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Prjevalsky's Travels in Central Asia

    Abstract

    THIS large work is the complete account of the third journey of Col. Prjevalsky to Thibet, notices of the progress of which from time to time appeared in our pages during the year 1880, The first journey, it will be remembered, was performed during the years 1870-73, when this distinguished traveller reached as far as the Lama monastery of Cheibsen near Lake Koko-Nor, and to Tsaidam, but was forced to abandon his intention of going to Lhassa, and so retraced his steps to Alashan. From thence he went to Pekin, and returned to Siberia across the Desert of Gobi. The second journey was undertaken from Kuldja to the Lake Lob Nor across the Tian-shan Mountains. On the third journey Col. Prje-valsky started from Zaisan, passing through Barkul Khami, Sa-tzhei, and Tsaidam, where he reached the country he had explored on his first journey. He now proceeded to carry out his former intention of going to Lhassa, and he struggled over the great plateau of Tan-la till he reached the town of Boomtza. At Nap-chu, in the neighbourhood of this town, he was informed that he would be allowed to proceed no further in the direction of the capital of the Dalai Lama. He was then a little more than 160 miles from Lhassa. Negotiations were useless: he was not allowed to proceed. Contenting himself with taking a portrait of the messengers from the Dalai Lama, he turned northwards and retraced the long and wearisome march across the Tan-la plateau. The winter of 1879 So was occupied with this march and with the observations upon the manners and customs of the people, as well as investigations into the flora and fauna of the district he was passing through. Prjevalsky possesses in an eminent degree the buoyant spirit of the traveller which enables him to observe calmly and critically the surroundings in which he finds himself, even though he is overcome with hardship or pressed by the weight of disappointment. Returning to Tsaidam, he set out on his way to Lake Koko-Nor, where he had been in the year 1873. He remained in this neighbourhood for some time, and he followed the course of the Hoang-ho for about 150 miles. This part of his journey took him over new ground, and his explorations of these upper waters of the Yellow River or Hoang-ho are of the utmost value. He followed the course of the river as far as Gui-dui, which forms an oasis amidst great arid mountain-chains. It was so difficult to advance and forage was so scarce that Prjevalsky turned back from the Hoang-ho and directed his steps towards Lake Koko-Nor. The rain, which had stopped for a time, recommenced, and was often accompanied with severe cold, which added materially to the discomforts of the journey. The monastery of Cheibsen was revisited after the lapse of about seven years, and there Prjevalsky was well received by the priests, whose acquaintance he had made on his former visit. The journey was continued through Nan-shan and Alashan amidst the wildest mountain scenery, till a descent was made upon the great Desert of Gobi. The change was great from the high mountains of Pan-cu to the waterless expanse of the desert, but Prjevalsky was always ready with his note book as well as with his gun; and the result is that this volume contains a mass of information for the ethnologist as well as for the naturalist. The return was made in safety through the desert to Urga and Kiakhta. This is a brief outline of the journey recorded in these pages, and the only regret one has is that so few amongst us can read the language in which it is written. It is to be hoped that the volume will ere long be translated into our own language.

    Third Journey in Central Asia. From Zaisan through Khami to Thibet and the Sources of the Yellow River.

    By N. M. Prjevalsky. Russian. (St. Petersburg, 1883.)

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