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course directed at right angles to that of the last-named river ; the Yang-tsze-Kiang, which bisects with its leviathan flow the central provinces of China; and the Lan-tsang Kiang, or Mekong, flowing south to find an outlet at the extremity of the Cambodian peninsula, are all fed by the snows of one tremendous mountain-range piled up within narrow limits between the elevated plateaux of Kokonor and the plains of China. The outer circuit of this immense water-system is parcelled out between Burmah, Siam, Cambodia, and An-nam; but in an inner zone of mountainous, semi-savage border land the frontiers of all these states approach and become confounded with those of China, and find a common meeting-ground around the Chinese province of Yün-nan. Although farthest removed from the seat of Imperial government, and brought latest of all within the scope of Chinese civilisation, this division of the empire has for centuries past enjoyed a reputation for wealth and productiveness such as we find foreshadowed, indeed, in Marco Polo's narrative. In the Caraïan’of the great Venetian traveller geographers have long since recognised part of the territory of modern Yün-nan; and the minute researches brought to bear by Pauthier and Yule in their late magnificent editions of his work have not alone verified some of its most singular descriptions, but have also brought into notice the flourishing state of this region at the close of the thirteenth century, very shortly after its conquest by the Mongol invaders. In the five hundred years that have elapsed since Marco Polo traversed Yün-nan on his way to Burmah, one European only -the Jesuit Du Chatz, at the close of the seventeenth century-has performed the same journey from beginning to end; and, up to a far more recent period than that of his visit, the country between the Yang-tsze Kiang and the Irrawaddy remained as much a terra incognita as the most secluded regions of Central Asia. At length, in the course of that magnificent survey of his dominions which was undertaken by the Emperor Kang-hi, and which is not sufficiently recognised as the virtual starting-point of modern geographical research, the Jesuit Fathers Fridelli, Bonjour, and Régis were employed in 1713– 1715 in drawing up the map of Yün-nan. Successive geographers have borne testimony to the skill and accuracy with which this labour was performed; but as the missionary surveyors confined their observations to the limits of Chinese sovereignty, they were compelled to leave problems in an unsettled state with regard to the origin and lower course of the great rivers traversing Yün-nan on their way to the Indian seas, which still continue subject to scientific contention. The brief gleam of enlightenment and of hospitality towards imported knowledge and means of progress which distinguished the reign of Kang-hi was followed by an era of hostility and intolerance, raising once more an impenetrable wall around the Celestial Empire. It is only in our own day that the spell has been forcibly broken, and a series of remarkable events have drawn China, with her galaxy of kindred nations, into active communication with the Western world. The motive agent which was sighed for by Archimedes has made its appearance, for the modern requirements of commerce are a lever potent enough to defy the most resolute immobility; and thanks to such influences, the inmost recesses of a territory long wholly sealed against European research, have now been made accessible to exploration and study.
From the reports of the Jesuit missionaries and from native accounts, the west of China was already known as a region abounding in natural resources, and especially in mineral wealth. Covering an area of more than 100,000 square miles, its southern borders lost in the depths of tropical forests, and overshadowed on its northern frontier by the glaciers of Tibet, the province of Yün-nan can boast an extent of surface and a diversity of feature in which it is barely rivalled by any other section of the empire. Uncivilised, almost savage, tribes still occupy the mountain ranges which surround and intersect the province, whilst busy emporia of industry and trade have grown up in its central plains. Its climate naturally varies from the extreme of tropical heat to the inclemency of an Alpine region ; but even in its lower latitudes, a temperate zone may be reached upon the elevated plateaux overlooking the gorges of the Salwen and the great lakes which constitute a peculiar feature of the province. Metals, such as silver, copper, lead, and tin, have been drawn for centuries past from the mines for which Yün-nan is specially famous; gold is present in the sands of almost every rivulet; and both soil and climate afford conditions highly favourable to the cultivation of such important staples as the tea-plant, rice, and silk. While the capital, Yün-nan Fu, has enjoyed a peculiar renown for commercial activity no less than for the literary genius and the refinement of its educated classes, it has been customary with the Chinese of other provinces to express their envy of the abundance and cheapness of all necessaries of life in this favoured region. Notwithstanding occasional interruptions through warfare or revolt, a flourishing trade has subsisted for centuries between Yün-nan and the adjacent countries, especially with Burmah, whose staple productions, including cotton,
wax, ivory, and drugs of many kinds, were taken in exchange for the silk and manufactured or mineral wares of Western China. For this traffic two main routes are indicated, indeed, by Nature in the course of the great rivers which constitute a link between Yün-nan and the far-off sea. While the Lantsang Kiang has afforded a channel for intercourse with Siam and Cambodia, the Salwen (Lu Kiang), flowing westward, invites to communication with the Burmese territories; and the Irrawaddy, although its main stream is hidden in the depths of a savage border land, may yet be included through its navigable affluents among the rivers of the province.
In lieu, however, of dwelling upon the fair prospect of industry and commercial activity once fostered by these various natural advantages, we are compelled to exhibit this portion of the Chinese Empire as a scene of wide-spread desolation, reduced by rebellion and warfare of fifteen years' duration to the condition of either a camp or a desert. In an earlier number of this Review* a recent attempt at establishing a Mussulman sovereignty in Western Yün-nan has already been described, and subsequent events have brought this insurrectionary movement into increasing prominence. Between two and three millions of Mahomedans, descended from the Bukharian soldiery by whom Yün-nan was subjugated under the leadership of one of Kublai Khan's lieutenants, were scattered a few years ago throughout the province, and notably in its western half, where Ta-li Fu, a city ranking second only to the provincial capital in size and importance, was their principal centre. Notwithstanding the lapse of ages since the arrival of their forefathers in Yün-nan, and although by length of residence and constant intermarriage almost wholly identified with the pure Chinese in features, language, and social usages, this immigrant race had remained stedfast in adherence to the Mahomedan creed. Their original language—an offshoot of the Persian-had become wholly extinct; in each generation only a few ulemas preserved sufficient knowledge of the sacred text of the Koran to keep its doctrine alive in the midst of an idolatrous people; they obeyed the same laws, and shared in every privilege, with the bulk of their fellowChinese ; but religious isolation still kept the traditions and the prejudices of an alien descent alive in their minds. Roused into active enmity against their non-Mussulman neighbours by a series of disputes, which at length culminated, in 1856, in frightful massacres, the Mahomedans rose in organised revolt
* No. cclx., April, 1868.
under the leadership of one of their notables, a man named Tu Wên-siu, whose commanding personal qualities had long previously made him their spokesman in an abortive attempt to obtain justice at the foot of the Imperial throne. The Chinese officials, left at this juncture without help from their superiors, whose efforts were wholly absorbed in the more pressing struggle involved by the then pending Taiping rebellion, could offer no effectual resistance to the furious Mahomedan outbreak. City after city fell into the insurgents’ hands, beginning with the important fortress of Ta-li Fu; and with accustomed submissiveness the non-Mussulman Chinese, although largely outnumbering the Mahomedan revolters, accepted the rule of a new claimant to sovereign power.
The substantial successes achieved by Tu Wên-siu led, within a very few months from the first outbreak, to his being acclaimed as the founder of a victorious Mussulman state. His generals hailed him by the title of Sultan Suleiman, reviving thus the traditions of their western origin, although in the new system of government which was now introduced the precedents of former Chinese dynasties were adopted rather than the military institutions of Islam, and for fully fifteen years the commands of this potentate were obeyed throughout at least one-third of the area of Yün-nan. Meanwhile the remainder of the province was either from time to time overrun by his invading armies, or was with difficulty guarded by the Chinese troops, whose predatory excesses were no less fatal to industry and commerce than those of the insurgents themselves. Chinese revolutions are long in coming to the ears of the outer world, and Yün-nan had long suffered in the agonies of this conflict before its echoes attracted, even momentarily, a European hearing. The rise of a new Mussulman power, emerging under the name of the Panthay rebellion,'* from the darkness which shrouded all the internal affairs of China,
* The Mahomedans of Yün-nan are designated by the name of Panthays by their Burmese neighbours, and the title has thus passed into European usage, although unrecognised by the Mahomedans themselves, and of doubtful origin and meaning, It has been viewed as a corruption of the Burmese word Putthee, signifying' Mahomedan, but strong objections may be urged against this derivation; and there seems to be reason for believing that the word Panthay, or Pansee, (as it was first written) is employed by the Burmese in designating the frontier-region of which the insurgents possessed themselves. this it might easily pass into the application it now receives. The Mahomedans themselves claim no other national title than that of Hwei-tsze—the ordinary Chinese designation for a Mussulman people.
was first brought into notice in consequence of the investigations with respect to the trade of Upper Burmah and Western China which were undertaken by Dr. Clement Williams, an adventurous and successful explorer. Having left the British service for that of the King of Burmah, Dr. Williams enjoyed opportunities for collecting information which was peculiarly valuable at a moment when the revival of friendly relations with the Burmese Court, after a long interval of hostility, was made the occasion for extending our commercial relations. The question of intercourse between Burmah and Western China was, indeed, no unbroken field of study. Traces still exist in the East Indian archives of factories established by the British and Dutch, so far back as the beginning of the seventeenth century, on the frontiers of Upper Burmah; and although all recollection of this commercial venture, and, indeed, of its actual site, had long passed away, the later servants of the East India Company were not neglectful of the important traffic carried on between China and Burmah by means of their river communications. Dr. Hamilton Buchanan, in 1795, and Crawford, thirty years later, on the occasion of his mission to Ava, were able to accumulate a mass of information relating to this subject; and in 1835 Captain Pemberton, in his Report on the Eastern Frontiers of British India, laid stress on the commercial prospects held out by the proximity of the Chinese to the now extended British frontier. At the same time Colonel Burney, while stationed as British Resident at the Court of Ava, was engaged in collecting and publishing a series of contributions upon the geography, history, and resources of Upper Burmah, together with itineraries of the routes connecting this country with China. The subsequent development of British trade at the ports of Rangoon and Moulmein, and the knowledge obtained with regard to the traffic carried on by Chinese merchants at the mart of Bhamô, on the Upper Irrawaddy, gave an inevitable impulse to schemes which aimed at the extension of commercial intercourse between the British ports and Western China. The more sanguine class of projectors indulged their imagination in dreams of trading highways on a magnificent scale, to unite the busy producing districts of Central China with ports in the Bay of Bengal, and by a mingled system of land and water carriage to supersede in part, if not altogether, the existing means of intercourse with China. During a series of years the well-known Captain Sprye was indefatigable in bis efforts to enlist public support on behalf of a trade route he had devised. His project aimed at connecting the port of