Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything


Books Menu

Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog


- Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 100/157 -

was very angry at our seizure and detention; he had no fault to find with the Governor-General's agent, and hoped he would be continued as such. In fact, all the blame was thrown on the brothers of the Dewan, and of the Gangtok Kajee, and more irresponsible stupid boors could not have been found on whom to lay it, or who would have felt less inclined to commit such folly if it had not been put on them by the Dewan. On leaving, white silk scarfs were thrown over our shoulders, and we went away, still doubtful, after so many disappointments, whether we should really be set at liberty at the stated period.

Although there was so much talk about our leaving, our confinement continued as rigorous as ever. The Dewan curried favour in every other way, sending us Tibetan wares for purchase, with absurd prices attached, he being an arrant pedlar. All the principal families waited on us, desiring peace and friendship. The coolies who had not been dismissed were allowed to run away, except my Bhotan Sirdar, Nimbo, against whom the Dewan was inveterate;* [The Sikkim people are always at issue with the Bhotanese. Nimbo was a runaway slave of the latter country, who had been received into Sikkim, and retained there until he took up his quarters at Dorjiling.] he, however, managed soon afterwards to break a great chain with which his legs were shackled, and marching at night, eluded a hot pursuit, and proceeded to the Teesta, swam the river, and reached Dorjiling in eight days; arriving with a large iron ring on each leg, and a link of several pounds weight attached to one.

Parting presents arrived from the Rajah on the 7th, consisting of ponies, cloths, silks, woollens, immense squares of butter, tea, and the usual et ceteras, to the utter impoverishment of his stores: these he offered to the two Sahibs, "in token of his amity with the British government, his desire for peace, and deprecation of angry discussions." The Ranee sent silk purses, fans, and such Tibetan paraphernalia, with an equally amicable message, that "she was most anxious to avert the consequences of whatever complaints had gone forth against Dr. Campbell, who might depend on her strenuous exertions to persuade the Rajah to do whatever he wished!" These friendly messages were probably evoked by the information that an English regiment, with three guns, was on its way to Sikkim, and that 300 of the Bhaugulpore Rangers had already arrived there. The government of Bengal sending another agent* [Mr. Lushington, the gentleman sent to conduct Sikkim affairs during Dr. Campbell's detention: to whom I shall ever feel grateful for his activity in our cause, and his unremitting attention to every little arrangement that could alleviate the discomforts and anxieties of our position.] to Dorjiling, was also a contingency they had not anticipated, having fully expected to get rid of any such obstacle to direct communication with the Governor-General.

A present from the whole population followed that of the Ranee, coupled with earnest entreaties that Campbell would resume his position at Dorjiling; and on the following day forty coolies mustered to arrange the baggage. Before we left, the Ranee sent three rupees to buy a yard of chale and some gloves, accompanying them with a present of white silk, etc., for Mrs. Campbell, to whom the commission was intrusted: a singular instance of the _insouciant_ simplicity of these odd people.

The 9th of December was a splendid and hot day, one of the very few we had had during our captivity. We left at noon, descending the hill through an enormous crowd of people, who brought farewell presents, all wishing us well. We were still under escort as prisoners of the Dewan, who was coolly marching a troop of forty unloaded mules and ponies, and double that number of men's loads of merchandize, purchased during the summer in Tibet, to trade with at Dorjiling and the Titalya fair! His impudence or stupidity was thus quite inexplicable; treating us as prisoners, ignoring every demand of the authorities at Dorjiling, of the Supreme Council of Calcutta, and of the Governor-General himself; and at the same time acting as if he were to enter the British territories on the most friendly and advantageous footing for himself and his property, and incurring so great an expense in all this as to prove that he was in earnest in thinking so.

Tchebu Lama accompanied us, but we were not allowed to converse with him. We halted at the bottom of the valley, where the Dewan invited us to partake of tea; from this place he gave us mules* [The Tibet mules are often as fine as the Spanish: I rode one which had performed a journey from Choombi to Lhassa in fifteen days, with a man and load.] or ponies to ride, and we ascended to Yankoong, a village 3,867 feet above the sea. On the following day we crossed a high ridge from the Ryott valley to that of the Rungmi; where we camped at Tikbotang (alt. 3,763 feet), and, on the 11th at Gangtok Sampoo, a few miles lower down the same valley.

We were now in the Soubahship of the Gangtok Kajee; a member of the oldest and most wealthy family in Sikkim; he had from the first repudiated the late acts of the Amlah, in which his brother had taken part, and had always been hostile to the Dewan. The latter conducted himself with disagreeable familiarity towards us, and _hauteur_ towards the people; he was preceded by immense kettle-drums, carried on men's backs, and great hand-bells, which were beaten and rung on approaching villages; on which occasions he changed his dress of sky-blue for yellow silk robes worked with Chinese dragons, to the indignation of Tchebu Lama, an amber robe in polite Tibetan society being sacred to royalty and the Lamas. We everywhere perceived unequivocal symptoms of the dislike with which he was regarded. Cattle were driven away, villages deserted, and no one came to pay respects, or bring presents, except the Kajees, who were ordered to attend, and his elder brother, for whom he had usurped an estate near Gangtok.

On the 13th, he marched us a few miles, and then halted for a day at Serriomsa (alt. 2,820 feet), at the bottom of a hot valley full of irrigated rice-crops and plantain and orange-groves. Here the Gangtok Kajee waited on us with a handsome present, and informed us privately of his cordial hatred of the "upstart Dewan," and hopes for his overthrow; a demonstration of which we took no notice.* [Nothing would have been easier than for the Gangtok Kajee, or any other respectable man in Sikkim, to have overthrown the Dewan and his party; but these people are intolerably apathetic, and prefer being tyrannized over to the trouble of shaking off the yoke.] The Dewan's brother (one of the Amlah) also sent a large present, but was ashamed to appear. Another letter reached the Dewan here, directed to the Rajah; it was from the Governor-General at Bombay, and had been sent across the country by special messengers: it demanded our instant release, or his Raj would be forfeited; and declared that if a hair of our heads were touched, his life should be the penalty.

The Rajah was also incessantly urging the Dewan to hasten us onwards as free men to Dorjiling, but the latter took all remonstrances with assumed coolness, exercised his ponies, played at bow and arrow, intruded on us at mealtimes to be invited to partake, and loitered on the road, changing garments and hats, which he pestered us to buy. Nevertheless, he was evidently becoming daily more nervous and agitated.

From the Rungmi valley we crossed on the 14th southward to that of Runniok, and descended to Dikkeeling, a large village of Dhurma Bhoteeas (Bhotanese), which is much the most populous, industrious, and at the same time turbulent, in Sikkim. It is 4,950 feet above the sea, and occupies many broad cultivated spurs facing the south. This district once belonged to Bhotan, and was ceded to the Sikkim Rajah by the Paro Pilo,* [The temporal sovereign, in contra-distinction to the Dhurma Rajah, or spiritual sovereign of Bhotan.] in consideration of some military services, rendered by the former in driving off the Tibetans, who had usurped it for the authorities of Lhassa. Since then the Sikkim and Bhotan people have repeatedly fallen out, and Dikkeeling has become a refuge for runaway Bhotanese, and kidnapping is constantly practised on this frontier.

The Dewan halted us here for three days, for no assigned cause. On the 16th, letters arrived, including a most kind and encouraging one from Mr. Lushington, who had taken charge of Campbell's office at Dorjiling. Immediately after arriving, the messenger was seized with violent vomitings and gripings: we could not help suspecting poison, especially as we were now amongst adherents of the Dewan, and the Bhotanese are notorious for this crime. Only one means suggested itself for proving this, and with Campbell's permission I sent my compliments to the Dewan, with a request for one of his hunting dogs to eat the vomit. It was sent at once, and performed its duty without any ill effects. I must confess to having felt a malicious pleasure in the opportunity thus afforded of showing our jailor how little we trusted him; feeling indignant at the idea that he should suppose he was making any way in our good opinion by his familiarities, which we were not in circumstances to resist.

The crafty fellow, however, outwitted me by inviting us to dine with him the same day, and putting our stomachs and noses to a severe test. Our dinner was served in Chinese fashion, but most of the luxuries, such as _beche-de-mer,_ were very old and bad. We ate, sometimes with chop-sticks, and at others with Tibetan spoons, knives, and two-pronged forks. After the usual amount of messes served in oil and salt water, sweets were brought, and a strong spirit. Thoba-sing, our filthy, cross-eyed spy, was waiter, and brought in every little dish with both hands, and raised it to his greasy forehead, making a sort of half bow previous to depositing it before us. Sometimes he undertook to praise its contents, always adding, that in Tibet none but very great men indeed partook of such sumptuous fare. Thus he tried to please both us and the Dewan, who conducted himself with pompous hospitality, showing off what he considered his elegant manners and graces. Our blood boiled within us at being so patronised by the squinting ruffian, whose insolence and ill-will had sorely aggravated the discomforts of our imprisonment.

Not content with giving us what he considered a magnificent dinner (and it had cost him some trouble), the Dewan produced a little bag from a double-locked escritoire, and took out three dinner-pills, which he had received as a great favour from the Rimbochay Lama, and which were a sovereign remedy for indigestion and all other ailments; he handed one to each of us, reserving the third for himself. Campbell refused his; but there appeared no help for me, after my groundless suspicion of poison, and so I swallowed the pill with the best grace I could. But in truth, it was not poison I dreaded in its contents, so much as being compounded of some very questionable materials, such as the Rimbochay Lama blesses and dispenses far and wide. To swallow such is a sanctifying work, according to Boodhist superstition, and I believe there was nothing in the world, save his ponies, to which the Dewan attached a greater value.

To wind up the feast, we had pipes of excellent mild yellow Chinese tobacco called "Tseang," made from _Nicotiana rustica,_ which is cultivated in East Tibet, and in West China according to MM. Huc and Gabet. It resembles in flavour the finest Syrian tobacco, and is most agreeable when the smoke is passed through the nose. The common tobacco of India (_Nicotiana Tabacum_) is much imported into Tibet, where it is called "Tamma," (probably a corruption of the Persian "Toombac,") and is said to fetch the enormous price of 30 shillings per lb. at Lhassa, which is sixty times its value in India. Rice at Lhassa, when cheap, sells at 2 shillings for 5 lbs.; it is, as I have elsewhere said, all bought up for rations for the Chinese soldiery.

Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 100/157

Previous Page     Next Page

  1   10   20   30   40   50   60   70   80   90   95   96   97   98   99  100  101  102  103  104  105  110  120  130  140  150  157 

Schulers Books Home

 Games Menu

Dice Poker
Tic Tac Toe


Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything