heart of a continent - younghusband

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An account of 10 years of exploration and wanderings in the 1880's and 90's over Manchuria, the Gobi Desert, the Himalayas, Pamir and Chitral. A final chapter contains Younghusband's philosophic observations on it all, some quite exceptional.


THE HEART OF A CONTINENT The Narrative of Travels in Manchuria, Across the Gobi Desert, Through the Himalayas, the Pamirs, and Chitral, 1884 - 1894 by Captain Frank E. Younghusband, C.I.E., Indian Staff Corps, Gold Medalist, Royal Geographic Society

"Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife, When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life; Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would yield, Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's field. And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then, Underneath the lights he looks at, in among the throngs of men: Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new, That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do." - Tennyson.


To the memory of My Mother, through whom, as the sister of Robert Shaw, I inherited the spirit of Exploration; and to whose keen interest in all my plans, and the selfdenying encouragement she gave me in their execution, I owe so much of what success has attended my work, I dedicate this record of my travels.

------------Preface The first thing a man who travels from London to Scotland wants to do is to describe to his friends at the end of his journey his experiences on the way - whether the train was crowded or not, what the weather was like, and how perfect or imperfect the arrangements of the railway company were. It is the same general instinct of wishing to tell out to others the experiences one has had that is now acting in me. To do this in conversation is, in my case, a hopeless task - because, for one thing, my experiences of travel have now accumulated to heavily; and, for another, I find insuperable difficulties in giving by word of mouth accounts of travels in strange lands unfamiliar to the hearer. At the same time I am always experiencing the wish that my friends should be able to share with me, as much as it is possible to do so, the enjoyment I have felt in looking upon Nature in its aspects wild, in distant unfrequented parts of the earth, and in mixing with strange and little-known

peoples, who, semi-barbarians though they may be, have often more interesting traits of character than others in a higher scale of civilization. I have, therefore, been year by year impelled to write out my experiences in a collected form, and in such a way as may be accessible, not only to those with whom I am personally acquainted, but also, I hope, to many another kindred spirit, who shares with me that love for adventure and seeking out the unknown which has grown up within me. The great pleasure in writing is to feel that it is possible, by this means, to reach such men; to feel that I can speak to them just as they, by their books and by their works, have spoken to me, and that I may, in some slight degree, be passing on to others about to start on careers of adventure, the same keen love of travel and of Nature which I have received from those who have gone before. There are others, too, whom I hope my book may reach - some few among those thousands and thousands who stay at home in England. Amongst these there are numbers who have that longing to go out and see the world which is the characteristic of Englishmen. It is not natural to an Englishman to sit at an office desk, or spend his whole existence amid such tame excitement as life in London, and shooting partridges and pheasants afford. Many consider themselves tied down to home; but they often tie themselves down. And if a man has indeed the spirit of travel in him, nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of his doing as he wishes. And one of the hopes I have as I write this book is, that it may tempt some few among the stay-at-homes to go out and breathe a little of the pure fresh air of Nature, and inhale into their beings some of the revivifying force and heightened power of enjoyment of all that is on this earth which it can give. My book cannot claim to be scientific, nor to be written in any correct literary style, but I have endeavoured to speak out, as clearly and impressively as I can, what I saw, what I did, and what I felt in the little-known, and sometimes unknown, regions which I have visited, and to give the impressions which formed themselves in my mind of the various peoples whom I met. Some portion of this will, I hope, prove of value to others besides the general reader; but it has been a ceaseless cause of regret to me that I had never undergone a scientific training before undertaking my journeys. During the last year or two I have done what I can by myself to supply this deficiency; but amongst the Himalaya mountains, in the desert of Gobi, and amid the forests of Manchuria, how much would I not have given to be able to exchange that smattering of Greek and Latin which I had drilled into me at school for a little knowledge of the great forces of Nature which I saw at work around me! With these few remarks of introduction, and with the hope that there may be some among my readers to whom the spirit in which it has been written may appeal; that there may be among the busy crowds in England some to whom it may give an hour's change of scene, and a momentary glimpse into the great world of Nature beyond our little isle; and that there may be some among my countrymen scattered over the world to whom this description of still other lands than those they have so far seen may give pleasure, I send out this story of a wanderer's doings, of the scenes which he has witnessed, and of the feelings which have moved him. "Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends; Where roll'd the ocean, thereon was his home;

Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends, He had the passion and the power to roam; The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam, Were unto him companionship; they spake A mutual language, clearer than the tome Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake For Nature's pages glass'd by sunbeams on the lake. ....... "Perils he sought not, but ne'er shrank to meet: The scene was savage, but the scene was new; This made the ceaseless toil of travel sweet, Beat back keen winter's blast, and welcom'd summer's heat." - Byron ------------Notice The appearance of this volume has been delayed by a variety of unforeseen causes. Before the manuscript was completed, the author was suddenly called upon to go to Chitral, during the campaign which was being carried out in that country in 1895. Again, last December, when but a few pages were in print, he was unexpectedly summoned to a distant part of the world at a few hours' notice. Before leaving, he requested me to see the work through the press. This task has been an unusually interesting and agreeable one, but has been attended by some little difficulty, for some of the places named are not to be found on any existing maps, while, inasmuch as many of the incidents described are known to the author alone, the process of verification, when any uncertainty arose, was in some instances impossible. In these circumstances, I must ask the reader not to hold the author responsible for any inaccuracies which may be found in these pages. Captain Younghusband's achievements as a traveller and explorer, which won for him a very distinguished place among the Gold Medallists of the Royal Geographical Society, are too well known to call for many words of introduction to this record of his principal expeditions. In 1886 he visited Manchuria, and penetrated to the summit of Chang-pai-shan, the "Ever-White Mountain," in company with Mr. James of the Indian Civil Service. Returning thence to Peking, he started, in 1887, on his adventurous journey through the heart of Asia, across the Gobi Desert and Chinese Turkestan to Kashgar and Yarkand, and from that point crossed the Himalayas by the Mustagh Pass to Srinagar. In 1889 he was sient to investigate the circumstances of the Kanjuti or Hunza raids on the Kirghiz territory, in the course of which he descended the valley of the Yarkand River, explored the Saltoro and Shimshal Passes, and, after reaching the Taghdumbash Pamir, visited Safder Ali, the chief of the Hunzas, at his head-quarters at Hunza. In 1890 Captain Younghusband made his famous expedition to the Pamirs, at the close of which he was peremptorily ordered off territory claimed by Russia. The officer conveying this message was Colonel Yonoff, with whom Captain Younghusband, but a few

hours before, had been encamping on the most friendly terms. For this act the Russian Government subsequently apologized. In 1892, after the brilliant little campaign in which Safder Ali was subdued, he was sent to Hunza, where a British representative was established; but early in the following year was suddenly summoned to Chitral, on the outbreak of disturbances consequent upon the death of the ruler, Aman-ul-Mulk. When peace was restored, and the succession of the Mehtar, Nizam-ul-Mulk, was secured, Captain Younghusband was for some months stationed at the capital as British representative, and during this time he became thoroughly acquainted with a country which was destined, soon afterwards, to attract much interest in England. In this work will be found a full account of Chitral and her people, and of the unfortunate ruler whose death was the immediate cause of the expedition of 1895. The account of that expedition, already published by Captain Younghusband, forms an episode in the record of his experiences, of which this volume gives the first connected narrative. - John Murray

-------------Contents Chapter I. The Ever-White Mountain: My first journey to Dharmsala - Robert Shaw Preparations for an extended journey - Mr. H. E. M. James - Decision to go to Manchuria Arrival at Newchwang - "The Ever-White Mountain" - To Mukden - Chinese inquisitiveness Tomb of Nurhaden - To the Yalu River - Want of milk and butter - Industry of Chinese colonists - We enter the g