Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

several independent excursions to its exploration. For example, I was at work there in February, 1900, in the end of April, and the beginning of May, 1900, and again in June of the same year, and each time I adopted a new route and travelled along different branches of the river, all of which were mapped. The contours here are so flat that the stream is subject to the greatest changes, and the current is continually seeking out new channels. At my last visit the little settlements which have grown up on the banks of the river since the Chinese created the Lop region a separate administrative district were in danger of being deserted by the stream, and the inhabitants were considering the advisability of building dams to retain the water. How far they will be successful in this the future will determine, but the likelihood is against them.

The tendency of the Tarim to form lateral or marginal lakes begins as high up as Yanghi-köll, where I had my headquarters from December, 1899, to May, 1900, as well as an observation station, at which my self-registering instruments were uninterruptedly at work. Between Yanghi-köll and Arghan the right bank of the river is accompanied by a chain of long lakes bordered by sterile sands, with sand-dunes as much as 300 ft. or more in height. The lakes are elongated, and stretch from north-north-east to south-southwest, and are in every instance continued by a series of depressions penetrating into the heart of the thick masses of sand. These depressions, which the natives call bayir, consist of a clay soil without a particle of intermingled sand, and, except for a few sparse patches of kamish and tamarisks close beside the Cherchen-daria, are absolutely barren. The discussion as to the origin and construction of these depressions must be reserved for another occasion. The sand-dunes turn their

steep sides towards the west, whereas on the east they mount up more gradually and by a step-like formation to the summit, which is usually 300 ft. to 350 ft. above the general level. This arrangement can only be due to one cause -winds from the east.

The greater part of the lakes which thus accompany the right bank of the Tarim were mapped and sounded during the summer of 1900. It is impossible here to enter into fuller details with regard to the labyrinth of lakes, marshes, and collateral river arms which constitute the changeable delta of the Tarim. In fact, it would be labor in vain to attempt to do so with. out a general map, and a general map can only be constructed when the cartographical material which I have brought home has been digested, a task that will require at least three years for its completion. The lakes which I mapped on the occasion of my first journey-Avullu-köll, Kara-köll, &c.— still remain of the same dimensions and keep the same positions; but a number of fresh lakes have been formed in the same region. In fact, the lower Tarim seems disposed to change its course entirely.

6. The Position of Lop-nor.-This interesting problem is now solved. The ancient historical Lop-nor is situated precisely where Baron von Richthofen considered that it had been discovered; but its basin is, of course, now dried up. On its northern shore I found ruins of towns, settlements, and temples, as well as a number of manuscripts, letters of local origin, and tablets of tamarisk wood written on with Chinese script, and dating from 264 to 465 A.D. Further, I discovered on the same northern shore of the ancient lake unmistakable indications of a great caravan route. With the view of ascertaining definitively and thoroughly the contours of the region, I made in the spring of 1901 precise levellings

throughout the whole of the lake basin, and the result showed conclusively that the former Lop-nor and the present Kara-Koshun lie practically at the same level, and are only separated from one another by an insignificant swelling of the ground. Kara-Koshun, however, shows a decided tendency to return to its former situation-a large lake which took me four days to travel round having been formed to the north of it. This new lake is fed by several new streams issuing out of Kara-Koshun, and carrying a volume of not less than 1,060 cubic feet in the second.

7. The Mountain Chain of Astyn-tagh from the Meridian of Charklik to Anambar-ula.-This mountain chain was crossed and explored in several different places during the course of the year 1901, and the result of my investigations shows that the chain is a double one, not, as shown on our maps, single.

8. The Desert of Gobi, west of Sachou. This was journeyed across from the south to the north in January, 1901. It consists of the following belts or sections:-accumulated drift-sand, clay terraces, carved by the wind, and kamish steppe. Then follow the low hill ranges which form the eastward continuation of Kurruk-tagh; there again we discovered traces of ancient caravan roads.

9. Eastern, Central, and Western Tibet.-This mountainous region of Central Asia was the particular object of my interest during this my last journey, in that I had made up my mind to explore as much of it as I possibly could. To this end I made several separate excursions into Tibet. Profiting from the experience learned in my former journey through the same region, I deemed it expedient to travel with a smaller caravan of perfectly fresh animals, and as small a quantity of baggage as might be, and so planned my expeditions that I was always able to go back to my base or principal camp.

where the various members of my caravan, human and animal, were, from time to time, able to rest and recruit themselves. In this way I was always able to start with a fresh caravan, thoroughly rested and vigorous. My first expedition was made in the months of July, August, September, and October, 1900. Starting from Mandarlik, beside Gas-nor, I travelled due south as far as 33 degrees 45 minutes N. lat., thence west, north-west, north, and north-east, until I came back to my starting-point. A large part of the caravan, including one man, perished under the incredible hardships which are incidental to journeying in these lofty regions, destitute as they are of every species of vegetation. On both the out journey and the return I had an opportunity to cross over the various mountain chains encountered, and clear up the orographical structure of the Kwen-lun and the complicated mountain system of Northern Tibet. The positions of a large number of salt as well as freshwater lakes were determined, and their waters navigated by boat. At the same time I took a number of interesting soundings, the greatest depth measured being 157 ft. The topographical results of this excursion were embodied in a map of 150 sheets.

My second expedition started from the same base. Its object was to complete the mapping of Northern Tibet, especially of the mountains to the north of Kum-köll. This lake also was sounded. These Tibetan lakes are dangerous to navigate in a small open sailingboat; to do so is always attended with a considerable amount of peril.

But my principal and longest journey through Tibet began at Charklik on May 17, 1901. The route I selected went first up the valley of the Charklik-su, then on to Kum-köll, and over the Arka-tagh. After that I struck a line between the route followed by Littledale and that followed by Prince Henri

of Orleans and Bonvalot, and penetrated southwards as far as 33 degrees 45 minutes S. lat. There the caravan encamped, whilst, accompanied by two attendants, and in disguise, I made a perilous journey as far as the vicinity of Tengri-nor. There we were closely examined, and compelled to return to the caravan, though the Dalai-Lama's emissaries treated us with the greatest respect and politeness. A second attempt to penetrate south from the same camping-place was frustrated at Sellisy-tso by a force of 500 horsemen,

After that I directed my course westwards to Leh, avoiding both Nain Singh's and Littledale's routes. This journey cost me the lives of two men and of almost all my animals. The baggage animals were yaks, which were everywhere placed at my service by command of the Dalai-Lama. The results of this last journey in Tibet are recorded on a map of 370 sheets.

Whilst the survivors of my caravan were resting at Leh during the winter of 1901-2, I took a run down into India, and shall ever retain a lively recollection of the hospitality and kindness which were shown to me by Lord Curzon at Government House. In Bombay, also, I was welcomed as if I had been an old friend by Lord Northcote, and in every city I visited in India the English people vied with one another in their friendly office towards me. Nor can I withhold the expression of my admiration at the brilliant way in which England has for more than a century administered that vast Empire.

In April I broke up from Leh, and, crossing the Karakorum Pass, went down to Yarkand; thence travelling via Kashgar and the Caspian Sea, I returned to Stockholm, where I arrived on June 27, 1902. The successful issue. of this journey, which lasted altogether three years and three days, was in great part owing to the circumstance that his Majesty the Emperor of Rus

sia most graciously appointed an escort of four Cossacks to attend upon me throughout. Than these I have never had more honest, more capable, or braver men in my service. Whilst I was absent on my excursions I always left my headquarters camp under the charge of one or two of them, and always had my confidence justified by finding everything in perfect order on my return.

My first journey of 1893-97 has been regarded as marking an advance in the knowledge of the geography of Central Asia. The last journey of 1899-1902, from which I have just returned, has yielded results three times as rich as those of the former journey, and in the course of it I have been enabled to lift the veil which for a thousand years had hidden vast stretches of the mountain. ous and desert regions of the heart of Asia. My cartographical material extends to no less than 1,149 sheets, and if these were arranged end to end in a long row they would stretch over a distance of 1,000 feet. This material I hope it will be possible to publish, either with the help of public funds or by private support. It will then constitute a mine of detailed information about certain of the central regions of the great continent which have never before been trodden by any European, and very often by no Asiatic either. This cartographical material is controlled by 114 astronomical determinations of place. For making these I used an altazimuth theodolite and three chronometers.

A complete meteorological journal was kept without interruption throughout, in part during my expeditions, in part also, and simultaneously, in my principal fixed camps, where a barograph and a thermograph were in constant operation. The abundant materials thus gathered in are now being worked up by Dr. Nils Ekholm, and will in due time be published, along

with the meteorological results of my first journey. I took also over two thousand photographs, using for this purpose an English camera and English-made plates, and the results leave nothing to be desired. Anatomical collections of the higher animals were made, including aquatic animals in spirits, and a herbarium was brought together. All these materials will be studied by experts. The geological profiles of Tibet will be illustrated by some seven hundred rock specimens collected in that region. I have also brought home a number of archæological treasures from the ruins we discovered in the desert, amongst them several objects of extraordinary interest; and I made, further, a great quantity of sketches, diagrams, and draw

Geographical Journal.

II. MY FIRST SCHOOL.

I was under six when I was sent to learn the alphabet of a school-master who taught in an orphan-asylum, to whose class-room were admitted, as day pupils, the children of certain well-todo families who paid a tuition fee. I went quite readily: for novelty has ever attracted me. If nature had given me strength to keep on as I began I should, perhaps, have become something remarkable. The master was a man of about fifty, lame, clean-shaven, bewigged, the very picture of an old barber, but of high spirits withal. He was meditating matrimony at that very time, and a little later, took to wife a girl of twenty who brought him days

Translated for The Living Age.

ings, to illustrate various features appertaining to the provinces of physical geography. In a short résumé such as this it would not be possible even to indicate the great variety of different observations which are embraced under this heading. It must suffice to mention the measurements made in the basin of the Tarim, upon which a vast amount of time was expended, but which supply the essentials for deducing the hydrographic character of that river system.

For the present I have my hands full with the preparation of a popular description of my journey, which will be most copiously illustrated. The scientific results will be published later on in a work especially intended for scientific students.

MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL DAYS.*

BY EDMONDO DE AMICIS.

Sven Hedin.

of radiant happiness, during which he would stand upright, balanced with a certain stork-like grace upon his sound leg and apparently regarding the other as rather a good joke. He was not a cultivated man, but he had a keen and open intelligence; he knew how to teach, a virtue very rarely possessed by teachers, and he made school pleasant. To teach nomenclature he had himself made a great number of maps on which were drawn and painted in brilliant colors fields and streets, interiors of houses and work-shops, and scenes illustrating all the trades where were represented many figures of men and animals. Those maps seemed to me master-pieces of art; I remember them with wonderful distinctness; and they made upon me an impression of

such keen delight, that never since, in all my life-Pardon me, oh Raphael!have I received from painting such thorough satisfaction.

Down the school-room, long and bare as any barrack, stood side by side two rows of roughly made desks, one for the day-pupils, the other for the children belonging to the orphan-asylum, who all wore a costume of gray cloth. The distinction was not confined to seat and clothing but extended also to the treatment received from the master, who drew a further line between the day-pupils belonging to the first families and those of the lower middle class. His voice, all bitterness for the paupers took on a shade of consideration when he addressed tradesmen's sons, and became honey to "gentlemen born." He used to box the ears of the first, shake the second by the arm, and never lay a hand on the last. I belonged to the shaken division. Among the un-touched -How plainly I see him!-was the son of a banker. All the others regarded him with the deepest reverence and of him was told the legend that at home he used to play "War," building his forts of crown-pieces, and representing besieged and besiegers by silver francs, while their officers were Genovese gold coins, and the artillery lighted matches of the first quality. His mother was a handsome woman, who used to visit the school every now and again, dressed in the height of the fashion. Concerning this lady the oldest of the boys in the asylum used to make under their breath certain comments which I only understood years later. Then at last, it became clear to me why the poor little fellow used to cry at times over certain jokes, which had then seemed to me only laughable. There was, beside, the son of a judge of the police-court. He used to threaten often that he would have me arrested, and I

[ocr errors]

remember a little incident in which he played a part. One day he was attacked by one of the children of the asylum, and the master, seizing the latter by the ear and shaking his head violently about, screamed in his face, "Don't you know, don't you know, misgui-ded wretch, that he is the son of a Judge?"-O tempora, o mores! The little lame old man would give the same tweak-or maybe a harder one-to the ear to-day, but he would not accompany it by the same phrase.

I do not remember how long it took me to learn to read. I fancy that I expended no more time on the process than people do to-day after fifty years of pedagogic progress, But I remember well how, one Sunday morning at home, one of my brothers put a reading book before my eyes to see how much I knew, and that he was astonished to find I could read almost without hesitation. He told my father and mother who were greatly surprised and delighted. I was delighted too by this official acknowledgment that I had left the ranks of the illiterate, but for a reason of my own,-a delusion from which I had a speedy and rude awakening! I had fancied that it was only necessary to be able to read the words it contained in order to find amusement in the perusal of any book whatsoever, as I saw grown people do. In this illusion I took down that very day at hazard a book in my father's library and began to read. It chanced to be the Della Tirannide of Alfieri. I read a half page, then re-read it and was surprised and disgusted to find it as absolutely unintelligible as if it had been Hebrew. I couldn't understand it. "Why is this so?" I asked myself. "It is written in Italian, I know how to read, but I can't tell what it means." I fancied I might have stumbled upon a difficult book and tried another,-Gioberti's Primato. Worse and worse!

« VorigeDoorgaan »