Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE TARTARS OF THE HIMALAYA.

1854.]

77 of last year visited these provinces, in the hope of obtaining access into Chinese Tartary, in which, as will be seen from the following letters, he was disappointed. The first is dated from Sungnum, two marches and a half from the Chinese frontier. Sungnum is a town of considerable extent and beauty, situated at the confluence of two rivers, 9340 feet above the sea level. The dell through which the larger of the two rivers flows is described as presenting a sheet of cultivation for three miles. There are extensive vineyards, and apricot trees; while around are the everlasting mountains, rising northward and southward to a height of not less than 14,000 feet. The inhabitants are chiefly Lamas; and here may be seen the mingled superstition of its benighted people.

Whilst I am actively employed among the male population of these hills, my wife has always a crowd of females around her. May the Lord in mercy bless our efforts! We are now nearly twenty-five days away from our house and home, and have been living in tents all the time. We intend to go into Ladak, and to stop here and there in large places, as opportunity may offer and the Lord lead us. The Tartar proportion of the population is here the greatest. Our tent is pitched at this place on the top of a Deota house, quite Hindui in structure. Close by are the cloisters or temples of the Lamas—the manís or prayer-wheels driven by the water—the large temple of the Lamas, with its hideous idols, and three or four large prayer-wheels, of from six to ten feet high and three to five feet in diameter, turned by men on a string, are also not far from our camp. How remarkable is it that the utmost friendship and harmony exist between the Hindus and Tartars, though their respective systems of worship are so very different-nay, often opposed—and still, as soon as we insist on a giving up the heart to God, with all its affections, believe ing in a crucified Saviour, then the enmity of the human heart will be perceived immediately. Nothing strikes one so much as the similarity of the Roman-Catholic system of worship, ceremonies, &c., with that of the Lamas—the holy water before the idols, burning of lamps day and night, rosaries, monasteries, and nunneries. If a Lama monk would only exchange his red or yellow gown for a black one, he might easily pass for a Romish monk. They have prayers for the dead: the picture in their temples of saints and holy men-of heaven and hell--are most extraordinary

Mr. Prochnow penetrated as far as Shipki, the first large place in Chinese Tartary. It has a numerous population of Tartars, with something of the Chinese features. The houses are much scattered, built of stone and flat-roofed, each with its garden before it, hedged with gooseberry bushes. Here Mr. Prochnow's further progress was arrested

At Shipki we found the authorities just as jealous as ever: we were not allowed to put one foot beyond the place. A letter I addressed to the authorities was never replied to. They knew nothing as yet of the change and movement in China. However, there is no doubt that the country must open its doors now, soon, and I shall (D.v.) knock again next year. Entry being refused to us now, we turned our face from Shipki to Ladak,

78

RUPERT'S LAND. — FAIRFORD, MANITOBA. [JULY, First we went by Nako-Chango into the Tartar province, Spiti-DunkarKhiwar—and crossed a pass 19,000 feet above the level of the sea (our servants became very ill: some showed all the symptoms of sea-sickness, others lost blood at the nose and mouth) into Ladak itself. A gentleman had, only a fortnight before us, lost his life in crossing this high pass, from sheer exhaustion. The rarefication of the air makes it extremely difficult. My wife was for a fortnight extremely weak, and I, too, felt a very strange sensation in my chest, so much so that in the night I frequently awoke, and had to arise and gasp for breath, as long as we were travelling on the high, elevated desert of Tartary, upwards of 13,000 to 15,000 feet high-very high wind, and dry to the extreme. For ten days we saw no human habitation, and for sixteen days no trees or shrubs. Our fuel was yak and sheep dung, and provisions we had to take with us. Still the road is very much travelled by wandering Tartars, who go from one ravine to another, where little patches of pasture are found, pitch their small black tents till their cattle, yaks, and sheep and goats, have cleared the ground from all grass, when they go to another small rivulet: besides, there are very rich borax and sulphur mines, and daily, during nine months of the year, thousands of sheep and goats are loaded with these products, as well as with wool, and driven down to the lower bills, whither_merchants from the plains come to purchase. These wandering Tartars are a very superior set of men, in every way. I think our friends, the Moravians, who have just arrived in India, will do well to settle somewhat near them. The rich idol temples, monasteries, nunneries, are extremely interesting. We went direct to Leh, the capital of Ladak, and to Kashmir. We stayed a week at the capital of Kashmir, Srinugger, and returned by Chamba Kangra—Kulu-Sultanpur, to this place, which we reached on the 4th of November, after having been in tents for four months, less three days. I have had ample opportunity to preach and speak to small and large congregations in the people's villages, and on the road side, about the love of God shown unto us in giving His only-begotten Son for us, “to be the propitiation for our sins," and to invite them to partake of all His rich blessings. May the Lord graciously bless what has been spoken! Besides, I gave medicines to the sick and distributed many tracts, which were eagerly received and read.

RUPERT'S LAND.-FAIRFORD, MANITOBA. A MISSIONARY being needed to take charge of the Indian Settlement at the Red River, it has been thought desirable that the experience of the Rev. A. Cowley should be made available for that important post, and he and Mrs. Cowley have been accordingly transferred thither from Fairford, Manitoba, where they have been labouring several years, Mr. and Mrs. Stagg, who have recently arrived in Rupert's Land from England, taking their place. Mr. Cowley has had many difficulties to contend with in the prosecution of the work at Manitoba, yet his labours have not been without their fruit; and the following extract of a letter from him will show how deep is the affection which the Indians entertain for him. There is in this race of people much of suppressed feeling, which

1854.] RUPERT'S LAND.-FAIRFORD, MANITOBA.

79 does not show itself except under the pressure of peculiar circumstances. The letter is dated January 19, 1854.

The people here received the news of my appointment to the Indian Settlement, Red River, with, I believe, unfeigned sorrow. On Tuesday the heathen Indians held a public meeting to prevent, if possible, my leaving Fairford. Finding they could do nothing, they expressed the deepest regret, spoke of me and Mrs. Cowley in the most affectionate manner, and rehearsed our mode of life among them in such a way as showed affection beyond what we could have imagined. I felt it much, and was a little shaken as to whether I had done right in accepting this offer, especially when I heard Wagemawaskunk say that he used to believe all that the Indians told him ; but that since he had heard the white people give instructions out of the book” he believed it, and that he had made up his mind what to do—that his desire is to pray. Is not God among them of a truth? From this young man we expected no good thing, but, on the contrary, feared the worst. I rejoice much in this spontaneous avowal of his sentiments before and in the midst of his heathen friends: may God bring him forth His own, in His own good time! The meeting was very solemn and impressive: not one lighted his pipe-a thing, I believe, unprecedented. "I strove to allay their fears, and enlist their confidence in my successor; and we had a nice opportunity of preaching the gospel of the grace of God, and urging their return to Him. I am now installing Mr. Stagg into office. Mrs. Cowley feels much at leaving the spot where we have laboured so long, and the people to whom she has become much attached.

Mr. Stagg, in entering on his work, has met with a severe trial, which is mentioned in the following extract from a letter of Mr. Cowley's, dated Indian Settlement, April 8 –

On the 12th of February I took the duties below, and entrusted the performance of them above to Mr. Stagg. Shortly after we had ended The morning service, we were surprised and distressed by intelligence from above, that, during the time of divine service, a fire had broken out in Mr. Stagg's house, and that when the messenger left it was nearly destroyed. As the river was partially open, and as it was a cold drifting day, some time elapsed ere I got across; but after crossing, I soon got up, and found my worst fears had not exceeded the disaster: all was in ruin. The first thing that struck me, on approaching the place, was the absence of the building that was wont to catch the eye, then the smoke issuing from that direction, and soon the sad spectacle was fully and awfully manifest. A group of people, blackened with clouds of smoke, soot, dust, &c., stood as it were in silent grief, lamenting their inability to restore that which once was, but is not. Poor people they had done what they could, but all to no avail. In the morning, Mr. and Mrs. Stagg, and their servant boy and girl, two from the boarding-school, had gone as usual to the Sunday-school. After it was over, Mr. Stagg went home to see that all was right, and thinking it quite safe, returned to the schoolhouse to hold divine service with the people and schoolchildren. Service being ended, and when they were about to leave the schoolhouse, intelligence reached them that the house was on fire: all ran instantly to the spot, distant perhaps about a hundred yards, to do

THE TARTARS OF THE CRIMEA.

80

[STLY, what they could. They broke in the windows, to try to rescue any thing that might come to hand, but to no purpose : the fire only raged the more when an opening was once effected, and in an incredibly short time the house fell a burning ruin. By dint of perseverance, a few books, greatly scorched and burnt, and a little linen, half consumed, were rescued

from the burning mass, as mementos of the loss our worthy friends have sustained — I fear for very little other practical use. So great was the heat, that the very cast-iron stove was melted and destroyed, and nothing escaped the flame. I tried to console the sufferers, by urging that their persons were untouched, and that it must be for good in some way, though now we may not see it, and escorted them to my home, where I endeavoured to make them forget their misery and trouble. When I left Fairford they were quite well, and, as far as possible, quite happy, and reconciled to their loss.

THE TARTARS OF THE CRIMEA. In our last Number we gave some description of Bagtchè Serai, the ancient capital of Crim Tartary. Here, guarded by Russian soldiers, stands the palace where were wont to dwell the khans of the Crimea. Entering by an iron gate, through the principal vestibule, the visitors are introduced through arches into the gardens of the seraglio, from whence staircases ascend to the different galleries. The suites of apartments retain the rich furniture, the soft Turkey carpets, the richly-embroidered curtains, the tapestry of costly satin, with which their former possessors had adorned them; but the rulers who once lived a luxurious life amidst those gardens and ornamented chambers, and lofty halls, with fountains playing on marble slabs, have passed away, and all that remains of them is to be found in their cemetery not far distant, where the crumbling ruins and the mouldering relics of mortality in the vaulted chambers unite in witnessing the same truth-that the glory of this world passeth away.

We also introduced some notices of the Tartars of the Crimea, who still, notwithstanding the diminishing of their numbers under Russian rule, constitute a large proportion of the inhabitants of Crim Tartary. But let our readers mark what a wide-spread race the Tartars are, in all their branches and varieties. In another paper of this Number you find a description of a portion of this people occupying one of the Himalaya provinces of British India, on the borders of Thibet. They extend across the whole of the vast Asiatic continent, and yet they are a race without opportunities, and in total ignorance of the gospel. They were once a ruling

In Russia they had a kingdom at Kazan, which held the Muscovites in subjection. From the beginning of the thirteenth to that of the fourteenth century they were the scourge of the Russian provinces, nor was it until more than 200 years after that they were subdued. In the Crimea they ruled for several centuries, as tributaries to the Porte. In both these localities they are now a

race.

THE TARTARS OF THE CRIMEA.

200 years.

1854.]

81 subdued and broken race. In China they have been rulers for

There also it would seem as if the term of their dominion were near its close. Many of them have already fallen beneath the sword of the Chinese patriots. It may be the divine purpose, that in this, the time of their humiliation, opportunities may be afforded of commencing among the Tartars a work of evangelization, and, oppressed as large portions of them are, they may be found willing to hear.

Amidst the highland glens and pleasant valleys of the Crimea they exist, a hardy, hospitable race, very simple, but very ignorant.*

[graphic]

Their villages are usually built on the steep side of a hill. Each builder excavates a spot for himself out of the hill side. The perpendicular at the back saves on that side the erection of a wall,

Our Engraving represents a Tartar shepherd, distinguished by his curious crook, a common Tartar, with a bullock whip, and a third figure, to show the hood worn in rainy weather.

« PreviousContinue »