Alexander Michie.

The Siberian overland route from Peking to Petersburg, through the deserts and steppes of Mongolia, Tartary, &c online

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THE SIBERIAN OVERLAND ROUTE ***




Produced by Melissa McDaniel, Julia Neufeld and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)







Transcriber's note:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

The carat character (^) indicates that the following letter
is superscripted (example: M^r.). If two or more letters are
superscripted they are enclosed in curly brackets (example:
MOUN^{T.S}).


* * * * *


[Illustration: PAGODA AND GARDENS OF THE EMPEROR'S SUMMER PALACE,
YUEN-MIN-YUEN.

Photo. by Beato.

(_Frontispiece._)]




THE
SIBERIAN OVERLAND ROUTE
FROM PEKING TO PETERSBURG,

THROUGH THE DESERTS AND STEPPES OF MONGOLIA,
TARTARY, &c.

BY ALEXANDER MICHIE.

[Illustration: TOMB AT THE DEPOT, PEKING.]

LONDON:
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
1864.




PREFACE.


The following work has but moderate claims, I fear, to public
attention; and it would probably not have seen the light at all but
for the urgent request of friends, who think better of it than the
author does. It has no pretensions to any higher merit than that of
being a plain narrative of the journey, and an impartial record of
my own impressions of the people among whom I travelled.

Although some portions of the route have been eloquently described
by Huc and others, I am not aware that any continuous account of the
whole journey between the capitals of China and Russia has appeared
in the English language for nearly a century and a half. Important
changes have occurred in that period; and, if I may judge of
others by myself, I suspect that many erroneous notions are afloat
respecting the conditions of life in these far-off regions, and more
especially in Siberia. Observation has modified my own pre-conceived
opinions on many of the subjects touched on in the following pages,
and I am not without a hope that they will be found to contain some
information which may be new to many people in this country.

If I have indulged in irrelevant digressions, I can only say that I
have limited myself to those reflections which naturally suggested
themselves in the course of my travels; and the subjects I have
given most prominence to are simply those which happened to be the
most interesting to myself.

My thanks are due to various friends for useful hints, confirming
and correcting my own observations; but I am especially indebted for
some valuable notes on Siberia, its social phenomena, gold mines,
&c., to Edwin E. Bishop, Esq., whose long residence in the country,
and perfect acquaintance with the language and customs of the
people, constitute him an authority on all matters connected with
that part of the world.

22, BERKELEY SQUARE,
_October 28th, 1864_.




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

SHANGHAI TO TIENTSIN.
PAGE

John Bell - "Overland" routes - Peking a sealed book - Jesuits -
Opening of China - Chinese jealousy of Mongolia - Errors of
British policy - Their results - Preparations for journey -
Leave Shanghae - Yang-tse-kiang - Changes in its channel -
Elevation of the delta - Chinese records of inundations - The
Nanzing - Shantung promontory in a fog - Chinese coasters -
Advantages of steam - Our fellow-passengers - Peiho river -
Intricate navigation - Sailors in China - Tientsin - New
settlement - Municipal council - Improvements - Trade - Beggars -
Health - Sand-storms - Gambling 1

CHAPTER II.

TIENTSIN TO PEKING.

Modes of travelling - Carts, horses, boats - Filthy banks of the
Peiho - Voyage to Tungchow - Our boat's crew - Chinese distances -
Traffic on the Peiho - Temple at Tungchow - Mercantile priests -
Ride to Peking - Millet - Eight-mile bridge - Resting place -
Tombs - Filial piety - Cemeteries - Old statues - Water
communication into Peking - Grain supply 23

CHAPTER III.

PEKING.

Walls of Peking - Dust and dirt - Street obstructions - The model
inn - Restaurant - Our boon companions - Peking customs - Rule of
thumb - British legation - Confucian temple - Kienloong's
pavilion - Lama temple - Mongol chants - Roman and Bhuddist
analogies - Mongols and Chinese - Hospitality of lay brother -
Observatory - Street cries - Temple of Heaven - Theatres -
European residents - Medical mission under Dr. Lockhart -
Chinese jealousy of Mongolia - Russian diplomacy - Reckoning
with our host - Ice - Paper-money 32

CHAPTER IV.

PEKING TO CHAN-KIA-KOW.

Return to Tungchow - Disappointment - Priest conciliated by
Russian language - Back to Peking - Negotiations - Ma-foo's
peculation - Chinese honesty and knavery - Loading the
caravan - Mule-litters - Leave Peking - Sha-ho - Cotton plant -
Nankow - Crowded inn - Difficult pass - Inner "great wall" -
Cha-tow - Chinese Mahommedans - Religious toleration - Christians
in disfavour - Change of scene - Hwai-lai - Ruins of bridge - Bed
of old river - Road traffic - Watch-towers - Chi-ming-i - Legend
of monastery - the Yang-ho - Pass - Shan-shui-pu - Coal -
Suen-wha-fu - Ride to Chan-kia-kow 56

CHAPTER V.

CHAN-KIA-KOW.

Arrival at Chan-kia-kow - Focus of Trade - Mixed population -
Wealth - Mongols - Russians - Name of Kalgan - Chinese
friends - Russian hospitality - Disappointment - Proposed
excursion to Bain-tolochoi - Camels at last procured -
Noetzli returns to Tientsin - The pass - Mountains - Great
Wall - The horse-fair - Dealers - Ox-carts - Transport of wood
from Urga - Shoeing smiths - Our Russian host arrives - The
"Samovar" - Tea-drinking in Russia - Change of temperature -
Elevation of Chan-kia-kow - Preparations for the desert -
Cabbages - Warm boots - Camels arrive - Leave Chan-kia-kow -
The pass - Superiority of mules, &c., over camels 72

CHAPTER VI.

MONGOLIA.

Leave China - Mishap in the pass - Steep ascent - Chinese
perseverance - Agricultural invasion - Our first encampment -
Cold night - Pastoral scene - Introduction to the Mongols - The
land of tents - Our conductors - Order of march - Mongol
chants - The lama - Slow travelling - Pony "Dolonor" - Night
travelling - Our Mongols' tent - Argols - Visitors - Mongol
instinct - Camels quick feeders - Sport - Antelopes - Lame
camels - Scant pastures - Endurance of Mongols - Disturbed
sleep - Optical illusions - "Yourt," Mongol tent - Domestic
arrangements - Etiquette - Mongol furniture - Sand-grouse -
Track - Wind and rain - A wretched night - Comfortless
encampment - Camels breaking down - The camel seasons - No
population - No grass - Mingan 83

CHAPTER VII.

MONGOLIA - _continued_.

Visitors at Mingan - Trading - Scene with a drunken Mongol -
Good horsemen - Bad on foot - Knowledge of money - Runaway
pony - A polite shepherd - Gunshandak - Wild onions - Halt -
Expert butcher - Mongol sheep, extraordinary tails - A Mongol
feast - Effects of diet - Taste for fat explained - Mongol
fasts - Our cooking arrangements - Camel ailings - Maggots -
Rough treatment - Ponies falling off - Live in hopes - Dogs -
The harvest moon - Waiting for Kitat - Lamas and their
inhabitants - Resume the march - Meet caravan - Stony
roads - Disturbed sleep - Gurush - Negotiations at Kutul-usu -
Salt plains - Sporting lama - Ulan-Khada - Trees - Reach
Tsagan-tuguruk - Lamas and black men - Small temple - Musical
failure - Our new acquaintances - Horse-dealing - Greed of
Mongols - Fond of drink - A theft - The incantation - Kitat
returns - Camel lost - Vexatious delay - Start from
Tsagan-tuguruk 102

CHAPTER VIII.

MONGOLIA - _continued_.

Marshes - Camels dislike water - Chinese caravan - Travellers'
tales - Taryagi - Looking for cattle in the dark -
Butyn-tala - An addition to our party - Russian courier -
Water-fowl - Bad water - Kicking camel - Pass of Ulin-dhabha -
Mongols shifting quarters - Slip 'tween the cup and the
lip - Mountains - The north wind - Guntu-gulu - An accident -
Medical treatment - Protuberant ears - Marmots - Ice - Dark
night - Bain-ula - Living, not travelling - Charm of desert
life - Young pilgrim - Grand scenery - Steep descent - Obon -
Horror of evil spirits - Mongol and Chinese notions of
devils - Dread of rain - A wet encampment - Snow - The White
Mountains - The Bactrian camel - Capability of enduring
cold - Job's comforters - Woods appear - The yak - Change
of fuel 122

CHAPTER IX.

URGA TO KIACHTA.

Maimachin in sight - A snow storm - Hasty encampment - Tolla in
flood - Delay - Intercourse with Mongols - The night
watches - Tellig's family - Rough night - Scene at the Tolla -
Crossing the river - the "Kitat" redivivus - His
hospitality - How Mongols clean their cups - Maimachin - The
Russian consulate - Russian ambition - Its prospects - The
Urga, or camp - Kuren - Fine situation - Buildings -
Horse-shoeing - Hawkers - The lamaseries - An ascetic - The
Lama-king - Relations between Chinese emperors and the Lama
power - Urga and Kara Korum - Historical associations - Prester
John and Genghis Khan - Leave Urga - Slippery paths -
More delays - The pass - A snow storm - Fine scenery - Rich
country - Another bugbear - The Boro valley - Cultivation -
Khara-gol - The pass - Lama courier - Shara-gol - Winter
quarters - The transmigration - Iro-gol - Forced march -
Kiachta in sight 141

CHAPTER X.

MONGOLS - HISTORICAL NOTES.

Early history of Huns - Wars with China - Dispersion - Appear
in Europe - Attila - His career - And death - Turks - Mixture
of races - Consanguinity of Huns and Mongols - Genghis - His
conquests - Divisions of his empire - Timour - A Mahommedan -
His wars - And cruelties - Baber - The Great Mogul in India -
Dispersion of tribes - Modern divisions of the Mongols -
Warlike habits - Religions - The causes of their success
in war considered - Their heroes - Their characters - And
military talents - Superstition - Use of omens -
Destructiveness and butcheries of the Huns and Mongols -
Antagonistic traits of character - Depraved moral
instincts - Necessity of culture to develop human
feelings - Flesh-eating not brutalising - Dehumanising
tendency of war - Military qualities of pastoral peoples -
Dormant enthusiasm of the Mongols 166

CHAPTER XI.

MONGOLS - PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CHARACTERISTICS.

Physical characteristics - Meanness - Indolence - Failure in
agriculture - Hospitality - Its origin - Pilfering - Honesty -
Drunkenness - Smoking - Ir'chi or Kumiss - Morality - Of
lamas - Women fond of ornaments - Decency of dress -
Physique - Low muscular energy - A wrestling match - Bad
legs - Bow-legged - Its causes - Complexions - Eyes - Absence
of beard - Comparison with Chinese and Japanese - Effect
of habits on physical development - Animal instincts in
nomads - Supply the place of artificial appliances -
Permanence of types of character - Uniformity in primitive
peoples - Causes that influence colour of skin - Mongol
powers of endurance - Low mental capacity - Its causes -
Superstition produced by their habits - Predisposed to
spiritual thraldom - The lamas and their practices -
Prayers - Knaveries of lamas - Vagabond lamas - The spread
of Bhuddism - Superior to Shamanism - Shaman rites - Political
result of Bhuddism - The Mongol kings - Serfs 185

CHAPTER XII.

KIACHTA.

Approach Kiachta - Maimachin - Chinese elegance - The
frontier - Russian eagle - The commissary of the frontier -
"Times" newspaper - Kiachta - Troitskosarfsk - Meet a
countryman - Part from our Mongols - Their programme - A
Russian bath - Siberian refinement - Streets and pavement -
Russian conveyances - Aversion to exercise -
Semi-civilisation - Etiquette - Mixture of peoples - Wealth
of Russian merchants - Narrow commercial views - The Chinese
of Maimachin - Domestic habits - Russian and Chinese
characters compared - Chinese more civilised than the
Russians - The Custom-house - Liberal measures - Our droshky -
Situation of Kiachta - Supplies - Population - Hay-market -
Fish - The garden - Domestic gardening - Climate salubrious -
Construction of houses - Stoves - Russian meals - Commercial
importance of Kiachta - Inundation of the Selenga -
Travelling impracticable - Money-changing - New travelling
appointments - Tarantass - Passports - Danger of delay - Prepare
to start - First difficulty - Siberian horses - Post-bell 203

CHAPTER XIII.

KIACHTA TO THE BAIKAL.

Leave Troitskosarfsk - Hilly roads - Bouriats - The first
post-station - Agreeable surprise - Another stoppage - A
night on the hill-side - Hire another carriage - Reach the
Selenga - The ferry - Selenginsk - A gallery of art -
Cultivation - Verchne Udinsk - Effects of the inundation -
Slough of despond - Fine scenery - A dangerous road - A
press of travellers - Favour shown us - Angry Poles -
Ilyensk - An obsequious postmaster - Tidy post-house - A
night at Ilyensk - Treachery suspected - Roads destroyed -
Difficult travelling - An old Pole - Baikal lake - Station
at Pasoilské - A night scene - The Selenga river - And
valley - Agriculture - Cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs 223

CHAPTER XIV.

LAKE BAIKAL TO IRKUTSK.

Morning scene at Pasoilské - Better late than never -
Victimised - Russian junks - Primitive navigators - Storms on
the Baikal - Scene at the shipping port - Religious
ceremony - A polite officer - Inconvenience of the Baikal
route - Engineering enterprise - More delay - Fares by the
Baikal steamer - Crowing and crouching - The embarkation - The
General Karsakof - A naval curiosity - The lake - Its depth -
And area - The "Holy Sea" - The passage - Terra firma -
Custom-house delay - Fine country - Good roads - Hotels Amoor
and Metzgyr 234

CHAPTER XV.

IRKUTSK.

In sight of Irkutsk - Handsome town - Wrong hotel - Bad
accommodation - Suffocation - Bad attendance - The cuisine -
Venerable eggs - Billiards - Meet a friend - Beauties of
Irkutsk - Milliners - Bakers - Tobacconists - Prison -
Convicts - Benevolence of old ladies - Equipages - Libraries -
Theatre - Population - Governor - Generalship - The levée -
Governing responsibilities - Importance of commerce -
Manufactures insignificant - Education - Attractions of
Siberia - Society - Polish exiles - The Decembrists - The
sentence of banishment - Its hereditary effect - Low
standing of merchants - Discomforts of travelling - Engage
a servant - The prodigal - A mistake - Early winter - The
Angara - Floating-bridge - Parting view of Irkutsk 246

CHAPTER XVI.

IRKUTSK TO KRASNOYARSK.

Leave Irkutsk - Roads and rivers - Capacity for sleep -
Bridges - Break-neck travelling - Endurance of Russian
ponies - Verst-posts - Appalling distances - Irregular
feeding - Tea _versus_ grog - River Birusa - Boundary
of Irkutsk and Yenisei - Stoppage - The telegraph wires -
Improved roads - River Kan - The ferrymen - Kansk - A new
companion - Prisoner of war - Advantages and disadvantages
of travelling in company - Improved cultivation - A
snow-storm - Cold wind - Absurd arrangement of stations -
The river Yenisei - Mishap at the ferry - The approach to
Krasnoyarsk - The town - Population - Hotel - Travellers'
accounts - Confusion at the station - The black-book - The
courier service 262

CHAPTER XVII.

KRASNOYARSK TO TOMSK.

Sledges - Sulky yemschiks - Progress to Achinsk - Limit of
Eastern Siberia - Game - The Chulim - Difficult ferry -
Government of Tomsk - Bad roads again - Job's comforters -
Mariinsk - An accident - And another - Resources of a
yemschik - A drive through a forest - Ishimskaya - A
day too late - A sporting Pole - Disappointment - Annoying
delay - Freezing river - A cold bath - Sledge travelling - A
night scene - Early birds - Arrive in Tomsk - Our lodging -
Religion of Russians - Scruples of a murderer - Population
and situation of Tomsk - Fire Insurance - Climate of Tomsk -
Supply of water - Carefulness and hardiness - Skating - Demure
little boys - An extinct species - The gold diggings - The
Siberian tribes 273

CHAPTER XVIII.

TOMSK TO OMSK.

Refitting - The optician - The feather-pillow question - A
friend in need - A dilemma - Schwartz's folly - Old Barnaul
leaves us - We leave Tomsk - A weary night - A Russian
dormitory - Construction of houses - Cross the Tom - And the
Ob - Enter the Baraba steppe - Kolivan - The telegraph - The
ladies of Baraba - Game - Windmills - A frozen marsh - Kainsk -
Reach Oms - Outbreaks on the Kirghis steppe - Russian
aggression - Its effects on different tribes 290

CHAPTER XIX.

OMSK TO OCHANSK.

Leave Omsk - Recruiting - Cross the Irtish - Tukalinsk -
Yalootorofsk - Reach Tumen - Improved posting - Snowroads -
Ekaterineburg - Mint - Precious stones - Iron works -
Englishmen in Siberia - Iron mines - Fish trade - A recruiting
scene - Temperature rising - Game - The Urals - Disappointing -
A new companion - The boundary between Europe and Asia -
Yermak the Cossack - Discovery and conquest of Siberia -
Reach Perm - Too late again - Progress of inland navigation -
Facilities for application of steam - Water routes of
Siberia - Railways - Tatars - Cross the Kama to Ochansk -
Dissolving view of snow roads 305

CHAPTER XX.

RUSSIAN AND SIBERIAN PEASANTRY.

Siberian and Russian peasantry - The contrast - Freedom and
slavery - Origin of Siberian peasants - Their means of
advancement - Exiles - Two classes - Their offences and
punishments - Privileges after release - Liberality of the
government - Its object - Extent of forest - One
serf-proprietor in Siberia - Exemptions from conscription -
Rigour of the climate on the Lena and Yenisei - Settlers
on Angara exempted from taxes - Improvement of Siberian
peasants - A bright future - Amalgamation of classes - Slavery
demoralising to masters - The emancipation of the serfs -
Its results 320

CHAPTER XXI.

KAZAN. - POLISH EXILES.

Road to Kazan - Polish prisoners - Arrive at Kazan - More
croaking - Temptations to delay - Sell our sledge - View of
Kazan - The ferry at the Volga - Ice-boats and icebergs - The
military - Tatars - Polish exiles - Kindly treated by their
escort - Erroneous ideas on this subject - The distribution
of exiles in Siberia - Their life there - The Polish
insurrection - Its objects - Imprudence - Consequences - Success
would have been a second failure 331

CHAPTER XXII.

KAZAN TO PETERSBURG.

A day lost - The moujik's opportunity - Return to Kazan - Hotel
"Ryazin" - Grease and butter - Evening entertainment - Try
again - The ferry - A term of endearment - Ferrymen's
devotions - A Jew publican - "Pour boire" - Villages and
churches - The road to Nijni - Penance - A savage - A
miserable night - Reach Nijni - "Sweet is pleasure after
pain" - The great fair - Nijni under a cloud - Delights of
railway travelling - A contrast - Reach Moscow - Portable
gas - Foundling hospital - The Moscow and Petersburg
railway - Grandeur of Petersburg - Late season - Current
topics - Iron-clads - The currency - Effects of Crimean war -
Russian loyalty - Alexander II. as a reformer - Leave
Petersburg 343

CHAPTER XXIII.

RUSSIA AND CHINA.

Earlier intercourse - Analogies and contrasts - Progress of
Russia and decadence of China - Permanence of Chinese
institutions - Arrogance justified - Not really bigoted -
Changes enforced by recent events - The rebellion -
Fallacious views in parliament - British interest in
China - A bright future - Railways - Telegraphs - Machinery
and other improvements - Resources to be developed - Free
cities 357

POSTSCRIPT 401




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


PAGE

PAGODA AND GARDENS OF THE EMPEROR'S SUMMER PALACE,
YUEN-MIN-YUEN. (From a Photograph by Beato) _Frontispiece._

TOMB AT THE DEPOT. PEKING. (From a Photograph
by Beato) _Vignette._

TUNG CHOW PAGODA. (From a Photograph by Beato) 27

WALLS OF PEKING. (From a Photograph by Beato) 32

PAVILION OF THE SUMMER PALACE OF YUEN-MIN-YUEN. (From a
Photograph by Beato) 37

THIBETIAN MONUMENT IN LAMA TEMPLE. PEKING. (From a Photograph
by Beato) 42

GREAT TEMPLE OF HEAVEN. PEKING. (From a Photograph by Beato) 48

PART OF THE EMPEROR'S PALACE, YUEN-MIN-YUEN. DESTROYED
1860. (From a Photograph by Beato) 55

THE NANKOW PASS 63

HALT IN THE DESERT OF GOBI 104

FORDING THE TOLLA NEAR URGA 147

VIEW OF EKATERINBURG. SIBERIA. (From a Russian Photograph). 307




[Illustration: A GENERAL MAP OF NORTHERN ASIA.

_M^r. Michie's route coloured._

_London John Murray, Albemarle S^t_]




THE SIBERIAN OVERLAND ROUTE FROM PEKING TO PETERSBURG.




CHAPTER I.

SHANGHAE TO TIENTSIN.


The charming narrative of John Bell, of Antermony, who, in the reign
of Peter the Great, travelled from Petersburg to Peking in the suite
of a Russian ambassador, inspired me with a longing desire to visit
Siberia and other little-known regions through which he passed.
Having occasion to return to England, after a somewhat protracted
residence on the coast of China, an opportunity presented itself of
travelling through the north of China, Mongolia, and Siberia, on my
homeward journey. This is, indeed, the real "overland route" from
China, and it may as properly be styled "maritime," as the mail
route per P. & O. steamers "overland." The so-called overland route
has, however, strong temptations for a person eager to get home.
There is a pleasing simplicity about the manner of it which is a
powerful attraction to one who is worn out with sleepless nights in
a hot climate. It is but to embark on a steamer; attend as regularly
at meal times as your constitution will permit; sleep, or what is
the same thing, read, during the intervals; and fill up the blanks
by counting the passing hours and surveying your fellow passengers
steeped in apoplectic slumbers under the enervating influence of the
tropics. The sea route has, moreover, a decided advantage in point
of time. In forty-five or fifty days I could have reached England
from Shanghae by steamer: the land journey viâ Siberia I could not
hope to accomplish in less than ninety days.

But the northern route had strong attractions for me in the kind
of vague mystery that invests the geography of strange countries,
and the character, manners, and customs of their inhabitants.
Ever-recurring novelties might be expected to keep the mind alive;
and active travelling would in a great measure relieve the tedium
of a long and arduous journey. Of the two, therefore, I preferred
the prospect of being frozen in Siberia to being stewed in the Red
Sea. The heat of Shanghae in the summer was intense and almost
unprecedented, the supply of ice was fast undergoing dissolution,
and an escape into colder regions at such a time was more than
usually desirable.

A few years ago it would have been about as feasible to travel from
China to England by way of the moon as through Peking and Mongolia.
Peking was a sealed book, jealously guarded by an arrogant, because
an ignorant, government. Little was known of the city of the khans
except what the Jesuits had communicated in the last century, and



Online LibraryAlexander MichieThe Siberian overland route from Peking to Petersburg, through the deserts and steppes of Mongolia, Tartary, &c → online text (page 1 of 32)