarins were hatching against us. He endeavoured to reassure us, and told us, that protecting in the country thousands of strangers, he was powerful enough to give us the protection which the Thibetian government extended to all. “Besides,” added he, “even though our laws did prohibit strangers from entering our country, those laws could not affect you. Religious persons, men of prayer, belonging to all countries, are strangers nowhere; such is the doctrine taught by our holy books. It is written: ‘The yellow goat has no country, the Lama no family.’ Lha-Ssa being the peculiar assembling-place and abode of men of prayer, that title of itself should always secure for you liberty and protection.” This opinion of the Buddhists, which constitutes a religious man a cosmopolite, is not merely a mystic idea written in books, but we have found it recognised in the manners and customs of the Lamaseries; when a man has had his head shaved, and assumes the religious habit, he renounces his former name to take a new one. If you ask a Lama of what country he is, he replies, “I have no country, but I pass my time in such a Lamasery.” This manner of thinking and acting is even admitted in China, amongst the bonzes and other classes of religionists, who are called by the generic name of Tchou-Kia-Jin, (a man who has left his family.)

There was, respecting us, a controversy of several days’ duration, between the Thibetian government and the Chinese ambassador. Ki-Chan, in order to insure better success to his aims, assumed the character of defender of the Tale-Lama. This was his argument: Sent to Lha-Ssa by his Emperor, to protect the Living Buddha, it was his duty to remove from him whatever was calculated to injure him. Certain preachers of the religion of the Lord of Heaven, animated, no doubt, by excellent intentions, were propagating a doctrine which, in the end, tended to destroy the authority and power of the Tale-Lama. Their avowed purpose was to substitute their religious belief for Buddhism, and to convert all the inhabitants of Thibet of every age, condition, and sex. What would become of the Tale-Lama when he had no worshippers? The introduction into the country of the religion of the Lord of Heaven, does it not lead directly to the destruction of the sanctuary of the Buddha-La, and consequently, to the downfall of the Lamanesque hierarchy and of the Thibetian government? “I,” said he, “who am here to protect the Tale-Lama, can I permit, at Lha-Ssa, men who propagate such formidable doctrines? When those doctrines have taken root, and it is no longer possible to extirpate them, who will be responsible for such a misfortune? What shall I reply to the Grand Emperor, when he shall reproach me with my negligence and cowardice? You Thibetians,” said he to the Regent; “you do not comprehend the gravity of this matter. Because these men are virtuous and irreproachable, you think they are harmless it is a mistake. If they remain long at Lha-Ssa, they will spell-bind you. Among you, there is not a man capable of disputing with them upon religion. You will not be able to keep from adopting their belief, and then the Tale-Lama is undone.”

The Regent did not enter at all into these apprehensions, with which the Chinese ambassador endeavoured to inspire him. He maintained that our presence at Lha-Ssa could not in any way be prejudicial to the Thibetian government. “If the doctrine which these men held,” said he, “is a false doctrine, the Thibetians will not embrace it; if, on the contrary, it is true, what have we to fear? How can the truth be prejudicial to men? These two Lamas of the kingdom of France,” he added, “have not done any harm; they are animated with the best intentions towards us. Can we, without good ground, deprive them of the liberty and protection which we extend here to all strangers, and particularly to men of prayer? Can we make ourselves guilty of an actual and certain injustice, through an imaginary fear of some possible evil to come?”

Ki-Chan reproached the Regent with neglecting the interests of the Tale-Lama, and the Regent on his part accused Ki-Chan of taking advantage of the minority of the sovereign, to tyrannize over the Thibetian government. For our parts, in this unfortunate contest, we refused to acknowledge the authority of the Chinese Mandarin, and declared that we would not quit the country without a formal order from the Regent, who assured us that they should never extort from him any such thing.

The quarrel became more and more exacerbated every day. Ki-Chan resolved to take on himself to expel us from the country. Matters had come to such a crisis, that prudence obliged us to yield to circumstances, and to oppose no further resistance, for fear of compromising the Regent, and of becoming, perhaps, the cause of lamentable dissensions between China and Thibet. By further opposing this unjust persecution, we might irritate too vehemently the Chinese, and furnish pretexts for their project of usurping the Thibetian government. If, on our account, a rupture unhappily broke out between Lha-Ssa and Peking, we should inevitably be held responsible for it; we should become odious in the eyes of the Thibetians, and the introduction of Christianity into these countries would be encountered hereafter with greater difficulties than ever. We therefore considered that it would be better to submit, and to accept with resignation the crown of persecution. Our conduct should prove to the Thibetians, that at least we had come among them with peaceful intentions, and that we did not intend to establish ourselves there by violence.

Another consideration helped to confirm our resolution. It occurred to us that this very tyranny which the Chinese exercised against us, might perhaps be the ultimate occasion of our missionaries establishing themselves in Thibet with security. In our simplicity, we imagined that the French government would not see with indifference this monstrous assumption of China, in daring to persecute Christianity and the French name even among foreign nations, and at a distance of more than a thousand leagues from Peking. We were persuaded that the representative of France at Canton could not omit to make emphatic remonstrances to the Chinese authorities, and that he would obtain just reparation for the violence with which we had been treated. In thinking thus, we poor and obscure missionaries were far from wishing to give ourselves, in our own eyes, the least personal importance; but we do not disguise it, we were proud in the belief that our position as Frenchmen would be a sufficient title for our obtaining the protection of the government of our country.

After having maturely considered these points, we proceeded to the Regent. On learning that we had determined to leave Lha-Ssa, he seemed sad and embarrassed. He told us he greatly wished he had it in his power to secure for us a free and tranquil abode in Thibet; but that alone, and without the support of his sovereign, he had found himself too weak to resist the tyranny of the Chinese, who for several years past, taking advantage of the infancy of the Tale-Lama, had assumed unprecedented claims in the country. We thanked the Regent for his goodwill, and left him to wait upon the Chinese ambassador.

We told Ki-Chan that, at a distance from all protection, we had resolved to leave Lha-Ssa, since he was determined to compel us to do so; but that we protested against this violation of our rights. “Well, well,” answered Ki-Chan, “you cannot do better; you must depart; it will be better for you, better for the Thibetians, better for me, better for everybody.” He then told us that he had ordered all preparations to be made for our departure; that the Mandarin and escort who were to accompany us, had been selected. It had even been arranged that we should depart in eight days, and that they should take us along the route which leads to the frontiers of China. This last arrangement, excited at once our indignation and surprise; it was inconceivable how they could have the cruelty to condemn us to a journey of eight months, whilst by proceeding towards India twenty-five days’ march would suffice to carry us to the first European station, whence we could not fail to find means, both secure and easy, for reaching Calcutta. We forthwith and vehemently protested against the project, but our protest was disregarded, as was the request for some few additional days rest, after the long journey we had just made, and to give time for the closing of the great wounds caused by the cold of the desert. All we could say to mollify the cruelty of the Chinese ambassador was unavailing.

We then laid aside our suppliant tone, and declared to the delegate of the court of Peking, that we yielded to violence, but that we would denounce to our government: first, that the Chinese ambassador, installed at Lha-Ssa, had arbitrarily and violently driven us thence, under the vain pretext that we were strangers and preachers of the Christian religion, which he called wicked and repudiated by his Emperor. In the second place, that in opposition to all right and all justice, he had prevented us from pursuing an easy and direct route, of only twenty-five days’ journey, to drag us tyrannically into the interior of China, and make us undergo the hardships of an eight months’ journey. Finally, that we would denounce to our government the barbarity with which they forced us to set out, without allowing us a little rest, a barbarity which, in our then state, we had a right to consider as an attempt upon our life. Ki-Chan replied that he had nothing to do with what the French government might think or do, that in his conduct he had only to regard the will of his Emperor. “If my master,” he said, “knew that I had permitted two Europeans freely to preach the religion of the Lord of heaven in Thibet, I should be lost. It would not be possible for me to escape death.”

The next day, Ki-Chan sent for us in order to communicate to us a report he had drawn up on the subject of our affairs; and which he proposed to lay before the Emperor. “I did not wish,” said he, “to let it go without reading it to you previously, for fear there should have escaped me in it any expressions inexact in themselves or distasteful to you.” Having attained his chief object, Ki-Chan had resumed his amiable and conciliatory manner towards us. His report was unmeaning enough; what it said about us was neither good nor bad; it simply set forth a dry nomenclature of the countries we had passed through, since our departure from Macao. “Is this report as you like it?” said Ki-Chan; “do you see anything in it to alter?” M. Huc answered, that he had an observation to make of great importance. “Speak, I listen.” “What I have to say to you, does not interest us in the least; but it affects you very nearly.” “Let us hear what it is.” “My communication must be private: let your people withdraw.” “These men are my servants; they all belong to my household; fear nothing.” “Oh, it is not we who have anything to fear; all the danger is to you.” “The danger to me! No matter, the officers of my suite may hear all.” “If you will, you can repeat to them what I have to say; but I cannot speak in their presence.” “Mandarins cannot hold secret conversations with strangers; it is forbidden by the laws.” “In that case, I have nothing to tell you; send the report just as it is; but if it brings misfortune upon you, only blame yourself.” The Chinese ambassador became pensive; he took infinite pinches of snuff, one after another, and then, as the result of long reflection, told his suite to retire, and to leave us alone with him.

When everyone had gone, M. Huc began: “Now,” said he to Ki-Chan, “you will understand why I wished to speak to you in private, and how important it is to you that no one should hear what I have to tell you. You will judge if we are dangerous men, we who fear even to injure our persecutors.” Ki-Chan was pale and disconcerted. “Let us hear,” said he; “explain yourself let your words be candid and clear; what would you say?” “In your report, there is an inexactitude; you make me set out from Macao with my brother Joseph Gabet, and yet I did not enter China till four years after him.” “Oh, if that is all, it is easy to correct it.” “Yes, very easy. This report, you say, is for your Emperor; is it not so?” “Certainly.” “In that case, it is your duty to tell the Emperor the truth and nothing but the truth.” “Oh, nothing but the truth; let us correct the report. At what period did you enter China?” “In the twentieth year of Tao-Kouang (1840).” Ki-Chan took his pencil and wrote in the margin twentieth year of Tao-Kouang. “What moon?” “The second moon.” Ki-Chan hearing us speak of the second moon, laid down his pencil and looked at us with a fixed stare. “Yes, I entered the Chinese empire in the twentieth year of Tao-Kouang, in the second moon; I passed through the province of Canton, of which you were at that time viceroy. Why do you not write? are you not to tell all the truth to the Emperor?” The face of Ki-Chan contracted. “Do you see now why I wished to talk to you in private?” “Yes, I know the Christians are good people does anyone here know of this matter?” “No, not anyone.” Ki-Chan took the report, tore it up; he wrote a fresh one, entirely different from the first. The dates of our first entry into China were not exactly set forth, and there was a pompous eulogium on our knowledge and sanctity. The poor man had been simple enough to believe that we attached a great importance to his Emperor’s good opinion of us.

In accordance with the orders of Ki-Chan, we were to set out after the festivals of the Thibetian new year. We had only been at Lha-Ssa two months, and we had already passed the new year twice, first the European new year, and then the Chinese; it was now the turn of the Thibetian. Although at Lha-Ssa, they reckon the year as in China, according to the lunar system, yet the calendars of these two countries do not agree: that of Lha-Ssa is always a month behind that of Peking. It is known that the Chinese, the Mongols, and most of the peoples of Eastern Asia, make use in their chronological calculations of a sexagenary cycle, composed of ten signs called trunks, and of twelve signs which bear the name of branches. Among the Tartars and Thibetians, the signs of the denary cycle are expressed by the names of the five elements repeated twice, or by the names of the five colours with their shades. The names of twelve animals denote the duodenary cycle.

DENARY CYCLE MONGOL

                THIBETIAN
1  Moto               Cheng           Wood
2  Moto               Cheng           Wood
3  Gal                Me              Fire
4  Gal                Me              Fire
5  Chere              Sa              Earth
6  Chere              Sa              Earth
7  Temur              Dchak           Iron
8  Temur              Dchak           Iron
9  Oussou             Tchon           Water
10 Oussou             Tchon           Water

DUODENARY CYCLE MONGOL

               THIBETIAN
1  Khouloukhana       Chi-wa          Mouse
2  Oukhere            Lang            Ox
3  Bara               Tak             Tiger
4  Tole               Yen             Hare
5  Lou                Dchouk          Dragon
6  Mokhe              Phroul          Serpent
7  Mori               Ria             Horse
8  Khoui              Lonk            Ram
9  Betchi             Preou           Monkey
10 Takia              Chia            Fowl
11 Nokhe              Dchi            Dog
12 Khakhe             Phak            Pig

To form the sexagenary cycle, the two first cycles are combined in the following manner:

SEXAGENARY CYCLE MONGOL

1  Moto khouloukhana         Wooden mouse
2  Moto oukhere              Wooden ox
3  Gal bara                  Fire tiger
4  Gal tole                  Fire hare
5  Chere lou                 Earth dragon
6  Chere Mokhe               Earth serpent
7  Temur mori                Iron horse
8  Temur knoui               Iron ram
9  Oussou betchi             Water monkey
10 Oussou takia              Water fowl
11 Moto nokhe                Wooden dog
12 Moto khakhe               Wooden pig
13 Gal khouloukhana          Fire mouse
14 Gal oukhere               Fire ox
15 Chere bara                Earth tiger
16 Chere tole                Earth hare
17 Temur lou                 Iron dragon
18 Temur mokhe               Iron serpent
19 Oussou mori               Water horse
20 Ousson khoui              Water ram
21 Moto betchi               Wooden monkey
22 Moto takia                Wooden fowl
23 Gal nokhe                 Fire dog
24 Gal khakhe                Fire pig
25 Chere khouloukhana        Earth mouse
26 Chere oukhere             Earth ox
27 Temur bara                Iron tiger
28 Temur tole                Iron hare
29 Oussou lou                Water dragon
30 Oussou makhe              Water serpent
31 Moto mori                 Wooden horse
32 Moto khoui                Wooden ram
33 Gal betchi                Fire monkey
34 Gal takia                 Fire chicken
35 Chere nokhe               Earth dog
36 Chere khakhe              Earth pig
37 Temur khouloukhana        Iron mouse
38 Temur oukhere             Iron ox
39 Oussou bara               Water tiger
40 Oussou tole               Water hare
41 Moto lou                  Wooden dragon
42 Moto mokhe                Wooden serpent
43 Gal mori                  Fire horse
44 Gal khoui                 Fire ram
45 Chere betchi              Earth monkey
46 Chere takia               Earth fowl
47 Temur mokhe               Iron dog
48 Temur khakhe              Iron pig
49 Oussou khouloukhana       Water mouse
50 Oussou oukhere            Water ox
51 Moto bara                 Wooden tiger
52 Moto tole                 Wooden hare
53 Gal lou                   Fire dragon
54 Gal mokhe                 Fire serpent
55 Chere mori                Earth horse
56 Chere khoui               Earth ram
57 Temur betchi              Iron monkey
58 Temur takia               Iron fowl
59 Oussou nokhe              Water dog
60 Oussou khakhe             Water pig

As this cycle returns periodically every sixty years, it may be imagined that great confusion might occur in chronology, if they had not a sure method of fixing the past sexagenary cycles. To obviate this inconvenience, the sovereigns give to each year of their reign a particular name, and by this means the cyclic epochs are fixed in a way to leave no doubt. Thus the Mongols say, “The twenty-eighth year Tao-Kouang, which is that of the fiery ram (1848.)” In China, the present sexagenary cycle commenced with the year 1805, and the years Tao-Kouang date from 1820, the epoch when the Emperor now reigning mounted the throne. It is to be observed that Chun-Tchi, Khang-Hi, Young-Tching, Kien-Long, Kia-King, Tao-Kouang, are not at all the names of the six first Emperors of the Mantchou dynasty, but special denominations to denote the years of their reign.

The Thibetians have adopted the use of the denary and duodenary cycles. But by making them undergo more numerous combinations than the Mongols, they obtain a cycle of 252 years. The twelve first years merely bear the names of twelve animals; then these same names are combined with those of the five elements, repeated twice up to the 72nd year of the cycle. They then add to these combinations the word po (male), which carries them up to the 132nd year; then the word mo (female), which takes it up to the 192nd year; finally, they alternate the words po and mo to the end of the cycle.

This chronological system, too complicated for the use of the lower classes, is confined to the Lamaseries, where it is studied and understood by the more learned Lamas. The masses live on from day to day, without an idea even of the existence of this method of combining the cycles. Except the Regent, we found no one at Lha-Ssa who could tell us in what year we were. They seemed generally to be wholly unaware of the importance of denoting dates and years by particular names. One of the highest functionaries of Lha-Ssa, a very celebrated Lama, told us that the Chinese method of counting the years was very embarrassing, and not at all comparable with the simplicity of the Thibetian method; he thought it more natural to say plainly, this year, last year, twenty or a hundred years ago, and so on. When we told him that this method would only serve to make history an inextricable confusion, “Provided we know,” said he, “what occurred in times gone by, that is the essential point. What is the good of knowing the precise date of the occurrences? Of what use is that?”

This contempt, or rather this indifference for chronology, is observable, in fact, in most of the Lamanesque works; they are frequently without order or date, and merely present to the reader a hotch-potch of anecdotes piled one on another, without any precision, either about persons or events. Fortunately the history of the Thibetians being continually mixed up with that of the Chinese and the Tartars, one can apply the literature of these latter peoples to the introduction of a little order and precision into the Thibetian chronology.

During our stay at Lha-Ssa, we had occasion to remark that the Thibetians are very bad chronologists, not only with respect to leading dates, but even in the manner of reckoning each day the age of the moon. Their almanac is in a state of truly melancholy confusion, and this confusion entirely proceeds from the superstitious ideas of the Buddhists respecting lucky and unlucky days; all the days reputed unlucky, which occur in the course of the moon, are omitted, and do not count. Thus, for example, if the fifteenth day of the moon is a day of ill omen, they count the fourteenth twice over, and pass on direct to the sixteenth. Sometimes several days of ill-omen occur one after the other; but that is of no consequence; they cut them all off just the same, until they come to a lucky day. The Thibetians do not seem to find the least inconvenience in such a method.

The renewal of the year is, with the Thibetians, as with all people, a season of festivals and rejoicings. The last days of the twelfth moon are consecrated to the preparations for it; people lay in supplies of tea, butter, tsamba, barley wine, and some joints of beef and mutton. The holiday clothes are taken from the wardrobes; they remove the dust under which the furniture is generally hidden; they furbish up, clean, sweep, and try, in a word, to introduce into the interior of their houses a little order and neatness. The thing only happening once a year, all the households assume a new aspect; the domestic altars are the objects of especial care; they repaint the old idols, and they make, with fresh butter, pyramids, flowers, and various ornaments designed to deck the little sanctuaries where the Buddhas of the family reside.

The first Louk-So, or Rite of the Festival, commences at midnight, so that every one sits up, impatiently awaiting this mystical and solemn hour, which is to close the old year, and open the course of the new. As we were not anxious to catch the exact point of intersection which separates the two Thibetian years, we went to sleep at our usual hour. We were in a deep slumber, when we were suddenly awakened by the cries of joy which issued from all sides, in all quarters of the town. Bells, cymbals, marine conches, tambourines, and all the instruments of Thibetian music, were set to work, and operated the most frightful uproar imaginable; it seemed as though they were receiving the new-born year with a charivari. We had once a good mind to get up, to witness the happiness of the merry inhabitants of Lha-Ssa, but the cold was so cutting that after serious reflection, we opined that it would be better to remain under our thick woollen coverlets, and to unite ourselves in heart with the public felicity. Repeated knocks on the door of our house, threatening to dash it into splinters, warned us that we must renounce our project. After several excuses, we were at last fain to leave our warm beds; we donned our clothes, and the door being opened, some Thibetians of our acquaintance rushed into our room, inviting us to the new year’s banquet. They all bore in their hands a small vessel made of baked earth, in which floated on boiling water, balls composed of honey and flour. One of these visitors offered us a long silver needle, terminating in a hook, and invited us to fish in his basin. At first, we sought to excuse ourselves, objecting that we were not in the habit of taking food during the night, but they entreated us in so engaging a manner, they put out their tongues at us with so friendly a grace, that we were obliged to resign ourselves to the Louk-So. We each hooked a ball, which we then crushed between our teeth to ascertain its flavour. We looked at each other, making grimaces; however, for politeness sake, we had to swallow the dose. If we could only have got off with this first act of devotion! but the Louk-So was inexorable; the numerous friends we had at Lha-Ssa succeeded each other almost without interruption, and we had perforce to munch Thibetian sweetmeats till daybreak.

The second Louk-So also consists in making visits, but with a different ceremony. As soon as the dawn appears, the Thibetians walk through the streets of the town, carrying in one hand a pot of buttered tea, and in the other a large gilt and varnished plate, filled with tsamba, piled up in the form of a pyramid, and surmounted by three ears of barley. On these occasions, it is not allowed to pay visits without the tsamba and the buttered tea. As soon as you have entered the house of a person to whom you propose to wish a happy year, you first of all make three prostrations before the domestic altar, which is solemnly adorned and illuminated; then, after having burnt some leaves of cedar, or other aromatic tree, in a large copper censer, you offer to every one present a cup of tea, and hand the plate, from which each takes a pinch of tsamba. The people of the house reciprocate the compliment to the visitors. The inhabitants of Lha-Ssa have a saying, the Thibetians celebrate the festival of the new year with tsamba and buttered tea; the Chinese with red paper and crackers; the Katchi with delicate meats and tobacco; the Peboun with songs and sports.

Although this popular saying is correct enough, the Pebouns do not altogether monopolize the gaiety of the period. The Thibetians also enliven their new years’ fêtes with noisy rejoicings, in which the song and the dance always play a large part. Groups of children, with numerous bells hung from their green dresses, pervade the streets, giving, from house to house, concerts that are not wanting in harmony. The song, generally sweet and melancholy, is interspersed with animated choruses. During the strophe, all these little singers keep marking the time, by making, with their bodies, a slow and regular movement like the swinging of a pendulum; but when they come to the chorus, they vigorously stamp their feet on the ground in exact time. The noise of the bells, and of the nailed boots, produces a kind of wild accompaniment that strikes upon the ear not disagreeably, especially when it is heard at a certain distance. These youthful dilettanti having performed their concert, it is usual with those for whom they have sung to distribute among them cakes fried in nut-oil, and some balls of butter.

On the principal squares, and in front of the public monuments, you see, from morning till night, troops of comedians and tumblers amusing the people with their representations. The Thibetians have not, like the Chinese, collections of theatrical pieces; their comedians remain altogether and continuously on the stage, now singing and dancing, now exhibiting feats of strength and agility. The ballet is the exercise in which they seem to excel the most. They waltz, they bound, they tumble, they pirouette with truly surprising agility. Their dress consists of a cap, surmounted by long pheasants’ plumes, a black mask adorned with a white beard of prodigious length, large white pantaloons, and a green tunic coming down to the knees, and bound round the waist by a yellow girdle. To this tunic are attached, at equal distances, long cords, at the end of which are thick tufts of white wool. When the actor balances himself in time, these tufts gracefully accompany the movements of his body; and when he whirls round they stick out horizontally, form a wheel round the performer, and seem, as it were, to accelerate the rapidity of his pirouettes.

You also see at Lha-Ssa a sort of gymnastic exercise called the Dance of the Spirits. A long cord, made of leathern straps, strongly plaited together, is attached to the top of the Buddha-La, and descends to the foot of the mountain. The dancing sprites go up and down this cord, with an agility only to be compared with that of cats or monkeys. Sometimes, when they have reached the top, they fling out their arms as if about to swim, and let themselves slide down the rope with the velocity of an arrow. The inhabitants of the province of Ssang are reputed the most skilful in this kind of exercise.

The most singular thing we observed at Lha-Ssa, during the new year’s festival, is what the Thibetians call the Lha-Ssa-Morou, that is, the total invasion of the town, and its environs, by innumerable bands of Lamas. The Lha-Ssa-Morou commences on the third day of the first moon. All the Buddhist monasteries of the province of Oui open their doors to their numerous inhabitants, and you see great bodies of Lamas, on foot, on horseback, on asses, on oxen, and carrying their prayer-books and cooking utensils, arriving tumultuously by all the roads leading to Lha-Ssa. The town is soon overwhelmed at all points, by these avalanches of Lamas, pouring from all the surrounding mountains. Those who cannot get lodgings in private houses, or in public edifices, encamp in the streets and squares, or pitch their little travelling tents in the country. The Lha-Ssa-Morou lasts six entire days. During this time, the tribunals are closed, the ordinary course of justice is suspended, the ministers and public functionaries lose in some degree their authority, and all the power of the government is abandoned to this formidable army of Buddhist monks. There prevails in the town an inexpressible disorder and confusion. The Lamas run through the streets in disorderly bands, uttering frightful cries, chanting prayers, pushing one another about, quarrelling, and sometimes having furious contests with their fists.

Although the Lamas generally show little reserve or modesty during these festive days, it is not to be supposed that they go to Lha-Ssa merely to indulge in amusements incompatible with their religious character; it is devotion, on the contrary, which is their chief motive. Their purpose is to implore the blessing of the Tale-Lama, and to make a pilgrimage to the celebrated Buddhist monastery called Morou, which occupies the centre of the town. Hence the name of Lha-Ssa-Morou given to these six festive days.

The monastery of Morou is remarkable for the splendour and wealth displayed in its temples. The order and neatness which always prevail here, make it, as it were, the model and example for the other monasteries of the province. West of the principal temple, there is a vast garden surrounded by a peristyle. In this is the printing establishment. Numerous workmen, belonging to the Lamasery, are daily occupied in engraving blocks, and printing Buddhist books. Their process being the same as that of the Chinese, which is sufficiently understood, we shall dispense with describing it. The Lamas who pay their annual visit to the festival of the Lha-Ssa-Morou, take the opportunity to purchase the books they require.

In the district of Lha-Ssa alone, they reckon more than thirty large Buddhist monasteries. Those of Khaldhan, of Preboung and Sera, are the most celebrated and the most populous. Each of them contains nearly 15,000 Lamas.

Khaldhan, which means in Thibetian “celestial beatitude,” is the name of a mountain situated east of Lha-Ssa about four leagues. It is on the summit of this mountain that the Lamasery of Khaldhan stands. According to the Lamanesque books, it was founded in the year 1409 of our era, by the famous Tsong-Kaba, reformer of Buddhism, and founder of the sect of the yellow cap. Tsong-Kaba fixed his residence there, and it was there he quitted his human envelope, when his soul was absorbed in the universal essence. The Thibetians pretend that they still see his marvellous body there, fresh, incorruptible, sometimes speaking, and, by a permanent prodigy, always holding itself in the air without any support. We have nothing to say about this belief of the Buddhists, because the too short stay we made at Lha-Ssa did not permit us to visit the monastery of Khaldhan.

The Lamasery of Preboung (ten thousand fruits) is situate two leagues west of Lha-Ssa; it is built on the site of a lofty mountain. In the centre of the monastery, rises a sort of kiosk, magnificently ornamented, and all shining with gold and paintings. It is reserved for the Tale-Lama, who repairs thither once a year, to explain to the monks the contents of the sacred volumes. The Mongol Lamas, who come to Thibet to perfect themselves in the science of prayer, and to obtain the degrees of the Lamanesque hierarchy, generally fix themselves at Preboung, which, on that account, is sometimes called in the country a Monastery of the Mongols.

Sera is situated north of Lha-Ssa not more than half a league from the town. The Buddhist temples and the residences of the Lamas, stand on the slope of a mountain planted with hollies and cypresses. The road followed by the pilgrims who come from Tartary, passes by these houses. At a distance, these monuments, ranged in the form of an amphitheatre one above the other, and standing out upon the green base of the mountain, present an attractive and picturesque sight. Here and there, in the breaks of the mountain, and quite above the religious city, you see a great number of cells inhabited by contemplative Lamas, and which you can only reach with great difficulty. The monastery of Sera is remarkable for three large temples of several stories high, all the rooms of which are entirely gilt. Hence it is that the Lamasery has acquired the name of Sera, from the Thibetian word ser, which signifies gold. In the chief of these three temples, they religiously preserve the famous tortche, or sanctifying instrument, which, in the belief of the Buddhists, came from India through the air, to place itself, if its own accord, in the monastery of Sera. This instrument is of bronze, in form resembling a pestle; the middle, by which you hold it, is in one piece, and cylindrical; the two extremities swell out in oval form, and are covered with symbolical figures. Every Lama must possess a small tortche, made on the model of that which marvellously came from India. When they repeat their prayers, and during the religious ceremonies, this instrument is indispensable to them: they must sometimes hold it, sometimes lay it on their knees; then take hold of it again, and turn it in their hand, according to the rules of the ritual. The tortche of Sera is the object of great veneration. The pilgrims never fail to go and prostrate themselves before the niche, wherever it lies. At the new year’s festival, it is carried in procession, with great pomp, to Lha-Ssa, to be presented to the adoration of the people of the town.

While the innumerable Lamas of Lha-Ssa-Morou were celebrating with transport their noisy festival, we, our hearts oppressed with sorrow, were occupied in the preparation for departure. We took down the little chapel wherein we had tasted such sweet, but alas, too short, consolation. After having essayed to plough and sow a poor little corner of this immense desert, we were obliged to abandon it, saying to ourselves that shortly, no doubt, the briar and the thorn would spring forth in abundance, and suffocate those precious germs of salvation, which were already beginning to grow. Oh, how bitter and depressing were these thoughts! We felt our hearts breaking, and we had only strength enough to supplicate the Lord to send, to these poor children of darkness, missionaries more worthy of bearing to them the light of the faith.

The evening before our departure, one of the secretaries of the Regent entered our lodging, and presented to us, in his name, two great ingots of silver. This attention on the part of the first kalon affected us deeply, but we considered we ought not to accept this sum. In the evening, on going to his palace to bid him adieu, we took back to him the two ingots. We laid them before him on a small table, protesting to him that this proceeding resulted from no ill-feeling on our part; that, on the contrary, we should always remember, with gratitude, the good treatment we had received from the Thibetian government, during the short stay we had made at Lha-Ssa; that we had no hesitation in expressing our belief that if it had depended on the Regent, we should throughout have enjoyed in Thibet, the most tranquil and honourable repose; but that, as to this money, we could not receive it without compromising our conscience as missionaries and the honour of our nation. The Regent did not seem in any degree irritated by this proceeding. He told us that he understood our conduct, and could appreciate the objection we had expressed; that he would not insist on our accepting this money, but that still he should be very glad to make us some present upon separating. Then pointing to a dictionary in four languages, which he had often observed us turning over with interest, he asked us if this work would be agreeable to us. We thought we might receive this present without compromising in any way the dignity of our character, and we, on our parts, expressed to the Regent how happy we should be if he would deign to accept, as a reminiscence of France, the microscope, which had so excited his curiosity; our offer was kindly received.

At the moment of separation, the Regent rose and addressed to us these words: “You are going away, but who can know future events? You are men of astonishing courage. Since you have been able to get thus far, I know you have in your hearts a great and holy resolve. I think you will never forget it; for my part, I shall always bear it in mind. You understand me: circumstances will not permit me to say more.” “We understand,” we replied to the Regent, “the full bearing of your words, and we will implore our God to realize one day the purpose they express.” We then parted, our hearts bursting with grief, from this man who had been so kind to us, and by whose means we had formed the hope of making known, with God’s help, the truths of Christianity to these poor people of Thibet.

When we re-entered our house, we found the Cashmerian governor awaiting us; he had brought us some provision for our journey; some excellent dried fruits from Ladak, cakes made of flour, butter, and eggs. He insisted upon passing all the evening with us, to assist us in packing our trunks. As he intended shortly to visit Calcutta, we charged him to give intelligence of us to the first Frenchman he should meet in the English possessions in India. We also gave him a letter, which we entreated him to get forwarded to the representative of the French government at Calcutta. In this letter, we briefly explained the circumstances of our stay in the capital of Thibet, and the reasons of our departure.

It seemed to us advisable to take this measure, when we were about to commence a journey of a thousand leagues, along frightful roads continually bordered with precipices. We thought that, if it should be the will of God for us to be buried amid the mountains of Thibet, our friends in France would at least know what had become of us.

The same evening, Samdadchiemba came to bid us adieu. On the day that the Chinese ambassador had resolved to make us leave Thibet, our dear neophyte had been taken from us. It is needless to say how hard and painful this trial was; but to this measure, we could not, either the Regent or ourselves, offer any objection. Samdadchiemba was a native of the province of Kan-Sou, directly subject to the Chinese authority. Although our influence with Ki-Chan vas not very great, yet we got him to promise that Samdadchiemba should suffer no injurious treatment, and should be sent back safe to his family. Ki-Chan promised this, and we have since ascertained that he was true to his word. The Regent was full of kindness towards our neophyte. As soon as he was separated from us, he took care that he should want for nothing; he even gave him a sum of money to provide for his journey. With what circumstances allowed us to add to this, Samdadchiemba was enabled to amass a small fortune, and to place himself in a position to return in a fitting manner to his paternal dwelling. We recommended him to go to his aged mother, and fulfil the duties which filial affection dictates, to instruct her in the mysteries of the Christian faith, and to cause her to enjoy at her last moments the benefit of baptismal regeneration; then, when he had closed her eyes, to return and pass his days among the Christians.

To say the truth, Samdadchiemba was not an amiable young man; sour, savage, and sometimes saucy, he was by no means an agreeable fellow-traveller; yet he had in him a groundwork of honesty and devotion, quite capable, in our opinion, of compensating for the perversities of his nature. We felt at parting from him a deep affliction, and all the more so, that we had never suspected the existence, at the bottom of our hearts, of so strong an attachment to this young man. But we had made together a long and painful journey; we had endured together so many privations, and so much misery, that, unconsciously, our existence was, so to speak, fused with his. The law of affinity which unites men to each other, acts with much more power amidst suffering, than in prosperity.

On the day appointed for our departure, two Chinese soldiers came, early in the morning, to inform us that the Ta-Lao-Ye, Ly-Kouo-Ngan; that is to say, his Excellency Ly, pacificator of kingdoms, awaited us at breakfast. This personage was the Mandarin whom the ambassador Ki-Chan had appointed to accompany us to China. We fulfilled his invitation; and, as the departure was to take place from his house, we had our luggage transported thither.

Ly, the pacificator of kingdoms, was a native of Tchang-Tou-Fou, capital of the province of Sse-Tchouen; he belonged to the hierarchy of the military mandarins. For twelve years he had served in Gorkha, a province of Boutan, where he obtained rapid promotion, and reaching the dignity of Tou-Sse, with the general command of the troops guarding the frontiers bordering on the English possessions, he was decorated with the blue button, and enjoyed the privilege of wearing in his cap seven sable tails. Ly-Kouo-Ngan was only forty-five years old, but you would have taken him for seventy; so broken and battered was he; he had hardly any teeth left in his head; his scanty hair was grey; his dull and glassy eyes endured a strong light with difficulty; his flabby wrinkled face, his totally withered hands, and his enormous legs, upon which he could scarcely support his frame, all bespoke a man exhausted by great excesses. We thought at first that this premature senility resulted from an immoderate use of opium, but he informed us himself, in our very first conversation, that it was brandy which had reduced him to this state. Having obtained permission to quit the service, he was now about to seek, in the bosom of his family, and by a careful and severe diet, the restoration of his shattered health. The ambassador Ki-Chan had in fact hurried our departure in order that we might go in company with this Mandarin, who in his quality of Tou-Sse, was entitled to an escort of fifteen soldiers.

Ly-Kouo-Ngan was very well instructed for a military Mandarin; the knowledge he had of the Chinese literature, and above all, his eminently observant character, rendered his conversation effective and full of interest. He spoke slowly, almost in a drawling manner, but he had the faculty of giving to his stories and general conversation a dramatic and picturesque turn. He was very fond of philosophical and religious discussions; he had even, he said, magnificent projects of perfection for the time, when quiet and unembarrassed in his family, he should have nothing to do but to play at chess with his friends, or go and see the play. He believed neither in the Bonzes nor in the Lamas; as to the doctrine of the Lord of Heaven, he scarcely knew what it was, and required to be initiated in it before he embraced it. Meanwhile, all his religion consisted in a fervent veneration for the Great Bear. He affected aristocratic manners and exquisite polish; unfortunately, he happened sometimes to forget himself, and to expose his altogether plebeian origin. It is superfluous to add that his excellency the pacificator of kingdoms, was passionately fond of silver ingots; otherwise it would have been difficult to recognise in him a Chinese, much less a Mandarin. Ly-Kouo-Ngan had a luxurious breakfast prepared for us; and his table seemed to us all the finer as for two years we had been used to live almost like savages. The habit of eating with our fingers had nearly made us forget the use of the Chinese chop-sticks. When we had finished, Ly-Kouo-Ngan informed us that everything was ready for departure, but, that before setting out, it was his duty to go to the palace of the ambassador, with his company of soldiers, to take leave. He asked us if we would not accompany him. “By all means,” we replied, “let us go together to the residence of the ambassador; you will fulfil your duty, and we a politeness.”

We entered, our guide and ourselves, the apartment where Ki-Chan sat. The fifteen soldiers drew up in file at the threshold of the door, after prostrating themselves thrice and striking the earth with their foreheads. The pacificator of kingdoms did the same, but the poor wretch could not himself get up again without our assistance. According to our custom, we saluted by placing our caps under our arms. Ki-Chan opened the discourse, and addressed a short speech to each of us.

Addressing us first, he assumed a wheedling tone: “You,” said he, “are going to return to your country; I do not think you have any complaint to make of me; my conduct towards you has been irreproachable. I do not allow you to stay here, but this is the will of the grand Emperor, not mine. I do not suffer you to go to India, because the laws of the empire forbid it; if it were otherwise, I, old as I am, would accompany you myself to the frontiers. The road you are about to travel is not so horrible as you are led to imagine; you will have, it is true, a little snow, you will pass some high mountains, and some of the days will be cold. You see I do not conceal the truth from you. Why should I try to mislead you? but at all events, you will have attendants to wait upon you, and every evening you will have a lodging for the night ready for you; you will have no need to put up a tent. Is not this travelling better than that on your way hither? You will be obliged to travel on horseback; I cannot give you a palanquin; there are none to be got in this country. The report I am going to address to the grand Emperor will be sent in a few days. As my couriers go day and night they will pass you. When you have reached in safety the capital of Sse-Tchouen, the viceroy, Pao, will take charge of you, and my responsibility will be at an end. You may depart in confidence and with joyful hearts. I have sent on orders that you shall be well treated throughout. May the star of happiness guide you in your journey from beginning to end.” “Although we consider ourselves oppressed,” replied we to Ki-Chan, “we do not the less on that account offer up wishes for your prosperity. Since it is to dignities you aspire, may you recover all those you have lost, and attain still higher.” “Oh, my star is unlucky! my star is unlucky!” cried Ki-Chan, taking a vigorous pinch of snuff from his silver box.

Then addressing himself to the pacificator of kingdoms, his voice assumed a grave and solemn tone, “Ly-Kouo-Ngan,” said he, “since the grand Emperor allows you to return to your family, you depart; you will have these two fellow-travellers, and this circumstance ought to cause you great joy, for the way, you know, is long and tedious. The character of these men is full of justice and gentleness; you will therefore live with them in perfect harmony. Take care never to sadden their hearts, by word, or deed. Another important thing I have still to say: As you have served the empire for twelve years on the frontiers of Gorkha, I have commanded the paymaster to send you 500 ounces of silver; it is a present from the grand Emperor.” At these words Ly-Kouo-Ngan, finding all at once an unwonted suppleness in his legs, threw himself on his knees with vehemence: “The heavenly beneficence of the great Emperor,” said he, “has always surrounded me on every side, but unworthy servant that I am, how could I receive a further signal favour without blushing? I address my heartfelt supplications to the ambassador, that I may hide my face from him, and withdraw myself from this undeserved graciousness.” Ki-Chan replied, “Do you imagine the grand Emperor will thank you for your disinterestedness? What are a few ounces of silver? Go, receive this small sum, as it is offered to you; it will furnish you with tea to offer to your friends; but when you get home, take care not to begin drinking brandy again. If you wish to live a few years longer, you must deny yourself brandy. I say to you this, because a Father and Mother ought to give their children good advice.” Ly-Kouo-Ngan struck the earth thrice with his forehead, and then rose up and placed himself beside us. Ki-Chan then harangued the soldiers, and changed his tone for the third time. His voice was sharp, abrupt, and sometimes bordering on anger. “And you soldiers!” at these words the fifteen soldiers, as though moved by one string, fell together on their knees, and retained that position all the time of the harangue. “Let me see, how many are there of you? You are fifteen, I think,” and at the same time he counted them with his finger; “yes, fifteen men; you, fifteen soldiers, are about to return to your own province; your service is fulfilled; you will escort your Tou-Sse to Sse-Tchouen, as also these two strangers. On the way you will serve them faithfully, and take care to be always respectful and obedient. Do you clearly understand what I say?” “Yes, we do.” “When you pass through the villages of the Poba (Thibetians) beware that you do not oppress the people. At the stations take care not to rob or pillage the property of any person. Do you clearly understand?” “Yes, we do.” “Do not injure the flocks, respect the cultivated fields, do not set fire to the woods. Do you clearly understand me?” “Yes, we do.” “Among yourselves let there always be peace and harmony. Are you not all soldiers of the empire? Do not then abuse or quarrel with one another. Do you understand clearly?” “Yes, we do.” “Whoever conducts himself badly, let him not hope to escape chastisement; his crime will be investigated attentively, and severely punished. Do you clearly understand?” “Yes, we do.” “As you understand, obey and tremble.” After this brief but energetic peroration, the fifteen soldiers struck the ground with their foreheads thrice and rose.

Just as we were leaving the residence of the ambassador, Ki-Chan drew us apart, to say a few words in private. “In a little while,” said he, “I shall leave Thibet, and return to China. In order that I may not be too much encumbered with luggage, on my departure, I am going to send two large cases with you; they are covered with the hide of a long-haired ox.” He then told us the characters with which they were marked. “These two cases,” added he, “I recommend to your care. Every evening, when you reach the station, have them deposited in the place where you yourselves pass the night. At Tching-Tou-Fou, capital of Sse-Tchouen, you will commit them to the care of Pao-Tchoung-Tang, viceroy of the province. Keep a good eye on your own property, for in the route you will pursue, there are many petty thieves.” Having assured Ki-Chan that we would observe his recommendation, we rejoined Ly-Kouo-Ngan, who was waiting for us on the threshold of the great entrance gate.

It was rather curious that the Chinese ambassador should think fit to confide his treasure to us, whilst he had at his disposal a Grand Mandarin, who was naturally called upon by his position to render him this service. But the jealousy which Ki-Chan felt towards strangers did not make him forget his own interests. He considered, no doubt, that it would be more safe to trust his cases to missionaries than to a Chinese, even though the Chinese was a Mandarin. This token of confidence gave us great pleasure. It was a homage rendered to the probity of Christians, and, at the same time, a bitter satire upon the Chinese character.

We proceeded to the house of Ly-Kouo-Ngan, where eighteen horses, ready saddled, were awaiting us in the court-yard. The three best were standing apart, reserved for the Tou-Sse and ourselves. The fifteen others were for the soldiers, and each was to take the one which fell to him by lot.

Before we mounted, a strong-limbed Thibetian female, very fairly dressed, presented herself: she was the wife of Ly-Kouo-Ngan. He had been married to her six years, and was about to leave her for ever; he only had one child by her, which had died in its infancy. As these two conjugal halves were never again to see each other, it was but natural that at the moment of so afflicting a separation, there should be a few words of adieu. The thing was publicly done, and in the following manner: “We are going to part,” said the husband, “do you stay here and sit quietly in your room.” “Go in peace,” replied the wife, “go hence in peace, and take care of the swellings in your legs.” She then put her hand before her eyes, to make believe she was crying. “Look here,” said the pacificator of kingdoms, turning to us, “they are odd people these Thibetian women. I leave her a well-built house, and plenty of furniture almost new, and yet she is going to cry is she not content?”

After this adieu, so full of unction and tenderness, every one mounted, and the party set out down the streets of Lha-Ssa, taking care to select those less encumbered with Lamas.

When we were out of the town, we perceived a large group awaiting us. They were those inhabitants of Lha-Ssa, with whom we had had more intimate acquaintance, during our stay in that town. Many of them had begun to learn the truths of Christianity, and seemed to us sincerely disposed to embrace our holy religion; they had assembled on our road to salute us and offer us a farewell khata. We observed, amongst them, the young physician, still wearing on his breast the cross we had given him. We dismounted, and addressed to these Christian hearts a few words of consolation; we exhorted them courageously to renounce the superstitious worship of Buddha, to adore the God of the Christians, and ever to have full trust in his infinite mercy. Oh, how cruel was that moment, when we were obliged to part from these well-beloved Catechumens, to whom we had as yet only pointed out the path of eternal salvation without being able to guide their first steps! Alas! we could do nothing further for them, except to implore Divine Providence to have compassion on these souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

As we were remounting, we saw a horseman advancing towards us at full gallop. It was the governor of the Cashmerians, who had resolved to accompany us as far as the river Bo-Tchou. We were extremely touched by so friendly an attention, which, however, did not surprise us at all on the part of a sincere and devoted friend, who had given us repeated proofs of his attachment during our stay at Lha-Ssa.

The arrival of the governor of the Cashmerians occasioned us to ride on slowly, for we had much to say. At length, after an hour’s march, we reached the borders of the Bo-Tchou. We found there a Thibetian escort, which the Regent had ordered to conduct us to the frontiers of China; it was composed of seven men and a Grand Lama, bearing the title of Dheba (governor of a district). With the Chinese escort, we formed a caravan of twenty-six horsemen, without counting the drivers of a large herd of oxen that carried our baggage.

Two large ferry-boats were ready to receive the horsemen and the horses; the latter jumped in at a single bound, and drew up in a line, one beside the other. It was easy to see this was not the first time they had performed this manoeuvre. The men then entered, with the exception of the Dheba, Ly-Kouo-Ngan, and ourselves. We saw that they were going to convey us across the river in a rather more aristocratic manner; we looked in every direction, but saw no means of transit. “How, then, are we to go over?” “Look below there,” they replied, “see the boat coming.” We turned our eyes in the direction indicated, and we perceived, in fact, a boat and a man coming across the fields, but, contrary to the usual practice, it was the boat that was carried by the man, and not the man by the boat. This boatman, running with his back laden with a large boat, was a thing monstrous to behold. As soon as he reached the river side, he quietly set down his load, and pushed the boat into the water without the least effort. It was clearly one thing or the other: either the man was of prodigious strength, or the boat of extreme lightness. We looked at the man, and saw nothing extraordinary in him; we approached the boat, examined it, touched it, and the problem was solved. This large boat was made of ox hide solidly sewn together; inside, a few light bamboo sticks served to keep it in shape.

After having heartily shaken hands with the Cashmerian governor, we entered the boat, but we nearly burst it the first step we made. They had forgotten to tell us that we must only tread on the bamboo rods. When we were all embarked, the boatman pushed off with a long pole, and in the twinkling of an eye we were on the other side of the river; we sprang ashore, and the owner taking the boat on his back, went off across the fields.

These hide boats have the disadvantage of not remaining long in the water without rotting. Each time they are done with, the boatmen take care to turn them upside down on the beach, to let them dry. Perhaps by varnishing them well, they might be preserved from the action of the water, and rendered capable of enduring a longer navigation.

When we were mounted, we cast a last look on the town of Lha-Ssa, still visible in the distance, and said in our hearts: “Oh, my God, thy will be done!” and followed in silence the progress of the caravan. It was the 15th of March, 1846.