Page images
PDF
EPUB

thought it lay on the south-west. I could comment on Porlanda, which, on page 5 of the Zeno text, is shown to lie near to Scotland, and without doubt represents the Orkneys, while Admiral Irminger transports them to 200 miles' distance, but I think I have already said enough on this subject.

Admiral Irminger has reasoned entirely from the data of to-day. His honest northern nature and his native common sense would revolt from the application to such small islands as those which compose the Faroe group, of such expressions as that "after Zichmni had put to flight the army of the enemy, ambassadors were sent from all parts of the island to yield the country up into his hands, taking down their ensigns in every town and village." And yet this apparent exaggeration may be more apparent than real. It must be remembered that this was 500 years ago. A so-called army then might be but a mere handful of men. "Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis." Moreover, it was no unimportant event which was taking place. Henry Sinclair, Earl of the Orkneys and Caithness, was taking personal possession of the Faroe Islands as an addition to his lordships, and when we read of his coming by land with his army, conquering all the country as he went, it is obvious that the chieftain's progress by land is there indicated as distinct from the taking possession of the coasts and islands, which was committed to the charge of Nicolò Zeno. It cannot be supposed that all this was done without a certain amount of formal ceremony, warranting in a considerable degree the apparently inflated language above quoted.

But Admiral Irminger has not confined himself to the endeavour to identify the Frislanda of the Zeni with Iceland. He denies that Zeno was ever in Greenland or the Engroneland of the text, which country he also endeavours to identify with his favourite northern island of Iceland. This is not the place to enter again upon the whole story. Suffice it that, as in the case of Frislanda, both the text and map distinctly bear their testimony to his visit having been made to Engroneland, or Greenland, while it is needless to say that Iceland, in both one and the other, has its own individual and separate existence, so that Admiral Irminger again places himself in opposition to the very authors of the narrative and of the map. By them it is plainly shown that they distinctly recognise the existence of two substantive realities, one Engroneland or Greenland, the other Iceland; and that, in their opinion, Engroneland is not Iceland; nor Iceland, Engroneland. Admiral Irminger is of a different opinion. Again I beg leave to side with the old

voyagers.

VIII.-Approximate Determination of Positions in SouthWestern China. By G. COLBORNE BABER.

[Communicated by the Foreign Office.]

WITH the exception of the points established by Captain Blakiston and Lieutenant Garnier, our knowledge of the geographical position of places in Western China rests entirely upon the authority of the Jesuit surveyors, whose results, laid down partly from observation with inefficient instruments, and partly from the collation of native information, are necessarily erroneous in many details, and are never exact. Their observations for latitude often deviate from the truth by so much as 6 or 7 miles, and their longitudes, even as re-arranged by modern geographers, are probably vitiated by a still greater error. Nevertheless their map is for general purposes a most admirable work, and since it was never designed to serve as a route-map for tourists, or a chart for river-pilots, it would be ungracious to find fault with its deficiencies; especially when it is remembered that all existing maps of Eastern Asia are more or less modified reproductions of their survey.

Modern explorers are, however, fair game, and it is at once the duty and the delight of a traveller to search out the defects of his predecessors. But, with the best will in the world, I cannot establish any charge against Captain Blakiston. A severe test of his work is to observe the latitude of places the position of which he had obtained by dead reckoning only, and over a long distance; tried in this way he is always practically exact. But I have applied the still more searching criterium of longitude by chronometer. His lunar observations, as adopted by Mr. Arrowsmith, give 1° 55' (one degree fifty-five minutes) for the difference of longitude between Sü chow and Chung ching. Selecting a season when a quick run could be made, I carried a chronometer down from Sü chow, and obtained a difference of 1° 59' (one degree fifty-nine minutes); a most satisfactory agreement. Captain Blakiston's lunar observations seemed to have gained in trustworthiness as he travelled farther west, and at Su chow his results east and west of the moon are very close together. There seems every reason for assuming that his absolute longitude of Sü chow is as near the truth as lunar series will admit of.

But then comes Lieutenant Garnier and shocks the complacent feeling of finality by removing the position twenty-six minutes westwards. The discrepancy is, after all, not very serious, as sextant observations go; but still it is disagreeable, and I have devoted a good deal of time and labour to its

examination. The first place in which, after much wandering and waiting, I at last found an almost unexceptionable opportunity for obtaining lunar series, was Tzu-ta-ti, the head-quarters of a Sifan chief, in lat. 29° 16′ 45", and a few days later another good opportunity occurred at the village of Na-erh-pa, 8 miles to the eastward. The two results, as may be seen by the record of observations hereto appended, agree exceedingly well, and place the mouth of the Lao-wa torrent, which lies half-way between the stations, in long. 102° 41'. Extending this result by careful dead reckoning to Chia-ting-fu, and thence by chronometer to Sü chow, I came almost exactly upon the point laid down by Captain Blakiston: the four walls of the city would have nearly included both determinations. It seems, therefore, safe to prefer Captain Blakiston's position to that adopted by Lieutenant Garnier, and to suppose that it is very slightly in error.

The position of the more southern portions of my chart, as regards longitude, rests upon the accuracy of dead reckoning corrected by frequent observations for latitude and variation of compass. In this way, on reducing the route-chart which I kept when travelling with Mr. Grosvenor, Yünnan Fu falls upon 102° 41' (oddly enough the longitude of the Lao-wa river mouth determined as above), differing by four or five minutes only from Lieutenant Garnier's result. Again, if my chart of the mission-route from Yünnan Fu to T'êng-yüeh (Momein) be examined, it will be seen that the difference of longitude between those points, according to the dead reckoning, is 4° 17′ (four degrees seventeen minutes), which, if the position of Têng-yüeh according to the Sladen mission, viz. 98° 26', be accepted, would place Yünnan Fu in 102° 43′, practically the situation in which I found it.

I put Tali Fu, by the same process, in long. 100° 3', some twenty-five minutes west of Lieutenant Garnier's acceptation. But his position also depends upon dead reckoning alone; and since my account of the distance between Yünnan Fu and T'êng-yüeh, taking Tali Fu en route, seems correct enough, I submit that probabilities are strongly in my favour.

Accepting Blakiston's determination for Sü chow Fu, Garnier's for Yünnan Fu, and the received position of T'êng-yüeh, all my route-work falls comfortably into place without straining or distortion.

I may add that I obtained a lunar series of poor value at Ch'iao-chia Ting (B.), but I prefer to depend upon dead reckoning for the position. The record marked (D.) is the history of a failure, and I only append it for the sake of fairAs far as the observation is concerned, it was the best

ness.

and most deliberate of my lunar series; its want of success may be attributed to two causes: the Eastern Star was the most ineligible, with one exception, of the whole year's category, and the hill-forest below it was on fire.

The record of latitudes needs no comment except in one particular, viz. the rather serious difference from the positions adopted by Lieutenant Garnier between Sü chow and Tungch'uan. I do not know if his results for that section rest upon sextant observations. It may be objected that my latitudes in that part of the route depend upon altitudes taken only upon one side of the zenith, but this stricture will not apply to the station of Chiang-ti, where the discrepancy is equally apparent. At Tung-ch'uan and farther south the agreement is satisfactory. For the position of Tali Fu Mr. Garnier appears to have accepted the Jesuits' latitude; indeed, as he had barely time to escape from personal danger in that neighbourhood, it is not to be supposed that he could have devoted much attention to sextant manipulation.

It will be seen that my latitude observations from No. 48 downwards exhibit a considerable intrinsic sextant error, apart and distinct of course from index error; but, being constant, it was of no importance whatever, and I thought it well to refrain from "tormenting the instrument."

The observations for compass variation (Table G.) were all made by sun's altitude and azimuth, no sunset or sunrise sights being anywhere obtainable.

In Table (H.) I have compared my deduced positions of the most important points with the determinations of the Jesuits and of Mr. Garnier. The latter have been measured from his general map, and are therefore somewhat loose.

E. COLBORNE Baber.

Chung-ching, 25th July, 1879.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »